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  #1  
Old 09-04-2016, 04:50 PM
gunsnrovers gunsnrovers is online now
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Default S&W 1917/1937. To chop or not to chop...

Have an old Brazil contact 1917/1937. Sn# 171xxx. Round top, round bottom sights, serrated trigger. I think I paid $125 for it in 1993.

Some pitting outside of the barrel, but the insides are clean and the action is solid. Someone buggered up the knurling on the extractor rod. No reason to think the grips aren't original.

Thinking of having it cut off down to 3 1/2", the front of the cylinder rounded, the chambers chamfered, the action and internals given a decent going over and springs replaced. Finished with a nice matte blue finish.

Any reason not to?


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Old 09-04-2016, 04:58 PM
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Nope, it looks like a great candidate to me
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Old 09-04-2016, 05:25 PM
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No way I would do that to it, but it's your gun. The main reason for shortening a revolver barrel would be for more compactness and greater concealability, but the fact that it's a large and massive N-frame pretty well negates that advantage.

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Old 09-04-2016, 05:46 PM
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Food for thought. 1916 vintage .455 HE MkII converted to shoot a whole variety of .45 rounds.
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Old 09-04-2016, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy View Post

Food for thought.
What the heck? You stole my pistol....

Wow. Pretty much what I was looking for. I have a t-grip adapter ready and waiting.

Only real issue is I want to fix/replace the buggered extractor rod and I haven't seen a decent NOS or even used one in a while.
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Old 09-04-2016, 05:49 PM
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Chopping done right can be fun....
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Old 09-04-2016, 05:54 PM
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Model 1917 45ACP

Post from yesterday about a guy who wanted to turn his chopped 1917 back into the original configeration. Maybe you guys can swap...

If the action is off or something is wrong I'd have it looked at otherwise I'd leave it alone. I'm not sure what chopping the barrel is going to accomplish unless you're looking for something that's easier to carry. YMMV. Honestly that's a good looking Brazillian. I'd be happy with what it is.

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Old 09-04-2016, 06:00 PM
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The old N frames are large guns, but with all of the big holes in the cylinder and barrel, they are surprisingly light for carrying.
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Old 09-04-2016, 06:07 PM
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This one started life as a .455 Hand Ejector, it's now .45 Colt:




barrel is 3.75"
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Old 09-04-2016, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
The old N frames are large guns, but with all of the big holes in the cylinder and barrel, they are surprisingly light for carrying.
Nice leather. I was thinking of a Tom Threeperson's for this if I go forward with the project.
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Old 09-04-2016, 06:24 PM
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More food for thought.
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Old 09-04-2016, 06:41 PM
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Some people just never learn!
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Old 09-04-2016, 06:49 PM
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Your gun and money, and as much as I like big-bore snubbies, I might be reluctant to chop it but it would depend what your goal is, ie; shorter for carry, etc. Also, I'm assuming the gun shoots ok now so what's your motivation to spend money on it other than from your pics, the chop would negate that rusty spot? Which likely would involve spending more for some re-finish after soldering the front sight on.
ETA:
Regardless what you do, I like your old gun just like it is or chopped. If you know someone with a knurling tool and lathe, you might just dress that e-rod tip if I did anything to it at all. If I left the barrel as is, I'd do the same with the knob. Call it character/use marks.
Or if you do the mods, being it's a Brazil contract model, you could call it a Ryan Lochte commemorative as it's the same type gun that was used in the alleged holdup.

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Old 09-04-2016, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN L View Post
Some people just never learn!
LOL, My old gun came with the .455 barrel already chopped and bulged just forward of the forcing cone. Cylinder all boogered up pre-WWI
Webley cylinder. I din't trust it for ACPs.

Got a Brazilian replacement 45ACP barrel and a post war .45 ACP cylinder and the rest is history.
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Old 09-04-2016, 07:10 PM
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I think I'd be more inclined to give the S&W range time and carry time when I'm camping ect in a shorter handier form. Also think the shorter N frames are sexier.
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Old 09-04-2016, 07:41 PM
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I say do it if you want.
I bought a 1917 without the original barrel. It came with another barrel that was loose had a poor finish and bore. Picked up a 45 caliper 1950 barrel and spent some time with it in my shop.

3 1/2", bobbed hammer, cambered chambers, to save the LERK the shroud got relieved and is open at knob location on back side, model 28 rear sight. Front sight milled from a block of steel and silver soldered on (also has a key on sight base and slot on barrel) Grip is now smaller on base than a K frame. Serial number is original, moved it, but never completely detached it in doing so.



I call it my 45 Combat Masterpiece

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Old 09-04-2016, 07:55 PM
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Although I think your Brazilian model is one of the nicer ones I've seen, if you want it shorter go for it. I lucked into one through a friend of mine that knew a guy with a Brazilian for sale awhile ago. I had never spent much time shooting .45acp in a revolver, just past me by while I was chasing .357 and .44 magnum. Anyway my buddy brought it over to me and it had been nicely/professionally reblued which ruined it for any collectible quality. I bought it and immediately started shooting it quite a bit, I had a 629 Mountain Revolver but it wasn't as much fun to shoot as the big ole N-frame and .45acp. Then I got to thinking about replacing the 629 with the Brazilian for camping, hiking, etc. I needed to shorten it to at least 4", asked another friend of mine about getting the job done. He shortened it 4", straightened the yoke, opened up the forcing cone to around 11 degrees and built me a Baughman style front sight with bright orange insert. I really like the thing and carry it with me often, the custom barrel work altogether only set me back $250 so I was into this great revolver less than $500 and wouldn't take a grand if offered.

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Old 09-04-2016, 08:01 PM
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From the serial,# you actually don't have a 1937 contract gun but rather one from the 1946 contract:
Shipped in April 1946: 9,151 in the #166,000 to 175,150 range, and 2,683 in #207,196 to 209,878, ~ 11,834 total.

No one can tell you what to do with your gun that you bought and paid for. However, just to add some perspective to what you own:

Since so many of these were worn out in use, abused, and/or Bubba'd up over the years when they could be had for $25, yours, in quite good condition and completely original including the stocks (if #d to the gun on the inside of the right stock), is a rather scarce example!

They're sure not $25 these days and every year that goes by, original examples continue to be depleted while their value continue to rise.

All I'm saying is you might want to help maintain a finite supply of the nice examples by considering a trade with someone who would like to upgrade one in their collection. You might even get the newer style flat top frame with improved square notch rear sight for easier seeing.

You could also pick up a few bucks extra to help pay for the work you want done. Just advertise for a trade here, it's free:
http://smith-wessonforum.com/guns-sale-trade/
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:21 PM
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I was thinking of picking one up cheap and doing the same thing but I didn't think it would look right...now this thread has proved me wrong! Frank Glenn advertises a "SW Square Butt to Round Butt Conversion" on his website... With a snubbed barrel, that might be better concealed.
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:41 PM
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I'm always on board for a custom project,,pistol, rifle or shotgun.
There's a lot of already modified and refinished guns out there that have no originality left that make good candidates for further modification or even restoration.
Taking any existing issue configuration Military firearm from that time or before and modifying it just doesn't make sense anymore with the supply of original pieces dwindling.

Find an already refinished and/or non-original '17/Brazilian and have at it. JMO of course,

The snub project is interesting.
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:50 PM
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I have a 1917 that someone did what I Call a old school combat pistol job.Barrel cut to 3 1/2 in nickel plated it is one of my favorite revolvers.It is your weapon you should do what makes you happy.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:14 PM
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I go for chopped. Mine are fun to carry and shoot
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Old 09-05-2016, 12:40 PM
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The Chopper...
S&W 1917/1937.  To chop or not to chop...-gilas-1917-chopper-jpg
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Old 09-05-2016, 07:17 PM
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chop it up

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Old 09-06-2016, 12:44 AM
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There were a lot of the Brazilians produced and a lot of them re-imported. "Collectors" want guns that, if not rare, are in excellent condition. You and I will be long time dead before a revolver like this appreciates to any substantial value.

I'd do what you want to it. I have long thought of cutting a 1917 down to 4 inches, just because it is cool done up like that.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:55 AM
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Although the price of all S&W revolvers are going up. I just don't see common guns with wear going that fast. In 5 more years the ops gun might go up 50% at best unless everything goes out of sight. Maybe a $500 dollar gun now, maybe a bit more depending on location. He does a nice job of cutting the barrel and it still going to be worth some money, not to a collector, but collectors are not beating the bushes for worn Brazilians. Guys looking for short barreled, big bores that are easy to pack around are way more common.
No collector would want my 1917 posted above, but I can get more for it that I could of from what it was worth than when I started working on it, judging from the likes.

Besides, how much fun is it setting in a safe, instead of going out in the hills and maybe busting a few caps. If its a using gun it should be what you want it to be.
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crsides View Post
chop it up

Charlie
Charlie:

Don't you have a chopped gun or two that you could show us? Might help the OP decide. I have a beat up .44 Special from the twenties that I've often thought of shortening the barrel on. I would probably keep it 44 though, as that is a favorite caliber anyway. Someone already "modified" the front sight, and the finish is "challenged". I like these sorts of threads. I wouldn't modify a 98% scarce gun, but I've thought about this project for a long time.

I love the one that Iggy has, plus it fires all kinds of 45s.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:23 PM
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chop it... I would and not think twice about it. I would love to have just such a donor gun to mod to my specs/liking.
3" bbl, vintage stags, satin blue maybe hard satin chrome, gold bead rifle front sight.... etc

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Old 09-25-2016, 08:35 PM
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Hey! Even Indiana Jones had a chopped 1917... I posted this on another thread earlier today, but this is the gun that you see in the close ups from "Raiders of the Lost Ark", shot in the US, and was supplied by the Stembridge Co., who furnish movie prop guns. This was in the first movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark":



And the other one, that is seen in the portions of the film shot in Cairo, Egypt (actually filmed in Tunisia) and in the Nepalese bar scene, filmed in the UK, are a different gun supplied by another prop company, Babty, located in the UK. It is similar in appearance, but modified, like Iggy's from a .455:



Both of these guns are now in private collections, and I wouldn't be surprised if one or both are owned by forum members!! Of course, they look a little rough compared to the member's guns we see here, but remember, they would have very short exposure during the actual showing of the movie, and the movie was pretty much created just as VCRs were coming out, so producers didn't think about freeze frames, and gun enthusiasts looking at every conceivable detail forty years later!!

I knew there was something I always liked about that movie!!

Best Regards,

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Old 09-26-2016, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddog81 View Post
Model 1917 45ACP

Post from yesterday about a guy who wanted to turn his chopped 1917 back into the original configeration. Maybe you guys can swap...

If the action is off or something is wrong I'd have it looked at otherwise I'd leave it alone. I'm not sure what chopping the barrel is going to accomplish unless you're looking for something that's easier to carry. YMMV. Honestly that's a good looking Brazillian. I'd be happy with what it is.
I would at least talk to this guy, might be worth it.
Your revolver looks great, to good to cut it up. There are plenty of "not so good" revolver for that.
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Old 09-28-2016, 07:26 PM
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Well I've put the chopping block on hold. After reaching out to 6 different smiths I had confidence in to do the work, none expressed interest. I have a vision for what I want this to look like and compromising wasn't part of the package.

I found a replacement extractor rod and did a light cold blue on the barrel areas. Added an extra T grip I had in the box of all things and it will get range time.

It's a great pistol and all matching #'s including the grips.

Looks a little nicer now...






Proudly standing next to it's brother from another mother.


The chop may happen down the line, but today isn't that day.
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:58 PM
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Thar ya go!! Looks great the way it is.You got yourself a nice looking pair of old warriors.

You may run across a boogered up 17 or Brazilian you can whittle on one of these days.
I've got a pair similar to yours. Had to add a touch of Wyoming to the S&W.


Took me over 40 years to scratch the New Service itch.
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:01 PM
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That Colt is nice..... I really like it
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Old 09-29-2016, 09:12 AM
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I think you made the right decision... BTW, I've got one of those big Colts too, in almost mint condition, but a previous owner thoughtfully did a home "checkering" job on the stocks:



Check out the bore, though!!:



Enjoy your nice 1917s...

Best Regards, Les
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Old 09-29-2016, 09:34 AM
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Having a gun reworked is not cheap if you need to have it done by a good smith or machinist. Time is money and it takes a lot of time to do things right. My modified guns are labors of love and I could never afford to have the work done even at a low hourly rate.

To cut down a barrel, first it needs to be removed. Then chucked up and centered. I now have a pieces of aluminum round stock drilled and tapped for both N and K frame barrel threads. I thread these onto the barrel and use them to chuck up the barrel, then use a live center in the muzzle. Cut to length with a cut off tool. Recrown muzzle and finish with turned brass laps and grinding compound. Now you either need to cut off the original sight from the original muzzle and mill the base to fit the new muzzle or mill out a complete new one. I like to make a key in the base and a matching slot at the new location, clean everything, flux and silver solder in place. Getting the sight right, square, in time and centered takes time and your working with something to hod to use your fingers. The flux will remove blue and no way you are going to only flux the area to be covered, plus the solder clean up will remove blue near new sight anyway. I camber cylinder chambers in my lathe and a 4 jaw chuck with brass shims on the 4 jaws. Even using a piece turned to fit the chambers to aid line up it takes time to go from one chamber to the other. I am sure you could make a cutting tool for this, but I don't do many and have time. Tools cost money to buy or time to make. Plus, you have to be careful to make sure you don't mess anything up. Once metal is gone on a gun most of the time there is no good way to replace it. Except for the grip frame or the trigger guard there isn't much I would weld on and I have a good tig welder. Then there is cleanup time, putting away the tools/tooling, supplies, cleaning up the swarf around the mill and lathe, etc etc.

Then to really make it right you have to clean everything up, finish it, either polishing, sanding or bead blasting it evenly, and then reblue it. Even doing a good job using cold blue to just touch it up and cover where you worked on things takes time for proper cleaning,, warming the metal and a couple applications to make it look good. All this takes a lot of time. I am sure someone who does it all the time knows how to do these things more efficiently than I do, has special tooling and jigs, but, precision work takes time and patents, no mater what.

Good precision metal work takes time even by the best. (gunsmith or machinist). A gunsmith is really a precision machinist with a focus and training on guns. Any machine shop working at a shop rate of less than $50 an hour can't be making much profit or is doing lots of the the same work where they can keep setup time to a bare minimum. Even with every tool I wanted, taking off a barrel, cutting it down and reinstalling it and a new front sight and good cold bluing would take me most of the day. I recently cut a 8 3/8" 629 barrel to 5". Cutting the barrel and giving it a new crown might have only taken an hour. Machining the new muzzle area for the sight base, cutting off the sight from its orginal location and remachining the base to fit the new location and silver soldering it on took way more time, then I had to replace the sight insert because it would have never survived the heat of the silver solder job. Probably had 8 hour in it and that was without removing and reinstalling the barrel and no real refinishing, just clean up because it was stainless.

Having guns customized is no longer cheap. Takes more $ to live, equipment and tooling cost more. Plus,, the wide selection of off the shelf guns with a variety of features, barrel lengths and chamberings has driven many gunsmiths out of business. On top of that the semi auto crowd and the offerings in those has really thinned down those who focus on revolver work.

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Old 09-29-2016, 09:54 AM
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Very well put. I learn things on this forum every day. I had just never really thought much about the process of modifying a revolver as you describe it. Anyone who is doing this for a living certainly earns their money, and if they are doing it for their own firearms, they earn my respect. You certainly explain the process so that folks like me can see just how much work goes into a modified revolver.

I have a 1941 Colt Official Police that was modified long before I received it. I have posted pictures elsewhere on the forum, but basically it was made into a 2", with a rebated crown, and the front sight repositioned, and whoever did it must have known what they were doing, because it shoots exceptionally well:

Edit: just noticed that the photo makes it look like rust on the cylinder and other places. This is just the lighting. There is some wear to the bluing, but no rust or discoloration.



Here's the crown:



Now I know a little about how much work must have went into this gun... Thanks

Best Regards, Les
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:01 AM
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Talking .455 Conversion

This was a project gun a year or two ago. Started out life as s British contract, was cut down to 2.5" snubby. When I got it, it was only a barreled frame. Since I do love N frame 44s, that where we went with it.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunsnrovers View Post
Well I've put the chopping block on hold. After reaching out to 6 different smiths I had confidence in to do the work, none expressed interest. I have a vision for what I want this to look like and compromising wasn't part of the package.

I found a replacement extractor rod and did a light cold blue on the barrel areas. Added an extra T grip I had in the box of all things and it will get range time.
....
Good! I was going to post and say, "Hell no!" That is one of the better looking Brazilians that I've seen, most were pretty rough. I think it'd be a shame to chop it.

Besides, there are 1917s that have already been modified out there. I see them on Gunbroker and at gun shows from time to time. Find one of those instead of butchering up a nice specimen.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:26 AM
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Getting one in California is problematic. Saw a reblued brazilian that was not as nice as mine for $800. Pre lock 625s over $1k.

Even nice model 10s are $600 and up.

Gonna have to be patient.

Paid $125 for the Brazilian in the 90's. Paid $600 for the Colt recently.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:26 AM
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I have a stock Brazilian S & W .45 and one that was heavily customized. The custom job is the way I bought it except for the addition of the T-grip that I had around. My hope is that it was a rescue and restoration of a worn out gun. With original vintage guns becoming more scarce I think it would be a better idea to use a modified gun as a base for a project or find a modified gun that fits your intended use. When I read the ad for the customized gun I realized it was something I could really use and wasted no time in getting it.
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