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Old 02-23-2017, 12:59 PM
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Default Need Info on Used .44 Magnum (Pre-Model 29)

Hey Guys,

I have an opportunity to purchase a Pre-Model 29 .44 Magnum and wanted to get your opinion on this.

Serial number is S1696xx. My research into S&W serialization yielded somewhat imprecise data but my Fjestad Blue Book stipulates that this weapon is a four screw model and was shipped during 1957 or 1958 (probably 1957 as serial numbers for this variant started with S167600). I am assuming that Fjestad is an accurate source for year of manufacture by serial number, yes?

I will go back to the gun shop this morning and take some photos for you (I forgot my cell phone!) and measure the barrel length and determine the number of screws. I will also thoroughly examine this revolver using my 15-point Revolver Pre-Buy Checklist and report back.

The gun has no dings, dents or deep scratches that I could see, other than the usual cylinder ring. I was impressed with the high quality of the metal polishing, almost mirror like. There was quite a bit of wear to the bluing, however - from memory I would estimate the finish as maybe 85%. Could not examine the bore as the action was zip tied, but I will. Again, will post photos later.

The gun comes with a wooden box, which has no damage per se but has much finish wear and lots of scratches and some small dings. The interior plastic has condition issues - some deterioration but I'd say 85-90 percent remaining. This item is not really very presentable. No paperwork that I saw (I will ask about that) and the only accessory in the box is the common small S&W screwdriver.

They are asking $1500. What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your opinion, guys. I appreciate your expertise!
LongColt45
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:18 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Hello 45, WHAT GRIPS AND BARREL? I would say the box is wrong and 85% kinda puts it in the shooter class. I still like as do many others. Best`
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:30 PM
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I show S167222 as a .44 Magnum with a 6 1/2" barrel that shipped in August, 1956. I also show a .44 Magnum 6 1/2" with serial number S178003 shipping in November, 1957. So I believe the one you are looking at might be a little bit earlier than you think. Of course, they did not ship in serial order, so S1696xx could have shipped later. But at least that gives you a ballpark date.

Personally, I think the price is a bit high, considering your description of the condition. For that money, I think you can do better.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:35 PM
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Grips are checkered, are pretty dark look like walnut. Not chipped or cracked but has light scratches and wear.

Fjestad says should come with "blue/black case". The wood box is definitely for a Smith N frame revolver. This is a consignment sale so maybe I can speak with the seller.

Will measure the barrel today. It does not have any taper to it, as I recall.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:37 PM
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I agree with your assessment on the price. It's a consignment so I may be able to bargain the price down.

If it is an early model, do you think it may have shipped with the wooden box?

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Originally Posted by JP@AK View Post
I show S167222 as a .44 Magnum with a 6 1/2" barrel that shipped in August, 1956. I also show a .44 Magnum 6 1/2" with serial number S178003 shipping in November, 1957. So I believe the one you are looking at might be a little bit earlier than you think. Of course, they did not ship in serial order, so S1696xx could have shipped later. But at least that gives you a ballpark date.

Personally, I think the price is a bit high, considering your description of the condition. For that money, I think you can do better.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongColt45 View Post
Fjestad says should come with "blue/black case"
Yes. That early the presentation cases were not made of walnut IIRC.

Correction: "mahogany" - knew that, just forgot. Thanks Bill!
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:50 PM
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At 85%, the price should be closer to half of what they are asking if it's a standard barrel length gun. You didn't mention grips, so it's hard to judge without seeing good clear pictures.
The box sounds like it has little value and should not be part of the equation.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:55 PM
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We await some pics of grips. Leave the box, no value to you. Still sounds a bit pricey. I bet a fine shooter.
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:35 PM
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Thanks for all replies, guys. Heading back to gunstore now for pics, etc.
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Old 02-23-2017, 03:07 PM
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The box will sell for $100-$125 so it has some value. I certainly wouldn't leave it. The gun needs to have its original coke grips to even consider a decent offer. If not I wouldn't go more than $700 at this time. A nice set of cokes will bring $500 ballpark. If your not sure what the cokes look like use the Google search at the top of the page for "cokes".
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Old 02-23-2017, 03:20 PM
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Many 44 Magnums in the S169000 serial number range shipped in early to mid-1957. The revolver most likely has a 4-screw frame, but there is a remote possibility it has a 5-screw frame. The mahogany presentation was introduced in early 1960 so is not correct for this 44 Magnum.

The 44 Magnum sounds like a shooter to me and worth no more that $850 or so.

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Old 02-23-2017, 03:51 PM
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Closest I have listed is S16507x, shipping in 6/56. I have one closer which shipped in 1961, but that one obviously sat in inventory a LONG time. Whether or not it has Coke Bottle grips will make a big difference in value. Cokes were used from 1956 until 1967-68. I'd have to do a lot more research before I would even begin to consider paying $1500 for that one.
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Old 02-23-2017, 03:54 PM
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The gun has checkered coke bottle grips, similar (but not identical) to the grips on my 1986 model 629.

There is also an "issue" with the front sight. Someone had removed the red insert from the ramp and installed a cleverly manufactured blade that uses two set screws and is cut to fit precisely into the slot used for the red insert. In effect, this revolver now sports a Patridge style front sight.

The LGS was crowded when I swung by, so I will pop over after lunch for the photos for y'all.

To be continued ...
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Old 02-23-2017, 03:59 PM
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Also, my buddy recently had his Pre-Model 29 refinished at the S&W factory for $225. He opted for the standard blue. I am thinking, if I get the price down and buy this gun, of sending it to Smith and having them re-do the red ramp insert and refinish in their Bright Blue.

My thinking is that there is minimal collector value as is, and I would want is to look good in my collection (which has some, but not many, mediocre condition shooters).

Any thoughts on this course of action?
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Old 02-23-2017, 04:01 PM
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I will take several close-up photos of the grips.

I really appreciate everyone's expertise on this!

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Closest I have listed is S16507x, shipping in 6/56. I have one closer which shipped in 1961, but that one obviously sat in inventory a LONG time. Whether or not it has Coke Bottle grips will make a big difference in value. Cokes were used from 1956 until 1967-68. I'd have to do a lot more research before I would even begin to consider paying $1500 for that one.
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Old 02-23-2017, 04:26 PM
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Well, the modified front sight would seal the deal for me. Even with Cokes, you have a carry/field/shooter. at 85%. If you want a 44 shooter, buy it at a good price. Best
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Old 02-23-2017, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongColt45 View Post
I have an opportunity to purchase a Pre-Model 29 .44 Magnum and wanted to get your opinion on this.

Serial number is S1696xx. My research into S&W serialization yielded somewhat imprecise data....stipulates that this weapon is a four screw model and was shipped during 1957 or 1958 (probably 1957 as serial numbers for this variant started with S167600).
I know one thing, and it is the serial number many times has no bearing on the ship date.

Here is a 5-screw .44 Magnum (a pre-29--S153xxx).


Here is an early .44 Magnum box:


$1500 ask for a dealer means ~$1300 to me. I'd think a nice pre-29 or the more rare Model 29 could be worth that (depending on condition, barrel length, stocks...).
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Old 02-23-2017, 07:30 PM
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The only 29 I have is a 29-3, nickeled. I have about $400 in it. It's about as nice as they come, and I have smooth Thai grips from eBay on it, which I really like. And it's all I need. Its companion .44 Mag is a customized Ruger Super Blackhawk. Two .44 Mags should be enough for anyone.
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Old 02-24-2017, 03:42 PM
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Default The Cokes

Here they are - look like walnut, yes? Or did Smith stain their Goncalo Alves back then?

How would you rate their condition? Value on the open market?







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Old 02-24-2017, 03:55 PM
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Default Funky Aftermarket Patridge Front Sight Conversion

This can't be from the factory, would you agree? I could find no reference to the part online. I forgot to get a photo of the top of the sight, but the new piece is held in place by two very small slotted set screws.

The conversion part can probably be removed and another red insert installed.

How much does this detract from the value?

Note that the seller is calling this gun a "Rare Target Model", to which I am calling BS at this point. Your thoughts?



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Old 02-24-2017, 04:00 PM
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Those are non-relieved targets. Not Cokes. They do appear to be walnut.

Dan

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Old 02-24-2017, 04:01 PM
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Default The Box

As noted above, I do not believe this presentation box is correct for this revolver. However, it does seem to be a factory N frame box, yes?





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Old 02-24-2017, 04:21 PM
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OK.

So in your opinion are these the correct factory original grips for this gun? Any idea as to their worth?

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Those are non-relieved targets. Not Cokes. They do appear to be walnut.

Dan
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:33 PM
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I believe that gun would have come with cokes, which those are not. Those are your standard N frame Target grips. The box is an original S&W presentation case. The front sight isn't factory, but can probably be taken back to original very easily. Standard N frame targets in this condition,probably around $150 give or take. The gun as it sits with standard targets and box, I wouldn't want to have more than $850 in it.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:41 PM
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No cokes pictured. Those are regular target stocks. Box is a clamshell box that is desirable. Box is 2 or 3 hundred in value.box isn't original. You can find one with Coke bottle stocks for that money. I know because I sold one here on the classifieds last year.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:43 PM
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Default Overall Condition

Overall, the finish is better than how I remember it.

What percentage would you guys rate the condition, based on the photos below?

There is a tiny bit of rust in two locations under the grips (marked in photos).

Items of Note
This is a four screw, 6.5" gun.
The bore is in very good shape.
Cylinder lockup is very good, minimal rotational wiggle. Timing seems fine.
Cylinder / Barrel gap is .005" max.
No end shake during lockup.
Sideplate screws have been turned but are not too bad.
SA trigger pull is 2 lbs 15 ounces and really crisp.
DA pull is 11 lbs 7 ounces and glass smooth.
Only minor wear on the rear cylinder indexing star.
No flame cutting or erosion around frame or forcing cone.

The rest you can see for yourselves in the photos. This gun shows signs of regular use but not abuse, in my view.













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Old 02-24-2017, 04:56 PM
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I think you want it and are trying to get validation here. I have no problem with you paying $1300 to $1500 for it. Plus, you're in California. Aren't you limited to revolvers already in the State or something? You could recoup a big chunk of your investment by selling the stocks and presentation case. I think they are worth about $400 as a pair or possibly more.
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Old 02-24-2017, 05:10 PM
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Hell Long Colt. it appears to be an average shooter 44Mag. Even at $850, I would hesitate. Not meaning I would walk. If they lower the price, someone will buy it. The big brute does kinda grow on you though. Best
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Old 02-24-2017, 05:11 PM
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Thanks, Always.

I do want it, but more so than validation I am trying to ascertain exactly what it is that I'm considering so I know what I would be getting. And, like everyone, I don't want to pay too much.

I know that it certainly isn't a "rare target model", as the seller asserts.

Are you saying that the stocks are worth $400, or that the stocks and the presentation case together are worth $400?

In California, vintage S&W revolvers don't show up often in the gun stores I frequent.
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Old 02-24-2017, 05:15 PM
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Thanks, Mike (and everyone!).

The consensus seems to be that this is a sub-$1000 gun. I will offer $850 and see what happens.

On a side note, I called S&W this morning and they said they no longer refinish revolvers made prior to 1960, no exceptions. They also said Jack First can get me a replacement red ramp insert that would fit that front sight.

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Hell Long Colt. it appears to be an average shooter 44Mag. Even at $850, I would hesitate. Not meaning I would walk. If they lower the price, someone will buy it. The big brute does kinda grow on you though. Best
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Old 02-24-2017, 05:18 PM
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The stocks on the 44 Magnum are made of American walnut and date from 1955 to around 1957. They were used on the 1955 45 Target revolvers and other models, but not the 44 Magnum. Coke bottle stocks have a larger area of checkering and a relieved area on the left stock panel. The mahogany presentation case is for a Model 29 or possibly a Model 57 with an 8 3/8-inch barrel. It is a S&W case. The style of sight screw driver in the case indicates the case dates from 1963 to 1968. A former owner modified the red ramp and changed it to a Patridge type front sight. I am sure a good gun smith can change it back.

Your 44 Magnum (Pre-Model 29) dates to 57-58 as the windage adjustment screw has a flat head. A screw with a crowned head was introduced in early 1959.

I think $1250 is a fair price for this revolver and accessories.

Bill
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:25 PM
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$400 for the stocks and box. Being an 8-3/8" barrel clamshell presentation case may even drive the price higher since the box is kind of rare and the barrel length is even rarer than a 6.5".
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:45 PM
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From the picture of the ratchets, it appears to me that the pins are missing. Perhaps they are there, just recessed enough that they do not appear on my computer.

They are friction fit, but finding some could be difficult.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:45 PM
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I have no dog in this fight but from what I've learned on here that box is hard to find.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc44 View Post
The stocks on the 44 Magnum are made of American walnut and date from 1955 to around 1957. They were used on the 1955 45 Target revolvers and other models, but not the 44 Magnum. Coke bottle stocks have a larger area of checkering and a relieved area on the left stock panel. The mahogany presentation case is for a Model 29 or possibly a Model 57 with an 8 3/8-inch barrel. It is a S&W case. The style of sight screw driver in the case indicates the case dates from 1963 to 1968. A former owner modified the red ramp and changed it to a Patridge type front sight. I am sure a good gun smith can change it back.

Your 44 Magnum (Pre-Model 29) dates to 57-58 as the windage adjustment screw has a flat head. A screw with a crowned head was introduced in early 1959.

I think $1250 is a fair price for this revolver and accessories.

Bill
I totally agree. If any of you have a similar pre 29 with non relieved targets in this condition for sale for $850 I'll take every one you have!!

Buy it and go shoot it! Need Info on Used .44 Magnum (Pre-Model 29)

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Old 02-25-2017, 12:02 AM
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Your description states that this is a 4-screw gun. It is a 3-screw gun. The modified front sight would be an easy fix for a gunsmith to remove the patridge blade and pour another red ramp in the dovetail. I don't think that I would have this gun refinished unless you are willing to have more in the gun than it is worth as well as decrease it's value. As others have noted, the diamond target grips have value as does the rather rare "clamshell" presentation case. The value of the gun in CA is probably higher than in my part of the world. A fair price for you might be based on how rare an opportunity to purchase such a revolver is and how much it means to you to own it. It is a fine revolver and I am certain that you would be proud to own it. Good luck!
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdavis View Post
Your description states that this is a 4-screw gun. It is a 3-screw gun.
The 4th screw is in the trigger guard.

Jim
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  #38  
Old 02-25-2017, 12:43 AM
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I didn't notice the non relieved targets til now. Those are what $250 ?
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:54 AM
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I didn't notice the non relieved targets til now. Those are what $250 ?
You know, I didn't notice they were non relieved either. That definitely helps up the value.
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Old 02-25-2017, 02:32 AM
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Default Conclusions Thus Far

The Grips:

I have spent several hours today researching just S&W grips, attempting to educate myself on this complex topic. This is not my first rodeo buying used revolvers, but when it comes to vintage S&W's (which I've always had a powerful affinity for), I am quickly realizing I am in over my head and need lots of expert advice. Clearly, I've come to the right place.

The best single reference I have found on S&W grips was on here this forum: (click here to see it).

The general consensus on that thread supports Doc44's statement that the correct grips for "my" 44 Magnum should be Cokes. That thread also has references to rare but not unheard of occasions in the 1950's when S&W would substitute older in-stock parts during periods of transition from one phase of manufacture to another. Could this have happened with "my" grips? As probably the least experienced poster on this thread, I don't feel qualified to hazard a guess on that. However, it seems weird that someone would replace Cokes with non-relieved walnut targets, unless the Cokes got damaged; and, since the non-relieved walnut targets pre-date the Cokes (if I am understanding Doc44 correctly), then that replacement likely happened way back in the day when the walnut targets were still available.

Makes my head swim. Don't even get me started on presentation cases ... Anyway, I go back to the LGS tomorrow and check out the back of the grips, check on the ratchet pins for Nightowl, ask if there's any original paperwork, etc. I'll post what I find.

Thanks again, guys. Great forum.
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  #41  
Old 02-25-2017, 06:10 AM
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There is very little premium for C&R guns in CA, basically whatever not paying shipping would cost you, since they are exempt from the roster.

Non-roster S&W revolvers can easily be brought in under the SAE (Single Action Exemption), provided they are dimensionally compliant, meaning no snubbies. That adds maybe $50 - $75 to the price.

I kinda doubt the seller would be willing to entertain such a drop, but I would be in the $850 range on this as well.
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  #42  
Old 02-25-2017, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongColt45 View Post
The Grips:

I have spent several hours today researching just S&W grips, attempting to educate myself on this complex topic. This is not my first rodeo buying used revolvers, but when it comes to vintage S&W's (which I've always had a powerful affinity for), I am quickly realizing I am in over my head and need lots of expert advice. Clearly, I've come to the right place.

The best single reference I have found on S&W grips was on here this forum: (click here to see it).

The general consensus on that thread supports Doc44's statement that the correct grips for "my" 44 Magnum should be Cokes. That thread also has references to rare but not unheard of occasions in the 1950's when S&W would substitute older in-stock parts during periods of transition from one phase of manufacture to another. Could this have happened with "my" grips? As probably the least experienced poster on this thread, I don't feel qualified to hazard a guess on that. However, it seems weird that someone would replace Cokes with non-relieved walnut targets, unless the Cokes got damaged; and, since the non-relieved walnut targets pre-date the Cokes (if I am understanding Doc44 correctly), then that replacement likely happened way back in the day when the walnut targets were still available.

Makes my head swim. Don't even get me started on presentation cases ... Anyway, I go back to the LGS tomorrow and check out the back of the grips, check on the ratchet pins for Nightowl, ask if there's any original paperwork, etc. I'll post what I find.

Thanks again, guys. Great forum.
The gun could have had aftermarket stocks installed at some point and the wrong stocks could have been put back on especially if the original/previous owner had more than one N frame S&W.
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  #43  
Old 02-25-2017, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laytonj1 View Post
The 4th screw is in the trigger guard.

Jim
Thanks for the correction, Jim. I don't know what I was thinking
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:15 AM
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Just go buy the pistol. You're already referring to it as yours. Clean it up and post some pictures. : )
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:57 PM
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Default I offered $1000

This morning I checked out the new gun store in town which opened yesterday. ARs and plastic pistols only.

Then I checked out the .44 Magnum, again. Examined the bore under magnification: the lands are sharp, no pitting or corrosion, no leading - just some very light and thin fouling in the grooves.

The finish I would definitely call 90%.

The non-relieved walnut diamond targets are probably 90%+, no markings on the inside surfaces and identical patina on the flat inside "nuts" of the medallions.

The extractor pins are present and not worn.

There IS slight peening on the edges of the extractor's stud through which the center pin protrudes (see marked photo). This suggests quite a bit of firing with full power loads; however, it does not affect the end play and the cylinder/barrel gap is less than .001" at rest and .005" when the cylinder is pushed fully to the rear. Unfortunately I don't have range rods for .44 caliber, only .45 and .357, but when I shined a strong light through the firing pin hole, all six of the cylinder chambers lined up perfectly with the barrel (at least visually).



I tried to remove the set screws securing the Patridge sight conversion blade using small jeweler's screwdrivers, but they would not budge and might have been Loc-Tited in place. They may need to be heated first, or even drilled out.

So I made an offer for $1000. I explained about the non-correct grips and case, and about the bogus front sight. The LGS owner said she thinks the guy (who inhereted the revolver from his Dad) would be willing to take less than his original asking price.

Except for some bluing wear this gun is really in pretty good shape. Bummer about the missing Cokes, but if the dude accepts my offer you'll be seeing Nikon photos of the cleaned up piece in about 10 days. Of course, I will perform a complete detailed disassembly to inspect, clean and lube the internals.

Wish me luck, and thanks much again for all of your very helpful replies. If you think of anything I've missed ...
LongColt
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:18 PM
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Solid offer. Hope it works out in your favor.
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alwaysoutdoors View Post
Solid offer. Hope it works out in your favor.
It did.

It took a while, but I was able to bargain the price down from $1500 to $1100. Of course, living in California I will have to wait 10 days before I get to take it home.

One aspect of living in California is that gun prices in general are a bit higher than in other parts of the country where many of you reside. Because of the stringent and restrictive gun legislation here, vintage handguns are not readily imported into the state, and when they appear in gun shops they are snapped up with rapidity. Therefore, I have no problem with the price I paid. I will certainly sell the presentation case - where and how, I do not know (any ideas on that, guys?).

I saw several examples of really minty Pre-29 .44 Magnums on Gun Broker in the $3k range. If there was an easy way to get those into California I would not hesitate to pay that for a pristine piece of S&W history. I did buy several off-roster custom 1911s under the now-defunct Single Shot Exemption, but until I figure out the C&R rules and the Single Action Exemption, I will be quite happy with this latest acquisition.

Next Steps (not necessarily in order) ...

Step 1: When I get this revolver home I will strip it down to the pins and springs, ultrasonically clean the non-blued parts, possibly stone the moving internal parts to a mirror finish if wear patterns dictate, and generally get the gun in the best possible shape.

Step 2: Letter the gun. I want to be sure that the original purchaser did not factory order either the non-relieved target stocks or the Patridge front conversion. I know that both are highly unlikely but I have read, on this forum no less, that stranger things have happened with both special and standard order S&Ws.

Step 3: Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. I really like .44s and have a mess of them. Now I have one more!

Step 4: Sell the case. I will almost certainly keep the non-relieved targets, even if I do buy a ridiculously priced set of Cokes online somewhere (which I am sorely tempted to do). The decision to buy Cokes may depend on if I decide to get the gun refinished. If I can get S&W to do the work I may go for it.

Step 5: Document Online. When I get the gun cleaned up and reassembled I will do a photo shoot and publish the spread here. I will also shoot the gun in my Ransom Rest at 25 yards using NRA testing protocols and publish results and target photos here as well.

Sorry for the ramble, just sharing my passion. Knowing that there is a community of folks like you out there just makes everything more fun for me.
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:55 PM
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Sounds like a good plan. The case can be listed on the Forum's Accessories for Sale or Trade, or listed on ebay.

Bill
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:03 PM
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You did well. $1100 with the case is a great deal in CA. I am not an expert in CA pricing, but I am a member of calguns.net since I have a few friends on the left coast.

I'd probably fire it before rebuilding it since that establishes a beginning point to work from.
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
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The case can be listed on the Forum's Accessories for Sale or Trade, or listed on ebay.
Bill
Thanks, Bill. I will try this Forum first. Just need to determine a fair price that will make both parties happy.

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You did well...
I'd probably fire it before rebuilding it since that establishes a beginning point to work from.
Thanks to you also, GA. Always feels good to have someone more experienced tell you that you didn't screw up! Not a bad idea to shoot if first, although I'll probably at least have a quick look-see under the side plate just to make sure everything's as it should be. Can't imaging it wouldn't be, though - that thing is smooth as silk.
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