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  #1  
Old 06-13-2017, 10:04 AM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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Default An Interesting Old Triple Lock

Howdy

I picked up this old Triple Lock last week. Yes, saying 'old' Triple Lock is somewhat redundant, but this one has such a low Serial Number, 19X, that I think it was made in the beginning of the run in 1908. Almost no finish anywhere, the metal is mostly weathered to a 'battleship gray' color. Plenty of wear on the grips, which I suspect are original. I have not taken it apart yet, but all the numbered parts match. There is a star next to the SN indicating it went back to the factory for something, and under the left grip it is stamped 7.16 indicating it went back to the factory in July of 1916.

Anyway, I liked the gun, and I got it for a very low price for a Triple Lock.









But here's the interesting part. Rather than being marked 44 S&W SPECIAL CTG, like every 44 Special Smith I have, including two Triple Locks, the barrel is simply marked 44 S&W CTG. I had not noticed this at first, and was a bit perturbed when I did. I checked, and 44 Special ammunition chambers correctly in it, 44-40 does not, too wide. So I'm thinking maybe in the beginning S&W had not gotten around to stamping SPECIAL on the early guns. I suppose it could have been a 44 Russian, and the chambers opened up for 44 Sp, but I would have thought the marking would reflect that. I see no evidence in the chambers of them having been lengthened from 44 Russian length to 44 Special length.

Anybody ever seen anything like this on an old Triple Lock?





Despite the wear on the finish, the chambers and bore are nice and clean with almost no wear. I took it to the range on Sunday and fired a box of mild 44 Special reloads through it. It performed like a champ and is still very accurate.
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  #2  
Old 06-13-2017, 10:15 AM
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Cool gun. Looks like there is some blue left where the barrel threads in and just behind the recoil shield - hope the seller called it "honest wear" .

I can't recall seeing another one this early with this caliber/chambering stamping, but you know someone here probably has. Agree the stocks are probably original; proper style and worn proportionally to the gun. Enjoy!
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:17 AM
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Great acquisition and thanks for posting. Good question that I don't know the answer to? Seems logical to me that the marking could be different because it is such an early item. Are there any other odd markings on the grip frame other than the rework date? Like an "o", caliber stamp? Surprised if it was refinished that quickly by the original owner, but obviously we can't really tell at this point.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:39 AM
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I would be thrilled to find one like that. Very nice!
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:26 AM
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What a delightful find! Congratulations.

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Old 06-13-2017, 11:53 AM
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Default I have one

I have the same markings on my Triple Lock with a serial number of 100.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:53 AM
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Wow! It has a lot of "character".
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:10 PM
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Character, honest wear, well loved, whatever, I'd be happy to have it. Been around guns for nearly 50 years and have rarely seen one, never held one.
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Old 06-13-2017, 01:33 PM
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Early T-Locks in .44 Special caliber will have the ".44 S&W" stamp, as I believe the factory had not yet made a die stamp for the .44 Special marking. ( Remember, T-Locks were first produced to be .45 S&W Special caliber, for the 1906 Army trials, so until the trials did not result in S&W winning, the factory was thinking .45 for T-Locks, so why make a .44 cal die) ) Other early T-Locks w/o any barrel caliber stamps will be other than .44 S&W Special calibers, such as .45 S&W Special, and sometimes .44 WCF ( .44-40), etc. When the .44 S&W Special stamp was starting to be used is not known to me, however I have a NM#3 DA, ser. # 0, that has it's barrel stamped ".44 S&W Special" although the cylinder is chambered for .44 S&W Russian rounds. It was probably used to test the new Special die. Ed.

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Old 06-13-2017, 01:35 PM
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My t-lock Target #902, shipped in 1908 is "Special" marked.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:25 PM
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That is just perfect as is. Nice score!
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by series guy View Post
That is just perfect as is. Nice score!
Hear, hear!

Me encanta. While I understand the investment angle, and can appreciate flawless museum pieces, I'd much rather have a worn gun that I could enjoy shooting once in a while without worrying about scratching it and ruining my retirement plans.

And just thinking about what the country was like in 1908, and what this old well-used gun has been through, makes it more interesting to me than a museum piece.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:06 PM
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Thatís a wonderful TL and one with lots of ďexperienceĒ yet unabused! Itís not only special because of the low number but also because itís entirely original, thatís rare in itself!

The early barrel rollmark is a neat feature and only seen on pretty low numbered TLs. Iíve seen several under 1500 that already have the ĎSPECIALí added. Someday weíll pin it down.

Another very early feature is a 4 screw frame like the early K frames. Does yours have the trigger guard screw? Weíll pin that one down as well but thatís also only very early TLs.

The stocks are the correct vintage and highly likely original. They are included in the seven TL serial # locations so you can verify it.
Back side of right stock penciled vertically near the back strap. Recognize the # is over 100 years old so magnification, bright sun light, and an attitude that it is there are a must!
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:19 PM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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Howdy All, thanks for the replies.

Particularly the replies about the caliber stamping.

Ed: Never heard that before about Triple Locks being submitted to the Army chambered for 45 S&W. 45 Schofield?

There is very little blue left on the gun, only in the normal protected areas; cylinder flutes, sight groove on the top strap, directly behind the recoil shield on both sides, cylinder yoke, and a few other places. Don't know as I would characterize it as 'honest holster wear', because I can see some light scratches that look like they were made from sandpaper. But for a 110 year old revolver there is no trace of pitting anywhere.

Hondo44: Yes, it has the screw in front of the trigger guard. Sorry, I looked in very good light, but I can see no trace of a number anywhere on the grips.

This revolver came from the collection of a local collector. His guns have been going for auction for a while now. It seems I share much of his taste in guns, I have several of his guns in my collection. Including the #2 Old Army Tip up in the antiques section that was modified to fire 22 Long Rifle.

I have a refinished Target Model that Roy told me shipped in November of '08 that does have the 44 S&W SPECIAL marking on the barrel. I would post a photo, but photobucket is being a real pain in the butt right now.

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Old 06-13-2017, 11:32 PM
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Ahhhhh

If only I could find a set of those correct non medallion dished grips.... I'm jealous, an all original low serial Triple Lock with the early rollmark to boot. Nice score

SVT28
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson View Post
Ed: Never heard that before about Triple Locks being submitted to the Army chambered for 45 S&W. 45 Schofield?
THE VERY FIRST PROTOTYPE TRIPLE LOCKS WERE CHAMBERED IN THE 45 S&W SPECIAL

The .45 S&W Special began life as the .45 Frankford or "Cal. .45 Ball, Model of 1906" developed in late 1905 by Frankford Arsenal for use in testing revolvers submitted for the Army trials that began in 1906. The case was rimmed, 0.923" in length, and was loaded with a 230-grain cupro-nickel jacketed round-nose bullet over 7.2 grains of Bullseye smokeless powder. The muzzle velocity was 800 fps. S&W had high hopes for a lucrative military contract, but it wasn't to be. As is well known, the military chose the Model 1911 Colt 45 Semi Auto Pistol and its ne 45 ACP round.

In 1908 or 1909 [S&W] seriously considered introducing a model that was to be called the "45 Special." This cartridge was designed for use in what became the 44 Hand Ejector 1st Model [New Century] or Triple Lock. The cartridge was a revolver cartridge developed for military use at the Frankford Arsenal. Smith's anticipation of their 45 Spl (45 FA) chambered TLs for military and commercial success caused them to order a large quantity of boxes. So when their gun/cartridge was not adopted by the Army, it was never commercially sold. They were stuck with a huge pile of boxes labeled 45 Special inside the cover and on the end label.

As we all know, S&W never threw anything anyway. Therefore when the British came thru with a huge contract for 455 Mk II chambered Hand Ejector service revolvers for WW I, guess where the boxes went? Yep, British contract guns were packed in them and shipped across the big pond!

These boxes are usually found with a new 455 label glued over the 45 Spl end label. I can picture the British armorers unpacking the ~ 79,000+ 455 contract revolvers and once inspected, stamped, and issued to the military, a huge pile of these boxes stacked in the trash!

The boxes:
455 SN# 53541 Shipped June 9, 1916 in a 45 Special box from 1908 w/pasted over end label.

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Old 06-14-2017, 02:49 PM
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I have one with serial number 10xx and it has special on the barrel. It's 44 spl.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:34 PM
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Ed:

Thanks for that terrific information.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:59 PM
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I love an old gun with honest wear. This one is beautiful!
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:55 PM
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Very nice!!!!
Steve
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Old 06-16-2017, 02:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alwaysoutdoors View Post
I have one with serial number 10xx and it has special on the barrel. It's 44 spl.
Thx for the new data point!
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Old 06-16-2017, 06:32 AM
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Still looking forward to the day I run across a triple lock for sale that's in the budget. I've been a fan of those revolvers from the first time I saw one back in the late '70's. Thanks for sharing the pics of that historic revolver. Enjoy!
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Old 06-16-2017, 08:37 AM
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Keep looking and one might well come your way. I am always checking out pawn shops, gun shops and estate sales. One day I walked into a pawn shop and saw a old S&W marked as a 1917. But, it had an ejector shroud! Happy day for me, it was a decent 455 triple lock, wearing 1917 grips and missing the lanyard loop. It became mine for $725, found the correct era grips, installed a lanyard loop from a project 1917 and I have a triple lock. It had been reamed and counter sunk to 45 colt, done so it will still fire 455 rounds. Not all original, but then 45 colt is my favorite. revolver round.

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Old 06-16-2017, 09:04 AM
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Excellent find !! You simply MUST get a Factory letter for it, it just may reveal some really interesting facts. Well worth the added investment, IMHO?

Best, dpast32
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Old 06-16-2017, 10:19 AM
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It is great seeing these old revolvers. The Triple Lock is such high water mark for revolvers. I am amazed that they can be found in decent condition and sometimes very good condition. They change my view on older revolvers. I wish I could get to put a cyclinder through a Triple Lock one day.
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Old 06-16-2017, 10:35 AM
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Doesn't get much better to me. There's something really special about a gun that was used for what it was built for, and has survived all this time, only to come to you for a good price.

I find when I pay the right price for a gun I just like it more. And its a lot easier to pay the right price of a gun that looks like it has a little honest wear on it

Very nice buy, I'm jealous.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:47 AM
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I have that guns twin brother that was "made an hour before" yours with S#146 and it has the exact same barrel markings. I spent the dollars to get the letter just for grins and giggles.


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Old 06-19-2017, 09:02 PM
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Just to add my 'Triple Target', SN 10xx, shown below (& previously displayed/discussed on this Forum). Immediate relevance: Grips, trigger guard hole and "Special"; all in evidence. Interestingly or perhaps of concern, my TL Hand Ejector SN 137xx also shows the 'guard hole'!!! Faintly discernible in my file photos, unknown if visible in Forum pix rendition. Perhaps those trigger guard screws throughout production??? ...Or only on "Executive" models, destined for such as the Kaiser and Elvis!
TLs a certain 'quality aura' all their own!
My take
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:31 PM
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Only the earliest couple hundred TLs are 4 screws, the rest have five screws including the trigger guard screw.
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:48 PM
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My Triple Lock 373 has the same markings, thanks for the thread, never noticed it before.
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Old 06-19-2017, 10:05 PM
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My Triple Lock 373 has the same markings, thanks for the thread, never notice it before.

Beautiful!

Does it have a trigger guard screw?
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Old 06-20-2017, 01:25 PM
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Jim, it does have the trigger guard screw.
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
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Jim, it does have the trigger guard screw.
Thank you.
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Old 07-14-2017, 03:32 PM
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Howdy Again

I just heard from Roy. He states that this Triple Lock shipped in December of 1907. Roy also states the marking '44 S&W' is for a revolver chambered for the 44 Russian cartridge. The chambers clearly accept 44 Special ammunition, so I wonder if the 7-16 marking on the grip frame means it was rechambered for that cartridge at that time. The cylinder does bear the same SN as the gun, so the cylinder should be original.

I suppose a letter is the only way to get to the bottom of this one.
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Old 07-14-2017, 03:50 PM
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Here's a photo of s/n 15, which is marked exactly like yours.



Mine is lettered as a .44 Spl. Roy commented in his letter, "The caliber marking on the barrel is typical of the marking used on the first production of the .44 Hand Ejector First Models."

You can see many more photos of mine here: S&W .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model #15

Nice find for sure!

Curl
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson View Post
Howdy Again

I just heard from Roy. He states that this Triple Lock shipped in December of 1907. Roy also states the marking '44 S&W' is for a revolver chambered for the 44 Russian cartridge. The chambers clearly accept 44 Special ammunition, so I wonder if the 7-16 marking on the grip frame means it was rechambered for that cartridge at that time. The cylinder does bear the same SN as the gun, so the cylinder should be original.

I suppose a letter is the only way to get to the bottom of this one.
Roy’s comment is interesting because it seems to contradict his letter information to CptCurl in post #35 above.

CptCurl’s letter does agree with my data base information although a very small sample so far about the barrel cal marking including info from members in this thread:

44 spl chambered TL barrel cal markings. The change does appear to be between #902 and 373 at this point:

#10xx has “SPECIAL” on the barrel.
#902 is “SPECIAL” marked and has five screws, shipped in 1908.

#373 NOT “SPECIAL” marked and has five screws
#19X does NOT HAVE “SPECIAL” and has five screws, shipped Dec 1907.
#146 Not Special marked
#15 does NOT HAVE “SPECIAL” and has five screws, shipped 1/25/1909.
#2 does NOT HAVE “SPECIAL” and has four screws.
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Last edited by Hondo44; 07-14-2017 at 07:48 PM.
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  #37  
Old 07-15-2017, 12:28 PM
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05CarbonDRZ 05CarbonDRZ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson View Post
Howdy Again

I just heard from Roy. He states that this Triple Lock shipped in December of 1907. Roy also states the marking '44 S&W' is for a revolver chambered for the 44 Russian cartridge. The chambers clearly accept 44 Special ammunition, so I wonder if the 7-16 marking on the grip frame means it was rechambered for that cartridge at that time. The cylinder does bear the same SN as the gun, so the cylinder should be original.

I suppose a letter is the only way to get to the bottom of this one.
I hate to say it but Roy's info is incorrect.I have Serial Number 421 with the early Barrel marking and the Gun has always been chambered in .44spl,Not 44 Russian.
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  #38  
Old 07-15-2017, 01:17 PM
Lee's Landing Billy Lee's Landing Billy is offline
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While we all want someONE or someTHING to go to for EXACT info that we can all accept, there are just too many variables involved with S&W Manufacturing. Always remember...He or It CAN always be wrong.
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  #39  
Old 07-16-2017, 08:45 AM
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"44 spl chambered TL barrel cal markings. The change does appear to be between #902 and 373 at this point:"

I have # 691, 6-1/2", nickel, 5 screw, left barrel marked 44 s&w ctg..That will kinda fill the gap somewhat..
JIM...............
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