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Old 08-10-2017, 09:36 PM
PastorHammett PastorHammett is offline
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Default Date a 626 N Frame 44 Special

I recently inherited a chrome plated N Frame 44Special from my great-grandfather. The only serial number I can find is 7902 marked on the square butt. The inside of the crane is marked 626.
How can I determine the date of manufacture?
I'd NEVER part with it, but I want as much info as I can get.
Thanks guys!
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Old 08-10-2017, 09:47 PM
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This is a .44 Hand Ejector 1st model, also called a "triple lock" due to the multiple cylinder locking points. From the SN it is likely from early 1911, but an accurate ship (sales) date can be obtained with a letter of authenticity:

Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation - Letter Process - Insuring that the rich history of Smith & Wesson will continue for generations to come

It has been refinished and has a non-standard front sight, suggesting a barrel shortening, but it is still a very desireable and sought after gun. What family history do you have on it? Hope this is helpful.
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Old 08-10-2017, 09:50 PM
Dave T Dave T is offline
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You have what appears (to me) to be a 1st Model Hand ejector, other wise known as a Triple Lock.

The nickel (not chrome) plating was not done by S&W but by some one else. We know this because S&W never plated the hammer and trigger, they should be color case hardened. Also it appears the shop that did the chroming also got a little heavy handed buffing out what probably was rust or significant wear to the original finish.

Also, I'm pretty sure that barrel has been cut down and that is not the original sight. If it is the original it has been modified. This is evident because the sight is located further back from the muzzle than would be normal.

I don't have my 4th Edition S&W book handy so I can't help with the year it was shipped but that a pretty low serial number so yo have an early one.

All in all, not a collector piece but certainly a shooter (with contemporary 44 Special ammo) and no doubt a treasured family heirloom.

Oh, and the number 626 on the yoke is just an assembly number, not a model number.

Dave

PS: Alan answered while I was typing. Oops!
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:10 PM
PastorHammett PastorHammett is offline
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THANKS GUYS! Y'all are Johnny on da spot!
I really appreciate your dedication to sharing your knowledge.
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Old 08-10-2017, 11:28 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is offline
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Welcome to the Forum.

The Triple Lock was produced from 1908 to 1915. My guess would be 1911-1912. Only a letter from the historian will give you an exact shipping date. The letter will tell you what the original finish was, what barrel length and where it shipped. Often, firearms shipped to hardware stores and to distributors. If you are really lucky, it shipped directly to your great granddaddy!
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Old 08-11-2017, 09:26 AM
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I just love it when some folks imply that a shortened and refinished Triple Lock is not a collector piece. There are many members here who would treasure that gun--myself included. That is pure Americana when things were made to really last. Your gun was possibly a cop gun that may have even been carried by more than one generation of LEOs. As the original finish became worn, it was refinished. As ammunition gained quicker burning powder, barrels were shortened for easier carrying. There's history there.

I would encourage your to get a Historical letter and learn where the gun first shipped. Have it checked out by a gunsmith if necessary, buy some 44 special cartridges, take it to the range and finally, pass it down to your kids to shoot and cherish. Just my dos centavos worth...

Oh, and welcome to the forum! You made a great entry.
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Old 08-12-2017, 05:52 PM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is online now
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That's a wonderful heirloom and great shooting revolver.

".44 Spl Military - 1st Model Hand Ejector New Century", also known as the Triple Lock.

The .44 Triple Lock (especially a target model) is one of the Holy Grail S&Ws and very first N frame (large size) Hand Ejector .44 special Revolver! Officially it's a 1908 Military - New Century". It was introduced in 1908 along with the brand new .44 S&W Special cartridge. It has the unique feature of a third cyl lock in front of the cylinder, a feature not seen before or since, which gave it the collector nick name of Triple Lock. This revolver is the pinnacle of S&W engineering design and craftsmanship. Only 15,375* were made, estimated 10 % of these, were Target Models, most chambered in .44 Spl and a few in other calibers: 38-40, 44-40, 44 Russian, 1503** 455s, and 45 Colt (only 23 made in 45 Colt according to Roy Jinks) until discontinued in 1915. Most don’t realize that the very earliest TLs were 4 screws, lacking the front trigger guard screw like the early M&P K frames.

*This does not include ~ 2 dozen prototypes in 45 Spl for the 1906 Army trials or the dozen or so Club Guns in 44 Rus or 44 Spl made from the unused prototypes and with a zero serial # 1st digit.
**This does not include 5461 TL 455 MARK II HE 1st Models originally produced as .455s, all for the British Commonwealth Military.
And does not include a special order of 25 .455 TLs with 5” barrels shipped in 1912.

The three locks are under the barrel in the extractor rod shroud, back of the cyl, and the 3rd lock, hence the nickname "Triple Lock", in the yoke at the front of the cyl. They all release simultaneously with a push of the cyl release thumb piece. The locking pin is sprung to the front, opposite from any other N frame, therefore there is no 'divot' in the TL recoil shield unlike all other N frames.

The TL craftsmanship is superb and a marvel of precision hand fitting, the panache of yesteryear that we will never see again.



Cyl detent hold open device:
TLs have a classic old feature to keep the cyl open when loading/unloading and prevent it from slamming closed if the gun is tipped to the right slightly and scratching the recoil shield with the extractor star.

The cylinder hold open device or detent was introduced on the very 1st hand ejector, the ".32 HE Model 1896, 1st Model". It was used and continued in pre WW I K frames beginning on the 38 M&P Model of 1902, and used in most pre WWI, pre WW II, and some post war Transitional N frame HEs. Another example of old world panache Smith was known for that we won't ever see again.

Important Note: if you remove the yoke beware of the cyl detent pin and spring! If you aren't aware, it can launch across the room to no man knows where! If it's missing, that's likely what happened to it.


The TL was replaced with the 2nd Model ".44 Hand Ejector” which did not have the 3rd lock or the barrel shroud, and had a barrel lug for the front locking bolt.


Of the 15,375, 812 and 691 were made as 44 Hand Ejector 1st Model 455 TLs, for a total of 20,836 44 HE 1st Model TLs. Add 5461 built as “.455 HE 1st Model TLs” also chambered for the .455 Mk I/II cartridge under contract in the British Commonwealth serial # range for WW I, for a grand total of ~22,339 Triple Locks.
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