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Old 10-06-2017, 02:15 AM
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Default Which "older" Smiths can still be shot?

Getting back into revolvers after a fling with pistols.

Would like to "collect" a few to add to my two, remaining wheel guns, a 640 I carry and a 19-5. (I gave a few of 'em to my kids for their wives for HD....and traded the rest for pistols).

So, I wouldn't mind looking for some of the older guns instead of starting with "Victory" era .38 special guns.

But I'd like some help, if possible, on identifying which "older" models I can safely shoot. I don't collect to display (not like the old days...everything in the safe now) and I'm not looking for museum pieces, just nice, good working guns. And, while I'm trying to keep the number of calibers down to a dull roar (9mm, .38/357, and .380 now) I'd add which other caliber gives me the most flexibility in getting a few.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.
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Old 10-06-2017, 03:35 AM
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Most of the hand guns I own are old and for the most manufactured between 1910 and 1970 with a few from the 1980's and 1990's but none made after 1994. This includes all my Smiths, Colts, Brownings, etc. and every single one of them gets shot. Some more than others but I have no Safe Queens, that's for sure.

Obviously when I shoot a gun that is 100+ years old I will not use today's high velocity loads or light bullets they were never really designed to shoot, but my feeling and experience has always been that if they get shot with the loads they were intended for and the firearm is well cared for they are perfectly safe to shoot.

If you are a Reloader, you could also custom taylor some lighter loads for really old guns. I personally don't own and would not buy a firearm that I did not think was safe to shoot - but that's just me

GREAT SMITH'S TO OWN/SHOOT

Turn of the last Century Hand Ejectors 4th & 5th Change, Combat Masterpiece (M15), M18, M17, M14, M13, M34, Military & Police (M10), Registered Magnums (BIG bucks), Baby Chief's, and the list goes on.........

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Old 10-06-2017, 04:12 AM
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Well your in the right era here, 1896 to 1961. The heyday of the Hand Ejector Cartridge guns. I have a few newer but most in this period; pre WW II and 1950s era. Mostly like the 22s, 32s, and 44 Specials.
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:48 AM
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The short answer is that all older revlovers can be shot as long as they are in tune and you don't use excessively hot ammo in the rally old ones. You will hear from a lot of people that jacketed rounds should be avoided in revolvers from the earlier 20th century. I have several prewar revolvers, and out of an excess of caution I never shoot .38 special ammo hotter than semi-wadcutter target loads in them.

If you are already a .38 Special fan, look into a pre-war N-frame in that caliber -- either the .38/44 Heavy Duty or its sibling, the adjustable sight .38/44 Outdoorsman. These will handle any .38 Special ammo loaded today, including +P.

If you are looking for a new bore-diameter experience, you can't go wrong with a .22, and both the pre-war K-22 Outdoorsman and the post-war K-22 Masterpiece are in the minds of many the best .22 target revolvers ever made in America. At the upper end, a .44 Special or two wouldn't be out of place, or an early .44 Magnum in which you can also fire .44 Special ammo loaded to different levels of punch.

There is nothing really fragile about any older S&W revolver except maybe the tiny .22 HE (or Ladysmith), a gun that can chamber .22 LR but is likely to suffer damage if you actually shoot that round in it. These are mostly collector items these days, so I doubt they would be the kind of thing you are looking for.
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:27 AM
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My oldest S&W is a 1929 Model 1917 (.45 acp). I use standard 230 grain FMJ target ammo in it. No problems and lots of enjoyment to take to the range. As a previous poster said make sure the revolver is in good operating condition and use ammo that was intended for it.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:06 AM
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Check out 32 Winchester (32-20) revolvers. Great shooting, distinctive sound, fast bullet, easy to reload. This K frame revolver was made from 1899 to 1940.

44 Special revolver are just that - "special" and getting so high in value that routine shooting is a questionable objective. They are getting to be more a collector item than a regular visitor to the range. There is another N frame that is still affordable and would fit your flag scheme. The 455 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model is another great gun to take to the range. They were made for Great Britain and Canada for WWI from 1915 to 1917. Many were converted to 45 Colt or 45 ACP and those can be bought for less money than originals. If shooting is your objective and if you are not looking for a safe queen, can't go wrong with a big old 455 revolver. 455 ammo is made, mostly by European companies and production runs occur sporadically, so owners stock up when available. Reloading is easy and one can still buy brass.

If you wanted to add a pocket gun to your shooting collection, one cannot go wrong with a 32 Hand Ejector (I frame). Lots of models made starting in 1896 and all are great shooters taking the readily available 32 Long cartridge.

Lastly, an oddball target revolver has a lot of appeal and will collect a crowd of plastic gun shooters. The 22/32 Heavy Frame Target revolver was the company's first target version in 22 LR, made from 1912 to 1953. These guns featured a 6" barrel on an I frame with an extended walnut target stock and adjustable rear sight.

Hope that helps you get started. Also, I would recommend The Neal & Jinks book S&W 1857 - 1945 as it referenced every model S&W made up to and including WWII, plus a few that never went into production.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:44 AM
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Default 547 to shoot 9mm out of a revolver ,,,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcoat3340 View Post
... I'd like some help, if possible, on identifying which "older" models I can safely shoot... just nice, good working guns. And, while I'm trying to keep the number of calibers down to a dull roar (9mm, .38/357, and .380 now) ...

Any suggestions will be appreciated.
Here's a sugestion:


Model 547 9mm K frame w/ 3" heavy barrel


Hornady Critical Duty 135gr JHP

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Old 10-06-2017, 10:01 AM
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Many of my S&W revolvers are pre-1957 and I shoot them all, but one of my most coveted shooters is my model 1917. Made in 1918, it's a great shooter and it doesn't know how old it is. I have a Colt 1917 that also gets a lot of trigger time. It's really cool to shoot a piece of history. I know you want to limit your caliber selection, but these are worth a look.

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Old 10-06-2017, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
I'd add which other caliber gives me the most flexibility in getting a few.
.22 LR and .32 S&W Long are probably the best cartridges to add to the ones you already shoot. Both are inexpensive, .32 especially if you reload. Also, pre-WWII guns can be inexpensive to acquire...again, especially .32 calibre. Both .22 and .32 calibre guns are fun to shoot. .32 is among my favorite cartriges. My suggestions are to add a .22/.32 Heavy Frame Target in 6" barrel length and a .32 Hand Ejector or Regulation Police revolver. The Regulation Police has a better grip (extended and square butt) for target shooting like the HFT.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:11 AM
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I'd be comfortable shooting any revolver dating back to about 1910, just to be certain the smokeless powder innovations of the time were in full effect. Even before that is ok to shoot, but must load accordingly. Other than that, if pre-war2 I would shoot standard loadings of the era it was made. Anything made post-war2 is good to go.

I also don't personally own any guns I would not shoot and use if needed.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:52 AM
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My oldest S&W is a 1914 Model of 1905 Change 3. I have fired 158 grain LRN with no problem and am going to try out some 148 grain wad cutters. I don't expect any problems with those.





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Old 10-06-2017, 11:26 AM
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I regularly take my "shooter grade" Model 1902 1st Target (shipped 7/1903) to the range and run 30 or 40 rounds through it. The only thing that keeps me from shooting it more than that is the old style cylinder stop and wearing it out, again! Barrel/Cylinder gap and headspace are dead on.

Stu

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Old 10-06-2017, 11:28 AM
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Don't forget about the various 32s - available on I frames and larger that can still be shot
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:15 PM
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I have shot my 127 year old 44 Russian double action top break, my older model 1 1/2 spur trigger 32 S&W top breaks as well as my 1916 455 triple lock. It isn't about age, its about condition and using appropriate ammo.
Lots of older 32, 38 and 44 specials as well as 45 acp guns out there with the ability to fire many more rounds.
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:19 PM
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I love to shoot my .44 Special Triple Lock. It shipped in 1910.

I shoot my Model 1899 .32-20, shipped in 1901. I also have a Model 1902 .32-20. That one shipped in 1906.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:28 PM
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Without getting carried away with different calibers you could do real well looking for a nice Model of 1955 Target, you could get one that was made in the 50's and 60's and it would provide you with a revolver that also fired a pistol caliber namely .45ACP. I'm a fan of the large "N" frame revolvers more than any other.
The Model of 1955 is probably the most comfortable easy to get along with revolver I have ever owned. The earlier Model of 1917 is very similar but usually does not have adjustable sights, it is also lighter which makes it a very comfortable carry gun. There is also the Model of 1951 Target which has a tapered, thinner barrel, also in .45ACP. .45ACP in a heavy framed revolver is a joy to shoot, I am still puzzled on how it passed me by earlier in my life but probably due to the fascination of all the magnums, etc. and "who wants to fool around with moon clips?"
I do not think there are any older Smith and Wessons that you cannot safely shoot as long as you stay within the limits they were designed to operate within. If your a handloader the options are terrific, you can tailor make a load for each revolver you shoot, cast your own bullets and end up with a rewarding hobby that will keep you away from the boob tube.
I'm in Spokane and actively shoot at the Spokane Rifle Club at least three days a week, with exception to a few my handguns are earlier than the fifties or early sixties.
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Old 10-07-2017, 09:30 AM
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As long as the gun is in good working order it almost doesn't matter how old it is. I happily shoot any and all of my hand ejectors, and I occasionally shoot my top breaks too, all of which are in fine working condition.


It's totally safe and not at all scary to shoot a gun from the 1870s

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Old 10-09-2017, 12:05 PM
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I have a S&W letter saying in 1909 they approved use of factory loaded smokeless ammo in their revolvers --






I shoot my .44 Russian now reamed to shoot .44 Special also, modern ammo --

Basic gun nice inside, got my DIY rework ---->
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:41 PM
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I frequently fire the 1919 pre-heat treated .32/20 Hand Ejector Model of 1905 Target-4th Change as well as the 1929 .44 Hand Ejector 2nd Model Target and the 1950 .44 Hand Ejector 4th Model Target revolvers.

All are very accurate and a whole lot of fun to shoot.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:27 AM
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Any of the early model number and pre-model number S&W hand ejectors are good to go, provided they are in good condition and original chambering. Those that have been rechambered are to be taken on a case by case basis. The 455 to 45 ACP conversions have been talked about a lot on this forum.
The break-tops need to be a bit more closely examined for condition, but otherwise are fine, too.
In general terms, all of these arms are best served by conservative handloading practices and ample amounts of appropriate cast bullets. The accuracy potential of many of these can be pretty spectacular!
My appreciation of all these arms is in some ways due to the fact that, unlike most things in our disposable society, they weren't designed or built with planned obsolescence in mind. They were intended to last a lifetime or more with proper care and maintenance.

Enjoy them!
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:28 PM
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I regularly shoot my 1899 Target, Triple Lock Target, 32-20 Targets, list goes on and on.

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Old 10-12-2017, 06:27 PM
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1904-6 32-20, 1915 0.455 Mk II, and even a 1904 C96 (not S&W. Dave_n
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:23 PM
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The only thing I do regarding my 4th change 32-20 is that I keep the rounds separate from what I use in my Winchester Model 1892 32-20. I keep the pistol rounds in either blue or green cases, the rifle stuff is only in well marked red cases. I've got a load worked out for the '92 that is probably just a little too hot to push through the old revolver, it would work but I just don't believe its worth the possible stress damage. I look at it much the same way as pushing +p .38 specials through small frame revolvers, even the airweights will probably handle it but is it worth the end result of possible damage that could jeopardize the functionality.
As an aside without actually thread deviation, the modern built revolvers are also susceptible to overpressure. This past summer one of the members at the club did a job on a Model 26 in .45LC, fired a highly overpressure load that sent two pieces of the cylinder, left and right completely through the partition plywood, he escaped with a totally damaged revolver and a bruised ego.

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