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Old 04-10-2018, 10:46 AM
BrianM87 BrianM87 is offline
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Default Strange Outdoorsman?

So I recently bought what appears to be an Outdoorsman, but it's a little bit weird. The obvious one to me was the hammer not being the typical humpback, and the more I dig into this thing the more I realize I really don't know what this gun is. I've talked with another member here a bit about this gun, and he believes it's a 1917 frame used to build the gun. The gun apparently has had a short action job done to it, but he was unable to say much else about it at the time. The "RJ" is very crudely engraved and I believe that might actually be gold inlay in the engraving. Any help or input would be appreciated.

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Old 04-10-2018, 11:36 AM
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The eagle's head suggests that it is a left over 1917 frame. The "Made in the USA" stamp would have been added no earlier than 1922. Is there any marking on the hammer? Nice looking revolver and should be a good shooter.
mo
A second look at the discoloration on hammer makes me think that someone modified the spur of the original.

Last edited by OFT II; 04-10-2018 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:39 AM
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Pre-War magna drips are a nice bonus.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:41 AM
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That style hammer brings Christy's Gun works to mind. They did work for Elmer Keith and others back in the 30's. King's and Buchanan also did short action conversions. Neat gun!
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OFT II View Post
The eagle's head suggests that it is a left over 1917 frame. The "Made in the USA" stamp would have been added no earlier than 1922. Is there any marking on the hammer? Nice looking revolver and should be a good shooter.
mo
A second look at the discoloration on hammer makes me think that someone modified the spur of the original.
I can't find any markings on the hammer, but I haven't taken it out of the frame to look on the left side.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:25 PM
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What are the serial numbers on the frame, the barrel and the cylinder.
If i'm looking at this correctly you have a pre-war frame and did I see a S prefix on the barrel serial number ?
By the eagle's head I'm thinking a 1917 frame. Don't yet know what to make of the rest of it.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by model3sw View Post
What are the serial numbers on the frame, the barrel and the cylinder.
If i'm looking at this correctly you have a pre-war frame and did I see a S prefix on the barrel serial number ?
By the eagle's head I'm thinking a 1917 frame. Don't yes know what to make of the rest of it.
200XX. Numbers on frame, cylinder, and barrel all match, no prefix.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:48 PM
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I would soak it in Kroil first, then CAREFULLY remove rear sight (with properly fitting screwdriver). The sight would have SN on bottom if done at factory. I would send for a letter and any S&WHF documents available.
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:06 PM
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The SN is too early for a 38/44 Outdoorsman. Can you shoot a close up photo of the roll marks on the right side and the top of the barrel?

Does it look like the "38" has been messed with on the right side of the barrel?

Regardless of how it came to be, it looks like a fun gun to me.
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RKmesa View Post
The SN is too early for a 38/44 Outdoorsman. Can you shoot a close up photo of the roll marks on the right side and the top of the barrel?

Does it look like the "38" has been messed with on the right side of the barrel?

Regardless of how it came to be, it looks like a fun gun to me.
None of the stamps look like they were messed with in any way. I'll grab a photo in a few hours. I'm on duty right now but when I head home for dinner I'll get some. And I agree, I think this thing will be a good shooter. The bore is practically pristine.
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:48 PM
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There does appear to be one diamond on the frame, and one inside the barrel.

When we talked about it my best guess is that it's a commercial 1917 frame that went back to the factory after the Outdoorsman was introduced to have the barrel and sights added.

Then had the hammer/action job done to it by someone I don't recognize. The closest I have seen to that hammer is the one that Frank Pachmayr did on Elmer Keith's registered magnum.
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Old 04-10-2018, 05:32 PM
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I think it is a King hammer and short action, FWIW.
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:23 PM
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Here are the pictures of the top of the barrel and the side.


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Old 04-10-2018, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianM87 View Post
Here are the pictures of the top of the barrel and the side.
I wanted to compare the roll marks on the OP's gun to one of my O/D (the best photos I had of the marks were an engraved one). I also cropped the OP's photos to make the comparison easier:

Side:

Strange Outdoorsman?-wierd-od-barrel-jpg



Top:

Strange Outdoorsman?-wierd-od-barrel-top-jpg

Strange Outdoorsman?-38-44-od-engraved-barrel-top-jpg

The roll marks appear correct to me for the 38/44 O/D, even down to the missing "." after the "S". Quite the mystery? Given what I can see I would have to agree with the direction that Caleb is heading...

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Originally Posted by SixgunStrumpet View Post
...my best guess is that it's a commercial 1917 frame that went back to the factory after the Outdoorsman was introduced to have the barrel and sights added.

Then had the hammer/action job done to it by someone I don't recognize. The closest I have seen to that hammer is the one that Frank Pachmayr did on Elmer Keith's registered magnum.
... or maybe they had the hammer and action job done to a 1917 which they loved dearly and did not want to replace. But something happened to the 45ACP barrel, so they sent the gun back to the factory for the factory to replace the 45 ACP barrel and cylinder with 38 Spl O/D parts. While it was there, they had them fit the frame with target sights (but that too may have been done earlier with the hammer and trigger)? That way they had the same trigger pull and the same short action modified hammer that they loved with a new 38 Spl barrel and cylinder.
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Strange Outdoorsman?-wierd-od-barrel-top-jpg   Strange Outdoorsman?-wierd-od-barrel-jpg   Strange Outdoorsman?-38-44-od-engraved-barrel-top-jpg  
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Last edited by RKmesa; 04-10-2018 at 10:01 PM. Reason: added some more thoughts...
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:56 PM
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It's a mystery!

The SN format on the grip frame is that of a commercial or .455 N frame of the era, but the inspector's mark in the yoke cutout as mentioned above indicates it was a leftover 1917 Army frame. All well and good, as 1917 Commercials were built with this SN orientation...but matching numbers in the half-lug and cylinder? That strongly suggests either a factory rebuild/conversion or a really obsessed gunsmith.

A letter of authenticity would be a good idea, I think.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:22 PM
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Looks like it also probably had a screw-on grip adapter at one time. Is the hole in the bottom of the frame between the trigger guard and frontstrap threaded?


Last edited by Tom K; 04-10-2018 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:10 AM
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Looks like it also probably had a screw-on grip adapter at one time. Is the hole in the bottom of the frame between the trigger guard and frontstrap threaded?
Didn't catch that before. Yes, it's threaded. I was also able to get the rear sight off and it has a matching serial to everything else.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:16 AM
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I really hate to add another speculation to the hammer mystery, especially because the origin of mine is also unknown; but the configuration of the spur portion of mine is virtually identical to this one.

Mine is on a Roper Custom----a Colt Officers Model 38. It was shipped off to Walter and his lads, who did their thing---grips/sights/action job (including the hammer). My hammer IS NOT a modified Colt hammer, although we (me and my fleet of gurus) don't know for sure and certain what it is. The very best deduction comes from Jim Carter (HONDO44), who opines it's Roper's design---made for him by Colt---and it's that deduction I accept. I accept it because it makes sense---most particularly when you answer this question: Who is best prepared and qualified to make a hammer for a gun----the maker of the gun, or someone else?

It's perhaps of no moment here, but there is nothing about my hammer except for the business end (and critical dimensions) which bear any resemblance to any Colt hammer (any I was able to find anyway)----and it's so light I swear it would float---and it's not drilled full of holes----nary a one.

SO---maybe your hammer is yet another example of Mr. Jinks' oft repeated explanation of the weird stuff we stumble upon now and then: "They (S&W) would do anything anybody would pay them to do."-----like make a special hammer-----for Walter and his lads-----or anybody else who would pay them to do it.

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 04-11-2018, 08:20 AM
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RJ.........Perhaps Roy Jinks was thinking about becoming an engraver?
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:53 AM
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Do you know if S&W did any short action conversions like this Ralph?

I can't imagine the hammer modification didn't happen in conjunction with the short action job.

Looking at this gun one of the things with the S/N on the rear sight that I think is worth pondering is that this is a 2 screw sight, which I think was mid 1930s? I forget exactly when those came in, I am sure someone can remind me what year that was.

That should date when the conversion to a "Virtual Outdoorsman" was done. I'm excited to see if the Historical Foundation has some records on this.
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixgunStrumpet View Post
Do you know if S&W did any short action conversions like this Ralph?

I can't imagine the hammer modification didn't happen in conjunction with the short action job.

Looking at this gun one of the things with the S/N on the rear sight that I think is worth pondering is that this is a 2 screw sight, which I think was mid 1930s? I forget exactly when those came in, I am sure someone can remind me what year that was.

That should date when the conversion to a "Virtual Outdoorsman" was done. I'm excited to see if the Historical Foundation has some records on this.
I know of no short action conversions done by S&W---so we can add that to the list of what we/I don't know. I believe it was Mr. Redfield (JSRIII?) who spoke these words: "We don't know what we don't know."---and that was a stroke of genius!!

The "2 screw" sight came along in 1932----so close enough.

And the mention of the Historical Foundation is another stroke of genius---or at least sage advice---for they too don't know what they don't know---until they look---and they don't look until you ask them------so----------

And out of order, but has it been determined this is a short action? If so, it pretty much stands to reason Roper would have included that feature in his design that S&W made for him----if it's his design---and if S&W made it----and if----if----if.

Having been there and done that, let me suggest you don't spend a lot of time fussing and worrying about the origin of the hammer--it's hazardous to your health.

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:44 AM
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Yeah, it's a short action. There's that notch in the hammer and I know in our discussions he confirmed that it is a short action, not sure if he has in this thread yet.
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Old 04-12-2018, 12:46 AM
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Okay, well the mystery continues.

Speaking of mysteries, I have received an inquiry to the effect of what's up with this "short action" business. I reckon if one wants to know, more than one wants to know.

"Short action" refers to the distance the hammer falls when released---more particularly the elapsed time from release to primer strike---and a shorter amount of time is better. I can't speak to the history of the development of short actions, but it figures to have been for the benefit of those few souls who could shoot better than their guns could. And once the benefits became known, it caught on with the many who thought they could shoot better than their guns could.

In S&W land, virtually all pre-war revolvers were long action---so called because their hammers fell a greater distance than the newer short actions---and took longer to do so. And we probably should restrict our comments to revolvers of the hand ejector variety---if for no other reason than I don't have much use for apples and oranges comparisons.

The beginning of the end of long actions came about in 1940 with the introduction of the K-22 2nd Model. It had a short action. I don't know how it compares with post-war models, but it's easy enough to find out----grab a ruler, and measure from a point on the hammer to a point on the frame----at points repeatable on a post-war model.

At this point we have the pre-war long action, the 1940 version of a short action, and the post-war version (which may be the same as the 1940 version--in terms of distance/lock time). And so it was until the introduction of the single action only K-38---known in its early days as a "short action single action". I had one of those, the homemade version consisting of a regular everyday K-38 and a conversion kit supplied by the factory.

Then I got a real one----a Model 14-3, circa 1972. Notably absent was any reference to "short action single action"---at least in the letter. I wondered about that, but not very much. Time passed, and I wondered more.

Then I got out a ruler, and measured a regular K-38, and this Model 14-3. I don't remember what the numbers were, so I did it again---just now. The numbers are: K-38, .8"; K-38 SA, .7" (from identical points on both). So they're both short actions, and one's shorter than the other. As long as I had a ruler out, I measured a K-22 2nd (22/40), 1.1"; and a K-38, 1.1" (from identical points on both---but it's an eyeball comparison because the hammer noses/faces are different). That said, the 1940 short action is very close if not identical to the post-war version.

I also measured an M&P Target (pre-war/long action)---1.1"---compared to a K-38, .8"; so a big difference.

All this (except for comparison with the 22/40) was done from firing pin nose to the front of the frame notch where the base of the rear sight sits. It was done "quick and dirty", which is to say the rear sights were not removed, so the actual numbers are not as precise as one might like; but the error factor is essentially the same with all---so the difference is reasonably valid---and the difference is what counts.

Ralph Tremaine

Last edited by rct269; 04-12-2018 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 04-12-2018, 12:19 PM
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I have one example I think of a pre-war short action conversion. This is a pre-war M&P. The shortness of the action is extremely pronounced on this particular gun:

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Old 04-12-2018, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
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Yeah, it's a short action. There's that notch in the hammer and I know in our discussions he confirmed that it is a short action, not sure if he has in this thread yet.
I have a King short action conversion on an MP ST It does not have a notch like a 22/40

Unless King did conversions two ways i might lean away from King work.

This is my Short action King

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Old 04-12-2018, 08:12 PM
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Also noticed a hammer stop pin in the empty frame. The main spring rides exactly across it so i used to think it was to help keep the mainspring aligned.

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Old 04-12-2018, 08:46 PM
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I was in the auction for this gun in the early stages. You got a good deal.

Are you going to letter it?
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Old 04-13-2018, 11:34 PM
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Very interesting gun! Have you removed the rear sight yet as others have advised? Are you going to send for a letter?
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:07 AM
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I did remove the rear sight, and it is numbered to the gun. I am going to send for a letter on my next days off.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:39 AM
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I did remove the rear sight, and it is numbered to the gun. I am going to send for a letter on my next days off.




figured I might as well throw the pictures up that you sent me. The font used on the rear sight can be useful sometimes for some of the extremely knowledgeable guys around here.
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:05 PM
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Very cool gun!
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:21 PM
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Very cool gun!
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:42 PM
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Once you have the letter, I agree a Historical Foundation search for repair requests or orders would be a good idea.
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  #34  
Old 04-16-2018, 07:42 PM
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Are there any markings on the gun to suggest return to the factory for work? I saw no dates or stars. If it is in fact void of said marks, would that not be a possible indicator of work done outside the factory or by someone at the factory that did not feel the need to add factory marks since he did the work himself. Roper?

Ralph, thanks for the mention. To clarify, my statement is "Sometimes we just don't know what we don't know".

Of course I am also known to say things like: "sometimes these changes were made by someone that unknown to us was probably doing things that were done at a time when we probably couldn't or wouldn't know if that was the reason"
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paplinker View Post
I have a King short action conversion on an MP ST It does not have a notch like a 22/40

Unless King did conversions two ways i might lean away from King work.

This is my Short action King

I just now sat and stared at this picture for the first time. Everything I first stared at, thinking it would be different, wasn't.(!!) Actually it was different, but I saw it only with my eyes----and not with my mind. Once my mind caught up, my first and only thought was "SHEER GENIUS!!"------and disgustingly simple---disgusting because I hadn't thought of it as a possibility.

Oh the shame of it all!!

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Old 04-16-2018, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
Are there any markings on the gun to suggest return to the factory for work? I saw no dates or stars. If it is in fact void of said marks, would that not be a possible indicator of work done outside the factory or by someone at the factory that did not feel the need to add factory marks since he did the work himself. Roper?

Ralph, thanks for the mention. To clarify, my statement is "Sometimes we just don't know what we don't know".

Of course I am also known to say things like: "sometimes these changes were made by someone that unknown to us was probably doing things that were done at a time when we probably couldn't or wouldn't know if that was the reason"
There is a Diamond on the frame, left side, and a diamond in the barrel shroud. Not sure if there is one on the face of the cylinder, doesn't look like it from the pictures I have seen.

Between the S/N on the rear sight and those diamonds I'd be exceptionally surprised if anyone but the service department added the sights and converted it to .38spl.

I'd be equally if not more surprised if the service department upgraded the hammer and converted it to short action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paplinker View Post
I have a King short action conversion on an MP ST It does not have a notch like a 22/40

Unless King did conversions two ways i might lean away from King work.

This is my Short action King

I'm in total agreement with you. That hammer just doesn't seem like a King job. The era this conversion was most likely done in would have meant that had it been a King conversion it would have been like yours.

I'd be extremely interested if anyone does recognize who did the conversion, its certainly first rate.

Last edited by SixgunStrumpet; 04-16-2018 at 08:25 PM.
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