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Old 04-29-2018, 08:33 PM
jkingrph jkingrph is offline
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Default 1905 hand ejector 32-20

I just won an auction for a S&W 1905 hand ejector in 32-20. Not knowing a lot about those old revolvers I have a few questions. First serial number is 109xxx and the gun has a factory letter saying it was shipped in Nov of 1922

1. Is it safe to shoot modern high speed 32-20 factory loads, or should I reload to lower levels.

2. It looks a lot like my much newer K frames, esp the K-22 and K-38, is it a K frame or simply an earlier model?

3. What does hand ejector refer to? I think it simply means opening the cylinder and pressing the ejector rod to eject cartridges.

4. I see 4 screws showing on the sideplate, is this a 4 screw model or a 5 screw, with one hidden under the grip plate?

I sought out this gun to be a companion to a little Marlin 1894 CL in the same caliber, that I bought new back in 2006.
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Old 04-29-2018, 08:39 PM
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My answers are inserted below:

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Originally Posted by jkingrph View Post
I just won an auction for a S&W 1905 hand ejector in 32-20. Not knowing a lot about those old revolvers I have a few questions. First serial number is 109xxx and the gun has a factory letter saying it was shipped in Nov of 1922

1. Is it safe to shoot modern high speed 32-20 factory loads, or should I reload to lower levels.

Yes, shoot standard ammo. If you handload, milder loads are always a good idea on older guns.

2. It looks a lot like my much newer K frames, esp the K-22 and K-38, is it a K frame or simply an earlier model?

Standard K-frame. Identical to .38 Special version.

3. What does hand ejector refer to? I think it simply means opening the cylinder and pressing the ejector rod to eject cartridges.

Exactly. As opposed to auto-eject top break.

4. I see 4 screws showing on the sideplate, is this a 4 screw model or a 5 screw, with one hidden under the grip plate?

Screw 5 is in front of the trigger guard.

I sought out this gun to be a companion to a little Marlin 1894 CL in the same caliber, that I bought new back in 2006.
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Old 04-29-2018, 08:53 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply. I have gotten to the place in life at 72 years old, the hottest loads just do not interest me any more, so tend to load more on the mild side and for accuracy, not max velocity.

I see that fifth screw in front of the trigger guard now. I did not catch in in the pictures. This gun looks good, very mild patina, probably 90+% of bluing remaining, with trigger and hammer still showing good case hardening color.

I bought my K-38 back in 1968 as a college graduation present for myself, and the K-22 a couple of years later to match, so am familiar with the more modern forms. When I saw a picture of the internals of one of these I thought it looked very familiar.

It looks like I had answered most of my questions except for the one about the screw. When I receive it will strip it down, clean and re-lube and go shooting.
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Old 04-29-2018, 09:33 PM
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Welcome to the Forum.

I have had a .32-20 or two or more since about 1975. They are fun guns to shoot. I also had a Marlin .32-20 rifle.

All modern .32-20 ammo is safe in handguns. About 50 years ago, there was a high velocity .32-20 factory round available. It had a 80 grain hollow point bullet and the case head was stamped "HV". These were NOT to be used in revolvers or old (1873 Winchester era) lever action rifles.
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Old 04-29-2018, 11:39 PM
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"Is it safe to shoot modern high speed 32-20 factory loads?"
There are really no "modern high speed" loads for the .32-20. As previously stated, the high velocity .32-20 load has been extinct for many years and you are not likely to find any of that. In fact, any .32-20 ammunition is not the easiest to find in most areas, although it is still loaded and available through internet ammunition sellers and sometimes at gun shows. Reloading eliminates such problems.

You might be aware that S&W ceased manufacture of the .32-20 M&P revolver around 1929-30 after making around 145,000 of them. The Model 1905 designation was dropped by S&W just before WWI. But some collectors still use it.
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Old 04-30-2018, 08:42 AM
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It's good to know that the HV ammo is not available. I have a few boxes of cast bullet ammo I bought at a gun show a few years ago, as well as a supply of Starline brass, and a supply of cast bullets, so I am well fixed in that area. Thanks for the info. As I get older I am more interested in the little guns. A few years ago I bought and built a couple of AR 15 rifles in 6.5 Grendel, and just last year finally got a little CZ 527 bolt action in that caliber. It's rather amazing at the performance out of such a small round.

I've been a forum member since 2009, but obviously not posting much, just occasionally reading for reference.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:17 AM
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Not such a little caliber though, since there are old advertisements out there stating that this caliber "can shoot clean through a man"

Years ago, I purchased my first 32 Winchester and started loading that caliber. I researched lots of loads and settled on one powder to start with. The revolver was a solid shooter with a 6 1/2" barrel and shipped in 1908. Being relatively new to this caliber, I loaded a box with increasing charges from minimum to maximum. Out the the range, I ended up shooting the entire box of 50 because it was so much fun, but I noticed that as I neared the upper end of the powder charges, the sound of the report changed to a loud crack. No worry since the revolver was handling everything with ease, but the next time I went to shoot the gun, I invited a friend that had a chronograph. To my surprise, the upper end of the loading range ran over 1200 fps using the pistol loading data. I did not realize it, but I had gone super-sonic. I bought a chrono shortly after my experimentation and use is religiously. I settled on a 750 fps load that is quite accurate and the old work-horse is still going strong. One thing about the K frame in this caliber is that the barrel and cylinder have lots of metal, since they are the same as the 38 Special with much smaller holes.

I shot the gun for years in its original condition, but decided it needed a new finish a few years ago. Badly pitted and no finish, I could not diminish the value further, so I rust blued it. Still one of my favorite shooters.
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Old 04-30-2018, 10:32 AM
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Long ago I settled on a load of 3.2 grains of Bullseye and the 100 grain Missouri Bullet Company .313 lead bullet. The average MV is in the mid-700 ft/sec range in all three of my .32-20 revolvers. Not much point or purpose in going beyond that.

One of my more notable blunders was mistakenly loading up a cylinder full of .32-20s in a .38 Special revolver (I was shooting both calibers that day). I thought the noise and recoil felt a little off. I ejected a group of six blown-out and split cases. Strangely, all those bullets hit the target at about 15 yards.

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Old 04-30-2018, 10:55 AM
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. . . One of my more notable blunders was mistakenly loading up a cylinder full of .32-20s in a .38 Special revolver (I was shooting both calibers that day) . . .
I have loaded 32 Long into a 32-20 and had amazing accuracy. Did not do the cases any good, as all were split.
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Old 04-30-2018, 11:06 AM
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I have loaded 32 Long into a 32-20 and had amazing accuracy. Did not do the cases any good, as all were split.
I have worked two murders where the offender used a .32-20 revolver loaded with .32 Long cartridges. Worked good enough.

Back in my younger, dumber days, I used a max load of 2400 behind a 100 grain bullet. It also "cracked" when shot. Luckily there was no damage to my pre WW I S&W.
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Old 04-30-2018, 11:24 AM
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I remember reading about the use of .32 Long in .32-20 rifles. Apparently it works but it doesn't do anything for case life.
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Old 04-30-2018, 11:39 AM
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I've been wanting to pick up a shooter grade 32-20 ever since I bought a Marlin in that caliber a year or so ago. I didn't realize they stopped making them that long ago. They sound like a lot of fun. I'm still working on a "favorite" load for the lever gun. It would be great if I had one load they both liked. So I better get busy finding that revolver I suppose.

What barrel lengths were they made in? I like the balance of both my 17-3 6" and 15-2 4".
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Old 04-30-2018, 12:00 PM
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I wanted a very good shooter grade, and think I found it in this one. The auction was ending soon and I was the only bidder, and probably paid too much. There are a couple of others on Gunbroker that look better, with lower current bids, but time remaining is well over a week and there are already numerous bids. Some that appear very rough have relatively high starting bids, and I don't want to go through the expense of a complete refinish/ restoration. The one I am getting looks like it can be freshened up with an application of light steel wool, degreasing and touching up with some Brownells 44/40
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Old 04-30-2018, 12:19 PM
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. . . What barrel lengths were they made in? I like the balance of both my 17-3 6" and 15-2 4".
Depending on the era, they came in 4", 5", 6", and 6/2". I think they are currently selling for less than its 38 Special counterpart.
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Old 04-30-2018, 01:37 PM
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Depending on the era, they came in 4", 5", 6", and 6/2". I think they are currently selling for less than its 38 Special counterpart.
I did not research 38 prices, as I have had my K 38 for a bit over 50 years now, and specifically wanted a 32-20 ( would really like a K 32, but look at the prices on those things) If you wanted one for shooting a lot, I would go the 38 route because of the price difference in ammo.
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Old 04-30-2018, 05:47 PM
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Colt was a little more into making .32-20 revolvers than S&W as they made at least five different models in .32-20 I can think of, possibly more. And they continued to make them for a little longer than S&W did. I have a nearly mint condition Colt Official Police .32-20 made in 1935 which is one of my most prized handguns. I have another .32-20 Colt revolver, an Army Special from 1911, which is in nearly, but not quite, as good condition. Both are too nice to shoot much. Which is why I usually shoot a more pedestrian M&P which has a fairly good re-blue..
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Old 04-30-2018, 07:05 PM
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I did roughly the same thing years ago. Bought my first S&W 4th change to go with a Winchester 92. The only problem I ran into was that I could load the bejasus out of the 92 but had to be careful with the revolver. Now I have two boxes for 32-20, green for revolver, red for rifle. Nearly any factory 32-20 you will find on the market today is safe in your Smith, the only thing you need to watch for is anything labeled rifle.
The last I've checked and found was Remington and Winchester offerings. The Winchester is 100gr. lead and although labeled Super X is well within the capabilities of your older revolver.
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Old 04-30-2018, 08:14 PM
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I am not sure it is still the case, but the last time I saw a box of new Remington .32-20, it was labeled "Rifle". Of course it can be used in any .32-20 rifle, but it is equally suitable for use in any revolver. It is nothing like the old HV loads. No idea why they would add such confusion to their packaging. I guess the same question applies to Winchester Super-X. Traditionally, Super-X was Western's (not Winchester's) designation for higher velocity ammunition. Regardless, any .32-20 ammunition made today is OK for revolver use.

For use in a Model 92 (and several other rifles), one can approach .30 Carbine MV levels (upper teens) from the .32-20 by handloading.

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Old 04-30-2018, 08:24 PM
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One of my more notable blunders was mistakenly loading up a cylinder full of .32-20s in a .38 Special revolver (I was shooting both calibers that day). I thought the noise and recoil felt a little off. I ejected a group of six blown-out and split cases. Strangely, all those bullets hit the target at about 15 yards.
I did this exact same thing once.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:33 PM
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Yes, all of the recent factory loaded .32-20 ammo I have seen has been marked for "rifle". The only reason I can think of is the fact that the .32-20 was first offered in rifles, with revolvers in .32-20 coming a few years later.

It is safe in revolvers.
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:51 PM
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It came in yesterday, some bluing wear at the muzzle and a couple of very minor, almost unnoticeable dings where it looks like it had been dropped. The side plate is very dull compared to the rest of the gun which looks good for a 96 year old handgun, I suspect something laid there and caused some very minor corrosion or dulling of the finish. On one of the grips the checkering is worn and filled in, the other looks good, so may try recutting the checkering. The bore and chambers look perfect, I pulled the sideplate, and as expected all the old lubs had long since dried out and there are minor traces of rust, nothing to cause any pitting of parts, Trigger and hammer sears look fine. The trigger pull is very heavy for my taste so I orderd a Wilson spring kit for the K frames, new trigger spring, and rebound springs of 12, 13 and 14 lbs so I can play with that. I cleaned the internals with a can of disk brake cleaner, dried and relubed and the single action trigger is just under 6 lbs, I would like to get it to about half that , double action looks to be 11-12as a guess. My Timney spring type gauge maxed out at 10 lbs and only get the hammer to fall when the gage spring is totally compressed. I am going to wait until the spring kit gets here before disassembling enough to examine sear surfaces, in case I need to touch with a hard Arkansas stone, I am comparing to my 50 year old K 38 and should get it into the same ballpark type pull with a little work.
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:37 PM
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Here's hoping you enjoy what should be a fine little shooter. I've handled a few of these and always thought them great examples of classic era S&Ws. At a recent show I saw one in excellent shooter condition but held off as I'd already picked up a pre-Model 11 from the late 30s and a couple of other non S&W pieces. I'm hoping he still has it at the next show.

As many have said, modern factory loads should be fine, and a mild lea handload should make a great plinking/camp round.

Enjoy!
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Old 05-04-2018, 04:41 PM
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..... as I'd already picked up a pre-Model 11 from the late 30s ...
Just curious what this would be.
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:07 PM
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Me too. It couldn't be a pre-Victory if it is from the late 1930s as those didn't exist until roughly mid-1940.
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:18 PM
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Here's hoping you enjoy what should be a fine little shooter. I've handled a few of these and always thought them great examples of classic era S&Ws. At a recent show I saw one in excellent shooter condition but held off as I'd already picked up a pre-Model 11 from the late 30s and a couple of other non S&W pieces. I'm hoping he still has it at the next show.

As many have said, modern factory loads should be fine, and a mild lea handload should make a great plinking/camp round.

Enjoy!
Oh, I'm sure that it will be enjoyed. I have a K 38 vintage 1968 I bought new as a college graduation present to myself, and a K 22 I picked up a couple of years later while I was a new Lt. in the USAF. One of the NCO's in our clinic had an interest in a pawn shop in Orlando, Fla., and had heard me talking about the K 38 and brought the 22 in for me to look at. He said as far as he could tell whoever had it initially had only fired one or two boxes of ammo through it and decided it was not exciting enough. No box or papers so he made me a good price and I grabbed it. Dad had a K 22 back in the late 50's and onward so I have been shooting that pattern for probably 62 of my 72 years. The only thing I would have preferred on this 32-20 would be the adjustable target sights.
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:45 PM
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I wanted a very good shooter grade, and think I found it in this one. The auction was ending soon and I was the only bidder, and probably paid too much. There are a couple of others on Gunbroker that look better, with lower current bids, but time remaining is well over a week and there are already numerous bids. Some that appear very rough have relatively high starting bids, and I don't want to go through the expense of a complete refinish/ restoration. The one I am getting looks like it can be freshened up with an application of light steel wool, degreasing and touching up with some Brownells 44/40
The only bid that matters is the one at the top when the auction ends. If you got a gun you want at a price you were willing to pay, you didn't pay "too much." I've frequently commented on how this gun or that gun was one every shooter should own. IMHO, the ownership of a 32-20 is a step higher, a sign of a true enthusiast. Congratulations on your acquisition.

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Old 05-04-2018, 07:02 PM
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The only bid that matters is the one at the top when the auction ends. If you got a gun you want at a price you were willing to pay, you didn't pay "too much." I've frequently commented on how this gun or that gun was one every shooter should own. IMHO, the ownership of a 32-20 is a step higher, a sign of a true enthusiast. Congratulations on your acquisition.

Froggie
Would my 38-55 Marlin 1895 Cowboy put me in that category also? This is my only handgun in a not common caliber, but have quite a few rifles, like 7.5 Swiss, .405 Winchester, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5x55, 7x57, 8x57, 9.3x57 and a .41Swiss rimfire, converted to centerfire.
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:23 PM
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A "Wonder Sight" is an adjustable sight that is attached in the upper side plate screw hole. It can be installed without altering your revolver. The blade is on the small side, more along the lines of pre-war target sights. They work, and in my opinion, are old school cool! (I have one on a Model 1917 and a 5" 32-20).
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:34 PM
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Thanks for that idea. I found one on ebay, new and have it on order. I was wondering what to do with the upper side plate screw, and thought I would drill a small hole inside one of the grip panels and thread it in there for storage, maybe a shallow countersink near one of the edges so the grip frame will hold it in place. I'll just have to take a grip panel off and mark it to see if I have enough room there to do this, I have a good drill press and a table vise so I should be able to do a neat job there.
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Old 05-05-2018, 07:32 AM
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Thanks for that idea. I found one on ebay, new and have it on order. I was wondering what to do with the upper side plate screw, and thought I would drill a small hole inside one of the grip panels and thread it in there for storage, maybe a shallow countersink near one of the edges so the grip frame will hold it in place. I'll just have to take a grip panel off and mark it to see if I have enough room there to do this, I have a good drill press and a table vise so I should be able to do a neat job there.
Don't drill anything, simply place it in one of those small plastic bags that stores package screws in and stick it inside the butt-frame under the stocks.
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Old 05-05-2018, 07:41 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Would my 38-55 Marlin 1895 Cowboy put me in that category also? This is my only handgun in a not common caliber, but have quite a few rifles, like 7.5 Swiss, .405 Winchester, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5x55, 7x57, 8x57, 9.3x57 and a .41Swiss rimfire, converted to centerfire.
When I first read this, I thought “Ifyou have a “38-55 Marlin 1895 Cowboy” that is a “handgun” you go far beyond ‘true enthusiast!’ “ OTOH, if you are asking about odd or unusual rifles, you’ve got a pretty fair start there. I’d have to add a few more hyphenated calibers like 25-20SS or 40-85 Ballard, but that’s just me

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Old 05-05-2018, 03:51 PM
jkingrph jkingrph is offline
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I made a mistake it is a 336 Cowboy model in 38-55. The 45-70 is called a 1895, just a enlarged 336 action.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:21 PM
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One of the grips checkering was apparently not done too well at the factory. I gave the grips a good cleaning this morning with some lacquer thinner and was amazed at the nasty grime that came out. The checkerin on that one panel still does not look good, very shallow and in some palces does not extend to the bottom border. Thursday when I go into town I am going to take them down to the local smith and see if they know of anyone in the area that can recut or refresh the checkering. In the meantime I found a newer set, that has the S&W medallions and will put them on while these are being worked on. A couple of years back I refreshed the checkering on an old French Charlin shotgun and did a good job using a tiny riffler file. These are much worse so I would rather find someone with better tools and the experience to do the job.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:49 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
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One of the grips checkering was apparently not done too well at the factory. I gave the grips a good cleaning this morning with some lacquer thinner and was amazed at the nasty grime that came out. The checkerin on that one panel still does not look good, very shallow and in some palces does not extend to the bottom border. Thursday when I go into town I am going to take them down to the local smith and see if they know of anyone in the area that can recut or refresh the checkering. In the meantime I found a newer set, that has the S&W medallions and will put them on while these are being worked on. A couple of years back I refreshed the checkering on an old French Charlin shotgun and did a good job using a tiny riffler file. These are much worse so I would rather find someone with better tools and the experience to do the job.
Is it the right grip? Often, the checkering gets smoothed out by wear, especially if the handgun was a police gun.

Pictures are required on this forum. Not really, but we all do enjoy seeing pictures of our member's S&Ws.
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Old 05-07-2018, 06:30 PM
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Yes it is the right grip. There is also an area of discoloration or better described as fogging of the bluing on the sideplate, like a left handed shooter rested his thumb there. The overall condition of bluing makes me think it was not a police gun, for a 96 year old gun it is just too good to have been carried in a holster much, and I think by that time 38 special was more common for police ( just my thinking)

I got a wilsons spring kit in today and was playing with it. The reduced power hammer spring will not stay on, so I put the original back in and still have a 10+ lb double action pull. I put a 12lb trigger return spring and now have a 2 1/2 single action pull, which is nice, much better than the 5 3/4 it was.

I don't know what's wrong, but I have trouble getting my computer to recognize my iPhone, and I get extremely frustrated. I took my wife to get a routine eye exam this morning and down a the corner we saw a young fox kit just sitting by the road. I stayed long enough for me to roll windows down,get the phone out and take his picture, and I have yet to get the picture over to my computer.

My wife has a fairly new beautician who has a place out in the country and she said I could shoot there while she does the wife's hair, so I will probably give it a try this coming Thursday. That will beat a nearly 100 mile round trip to the range.
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Old 05-09-2018, 03:25 PM
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My Wondersight came in early this afternoon. It probably took just over five minutes to install it, That's including tucking the original upper sideplate screw into a small plastic zip lock bag, rolling it up and placing between mainspring and frame and reinstalling grips.

If all goes well I will try it out, along with my little Marlin CL that has a new Skinner Express sight installed.
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Old 06-03-2018, 01:29 PM
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I have not had the opportunity to try it out yet. The sideplate looked bad enough that I decided to try refinishing it so got a bottle of Van's instant blue and followed their instructions closely. I removed all the existing blue and polished with some 400 -600 grit w/d sandpaper followed up with some micromesh I had gotten for polishing fountain pen nibs. It was easy to quickly get a mirror finish with that micromesh, but there was some fine scratches present like it had been repeatedly been placed in an abrasive holster, plus some etching, and I did not want to remove enough metal to get a perfect surface. I gave it a through degreasing and heated with a heat gun and then immersed in the instant blue and left it for about 15-20 minutes, took it out, washed dried and buffed with 0000 steel wool. I ended up repeating the process 4 times and although nowhere near the factor finish it still looks a lot better. I just hope it holds up.
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Old 10-02-2018, 12:02 PM
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Could any of you tell the age of this firearm just by the serial number? If so its 21110
Thanks for all of the useful information, you guys are great!
ps. Not sure how to upload images sorry

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Old 10-02-2018, 12:51 PM
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Welcome to the Forum. What is it & what caliber is it? Ship dates can be estimated using a database available to SWCA members, but the factory did not ship in serial number order, so some examples can be as much as 5 years off. Laying in the back of an inventory bin, special order where a completed revolver is modified at the factory, or slow sellers are often the reason why serial numbers are not in order.
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Old 10-02-2018, 01:05 PM
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Could any of you tell the age of this firearm just by the serial number? If so its 21110
Thanks for all of the useful information, you guys are great!
ps. Not sure how to upload images sorry
Welcome to the Forum.

When asking questions about a different firearm, it is always best to start your own thread. Better chance of getting the answers you seek, due to more exposure, instead of being hidden in someone else's thread.
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Old 10-02-2018, 03:15 PM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Since you posted in a thread about .32-20 hand ejectors, I'm presuming that is what you have. Your serial number would put it in 1906 and it is probably a Model of 1905 (3rd Model 32-20).
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Old 10-06-2018, 07:58 PM
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After getting this little gem in back in April, I finally had the opportunity to shoot it. The action is very smooth, cylinder latch very tight, almost sticking at times, but I guess tight is better than loose. It shoots a bit high at 25 yards, the Wonder sight making it a bit higher than the fixed sight notch. All in all I'm happy.

My wife was recovering from back surgery and then had to have some work on her left foot. We went out of town for a few day over to NE Louisiana, where there is an excellent parish sheriffs dept range about 4 miles from the house there, so I did not have to leave her long and could always get back in a few minutes if needed. I'm hoping to get another range session in back here in Texas before surgery on the other foot, assuming the weather will cool off a bit.

I cleaned it a couple of day after shooting and noticed the cylinder release was very tight and the action seemed to drag. I took the sideplate off and could see nothing wrong, and everything functioned smoothly, and drag returned after replacing the sideplate??? I took it down to my gunsmith this afternoon and told him what was going on, he took a quick look and said the ejector rod has loosened up a bit. He took a pair of padded pliers and tigntened it and everything is back smooth as it should be. I remember something like that after working on one nearly 40 years ago, but had never had the problem so I guess I had forgotten that it needed to be tight. He commented on how tight the lockup was and timing was excellent for a 96 year old revolver.
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