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Old 05-05-2018, 09:56 AM
twines twines is offline
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Default S & W .44 special triple lock

Hello,

I picked up #561 .44 special triple lock. It is mechanically sound with a great bore. It has been messed with over the years. A previous owner liked sand paper I am considering a restoration by Turnbull or S & W.

I know the questions on restoration. I would like the opinions on the folks who love the early guns.

I have more pics. If you want to see contact me a twines1@comcast.net

I would also like opinion on value before and after restoration.
Tom
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S & W .44 special triple lock-img_1924-jpg   S & W .44 special triple lock-img_1929-jpg   S & W .44 special triple lock-img_1926-jpg   S & W .44 special triple lock-img_1930-jpg   S & W .44 special triple lock-img_1940-jpg  

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Old 05-05-2018, 10:28 AM
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if I were lucky enough to own it, it would go only to S&W, but it would go nowhere! Hope all #'s match... long as you can stand it, leave it alone. but I'm a shooter type..no help here on value, since I've never had the chance to buy one I could hold..maybe someday. They are way cool. enjoy owning it
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Old 05-05-2018, 10:32 AM
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While I applaud your consideration of both Turnbull and the factory for a restoration, neither firm will work on your gun. I've heard so many different reasons/excuses for Turnbull's withdrawal from the market, I've decided to distill them down to "just 'cause". The factory's withdrawal likely comes from a combination of orientation (self), and the presence of too many lawyers (of the 1-800 BAD GUNS variety (ilk)) we see on TV commercials suggesting instant wealth for the downtrodden, and otherwise abused segment of our society.

As to a suitable substitute, Fords comes quickly to mind.

The value before and after, I'll leave to those more familiar with the current marketplace---except to say the after value will be considerably less than the cost to get there----------but it'll be pretty.

I, like many others here, have considered restoration of "neat old guns" more than once. Most of us, especially those of a more practical bent, have decided a more appropriate route is to spend our money on the very best original example we can find----and to not get into a big steaming rush to find it. An entirely acceptable alternative seems to be to muster up the courage to do the work ourselves. The results are often merely excellent----surprisingly so. I suspect the learning process takes a good deal longer than the doing process.

Ralph Tremaine

There is a fairly recent thread here treating with the "do it yourself restoration" of a K-22 (??). It involved the "rust bluing" process, which from the standpoint of my limited knowledge, would seem to be the only game in town for a top quality bluing job without the investment in equipment required for a more "modern" (but inferior) treatment. Someone may be able to help find it for you, and I'll suggest it's worthwhile not only because of the very impressive results achieved; but for a thorough treatment of that required to achieve those results.

Last edited by rct269; 05-05-2018 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 05-05-2018, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twines View Post
Hello,

I picked up #561 .44 special triple lock. It is mechanically sound with a great bore. It has been messed with over the years. A previous owner liked sand paper I am considering a restoration by Turnbull or S & W.

Tom
I might be mistaken, but I don't believe Turnbull works on Smith & Wessons any more.

I love the old guns, but know almost nothing about them. I'm sure some of the resident experts will be along shortly to give you some help with your questions.
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Old 05-05-2018, 10:48 AM
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Numbers match
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Old 05-05-2018, 11:56 AM
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I'd take the grips off and soak it in Kroil for a week to melt loose any accumulated crud on the inside and out then re oil it , put the grips back on and count my blessings that I owned a Triple Lock . Other than that I would do nothing but shoot and enjoy it as is . Congratulations.

If I were gonna spruce it up the above stated Fords would be my choice.

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Old 05-05-2018, 12:46 PM
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Two things:

Could you get a good shot of that rear sight? It has been modified and I'd be curious who did it.

Second thing is that there is no way to actually restore the gun. You can have it refinished but it won't be a correct refinish. Ford's does a beautiful job, but do not fool yourself into thinking it is a restoration. The proper blue that would go on a gun like this for an actual restoration is not something anyone does any more (or even knows how to do as far as I am aware).

Even if you could get the original blue on it, you still would have to address the stuff done to the rear sight for a "restoration".

If I were you I would clean it very well and get it looking as good as it can look with the current finish challenges that are on there.

Shoot it. See how you feel about it.

When you have carefully removed any corrosion that is still there, you will see there is still a lot of the original blue on there, despite the abuse and neglect. If you re-finished it that lovely blue would be gone forever.

Personally I think you have a great gun with personality, and a refinish would look ok, but would remove all the personality, still not be right, and cost you more money then you would ever get back out of it again.

With these old guns I will probably always suggest to anyone looking at a refinish to simply save your pennies for one that looks the way you want it to look when you buy it. Ultimately you will be a lot happier.
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Old 05-06-2018, 09:54 PM
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Certainly to admit viewing refinished guns that were beauties in their own right. Also to acknowledge 'a point' where more of 'rescue' category beyond simply 'old gun'; perhaps appropriate resuscitation candidate. There, more the question of whether to make the $$$ numbers work or sufficient 'for love of'... refinishing.
Admitting too, personally yielding occasionally to a 'deed done' refinish -looking decent and/or rare piece made affordable by that very fact.

That said... For me, even best quality refinished guns tending to lose something. 'Honest wear', speaking to me! Typically viewing refinishing results as 'another pretty face' at best and FrankenBubba rework at worst.

In the Turnbull category, to wonder what good original model 'might have been' acquired for the cost of the facelift gun candidate plus Turnbull surgery costs.

Just a highly personal...
My take
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Old 05-06-2018, 11:14 PM
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Shoot it and honor it's past. Whatever happened to it in the past, if this weapon could talk.......
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Old 05-06-2018, 11:34 PM
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Welcome! It is a difficult decision with this particular gun; the scratches and (more importantly) pitting are significant. However, given the balance of the finish (pretty good for a nearly 110 year old gun) and its mechanical condition I would suggest leaving it alone. As bad as some parts of the metalwork appear, you only have the (balance of the) original finish once, no matter how nice the restoration turns out.

The factory used to accept pre-model stamped (before ca. 1958) guns for refinishing but stopped doing so many years ago, with the lack of spare parts and the desire to set all guns mechanically right. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 05-07-2018, 04:22 AM
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The barrel length is scarce, if original. How about some closeup shots of the front sight.

I agree with everyone above. There's only so many originals around. And hundreds of original guns are getting re-blued or "restored" everyday. Only for abused, or bubba'd guns, can I personnally accept rebuilding and refinishing.

It'll never be more original than it is right now. In 10-20 years that will determine it's highest potential value, not a refinish.

But on a fairly original like yours, not only value, also desirability (hence the effect on value) will decrease. Shoot it enjoy it and upgrade it with a nicer one when the opportunity comes along.

If I did anything to it, I would polish out the sanding marks and leave in the white, pits and all or minimally touch up the re-polished areas with Tru-blue or Oxpho blue.
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Old 05-07-2018, 06:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
The barrel length is scarce, if original. How about some closeup shots of the front sight.
A better way to determine this would be for the OP to post photographs of the barrel address. I started a thread about a year ago regarding barrel addresses and barrel lengths. We all concluded that a Triple Lock with an original 5" barrel would have a 3 line address along the top of the barrel. If 6 1/2", or a cut 6 1/2" barrel, the address would contain 2 lines along the top. (And a 4" barrel contains a three line address on the side of the barrel).

I think the front sight is not original and the barrel has been cut.

I would not "restore" or "reblue". Simply load and fire!

Last edited by mrcvs; 05-07-2018 at 07:32 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 05-07-2018, 06:59 AM
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And here is the link to that discussion:

Triple Lock: 4, 5, (6), & 6 1/2 inch barrel lengths
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:30 AM
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I'd restore it...........add period target sight also. Worth more as a shooter to me!
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usmc2427765 View Post
Shoot it and honor it's past. Whatever happened to it in the past, if this weapon could talk.......
I'm of the same mind. Just clean it up and enjoy it, as is. No one can restore your S&W, they can only refinish it.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:17 PM
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It looks like you have a great shooter. I was faced with a similar dilemma on a TL I owned, it bugged me that the front sight had been altered. The genious that did the work just filed off the rear side of the half moon and lowered it slightly to get it to shoot for his vision or whatever. My friendly gunsmith told me he could tig weld it back to factory dimensions and reblue it so that only he and I would ever know. Just the fact that I would know would be enough for me to mention it to anyone that ever considered owning it. Out of what I considered respect for its otherwise excellent condition I decided to trade or sell it off to someone who would appreciate it for what it was rather than have it further altered by my friend or Fords.
In another vein I have heard that about all Turnbull will do on old Smiths is to reapply the case hardening treatment if the individual parts are sent in.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:23 PM
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Hard to tell from the photos so just a guess but it looks to me like this was a fixed sight TL that had the barrel shortened and the frame cut for a sight blade. If that is the case I would clean, shoot and repeat.
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Old 05-08-2018, 06:59 AM
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I'm kind of in agreement with Hondo44 here. I would use oiled 0000 steel wool to remove all the sanding mark's I could, removing as little original blue as possible. Wipe down with a clean oily cloth and apply Oxpho-blue cream to the oiled white spots with a Q-Tip, avoiding the original blue as much as possible - it will remove the original blue so keep an oily cloth handy. That will remove some of the sanding scars and spruce it up with a good cold blue that can be easily removed with the same oily 0000 steel wool later if desired. No harm - no foul. Nail polish remover will attack and remove the nail polish on the front sight without attacking the blue. Keeping everything oiled is the trick to touch up cold bluing so the cold blue will blend and not be blotchy. It's just a "touch up" not a refinish.
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:59 AM
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It's a tough decision. I think my preference would be to keep it as original as possible. Where there are sanding marks I might try to smooth them out and apply cold blue. I would not opt for a full re-blue. Nobody can do a correct or even an adequate job.

I have a 5" TL that was well-used but not abused. It has a lot of finish worn off, but it still exhibits original finish in protected areas.



I'm not having mine re-done.



BUT. . . There is a question that has been bouncing around in my head. I keep seeing these threads started by RKmesa (ENABLER!!!!!) where he shows his engraving projects by Phil Quigley. The idea comes to mind that my 5" TL would be the perfect canvas to receive Mr. Quigley's art. Haven't done it yet. . . .

As for the barrel roll mark on a 5" TL, here's mine:



I guess that's what they are supposed to look like.

My 5" TL is posted here: S&W .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model #1103


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Old 05-10-2018, 09:48 AM
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Default Triple Lock

Thanks for all the great advice. It is a shortened 6 & 1/2 in to 5 &1/4, The front sight and rear site have been added. I know a bit of the provenance of this pistol and the man who originally owned it was military and a shooter. I am going to send for a letter on the chance that he had S & W do the alterations to his spec. It is not a bubba job so who ever did it did it right. Oh yes no refinish. Final answer.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:13 AM
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Welcome to the Forum.

A letter will tell you how your revolver shipped-barrel length, finish, grips. Then you can get info from the Historical Foundation.

Have you checked under the grips for rework dates? A stamp like 8.54 would indicate it went back to the factory in August 1954.
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Old 05-12-2018, 09:55 AM
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Default Sight Pictures

Here's a couple more pics of the sights. I checked under the grips. No marks.
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Old 05-12-2018, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by series guy View Post
Hard to tell from the photos so just a guess but it looks to me like this was a fixed sight TL that had the barrel shortened and the frame cut for a sight blade. If that is the case I would clean, shoot and repeat.
We have a winning guess! (Along with a milling job on the top strap that looks like a Target rear sight was contemplated).
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
We have a winning guess! (Along with a milling job on the top strap that looks like a Target rear sight was contemplated).
It does kind of look like there may have been screw holes in the top strap too that were filled in?
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Old 05-12-2018, 01:42 PM
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The sight channel goes from 6.21 mm to 6.26 mm. Center to center on the plugged holes is 34.45 mm. My skills and my micrometer aren't the best so this is a semi-skilled set of measurements.
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Old 05-12-2018, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twines View Post
The sight channel goes from 6.21 mm to 6.26 mm. Center to center on the plugged holes is 34.45 mm. My skills and my micrometer aren't the best so this is a semi-skilled set of measurements.
That clearly had a full target rear sight at one time. The only question is, was it original?

A TL rear sight tang width is .270" (7.7 mm). Two top screws are 1.870" (47.72 mm) between centers.
A post war sight tang is .283" in width, and 1.853" between screws.

Neither of those reconcile with your measurements, however.


Yes, barrel obviously shortened with a non-factory front sight blade lacking a sight base has been installed.
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:16 PM
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Default Update on the 1st Model Triple Lock

Hey to all,
I finally got the S & W letter on the triple lock. Mr. Jinks provided me with the following information on #561. It was shipped from the factory Feb. 19, 1908 to Iver Johnson Sporting Goods Company, Boston, MA. It left the factory in .44 special with a blued finish, checkered non-monogramed grips, 6.5” barrel, bead front sight, and adjustable rear target sight. He acknowledged the changes with no mention of S&W making the changes.
My former Marine Ordnance Chief thought the current configuration the gun lends it self to a shooting competition called Run and Gun. In a bit more research with the previous owner’s family I found was correct about his military affiliation but wrong about his competitive shooting career. However, the previous owner’s father was born around 1894 and a NYC cop in the 20’s making it possible the he was the original purchaser in 1908. This leads me the obvious next question. Is it possible to tap into Iver Johnson Sporting Goods records from the period in question? & How many target models were manufactured?
Any suggestion on more research and opinions on it’s worth will be appreciated. I love S & W’s but not may main area of interest in the collecting world. Ultimately this will find a new home and go to someone who appreciates it place in the S & W lineage.

Thanks for all of the great input.

Tom
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:20 PM
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Very interesting!

The best news is it is an original target model and the bead front sight was a special order option.

My priority would be to re-establish it as a full target model with an original rear sight and front target bead sight, You can't put the missing inches back on the barrel but it's generally more desired in its present length, albeit not by a collector. The restoration of original sights is the only thing that could potentially add a little value back at this point.

There are ~13,375 of the “44 Hand Ejector Military – Model 1908”, i.e., 1st Model Triple Locks produced, with an estimated 10% as target models.

Targets in better condition and in original configuration have sold in the $3-4000 range. As it sits now however, is difficult to value. Desirability varies by person but interest would be highest for someone excited about a project gun. The letter is a great enhancement by confirming it's an original target. Opinions on value will vary greatly but a $900 -$1000 range might be a reasonable starting point.
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:34 PM
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Thanks Jim
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Old 07-14-2018, 01:15 AM
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Targets in better condition and in original configuration have sold in the $3-4000 range.
Where? Sign me up for a few dozen.

The first Triple Lock Target Model was purchased in May of 2016. Cost was $1840 which includes shipping and transfer fees. Yes, less than $3000 to $4000, but not in "better" condition. A well loved and used Triple Lock Target. Not abused, but use places it below "better condition".

The second one clearly is in "better condition". I think I underpaid for this one when purchased in November of 2016. Cost including shipping and transfer fees was $4215.

If you have a Target Model in similar condition in the $3000 to $4000 range you wish to sell me...consider it sold!
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:28 AM
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Very interesting!

The best news is it is an original target model and the bead front sight was a special order option.

My priority would be to re-establish it as a full target model with an original rear sight and front target bead sight, You can't put the missing inches back on the barrel but it's generally more desired in its present length, albeit not by a collector. The restoration of original sights is the only thing that could potentially add a little value back at this point.

There are ~13,375 of the “44 Hand Ejector Military – Model 1908”, i.e., 1st Model Triple Locks produced, with an estimated 10% as target models.

Targets in better condition and in original configuration have sold in the $3-4000 range. As it sits now however, is difficult to value. Desirability varies by person but interest would be highest for someone excited about a project gun. The letter is a great enhancement by confirming it's an original target. Opinions on value will vary greatly but a $900 -$1000 range might be a reasonable starting point.
I am loath to disagree with Jim on anything S&W, but I would like to add my 2 cents.

The gun will *never* be a correct Target again because of the barrel length. Unless someone very skilled (and expensive) does any restoration to it a value increase on the gun may not be more then what you pay to restore it. Or maybe even less.

There's history in these modifications, and they are well done.

If you can establish some actual provenance regarding the military matches, i.e. establish who owned it and maybe find records of matches that the guy was in, you have a good example of a historical kind of competition modification which has been kind of neglected over the years.

Personally, I love these 'Fixed Sight Targets' or 'Half Targets', and own a number of them now. They were done for various reasons and when I find those reasons they are so often interesting.

If you are looking at the restoration as something you want to do I would suggest acquiring the correct parts (a correct single screw rear sight, and the front sight), and just having them with the gun for the future. I think you would likely gain as much, or maybe more, value to the package in that fashion, without excluding the military collectors who (I believe) are going to find this style of modification increasingly more interesting over the years.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:29 PM
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Yeah, I'd leave it and enjoy it as is. But I get why people like to restore..... It's just it's never the same as the original.

Plus I'm a sucker for wear. To me a gun is a tool. And tools look better when they're used. For the most part. If a tool just sits, it's not very useful.

On the other hand, these things are like works of art in comparison to things being built now a days.

I think it's a really cool gun as is. Even with the finish the way it is. There's something just right about the .44 special guns.

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Old 07-18-2018, 04:45 PM
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It just occurred to me that "Bisley Matches" back in the day did not allow fully adjustable rear sights. We know very rare TLs were ordered from the factory with just a rear blade. Obviously the TL of this thread is not one of those because they will letter as such. But that may have been the reason for the change/removal of the adj rear sight. Although shortening the barrel seems to negate it as a competition gun.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:10 PM
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I wouldn't necessarily say that shortening it to 5" would preclude it from being a competition gun. Could be that the owner just liked the balance better with 5", or maybe there were some matches that required 5"? or maybe when this work was done the owner just thought that there might be some matches that required, or would require in the future a 5"?

Reading through all the old competition shooter's books, and what I can find in old magazines and such, it does seem that rules would change from time to time. I can see a fellow who is having the sights done for a match maybe trying to get ahead of the game and putting the barrel down to the same length as the 1917s... just in case.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:14 PM
M_conrad_0311 M_conrad_0311 is offline
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These are my two TLs. TL 2544 is a 1/2 target style. It is a first year revolver that shipped with non medallion checkered walnut strocks on Aug 24, 1908 to W. M. Robinson, NY, NY. There is no mention of the front sight on the invoice. It is in the style of USRA front sight.

TL 232 was purchased out of CA, which is where the great niece of a Texas Lawman took her inheritance when she moved from Chambers county. It was shipped as configured (sans patina) Sept. 9th, 1910 to E. K. Tryon Co., Philidelphia, PA. As you can see, I like revolvers with a little history also.

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Old 07-18-2018, 11:26 PM
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My personal opinion is that when a classic revolver is restored , the "been there,done that" feeling has been defiled.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:10 AM
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These are my two TLs. TL 2544 is a 1/2 target style. It is a first year revolver that shipped with non medallion checkered walnut strocks on Aug 24, 1908 to W. M. Robinson, NY, NY. There is no mention of the front sight on the invoice. It is in the style of USRA front sight.

TL 232 was purchased out of CA, which is where the great niece of a Texas Lawman took her inheritance when she moved from Chambers county. It was shipped as configured (sans patina) Sept. 9th, 1910 to E. K. Tryon Co., Philidelphia, PA. As you can see, I like revolvers with a little history also.

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Wow, two great TLs, and one a 1st year w/provenance!

That # 2544 is the first ever N frame I've seen with a USRA 'pocket sight' and only one with a McGivern gold bead. It sure looks like a factory installation. I presume you lettered it to get the ship date. The letter invoice did mention the sight but the letter didn't either?

Also you stated it originally came with non-medallion stocks but it's shown with medallions?
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:45 AM
M_conrad_0311 M_conrad_0311 is offline
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Wow, two great TLs, and one a 1st year w/provenance!

That # 2544 is the first ever N frame I've seen with a USRA 'pocket sight' and only one with a McGivern gold bead. It sure looks like a factory installation. I presume you lettered it to get the ship date. The letter invoice did mention the sight but the letter didn't either?

Also you stated it originally came with non-medallion stocks but it's shown with medallions?
Jim
2544 has had a nice refinish at some time in it's past. I do not know if the refinish was done because the sight was added or some other reason. Someone did a nice job of adding the gold to the USRA pocket sight. Roy stated in his shipping letter that there was not any information on the records or invoice with regards to the front sight.

2544 had a nice set of pre-war Magnas on it when I aquired it and I have not been able to find a good set of non-monogrammed concave checkered walnuts for sale. The gold medallion stocks came on a 1926 target that I now have, so I replaced the Magnas with them.

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Old 07-19-2018, 01:15 PM
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Mathew,

Thanks for the background. I presume there's no rework date on the grip frame since you didn't mention it. The satin blue refinish could have been done at the factory soon after WWI before the bright blue high polish was reinstated by S&W, but not w/o a date. Still though, a beautiful, unique TL.
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