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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 03-21-2020, 10:16 PM
Jcumins Jcumins is offline
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Hi,
I am a new member as of today, and am trying to learn about my model 1955, .45 S&W long colt. I have been on other forums, and have heard conflicting stories about it's authenticity. It came with a wooden case, and a letter that says only 28 of them were made to this custom order, with engravings and chambered in .45 Long Colt. Can someone help me to authenticate? And possibly and estimated value?
It has a 6.5" barrel, the numbers inside the yoke are 8597 on the frame and the cylinder. The numbers on the butt of the frame are 55422. Adjustable sights.
Thank you!
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S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200321_125824-jpg   S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200321_125929-jpg   S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200319_145522-jpg   S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200317_141211-jpg   S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200317_141138-jpg  

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Old 03-21-2020, 10:25 PM
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Welcome aboard.
I hate to break the news to you, but you have a parts gun with a phony letter.

The gun has a long action hammer, but the Mod 1955 was a short action gun.
The barrel rib does not line up properly with the top of the frame because that frame originally had fixed sights.
The mahogany case did not yet exist in 1955, nor during the 5 Screw era.
Those grips are from the late 1960s.
The engraving is not Factory.
The letter is just SO far from being worded properly that I won't even go into it.
Sorry.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:26 PM
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Oh-
and the letter is not signed. Roy has always signed his letters.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:47 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

Yeah!

My 1st thought was a 1917 frame, there's no MADE IN USA on right side of frame that I can see, and the S/N 55442 fits as well.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:09 PM
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Sorry, jcumins, but Lee and Hondo confirmed my suspicions. They are two of the forum's experts.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
Welcome aboard.
I hate to break the news to you, but you have a parts gun with a phony letter.

The gun has a long action hammer, but the Mod 1955 was a short action gun.
The barrel rib does not line up properly with the top of the frame because that frame originally had fixed sights.
The mahogany case did not yet exist in 1955, nor during the 5 Screw era.
Those grips are from the late 1960s.
The engraving is not Factory.
The letter is just SO far from being worded properly that I won't even go into it.
Sorry.
bummer Mr.Jcumins . and i thought i was lucky . kenny
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:12 AM
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No worries. Just don't be afraid to shoot it.

There were 15 reportedly produced in 45 Colt, however they were in the s/n range of S143XXX to S333454.

Could you post a photo of the grip frame butt with the grips off so we can see the s/n font?

What is the wording exactly as stamped on each side of the barrel?
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:41 AM
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Welcome to the Forum.

Is there a number stamped on the rear of the cylinder? If so, it should match the number on the butt.

I wonder if this revolver started out as a .455 2nd model?
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:26 AM
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Good thought.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:14 AM
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Jcumins, welcome to the Forum, you'll find a wealth of information here. You'll no doubt be disappointed in learning that your revolver is not as described in the "letter." We all learn about S&Ws a little bit at a time, sometimes the learning is more expensive than other times. In this case you have an opportunity to learn a great deal about S&Ws all from the one purchase; S&W letters, S&W presentation boxes, S&W revolvers from WWI and how they've "evolved" over the years, the five screw post WWII history, S&W versus non-S&W engraving, and more. Don't know what you've got in the gun, or what recourse you might have with the seller, but if you keep it there is much, much to learn about S&W from it. And bottom line, after all that learning, you've still got something you can shoot. Do you mind sharing the history of how you got it? Good luck.

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Old 03-22-2020, 10:35 AM
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J,
We all along the journey make the mistake of assuming something is as described when in reality it is not. In other words, you are not the Lone Range - we all have done it. As Jeff mentioned, this is a great place where you can learn and gain a vast amount of knowledge. Most of what I have learned over the past several years about firearms have come from members of this Forum, the Historical Foundation and SWCA.

A good opportunity to say thanks guys! Mark
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muley Gil View Post
Welcome to the Forum.

Is there a number stamped on the rear of the cylinder? If so, it should match the number on the butt.

I wonder if this revolver started out as a .455 2nd model?
I think you may be right. I copied some of the photos and blew up some areas. Could not find any sign of a serial number on rear face of cylinder. Front corners of cylinder are all beveled and the ratchet teeth are also old style, indicating older cylinder which should have a serial number, Probably a reamed and faced off 455 cylinder, possibly an older parts cylinder that was never numbereed. Definitely an older frame that is rounded at top where it joins the barrel.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
No worries. Just don't be afraid to shoot it.

There were 15 reportedly produced in 45 Colt, however they were in the s/n range of S143XXX to S333454.

Could you post a photo of the grip frame butt with the grips off so we can see the s/n font?

What is the wording exactly as stamped on each side of the barrel?
Hello,

Here are some more photos of the gun.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 22hipower View Post
Jcumins, welcome to the Forum, you'll find a wealth of information here. You'll no doubt be disappointed in learning that your revolver is not as described in the "letter." We all learn about S&Ws a little bit at a time, sometimes the learning is more expensive than other times. In this case you have an opportunity to learn a great deal about S&Ws all from the one purchase; S&W letters, S&W presentation boxes, S&W revolvers from WWI and how they've "evolved" over the years, the five screw post WWII history, S&W versus non-S&W engraving, and more. Don't know what you've got in the gun, or what recourse you might have with the seller, but if you keep it there is much, much to learn about S&W from it. And bottom line, after all that learning, you've still got something you can shoot. Do you mind sharing the history of how you got it? Good luck.

Jeff
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Hello, thanks for the welcome. I personally do not have any money at all in the gun. I inherited the gun from my father who passed away in 2005. He was a collector, and traded for it at a local pawn shop. He still had the original receipt for it in the wooden box that said his trade in value was $499. I have had this gun, and many others in my safe for the last 15 years, and am just now going through them. I was trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to sell. I love guns, but would not consider myself a collector. So now the question is, should I keep this one as a conversation piece? Or trade it off for something else? I am wanting to purchase an M&P shield for a carry gun, but wanted to trade one of the ones I have instead of spending more money on one if that makes sense.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:08 PM
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I would either sell it or shoot the snot out of it. Definitely not a keeper in the sense of a "safe queen."

IMHO
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
Sorry, jcumins, but Lee and Hondo confirmed my suspicions. They are two of the forum's experts.
How disappointing. But on the bright side, neither my dad or me had invested a lot of money into it. He still had the receipt from the pawn shop in the box where his trade in value was $499 in 1995. The question now is, what to do with this pistol?
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:19 PM
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Welcome also! I agree the gun probably started out as a .455 Mark II British contract gun from WW I, with the modifications and engraving added later. The cylinder is the shorter type for .45 ACP but it might chamber a short .45 Colt.

My opinion (which is worth exactly what you paid for it ) is that you should keep it if it has a strong family or sentimental value to you, or if you just like it. If not, and you put it up for sale with the information stated above, I suspect it would sell for more than what your father paid for it. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:19 PM
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Here's what I would do:

If this revolver was one that you and your daddy shot together, I would keep it. If you want a good shooter, keep it. If it has no meaning to you, trade it.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:22 PM
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The pic of the butt makes it quite likely that it started as a 455- 2nd Model. A 1917 in that range would be a mi,itary with all the normal US Army markings.
Of course, that frame COULD have started as a 38/44, a 44-2nd, or maybe even a Reg Mag.
Most likely is a 455 frame.



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Old 03-22-2020, 12:24 PM
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Even if not correct it looks like a fun revolver! I would take it out and shoot it to see how it does! A fun shooter is good. And if you sell it you can honestly say it is mechanically sound and that you have fired this revolver. I would think it is worth a M&P Shield if not more! The case is worth $100, the grips $75. The letter-well as a curiosity not much!
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
My 1st thought was a 1917 frame, there's no MADE IN USA on right side of frame that I can see, and the S/N 55442 fits as well.
You can see where the lanyard ring hole was plugged in his photo of the bottom of the grip frame.

Adios,

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Old 03-22-2020, 12:28 PM
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If you are not attached to it as a memory of your father it is worth more than most M&P Shields IMHO. Box itself in good condition maybe $200. The gun it self is worth over the $500 paid if it is mechanically sound. Just a shooter 45 colt, but a very beautiful one, Find any kind of big bore S&W for under $500 is rare. You could list it here in the for sale portion at a price you would like. If it doesn't sell after say a week drop the price and keep that up until it sells. You could put a link to this thread in the add and let interested parties review the opinions.

A dealer might trade you straight across for a shield, but they are in business for profit of course.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
Welcome also! I agree the gun probably started out as a .455 Mark II British contract gun from WW I, with the modifications and engraving added later. The cylinder is the shorter type for .45 ACP but it might chamber a short .45 Colt.

My opinion (which is worth exactly what you paid for it ) is that you should keep it if it has a strong family or sentimental value to you, or if you just like it. If not, and you put it up for sale with the information stated above, I suspect it would sell for more than what your father paid for it. Good luck in your decision.
Right on, and thank you. I don't know anything at all about the .455 Mark 2 British, but on the cylinder part, the .45 long colt chambers and looks to be correct? I put a .45 acp round in it and it is WAY shorter? I personally have never fired this gun. And I don't remember my Dad shooting it either. He probably thought this would definitely increase in value and kept it as an investment. Should I post photos of the cylinder with measurements to be sure?
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelslaver View Post
If you are not attached to it as a memory of your father it is worth more than most M&P Shields IMHO. Box itself in good condition maybe $200. The gun it self is worth over the $500 paid if it is mechanically sound. Just a shooter 45 colt, but a very beautiful one, Find any kind of big bore S&W for under $500 is rare. You could list it here in the for sale portion at a price you would like. If it doesn't sell after say a week drop the price and keep that up until it sells. You could put a link to this thread in the add and let interested parties review the opinions.

A dealer might trade you straight across for a shield, but they are in business for profit of course.
Good info. I didn't even know I could sell guns on this sight? The gun is definitely mechanically sound, and the timing seems to be perfect. Whomever built it as a fake ,(if it for sure is one) seemed to have done a good job at it. I am not out to rip anyone off, just want what is right to be right.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:55 PM
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The question is, who would want it? I have heard of collectors of fakes but not met one.
It is a good looking BBQ Gun if you don't look closely at the anomalies.

Shields are not expensive, especially if you find a "1.0." But in the present market, you might consider what potential trade gun you have that would do nearly as well.

I had a friend who assembled parts gun .45 LCs. He started with a M27 or M28 .357, put on a NOS M26 barrel, and had Bob Snapp rechamber the cylinder. The last one he did had a M25 barrel which gave the jog between top strap and barrel rib you have, but the weight helped control his good stout loads.
They were great shooters, as I would expect yours to be, but like yours, would not be mistaken for a factory product.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:56 PM
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As long as a .45 Colt round chambers, with the proper headspace (distance between the recoil shield and the rim, it will be fine.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcumins View Post
Right on, and thank you. I don't know anything at all about the .455 Mark 2 British, but on the cylinder part, the .45 long colt chambers and looks to be correct? I put a .45 acp round in it and it is WAY shorter? I personally have never fired this gun. And I don't remember my Dad shooting it either. He probably thought this would definitely increase in value and kept it as an investment. Should I post photos of the cylinder with measurements to be sure?
The .455 cylinder was often modified to fire .45 Colt. This involved reaming the charge holes deeper for the longer Colt case and taking material off either the rear cylinder face or the frame near the hammer nose (firing pin) bushing for the thicker rim. Sometime this would be done by counterboring each chamber so the rim sits lower.
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Old 03-22-2020, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcumins View Post
Good info. I didn't even know I could sell guns on this sight? The gun is definitely mechanically sound, and the timing seems to be perfect. Whomever built it as a fake ,(if it for sure is one) seemed to have done a good job at it. I am not out to rip anyone off, just want what is right to be right.

S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200317_141128-jpg

S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200317_141138-jpg

S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200320_211848-jpg

S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200321_125929-jpg

S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200321_125824-jpg
Just needing to turn the photos so that I can look at them... You've received good observations - especially from Handejector, who has been around long enough in this business to have seen or handled almost every S&W to have left the factory (maybe not every one... but certainly a ton of them)... He has a great eye and a wealth of info.

Have fun with that gun and enjoy it for what it is - a nicely modified S&W (of which there are many) that has a fake letter...
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Old 03-22-2020, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RKmesa View Post
Just needing to turn the photos so that I can look at them... You've received good observations - especially from Handejector, who has been around long enough in this business to have seen or handled almost every S&W to have left the factory (maybe not every one... but certainly a ton of them)... He has a great eye and a wealth of info.

Have fun with that gun and enjoy it for what it is - a nicely modified S&W (of which there are many) that has a fake letter...
Haha, thanks for turning the photos! I had the same problem on the other forum. I tried to turn them myself, but couldn't figure it out. Appreciate the info. I might end up selling or trading it. Haven't decided yet. However, probably not worth the $100 to send it in now right?
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:07 PM
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I wouldn't pay for a letter. It sure won't tell you who engraved it or created this elaborate fake.

You can probably sell the stocks for $100 to $150 here on this forum. Others have estimated $100 to $200 for the box, so you can probably get back half of what your Dad had in it and still have the gun. No worries about splitting it up / parting it out since it's not original anyways. Unless of course you want to put it on GunBroker and see if someone will buy it for its value as a curiosity.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:05 PM
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As RKmesa notes it appears to be a "nicely modified S&W." It has a fake letter but there appears to be nothing wrong with it functionally. I'd pay $500 for it, probably more, if it is functionally solid; I've paid more for less. Suspect there are others here who would be interested too.

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Old 03-22-2020, 04:39 PM
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A few more points-
The gun may or may not have been built as a FAKE. Anyone trying to build a "fake" rare gun and put that much money into it would probably do a better job. A short action 5 screw frame that originally had adjustable sights would have made a far more convincing fake. It is far more likely someone just wanted to build a 45 Colt shooter before the Factory offered the Mod 25-5 in 45 Colt.
The fakery comes in with whoever did the fake letter. That may or may not be the person who built the gun or had it built. The person inventing the letter is the scoundrel.


And, NO, it is not worth buying a letter for the gun. If you request a letter for a 1955 Target with serial # 55422, Roy will tell you there is NO such animal.
Since you don't know positively what that frame was to begin with, you would need to send many good pics with the letter request. Then, you'll get a letter telling you that you own a parts gun built outside the Factory. We already told you that, so send us $50, and you'll be $50 ahead.
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Old 03-22-2020, 04:48 PM
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I think the gun is fabulous. If it were mine I would treasure it. A great "Barbecue Gun" as they say. I bet it would fetch well into the low two thousands at auction. Think what it would cost to duplicate it. It would not be cheap, despite the lack of appeal to "serious collectors".

I would burn the letter and never mention it again. It detracts from the beauty of your pistol.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:30 PM
Jcumins Jcumins is offline
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I think the gun is fabulous. If it were mine I would treasure it. A great "Barbecue Gun" as they say. I bet it would fetch well into the low two thousands at auction. Think what it would cost to duplicate it. It would not be cheap, despite the lack of appeal to "serious collectors".

I would burn the letter and never mention it again. It detracts from the beauty of your pistol.
Cool. I like the way you think. I don't think I will burn the letter though. Haha. It's still a cool gun. I may sell it in the future, but not in too big of a hurry. I may go ahead and shoot it to see if it works? Haven't decided yet.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by handejector View Post
A few more points-
The gun may or may not have been built as a FAKE. Anyone trying to build a "fake" rare gun and put that much money into it would probably do a better job. A short action 5 screw frame that originally had adjustable sights would have made a far more convincing fake. It is far more likely someone just wanted to build a 45 Colt shooter before the Factory offered the Mod 25-5 in 45 Colt.
The fakery comes in with whoever did the fake letter. That may or may not be the person who built the gun or had it built. The person inventing the letter is the scoundrel.


And, NO, it is not worth buying a letter for the gun. If you request a letter for a 1955 Target with serial # 55422, Roy will tell you there is NO such animal.
Since you don't know positively what that frame was to begin with, you would need to send many good pics with the letter request. Then, you'll get a letter telling you that you own a parts gun built outside the Factory. We already told you that, so send us $50, and you'll be $50 ahead.
Ok, thanks for the knowledge and advice. That's the reason I posted on here. Just weird how everything on the gun fits and works together so well? Seems like the scoundrel that invented the letter would have had the easiest job of making the fake, right?
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:28 PM
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Post a good pic of this area and I'll post one to show you what it should look like:


S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200319_145522-jpg
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:37 PM
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Whether you sell it or keep it, burn that letter first.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:56 PM
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Whether you sell it or keep it, burn that letter first.
I think I'd keep the letter. We worry about counterfeit/fake products being produced today, interesting to see that some folks were hard at it 25 years ago. Makes it an interesting part of the package from my perspective and I'd want it if I bought the gun.

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Old 03-22-2020, 08:13 PM
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Advertised correctly somebody might pay a premium for a rare fake letter Neat revolver and thanks for showing us. On a serious note I might ad a note to the letter saying it was a fake just to protect the innocent.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:20 PM
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Here are some pictures of my 5 screw 1955 (45acp) and my 2nd model 455

Notice.
1 Rounded top of frame at barrel on 455 vs the flatter area on 1955

2 hammer spur of center of 1955 vs off top on 455

3 also yours has a plug in base of frame from lanyard and a 5 screw 1955 has an S prefix on serial number. Plus your ratchet is different older style
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:24 PM
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Post a good pic of this area and I'll post one to show you what it should look like:


S&W .45 LC Model 1955-20200319_145522-jpg
ok. I'll work on it. You might have to flip them over for me. I don't know why it keeps doing that! Haha
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:58 PM
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ok. I'll work on it. You might have to flip them over for me. I don't know why it keeps doing that! Haha
This one will also have to be flipped. I can rotate it how I want in my one drive folder, but it always puts in in here upside down, and doesn't give me the option to rotate it here that I know of.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:31 PM
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Flip it upside down in your one drive folder and see if it comes out right side up in here.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:40 PM
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Let's see if this works

Downloaded picture, flipped it, saved the flip and reposted
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:45 PM
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Here's the transition from my 4 screw pre 29. A "Mod. 1955".
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:54 AM
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Lee will be back shortly, but the photos of your gun show the forward/upper frame was contoured for a tapered barrel and either no top rib or a narrow one, as standard on N frames until the mid-1950s. The first one with the untapered barrel and wide top rib was the .45 model of 1955, from which your gun's barrel was transplanted.
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:50 AM
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Wow! Someone did way more than $500 worth of work on that!

Lee made an interesting point. Some previous owner may well have lovingly assembled and decorated his dream gun and had nothing to do with the BS letter.
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:42 PM
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I think it is an attractive custom gun which wasn't available at the time it was built. Frames and parts... and skilled gunsmith labor were cheap back them.

At one time, lot of 44 Magnums (unobtainable at the time) were built from parts on common and available M28 frames. I'd class this similarly.
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Old 03-23-2020, 06:08 PM
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Flip it upside down in your one drive folder and see if it comes out right side up in here.
Yes sir. Tried that already ? I don't know what the deal is. Thanks for the patience and the ideas.
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Old 03-23-2020, 06:17 PM
Jcumins Jcumins is offline
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Let's see if this works

Downloaded picture, flipped it, saved the flip and reposted

Thank you. Its probably something on my end? IDK. Weird. It doesn't give me the option to flip it when I get it uploaded that I can see?
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