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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 01-10-2021, 03:21 PM
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Default .455 HEII, Refinished

So many really nice .455 British Contract HEIIs have been posted recently I have been waiting for a lull to show this not-too-pristine one.

It has been refinished and some of the original markings and stampings are hard to read. It does have the ".455." mark on the barrel, and is pretty much all original except for the refinish and the M1917 stocks.

I have been handling K Frames recently so I was a little surprised when handling this big N Frame by its size and heft. The quality S&W built into these shows through a hundred years on. It is solid and tight, with a smooth (if a little heavy) trigger. The cylinder hold open spring/ball is still functioning just fine.

I've been wanting one of these forever, so when I saw it in the classifieds, I jumped on it. I probably have $600 total in it. I thought I would keep it till a better one came along, but now I am leaning toward holding on to it. I always wanted a fixed sight N-Frame with a 5" barrel in .45 Colt, so ... maybe this will be so converted some day.

About the M1917 stocks:
The number 68781 is penciled on the right panel. Who knows, maybe I can find the owner of that M1917, and get them back where they belong. As you can see, I just stuck some oddball stocks I had on it so I can take it out to the range and see how it shoots.
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Old 01-10-2021, 04:25 PM
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That seems like a perfect candidate to do the proper 45 Colt conversion by countersinking the cylinders which I find preferable to shaving the shield. I doubt the Brits will mind at this point dealing with Brexit and all. . Cool old gun you've got there, Jack.
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Last edited by quinn; 01-10-2021 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:28 PM
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I know some here look askance on anything not in 100% original condition (regardless of what that condition is) but I'm not one of them. Nothing wrong imo with nice looking shooters.

Seems like a new dress and a new pair of shoes (after the conversion) and she'll be ready for another 100 plus years of shooting.

If that's the one recently posted here for sale, I waited too long.

(Put some pre war configuration stags on it to really make it pop)

Congratulations.

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Old 01-10-2021, 08:02 PM
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. . . except value. Refinished guns with weak markings will never come close to original finish N frames and if not priced appropriately it might be a very long time before it is worth what you paid. The key for refinished S&Ws is to be careful and always buy with the knowledge of what the gun is worth. $600 is not a bargain, but since you already own it, start looking for appropriate gold medallion stocks and get out to the range and shoot it.

I might add that my shooter grade 455 did not come with original stocks either, so went looking for a set of appropriate stocks. During the hunt, I ran across a set of faux Ivory stocks, added the medallions and they looked good on the gun until I bought a set of originals.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:55 PM
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The $600 includes shipping and FFL fees. I also was thinking that just maybe the M1917 stocks would offset the price by as much as $100. Anyways, I wanted it so I bought it.

I haven't removed the side plate, and the original stocks are long gone, but all the other numbers match. I have some N Frame target stocks I wanted to put on it, but then I would have to remove the butt swivel or modify the stocks so that's a no go for now.

It truly feels massive in my hand. Hard to believe this is what S&W came up with when the Brits asked for a lightened economy version of the Triple Lock!
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Old 01-10-2021, 09:27 PM
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If you think that's heavy, pick up a .44 Russian, Schofield or New Model #3.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:35 AM
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I really would like to compare it to a Triple Lock and see just how much weight reduction S&W actually accomplished.

So I guess some day I'll have to buy a beat up, refinished, 6-1/2" TL.

For now, I will have to dig out an M1917 for comparison. I don't remember them being this hefty.
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Flash View Post
. . . For now, I will have to dig out an M1917 for comparison. I don't remember them being this hefty.
Only difference is that the barrel on the 455 is longer, so slightly heavier. If you want a HEAVY revolver, pick up a 44 Colt Walker sometime!

There was a great segment in the Three Amigos movie when Martin Short was handed a Walker revolver for a gunfight.
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:16 PM
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I got out an M1917 Commercial for comparison. They do seem about the same so I guess I need to put in more time with N Frames and less time with K Frames.

The barrel length brings up a question that's been on my mind for a while:
For British .455s -
S&W provided both the HEI & HEII with 6-1/2" barrels
The homegrown Webley Mk VI had a 6" barrel (If memory serves)
Colt provided its New Service with a 5.5" barrel
Spanish copies of the Top Break S&W had 5" barrels

The question is, why so many different lengths? I know beggars can't be choosers, but, especially considering they wanted weight reduction, why didn't the Brits ask S&W to shorten their .455 HEII barrels to 5-1/2" or even 5"?

You'd think a shorter barrel would be handier in the trenches, not to mention promoting holster standardization.
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:35 PM
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That is a very good question. I checked to find that the two English made revolvers used in WWI were the Webley and Enfield. The Webley had a 6" barrel and weighed 2.4 pounds. The Enfield had a 5 3/4" barrel. The US supplied Colt and S&W to the British and they were 5 1/2" and 6 1/2" guns. '

It appears that of the four main sidearms used in WWI by the British, all had different barrel lengths. Makes little sense to me, but maybe those various barrel lengths were selected, maybe because they gave the best accuracy??
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