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S&W Revolvers: 1961 to 1980 3-Screw PINNED Barrel SWING-OUT Cylinder Hand Ejectors


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Old 11-30-2008, 11:23 AM
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The weather is crappy here in NY today so I thought I'd dig out something shiny and play around with the camera a little bit.
Here are 2 S series nickel long barreled .44 mags that were shipped about 9 years apart.
The first is S217223 that shipped 6/12/1962 to Beck & Gregg Hardware Co., Atlanta, GA. Nickel 4 screw Model 29s are pretty scarce these days, especially in 8 3/8ths .
The second one is S318653 which didn't ship until 12/2/1971 to Colosimo's Co., Philadelphia, PA. Tuesday will be this revolver's 37th birthday. This was a late shipment for an S series 29-2 as shipment of the N series had already begun by this date. Some collectors speculate that the long barrel .44 Magnum was not all that popular, especially in nickel in the late 60's and this gun may have just stayed up on the shelf at the factory until it was ordered. The shipping carton that this gun came in has a Dec, 1971 stamp on the end label, so perhaps this theory has some merit.
Enjoy
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:23 AM
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Old 11-30-2008, 12:22 PM
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That is a beautiful pair of nickel 29's you have there. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-30-2008, 01:20 PM
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Yes, those are beautiful!

Chuck, or anyone else who cares to chime in, what is the highest known S- serial number for a M29-2?

I have wondered whether 44s went right up to the end of the S-series, around S333454, or if they definitely seem to stop somewhere short of that?
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Old 11-30-2008, 01:55 PM
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Well, our database says that S319679 is the highest # 44 Mag documented. It shipped 9/69 also in nickel. After looking at the final run it appears, of 44 mags in the S series, most were in nickel. The one shown in this message was very late shipped when comparing it to the other ones in the S317-S319XXX range. To further confuse the issue, I also own N3 the first 29-2 in the N series which shipped 3/71, 9 months before S318653. Looks like the factory was clearing out the S series left overs by early 1971.
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Originally posted by M29since14:
Yes, those are beautiful!

Chuck, or anyone else who cares to chime in, what is the highest known S- serial number for a M29-2?

I have wondered whether 44s went right up to the end of the S-series, around S333454, or if they definitely seem to stop somewhere short of that?
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:14 PM
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The Model 27-2 was near the end of the S prefix serial numbers as I saw one in the S330000 range that was engraved and inlaid with gold by Russ Smith. N1 was a Model 28-2, and with the exception of N3 that was held in reserve for Dick Marble, used up the first thousand or more N prefix serial numbers.

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Old 11-30-2008, 04:24 PM
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Chuck...Nice 29s and photos. The 8 3/8-inch barrel rapidly lost popularity after its introduction in early 1959 (if it ever was popular) and the production plan for the years 1968-1970, only called for the production of ten 29-2s with the long barrel, all finished in bright blue.

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Old 11-30-2008, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Doc44:
Chuck...Nice 29s and photos. The 8 3/8-inch barrel rapidly lost popularity after its introduction in early 1959 (if it ever was popular) and the production plan for the years 1968-1970, only called for the production of ten 29-2s with the long barrel, all finished in bright blue.

Bill, do you think then that S318653 was possibly made pre-68? If it was made between 68-70 then there must have been a change to the production plan for a reason we'll never know.

Chuck

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Old 12-01-2008, 06:09 AM
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Chuck...I think the production plan was changed and your gun was made in 1969. However, since it was not shipped for a couple of years, it further demonstrates the lack of popularity of this barrel length.

I believe S&W made a run of these guns in 77 or 78 as you find a lot of them in the N420000-470000 range.

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Old 12-01-2008, 08:30 AM
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Chuck,

Very Nice! Well Done Ranger!

Not to hijack your thread, but where did you find the clear rod to support these firearms for the pictures?

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Old 12-01-2008, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
However, since it was not shipped for a couple of years, it further demonstrates the lack of popularity of this barrel length.
Bill, that is interesting information. In general, can we assume that the 4-inch gun was the most popular, or at least the one the factory was making the most of, at that time - late 60s/end of the S-serial number range?

It has always been confusing to me. I say that because when I ordered my gun in 5/69, I specifically asked for a 6.5" gun, and received a 4-inch. At that time, I had never seen a 6.5" gun for sale, in person, but had seen a few 4- and 8-3/8-inch guns. This would seem to explain: (a) that the factory was making a lot of 4-inch guns, and (b) that the 8-inch guns that were made were slow sellers. (Note here that (b) does not follow, in my case, as locally, the 8-inch guns were well thought of by the shooters I knew.)

It could also mean: (a) that no one wanted 4-inchers, so they languished (like the 8-inchers?), and (b) that the 6.5" was what was wanted most, and thus they sold as soon as they made their way to the dealer's shelves?

In my own case, I took the 4-inch gun that was offered, even though it was not what I wanted, because I was assured by the dealer that I might wait a good long while until a 6.5" gun finally showed up. He advised me to buy the gun, try it, and if I didn't like it, I could send it back to S&W to have the longer barrel installed at a later date. This was apparently pretty common then, as he told me about what it would cost and how long he thought it might take, indicating to me that he had done this more than once.

At that time, I did not know anyone who actually wanted a 4-inch S&W 44 Magnum. Everyone looked at them as curiosities, but nothing to be taken seriously for actual shooting. Yet when I look at what I have now, and what I have seen in the last nearly 40-years, the 4-inch guns outnumber both of the other barrel lengths by a considerable margin.

Do you have similar impressions and/or information? It seems odd to me that there would be such a big disconnect between what the factory was making and what the public wanted? But, I realize my experience, here in NC Indiana, may have nothing to do with what was going on in the rest of the country. I was just a pup then, and my world was pretty small.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:08 AM
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Of the 5600 Model 29-2s planned for the period, 1968-1970, approximately 65 percent had a 6 1/2-inch barrel and most of those had a bright blue finish. The remaining 29-2s were predominantly fitted with a 4-inch barrel and bright blue finish. Approximately one percent had other barrel lengths and/or special finishes.

The 6 1/2-inch barrel length was always the most popular throughout the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. I think the reason they were seldom seen is everyone who wanted a 44 Magnum wanted this barrel length. Four inch lengths had too much blast and the 8 3/8-inch guns were too difficult to carry.

Bill
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:27 PM
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Interesting. I guess there was no disconnect, unless it would be that the factory should have been making even more than 65% of the product with 6.5" barrels.

In terms of nickel and blue, my experience that the shooters I knew and grew up around invariably wanted blued guns. Nickel was always regarded as less desirable, and was not popular with field shooters. Some policemen liked nickel in those days, but the hobbyists always wanted blue.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 12-01-2008, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DMark:
Chuck,

Very Nice! Well Done Ranger!

Not to hijack your thread, but where did you find the clear rod to support these firearms for the pictures?

DMARK I had them made by a company in PA. I have some extras for anyone who's ever landed on their 4th point of contact first.
Chuck

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Old 12-08-2008, 02:40 PM
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Just to add a little info to this thread, in case anyone is interested.

I had lunch today with my old friend who, fortunately for him, was in a better position to be buying guns in the time frame when the last S-number N-frames were being made. I thought Bob might have some later guns than Chuck's S318653 gun. In looking at his guns, we saw a .44 Magnum much like Chuck's, about 30 numbers later. Bob's, unlike Chuck's, has a black ramp base pinned to the barrel (with red insert), whereas Chuck's is nickel, and may be integral with the barrel...? (Bob's gun is also an 8-3/8" nickel 29-2.)

The other gun of interest to me was not a .44 Magnum at all, but rather a Model 57, also an 8-3/8" nickel revolver, and also with a black ramp base (with yellow insert) pinned to the barrel. This gun is numbered S3197xx - right in the same time frame, but not really any closer to the end of the S-numbered series than Bill's mention of the M27 in the S330xxx range.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
but where did you find the clear rod to support these firearms for the pictures?
Dmark,

Google "acrylic rods" and you'll find a bunch of sources, and you can cut your own. Here's one supplier: http://www.craftics.com/products.cfm?Category=107
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:50 PM
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M29since14...That is an interesting find as the nickeled front sight blade/ramp appeared as early as January 1968 around S270000. Were the pins that secure the ramp to be barrel rib polished flush or not? Sounds like a "redo" to me (but a nice one ).

Guns with an 8 3/8-inch or 4-inch barrel had the ramp secured to the barrel with two pins up through N25000 or higher. By N71000, the ramp was forged with the barrel on the 8 3/8-inch (not sure when the 4-inch changed). The 6 1/2-inch barrel had the ramp forged with the barrel as early as S275000 or so.

Bill
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Not to hijack your thread, but where did you find the clear rod to support these firearms for the pictures?
Another item - less costly and readily available at Home Depot, Menard's, or Lowe's is 7/8" - 1" clear plastic tubing. For $1-$2 you can buy a foot of it and cut various lengths. - very flexible and is even more unobtrusive than the acrylic dowel. It can be positioned behind the handgun making it nearly invisible

ps...I've seen a lot more of your collection Chuck since your purchase of that Nikon! (I often wonder if I helped finance it?)
Wonderful pics and again more rare pieces! Thanks!
Say it's almost time for a "Birthday Gun!" isn't it?
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:44 AM
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Bill - Pins were proud of the rib, as you would expect.

Quote:
Guns with an 8 3/8-inch or 4-inch barrel had the ramp secured to the barrel with two pins up through N25000 or higher. By N71000, the ramp was forged with the barrel on the 8 3/8-inch (not sure when the 4-inch changed).
Bill - That is how the gun is made. It is an 8-3/8" nickel gun with blued ramp base and red-insert ramp. The gun is a high S-number, so would that not be normal for it, considering that was typical up through N25000 or so? Am I missing something?
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:26 AM
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S&W began finishing the front sight blade/ramp in nickel and polishing the pins flush to the barrel rib as early as 1968 (S270000 range). Below is an example that was shipped in September 1969 and is in the S317000 range. You cannot see the pins in the photo as they are polished flush to the barrel rib. I have seen numerous guns like this, but the ones you have described date to an earlier time (mid-60s). However, if one wanted a blue ramp and blade, I am sure S&W would have been able to change the nickel one for a blue one and leave the pins exposed. I had a blue 29-2 refinished in nickel in 1974 and asked that the blade be left blue. S&W did this and pinned the blue blade onto the ramp with a single pin (the ramp was integral with the barrel) and left it exposed.

Bill
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Old 12-09-2008, 09:20 AM
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More good info. Many thanks, Bill. I always appreciate your insights.

This makes more sense now. Back in those days, many of us did not like the nickel base and ramp. We thought S&W made the guns look cheap when they did that. It could be that Bob had the sights replaced on those guns? I'll have to inquire... discretely.

If they were replaced, the work was done very carefully. I did not see any sign of anything out of the ordinary.

BTW - That photo of your 6.5" gun S153970 was just outstanding. One of your best. Small adjustments make a big difference, sometimes!
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