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Ramblin Gambler

S&W Mod2 Questions

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Found a break open revolver at the local gun shop and need some advice.  The tag says it's a S&W Model 2 third Variation. 

 

First question is, what caliber would it be?  I don't see any caliber markings on it.  They think it's a 38 S&W. 

 

Second, were these guns double action only, or could they also be fired single action?  The action seems to be in good shape other than the hammer not staying back when I try to cock it.  It seems to work fine in double action mode. 

 

Third, just to be sure, would this qualify for pocket pistol matches? 

 

And 4th, what are they worth?  They have $500 on this one. 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20200324_1759506.jpg

IMG_20200324_1759338.jpg

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Check the barrel length,  I think it has to be 4 inches or less.  Bullett 19707

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It's not a model 2.  Model 2s were tip ups, and this is a top break.   To me it looks like a New Model 3 DA, which could be in .38 S&W.   I know that some super rare single action NM3s came in .38-40, but I don't think the DA version did.   

 

Is it a 5 or 6 shot cylinder?  If it's a 6 shot, it's a Model 3 DA.  If a five shot, it's a very similar smaller frame pistol that was called, I believe, the third model top break.  

 

If that's the original finish those are ivory grips, I'd be inclined to say that 500 bucks is a good price.   HOWEVER, you did say that it wasn't working right, so that would make me think it's a little pricey.
 

Assuming it's the smaller pistol, the barrel is too long for a pocket model, but others identical with shorter barrels are okay.   If it's the larger frame pistol, there is not currently a side match that it would be legal in.   But it's still a cool pistol in, probably, a great caliber.  And it's an antique.   If it was fully functional, I'd seriously consider buying it.  As is I'd offer him half the asking price.

Heck, he's asking 650 for a Nagant....   I have a feeling his prices are bloated.

 

Maybe Driftwood Johnson will offer some info.  He knows much more about old Smith and Wessons than I do.
 

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Counting the number of flutes that I can see in the cylinder I'll say it's a 5 shot, so 38 S&W. I'd also opine that those are not ivory, they are yellowed plastic. All in all I think anything over $225 is too much. What does he want for the High Standard 9 shot 22 in the background. Should be no more than $200.

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It is a surprisingly small gun.  I didn't think to count the holes when I opened it.  SN is 213517.  It is on consignment, I can verify that. 

 

So if it's a model 3 DA, are you supposed to be able to fire it single action?  Other than the hammer not staying back, it seems to operate great.  Locks up tighter than some of my other revolvers. 

 

The nagant locks up like Ft Knox.  I'm not interested in it though because I can't get ammo.  I'm a long way from being able to reload for that.  But I made sure I took a picture where yall could see it.  Here's another with the whole row of guns.  I'm not interested in 22's, so I didn't may much attention to next 2.  He wanted either $600 or $650 for the OMV in 45 colt on the end. 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20200324_1800311.jpg

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It looks re-blued to me. It has to have a 3.5" barrel or shorter for pocket pistol if I remember correctly.

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7 hours ago, Bullett Sass 19707 said:

Check the barrel length,  I think it has to be 4 inches or less.  Bullett 19707

 

51 minutes ago, Cholla said:

It looks re-blued to me. It has to have a 3.5" barrel or shorter for pocket pistol if I remember correctly.

 

Quote

- A pocket pistol is a small frame, fixed sight, pre-1900 design revolver having a barrel length of four inches or less. 

SHB p.31

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Howdy

 

First of all, let's get the question about number sizes settled. What we are talking about here is a Top Break revolver. According to the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson, which is the most recognized authority on these matters, the numbers 1, 1 1/2, and 2 refer to Tip Ups, not Top Breaks.

 

This is a S&W No. 2 (old Army). It is a Tip Up revolver, meaning the latch at the bottom of the barrel was lifted to free the barrel to rotate up for loading and unloading.

 

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Like this. When the barrel was rotated up, the cylinder was removed. Empty cases were ejected by pressing them out with the rod mounted under the barrel, fresh rounds were inserted, the cylinder was put back in, and the barrel rotated down again and latched in place. The Tip Ups preceded the Top Breaks by about 20 years, the first Top Break did not appear until 1869. The Tip Ups were all Rmfire, the No. 2 (Old Army) was the largest and the cylinder held six 32 Rimfire rounds. This model was manufactured from 1861 until 1874. This particular one shipped in 1870.

 

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OK, back to the question at hand. The revolver in question is a 38 Double Action. Absolutely no question. Sorry, HK, it is not a #3. This revolver is often misidentified because the shape is so similar to the large frame 44 Double Action. The key to identifying this revolver is the shape and position of the cylinder flutes. This revolver was only chambered for the 38 S&W (not 38 Special) round, and they were all five shooters. Notice how the flute at the top is partially hidden by the top strap and the next flute is almost in the center of the cylinder. The next flute is completely hidden under the frame. Just like the OP's photo. This one is a 38 Double Action 4th Model. It shipped in 1898. Notice the hammer and trigger of this revolver are case hardened. S&W NEVER blued or nickel plated triggers or hammers. The trigger and hammer in the OP's photo are blued, clearly identifying it as a refinished gun. A sloppy job at that judging from the wallowed out hole for the barrel pivot.

 

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The 38 Double Action was a five shooter.

 

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Here is a photo to compare the size of the #3 44 Double Action and a 38 Double Action. Yes they look very similar until you can compare them for size.

 

The big revolver at the top of the photo is a 44 Double Action, built on the #3 size frame. The same size as the American, Russian, Schofield, and New Model Number Three. Notice how both the cylinder flutes at the top and bottom of the cylinder are partially hidden by the top strap and frame. This is because they were six shooters. Also note the different configurations of the triggers. I love the very funky configuration of the trigger on a 44 Double Acton. The smaller revolver is a nickel plated 38 Double Action 3rd Model. Notice the 44 ALWAYS had vertical grooves on the cylinder, the first two models of the 38 Double Action had similar vertical grooves on the cylinder, but the 3rd, 4th, and 5th models did not have the vertical grooves.

 

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The vertical grooves on the cylinder were there for clearance of the bump on the front of the trigger. The bump served to lock the cylinder in position when the hammer was down. When the hammer was cocked a conventional cylinder stop rose up out of the frame. With the 38 Double Action 3rd Model, the lockwork was changed and the vertical grooves on the cylinder went away. However the lockwork on the 44 Double Acton remained the same all through production and the vertical grooves on the cylinder remained through out production. So no vertical grooves, definitely not a 44 Double Action. Yes vertical grooves, could be a 44 or a 1st or 2nd Model 38. Check the size of the gun, the number of chambers, and the position of the flutes when the gun is at rest to be sure.

 

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Just to confuse things more, here is the same 38 Double Action with a 32 Double Action. Again, you pretty much need to be comparing them side by side. Notice how much shorter the cylinder is on the 32 because it was chambered for the diminutive 32 S&W round. Not the 32 S&W Long, it had not been invented yet.

 

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Yes, the 38 Double Action was absolutely a double action/single action revolver. Yes, the hammer should stay back and the trigger should pop into place to keep it cocked. If it will not stay at full cock, something inside is broken or worn. In this view of the lockwork of the 38 Double Action, the lower sear is resting in the 'half cock' notch. The full cock notch is further up near the pivot for the main spring stirrup. One of these two parts is broken in the gun the OP looked at. The claw like thing in front of the hammer is the double action sear, the gun can function in double action while the single action stuff is broken because the double action sear works independently of the single action stuff.

 

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What is it worth?

 

I paid $200 for that nickel plated 38 Double Action a bunch of years ago. I paid $450 for the blued one. It is in almost perfect condition except for some freckling of the blue on the cylinder.

 

$500 for a broken refinished revolver? He is dreaming. Parts are almost impossible to find, and I only know one Smith who would have attempted welding up broken parts and reshaping them and he is retired.

 

I would not pay more than $75 for that revolver and I would take it apart for parts.

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I have a few of these old S&W revolvers. Thank you Driftwood for a great post. Extremely informative.

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As always, Driftwood provides the answers on the S&W's.  As I said before, his knowledge is far superior to mine.  (No apologies needed my friend.)   I agree with everything he has said, especially the verdict on value.   

 

On a final note of curiosity, the New Model Three, the big one, was available in .38 S&W.  At least the single action was.  I know, I have one.  Well, technically mine is .38-44, which is basically a lengthened .38 S&W, but you can safely chamber and fire the shorter round in them.  Smith & Wesson confirmed all this for me when I asked.   I have never seen a Model 3 DA in this caliber, although I have searched.   I've seen it listed as having had been available, but I just don't know.   All the ones in .38 S&W I have ever seen are indeed the smaller .38 Double Actions.   They do look remarkably similar, hence my earlier confusion.  :)
 

I find old top breaks in general, and the .38 S&W cartridge in particular, to be personally fascinating.  Oddly, while I have a handful by other makers, I don't have any smaller revolvers in the caliber actually made by Smith and Wesson.   I really need to remedy that gap in my collection.   
 

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On another note, reloading the Nagant is actually remarkably easy.  All you need is some .32-20 brass, and the dies from Lee that will resize the .32-20 to the dimensions of the Nagant round.   Starline Brass works best, but I have also done it with Remington brass with no ill effects.  I've read that other brands don't work so well.

The only caveat is that the reshaped .32-20 brass is shorter than the original Nagant brass and it will not have the "mouth" that goes into the cylinder to make the gas seal.  As a practical manner, this means that using this kind of brass won't allow the gun to work with a silencer.

You need to use a wadcutter bullet in the cartridges made from .32-30 brass.  Using anything else will make the resulting round too long for the cylinder.  When all is said and done, they make for decent shooters, and the SA trigger pull is really not all that bad, especially when compared to how horrible the DA pull is.   Removing one small part turns a DA into an SA version, and when done makes them SASS legal for a main match pistol.   They are also remarkably easy to cock with the thumb of the shooting hand.   But $650 is a ridiculous price.  I got mine for less than a hundred bucks each, and they came with an issue holster and cleaning rod.  Granted, that was about 10 years ago when a huge number of them were imported and hit the surplus market all at once, and that supply has dried up.  But still...

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Thanks everyone, especially Driftwood.  Your detail blows me away.  Makes me want to buy the guns you collect just so I can come here and pick your brain about them. 

 

Based on the price of the OMV on the end (and a couple of others the piqued my interest), I figured the prices were all pretty much full retail.  But I didn't know enough about the nagant or S&W to make a good judgement.  I'll call him and let him know what he really has and see if the owner wants to entertain a reasonable offer. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

On a final note of curiosity, the New Model Three, the big one, was available in .38 S&W.  At least the single action was.  I know, I have one.  Well, technically mine is .38-44, which is basically a lengthened .38 S&W, but you can safely chamber and fire the shorter round in them.  Smith & Wesson confirmed all this for me when I asked.   I have never seen a Model 3 DA in this caliber, although I have searched.   I've seen it listed as having had been available, but I just don't know.   All the ones in .38 S&W I have ever seen are indeed the smaller .38 Double Actions.   They do look remarkably similar, hence my earlier confusion.

 

Let's be clear on our nomenclature HK.

 

The New Model Number Three was a single action revolver. I know you have one, but that term denotes a single action revolver.

 

Like the these:

 

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There is no such thing as a Model 3 DA. The correct term, according to SCSW is 44 Double Action. Like these, a target model at the top and a standard model at the bottom. Yes the blued one has been refinished as evidenced by the blued hammer and trigger. I seem to recall you were there when I bought it.

 

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Yes, that term can be somewhat confusing because they were chambered for more cartridges than 44s. The most common chambering was 44 Russian, which both of mine are. There were 53,590 of these made chambered for 44 Russian. According to SCSW about ten were chambered for 38 Colt. Theodore Roosevelt ordered a custom 44 DA before venturing to San Juan Hill in Cuba. It was highly engraved. There is a photo of it hanging in the Amoskeag Auction house in Manchester NH. I'm pretty sure it was chambered for the 38 Colt Government cartridge so Teddy could obtain ammunition. Also according to SCSW there were some chambered for 38-44 Gallery, but I suspect they are quite rare.

 

I seem to recall you have one chambered for 44-40. This was the same basic revolver with a 1 9/16" long cylinder to accommodate the 44-40 cartridge. This model was known as the 44 Double Action Frontier. There were about 15,340 of these made.

 

There was the 44 Double Action Wesson Favorite, also chambered for 44 Russian.  This one had some grooves cut into the frame to lighten it, along with material removed from the inside of the frame. About 1,000 were made.

 

Lastly there was the 38 Winchester Double Action. The same as the 44 Frontier model with the 1 9/16" cylinder but chambered for 38-40. Only 276 were manufactured. Quite rare.

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Driftwood:

 

It's always refreshing to read a post by someone with encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter  - even if he is "naturally blabby". ;)

 

LL

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Thanks again Driftwood.   Yes, the nomenclature can be very confusing at times!   And you are correct, I do have a .44-40  double action.  Great pistol.    

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