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Questions on S&W Lemon Squeezers ++


Robin Trains SASS 80595
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Howdy folks,

I am considering a S&W Lemon Squeezer or other appropriate pistol for side matches. What should I look for when shopping for a S&W L.Q.?

I guess this question focuses first on caliber; .32 vs .38 S&W. Not really sure which is more readily available.

Are there strong opinions on Nickle finish vs Blued?

And finally, I presume no long 6" barreled Lemon Squeezer variants for the rules of the side game?

Aside from this one  - what are the other popular pistol choices I might should consider?

Thanks for yalll's feedback!

~Robin

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SASS rules state barrel can be no longer than 4 inches. I think 38 S&W is best. Do not be concerned about patina of the metal or finish of the wood. Concentrate solely on mechanical soundness. Don’t buy one that you cannot shoot first. Don’t pass up a really good Iver Johnson. 

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Iver Johnson made some excellent pocket pistols.  Less "prestigious" than a S&W, but every bit as serviceable and reliable.   

 

I have several pocket pistols.   Among my favorites are an Iver Johnson and a Merwin & Hulbert, both in .38 S&W.  I also have a few in .32 S&W, which is a nice caliber, but I prefer the .38.  That's just a personal preference.   You can't really go wrong with either caliber.  The M&H is single action, so I only use it for the occasional accuracy match.   I always use a DA for the speed ones.

I also have a Colt Lightning in .38 Long Colt that is a lot of fun to shoot.

Depending on make/model/date of manufacture a pocket pistol stands a good chance of being black powder only.  For example, the Lightning, although made until 1909, was never approved for smokeless.   Other pistols, it depends on when it was made.

 

Good luck!

 

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Most pocket pistols are BP only. The SW perfected model is ok for smokeless. The Iver Johnson’s depend on which way the owl is facing. But don’t trust that 100% as the grips could have been changed. 

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I bought a .32 S&W Harrington & Richardson Premier (the "Bicycle Model" with its 2-inch barrel) for side matches.  It is not correct that all top-break guns are BP only.  Most of the guns that were designed for BP in the 1880s and 1890s were redesigned to shoot smokeless cartridges once smokeless became available and popular.  For example, H&R changed the barrel marking on the Automatic Ejecting and Premier Models to read ".32 S&W CTGE" or ".38 S&W CTGE" when the design was updated for smokeless.  Mine was made in 1906 and safely shoots smokeless cartridges.  (The H&R Premier was made from the mid-1890s through 1941.)  You need to actually research the different variations of the different models of whatever guns you are considering.  As H.K. Uriah suggested, whether your gun can handle the higher pressures of smokeless depends on the particular model and variation -- stated differently, when it was made.  The internet is your friend; have at it.

 

Harrington & Richardson, Iver Johnson, Smith & Wesson, Merwin & Hulbert, and others made perfectly good top-break revolvers.  (U.S. Revolver was not a manufacturer, but instead was an Iver Johnson brand that allowed them to sell into different trade channels at different price points;, the pistols are identical, the U.S. Revolver guns being made entirely from Iver Johnson parts.  If you know how to tell the difference between variations of the different models, many of the parts are interchangeable.)

 

The issue to think about is ammunition.  Commercially loaded .38 S&W is possible to find, as is .38 S&W brass.  .32 S&W (short) brass is especially hard to come by, and there's no such thing as commercially loaded .32 S&W anymore.

 

Good luck.  

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I have a couple of lemon squeezer revolvers. All function flawlessly when operating them normally. When I try to go fast, they want to bind up. I have not dug into why. 

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oak creek martin said "Don’t buy one that you cannot shoot first."  Good advice but it dramatically limits the universe of guns to choose from.  At any given moment there are dozens of top-break revolvers of every condition -- from parts guns to near flawless "as new" -- for sale through reputable online sources (and some less reputable ones, too) and mainly through smaller auctions.  The good news is that most of these guns are fairly cheap in comparison to virtually everything else in Cowboy Action Shooting.  Although you can spend as much as you like, you won't need to spend more than about $200, if that, so you can take more of a chance than you would on, say, buying just about any other gun, real or replica, used in CAS.  

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I have had a couple of lemon squeezers but I would not buy one to shoot on the regular. I think the squeeze mechanics are not flawless by any means. I have a 38 Merwin Hulbert pocket pistol solid gun for its day   But I don’t think any are real dependable. I also have some Hopkins and Alan guns that are in better condition. My experience is Condition is what matters most and when looking for one of these old guns get the gun in the best condition you can. Don’t buy a bad condition S&W over a perfect H&A gun. Do not buy a US revolve others my disagree but I think this gun should be avoided 

  

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1 hour ago, Wild Willi said:

I have had a couple of lemon squeezers but I would not buy one to shoot on the regular. I think the squeeze mechanics are not flawless by any means. I have a 38 Merwin Hulbert pocket pistol solid gun for its day   But I don’t think any are real dependable. I also have some Hopkins and Alan guns that are in better condition. My experience is Condition is what matters most and when looking for one of these old guns get the gun in the best condition you can. Don’t buy a bad condition S&W over a perfect H&A gun. Do not buy a US revolve others my disagree but I think this gun should be avoided 

  

WW, I'm interested to know why you would avoid U.S. Revolver brand.  A friend has one and other than the name on the gun and the grip panels, it is actually identical to the Iver Johnson Safety Automatic Second Model, as it was actually made by Iver Johnson with stock parts used in the Safety Automatic Second Model.

 

(p.s. -- there's no evidence that Jefferson ever said or wrote that line; that he did is pure urban fiction as best as anyone can tell; it is still true and a great line, just not attributable to Pres. Jefferson.)

Edited by Nostrum Damus SASS #110702
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On 11/8/2022 at 9:04 AM, Wild Willi said:

I have had a couple of lemon squeezers but I would not buy one to shoot on the regular. I think the squeeze mechanics are not flawless by any means. I have a 38 Merwin Hulbert pocket pistol solid gun for its day   But I don’t think any are real dependable. I also have some Hopkins and Alan guns that are in better condition. My experience is Condition is what matters most and when looking for one of these old guns get the gun in the best condition you can. Don’t buy a bad condition S&W over a perfect H&A gun. Do not buy a US revolve others my disagree but I think this gun should be avoided 

  

Howdy WW,

Given that you prefer non US guns - do you mean to say modern replicas, such as Italian firearms? (*Doh! I misread. Got it now!)

I am looking to get a gun for this category of Side Matches. And don't have a solid direction, yet. While I admire vintage guns quite a bit - I also enjoy the perceived safety of modern metals and manufacturing. Are there acceptable (SASS rules)  'modern' guns similar to the Lemon Squeezer? (aside from a Bond arms type 1/2 shooter)

Edited by Robin Trains SASS 80595
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Howdy

 

Lemon squeezer is a another name for the S&W double action, hammerless pocket pistols with a grip safety. Hence the name Lemon squeezer. If it does not have a grip safety, it is not a lemon squeezer.

 

The Smith and Wesson Perfected models were mentioned. Lacking a grip safety, they are not lemon squeezers. These are the Top Break 38 S&W pocket pistols that have a latch on the top AND a sliding thumb piece on the side of the frame. In order to open them, BOTH the thumb piece and the latch have to activated at the same time. They are nice little revolvers, made of modern steel, capable of firing ammunition loaded with Smokeless powder. But technically they do not qualify as a SASS pocket pistol because they were made from 1909 until 1920. Don't tell anybody but I did use one in a Pocket Pistol match a number of years ago.

 

pnBDmvQAj

 

 

 

 

Most of the other S&W Pocket Pistols should only be fired with Black Powder because most were made with steels that were only suitable for Black Powder. Notice I said most, not all. Some were made into the 20th Century, but as such they would really not be legal for CAS Pocket Pistil matches. I am not going to go right here into all the variations, but there were a bunch of different S&W safety hammerless pocket pistol models that were made into the 20th Century. both 32 S&W and 38 S&W.

 

Iver Johnsons are interesting. Around 1900 Iver Johnson completely redesigned their revolvers for Smokeless powder. They used batter steel than was being used in the earlier models. Notice the lack of a grip safety, so this Iver Johnson safety hammerless is technically not a lemon squeezer.

 

There are three characteristics that indicate whether or not an Iver Johnson is a Smokeless gun or a Black Powder gun.

 

This one is a Smokeless gun. Notice the direction the little owl on the grip is facing, backwards. If you remove the grips you will find the hammer spring is a coil spring. And study the shape of the cylinder locking slots. Notice they have a hard edge both top and bottom.

 

pnYHFfasj

 

 

 

 

This is a Black Powder Iver Johnson.  The little owl on the grip is facing forward, the hammer spring is a leaf spring, and notice the cylinder locking slots only have one hard edge.

 

pmONRDk1j

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DJ said: "Some were made into the 20th Century, but as such they would really not be legal for CAS Pocket Pistil matches."  Just to be clear, it is my understanding that guns that were "made into the 20th Century" are SASS-legal pocket pistols as long as they are of "a pre-1900 design" and 4" or less barrel, .31 cal or larger, small frame, and fixed sight, and no swing-out cylinder.  The Shooters Handbook (Version 26) doesn't say it has to be manufactured before 1900, only that it must be a "pre-1900 design."  Thus, as I understand it, the H&R Premier is a legal pocket pistol because it was introduced in 1895, even though it was modified in 1905 (and designated Second Model) to shoot smokeless cartridges, and was produced until 1941.  Apart from all of the minor mechanical variations, the basic design of the Premier is "a pre-1900 design" so someone can purchase an H&R Premier Second Model gun made in 1940 and use it for SASS pocket pistol side matches.  (This is no different than the rules for other guns.  For example, a Winchester 97 is SASS-legal even though it may have been manufactured in the 1940s and differs in numerous minor ways from the last Win 1897 actually made before 1900, because the design is basically the same pre-1900 design.)

Capture.PNG

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I like my S&W lemon squeezers. I have two in .32 S&W, and one in .38 S&W. 

 

I'd suggest getting a revolver in .32 as correctly sized bullets are more readily available. The .38 S&W uses a .360" sized bullet, which is available but harder to find.

 

I do load my squeezers with cartridges that contain VERY light loads of smokeless powder and the lightest bullets I can find. I even load cartridges using round balls to keep pressure low. No problems thus far, but do your own research.

 

To get the largest margin of safety I'd suggest looking for a later model squeezer. The latest models will have the front sight milled into the barrel, while the earlier models will have the front sight retained by a cross pin.

Edited by Philosopher
clarity
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I'm loading .32 S&W for my H&R Premier Second Model with 1.3 gr of Red Dot under .313" 78gn RNFP coated bullets -- I think the lightest bullets available.  SlipperyBullets.com makes and sells the bullets for a very reasonable price.  Given that side matches don't plow through ammo the way main matches do, I figured I could buy a lifetime supply of bullets for the same cost as buying a 4-cavity mold for my club member who makes bullets for some of us.  The much bigger problem is finding .32 S&W brass.

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My S&W "Lemon Squeezer" is hammerless, and double-action only. it is in .38 S&W caliber, which are usually available. Not sure how available the .32 caliber ammunition is. Ammunition availability is what I was looking for, when I bought mine, and .38 S&W won that battle.   

Since the "Lemon Squeezer" is double-action only, perhaps it is okay, for a side-match, if your club allows such things.  

Also, the S&W is a five shot...which may mean you end up in a side match with a 4 shooter.  

I shoot mine with smokeless powder, as well as black-powder, since most of the .38 S&W cartridges are lightly loaded. 

Whatever you feel comfortable with, in that regard. 

 

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23 hours ago, Nostrum Damus SASS #110702 said:

DJ said: "Some were made into the 20th Century, but as such they would really not be legal for CAS Pocket Pistil matches."  Just to be clear, it is my understanding that guns that were "made into the 20th Century" are SASS-legal pocket pistols as long as they are of "a pre-1900 design" and 4" or less barrel, .31 cal or larger, small frame, and fixed sight, and no swing-out cylinder.  The Shooters Handbook (Version 26) doesn't say it has to be manufactured before 1900, only that it must be a "pre-1900 design."  Thus, as I understand it, the H&R Premier is a legal pocket pistol because it was introduced in 1895, even though it was modified in 1905 (and designated Second Model) to shoot smokeless cartridges, and was produced until 1941.  Apart from all of the minor mechanical variations, the basic design of the Premier is "a pre-1900 design" so someone can purchase an H&R Premier Second Model gun made in 1940 and use it for SASS pocket pistol side matches.  (This is no different than the rules for other guns.  For example, a Winchester 97 is SASS-legal even though it may have been manufactured in the 1940s and differs in numerous minor ways from the last Win 1897 actually made before 1900, because the design is basically the same pre-1900 design.)

 

Take a look again at the S&W Perfecteds that I was talking about. They were made from 1909 until 1920. Not a "pre-1900" design, they were a completely new design in 1909. So don't tell anybody, but I was cheating a little bit when I used one in a pocket pistol match a few years ago.

 

pnBDmvQAj

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HEY!! For all you pards (like me) who can't find more than a few .32 S&W brass here and there, Starline is taking orders and will do a run when enough of us have ordered.  So order as many as you think you'll ever want, and a few more to sell to others on GunJoker or SASS Classified at whatever price you feel like chiseling out of the rest of John Q. Public, and maybe we can accelerate Starline's timetable for the run.

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