Questions on S&W Model 1955


January 13, 2003, 05:03 PM
This is for anyone who knows more about these than me, IOW, Mike Irwin, Tamara, come to think of it, probably everyone else here, dang near. ;)

I have two questions.

1. Mainspring - is there a different type on this revolver than on other S&W's. Alternatively, was there an 'old' type spring that was radically different than the mainspring on more modern S&W's. Rather than a conventional mainspring, I'm talking about one that is a double-curve looking job? (If this has everyone snowed, I'll post a picture later). I've never seen one like this, but all of my experience has been with newer models.

2. Looking at prices for these, I came across a statement on an ad I saw at Gunbroker. Essentially, said that these guns were commonly made with 6" bbls, but that 'a few' were made with 6 1/2" bbls. Is this true, or 'marketing' BS? (The gun for sale had a 6.5", naturally).

Needless to say, I'm sitting on one of these. Kind of torn. I wasn't looking for it, but it came in a package deal. My original intent was to sell it, but now I'm not so sure. It's kind of cool, and the idea of having a revolver that shoots .45ACP is neat, in a way. The sear needs stoning, or replacement, as in single-action it can be easily pushed off to fire. The reason I think it's the sear is because of the weird mainspring. The mainspring adjusting screw has been chopped off, and can't be used to increase spring tension, or decrease it either. Maybe someone did had some work done on it? Beats me. I need to sit down and really look at the internals some more, (maybe some adjustment I'm missing), but outside of the mainspring and screw, things look fairly 'normal' inside.

I'd appreciate the benefit of anyone's knowledge of this model.

Thanks in advance.

(edited to add:)

It's nap time. Working my way into nightshifts. I'll be back later this evening, so don't get upset if I don't respond right away. Thanks again.

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Mike Irwin
January 13, 2003, 05:20 PM

Question 1.

The only "different" mainspring I'm familiar with is the coil mainspring used on Improved I frames and J frames.

The design of the revolver is such that I don't think a recurve mainspring would work worth a damn.

Please post a picture, as I'm really curious.

Question 2.

I'm at work, away from my books, but I seem to recall that both 6 and 6.5" versions were made, but that the 6.5" versions were the first year or two of production.

From your final bit of description, though, it sounds like someone hasn't "worked" on this gun. It sounds like someone has completely :cuss:ed this gun up.

Johnny Guest
January 13, 2003, 05:53 PM
Mike Irwin has come to be one of my Smith & Wesson gurus--A source of knowledge about arcanae.

This may be the one time I have a bit of data Mike doesn't have at his fingertips.

My first 1955 target, acquired used, along about 1967, had the "W" shaped mainspring. This was from back in the days when a lot of guys shot bullseye centerfire matches with revolvers. I was told that the idea was that it was possible to get such a mainspring to reliably pop primers with a noticibly lighter trigger load. Can't say if this is true, but my old revolver (pre-Model 25) had a very light and smooth trigger pull. I never had any trouble with ignition on any target or service ammo or handloads I shot through it.

A couple of later 1955s I had were set up with the conventional leaf main spring.

The 6-1/2 inch barrel (vice the 6 inch) was another target shooting thing. NRA target rules at the time limited sight radius, and the extra half-inch was to give the competitor the benefit of every fraction betwixt front and rear sights.

Trapshooter, those older-vintage target revolvers are really nice pieces. The "push off" situation is, of course, not proper, and should be fixed. I'd suggest taking it to a GOOD revolver smith and holding a consult. Being such nice (and valuable) guns, it would be well worth your while to hunt up a proper hammer and pay to have it properly fitted. I say hammer, because the single-action articulation is directly between the trigger and hammer. The little double action fly has nothing to do with the push off.

Please post the serial number so someone can research the date of manufacture for you. I'd probably substitute XX for last two digits. Hope all else is original on your 1955. Stocks should be either Magna style which follow the frame, or the over size target type, with filler behind trigger guard. In either case, there should be a large diamond of unchecked wood around the stock screws.

All the best,

Wil Terry
January 13, 2003, 05:55 PM
6 1/2" SIXGUNS.
It was not until the late 70's, if memory serves, that S+W went to six inch bbls on their sixguns on the guns that were 6 1/2" previously.
Some of the first models of 1955 TARGET 45ACP revolvers had a U-shaped mainspring. There is a good picture of same in Keith's book, SIXGUNS.

Jim Watson
January 13, 2003, 06:02 PM
The 1955 was introduced with a 6.5" barrel. Later guns went down to 6" along with the other big Smiths. I don't know the year of the change. Naturally whichever the seller has turns out to be the rarity but really there are plenty of individual guns at both lengths. Why they changed, I don't know. PPC limits barrel length to 6" but everybody there is shooting .38s anyway.

S&W tried introducing "U" and "W" shaped mainsprings in the early 1950s. Elmer Keith liked his and pointed out the cost savings of doing away with the strain screw, the spring notch, and the rebound spring. But they didn't catch on.

Fred Sadowski bent the regular flat spring into what he called the "Pollack Kink" as part of his well regarded action job but I do not know if that included cutting the strain screw clear off.

I vaguely recall a picture of a mainspring bent into kind of an "S" curve.

Pictures would help.

Hammer push off is a bad sign, of much wear or too much cutting. Your hammer and/or trigger need to be reworked or replaced for safety's sake. Totally screwed up? I doubt it, a nice gun like that will be worth the work to bring it back.

The folks at
could probably help.

January 13, 2003, 06:04 PM
Thanks for the fast git back, Mike.

On the mainspring, I'll get a pic up before 1000 PM central (I hope). Whoever did any work to it, they didn't screw it up too bad, they just cut off the screw so it doesn't make contact with the mainspring (or maybe it broke). I'll pull it out tonight and look at it when I'm doing the picture thing. Easy fix is to replace the mainspring and adjusting screw. (This might have been done a long time back, by a gnome).

The frame is normal, though. No chopping or anything. Just the wierd main and short adj. screw. (And possibly needs a new sear). Not sure about the sear, though. I compared it through a magnifying glass to other sears I have that are good (two other N-frames), and I can't see any difference. I've got a pretty good eye for that stuff, but I'm willing to admit it doesn't take much to screw up stoning a sear. I have a virgin 29-3 that I know hasn't been touched, and I'll check it against that one, too. Still won't prove it isn't messed up. Got to look at the hammer side, too. You never know. Parts ain't parts, either.

Check back later for the picture. I really have to nap, right now. Thanks again.

Mike Irwin
January 13, 2003, 08:38 PM
As God is my witness, I have never heard of this mainspring configuration before.


However, the fact that your gun pushes off in single action is not a good thing. That shouldn't be happening no matter what.

January 13, 2003, 08:54 PM
I thought I'd seen Smiths with S-shaped mainsprings before. I'm no expert but I sure seem to remember it.

January 13, 2003, 10:04 PM
My 25-2 has a 6.5-inch barrel and was manufactured in late 1976. The drop to 6-inch must be 1977 or later. Might be worth it to post this question on . There's a fellow called "SmithNut" who is extremely knowledgeable.

Mike Irwin
January 13, 2003, 10:41 PM
6" versions were offered in some guns, such as the .38/44 Heavy Duty, prior to WW II.

The difference there may be that that gun was primarily meant to be a police gun.

My Model 24-3, made in 1983-84, has a 6.5" barrel, but it was a "reintroduction."

January 14, 2003, 01:00 AM
Lots of help, and I really appreciate it.

I owe you all some pictures, so I'll try it now, one at a time, then I'll relate what I see based on a real close inspection of the gun, and the 'parts in question'.

January 14, 2003, 01:07 AM
Here's the other side. BTW, grips look like original target grips. Sorry the pictures aren't very good, I'm not much of a photographer.

January 14, 2003, 01:09 AM
Shows the spring ok, but wait for the last one.

January 14, 2003, 01:12 AM
It helps, when attaching a file, TO ATTACH THE FILE! DOH!

January 14, 2003, 01:15 AM
Note that attach to hammer is normal. Check the other end though?
The spring that goes in the slot is not there. No need for it, I guess.

January 14, 2003, 01:46 AM
I'll try to address everyones comments and questions.

Serial no. is S1308XX. Must have been before the 'frame' designation era.

Johnny, I have to agree that it's probably the hammer side, as a comparison of sears with my 'virgin' 29, and a 'smoothed' 57 lead me to believe that the sear on the 1955 hasn't been touched. Nothing but normal wear, as far as I can tell. Like I said, I've got a pretty good eye for that stuff, having done some 'fine' metal work in the past.

Terry, I've got to get that book. (Among others). Time to git to the bookstore.

Jim, looks like they didn't follow Elmer's advice on the notch or the screw. Which, BTW, is blued where it was cut off. It was cut, because I can see the 'very' faint traces of it, but whoever did it did an excellent job. The blueing is kind of telling in that respect, I think. Shows some attention to detail, and a bit of pride in work. Might have been done at the factory, given that the blue appears to match the rest of that area of the frame. Also, maybe the pictures don't show it well, but the mainspring is blued as well. Also looks kind of factory-like. The missing spring I take to be the rebound spring you mentioned, although the pin is still in there.

thisaway, and others... the barrel on this gun is 6 1/2". (At least, it's a half inch longer than the other three 6" N-frames I have). Have to check the guys at smith-wesson forum. It doesn't sound like this is 'rare' with this model, from what you are all saying, though. Makes sense for an bullseye gun though, based on what.

This is pretty cool. The action, outside of it's one 'push-off' fault, is pretty smooth. It's possible that somebody did this on purpose, to lighten up the SA letoff. It's crisp, and very light. I just wouldn't cock it live anywhere but on a range. Can't do a real pull DA on it, as I don't have a moon-clip yet, and I never have been quick enough to stick something in between the hammer & frame doing DA dry fires one-handed without distracting myself from what it is I'm trying to 'feel'.

I really appreciate all of your responses, and I apologize for missing my own time frame. (I over-napped).

This is a real interesting gun. It has a bit of end shake, and is slightly out of time. Blueing shows use. It's been shot. Somebody liked it. As far as I'm concerned, it's worth the small change in parts, and minimal 'smithing charges to get it back to pristine shooting shape.

My last question is this. Would anyone think it makes sense to have it re-blued? Or does that screw it up. The cylinder is the worst. Has a bright ring around it centered on the cylinder stop notches. (What does that tell you?). No dings in the metal, so it could be polished ok.

I'm off to the other forum. I'll check back later.

Thanks again.

Mike Irwin
January 14, 2003, 03:02 AM


God. I HAVE seen these springs before.

Christ, I'm so dense.


The strain screw doesn't do anthing, because it doesn't need to. It's a blind hole plug, essentially.

The "tail" on this spring also serves as the rebound slide return spring.

I don't care how light the trigger pull is, the hammer should NOT push off from the single action notch.

Why reblue it? Is the finish really that bad?

The ring around the cylinder is called the drag line. That's where the cylinder bolt drags as the cylinder rotates. Any S&W that's been shot a fair amount will have one of these.

January 14, 2003, 03:25 AM

Maybe it was my precise, engineering-type description :D that faked you out?

Nah, the blue isn't too bad for a gun that has some years on it. I've got mixed feelings about re-finishing guns that have just been used. Not like the 28 I posted about earlier. But I'm still thinking about that one, too. It's been refinished, decently. They just didn't yake out the pit remnants. Looks ok otherwise. Just a shooter. (I'm trying to figure out how to buy a clean 686-1 I saw today, in terms of explaining things to the bride. It's a short-term funding issue, but the 686 is a very nice 2", operationally perfect. $389. I love those revolvers.). My 29 hasn't had what I consider to be much use, and it has more than the beginnings of the same ring thing as the 1955.

You are right about the SA push-off (I guess thats the right term).

Got to get that fixed. I'll do that along with the timing and endshake. Shouldn't be much of a bite, as far as cost, and I think this thing will be fun to shoot.

January 14, 2003, 03:47 AM
Trapshooter, the SN you list dates to 54-55. S prefixed SN's went from 46-70.

January 14, 2003, 04:09 AM
That makes it almost as old as me. Not too old to shoot.

Jim Watson
January 14, 2003, 10:37 AM
Yup, trapshooter, that is a real deal "W" factory mainspring. (The one illustrated in Sixguns is a "U" style.) With a '54-'55 SN that is obviously a VERY early Model 1955. They never did take Elmer's advice, because they did not stay with the spring design. On this one they just used a shortened strain screw to plug the hole like Mike says.

Show your pictures on and get some recommendations for a big-league Smith 'smith. This one is too nice to risk messing up.

Mike Irwin
January 14, 2003, 12:35 PM
I've actually never seen one of these springs mounted in the gun, just outside the gun.

A Smith collector at a show a few years ago had one on his table for better than $50! :eek:

For some reason, that didn't register, and I was imagining a standard leaf spring with some sort of curve in the middle.

BTW, almost $400 for a used 686 is kind of high.

Quite frankly, I would NOT refinish this gun. It's early, which means that it gets a boost in price, and it has the funky spring in it, which gives it another boost in price. Refinishing it could detract from the price.

As for pits, sometimes they simply can't be removed. Doing so would either remove too much metal, or would leave an obviously "reduced" area that would be glaringly apparent and would be even more unsightly than the pits.

January 14, 2003, 04:07 PM
I think you guys are right, on all counts.

I'm going to find a very good guy to work on the 1955, and I'll leave the finish alone.
The 28, I'll just shoot.
The 686 is a pass, unless the guy will come down some.
I really appreciate everyone's input.

This 1955 deal is probably one of the better gun deals I ever did, and I didn't really know it at the time.

Tom C.
January 16, 2003, 03:38 PM
One of the other details that shows it is an old gun is the top screw on the side plate. The 4 screw side plates replaced with a 3 screw plate in the 60's I believe. I have one from around 1974. It still had the 6.5" barrel, 3 screw side plate, wide trigger and wide hammer spur, but had the flat spring for the hammer and coil spring for the trigger return. It looks from your photos you could replace the two springs with Wolff springs if you wanted. I sent mine to S&W for an action job several years ago. I also didn't care for the 6.5" barrel and had it cut to 5". It also has a narrow smooth trigger; much better for double action work.

January 18, 2003, 04:25 PM
I believe that you will find that the 6.5" guns are also P&R. The 6" guns are not. The change over was made in 1981 or 82.

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 04:42 PM
The Model 24-3 is a 6.5", but is not pinned. .44 Spl.

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