Significance of flat-latch


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Robereno
July 28, 2006, 12:27 AM
Iíve recently developed an interest in the older S&W revolvers and Iím currently looking at a pinned Model 36. Iím a novice but it looks good to me & it passes all the tests. It also has a flat-latch that Iím told is desirable. I just donít know why. Did a search about models with a flat-latch but came up dry. Wondered if someone could tell me the significance of flat-latch on S&W revolvers.

Thanks

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Steve C
July 28, 2006, 12:39 AM
Wondered if someone could tell me the significance of flat-latch on S&W revolvers.


Flat latch was used on earlier revolvers so they're more collectable. S&W changed the latch style some time around 1970 on their J frame's. They've recently changed the latch style again to what is used on their current production.

Robereno
July 28, 2006, 09:06 AM
Thanks Steve,

I purchased the gun & it has all the qualities that make it desirable (to me).

An older S&W, 98% with pinned barrel and Flat-latch. Just not sure why the dealer priced it at blue book value. Surprised he didn't try to ask for more and I'm wondering if I missed something. Time will tell, the more I learn.

BluesBear
July 29, 2006, 06:02 AM
There were also three different versions of the flat latch.

XavierBreath
July 29, 2006, 07:45 AM
A flat latch is a different type of latch used on I and J frames between 1950 and 1966. As such, because it is easily distinguishable, the flat latch helps to date the revolver. All I and J frames during that era had a flat latch. It was not a special order item like a humpback hammer was. BluesBear is correct, there were 3 types.

Some say a flat latch makes the revolver more concealable. Bovine byproducts. On a right handed person, the latch is towards the body, so how the heck does that little less metal come into play? Even if the latch were on the other side of the gun it wouldn't matter unless the carrier was wearing skin tight lycra.

Some believe that the flat latch itself is more valuable, as though they were crafted of 14K gold or something. The truth is, the revolver they are attached to is more desirable because of the higher level of craftsmanship put into all the guns S&W produced during that time. Will a flat latch revolver bring a premium? Yes it will. Would the same revolver bring a premium if the flat latch had never existed? I believe it would.

If your dealer priced the revolver by the book and did not jack up the price by $50 for a flat latch, then he treated you unusually fairly. You should continue to give him your business. Many dealers have a list of collectors phone and pager numbers to call when such a revolver comes up. In most places it would never hit the shelf.

Robereno
July 29, 2006, 10:57 AM
Thanks Xavier. This dealer has a large operation with several employees. I was originally put off by the macho windbag attitude of some of them but Iíve begun to re-evaluate my opinion. I can put up with the attitude if they know what theyíre talking about. They were also really upfront with me about a low priced Colt revolver when they told me that it had been re-blued. As a novice I probably wouldnít have noticed so I appreciated their honesty.

The story they gave me on the gun I bought is that it was owned by little old lady who kept it under her pillow. She traded it in when she ďupgradedĒ to a Lady Smith. Almost too good to be true but I believe them. Unfortunately I live way out in the sticks so I donít have the opportunity to browse different shops. I envy the resources you have but being in California, many of our pawn shops no longer bother with handguns due to the paperwork.

PX15
July 29, 2006, 11:09 AM
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a73/Laserlips/100_4769.jpg

Well, I don't know about the increased value aspect of the "flat latch", but here's my 1955 pre-40 Centennial...

Just something about the old grip safety J-frames that I like..

For cc I use the 638 Airweight Bodyguard with Crimson Trace Lasergrips.. It has a much better (wide/smooth) target trigger, and will be happy with a reasonable amount of +p's..

But the old Centennial is fun just to have, and plink with every now and then..

Best Wishes,

J. Pomeroy

Lone Star
July 29, 2006, 04:34 PM
Keep in mind that newer S&W J-frames are stronger, rated for Plus-P ammo.

The old ones weren't. Are you going to collect the gun or shoot it?

The Model 40 pictured is like one that author Ian Fleming bought, and with which he equipped James Bond in, "Dr. No", along with the Walther PPK, which made its Bond appearance in that book.

Lone Star

Jim K
July 29, 2006, 05:20 PM
FWIW, the very first Chief Specials had the same latch as the S&W Terriers of the same period. In fact, the gun WAS the Terrier with a longer cylinder. Later, the Terrier was dropped from the line and the Chiefs Special line was upgraded a number of times.

The flat latch was adopted because some folks held the gun high and their thumb knuckles took the brunt of the sharp recoil with hot loads.

Jim

Old Fuff
July 29, 2006, 05:48 PM
The flat latch was adopted because some folks held the gun high and their thumb knuckles took the brunt of the sharp recoil with hot loads.

Jim wins today with the correct answer, but I can assure everyone that it didn't take a hot load to cause the undesireable effect. :eek:

Robereno
July 29, 2006, 05:56 PM
Keep in mind that newer S&W J-frames are stronger, rated for Plus-P ammo.

The old ones weren't. Are you going to collect the gun or shoot it?

Right, no Plus-p will be used in this one. Nope, I'm not really into the collecting thing and I want to be able to shoot any gun I acquire.

I'll post a picture after my ten days are up. Did I mention that I live in California? :rolleyes:

wundudnee
July 31, 2006, 12:37 AM
Here is my pre 36 flat latch. It's my only safe queen, I'm not going to try to explain why or try to justify it, it just is. I've bought several older unfired guns and never had a problem using them, but this one just seems different??

Ain't she pretty, with her little round butt?;)
http://www.fototime.com/{C95E3382-1B04-4DA1-B047-F68CC01DE89F}/picture.JPG

Old Fuff
July 31, 2006, 01:04 AM
Interesting...:)

You have one of the very early guns that was based on the "Improved" I-frame. Note that it has a smaller trigger guard then later models, and the butt is 1/8" shorter too. Relatively rare in this condition.

Robereno
July 31, 2006, 07:28 AM
It's my only safe queen, I'm not going to try to explain why or try to justify it, it just is.

Yeah, I'm not saying that I wouldn't pick up a "collectable" if the opportunity came up. Though, the only people I know who would appreciate it would be on this forum so I'd have to post a picture every time I took it out of the safe. :)

I'll have to do a search and see if anyone started a thread with photos of their unshootables.

Old Fuff
July 31, 2006, 10:41 AM
Once in a rare while the Old Fuff comes across what some might call an "unshootable" collector's gun (AKA a "safe queen). The basic idea of having something you don't shoot seems to upset some folks, but not the Fuff, who is sometimes motivated by pure greed.

I don't know about the rest of you, but in my experience one can obtain new toys by either (1) trading something they have, or (2) laying down cold cash. If you have made wise picks when buying your safe queens you'll have something to trade if the occasion calls for it, and it's likely that the value of what you have will be more then what you paid for it. Also down the road if you need some $$$ for whatever reason you can raid the safe.

I know of one instance where a man wisely collected antiques for the better part of his life. When he finely auctioned the collection it sold for over a half million dollars... :what: and he literally retired on that.

Of course most of us won't get to do that, but at another auction recently a Ruger "Flat Top" .44 Magnum Blackhawk that had an estimated value between 3 to 4 hundred bucks went for... Ready? $1,237.00! Also one of the early S&W .357 "Registered" Magnums valued at between 3 to 5 thousand went for over $20,000.00!!! :what: :what: :what:

In my book folks that have safe queens are not so stupid. Those kind of returns would buy someone a lot of shooters... ;)

wundudnee
July 31, 2006, 11:30 AM
I'm definitely not against shooting older unfired firearms, if not me, who will? I bought a first year 610 no dash and it made it two days before getting used well. This spring I stumbled onto a NIB 8 3/8" model 57 no dash with presentation case and it didn't make the day before it was used. I was one of those folks that said that they wouldn't own a gun they didn't shoot. But this little pre 36 chief special has whipped me. I've learned to never say never.

orgdp
August 1, 2006, 11:36 PM
i bought a m60 no dash, serial R168561, and i've measured the bbl twice with 2 different tapes and get 17/8" instead of 2". is this normal and date of birth if possible. THANKS JERRY

Old Fuff
August 2, 2006, 01:17 AM
The designation 60-1 was assigned to the introduction of a 3Ē heavy barreled version with a square butt, that required some slight modifications to the frame at the front in the area of the wider rib. The change occurred in 1972, but the exact serial number wasnít recorded. They should have an ďRĒ prefix. The production run was supposedly limited to 171 guns. In other configurations the model 60 (no dash) continued until 1988. In 1987 the 60-2 designated another 3Ē barreled version possibly made for the N.Y.C. Police Department, but this has not been confirmed as an official order.

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