Mint S&W K-frame in .32 WCF collectibility and value?


September 13, 2007, 12:08 PM
Although I wasn't looking for an Smith & Wesson pre-war K-frame revolver, chambered in the Winchester .32 WCF Ctg.(This is how the barrel is marked!)I couldn't overlook the fact that this gun was in beautifully original condition(Estimated 99%). It has the fixed sights and an 6-inch barrel. I have no interest in this gun for shooting purposes-but, only if it currently would be deemed to be a good collectible and would have a reasonably good collectible value? The stocks are the estimated 1910 to 1920 checkered walnut grips with the recessed gold emblems that show no wear to them at all! The serial number is a non-prefix #79082. Although I have very little knowledge about this caliber in the S&W K-frame, I do know that these guns were probably not made after approximately 1940? I put a hold on this K-frame until 1:00PM today(Pacific time!), hopefully to give me enough time to obtain some answers from this forum regarding this "oddball" caliber and whether or not an asking price of just under $1,000 would be too much to pay for this mint specimen-but, without the gun box or anything else included with this gun? If this price is too high-then, what would a good ball park price to have to pay for a gun like this? At this point, I have no idea regarding the collectibility, desireability, nor the potential value or an 99% gun like this? Please help me if you can-because time is running out and I don't want to lose this gun if it has good collectibility and value-but, if not, then I'd have to pass on buying this gun? Thank you!:confused:

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Old Fuff
September 13, 2007, 01:44 PM
Between 1899 and 1940 S&W made approximately 144,600 .32 1905 Hand Ejector revolvers in .32 WCF (.32-20). Within the same time period they made about 800,000 .38 Specials. Each were numbered in their own serial number series, so don't get mixed up between .32's and .38's. Your revolver with a serial numer 79,082 is an early .32 Hand Ejector Model 1905; 4th change.

The 4th change series were made between 1915 to 1940, within a serial number range running around 65,701 to 144,684. I would estimate your gun was made during the World War One era, or shortly thereafter.

Perfect mint examples are not easy to find. The recent 3rd edition of Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson lists guns in excellent condition at $750, and ANIB at $2,000. While $1,000 is no steal, it is also not out of line with those values. I would say they are collectables, as there is little interest in the .32-20 cartridge on shooter's part.

September 13, 2007, 03:34 PM
Even if I could obtain this gun for considerably less-since this K-frame .32 WCF revolver doesn't have it's original gun box and papers, I'm wondering if this gun might still be a difficult gun to sell-should I ever be inclined to sell it in the not too distant future-even to collector's?:uhoh::confused:

Cocked & Locked
September 13, 2007, 03:47 PM
There are probably not many left with their original box. In those days, most boxes weren't serial numbered to match the specific gun any way.

I have a 1905 4th change .32-20 that (as per the S&W factory letter) shipped from S&W in 1926. It is a fun shooter, but not in as nice of cindition as the one you describe. Mine is a $235 shooter, bought about a year or so ago.

It is 6" with a King Super Police front sight...not installed by S&W. The grips are numbered to the gun.

Old Fuff
September 13, 2007, 04:14 PM

I suggest that you e-mail or send a PM to Jim Supica. He is a great guy, a member of The High Road, a leading authority on antique and classic Smith & Wessons, and a dealer in such items. He co-authored "the" book, Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson; and you'll also find him at his own website: No one can give you better advice. ;)

September 13, 2007, 06:23 PM
Old Fuff:

1)Thank you! And, I'll contact Jim Supica-as I already have the current issue of his SCSW!

2)However, I have been confused by the 28th Edition of The Blue Book Of Gun values indicating a 98% value of $1,850 but, in the Supica book, this shows $2,000 for ANIB condition and $750 in excellent condition? The question in my mind here is even on the collectible gun market if people would even consider these high prices?:confused:

Old Fuff
September 13, 2007, 06:52 PM
I think we have an apples to oranges sort of thing. It all depends on how the condition is described.

Jim runs an auction at

The results for past auctions are listed, and you can see what prices were realized over a time period, on similar pieces in different conditions. Always keep in mind that there are a lot of average guns and relatively few fine/mint ones. In recent years the number of collectors has increased, but for obvious reasons the number of antique/classic guns hasn't. This, combined with inflation is reflected in prices.

Jim specializes in selling guns to collectors, and tends to get higher prices for the best examples of Smith & Wesson's. Thus he has a fine-tuned sense of where the market is, and where it's going.

$1,000 sounds high to me, but maybe not too high. You can take a chance and wait to see if it moves. If it does you may kick yourself for not buying it a few years from now, but on the other hand if it doesn't the price may well come down. A big factor might be if the dealer's trying to sell it in a local market with few specialized S&W collectors, or if he decides to try and auction it on the Internet - where he might have more luck. Anyway at this point I suspect you know more about the gun then he does.

I still say, ask Jim... ;)

September 13, 2007, 11:01 PM
I have been confused by the 28th Edition of The Blue Book Of Gun values indicating a 98% value of $1,850 but, in the Supica book, this shows $2,000 for ANIB condition and $750 in excellent condition? The question in my mind here is even on the collectible gun market if people would even consider these high prices?Slick, I think that what you are missing is that "Excellent" condition on a service revolver close to 100 years old is not going to be 98%. Supica himself, on page 49 of SCS&W, 3rd edition ( rates an "Excellent" gun from 1920-1945 as having 95% finish. 1890-1920 would need only 90% finish to rate "Excellent" according to Supica. Regardless, I would be guided by Jim Supica's prices over the Blue Book when it comes to Smith & Wessons, and it sounds as if this revolver is fairly priced according to SCS&W.

On the collectible, pristine, original blue finish gotta have the original box & docs chasing Smith & Wesson market, yes, those $2000 prices are possible. There are only a few guns left that retain that high quality. Problem is, there are only a few people that are inclined to purchase an old revolver in an obsolete caliber at those prices, regardless of condition. If you do not move and sell in the company of fellows who buy and sell these types of guns, chances are you will take a hit if you ever decide to sell.

The "Book" prices are not absolute values such as currency, These are estimates based on what similar examples have sold for in the past. I, myself, would not buy such a gun hoping for a return on my investment.

Here's my old .32WCF Model of 1905 4th Change.

September 13, 2007, 11:43 PM

Thank you very much for your additional input! I was thinking that despite being an obsolete caliber that if I could obtain this gun for a low price like $450 it might be worth it to purchase this .32 WCF K-Frame? But, I think that you hit the nail right on the head, regarding the obsolete caliber and the high probability of my having to take a hit on this gun due to such a limited range of potential buyers for this gun-plus, the fact that I don't run with the group of collector's whom might be interested in such a gun!

Old Fuff
September 14, 2007, 08:17 AM
I would agree with X.B.'s observations but add one thing. The internet has changed the landscape of dealing in collectables. On a few (very few) occasions I have been able to buy S&W and other collectables off of auctions on the Internet for VERY low prices vs. their true value. Why? Because the buyers that frequent these particular auctions are mostly shooters looking for guns to use, not collectors. On the other hand there are sites that are popular with true collectors who buy for a purpose, and will spend almost anything to get something that fills a hole in their collection.

Concerning Smith & Wesson, one of those sites is:

If I was looking to sell a collectable-grade Smith & Wesson I would go there, and my local market would be a moot point. Understand that I am thinking of outstanding examples (which apparently this .32-20 is) rather then ordinary run-of-the-mill guns that don't usually float a collector's boat.

This is part of the reason I stated in an earlier post that what the dealer selling this particular revolver might get could be determined by how he tried to sell it - to local customers, who might or might not be collectors - or on the Internet.

September 14, 2007, 11:43 AM
Old Fuff:

Thank you very much for giving me the very concise information above. If I decide to go ahead and go out on a limb, to purchase this .32 WCF K-Frame revolver-then, I'll surely take your very sound advice to eventually put this revolver in the S&W Forum Classifieds-in the event that I would ever want to sell it in the future. This might just be a "pipe dream" but, what if I could steal this gun for a price near $450-would you feel that this should be cheap enough to not have to worry about taking a loss on this gun whenever it is sold-despite the obsolete .32 WCF chambering?:eek::confused:

Old Fuff
September 14, 2007, 01:32 PM
Given Jim Supica's informed estimates of S&W collectable values I think that at $450.00 it's unlikely you'd take a loss if you were selling into the collectors' market.

On the shooter's market the .32-20 caliber would probably be a negative, but not on the collectors' market where .38 Special K-frame revolvers outnumbered .32-20's by almost 8 to 1. At the moment more collectors are becoming interested in K-frame revolvers as other S&W's are becoming unaffordable for many. The two most likely growth areas I see are hand ejector revolvers and pocket-caliber top-breaks. It is dawning on more people that the kind of fit, finish and workmanship you see in these older guns will not likely be seen again. Quite frankly, if S&W or anyone else was to duplicate that .32-20 revolver in all respects, they couldn’t retail it for $1,000 and not lose money. If you disassembly one you’ll find it’s made like a fine clock.

Since you are unsure, I would suggest that you contact Jim on one hand, while you wait and watch. Sooner or later the dealer will either sell it for his price, or not do so and lower the price to get his money out of it. In the meantime no matter which way it goes you’re getting a great education. ;)

PS: I sure wish I'd known what the future held in the late 1940's when like-new or brand new surplus USGI 1911A1's were selling for less then $25.00 :banghead:

September 14, 2007, 06:01 PM
Old Fuff:

I appreciate receiving your in-depth advice! You have brought into the open alot of practical information. I don't know why but, I'm still deeply thinking about this gun? I'm first, going to try to determine if this gun could have been refinished-although I don't believe that it has? This gun certainly shows no signs of hardly being used at all! I will take your advice to consult with Mr. Supica! Meanwhile I'm going to do some deep thinking about this gun? Thank you very much for all of your help! Without it, I probably would have already dismissed this gun from my mind? However, I always find it difficult to pass up any mint guns at the right price!:D Besides, if this gun proves to be worthwhile to buy-and, at a good price, I don't want to end up feeling like this:cuss::banghead:if I just pass on buying it, without giving this gun a chance?

September 14, 2007, 10:00 PM
It sounds as if this revolver is talking to you. If that is the case, and you can acquire it for a manageable sum, do so. at $450, you will likely do OK and possibly be able to break even or make a bit when or if you sell.

.32WCF is a neat cartridge. It makes a big bang. With cowboy action shooting, it is becoming more available again. It will never be as plentiful as .38 Special, but it may be available by special order if you want to enjoy the revolver.

There have been times a gun "spoke" to me and I made a purchase of what I wanted regardless of the price. I have never regretted one of those purchases, because I have never sold or traded off one of those guns. If you truely want this one, buy it. If you are speculating on it, don't.

September 14, 2007, 10:36 PM

I will certainly have to take everthing that you have said above under consideration-because you have brought up some very valid points? Right now, it's probably just that I'm fascinated with the mintness and beauty of this old K-Frame revolver? Otherwise, as you have said, buying this gun for investment purposes, is going to prove out to be a negative, on my part! I'll probably go back next week to check this gun out again and to give this potential purchase some serious thought? Everything that both you and Old Fuff have said, is likely, very true! Before I'll purchase this gun though, I'll first need to convince myself that if I ever wanted to sell this gun, that there would be an avenue that I could take to result in selling it-otherwise, I wouldn't want to get stuck with this gun! Thanks to the both of you for all of your excellent help! I'm very pleased that you fellows had come forward to assist me in this matter-otherwise, I would have been lost in attempting to arrive at the right decision regarding to buy or not to buy this gun?:banghead::confused:

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