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Need Finish help on S&W 32-20 Revolver

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by theQman23, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. theQman23

    theQman23 Well-Known Member

    Hello folks. There was a 32-20 smith laying in the local dealer's case that seemed to call out for help because she was cleaned about 15 or 20 years ago with a cleaner that did not agree with her finish. She looks chromed in some parts, cold steel in other, and has roughness and nastiness all about her body.

    Should I bead blast her and if so is that strong enough to knock off the plating?
    What kind of plating is on this gun, we think it was built in the late teens or early 20's........ maybe........
    She shoots fine. I cleand the barrel and dumped the thing in oil, (sans grips of course) and after the oil dripped out and I wiped her down I cleaned the barrell again, and installed the grips.
    Shot great, in DA and SA. I just want to get her looking consistent because right now she's splotcy blotchy.:confused:
  2. theQman23

    theQman23 Well-Known Member

    Ok, so realizing that help fixing a splotchy blotchy gun wasn't the most specific and articulate way of getting your assitance, I decided to add some photos.........

    Attached Files:

  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Well first of all, look on the bottom of the butt and you should find the serial number. Post that number and we'll see if we can get a better idea as to when it was made.

    Considering the question of finish. DO NOT SANDBLAST IT! There are better ways to remove the original nickel plated finish, if you decide to do it.

    Depending when it was made and the condition its in, it may be worth more as a collectable then a shooter, particularly if it was made before S&W heat treated cylinders. Anyone that was interested in it as a collectable would pay more for some original finish then they would for one that was refinished.
  4. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    The .32-20 cartridge very likely dates this gun to the early half of the 1900's. Tracking down the serial number will soon date it. And from that you can determine if the gun is collectable and what the value would be.

    The finish is actually nickel, not chrome. Sadly nickel does not survive well with neglect. And that's what this gun has seen far too much of during its life. If you want to dress it up and do not mind spending some cash on it the best option would be to return it to S&W and have them strip the old nickel off chemically as it should be done then polish the outsides and blue it or re-nickel it. Very likely the blued option would be cheaper.

    Alternatively have someone local to you do a re-finish on it. But if they suggest that they would do anything but chemically or electrically strip the nickel RUN AWAY! And under no circumstances should you even think of sand or any other sort of blasting. The nickel that is still on there needs to be chemically or electrically stripped off in a bath which leaves the steel unharmed before any other steps are done.
  5. theQman23

    theQman23 Well-Known Member

    Thank you both for the information. I was not aware that smith and wesson would perform this service themselves. I wouldn't be interested in blueing, even if it is cheaper. I want to put it back to what it was originally, even if it costs more.

    Has anyone had S&W do this for them before? If not, can you guys recommend a better alternative?

    Thanks so much.
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I don't know if S&W will work on a gun that old, but if they will, it will be a nice job.

    Ford's charges $295 for a bright nickel plate. Other shops I could google run from $200 to $310.
  7. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    Judging by the condition of the underlying metal, there are no signs of overpolishing, it could be either the original nickel plating or a very well done refinish. If I wanted to refinish it, I would strongly consider a well reputed refinishing house like Ford's or Accurate Plating. That could become a very nice sixgun if done properly.
  8. theQman23

    theQman23 Well-Known Member

    thanks guys, I appreciate the input. I'll get with the suggested sources and show you some pics when she's done.
  9. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    looks familiar


  10. ShowMe2

    ShowMe2 Well-Known Member


    I've got a 32-20 similiar to yours. Mine was made in the early 1920's. It was blued and I shipped it back to Smith and they refinished it...very nice job. If memory serves me, it was about $125 or so, but the service department insisted on shipping at back overnight, so that was another 40 bucks...ouch!
  11. sarge731

    sarge731 New Member

    I have the same gun...My grandfather bought it after he got back from WWI. I remember him carring it. Nice find...

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