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Two Older S&W Revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by FPrice, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    I posted a message in Autoloaders about a 1943 Ithaca 1911A1 that came into my local dealer's shop today. The same man also brought in two older S&W revolvers in good shape.

    The first is a .38 Military and Police Model 1905, Fourth Change. The serial number is 554,xxx which I estimate to be late 20's production. It has a 6" barrel, service rear sight (i.e., the square notch in the frame) but a custom front sight. It's ramped with a red insert. The trigger is a wide, serrated target trigger which is as wide as the trigger guard. It also has large (target?) S&W Diamond grips. My dealer thinks this is what was specified by one of the larger Massachusetts PDs.

    The other is a 1955 Model K-22 Masterpiece, the pre-model 17. It seems to be stock and in very good shape also. It is a five-screw model with the large, smooth grips.

    I have already claimed the former. Am thinking about the latter.

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    5 screw K22's are about as good as it gets. In 90% condition it would not be there more than a day or two priced at $500 around here. I would be hard pressed to not get it if the finances were not hurt badly from the purchase. They are getting hard to find, very hard to find in good condition, and a 5 screw in good condition at a reasonable price is almost unheard of.
  3. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member


    "5 screw K22's are about as good as it gets."

    I know. I KNOW! :cuss:

    Maybe if I sell one of the kids....
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Won't take a kid 'cause they eat ... :eek: :D

    That front sight and the wide trigger sounds like something the old King Gunsight Company in San Francisco might have done before World War Two. Besides sights they also did custom pistolsmithing. Col. Charles Askins Jr. was among their satisfied customers. If it was done by them the gun or sight should be marked somewhere - possibly under the grips. If this turns out to be the case jump on it.

    As a side-note, many of the special sights used on the early S&W registered .357 Magnums came from King's.

    I just passed on a near-mint 1957 5-screw K-22 Target Masterpiece for $350.00 - I'm still kicking myself. :(
  5. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    I'd buy it in half a heart beat, and I already have one older than that.
  6. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member


    You guys are 'sposed to be helping me resist temptation!
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


    Another thought has come to mind.

    Regarding the 1905 Hand Ejector/Military & Police.

    Someone may have installed a post-World War Two target trigger (one could be fitted) and substituted post-war (oversized) target grips.

    If a King front sight was fitted the original blade would have been milled off, and the remaining lug slotted. Following that a new blade with the red insert would have been installed and pined in place. If the red insert is installed in the original front sight blade I'm pretty sure the work was done after the war.

    I highly doubt that any police department specified these options at the time the gun was made, because they weren't available from the S&W factory. Excluding the grips, King Gunsight could have done the rest of the work, but it would have been pretty expensive for a police department's budget.

    If this work was done after the war by anyone other then King it would tend to decrease the revolver's collector's value, but it might still be attractive to a shooter. If you buy it I would do so on this basis.

    Given this information you might want to switch and spend your money (or kid) to get the K-22 instead.

    The square rear sight notch was introduced in 1923, but it took some time to use up previously manufactured frames.
  8. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff...

    "That front sight and the wide trigger sounds like something the old King Gunsight Company in San Francisco might have done before World War Two. If it was done by them the gun or sight should be marked somewhere - possibly under the grips. If this turns out to be the case jump on it."

    Any idea what kind of markings I'd be looking for?
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    As I explained in a earlier post, the King Gunsight Co, would mill off the front sight blade, cut a slot in the remaining lug or base, and then install and crosspin the new blade. By the way, at the time the Smith & Wesson factory used the same system. The blades could be purchased with various kinds of round beads and square plastic inserts. Usualy the blade was marked "King's Pt." in very little letters on the side of the blade near the base. They were also known to stamp their company markings in hiden places such as under the grips, especially if they did any extensive remodling or such.

    That said, in re-reading your first post I noticed that this revolver has oversized (target?) grips. Such grips were not made by S&W until after World War Two. This has caused me to wonder if the trigger and sight work, along with the grips was done after the war, not before.

    So far as the gun's concerned the original quality is there, and like they say, "they're not made that way anymore." But from a collector's point of view the gun would not be as attractive if the work was done "out of period."

    One time I was at a gun show and spotted a 6 inch 1905 Hand Ejector/M&P model with what was obviously a factory installed McGivern gold-bead front sight. I passed it, continued on, but then had second thoughts. But when I go back it was gone ...

    The Old Fuff has made his share of mistakes too ... :( :banghead:
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Hi, Old Fuff,

    While I would think a revolver of that era would have modern type target grips, S&W did make oversize target stocks prior to WWII. I have seen a few and some are shown in the Neal and Jinks book installed on a 22/32 HE* and on single shot pistols. Separate target grips are also shown as part of a cased set of a .32 pistol with revolver cylinder and 3 1/4" barrel, plus the 8" single shot barrel. These are not like modern target grips, but they are larger than standard and were intended for target shooting; they are fairly common. S&W would also fit Roper type stocks on special order.

    * The .22/32 HE target revolver was called the Bekeart model from the name of a distributor who ordered 1000 of them in 1911; it later became a regular item in the S&W line and continued in production (with changes) until 1953.

  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Jim Keenan:

    You are correct on all points, and I was (am) aware of the older target grips for the 19th century top-breaks as well as the .22/32 "Bekeart style" target model (one of which I own) as well as the round-to-square butt conversion grips used on I frame revolvers such as the Regulation Police (also have one of those).

    But for some reason S&W didn't do anything with target grips for the K-frame guns until after World War Two. They did on rare occasions provide Roper stocks on special order, but these went on target sighted 1905 Hand Ejectors, not fixed sight Military & Police revolvers.

    Suposedly the gun in question was special ordered by a police department, but I question if the budget would support this back in the 20's and 30's.

    What we really need is some good, clear photographs of the gun, the front sight and the trigger.

    I can think of several possibilities, but at this point can only speculate. My real concern is that I wouldn't want to see FPrice pay a collector's price for a revolver that wasn't a collectable. If the gun is priced as a shooter that would be fine.
  12. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    It occurs to me that I might be using incorrect terms in some of my descriptions. The stocks on this revolver are the large S&W Diamond grips. Magna may be the correct term, I am not sure. I think I will try to take a picture of this revolver tomorrow and post it to clearly show what I am talking about.
  13. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff, Jim keenan, and others...

    Here are some (admittedly bad) pics of the revolver in question. Total cost with tax is $367.50. I think it's worth it. I looked for any indication that King could have done the work but could not find any. The front sight is ramped with a red insert.1

    Attached Files:

  14. HSMITH

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    If what I see is what is actually there, diamond targets in very good to great condition, they alone are worth over $100. That makes the purchase price of the revolver quite reasonable regardless of who, when or where the modifications were done. If it shoots that is just icing on the cake.

    Frosty, get us some pics of your new K22. You DID buy it didn't you?
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


    The grips are post-World War Two, and not contemporary to the gun. They are however a collector's item in their own right, as HSMITH pointed out.

    I can't be sure about the trigger, but I think it is also post-war, and probably contemporary with the grips. To be sure the revolver would have to be disassembled. If you plan to go that far I'll send you a P.M. and explain what to look for.

    The front sight is not one made by King -at least I don't think it is. It is however mounted in the same way as was done by both King and the S&W factory. It is possible that the factory did do the work. Roy Jinks might or might not know, because I don't think the work was originally ordered from the factory that way, but if done by S&W would likely date from the late 40's to the middle 50's.

    The revolver itself is a neat one. That "old time quality" is there ... :D :D
  16. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member


    "Frosty, get us some pics of your new K22. You DID buy it didn't you?"

    Not yet. But I think it's just a matter of time. I doubt many other people (in my immediate area) are as interested in older S&W's as I am. I need to ask my dealer if I can get a package deal on these two, try to get the guy who brought them in to come down on his price a bit.
  17. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff...

    Thanks for your comments. I am surprised that you can make out as many details as you seem to have from those lousy photos. Once I have that revolver in my greasy little hands I'll be able to take some better photos.

    I will be sending a letter to Roy Jinks, I am curious about the history here. I may also try to contact the guy who brought it in and see what he can add.

    One area I am fairly uninformed in is what makes some stocks collectable. I guess I'll have to try to get some guidance in that.

    As always, I appreciate your comments and your advice. Thanks.
  18. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member


    "Frosty, get us some pics of your new K22. You DID buy it didn't you?"

    It's mine. We made the deal tonight. I'll have both of them by the end of the month.

    Film at eleven.
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    And how many kids did this cost you ... :neener: :D
  20. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff...

    "And how many kids did this cost you ..."

    I offered him one of my kids and he IMMEDIATELY dropped his price! :what:

    If you knew how little he charged me you'd cry.

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