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Old November 3, 2014, 08:13 PM   #1
Citadel99
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First Big Bore Suggestions?

So, I've kind of gotten into old S&Ws and think I'd like to get a big bore revolver. It doesn't have to be crazy big or exotic but I do reload so ammo costs shouldn't be too much of a factor. Curious as to what your suggestions would be and why...

Mark
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Old November 3, 2014, 08:25 PM   #2
Domino300
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Model 57 in 41 Mag.
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Old November 3, 2014, 09:46 PM   #3
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I also really like my 41 magnum model 57 also but there isn't a lot of variety out there to choose from for components.
The 44 magnum has many more choices available as does the 45 colt if you buy one of the big Ruger revolvers.
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Old November 3, 2014, 09:54 PM   #4
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44 or 45. 44 mainly in DA and 45 mainly in SA guns. I would base my decision off of ammo availability and interchangeability but still that's not real limiting as some 45colt guns shoot 45 acp, but all 44 mags shoot 44 spl.
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Old November 4, 2014, 12:03 AM   #5
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Plus one to Mr.Kentucky there, The .44 especially if you dont reload, as magnum and special loadings give a wide spectrum of power, .45 colt is decent however it is much more difficult to find multiple power ranges unless you reload or buy expensive boutique ammo from buffalo bore.And keep in mind that although like the special/magnum relationship, the .45 schofield is next to impossible to find in your local bog box store.
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Old November 4, 2014, 08:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Citadel99 View Post
So, I've kind of gotten into old S&Ws and think I'd like to get a big bore revolver. It doesn't have to be crazy big or exotic but I do reload so ammo costs shouldn't be too much of a factor. Curious as to what your suggestions would be and why...

Mark
Since you like S&W's and big bore that gives you a lot of room to look. Triple locks in 44 Special, 1917s Military and/or commercial, and a few more from the early 20 Century. I like the 45 ACP cartridge and have several S&W revolvers so chambered. Since you reload, any of them will be a good choice.
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Old November 4, 2014, 08:49 AM   #7
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All three cartridges are great big bore choices.

1) .44 Magnum
2) .45 Colt
3) .41 Magnum
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Old November 4, 2014, 10:30 AM   #8
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My 1st was a 44mag Ruger SA and I still have it plus other 44's and 45's. The 1st Ruger is now over 50 years old and I still use it to hunt deer. All of the .4+ are good but for my first big bore I suggest a 44.
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Old November 4, 2014, 10:33 AM   #9
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I'd probably look at a .44 of some sort depending on the intended use. You could step it up in size and dollars to a 454 or 460. I have a sudden and unexplainable desire to own a Ruger Alaskan in 454. I have no need for one at all.
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Old November 4, 2014, 11:05 AM   #10
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Howdy

What a subject!

First, before you put down any money on a large S&W revolver I suggest you buy a copy of The Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson, by Supica and Nahas. Currently in its third edition. This book is a must have for the serious S&W shooter/collector/accumulator. I consider myself to be in the third category. My copy was so worn that I just bought a new one from Amazon for $29.68. Consider it an investment in your shooting library. It will pay for itself with the knowledge you gain on your first purchase. This book covers everything ever made by S&W from the pre-S&W Volcanics, through the Tip Ups, Top Breaks, the Hand Ejectors, and the Model Name years after 1957. Photos, specifications, model dash number changes, glossary, absolutely everything. Published in 2006, so thankfully there is little or nothing about the MIM/lock guns.

You are a reloader, so that takes care of ammunition availability.

But I must ask, what do you consider 'old'? It seems these days a lot of shooters think a gun made in the 1960s or 1970s is old. What do you consider to be old?

I am assuming you are looking for a Hand Ejector (side swing) revolver, and not a Top Break. The large caliber Hand Ejector era started in 1908 with the 44 Hand Ejector First Model, also known as the New Century, but most commonly called the Triple Lock. Then there was the 44 HE 2nd Model, starting in 1915 and the 44 HE 3rd Model, starting in 1926. The Triple Lock is the Holy Grail of large frame S&W aficionados, including me. Unfortunately they are highly sought after by collectors and are very pricy. I have seen some very worn dogs that don't function properly go for $2000.

So the next question might be, what is your price range?

The next question to ask is fixed sights or adjustable? Personally I love fixed sights, but some folks don't like them and want the option of adjustable sights. Most of the really old N frame Hand Ejectors were primarily available with fixed sights. Target models with adjustable sights existed, but there were far more of these made with fixed sights. The early adjustable rear sights were not the same Micro-Click sights we are used to today. You needed a tiny screwdriver to adjust them, you backed off the screw on one side first, then pushed the sight over with the screw on the other side, then snugged up the first screw. Easy to damage if you don't know what you're doing, but simple to operate if you do. Modern style Micro-Click rear sights were introduced in 1940. As an aside I will say that fixed sights will keep you honest. No allowing for poor trigger pull by adjusting for windage with an adjustable rear sight. Yeah, you can adjust for point of impact with adjustable sights, but you can do that with fixed sights by holding higher or lower on the target.

Then there is calibers. S&W was always primarily a 44 caliber company with their large frame revolvers, going back to the Top Breaks and the 44 Russian cartridge. In 1908 the 44 Special came along, really just a stretch version of the 44 Russian. In 1917 S&W chambered the Model 1917 for 45 ACP because it was a simple modification to their large frame 44 HE 2nd Model. There have of course been the 45 Schofield, but that was a Top Break; 45 Colt, not nearly as common as 44s, and the big Magnums, 41 and 44. The 44 Magnum did not come along until 1955, some folks consider that 'old', and the 41 Magnum which did not appear until 1964. Again, some folks consider that 'old'.

In the relatively modern era, there have been the 44 HE 4th Model (also known as the Model of 1950, 44), both Military and Target, which later became the Model 24, and the 45 HE 4th Model (also known as the Model of 1950, 45) in both Military and Target versions. This one became the Model 25. The first 44 Mag in 1955 was simply known as the 44 Magnum, after 1957 it became the Model 29.

If you really stretch your definition of 'old' there are the Stainless guns, starting with the first of the large frame Stainless revolvers, the Model 624 (44 Special) in 1985 and the 625 (45 ACP or 45 Colt, not both) in 1989. Beware of Model 624s there were some made with a batch of bad steel. I had my SN checked out by S&W and it was OK.

I am always on the look out for large frame Smiths. I would say the one I see the most often is the Model 1917 either the original or the Brazilian Contract from 1937. Fixed sights only. 45 ACP or 45 Auto Rim if you don't want to bother with moon clips. You can shoot 45 ACP out of it without the clips, but you will have to poke the empties out with a stick. Sometimes one of these can be found as cheap as $500 if you don't mind a bit of wear to the finish. These are terrific old guns, if you find one in good mechanical condition keep the loads mild, but they will shoot for a lifetime or two. Some of the Brazilian guns are very beat up on the outside, not a lot of care was taken shipping them for import back into the US. But they are often still excellent inside. For the most versatility I reload 45 AR for my Model 1917s. Then I don't need moon clips or the stick. Brass is available from Starline. Plenty of data is available for 45 AR and in most cases you can just use ACP data. Again, keep the loads mild.

Be aware with the really early guns, the TL & 44 HE 2nd Model that some of these were produced to be shipped to England and were chambered for the 455 British round. They will say so right on the barrel. Not a good choice for reloading, components will be difficult to find. A lot of these guns were converted to 44 Special or 45 Colt when they got back in the states, be sure what you are looking at. Be sure the Serial Number on the butt matches the SN under the barrel, rear of the cylinder, and under the extractor star. As a matter of fact, always check that with all old (pre-1957) Smiths. If the numbers don't match, the gun did not leave the factory in that configuration.

I'm starting to run out of steam. Haunt the gun shows and the shops that sell used guns, you never know what may turn up. Keep your Standard Catalog handy whenever you are gun hunting, so you can look things up on the spot. Model 24s are scarce as hen's teeth, I am still kicking myself for the one I didn't buy about ten years ago. Model 25s, either 45 Colt of 45 ACP, not both, are around but they tend to be very pricy.

Lastly, I never buy anything on line. If I can't handle it and inspect it personally, I do not even consider buying it.

Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; November 4, 2014 at 11:28 AM.
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Old November 4, 2014, 04:00 PM   #11
Citadel99
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Thanks all for the replies.

Driftwood--Wow. Really appreciate the info you've supplied. I have the book on order from Amazon already... As far as what do I mean by old? Mostly pre-70s. I like the 5 screw, pinned barrel, craftsmanship we don't see these days. I have a PC627-5 and it's a great shooting revolver; however, for me, it just doesn't have the wow factor of the old revolvers. I like to think about where my IHC M1 Garand has been--that kind of thing...

Fixed sights are fine with me as I'm not going to be shooting at great distances. From a pricing perspective, I'd be willing to go to $1500 for a great gun but wouldn't mind getting 2 or 3 for that much money either.

Mark
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Old November 4, 2014, 04:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
As far as what do I mean by old? Mostly pre-70s. I like the 5 screw, pinned barrel, craftsmanship we don't see these days. I have a PC627-5 and it's a great shooting revolver; however, for me, it just doesn't have the
Citadel99, I assume you understand you are entering the world of S&W collectors interest revolvers, and by default this means big $$.

If you are still ready to take the plunge, I would suggest a Model 29 -2. With the .44 Magnum you can shoot either .44 special or .44 Magnum ammo. As you reload you can work up a selection of different power loads. As they say "everything from mild to wild."

Best of luck what ever you do.
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Old November 4, 2014, 04:43 PM   #13
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American Handgunner Jul/Aug 2011 article from Mike Venturino where he picks the .45ACP. He makes some worthwhile points.

http://fmgpublications.ipaperus.com/...HJA11/?Page=64
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Old November 4, 2014, 06:00 PM   #14
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As far as what do I mean by old? Mostly pre-70s. I like the 5 screw, pinned barrel, craftsmanship we don't see these days.
Well, if you are serious about 5 screws you are talking about pre-1956 or so with N frames, not pre-70s. This 44 HE 4th Model shipped in 1955. The last year before the upper side plate screw was discontinued.



Quote:
Citadel99, I assume you understand you are entering the world of S&W collectors interest revolvers, and by default this means big $$.
Not really. There are still lots of old N frames out there that are not high on the serious collectors' must have lists. You will pay more for a five screw N frame than you will for a five screw K frame, that is just the law of supply and demand. But you do not have to be a trust fund baby to be able to afford some nice old N frames. Like I said before, old N frames are not falling from the sky, but they are out there. You just have to get out and look. If you think old Smiths are expensive, just take a look at what single action Colts are commanding in today's used market. Old Smiths are a bargain compared to them. That's why I have a lot more Smiths in my collection than Colts.

Frankly I have never understood the love affair with the 44 Mag. I wish I had a dollar for every used Ruger Super Black Hawk I have seen in used gun cases along with half a box of ammo. Folks ran out to buy a 44 Mag, but then sold them before they had fired a full box of ammo once they found out what the recoil was like. When you buy a 44 Mag you are buying a really big, heavy gun. If you can be content with 44 Special, you are still getting the N frame, but the gun will be much lighter overall. Just no need for all that beefiness if all you are shooting is 44 Specials.

Good luck in your quest, be sure to keep us informed of how it goes.
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Old November 4, 2014, 06:11 PM   #15
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I love my 44's Can shoot 44 specials out of a Magnum = pleasant to shoot If you plan to reload you can do almost anything you like. Heavy slow bullets or heavy fast . Lighter slower or faster . Revolvers do not have the Failure to feed or eject . thus no problems with load not having enough to cycle the action .
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Old November 4, 2014, 07:18 PM   #16
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For medium big, I would suggest either 44 mag or 41 mag in a S&W double action revolver. I chose 41 mag in a M57 as my first step into the world of big bores. I have not regretted that choice. I would choose a large framed revolver to better handle the recoil.

Don't dismiss single actions as most shooters shoot the big bore revolver slowly. You will also note that most of the larger big bores are chambered in single actions. S&W is the notable exception but in a much larger frame size for their 500 and 460 chamberings. Many feel that a single action design are easier to shoot and handle the recoil associated with these hand cannons.

I later stepped up to a 480 Ruger in a Ruger SRH and then 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger in a BFR single action. I have not regretted those choices either, but I much prefer shooting the BFR to the SRH. I have no desire to acquire anything larger.

Last edited by 22-rimfire; November 4, 2014 at 07:47 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old November 4, 2014, 09:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
I later stepped up to a 480 Ruger in a Ruger SRH and then 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger in a BFR single action. I have not regretted those choices either, but I much prefer shooting the BFR to the SRH.
Got a chuckle out of the guy with 22-rimfire as his handle dropping commentary on the 480 Ruger!!!

Anyhow, I've got some research and looking to do. Looks to me like part of the fun with this will be the hunt to find the right one.

Mark
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Old November 4, 2014, 09:50 PM   #18
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I'd say 44 mag. I think it's what people think of first when they think of a big bore magnum. It's versatile, powerful, you won't have to explain what it is to anyone.

After that I'd say get a 41 mag. I love my .41 mag...but it's funny...when you tell people you're shooting a .41 mag a lot of them look at you like you don't know what you're talking about. "A 44 mag?" they ask. "No...a 41 mag."

And then you might spend a few minutes explaining what the heck a 41 mag is.

I've got a number of magnum handguns ranging from .357 mag to 460 S&W mag. But my favorites are the 41 and the 44. Followed closely by the .357.

The 45 Colt I could take or leave...no reason...just don't really care about the caliber.
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Old November 4, 2014, 11:19 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Citadel99 View Post
Got a chuckle out of the guy with 22-rimfire as his handle dropping commentary on the 480 Ruger!!!

Anyhow, I've got some research and looking to do. Looks to me like part of the fun with this will be the hunt to find the right one.

Mark
Life is full of these apparent inconsistancies. But I love 22's, especially revolvers. My ammo cabinet is stacked full of 22LR and a healthy supply of 41 mag. No shortages at my house.
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Old November 5, 2014, 01:50 AM   #20
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I own at least one of every frame size from the k frame up.
I really like my 4" 29-2.
I would love to find a 25-5 in 45LC and liquidate my 44s and convert over to the 45 just to consolidate on bullets for reloading.
A 41 would be really cool though.
The X frames are kinda over kill for 99% of things.
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Old November 5, 2014, 09:50 AM   #21
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the x frames are kinda over kill for 99% of things.
wrong!!!!!!!
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Old November 5, 2014, 10:25 AM   #22
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Well, I have not saved any space for one in my safe.

By the way, a few years ago I took a tour of the S&W factory in Springfield. They had just finished forging a whole lot of X frames. Bins and bins full of them. So somebody must be buying them, just not me.
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Old November 5, 2014, 10:50 AM   #23
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Driftwood,

Buying yes, shooting probably not much.

I was watching a episode of Alaska State Troopers and the Trooper was checking for illegal fishing and hunting on a river by rowboat. He checked the license of a fly fisherman who was fishing legally and they had a nice conversation about his 500 S&W he had for protection against bears.

It looked like it could do the job. The only problem was the fisherman had the gun laying on a big rock on the riverbank while he was in the river fishing!

I can see it now. Two hunters or fishermen walking along and one says "Hey look at that nice gun laying there. I wonder where the owner is?"

The other hunter says "I dunno but look at them big bear tracks."
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Old November 5, 2014, 02:23 PM   #24
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I've shot a few guns in both .44Mag and .45Colt. My findings are that if you want raw wrist wrecking recoil, and who doesn't now and then , then .44Mag is the way to go. But if you're not keen on the joys of strong and sharp recoil and would load down a little anyway then it becomes a wash with the slight nod going to .45Colt for some aspects. And with the idea that overall a .45Colt tends to be loaded to a lower peak pressure so it tends to thump the hand instead of smacking it.

And I know, I know. In just a moment some folks like Craig and DJ will be along to say "SOME aspects?" But really either caliber can perform just fine. And for a range gun I'd suggest that the paper or steel won't care one way or the other.

For my side I opted for .44Mag as my big bore. But that's largely driven by the desire to find a nice example of an early blued 29 "Harry Calahan" gun. I'm still looking but in the meantime I'm enjoying my bobbed barrel Super Redhawk and Super Blackhawk.
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Old November 5, 2014, 04:38 PM   #25
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44 special, 45LC, and 45acp all feel about the same to me. 45acp is cheapest and easiest to find.

44 magnum is a definite step up in recoil and velocity.
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