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Pre-war Smith 38/44 Heavy Duty 5" Buy or no?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by cyclopsshooter, Dec 18, 2012.

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  1. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    I have always been curious about the Smith Heavy Duty and now I have a chance to buy a pre-war 5" with its original grips. I was allowed to shoot it and the recoil felt like my Model 18... It was accurate too! Cosmetically it is not in the best of shape. Used but not abused as they say... but it was used its fair share. The guy is asking $575 and it seems on the side of reasonable.. But I really don't know the range on these. Are these so rare now you just buy it and run? (This is the first I have ever had in my hands)
     
  2. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    That is a great price. I paid considerably more for mine. N frame Smiths are going up in price all the time. Buy it and run!
     
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Does the seller have a long white beard and wear a red suit?
    It's that time of year.
     
  4. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    Nope, local cop and friend. Guess I'm going to buy! It sure did shoot nice.
     
  5. Checkman

    Checkman member

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    The pre-war HD's command a pretty good price. I picked one up a few years ago and I haven't regretted it. I especially like the design feature that holds open the cylinder. That isn't a bad price. There was a time when nobody wanted the HD's or Outdoorsmen. Big old revolvers "only" chambered for .38 Special/High Velocity. But in the past few years many folks (to include yours truely) have changed their minds.
     
  6. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    Nonsense. In my neck of the woods ole N-framed "boulders" were always a lot more expensive then delightful I,J,K frames. For .38/.357 shooter my top pick would be late production L-framed 686-4 followed by lowly Ruger GP100.
     
  7. chriske

    chriske Member

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    $ 575 isn't nothing, but not that steep, IMO.
    I would buy it.
    But I'm prejudiced, if not addicted to that kind of revolver.
     
  8. Checkman

    Checkman member

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    PabloJ
    Not nonsense according to the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson 3rd Edition by Jim Supica, Richard Nahas. Now having said that the one I own is the only one I've ever seen or held. I couldn't believe it when I saw it in the display case at my favorite gunshop. I didn't think twice about it. I pulled out the credit card and walked out with that Heavy Duty. I don't think the OP was asking about it as a shooter. Yes if it's in lgood shape I would grab it. They're not real common and you're lucky to have found one for sale. Unless you're a wealthy collector with connections all around the country when you come across a find I reccommend that you grab it. That's what I have to do. But I'm not a manager for a Hedge Fund or a senior partner at a law firm.

    Mine was manufactured in 1937. The magnas are not period correct, but that's what was on it. I can't afford original pre-war magnas at this time.

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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  9. robert garner

    robert garner Member

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    Like real estate they aint making any more of it.
    robert
     
  10. highpower

    highpower Member

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    I have never even seen a pre-war .38-44 for sale around here. There is a post war HD for sale in a LGS that is in about 75% condition that they are asking $650 for.
     
  11. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    cyclopsshooter,

    That's about half price for a good one.

    If you get it and do any reloading, do some research on Elmer Keith's 38/44 loads.

    That's what the gun was built for and makes it a ringtailed roarer!!

    Here's a web site that may help you decide.

    http://www.38-44heavyduty.com/
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  12. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    Iggy is right (as usual). Its about half the going rate. I would buy it just as a parts gun for nothing else at that price.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    If you buy it, I presume you intend to shoot it. While it isn't top collector grade, a perfect finish has nothing to do with the way it shoots. I have the same revolver in identical mechanical condition, but zero finish cuz' somebody bead-blasted it. :cuss:

    But regardless, it's a tack driver, and in a shooter that's what matters.

    I don't see prices going down, and inflation alone will drive them up. If after giving it a trial run you really, really like it, I would buy it before anyone else does.

    Otherwise pass...
     
  14. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    As others have said, its not over priced, grab it! I bought one some time back, have never looked back nor wanted to change my mind about it, and like yours, it shoots damned accurate! Get it, Merry Christmas.
     
  15. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    I bought it! I'll post pictures tonight when I get home. Thanks for all the input folks!
     
  16. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    Thar ya go!!!:)
     
  17. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    cyclop, congratulations! I think you did quite well. I have a 1937 vintage (the spitting image of Checkman's except I have the correct stocks).

    If you want to know what the real 38/44 cartridge was like in the gun designed for it (the HD) try one of two options. Buy a box of Buffalo Bore Heavy +P 38 Special 158g SWCHP-GC. It will give you between 1140-1160 fps out of that 5" barrel. If you are a reloader try 11.5g-12g of 2400 behind a 158g hard cast bullet (I used Berry's 158g Plated FPs) in standard 38 Special cases. Great fun and you'll get why Smith went to the N-frame for the HD concept. (smile)

    Dave
     
  18. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    Ok. I understand when they were made few bought them so these are now rare and desirable. What does 44 mean?
     
  19. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    There quite a few built.. They were very popular with Lawmen back then and got lots of use.

    38/44 means a gun with the old 44 Hand Ejector frame modified to shoot the .38 Super Police or High Speed .38 round.

    Stronk like Boooll!!:)
    They also made an adjustable sight version called the Outdoorsman.
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    They were the predecessors to the Registered Magnum.
     
  20. ultramag44

    ultramag44 Member

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    About 15 years ago I was in a pawn shop and there was one of the (6500 total pieces) long action, post war, transitional HD's.

    It had the original diamond grips and a S&W grip adapter.

    It had almost no original finish and the barrel had been cut back to 4". Not to good right? On the + side, the metal was not dinged up and NO rust or abuse.

    The barrel shortening job was perfect! I mean other then the placement of the roll marks on top of the barrel, it's indistinguishable from an original 4" gun. I strongly suspect it was sent back to S&W for the barrel shortening.

    I pointed out the finish & barrel shortening and got it for $220.00

    I had a local guy do a fine glass-bead blast and blue job. It's a great shooter! :)

    If, I say if, I wanted to sell it (fat chance ;) ) Do you guys think I could get my investment back ?? :)
     
  21. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    I'll give you what you paid for it and pay the shipping, as long as you send the S&W the adapter along too!!:evil:
     
  22. Checkman

    Checkman member

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    Way to go cyclopsshooter. Looking forward to the photos. You'll love it. I've never once considered letting mine go.
     
  23. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    Thanks guys! Here she is :) Radagast said she was made between 1931-35 Iggy, your target model is awesome!

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  24. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    Very rustic. They sure used to put nice grips on guns back in those days. I would have no problem paying $575 for that.
     
  25. Checkman

    Checkman member

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    that's just 77 years of living on that old warhorse. Good job. Enjoy it in good health.
     
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