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S&W K22 Transfer Bar

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Millersville, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Millersville

    Millersville Member

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    I was looking at a K22 at a local gunshop the other day and have a question. This is an older pinned barrel model, with diamon grips but it has a transfer bar instead of the firing pin in the hammer. Any thoughts on this? My initial thought was a factory conversion to the transfer bar. Very nice condition for $599, but that is the only reason I walked away from it.
     
  2. gpb

    gpb Member

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    Two questions.

    1. Did the K-22 ever have a hammer mounted firing pin, or were they frame mounted?

    2. Could the "transfer bar" actually be a hammer block?
     
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  3. George P

    George P Member

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    My 17-4 does not have the pin on the hammer. With needing to hit the rim and not the center, did they ever have a pin on the hammer?
     
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  4. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Fist off, let's get something straight.

    Smith and Wesson has never put a transfer bar in any of their revolvers. Never, ever.

    Which brings up an instance of confusion that is obviously happening here.

    Transfer bars and hammer blocks function exactly opposite. Transfer bars are used to 'transfer' the energy of a falling hammer to a frame mounted firing pin.

    Hammer blocks do exactly what the name implies, they block a hammer from falling all the way.

    Both are devices installed in revolvers to make them safe to fully load the cylinder and safely lower the hammer on a chamber with a live round in it.

    Transfer bars were developed by Iver Johnson around the turn of the Century (1900). Iver Johnson touted their use of transfer bars in their famous 'Hammer the Hammer' marketing campaign of the early 20th Century.

    In the mid 1970s, Ruger began installing transfer bars in all their revolvers, both double action and single action in response to losing some very expensive lawsuits caused by shooters who did not understand not to fully load the old Three Screw single action revolvers and have a live round under the hammer. Just like the old Colts, the sear of the trigger could break off if the hammer received a strong blow, and the revolver would probably discharge. Ruger will do a factory conversion on the old Three Screw single action revolvers to install a transfer bar. Ruger, not S&W.

    The part attached to the trigger of the Ruger Vaquero in this photo is a transfer bar.

    po32GR9jj.jpg




    When the hammer is fully cocked, the transfer bar rises up so that when the hammer falls it will strike the transfer bar, transferring the hammer blow to the frame mounted firing pin.

    pmI7bMmij.jpg




    This is a typical Smith and Wesson hammer block. The long, thin, slanted piece. It rides in a groove in the side plate. This is the position the hammer block normally sits in when the hammer is down. Notice it is positioned between the hammer and the frame, but the hammer is not actually touching it. The hammer block is actually a redundant safety device. If the hammer spur received a blow strong enough to break the section at the bottom where the rebound slide is keeping it back from the frame, the hammer block would prevent the hammer from falling all the way. This is the style of hammer block S&W has been using ever since 1944. There were two earlier styles before that. By the way, this revolver is a Model 17-3, the successor to the K-22. Notice the pin in the frame near the rear sight. That pin is what holds the frame mounted, spring loaded firing pin in place.

    pnPiIbTPj.jpg




    This is a photo of the hammers of two K-22 Outdoorsmen made in the 1930s. Notice the flat hammer profile. Notice the frame mounted firing pins. All K-22s have always had a flat hammer profile without a hammer mounted firing pin. You can see the pin holding the frame mounted firing pin in place.

    pm7jnV7Lj.jpg




    So. No transfer bars in S&W revolvers. Ever.

    I am going to make one comment now that I will have to get back on. I am not sure if these K-22s have a hammer block inside or not. If they do, it will be an older style hammer block than the one shown, because that style was not manufactured until a ship board accident in 1944 caused S&W to redesign their hammer blocks and come up with the current style. I suspect these revolvers have the older style hammer block inside, but I will have to open one up to make sure.

    Stay tuned.

    By the way, depending on when it was made, and condition, $599 could be a pretty good price for a K-22. The K-22 Outdoorsmen that were made from 1931 until 1940 are one type. The 'Post War' K-22s made from 1946 until the model number change in 1957 are slightly different. These most definitely would have the modern style hammer block in them.

    Stay tuned, I will get back in a while with more photos.
     
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  5. George P

    George P Member

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    Thanks for taking the time!
     
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  6. Millersville

    Millersville Member

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    Thank you for the replies, that helps clarify it.
     
  7. murf

    murf Member

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    so, walk back and buy it. i love my k22. everyone should own one.

    luck,

    murf
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Your 1930s K22s will have the old "flag" hammer block or none at all.
    K22s like my 1954 Combat Masterpiece "pre 18" with the "Navy" hammer block have a lug at the bottom of the striking face of the hammer to engage the block.

    There are two variants of the prewar K22. In 1940 they introduced the click adjustable rear sight similar to what became standard on all adjustable sight revolvers after the war. They only made 1067 before the war so if you have one it is a rare treasure.
     
  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    Jim Watson is correct. There were two variations of the Pre-War K-22s. The first one was called the K-22 Outdoorsman. Also known as the K-22 1st Model. Made from 1931 until 1940. Serial numbers ran from 632132 to about 682419.

    Note the lack of a rib on top of the barrel and the teeny, tiny windage adjustment screw on the rear sight.

    poAETVS3j.jpg




    The K-22 Masterpiece (Prewar, K-22 Second Model) was only made in 1940 and 1941. Only 1067 were made, making them quite rare. Still no rib on top of the barrel, the difference between the 1st and 2nd Models is the 2nd Model used the new click adjustable micrometer rear sight. No, I don't have one, they are quite rare.




    After the war, production of the K-22 Masterpiece started again in 1946. Also known as the Postwar, 3rd Model. Note the rib on top of the barrel and the click adjustable micrometer rear sight. Note the different hammer style, it is a 'short throw' hammer much like the hammer on the rare 2nd Model.

    pneQeKmtj.jpg




    In 1957, Smith and Wesson went to a model numbering system and the K-22 became the Model 17. Pretty much the same as the postwar K-22 Masterpiece. This Model 17-3 has a slightly different hammer, and the barrel is non-tapered, with a wider rib on top. A Model 17 will have MOD 17 stamped on the frame under the yoke. It may have the dash number too, such as MOD-17-3 like this one. Like the venerable Model 10, gunshops often mislable a Model 17, sometimes calling it a K-22. If it has MOD 17 stamped on the frame, it is not a K-22, it is a Model 17.

    pmoCWJ4Pj.jpg




    I took one of my prewar K-22 Outdoorsmen apart today, to see whether or not there was a hammer block inside. Nope, no hammer block. This one shipped in 1932, so it is a pretty early one. This one went back to S&W in 1946 for some sort of rework. When I took it apart this morning there was a fair amount of old hardened oil and gunk inside, so I suspect it may not have been opened up since 1946. Anyway, I gave it a good cleaning and closed it back up again.

    pnIkT2oYj.jpg




    Regarding the price of K-22s: Here is the same old 1930s K-22, complete with incorrect Magna grips and lots of wear to the blue. The other side does not look so bad, but I always show this side to highlight what a well worn K-22 looks like. I was at an auction one day and none of the high rollers was interested in this one because of the wear to the blue. So I paid $500 for it. It turns out this old 22 is the most accurate of any of my 22 revolvers, S&W or Colt. Because it is so accurate, and was so cheap, it is my favorite 22 rimfire revolver.

    pm2Yy9rVj.jpg




    While I'm at it, let's talk a little bit more about firing pins on S&W 22 rimfire revolvers.

    The first revolvers S&W made in the 1850s were the Tip Up revolvers. They were all rimfires, chambered for what we would call today the 22 Short, or a 32 Rimfire cartridge. There was no separate firing pin on the Tip Ups, the front of the hammer was chisel shaped and served ignite the rimfire priming

    plv14qTKj.jpg




    In the Top Break days, S&W was only making centerfire revolvers, there were no rimfires. The smallest chambering for Top Breaks was 32 S&W. Not 32 S&W Long, it had not been invented yet. Firing pins were integral with the hammer, like the hammer on this 38 Double Action Top Break.

    pn2ionEMj.jpg




    The first 22 rimfire revolvers S&W made after the Tip Ups were the tiny M frame Lady Smiths. They were made in 3 different models from 1902 until 1921. This is a 2nd Model Lady Smith, it shipped in 1907.

    poxPg4eOj.jpg




    For the Lady Smiths, S&W reverted to a hammer with an integral firing pin.

    pmbsLerxj.jpg




    Before the K-22 came along in 1931, S&W made the 22/32 Hand Ejectors on an I frame, starting in 1911. These were the first rimfire target revolvers that S&W made. The first were the Bekeart models, named after San Francisco gun dealer Phil Bekeart, who convinced S&W to make some on the 32 Caliber I frame. Two are pictured below along with a K-22, to indicate how much smaller they were than a K-22. The middle revolver has the famous Bekeart style grips, the lower one has standard service grips. The lower one was called the 22/32 Heavy Frame Target model. Heavy frame because it was bigger than a Lady Smith. Remember, the larger K-22 had not appeared yet. The 22/32 Heavy Frame Target model eventually morphed into the J frame 22/32 Kit Gun.

    pmRP3rUnj.jpg




    Here is the 22/32 Heavy Frame on the left next to a K-22, showing the flat faced hammer and frame mounted firing pin. No, I am not going to take it apart today to see if there is a hammer block inside.

    pm4BkVAJj.jpg




    One more photo, just for fun, showing relative sizes of some S&W 22 rimfire revolvers. Top to bottom, K-22, 22/32 Heavy Frame with Bekeart style grips, 3rd Model Lady Smith.

    po3SWxqAj.jpg
     
  10. jmace57

    jmace57 Member

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    You, sir (Driftwood)...are the man! I'm a long-time S&W collector, and I learned new stuff today.
     
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  11. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Thanks for the excellent explanation/clarification, Driftwood Johnson.

    This is so cool!
     
  12. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Thanks D.J., like the others I learned more from reading your two posts about Smith .22’s than I could in two months at any local LGS.

    I wish I had your skills taking apart and peeking inside of these great revolvers! My 48-4 .22WMR is acting up and I wish I could fix it myself rather than having to send it back to Springfield... if they ever reopen. (They’re still Covid-closed until at least mid-June for non warranty work ) :(

    Thanks again and stay safe. :thumbup:
     
  13. kscharlie

    kscharlie Member

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    Driftwood, you made a statement above that I feel compelled to respectfully disagree with. You stated "...gunshops often mislable a Model 17, sometimes calling it a K-22. If it has MOD 17 stamped on the frame, it is not a K-22, it is a Model 17." After S&W implemented the Model ## scheme, they continued to refer to this revolver as "K-22 Masterpiece Revolver Model No. 17" in their literature for many years. The attached picture is of the brochure that came with my 17-4 that I purchased new in 1980. I think it is perfectly acceptable to call a Model 17 a K-22. S&W apparently thought so. However, I would agree that it is not proper to call a K-22 a Model 17 that does not have MOD. 17 stamped on the yoke. I do agree with you if a gunshop labels a Model 17 ONLY as a K-22. That should be completely described.

    EPSON016 - Copy.JPG
     
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  14. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    This is the sort of thing we could argue about for hours at a SWCA meeting and Roy Jinks would probably just sit back and smile.

    I have all the paperwork that came with My Model 17-3 in 1975, and a sheet like that was not included. Perhaps it got lost somewhere along the way, but I have been pretty careful to keep everything that was in the box.

    pnLC6yL3j.jpg




    In any case, yes S&W literature mentioned the legacy names of their revolvers for many years. Here is a scan of a dealer's price sheet from 1971 that clearly mentions the legacy names of several revolvers.

    pmCbBqIjj.jpg




    Even my favorite S&W reference, the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson, lists the legacy names of the revolvers along with the model numbers in the post 1957 section.

    However don't you agree that it simplifies things to call those revolvers made after 1956 by their model names? It is so much more specific and less confusing.

    P.S. Notice the suggested retail price for a Model 17 in 1971. I distinclty remember mine cost $125 when I bought it in 1975. Perhaps a price increase of $10 over a few years, perhaps I got suckered. In any event, the shop I went to was the only game in town, so that is what I paid.
     
  15. jmace57

    jmace57 Member

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    I'd sure give $115.50 for a K-32 now!!!!
     
  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I found a K-32 about a year ago. I paid a bit more than $115.50 for it.

    poHc4C3mj.jpg
     
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  17. kscharlie

    kscharlie Member

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    "However don't you agree that it simplifies things to call those revolvers made after 1956 by their model names? It is so much more specific and less confusing.

    P.S. Notice the suggested retail price for a Model 17 in 1971. I distinclty remember mine cost $125 when I bought it in 1975."

    Driftwood, I definitely agree that using Model numbers vs Model names can and does simplify things. And it is probably more accurate. It can be quite interesting having discussions on this subject with other members of SWCA. Yet, as "collectors", we sometimes get caught up in "collector speak". We call S&W revolvers such things as "Pre-27", "4th Model 3rd Change". S&W never, ever used this terminology in any of their literature. But, having said that, S&W did continue to use terminology of K-22, K-32, and K-38 after Model numbers were established. The history and study of S&W is definitely interesting.

    Inflation was cranking up in the '70s for sure. My 17-4 purchased in April of 1980 cost me $225. So in the span of 5 years, the price had nearly doubled.

    BTW, that's a nice K-32 you have...

    M17-4.jpg
     
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