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Shooting Collectable revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Agsalaska, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Member

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    Hello Thehighroad. Been a while.

    First, I am not looking for a debate on whether or not guns should be shot or are tools or are supposed to be fired or any of that stuff. That is a personal opinion for each of us and not what I want to discuss.

    Second, I am not talking about five figure stuff or real antiques. I have collected S&W and Colt revolvers, mostly 1950-1981 stuff for many years. Most of them are in 98%-100% condition, and I have never actually fired any of them.

    I want to shoot a couple of them, but do not under any circumstances want to hurt their value(so obviously previously unfired guns in the box are out of the question).

    Example, I just got my hands on a S&W model 57. No box. Early 70s. 99% condition. There are extremely faint spin marks on the cylinder but I am not sure if it has been fired but without the box it doesnt really matter.

    How risky is putting one cylinder thru that revolver, say once a year or every other year? Obviously I would do it under perfect very controlled conditions. But how long do you think I could do that without affecting its overall condition? I am assuming that 500 rounds over a decade with proper cleaning and care and I will be ok. Is that a fair assumption?

    What you say?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
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  2. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Keep it clean, with no fire-breathing rounds through it, and not carry it in any holster, and your gun, with those few rounds through it, is still going to be worth a whole lot of money 20 years from now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  3. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    If it's been shot and missing the box and docs, I see little reason not to enjoy it as much as you want.
     
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I have a number of S&W revolvers from the early "Model Number days" (post 1957 or so, mostly from the 1970s and 1980s) and I shoot them when and as often as I want.

    I generally shoot soft loads in them as my days of wanting wrist snapping recoil are long past. I keep them cleaned and oiled. None of them are super valuable or rare.

    A couple years ago, at a couple gun shows I saw a special edition S&W N-frame chambered in 44-40, I forget the model number off hand. The owner had not gotten anyone to buy it.

    I considered buying it, but it came in a presentation case and I figured someone who was a collector might want it while I would shoot it. So, I passed. I kind of wish it bought it, but its water over the dam and I've moved on.
     
  5. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    There are ways to protect the guns while still thoroughly enjoying them. The big thing is to keep them properly cleaned and lubed. Lighter loads with proper powders are key.
     
  6. bangswitch

    bangswitch Member

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    My guess is that it has been shot, so with that in mind, I'd have no reluctance to keep shooting it. It's a "no dash", but it isn't one of the earliest ones (what barrel length is yours?), so for absolute value it's not worth what a S prefix from 1964 would be worth with both in the same condition. So, again, I wouldn't think twice about shooting it, repeatedly and often. Unless whatever model you have is an extremely rare or historic one, there's no reason not to put a few rounds through it from time to time.

    What risk? One cylinder full or twenty, 50 rounds in 10 years or 500 rounds a year; it isn't going to hurt the gun or decrease the value once it has been fired one time, and again, I figure yours has been shot, mainly because you got it without a box or the accessories. Rarely does someone buy a gun to keep unfired, and then sell it without the box or other stuff that came with it. If it were truly kept as a collectible by the original owner, it's worth more at the sale with everything that came with it. keeping the visible wear down is most important, like micro-scratches and wear on the bluing from holsters, to help maintain value. The one consideration I might make as far as regular shooting goes, is to use less than full power loads.

    My collection, as it were, is made up of S&W magnum revolvers, all pinned and recessed, and all made between 1968 and 1981. there's only one of them (there's only six total) that I won't shoot, it is a Model 29-2 commemorative and was unfired when I got it, so I'll keep it that way. But......I recently bought a new M66-1 RB 2-1/2" in the box that was also unfired, but I have put a couple hundred rounds through it already, and use it as my EDC now. I also have a M57 no dash, S prefix from 1968, and I shoot the crap out of it, it's a wonderful range plinker. The others I have are a M19-3 (came with box) and a M28-2 and a M48-4. I shoot them all regularly, and all the ammo is my reloads (except the .22 Mag)

    Sounds like you and I like the same era guns, which IMO are S&W's most beautiful and best built (and that will start arguments), but I like what I like, and others can have their favorites. Here's mine, you can see they are pretty nice and not beaters. I have the factory stocks for all except the M57.
    DSC01924.JPG
    IMG_0115 (2).jpg
     
  7. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Member

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    If you don't plan to sell them in your life time. Shoot the hell out of them and let your heirs moan about their condition. Life is short enjoy it.
     
  8. Monac

    Monac Member

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    If you own the gun as an "investment", don't shoot it. If you own it because you like it, shoot it, but be careful. I am not good at being careful, or at keeping things in perfect condition, so that is not an option for me, but I still advocate it for those who are not fumble-fingered, absent-minded, and easily distracted. If you find you really like shooting it, shoot it all you want. I'm with Zygodactyl above in that respect.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
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  9. FFGColorado

    FFGColorado Member

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    Gotta ask why you 'don't want to effect it's overall condition'?? It's not really a big $ collectable, it's 'preowned' already...but 50 rounds over a decade??
     
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  10. indy1919a4

    indy1919a4 Member

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    Some day, some where, somebody is going to shot those.. might as well be you. You deserve it
     
  11. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    That’s like buying a car or a motorcycle and not driving or riding it to save it for the next guy to enjoy.
     
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  12. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    IF, I can't shoot it, I don't want it!!

    DM
     
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  13. walnut1704

    walnut1704 Member

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    That's a fair assumption.

    The only concern I have, if you have a lack of shooting experience, is cleaning them. More guns are harmed when cleaning than by shooting them. Maybe you should buy a "beater" or more common model to start shooting with? Just a thought.

    But I'm not a collector. I shoot all mine. A lot. Even though some I bought new in the box. Of course at the time I bought them they were just current production.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  14. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Member

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    That was a typo. I was thinking 50 a year, then 500 a decade, and typed 50 a decade. I don't want to affect the overall condition because I like them to be as clean as possible. That's just me.

    Those are beautiful and yes we have the exact same taste in handguns. I need to take an all in the family picture one day. I have two post 81 and they are a 629 Mountain Gun which I also carried in Alaska and a Model 10 which is loaded in my day safe and shot several times a year. Colts from that era are also beautiful and I own a few, but they did not have the variety or IMHO quite the style of the S&W.

    I am catching a theme here that the ones I have not in the box I can shoot safely with proper care. I was never going to shoot the ones I have that are boxed and unfired.
     
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  15. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Member

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    I broke this response into two posts because I have yet to use the multi quote function. Thats pretty sweet.

    This is my concern as well. I would not say I am lacking in shooter experience. I have all kinds of guns my entire life, hunt frequently, and handle guns daily. I have also sold thousands of guns from behind the counter in my younger days. But I am not a range rat by any stretch and can go several months without pulling a trigger.

    When you say 'mosre guns are harmed by cleaning them than by shooting them' can you expand on that? My thought is to properly oil the barrels and gun and not use any metal since the round count is so small. But what other steps should I do, or avoid.


    Last, a couple of poster mentioned less than full powered loads. I am not a reloader and never will be. That kind of tedious, time consuming work is not in my blood, at least not yet. I would assume the most important thing is to use modern, clean burning ammunition or possibly cowboy action loads and avoid the cheaper stuff we typically take to the range for, say, our Glocks/Sigs/Kahrs, etc. Most important thing is finding the cleanest shooting ammo correct?
     
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  16. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    bangswitch

    That's an outstanding collection of S&Ws you've got there; nicely represented with the K frames and especially the N frames!
     
  17. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    69AF1405-AF90-4BE8-B6B2-14CDF0636655.png


    I came home from yesterday’s gunshow with this 1971 Highway Patrolman. It came in a period correct box labeled “Highway Patrolman” but no label to tie it to the individual revolver, so nice, but irrelevant. Oh yeah, it’s gonna be shot. A lot. Soon.
     
  18. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    Shoot em.

    I recently put 50 rounds of 38-40 through this 1923 New Service. It was one of the best outings ive had.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    No firearm has ever left the Smith and Wesson factory without having been test fired. I know a lot of guys consider one that has only been test fired but never fired since as never having been fired, but they have all been fired.

    Regarding a ring around the cylinder, unlike a Colt, it is almost impossible to work the action of a S&W revolver without eventually leaving a bit of a wear ring around the cylinder. It is just the way they are designed. The bolt pops up early enough that it rubs against the cylinder for some portion of the cylinder's rotation. In addition, unless one very carefully closes the cylinder, purposely lining up the cylinder locking slots with the bolt, the bolt will always be pressing against the cylinder when closed, in a random fashion, and the first time the action is worked, the bolt will be rubbing against the cylinder.

    If you want to know if a revolver has been fired very much, take a look at the recoil shield. This K-22 shipped in 1935 and it has been fired a bazillion times in all those years. The cartridge being fired smacks against the recoil shield under recoil and eventually wears away the blue. As the gun recoils the other cartridges in the cylinder also jump back from the momentum of the gun moving backwards. They also smack the recoil shield, but not with as much force as the cartridge being fired, but they leave an impression behind too.

    pnmX3wanj.jpg




    This 38 M&P left the factory in 1908. Clearly it has been fired in all those years, but no where near as much as the K-22. There is only an impression of case heads around the firing pin, no impressions from the other cartridges in the cylinder. No way of knowing exactly how many rounds have gone through these revolvers, but the extent of the imprints on the blue of the recoil shield gives a pretty good comparison. If the blue looks like this, I guarantee it has been fired.

    pmdNRsBzj.jpg




    I am a pretty serious collector of Smith and Wesson revolvers. I am not going to tell you how many I own, but my oldest one left the factory in 1859 (yes, 1859), and I have lots of representative S&W revolvers from every decade since. As a collector, I can tell you that a revolver is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Forget whether or not it has the box, trust me on this. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Yes, a truly unfired example will command more value in the market place. Suffice it to say that I don't think I own any truly unfired revolvers, although I own a few that are quite pristine, and yes, some of them are Safe Queens and I do not fire them.

    Of those which are not safe queens, most have been fired. I have several antique (pre 1899) Top Break Smiths that I only shoot with Black Powder, but yes, they get fired, usually at a CAS match. A few other brands of antique revolvers too.

    My point is, if you want to shoot it, then shoot it. You are not going to damage it as long as you use ammunition loaded specifically for that revolver. A bit tough with 41 Mag as I dunno if there are commercially available light loads for it. And a few rounds a year are not going to affect the value of it unless you drop it on the ground and scratch it up while you are shooting it.
     
  20. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    I only have one that I will probably never shoot. It's just a Nickel plated M36 from the mid 1960s IIRC. It came to me unfired in the original box with all the paperwork and associated goodies. Even came with an extra set of factory grips still in the packaging.
    I picked it up cheap so I'm not worried about not shooting it. I have plenty of shooters.
    IMO once a gun has been fired outside the factory, it's game on. It's no longer ANIB condition so unless you abuse it or neglect it you lose very little of the remaining value.
    Again JMHO.
     
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  21. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    The most damage that happens most often when cleaning any firearm is the cleaning rod rubbing against the bore near the muzzle. It is impossible to clean most revolver barrels from the cylinder end with a rod, so if you want to do the least harm, use a Bore Snake and clean the bore from the cylinder end. Same with the chambers, you can clean with a Bore Snake instead of a cleaning rod. But I will be frank with you, I have found over the years that I can remove more crud with less elbow grease with a cleaning rod than with a Bore Snake. The Bore Snake only has bronze bristles at the end, and it has to be inserted and run through the bore many times to get the same amount of cleaning as running a rod with a brush on the end a few times, because I can run the rod back and forth lots of times without removing it from the bore. Frankly, if you are only going to shoot it a few times, and clean it afterwards with a brush on the end of a rod, you are going to have to try pretty hard to do any damage to the rifling near the muzzle. You can buy aluminum rods that are softer than the steel, you can also buy steel rods that have a plastic coating on them so they don't abrade the steel of the barrel.

    I don't worry at all about finding 'clean burning' ammunition. As I said, I shoot some of my antique cartridge revolvers with Black Powder all the time, and Black Powder is anything but 'clean burning' I just have to remember to clean them afterwards. For modern Smokeless ammo, forget about trying to find 'clean burning' ammo. I can't tell you how many times I have heard guys on the firing line at a CAS match complaining because their ammo is not 'clean burning'. Their concern is that a little bit of Unique leaves some burnt powder flakes behind and they are concerned this will affect how well the guns function. We don't shoot fussy semi-auto firearms in CAS, a little bit of burnt powder in the barrel is not going to cause them to jam. Forget about trying to find 'Cowboy Action Loads'. There is nothing about them that is necessarily any cleaner burning than any other Smokeless ammo on the shelf. Trust me on this. Particularly these days when there is an ammo shortage because so many guys are panic buying guns and ammo. Just buy what you can find, shoot as much or as little as you want, and clean carefully afterwards.
     
  22. 25-5
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    25-5 Contributing Member

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    Do what you like. I have revolvers from the '30's on, and I shoot them. Keep them clean.
    In twenty years I won't get enough money for a house, car, or college. That's my view, and does not have to be yours.
    Enjoy them how ever you like. It's a good time either way.
     
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  23. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    You’re a collector. You know what other collectors look for: chamber rings, drag lines, wear at the forcing cone and grips, etc... If you want your guns to hold relative value, shoot them using period equivalent loads, clean, oil, and all that, but mostly swap the grips. They show the most wear.
    I shoot all of my revolvers regularly and they are still accruing value- because they aren’t being made anymore.

    In my opinion, shoot them, be careful and be safe, and enjoy. Not shooting a nice gun is like not kissing a pretty girl.
     
  24. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    Based entirely upon what you state and assuming you will treat them with care; risk? none whatsoever.

    In point of fact, once you determine that they are past their virginal state, it'd be a pity to NOT know how they shoot for you.

    Some of the most brilliant work put to paper and translated to screen relative to value through use. Most particularly at the end.



    Todd.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  25. halfmoonclip

    halfmoonclip Member

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    Use a gun, (redacted) happens. My prize 3" 625 bailed out of its shoulder rig down at camp, and suffered (just a little) for it. If you're actually going to use it, that's reality.
    There's little I own that doesn't get shot; there's even less (unlike the hapless Smith) that actually sees a holster.
    As a reminder, if you actually carry a gun concealed, there's always a chance that the police will tell you to drop it, and you'll have to comply. Carry something you don't mind beating up.
    Moon
     
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