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Smith 1896 HE 1st Model .32

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by hplarc2, Jan 5, 2011.

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  1. hplarc2

    hplarc2 Member

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    Anyone ever seen the sight located here? Is it factory or add-on? Serial # 18666.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  2. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator

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    Pretty sure its an aftermarket job. IIRC the first model rear sight was situated half way down the backstrap over the cylinder.
     
  3. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Some clever gunsmith work.

    Jim
     
  4. hplarc2

    hplarc2 Member

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    Very clever indeed. I cannot find any evidence of the old sight being removed at all. If so the top strap would have to have been ground off and refinished. Also the rear sight bracket is screwed into the frame that has been milled out with a notch in the bracket to accept the hammer fall. This would be a lot of work for someone with too much time on their hands. I have written S&W to ask for help. I really don't want to spend 50.00 for the letter unless I'm sure it's original. I only paid 50.00 for the gun.
     
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    On looking further, I agree that it is a nice job and it does not interfere with the cylinder stop. Could it be an S&W factory job, either originally, or on a special order? I don't know, but it might be worth getting an S&W letter. It is too bad about the condition; those guns are not super valuable (mine, in much better shape, cost $400) but they are very collectible as S&W's first hand ejector, and if it is their first hand ejector target model it could have some value.

    Jim
     
  6. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator

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    Looking in my Standard Catalog of S&W it notes that the target model is rare; the target front sight is a square cut blade with the rear being adjustable. As Jim speculated, you may have a target model. If S&W give you any more info please post to let us know.
     
  7. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Yes...post some good close upo images of the Front Sight.
     
  8. hplarc2

    hplarc2 Member

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    Not a Photographer

    I haven't heard from Smith yet.

    Thanks for all the replies.
     

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  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Give them 8 to 10 weeks. I know this seems like a long time, but the records are not computerized (although work is in progress). Historical letters have become very popular so the workload had substantually increased.
     
  10. hplarc2

    hplarc2 Member

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    1896 HE Target Model

    Got the letter. It is the Target Model with rear target sight and Paine front sight. Shipped July 28, 1901 to A Midelburg no address given. I wish I could find out more about this person. There is a Midelburg Island in WV. It used to be Hatfield Island from The Hatfields and McCoys. Midelburg, with that spelling, seems to be a scarce name with few or none relatives living. I have no guess as to what it's value may be.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I would say, with the letter, $500+, in spite of the condition. The letter confirms that it is factory and certainly the first swing cylinder target revolver.

    Jim
     
  12. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator

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    Neat. Thanks very much for sharing that info.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Colt made target versions of their 1892 New Army/Navy revolver before Smith & Wesson introduced they're Model 1896 .32 during that year, but it is unquestionably the first S&W hand ejector target variant. Apparently the rear sight was made before they standardized the design, or they used an older prototype they still had on hand even newer ones were available. Last but not least it may represent an improved design that never went into production. The revolver itself is not common, as it was only made between 1896 and 1903, with total production around 19,712. Of those very few were target models, and among those that still exist, this one may be unique - or near so.

    The lesson to be learned is if you come across something that is unusual as was this example, get it lettered. The one thing I'm sure of is the increase in the revolver's value far exceeds the cost of the letter.
     
  14. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I liked the neat way they put on the rear sight blade without interfering with the cylinder stop. As we know, that gun uses the same kind of split spring cylinder stop as the old First Model. That is why the regular rear sight is up forward on the top strap and why they obviously couldn't install a sight like the modern one. Further, there is not a lot of room to work with. But the old time S&W craftsmen were up to the challenge.

    Hi, Old Fuff, I meant to say the first S&W swing cylinder target revolver.

    Jim
     
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