Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy Early Birthday to me!

The January Indy 1500 is the fun show closest to my birthday, so it's usually where I do my birthday shopping. This year was not a disappointment, as I picked up a couple of the oddest platypuses (platypii?) in the S&W family tree.

At the risk of revealing future Sunday Smiths, behold:


The top is a Model of 1896. It's the first Smith with a swing-out cylinder and the first gun chambered in .32 S&W Long. The lack of a cylinder latch is because you pull forward on the knob at the end of the ejector rod to free the cylinder. It's also unusual in that, rather than the patent dates and whatnot being rollmarked on the barrel, here they're marked between the cylinder flutes.

Below it is a .38 Double Action Perfected Model. It's a top-break with a thumb latch as well, and the only top-break with the trigger guard integral with the frame. It has the sideplate on the right, like a hand ejector, and the lockwork is more or less straight I-frame. They were made from 1909 to 1920.


They're neither of them the kind of guns you run into in the wild every day. Even at a big show like the 1500 I can't recollect seeing many Model 1896s, and this show had the first two nice Perfecteds I'd seen roaming loose in years. This one's in roughly ~60% condition; the 95%+ nickel one was way too rich for my blood, stickered at more than what I paid for both of the above guns.

Incidentally, that Model of 1896 demonstrates nicely the basic soundness of the S&W Hand Ejector action. It still times and locks up fine, which is something I would not necessarily take as a given from a top-break Smith or a Colt of similar vintage. That's the same basic mechanism scandium-framed, 8-shot, moon-clip-fed Smith revolvers still use today; that is the very definition of "mature technology".

11 comments:

Joseph said...

Pretty sure I saw the bottom gun on Friday evening. The thumb latch/top break made my head go sideways a la the RCA pup. Glad you picked it up.

Al T. said...

Cool. I don't think I've ever seen either in the flesh - or at least I haven't noticed. Looking forward to the posts.

Scott J said...

Congrats and happy birthday.

My family and I took an out and back road trip to South GA yesterday. The route takes me by a Mountain of Geese so I worked out an excuse to stop there since we don't have one locally.

Found American Eagle 5.56 on sale for $8.99 per 20. Cheapest I've seen domestic made since completing the m4gery so I bought 3 boxes (all I could swing without a grumble from SWMBO :) ).

Critter said...

Want.

Robin said...

Those are great finds, esp. the 1896.

Robert Fowler said...

The top break with the thumb latch has got me scratching my head. I love top breaks ever since I bought my 1st one in the 70's. Now my silly question. What does the thumb latch do? Is it mechanically connected to the release mechanism on top? I think I really need some more coffee.

Tam said...

The thumb latch presses forward on the center pin just like on a Hand Ejector. Everything below and behind the cylinder is more or less just a conventional I-frame.

Robert Fowler said...

Tam, I found a good article that explained how it supposedly came to be.

http://www.gunreports.com/special_reports/handguns/Smith-and-Wesson-Double-Action-Model160-1.html

Whether the story about the cop is true or not, it does make for interesting reading. It's a detailed disassemble guide with a illustrated parts list.

I should have had that cup of coffee. My google-fu is weak this morning.

Joseph said...

A very nice pair, Tam...Look forward to the postings.

Oh...and Happy Birthday!

rickn8or said...

Okay, NOW you've pegged my Envy-ometer...

And Happy Birthday of course.

LCB said...

Happy Birthday to you...
Happy Birthday to you...