Reading about prices in the S&W forum… ye gods! The prices are getting insane for some of these guns. You’d need to be wealthy to get into collecting S&W revolvers these days! I suppose it’s not too surprising given that S&W wants $700+ for a basic, plain-Jane new Model 10! But a four-screw K22 going for over $6000 at auction? Wow.
My interest in S&W revolvers re-ignited when Linda bought me a pair of top-breaks last summer, one in .32 S&W and one in .38 S&W (dated about 1884…) These are double-action spur-hammer guns and she got the pair for about $225.Â In the past almost every gun store around here had a top-break or two languishing in their case. Generally these were ‘lesser’ brands of suspect quality and were quite cheap. Like most people I never gave them a second thought,Â Â but I was impressed with the silky-smooth triggers and overall mechanical quality of theseÂ S&Ws. The were worlds and away better than the offerings of Ivor Johnson, US Revolver and others I was used to seeing. Checking around I discovered that while stocks in the stores had largely dried up S&W top-breaks were readily available and often quite reasonably priced online.
Shortly I set my sights on the Safety Hammerless model, particularly the rare Bicycle models with a 2″ barrel. That dream got squashed pretty quickly; these guns are priced right out of my reach! The I saw a cut-down 2nd model Safety Hammerless that had been parkerized and fitted with a Pachymer grip- a Steampunk Snubby! Â Linda picked up a pair of 4th Model guns from Gunbroker (and learned to never bid on two guns of the same type at the same time…) Â These guns are in no way rare or collectable (yet) so I had no compunctions about bobbing the barrels and fitting mine with a custom ergonomic grip. Linda’s gun has original Mother of Pearl grips, so we’ll fit it with a T-grip and the pearls eventually. For now it’s wearing a Hogue grip.
These little guns are great shooters (though ammunition is painfully expensive) and their character and quality have seduced me… but how many top-breaks does one really need? There is a rough-but functional .32 Double ActionÂ available at the moment for $50; modifying and refinishing thisÂ is a tempting project at that price.
All of this has gotten me looking at old S&W revolvers in a new light– and brought me to the realization that I have come too late to the game. The guns are mostly priced out of reach… My saving grace is that a local gun-shop gets in a lot of estate and consignment guns, mostly shooter-quality guns at prices that are at least not insane.
Now we have a .38 Special 1905 M&P hand-ejector on lay-away. It was stupid-cheap because itsÂ collector value is shot. The gun is ‘ruined’ because it was bead-blasted and refinished at some point, but it’s mechanically excellent and has the best trigger I have ever felt on any revolver. If this is a ‘ruined’ gun I’ll take them all day long, and thank you very much! I don’t care if a bunch of collectors turn their nose up at it– I buy guns because I want to shoot them, so a ‘collector’ gun would be wasted on me anyway.
I do mourn the fact that most of the new S&Ws are out of reach, but lets face it- modern revolvers are mechanically complicated, and that means they are mostly going to be expensive. I’ll just have to settle for ‘undesirable’ old guns and some of the offerings of the like of Taurus, Astra and Rossi for my revolver fixes. Â I think the top-breaks and ‘rough or ruined’ guns are going to go up eventually as people look for alternatives to the sky-high prices of the moreÂ desirableÂ guns, but for now we average Joes can still get them.