The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Revolver Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 23, 2014, 09:04 PM   #1
Viper99
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Posts: 533
Can someone explain why x amount of screws makes a gun more valuable?

I sometimes see " I wasn't going to buy it until I noticed it was a 4 screw model 19" or something like it. Can some one enlighten me as to why these are more desirable just in case I ever run into one?

Regards to all
Viper99 is offline  
Old October 23, 2014, 09:17 PM   #2
lee n. field
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 12, 2002
Location: The same state as Mordor.
Posts: 3,358
dates it to a particular era.
__________________
"As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. "
lee n. field is offline  
Old October 23, 2014, 09:20 PM   #3
Viper99
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Posts: 533
Thanks Lee but can you tell on x revolver the valuable ones would have x amount of screws?

Regards
Viper99 is offline  
Old October 23, 2014, 09:25 PM   #4
lamarw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2010
Location: Lake Martin, AL
Posts: 1,807
^^^ Yes, On what lee n. field stated^^^ At least for S&W from 1905 to 1955 most hand ejector revolvers had 5 screws on the side plate. Four screws were prevalent from 1955 to about 1961 and afterwards it was down to three screws.

Then from about 1896 to 1905 it was four screws.

On some models one plate screw can be covered by the grip.

The above information was extracted from the publication "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson".
lamarw is offline  
Old October 23, 2014, 09:26 PM   #5
SaxonPig
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2006
Posts: 825
As noted, describing a S&W or a Ruger Blackhawk (2 examples off the top of my head) by the number of screws is a quick way to describe the age of the gun.

As a general rule older is more valuable. Saying "4 screw M19" means it was made in the late 1950s when the bluing was fabulous and the quality of workmanship was top notch. The number of screws isn't what makes the gun desirable, it's the period of manufacture identified by the screw count.

Although in the case of the Ruger, a 3 screw would be a completely different design than the 2 screw "New Model" with the older one being more desired.
SaxonPig is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 07:13 AM   #6
CajunBass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 6, 2005
Location: North Chesterfield, Virginia
Posts: 3,465
The others covered it. I just like them because they're older. When you're talking Smith & Wesson, the four screw models are probably more desirable to some people simply because they didn't make as many of them so they don't turn up as often.

Not long ago, I found a four screw Model 19. I jumped on it because it was a four screw.
__________________
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 (NKJV)
CajunBass is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 08:43 AM   #7
Don P
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 17, 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 4,812
Quote:
At least for S&W from 1905 to 1955 most hand ejector revolvers had 5 screws on the side plate. Four screws were prevalent from 1955 to about 1961 and afterwards it was down to three screws.
I do believe that it is 4 screws on the side plate, or 3 screws, and the 5th screw or 4th screw is in the front of the trigger guard.
My model K-17 has 3 screws on the side plate and 1 screw in the front of the trigger guard, hence 4 screw model . It left S&W on Sept. 12, 1960
__________________
NRA Life Member, NRA Range Safety Officer, IDPA Safety Officer, USPSA NROI Range Officer
As you are, I once was, As I am, You will be.
Don P is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 09:59 AM   #8
Viper99
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Posts: 533
Thank You for the education guys.
Viper99 is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 11:08 AM   #9
Jim March
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 14, 1999
Location: Pittsburg, CA, USA
Posts: 7,323
In the case of the Ruger single actions, a "three screw" action didn't have a safety so it worked more like a real Colt - including a really nice trigger feel. The 1973-and-forward "two screw" (aka "New Model") action has a safety in it - won't go "boom" if you drop it fully loaded ("transfer bar ignition").

Complicating matters: Ruger did a "free safety upgrade" for the three-screws that was a train wreck (Rube Goldberg design, plus horrid trigger feel) so everybody looks for no-safety variants of the three-screws, plus a lot of people assumed for a long time that the two-screw safety must be junk as well when it's really not and it's even possible to get a decent trigger out of it.

My one Ruger SA (also my daily carry) is a New Model action with the safety intact - more or less the only thing I haven't tampered with on that critter, come to think .
__________________
Jim March
Jim March is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 11:44 AM   #10
Bob Wright
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 10, 2012
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Posts: 1,898
Minor point here regarding New Model Ruger Single Actions, they are not truly "two screw" but rather two pins. The two pin design eliminated the tendency for the frame screws to work loose in firing.

(Still has those screws in the ejector housing and grip frame.)

Bob Wright
__________________
Time spent at the reloading bench is an investment in contentment.
Bob Wright is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 11:59 AM   #11
Driftwood Johnson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2014
Location: Land of the Pilgrims
Posts: 289
Howdy

To further expand on what SaxonPig said, although the number of screws on a S&W can be used as a rough guide for when it was manufactured, and may or may not be an indicator of the craftsmanship involved in making it, the reason S&W changed the number of screws was pure economics.

Ever since the first guy made the first wheel, manufacturers have always striven to drive the cost out of making their products. This is only natural. If a manufacturer can save 10 cents by a design change that eliminates parts or reduces labor, they will do it every time.

The very first 38 caliber side swing revolvers made by S&W in 1899 had four screws holding down the side plate and no screw in front of the trigger guard. But in 1905 the internal mechanism went through major changes, and the Five Screw Smith was born. Here is a photo of one, made about 1908. You can plainly see the four screws holding the side plate on.




And here is the Fifth screw, in front of the trigger guard.





Believe it or not, it is more expensive to drill and tap holes than it is to do a little bit of extra machining. So in 1955 S&W eliminated the screw at the top of the side plate, near the hammer. They did this by machining a small tab onto the top of the side plate. The tab fits into an undercut slot milled into the frame. This eliminated drilling and tapping one hole, and it eliminated one screw from the parts list. Plus it eliminated a few seconds of assembly time for the missing screw. Time is money after all. This is how the Four Screw Smiths came about.





This is the only Four Screw Smith in my collection, a Model 27. Notice it still has the screw in front of the trigger guard. The fourth screw is hidden under the top of the grips.





This photo shows another old Smith disassembled. This solves the mystery of what is under the screw in front of the trigger guard. The parts in front of the trigger guard are the cylinder stop, the spring and plunger that operate it, and the screw that keeps them in position. The spring and plunger fit into the hole in front of the trigger guard. The screw keeps them in position. The pressure provided by the spring is what causes the cylinder stop to pop up and lock the cylinder in place.






In 1962 S&W eliminated the screw in front of the trigger guard, creating the Three Screw Smiths that are still made today. Instead of the old screw and plunger in their own hole, the design now consists of just a spring, jammed into a recess in the frame and bearing directly against the cylinder stop. You can see the spring in this photo, scrunched up between the frame and the cylinder stop. S&W saved money by eliminating the extra screw and plunger, and they saved more money by not drilling and tapping the hole. For what it's worth, I hate this design change. If the spring needs servicing or replacing, the entire gun needs to be disassembled to access the spring. And it is tricky getting it back in position without it sproinging across the room. But S&W saved a few cents with this design change and we have been stuck with it ever since. So much simpler to change bolt springs with a Four Screw or Five Screw.


Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; October 24, 2014 at 01:55 PM.
Driftwood Johnson is online now  
Old October 24, 2014, 12:34 PM   #12
Viper99
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Posts: 533
Thank You Drifwood Johnson, those pictures an explanations were great.
Viper99 is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 12:59 PM   #13
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 8,964
I'll second the motion on Driftwood Johnson's excellent post with pictures. I learned those things over the last couple decades since I've been chasing S&W revolvers, but I've never seen such a succinct explanation with fine pictures. Everything that answers the question without anything else in the way. Very well done.

To the subject, I would replace the term "valuable" with the term "different." It simply isn't going to be the case where they are more valuable. While the number of screws is directly associated with the age, and "value" is quite often associated with age, there are so many more factors that weigh heavily in to value. Rarity & condition are the big ones.

To put that thought another way, I would chase a 3 or 4-screw Smith & Wesson over a 5-screw if the 3-screw in question were in better shape. But the value thing is a big, crazy game. I seem to get FAR more enjoyment from the guns with less "value" because shooting them doesn't risk affecting that value. But that's just one guy's opinion.
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 01:38 PM   #14
Bill DeShivs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 7, 2006
Posts: 7,129
I'm just going to buy a bunch of gun screws. I'll be rich!
__________________
Bill DeShivs
www.billdeshivs.com
Bill DeShivs is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 03:47 PM   #15
Archie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 26, 2000
Location: Hastings, Nebrasksa - the Hear
Posts: 2,100
Driftwood, Excellent explanation and photos.

Nicely done. Well explained and simple enough to grasp.
__________________
There ain't no free lunch, except Jesus.
Archie

Check out updated journal at http://oldmanmontgomery.wordpress.com/
Archie is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 04:39 PM   #16
Driftwood Johnson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2014
Location: Land of the Pilgrims
Posts: 289
Howdy Again and thanks for the kind remarks

Re: Three Screw Rugers.

I dunno why, but when Bill Ruger designed the old Three Screws he put the screw heads on the right side of the frame.




Just the opposite of Colts.




I have always found that interesting.
Driftwood Johnson is online now  
Old October 24, 2014, 09:49 PM   #17
Bob Wright
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 10, 2012
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Posts: 1,898
What is really a great find is to get ahold of a Colt with no screws visible.

(Yes, they were made.)

Bob Wright
__________________
Time spent at the reloading bench is an investment in contentment.
Bob Wright is offline  
Old October 24, 2014, 09:51 PM   #18
Bob Wright
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 10, 2012
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Posts: 1,898
Quote:
Bill DeShivs said: I'm just going to buy a bunch of gun screws. I'll be rich!
A no-gun screw? Bill, it's been done.

Bob Wright
__________________
Time spent at the reloading bench is an investment in contentment.
Bob Wright is offline  
Old October 25, 2014, 07:10 AM   #19
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,023
Not just screws

Other characteristics used in the "shorthand" of gun descriptions are used to differentiate (especially among collectors) help identify when guns were made, but have little to do with the actual functionality of the gun.

"Pinned barrel", "recessed chambers" and "no dash" come to mind. (S&W used to put a pin in the frame where the barrel screws into the frame, but discontinued the practice at some point, recessing the back of the cylinder to enclose the rims of the cartridges completely and having a hyphen/dash in the serial number followed by a model designation) The pinned barrel may have some real value, the recessed chambers used to have some value when folded or "balloon head" cases were still used and the presence or absence of a dash in engraved on the frame has no function at all. But all do help identify dates of production and are a useful shorthand for the cognoscenti.

Kind of like "pre-1964 Winchester 94" indicates those lever-action Winchester Model 94 Carbines with forged actions vs post-1964 with some stamped parts, less fine of a finish and plastic buttplate.

Useful shorthand words and phrases that in some cases have become "terms of art" or sometimes just jargon.

Lost Sheep
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old October 25, 2014, 07:13 AM   #20
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,023
Not screws. Bolts

What makes these designations "three-screw Smiths", "Flat-top Rugers" etc so popular is the bolts associated with them.

You see. In order for a bolt to work, it must be mated with a nut.

In this case, Gun Nuts.

Lost Sheep, Suffering insomnia. Have pity.
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old October 25, 2014, 10:44 PM   #21
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,681
That was baaaaad!

Some of the folks might have noted my post on the Ladysmith I acquired. At the time I did the pictures, I thought I had misplaced the upper side plate screw, but it turned out it had been missing before I bought the gun.

I found out that (believe it or not) the upper sideplate screw for a pre-Model 10 will fit the Ladysmith. Those screws are like gold these days, but I did get one and only had to shorten it a bit because the Ladysmith frame is thinner. I couldn't get a nickel plated one, so I took off the blue and it looks, not really OK, but not too bad.

Looking at the lockwork of the Model 1899, it is amazing that S&W has managed to make such a large number of improvements without (up to the "lock") changing their basic frame outline and shape. The aim has always been to improve and simplify the lockwork, while keeping costs down. (Some would say "making it cheaper" but what is really wrong with that?) I can't see that any of those changes made the gun less reliable, less accurate, or less functional. Some folks may get all bothered about using coil springs or MIM parts, but if I can buy a gun for $600 that is as good or better than one that would cost $3000, why should I mourn the days of tiny pins and springs and assemblers who went blind working under gas lamps?

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old October 25, 2014, 10:59 PM   #22
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,681
Incidentally, the recessed cylinders had a very practical purpose. They were used on .22's because up to the post-WWII period, burst case heads in .22LR were fairly common, and many rifles and revolvers in that caliber had recesses for the heads or some other system. Iver Johnson, for example had its "Sealed Eight" system with rims around both the front and rear of the cylinder, to protect against both burst heads and lead spitting. (The front rim had an opening for the forcing cone so the cylinder could be removed for cleaning.)

When S&W developed the .357 Magnum, they were in uncharted territory and some cartridge makers were still using the old "balloon head" cases, which could spell trouble if they used them for the new high pressure cartridge. So S&W went to the side of caution and recessed the chambers to contain any gas escape. They could have dropped the recess sooner but by that time it had become a hallmark of the .357 and something people expected.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old October 25, 2014, 11:20 PM   #23
Driftwood Johnson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2014
Location: Land of the Pilgrims
Posts: 289
Quote:
Looking at the lockwork of the Model 1899, it is amazing that S&W has managed to make such a large number of improvements without (up to the "lock") changing their basic frame outline and shape. The aim has always been to improve and simplify the lockwork, while keeping costs down. (Some would say "making it cheaper" but what is really wrong with that?) I can't see that any of those changes made the gun less reliable, less accurate, or less functional. Some folks may get all bothered about using coil springs or MIM parts, but if I can buy a gun for $600 that is as good or better than one that would cost $3000, why should I mourn the days of tiny pins and springs and assemblers who went blind working under gas lamps?
True to a point. As long as the cost savings are passed on to the customer. What I forgot to mention in my description of the design changes from five screw to four screw to three screw is I doubt if any of the cost savings were passed on to the customer. Of course the actual savings was probably only pennies per unit.

Incidentally, a few months ago I was wearing my S&W hat in a local store and an employee mentioned that his father had worked in the S&W plant for many years. (Springfield is not all that far from where I live) I said I would love to get a chance to talk to him. The fellow replied that his father wouldn't want to talk about his work life at S&W. He said it had ruined his father's eyes, and his hands. Bad eyesight from all those years of close work and arthritis from all the hand work. And this was long after the era of gas lamps.
Driftwood Johnson is online now  
Old October 26, 2014, 12:30 AM   #24
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,681
Keeping costs down may not mean passing savings on to the customer, it may mean not having to raise prices to meet inflation or demands for increased wages. (Of course, in pre-union days, such demands usually resulted in instant dismissal, at least in less skilled trades.)

I am sure that even today assembling revolvers is not an easy job, and when I look at something like the cylinder stop of a Model 1899, I really have a combination of pity and admiration for the men who put those guns together.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old October 28, 2014, 05:30 PM   #25
Jeff #111
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 25, 2001
Location: Idaho
Posts: 925
Try this one on for size. I own a M&P manufactured early in 1902. It's one of the M&P's without the ejector rod lock and it's a "pre 5 screw 4 screw".
__________________
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't. Ben Franklin
Jeff #111 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12399 seconds with 9 queries