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Old September 17, 2012, 09:08 AM   #2
carguychris
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Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 7,354
I believe you have incorrectly identified the gun.

S&W has never built a gun officially known as the "Model 4". In the mid to late 19th century, they built the Model 1 (.22 cal), Model 1½ - often spelled out One-and-a-Half (.32 cal), Model 2 (.32 cal) and Model 3 (various calibers, mostly .44 Russian or .45 S&W).

After discontinuing these guns around the turn of the 20th century, S&W abandoned model numbering until 1957, when their existing line of named swing-out cylinder revolvers were given model numbers starting with 10 and continuing upwards. This system is still in use today, but S&W has never used the numbers 4 through 9, at least not on a mass-produced gun released for general public sale.

Does this gun actually have the intertwined "S&W" logo on it? Numerous companies sold large numbers of S&W knockoffs in the late 19th century. These guns would often feature deceptively large "SMITH & WESSON" rollmarks that were nominally there to denote the cartridge the gun fired, but were intentionally overemphasized to fool unwitting buyers into believing they were buying a genuine, well-renowned S&W product.

If you believe it's a genuine S&W...
  • Is it a tip-up (barrel hinges upwards), top-break (barrel hinges downwards), or swing-out cylinder revolver?
  • Is the gun single-action (hammer must be manually cocked for each shot) or double-action (trigger lifts hammer)?
  • Does it have a visible hammer?
  • What other markings- if any- are visible on the exterior?
Quote:
...could you use standard 32 in these? or 32 short? Don't know if these can be found in cf.
S&W tip-up .32-caliber revolvers- the Model 1½ and Model 2 - were chambered in .32 rimfire. It is very difficult to find ammo for the .32 rimfire guns anymore; your best bet is to scour gun shows, or simply forget about the idea of firing it. Keep in mind that the tip-ups weren't very strong to begin with, and parts are almost impossible to find.

Their top-break .32 revolvers- the New Model 1½ aka .32 Single Action, the .32 Double Action, and .32 Safety Hammerless aka "Lemon Squeezer" - were chambered in .32 S&W aka ".32 S&W Short" or ".32 Short". A top-break in good mechanical condition should be able to fire modern smokeless loads; these are generally loaded to low pressure to avoid blowing up a black powder era gun in the hands of someone who doesn't know any better.

Older (pre-1980s) S&W swing-out cylinder .32 revolvers were chambered in .32 S&W Long (these guns can also chamber and fire .32 S&W) or .32-20 Winchester. The latter was only offered in the full-size K frame, and many of these bore somewhat confusing and non-standard ".32 WIN. CTG." or ".32 W.C.F. CTG." barrel rollmarks. Both .32 S&W Long and .32-20 loads are produced commercially today, although the former is generally easier to find than the latter. Both were designed for smokeless powder from the start, so there is no concern about firing modern loads in a black powder gun.

IMHO you should NOT use .32ACP (aka .32 Auto or 7.65 Browning) ammo in ANY of these guns. In a top-break, .32ACP is HIGHLY UNSAFE and may blow the gun apart in your hands due to its high operating pressure relative to .32 S&W. In a swing-out cylinder .32 S&W Long revolver, .32ACP generally won't cause damage when fired, but the undersize cartridge rim can cause spotty ignition and/or ejection problems, and accuracy is usually rather poor because .32 Long is designed for substantially heavier bullets.
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