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Old March 27, 2011, 09:50 PM   #1
greentick
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44 Russian

I am looking for info on a 44 Russian revolver that belongs to my father in law, and has been in his family since the train-robber days. My wife will inherit it eventually and it will be passed on to one of our 5 kids. It was originally purchased by train engineer for protection and was even borrowed by a sheriff at some point who shot a n'er-do-well in the foot with it.

My father in law has recently fired it with some black powder/not-so-smokeless powder, but could not find any cases or loaded cartridges tonight. He has asked me to look into reloading for it and I am trying to verify that it is what it is.

External markings:

Along the barrel rib: Smith&Wesson Springfield Mass USA Pat Jul 10.60, Jan 17, Feb 17, July 11.65 & Aug 24.69 (copied exactly, July is spelled both as July and Jul)

Over the cylinder: US (perpendicular to the text above)

Base of the grip: 2xxx


Any info is appreciated...
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Old March 27, 2011, 10:25 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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You show a S&W First Model American, made 1870-1872.
Standard caliber was .44 American, not Russian but there were surely some rechambered for the more modern caliber. Some second models were shipped from S&W in .44 Russian instead of .44 American but I don't know about first models.

The US stamp is very interesting. The US Army bought 1000 .44 Americans for testing but eventually went with Colt (except for a little fling with the .45 S&W Schofield). Of course the nickel plating and checkered pearls are not GI, but surplus guns got prettied up back then, too. I cannot Google the serial number range or form of the US marking.

I would get it up on the antiques forum of the S&W board at
http://smith-wessonforum.com/forum.php
Send better pictures of the gun, especially the patent dates and US marking.

You can also get a factory letter from S&W showing the original configuration and destination for only $50.

This is a very interesting and valuable to potentially very valuable gun.
I would think twice about shooting it until I knew more about it than I have been able to tell you.
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Old March 27, 2011, 11:24 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info! Reposted over at S&W.
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Old March 27, 2011, 11:59 PM   #4
Mike Irwin
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If this is a US purchase gun, the nickel plating could very well be original.

According to Supica and Nahaus, the US military purchased 800 blued and 200 nickel.

According to them, the known nickeled serial numbers were between 1895 and 2199.
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Old March 28, 2011, 08:31 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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Wow, factory nickel ex-army. I did not know that, but it really adds to the interest and value, one of 200.
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Old March 28, 2011, 08:43 AM   #6
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Authentic nickeled US purchase Americans can be worth up to 5 times standard values for a non-US purchase.

For one in 100% condition (which probably doesn't exist), prices could go to $50,000.
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Old March 28, 2011, 11:46 AM   #7
mete
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Until the arrival of the 44 S&W Special cartridge the 44 Russian was considered the most accurate handgun cartridge ! Check the dimensions but you might be able to cut down 44 special cases for it. S&W had a large contract for revolvers for the Russian Army and that is why S&W revolvers were not as common in the west as the Colt or Remington.
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Old March 28, 2011, 12:00 PM   #8
Mike Irwin
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The .44 American used heel-based bullets, which means that modern .44 bullets are undersized for the bore.
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Old March 28, 2011, 06:13 PM   #9
Jim Watson
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I see on the S&W board that the OP got a personal response and offer of assistance from Mr Jinks himself. Don't think I have seen that before. This may be a VERY good gun.
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Old March 28, 2011, 06:26 PM   #10
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I got one that belonged to my Grandfather, it too will be passed down to my oldest son. It too is in 44 Russian. It was given to my grandfather by his father when he left home to work the ranches in New Mexico and Colorado.

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Old March 28, 2011, 09:02 PM   #11
Jim Watson
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No 3 New Model Target, mit pearls.

Is that a factory barrel length or cut off?

Is the cylinder 1 9/16" or the standard 1 7/16"? Looks kind of long but I don't have mine at hand to compare.
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Old March 29, 2011, 08:45 AM   #12
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Jim, thanks for the tip. Info/pics emailed to Mr Jinks.
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Old March 29, 2011, 08:07 PM   #13
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Just to update you guys. I have corresponded with Roy Jinks, S&Ws historian. This pistol is one of the 200 nickel plated Model 3 American First Model bought by the US Army in 1871. It went on the the western frontier. My wife and I have been piecing the rest of the story together from there.

In my wife's family, the first known possessor was "Justin" Crockett who was a Justice of the Peace in Mulberry Arkansas in the late 1800s (still have to 100% verify the JotP part, he may have been the Postmaster and his brother was the JotP or vice-versa). Justin's sister was my wife's Grandmother's Grandmother and she passed away in 1895 to give some perspective. Justin passed it to his nephew, Frank D., who was my Father in Law's Grandfather. Frank passed it to my Father in Law. He has designated my wife as the next recipient.

Roy and the folks over at the S&W forum have been great and the last couple of days have been a trip. I've lost a few hours of sleep between researching, messaging, cleaning, measuring and photographing. But, it's been a blast and I have learned quite a bit. Thanks to all who contributed bits of info. Todd
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Old March 29, 2011, 08:12 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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This is a treat.
It pays back all the time spent explaining rusty Belgian bulldogs and sawn off British Victory models.
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Old March 29, 2011, 08:58 PM   #15
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It's always really neat when someone here comes up with a really special handgun.

Last year someone came up with one of roughly 36 known Wolff and Klarr Model of 1926 .44 Hand Ejector Target Models. His grandfather in law gave it to him.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=367143

Auction prices on these guns have apparently gone as high as $12,000.
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Old March 30, 2011, 02:38 PM   #16
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That kind of provenance can add hundreds of dollars of value, even when the people involved were not well known. And if the gun was owned by Uncle Jim Hickok, aka "Wild Bill", you have hit the jackpot.

Jim
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Old March 30, 2011, 08:53 PM   #17
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WOW!! Supica states that these guns were "Used 1872-1876 by the First through Seventh Cavalry..."

Custer's famous disaster occurred on 6/25-6/26/1876 with the Seventh.

One can only wonder...
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Old April 1, 2011, 12:03 AM   #18
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What an usually good gun for the TFL and a S&W to boot. I personally think that the gun could have been nickeled in its life even if the SN range is right for the 200 or so nickel guns because the SN range would have included regular production American models.

I assume you're ordering a factory letter, because quite frankly, you must.
Congrats on having very special family heirloom.
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Old April 1, 2011, 10:59 AM   #19
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Here is the thread over at S&W. I put up some more pics. There is a heated reloading debate going on as we speak...

http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-ant...-american.html

Last edited by greentick; April 1, 2011 at 01:40 PM.
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