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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This .44 Double Action is in a LGS. It is to be honest, much nicer and tighter that it should be. Could it be legitimate???

$1100 OTD..... Negotiated from $1199 plus tax. Yes or No??
 

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Some background information...

The introduction of S&W's first large frame Break Top Double Action was in 1881, and was called the Double Action 1st Model, or New Model Navy.

This revolver was chambered in .44 Russian - a popular cartridge of the time, but the .44 WCF (.44-40) was leading that race, and the popular Winchester '73 was in wide use in the American West, so being able to pair up compatible calibers was seen as sound marketing strategy.

In an effort to capitalize on this happy idea, Smith & Wesson re-tooled, and came out with the Double Action Frontier in 1886 - chambered in .44-40, and is basically the same revolver except for a longer frame and a cylinder of 1-9/16" length.

They have their own serial number range - and topped off production with 15,340 of these revolvers - and though they were catalogued until 1912, all frames were produced prior to 1899 - making them antiques - a handy thing to know...

'Double-Action' was an idea that seemed to work well enough with pocket revolvers, but there was some hesitancy in accepting it in a large-bore version. Earlier attempts such as the Starr and Cooper were somewhat ungainly and weak by comparison, so for the most part the rugged single-action reigned supreme in the U.S. when it came to real working guns.

Unlike early Colt efforts of the 1870's, S&W's double-action mechanisms were the match of many Continental designs. In fact, some of the lockwork was pirated by Spanish gunmakers, among others, and sold to civilians and the military - but then, counterfeiting firearms was an art form in Spain and Belgium, so it was almost a given that any successful design would be copied.

Frontiers featured the familiar S&W topbreak ejection system.

They could be fired double-action or thumb cocked, though there was no safety position and the hammer did not rebound after the trigger was released, creating a potentially unsafe situation if the gun were dropped or roughly handled.

Lockup was effected by a pair of lugs that fit into tandem notches on the cylinder. When the trigger was pulled and the cylinder rotated, the rear lug locked into the rear notch, and when the trigger was relaxed, the front lug came into play, securing the cylinder by the front notch. As the trigger was pulled for the next shot, both lugs dropped enough to allow the cylinder to rotate smoothly—all in all a well-thought-out setup.

Incidentally - the term "Model 3" refers to the largest frame size used by S&W to produce their full sized top-break cartridge revolvers.

In 1878, S&W discontinued it's other Model 3 variations in favor of a much improved design which they called the New Model Number Three, and in just a short few years, a double action model was introduced, known as, logically enough, the .44 D.A. In all it's variations, the Model 3 was the most produced and most copied large frame cartridge revolver model of the 1870-1898 era.

The New Model Number 3 was arguably the pinnacle of 19th century revolver design.

During the era their accuracy was such that they were used to set most of the target records of the time.

I've often said that one needs reference books and that 'treasures abound' and that 'Hope Springs Eternal'...

You'll find more of those true treasures when you know 'more' - and that's what just led to my finding a tight-as-a-drum, nickel-plated S&W DA .44-40 Frontier with a 5" barrel, hard rubber grips and a four-digit serial number, indicating 1886 production.

S&Ws are serial-numbered on the butt, the latch and the cylinder - and written inside the grip panels.
 

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The color looks right for that era. One indicator is the sharpness of the edge of the flutes. If it will scrape your fingernail chances are it has not been refinished. Even the factory cant refinish one without dulling that edge. Look at the frame under the grips for refinish marks.
 

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It is $1100 Out the door. The grips are not numbered to the gun. They have a different number. 11401 stamped into the wood. Are they correct for this model?
I dont knw enough about the antique DA's to render an opinion other than they are not near as popular as the big frame SA's. If you can get pics of both sides of the frame without the grips I might be able to tell more.
 

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To my eye it's a slightly enthusiastic cleaning, but I have not seeen checkered grips. Only smooth. They are the right profile but look too good. Someone tried to "smarten it up". Not a deal breaker. Moreva point of negotiation.
 

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Dogface makes some good points and I'll add just one: I have two 'Frontier' DA models in .44-40. I don't care for them much due to the 80 lb DA trigger pull. I suppose lighter springs would help and there is a little screw on the front of the grip frame I thought were to adjust the pull but I couldn't improve it. IMO, the New Model No. 3 SA was the best of the bunch even though no hump looks the best to me.
 

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It is $1100 Out the door. The grips are not numbered to the gun. They have a different number. 11401 stamped into the wood. Are they correct for this model?
The grips (and the number on them) make me think they came from a "Triple lock" 1908/1915
The price is much less than the market for an original in the condition shown.
 

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The gun is refinished. No doubt in my mind and I've collected S&W's since 1973. All the lettering and numbers are soft edged.

I agree, you can really see it in the hinge area below and forward of the cylinder.

I'd pass at $1k, these models are nothing special unless they have mucho condition. They were very slow sellers originally and were cataloged until at least 1912. The later models, post 1904 IIRC, were caliber marked like that on the left side of the barrel. Today all are considered antique under the current rules.
 

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Rick

New Model 3 View attachment 634275
See my post #10
I saw your post #10. Both the .44 DA and the New Model #3 were available with hard rubber or checkered walnut. However, the .44 HE 1st. Model (Triple Lock) was a large N-frame, square butt revolver. The .44 DA and your NM#3 are round butt frames. By the way, I love the grips on your NM3, they look "fancy" and special ordered like the lanyard ring. Do you have a Jinks letter on it?
 

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Excellent write-up Bob, well said!

Bud


Some background information...

The introduction of S&W's first large frame Break Top Double Action was in 1881, and was called the Double Action 1st Model, or New Model Navy.

This revolver was chambered in .44 Russian - a popular cartridge of the time, but the .44 WCF (.44-40) was leading that race, and the popular Winchester '73 was in wide use in the American West, so being able to pair up compatible calibers was seen as sound marketing strategy.

In an effort to capitalize on this happy idea, Smith & Wesson re-tooled, and came out with the Double Action Frontier in 1886 - chambered in .44-40, and is basically the same revolver except for a longer frame and a cylinder of 1-9/16" length.

They have their own serial number range - and topped off production with 15,340 of these revolvers - and though they were catalogued until 1912, all frames were produced prior to 1899 - making them antiques - a handy thing to know...

'Double-Action' was an idea that seemed to work well enough with pocket revolvers, but there was some hesitancy in accepting it in a large-bore version. Earlier attempts such as the Starr and Cooper were somewhat ungainly and weak by comparison, so for the most part the rugged single-action reigned supreme in the U.S. when it came to real working guns.

Unlike early Colt efforts of the 1870's, S&W's double-action mechanisms were the match of many Continental designs. In fact, some of the lockwork was pirated by Spanish gunmakers, among others, and sold to civilians and the military - but then, counterfeiting firearms was an art form in Spain and Belgium, so it was almost a given that any successful design would be copied.

Frontiers featured the familiar S&W topbreak ejection system.

They could be fired double-action or thumb cocked, though there was no safety position and the hammer did not rebound after the trigger was released, creating a potentially unsafe situation if the gun were dropped or roughly handled.

Lockup was effected by a pair of lugs that fit into tandem notches on the cylinder. When the trigger was pulled and the cylinder rotated, the rear lug locked into the rear notch, and when the trigger was relaxed, the front lug came into play, securing the cylinder by the front notch. As the trigger was pulled for the next shot, both lugs dropped enough to allow the cylinder to rotate smoothly—all in all a well-thought-out setup.

Incidentally - the term "Model 3" refers to the largest frame size used by S&W to produce their full sized top-break cartridge revolvers.

In 1878, S&W discontinued it's other Model 3 variations in favor of a much improved design which they called the New Model Number Three, and in just a short few years, a double action model was introduced, known as, logically enough, the .44 D.A. In all it's variations, the Model 3 was the most produced and most copied large frame cartridge revolver model of the 1870-1898 era.

The New Model Number 3 was arguably the pinnacle of 19th century revolver design.

During the era their accuracy was such that they were used to set most of the target records of the time.

I've often said that one needs reference books and that 'treasures abound' and that 'Hope Springs Eternal'...

You'll find more of those true treasures when you know 'more' - and that's what just led to my finding a tight-as-a-drum, nickel-plated S&W DA .44-40 Frontier with a 5" barrel, hard rubber grips and a four-digit serial number, indicating 1886 production.

S&Ws are serial-numbered on the butt, the latch and the cylinder - and written inside the grip panels.
 

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I saw your post #10. Both the .44 DA and the New Model #3 were available with hard rubber or checkered walnut. However, the .44 HE 1st. Model (Triple Lock) was a large N-frame, square butt revolver. The .44 DA and your NM#3 are round butt frames. By the way, I love the grips on your NM3, they look "fancy" and special ordered like the lanyard ring. Do you have a Jinks letter on it?
I agree.

After an image search, they look like early 44DA grips. (11xxx # inside grips.) Not remodeled N frames.

My NM 3 letters as "Japanese Artillery Model" . Shipped 1889
I believe the grips are the standard Walnut available at the time.
The lanyard ring was probably added later but it is probably S&W manufacture.
I had a standard commercial model with the same grips.
 

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the caliber marking, the logo on the frame and the high serial # suggest circa 1900.
They were not shipped in numerical order so you need a factory letter to be sure
total prod 53,590 1881/1913
 
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