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So I bought this today on impulse. But now I can say I own a model 3. It said it was from 1888. Barrels cut. The trigger and hand both work. The cylinder turns (roughly) but the stop is broken. I wish the extractor worked, if nothing else I just love those extractors. But I still think it’s pretty neat, a 250 dollar wall hanger but I like the sense of history I feel holding it. What would it cost to restore something like this?
468865
 

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Before you do anything you should remove the stocks and give it a good soak in a penetrating oil. Restoration is difficult parts are rare. Soaking it my loosen up stuck parts. My 38-44 target is in good shape the Russian is in poor shape barrel latch and hammer notches. There is a gentleman in Montana that has shown his efforts on this forum to restore them. He has talent as a machinist and makes the missing parts. It would be good for you to look up his posts in the antique section. You have a nice example of an old piece regardless
So I bought this today on impulse. But now I can say I own a model 3. It said it was from 1888. Barrels cut. The trigger and hand both work. The cylinder turns (roughly) but the stop is broken. I wish the extractor worked, if nothing else I just love those extractors. But I still think it’s pretty neat, a 250 dollar wall hanger but I like the sense of history I feel holding it. What would it cost to restore something like this? View attachment 468865
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info, I was looking around online and saw that dismantling and soaking in oil could fix a lot of the the function issues.
 

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Ed's red is a mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid, and possibly an additional ingredient in equal parts fairly cheap let it soak for a while maybe you will get lucky.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
They had a few of those at gun store yesterday, one was in great condition nickel was in good shape and the extractor worked. Brought a smile to my face even though I didn’t buy it. I’ll definitely try soaking it before anything else. Any recommendations on what oil to use?
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Soak it in auto transmission fluid for about a week. Get some aerosol auto parts/carb/brake cleaner and flush it thoroughly through the hammer and trigger openings. Flush the ejector housing as best you can.

From the looks of that housing and the square butt, it's a 1st model and probably an American. Does it have an oil weep hole on the bottom of the housing? Is it stamped Russian on the top strap? What variety .44 is it -- American or Russian. If the cylinder has a "step" in it, it is Russian. If drilled straight through, it's American.

Did the gun store make you fill out a 4473? It's an antique and not required to even go into their books much less bother ATF about it.

Here's my younger sister from 1874.
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Soak it in auto transmission fluid for about a week. Get some aerosol auto parts/carb/brake cleaner and flush it thoroughly through the hammer and trigger openings. Flush the ejector housing as best you can.

From the looks of that housing and the square butt, it's a 1st model and probably an American. Does it have an oil weep hole on the bottom of the housing? Is it stamped Russian on the top strap? What variety .44 is it -- American or Russian. If the cylinder has a "step" in it, it is Russian. If drilled straight through, it's American.

Did the gun store make you fill out a 4473? It's an antique and not required to even go into their books much less bother ATF about it.

Here's my younger sister from 1874.
thanks for all the helpful info! They did make me do paperwork which didn’t sound right when I bought it. I looked into it the next day and called after becoming more familiar with atf regulation and told em I didn’t need paperwork (the kids at the store were clueless, they have a case of old top break 32s and other stuff and I doubt they’ve ever sold one of the antiques) they called the manager and said it’s “store policy”. I kinda wanted my background check money back. In any case I have to wait till Friday to pick it up. I’ve been dragging my feet on that ccw and the office that handles the prints closed, soon as they open I’m putting my app in. I’ll get all the info and some more pics of it as soon I get it home. The top strap is stamped in English, the tag on it said Russian 44. It would certainly be exciting if it was a first model!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I do know the cylinders and barrel are pretty rusty, should I clean them out and try to remove the rust?
 

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Your gun is definitely a .44 Number 3, First Model Russian commercial model made between 1871-1874. Also known as the Old, Old Russian model. This gun is the design that the Russian Archduke used to kill a bison and cause Russia to buy almost all of S&W's production for the next 15 years. These guns were in the serial number range of 6000-32800. It probably had an 8" barrel before someone shortened it. If you soak it like suggested above, you should be able to clean a lot of the rust, dust and grime out of it. If you look on the top of the top strap forward of the rear sight, there is a screw there that holds down the cylinder stop which is a flat spring with a lip that sits right above the cylinder below the rear sight and keeps the cylinder from sliding rearward off the center pin. If you loosen that screw, you should be able to pull the cylinder free so it can be cleaned separately. Make sure you use a quality screwdriver that fits in the slot or you can damage the screw head. After all this time, it may be rusted to the top strap so don't force it. It is worth cleaning it as thoroughly as possible to stop the rusting even if you don't ever get to shoot it. You can get an inexpensive, decent cleaning kit at most gun shops or sports stores.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Wow thanks for all the information sir, I really appreciate it. There’s surprising little info online about these that I could find. I have all they cleaning stuff needed. The screws are pretty buggered on it. I’ve got all the cleaning stuff needed except maybe some 44 brushes and mops. This is my 5th S&W and I’ve looked at a bunch and seems like ones with good screws are hard to come by. I read that the old 1st model 3 in 44 Russian was kinda rare compared to 44 American any truth to that?
 

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There were a few more 1st model Americans made than Russians but they pull the same values for comparable condition. UNLESS you get an Army model American which tends to draw more in original condition. A 1st model Russian in poor condition values at $900. I think you got a pretty good deal.

There are books out there on the early big calibre top breaks. I believe Roy Jinks wrote one a few decades back. A very good resource on S&W guns is the Standard Catalog of S&W, 4th Edition by Supina and Nahas. You can get it in hard copy and digital forms. I find the digital version to be invaluable...and it's cheaper.
 

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I was looking to get the catalog, the digital version sounds helpful for checking in stores and shows. $30 seems kinda high for a digital book though. Wow $900 really? I was a little worried I got smoked because of the condition. I got a decent handle on the prices of the post war guns but I don’t know as much about the old old ones.
 

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I was looking to get the catalog, the digital version sounds helpful for checking in stores and shows. $30 seems kinda high for a digital book though. Wow $900 really? I was a little worried I got smoked because of the condition. I got a decent handle on the prices of the post war guns but I don’t know as much about the old old ones.
It really isn't that much about what many books are and if you are like many of us you will spend plenty of time checking things out. We have the digital version here and it is one you can get lost in for a bit of time.
 

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So I picked it up today. I tried to get detailed pics. It’s a Russian I’m pretty confident, the step is subtle but I think it’s there. I’m going to clean up the chambers. No oil weep hole. Serial number is 3100 range. There seems to be a piece missing from the frame to the ratcheting washer (?idk the term). I figured thats my ejector problem. I haven’t had a chance to mess with it further but will tonight.
 

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