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The Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

13497 Views 26 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  MOONDAWG
I came across the Model of 1950 .44 Special Target revolver about a year or so ago. It was owned by a Good friend of mine who has One of every Target sighted revolver S&W ever made and as Luck would have it for me, he had Two of these. We Often get into deep discussion's of different calibers and The.44 Magnum Came up.

He shared with me that the reason the .44 Magnum was born in 1956 was because of the Dare devils like Elmer Keith & Skeeter Skelton had taken the .44 Special to the veloicties of the .44 Magnum Came to be when it was developed in 1956 by expanding on the Vintage .44 Special Cartridge to Absurd levels while shooting the Earlier Triple Lock revolvers. Of The Three series of the target triple Lock's for this Upper load testing of the .44 Special their favorite One happened to be the final third series.

After much Coaxing from Elmer Keith and His Associates S&W during their World-War II Time Lull, of Building Civilain Revolver's it was decided to revamp The Third series triple lock and Give these dare devils what they yearned for. This involved Building a Ribbed barrel, a short throw action only used Previously on the K-22's Built in 1940 along with and enclosed extractor shrouded area of the barrel a feature only seen on Triple locks and Pervious .357 Magnums of the Late 1930's.

By 1948 The Factory was working feverishly on this new model tooling up for it and in September 1950 They released The Model of 1950 Forth series Hand Eject Target revolver in .44 Special. It was a slow Mover at first for sales But their dare Devil crowd did not fail them and these elite Men formed a special group that shot the caliber and expanded on it to levels seen later only met with the Fierce .44 magnum Cartridge. This group was called "The Associates" and was combined of High score shooter's & Cartridge Re-loaders the Likes of Elmer Keith, Phil Sharpe, Townsend Whelen, John Lachuk, Earl Naramore, P.O. Ackley, F.W. Mann, and Julian Hatcher. Theses Guys were all Avid top Notch re-loaders & Very Serious Target shooters in the day, and to them the model of 1950 was a welcome note for serious Big Bore target shooting.

By the Mid 1950's Sales for the .44 Special Cartridge Target Model of 1950 Target Revolver's were still slow so the experimental Team at S&W who were working with Elmer Keith on his recent Hot load findings in the .44 Special Cartridge commissioned Remington Arms to see if they would Build the New then .44 Magnum Cartridge Keith had so Longed for. Remington agreed to Build the Cartridge after S&W sent them an Experimental Hand Gun to test the load with, I suspect this revolver was or may have been a Special prepared Model of 1950 as I have read it had a special Heat treating done to it to endure the Higher Magnum pressures of the .44 Magnum round So In 1956 The Mighty .44 Magnum was Born and released to the Public.

It was a Huge success, and Sales remained soft for the Grand Daddy .44 Special cartridge revolvers that it derived from & Ironically, The Cartridge that Spurred the Birth of The Mighty .44 Magnum would later Face it's demise in 1967 S&W Dropped The Model of 1950 in .44 Special with Just 5,050 total Built through it's 17 Year span.

Below is The Model of 1950 That shipped Just Four short Months after it's introduction of The Model of 1950 being in January 1951. It is a special Order revolver with It has a Full Target Option applied to it, along with it's special high Polished Bluing finish for that time frame that was Not Common or standard and it is early enough in the series that it has The Transition Piece Being The Mushroom style Cylinder Extractor Knob we saw on the Pre-War Third series Triple Locks and The factory Box it shipped in was a left over Third series Triple Lock Model of 1926 .44 Special Model box with The New Model of 1950 .44 Special target sticker affixed to it. It is clear that S&W Wasted Nothing along the way that could be used. Regards, Hammerdown

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Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Outstanding Kurt !!!

Thats a real prize !! That gun with the rich blueing is something special , and the box as well !!

Well Done !!! :cool:
Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Very nice, Kurt!
Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the history lesson.. :clap:
Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Kirt that was an extremely well written article. You brought back names from my youth, well done. :)
Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Thanks for the kind words. According to the factory Letter I received with this revolver it shipped to H.D. Folsom Arms in new York City. They were a Large Sporting goods store that Bought out the Crescent Arms shot gun company and distributed their gun's back in the late 1800's.The Owners Son apparently was the last owner of that store and he died in 1951 Three years after this gun shipped there. Below is a link to Lloyd Folsom son of the founder of Folsom Arms and it shows a lot of family History about him, but I have not found out if the store is still there or in business but I suspect not. Apparently it was Two doors down from Remington Arms Corp. New York City Location and very close to John Jovino's shop as well. Regards, Hammerdown
Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Great gun and box Kurt!! The test revolver (there may have been more than one) that was sent to C. G. Peterson, Manager of Product Services at Remington Arms, is a 1950 Target 44, 4-inch barrel, blue finish, chambered to fire the 44 Magnum. It has serial number S121839. This revolver was given to Jack Behn of Trumbull, CT, who had it in his collection until it was stolen in 1972 along with several other handguns. Unfortunately, this historic revolver was never recovered.

I met Mr. Behn at the NRA meeting in Kansas City in 2001 and he told me this story and later sent me a copy of the list of guns stolen. Mr. Behn was also a friend of Bill Ruger and worked for Ruger for a time in the late 60s. One of the guns stolen was a Ruger Blackhawk .357, serial number 100, that was engraved and inscribed on the right side of the frame and fitted with ivory grips (see Dougan's new book, page 229). Fortunately, it was recovered and returned to Mr. Behn.

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Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Hello Bill
Excellent Pertinent Information about the early History of the .44's. I always like to hear more about the classic calibers. Regards, Hammerdown
Re: The sadly, Forgotten model of 1950 .44 Special Target

Excellent story and gun!!
Nice Gun! :D
Very nice! What a beauty!

That is my favorite S&W revolver model of all time! :mrgreen:
Stocks, hammer, trigger, sights, finish - it's got it all!

That's a beautiuful gun, and one you'll really enjoy shooting.
Great post/gun/pics/info. Thanks much.
You don't see blueing like that every day.
Those 1950s are too good to forget Kurt, congratulations. Frank
My brother tells me I'm missing something by not trying a 44 Special. Maybe he's right
My brother tells me I'm missing something by not trying a 44 Special. Maybe he's right
Hello Azmick
I have Not shot my 29 Loaded down to .44 special velocities , so this will be a some what new Venture for me. I once had a 624 in .44 Special but due to the Hype of the cylinder having problems I swapped it off for my 4" Nickel Model 57 before shooting it. I have Loaded some round's using Blue Dot Powder per the load Manuel at 9.2 Grains Behind a Hornady 240 Grain Semi-Wad cutter bullet to try this one out as soon as it warms up here a Bit. I feel this Load should work well with this revolver and Powder combination as I have heard of other's using it as Well. Thanks for all the Kind words, I can tell you looking close at this one they sure don't make them like this one any more...Bill Cross was a big Help to me on the Research of the caliber and in telling me who was behind the Birth of the .44 Magnum round being the Elite group called "The Associates".. Hammerdown
Azmick, your Brother is correct. The .44 Special is Special. Frank
This is my 1950 Target. It also has the bright blue finish. It shipped in 1952 to Mr. John Amber of Chicago Illinois. Mr. Amber was the editor of Gun Digest for many years.

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You guys are giving me a case of the wants showing all these nice .44s thanks for sharing. Frank
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