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Should I letter the pre 19?


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Discussion Starter #1
Some of you may remember my recent posts about this gun. It’s a very unique, perhaps one of a kind gun. It’s a nickel frame with a blued barrel pre model 19. Big deal right? A mismatched replacement part or a strange choice of refinish. But here’s where it gets interesting, if the barrel was reblued it was done at the factory. All the numbers match and everything is stamped appropriately. N on the nickel parts and B on the barrel with the open diamond. Ah ha you might say, the diamond indicates a refinish. But there’s no rework dates and according to the S&W standard catalog it can also indicate something special order like barrel length...or a special ordered finish. All the markings are crisp and clear. So do I roll the dice and contact Mr. Jinks because The real question is did it ship originally with the barrel or was it sent back to be done? It’s a early pre 19, I think in the first 5,000 (Serial # 2644xx) if this was a special order item well than it truly maybe a one of a kind two tone combat magnum.
 

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Sounds to me like the factory either rebarreled it, or as you said, it was a special order. Either way it is unique but wouldnt think the factory would have done that without a request of or permission of the gun owner. If sent back in the early to mid 80's its possible that they had no nickel barrels and werent planning to do more of them in nickle so the only choice was blued, and they were no longer doing a date stamp on the grip frame. You already know the only way to find out.
 

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My guess is that the barrel was changed out by the owner at the time. I've done similar things to one of my model 36's, and a model 60 as well.
I certainly wouldn't spend anything to find out if it was shipped from the factory that way, or not. You'll never recover the cost of the letter when the gun gets sold.
The gun with the blued barrel won't bring any more money than it would bring if it's all the same finish.
Unique, yes. More valuable, no.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds to me like the factory either rebarreled it, or as you said, it was a special order. Either way it is unique but wouldnt think the factory would have done that without a request of or permission of the gun owner. If sent back in the early to mid 80's its possible that they had no nickel barrels and werent planning to do more of them in nickle so the only choice was blued, and they were no longer doing a date stamp on the grip frame. You already know the only way to find out.
Did Smith not do nickel finishes in the 80s? I don’t think it’s an 80s replacement barrel because it has the lazy &. I don’t know when they stopped using it exactly but I know by the early 70s they were using the different ones.


My guess is that the barrel was changed out by the owner at the time. I've done similar things to one of my model 36's, and a model 60 as well.
I certainly wouldn't spend anything to find out if it was shipped from the factory that way, or not. You'll never recover the cost of the letter when the gun gets sold.
The gun with the blued barrel won't bring any more money than it would bring if it's all the same finish.
Unique, yes. More valuable, no.
Well I’m new but it seems to me if it was some kind of special order that initially shipped it would be worth more than a refinished gun. It seems any unusual configuration that’s confirmed with a letter brings more money than an after market modification. I don’t think I’m going to strike rich off the gun even if it shipped this way and of course you’d have to find a buyer who cares that it’s a one off. Factory pintos seem to bring in extra. Of course I’m biased and hope I have something special here which may not be the case.
 

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That looks like a 3 inch barrel on that gun. If so you better get a letter. Could be worth $3,500 according to the SCSW fourth edition.

Guy
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Hope I didn’t come off petulant in my comment, it wasn’t my intention. I wish it was a 3”er. That’s one of my dream guns but it’s a standard 4” square butt.
 

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Has anybody over at the blue forum offered to buy it from you? I'd still letter it. Because if it letters , it's worth substantially more than a a pre model 19.

Guy
 
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It would never leave the factory like that. I'd say its a rebuild from a gun smith. Smith Wesson would not do work like that .. Don't waste you money on the letter ...
 

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I don't know what it is, but something just isn't clicking with this. It's definitely not a pinto. It's also not a configuration I've seen in 40+ years around these guns. Folks "in the know" are fond of saying that anything is possible with S&W, and I agree. But there are still limits as far as aesthetics and possible configurations, and this sure pushes the envelope.
There just aren't enough photos to give a complete opinion of what OP has. One question I didn't see answered was - did you give us the right serial number? The only "legal" (i.e., definitive) one is on the bottom of the grip frame. For this or any Combat Magnum or "pre-19" it should begin with a K. I also can't tell for certain that it has the 4th screw in front of the trigger guard. I don't like to go by what I "think" I see.
Bottom line is that I personally would like to see more detailed photos. As to whether or not a letter is warranted is a tough call. I think better documentation or provenance is more important than that. After all, if this gun had been returned to the factory for work, a letter won't show any of that. Mr. Jinks' records only cover original configuration when it left the factory, so if there's the slightest indication that this combination came afterward, a letter will not prove satisfactory. All you will be left with is a "weird" combination that people will either love or hate. Frankly, it's not something I'd put in my collection. I suspect that might be a common reaction without some strong proof that this wasn't a "mechanic's special." I sincerely wish you good luck with it. You never know, might fool all of us!
 

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I letter all of my 4-screw and 5-screw revolvers. I would letter this one since it is a 5-screw + the pinto look. JMO.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I did give the correct serial number I didn’t add the K but yes it starts with a K. K2644xx. On the butt, the cylinder and the barrel. Here’s the thing I firmly believe whether at the beginning or returned it did leave the factory with the blue barrel. I can provide some more pictures when I get home of rollmarks and everything else. The serial number is stamped everywhere including the barrel. The barrel also has the B for blue and the open diamond which can indicate rework, parts on hand or special order according to the page from the S&W standard catalog I posted above. That’s why I don’t think it was a gun smith job because if it was it was done expertly! The roll marks are crisp and clear. If it was a replacement barrel than not only did he stamp the serial number in there but the blue and the diamond before high polish bluing because the markings have been blued. If your going to go to that effort and expense...why not just have it nickel plated to match? I don’t think it was just cobbled together from an available blued barrel. It is a 4 screw pre 19. There’s no model markings and it’s in the correct serial number range as several other nickel pre 19s. As far as the aesthetics go, I was not very fond of the gun when I got it, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not big on the pintos either but their is no accounting for taste, somebody in 1955 might have thought a two tone combat magnum (which was brand new at the time) was the bees knees. I wanted a pre 19 was getting a 29 and some credit in a trade and he had this pre 19. I talked with the seller who is a pretty knowledgeable fellow himself. He said it’d most likely letter as nickel gun and didn’t know what to make of it either. I didn’t expect much from the gun and it wasn’t till I got it that I started really thinking it might factory or at the very least from the factory. I have not had any offers to buy it nor have I posted it for sale on either forum. I did post it for trade locally not for sale though. I didn’t expect a response I just do that with pretty much every gun I get. I’m always trying to turn guns into better guns. It’s a very strange gun that clearly gets a reaction.
 

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Yeah. DHSTHEIV, do a google search on Model 19 pinto and you'll find the thread on the Blue Forum called The Ultimate Pinto thread. There is at least one gun pictured in that thread with just a nickel cylinder, and it letters as leaving the factory that way. If S&W would do it for just a cylinder, why not for just a barrel? As Doc says, your gun is highly desired to begin with and should be lettered just to get max value out of it. Letters are only $100. That's a night out at a fancy restaurant with your main squeeze, or a couple of boxes of .44 Magnums at the range.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the heads up Guy, I think I found the thread but didn’t go through all the posts so I’ll look that up for sure. It seems like that era of gun making at S&W was great because you could really get exactly what you wanted. If you had the dough it seems like you could order dang near anything. I seriously doubt if someone was willing to pay for just the barrel to be blued they would say no. I have a pre 27 and the action is so sweet on it I thought it had work done on it and my buddy I got it from said well that’s just how those earlier guns are. I’d been looking for a 19 and now I wanted a combat magnum hoping the action would be just as sweet (it is if not better, so smooth). I would have preferred an all blue or nickel gun but this is what my friend had in stock and I only live a couple hours from Fords so I figured I’d re nickel it. Then I got it and I’m mildly obsessed with the mystery. I know if it was sent back for the blue job a letter would not confirm this. Here’s some more pictures with better detail and if any one is interested in any specific detail that might shed some light on the situation I can provide more. Of particular note is how crisp the rollmarks on the barrel are and the lazy &.
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Discussion Starter #15
The barrel appears darker in the photos than in person. I’m not a 100% on how to adjust the camera settings. In person it’s a nice blue we all know and love and matches pretty consistently with my other guns. It’s also got the early walnut targets and they are stamped with ink on the inside of both, they have a slight palm swell. I’m not claiming they’re the super rare and perhaps mythical K frame cokes but you can feel it compared to later targets. Over all the gun is in very good shape, it has minor surface scratches and I’m not going to risk trying to buff em out. There’s a little wear at the muzzle I think perhaps it saw some holster time.
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The extra pictures are good and makes the revolver more interesting. I can't see the letter B in the ejector cutout under the barrel but it's there you say so yes I would letter it or at least give S&W a call. Maybe it was a special order?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
You know I had thought about calling them, it definitely can’t hurt to give it a try. I had a hard time getting it to show up clearly but it’s there. Here’s a better one with the diamond. I finally got to take it out yesterday and shoot it. One of kind collectors item or just an eclectic gun some bubba put together whatever the case may be the gun is a FANTASTIC shooter. The trigger is so smooth which is why I really wanted a pre 19. I tried out the Combat magnum, my new 29-2 and took out my other revolvers and man I was on fire yesterday. At the end of the day no matter how valuable it does what it was made to do perfectly.
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