The Amazing S&W Model of 1991 Single shot Target Pistol

Discussion in 'Smith & Wesson' started by Hammer Down, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. Hammer Down

    Hammer Down G&G Addict

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    The Amazing S&W Model of 1891 Single shot Target Pistol

    Hi
    I have wanted to add a S&W Model of 1891 Single shot Pistol to my existing collection for a while now, but due to Their Rarity and Price when you do find a Nice one, they are normally in Excess of $2000.00 due to their age and the Lower production figures of them. I found the One shown at Cabellas of Reno, Nevada, Last February the Night of The Super Bowl. It was apparent Cabellas had no clue what they had here as it's price was $599.00 and these Typically run in Excess of $1300.00 in this shape with a 10" Barrel, and this one is Rare due to the short 6" Barrel on it as most shipped with a 10" Barrel's so that would Indeed Push the Price of them up to around $2000.00-$2500.00 if you could find one.
    I Purchased this One, less than 24 Hours after they Listed it and was very skeptical of what I would be getting until it was in my hand for a close inspection. The barrel was my Main concern as I have seen Many of these with Cut Barrel's, but when this one showed up, I was Pleased to see it was in great original shape unaltered. The Guns serial number indicates that This one shipped February 1904 and it is in Good shape for 106 Year old Gun
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    I have a very Good friend who is into these single shot target Pistols Heavy, So I turn to him for Reference and Guidance when i Need him. Once this arrived we set up a meeting at his home where he could see this taret Pistol up close and Personal. After he looked it over close he left the room and returned with a large Cardboard box. He then gave me Five extra Brand new barrels that he has had for well over 35 Years and they were just sitting in the old cardboard box. The deal was they were a Gift so long as I Put some of them to good use. As you would suspect, The Parts and Barrels for these Well Over a Century old & are Scarce, Very Scarce.
    I worked out a deal to get Two of these Barrels up and Running. The Two I had decided to get worked over are shown below being The Very Rare Olympic Chambered .22 L. R. Barrel that is the Very top one shown in the Five Barrel picture, still in The white. That Barrel had to be finished by Polishing & Fitting it to my Pistol Frame. It required a Special style Target Gun latch assembly that Includes The adjustable sights.
    These special Olympic Chambered style Barrels were made to shoot in The United States Olympics Teams, and WON. They Take a .22 Round down into their chamber till it get's about an 3/8" from seating fully. You must then Push the Bullet very hard the rest of the way to seat it before firing. This in Essence Drives the lead Portion of the nose of the bullet down into The barrels rifling making them Unequaled to any Other barrel as far as accuracy goes as there is No Bullet jump when the Cartridge is Fired.
    The difference between the 6" .22 L. R. Barrel performance wise compared to the Olympic Chambered barrels is the 6" Barrel will get the Pistol's shot's into the ten ring area and The Olympic Barrel will make One Very small Hole with the shots fired. They are that good and Super rare to find as not many were made like this as there was not a huge call for Olympic shooter barrels back then.
    The Other Barrel I had Put together is the 8" .32 S&W caliber barrel. It has it's extractor all ready in place, so that eliminates Milling new parts for that area as these were all hand fitted for precision working of it after the Rough machining Process was done at the factory. I decided to keep The 6" .32 S&W caliber barrel as the .32 round is my Favorite caliber and much more accurate than the larger .38 S&W round, and should anything ever happen to the 8" .32 S&W Caliber barrel.
    The .38 S&W round is slower than a Freight train and Bullets are harder to find as they are larger in Diameter than the later .38 Special Caliber bullets and the cases can even be a Real challenge to locate as the .32 S&W cases and ammo is still being made and sold, so they are available today and I all ready have a Boat Load of .32 Bullets to use in that round.
    I Located a Guy that still works on these and Makes Parts for them. His Name is David Chicoine of Gastonia, Nortth Carolina & He is the one that shared with me, that The target style barrel catches are as rare as Hen's Teeth and currently he only has ONE In stock and has not seen another in over 10 Years of servicing this model, so I will have to switch Latch assemblies from the Olympic chamber barrel of 10" length back over to my Original 6" .22 LR Barrel should I decided to fire it again which is only One crew so it's no Big Deal.
    You can find Ton's of the fixed sighted Barrel catches out there But the target style has the groove cut for the rear adjustable sight blade and the Two small Micro screws used to adjust the sights are in place as well, and would be tough and expensive to duplicate.
    When I started into this project in Early March, I had No Earthy idea these Part's were so hard to come by, so I have to narrow the field of what we can get together and get fully Functional here, so that is why I had the 10" Olympic Barrel Put together with Part's this guy has on hand along with His LONE Target sight style Barrel Catch, and sadly my Existing .22 L. R. 6" Barrel will have to be the Part's Donor to get the 8" .32 S&W Long Barrel complete as all The part's in my 22 Barrel will switch over onto my .32 barrel with ease.
    As you would suspect with all This hand Fitting,Comes a Huge labor and or Part's Bill, so The extra Barrels I have shown Other than the 6" .32 Barrel, were Traded to pay for the work he completes on this project. I had him finish Polish and Fit the In The white Olympic Barrel and Blue it as He is The Best as far as Meticulous work on these Older S&W handguns. I have seen his work and no one can come close to his quality as he Match's The factory finish perfectly.
    Recently, while researching this gun and after contacting The factory Historion I did find out there Is a Certain mystery about this Pistol that at this time can not be explained... :confused: The Mystery is that It's serial number falls into the Late First series serial Bank of numbers, Yet It is clearly a Second Variation series single shot Pistol evident to the Missing Recoil shields that the first series had. It get's better... It was Not Uncommon for S&W to Mill off the recoil shields of First series Pistols to use up existing Frames of that Period Just Prior to the release of the second series variation of them..
    "Waste Not, Want Not" I Guess.
    If this had been the case with this Pistol, having a first series serial number, it would still have the cylinder hand window present along with the Hole in the bottom of the frame for the cylinder stop as the first series was nothing more than a .38 Single shot Tip up Model revolver Forth variation Missing Just the cylinder. To make this easier to understand if you are not Familiar with These Pistols, S&W used a single shot .38 S&W Caliber revolver frame with The first series that came out in 1891 and it had all The Internals of a Tip Up .38 Single shot revolver Including a Working visible cylinder Hand, that did nothing in the single shots as the cylinder was Missing, But came out when you cocked back the hammer showing through the Hand slot cut in the rear of the frame along with a cylinder stop that was frame mounted in the bottom of the frame, and was visible but lacked it's coil spring that would have made it Protrude up and out of the Lower frame section if the spring was Present.
    All one had to do with the First series single shot Pistols is install it's original revolver cylinder, you now have a revolver.. Cool Huh ? Now, when they designed the second series variation of which mine is, They left out all the Internals that would have made this model a revolver meaning The cylinder hand and cylinder stop. They also did Not Machine out the slot window for the hand which would have been in the recoil shield, nor did they machine out the slot for the cylinder stop Off center and back a bit on the lower frame area where mine clearly has a slotted screw installed ahead of where the cylinder stop would have been on the first series guns.
    All These second Variation Pistols had for Internals were a Hammer, Trigger and Main spring, That's it. That is why the second series is so sought after as they were very simple and a lot smoother in action and trigger due to less parts involved, as the Third Variation was a double action single shot Pistol different from these. These changes were Imposed on all Second variations Pistols according to all The Reference books and experts..HMMM..
    BUT, Not this one. Mine has The Physical changes mentioned above for the second series Pistols as shown below, meaning No cylinder hand slot, nor cylinder stop slot in the Lower frame seen in the Original First Model of 1891 single shot Pistols, {Mine has a screw there as shown}, But here is the Kicker... It's serial number stamped by the factory is defiantley a First series serial number and it has been proven that this Gun shipped Two Full Years Before the BIRTH of The Second series single shot Pistols.
    {See the serial Number Picture below, the last Number on my serial sequence whited out on the Picture of the Gun & It is clearly showing a Twenty One Thousand serial Bank from The First series guns} for Reference. Now, I will have to apply for a Historical S&W Factory letter on this this Gun, to see perhaps if it may have been a Proto-Type as it has clearly shown to have shipped February 1904 with it's factory serial numbers shown and as I have mentioned the second series Pistol was not Born until The spring of 1906....
    In Conclusion here, I Nor the Factory Historion can Not explain why it is a First series style gun or Place the first series serial number as they always stamp The serial Numbers LAST when Making Guns At this Point we both strongly suspect this pistol was either a Rare Proto-Type gun or Possibly a Salesman sample to be shown to S&W stocking dealers prior to it's factory release date of production. I will eventually have it factory lettered to help solve this Mystery.
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    I opened my mail Box on Thursday of this week and found a little surprise in there. David Chicoine had finally finished my Rare .22 L.R. Olympic chamber Barrel after having it 6 Months. Shown below is it on my frame with my Three barrel set now. The Olympic chamber barrel requires you to Push the lead bullet down into the rifling of the barrel or simply close up the action. That way there is no Bullet jump and supreme accuracy is the result. I can't want to fire this one..
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    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  2. Absolutely a great find!! What a piece of art you have for a great price!
     

  3. Hammer Down

    Hammer Down G&G Addict

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    Hello K75RT
    I appreciate your Kind words. Since I Placed the Post on it, I was able to get on the range and fire it with the Rare Olympic chamber barrel. shown below is a Target I fired 6 shot's at using Winchester standard Velocity Target ammo. I was shocked but Not surprised at this barrels accuracy. This was shot at the 20 Yard line off sand bags. Now, I have to try it off hand like the picture below shows the Olympic shooter's shooting them at the Stockholm Olympic's in 1911....
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