Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday Smith #10: Model 1955 .45 Target, 1956
During World War One, the shortage of M1911 semiautomatic pistols forced the US Army to seek alternative handguns. One source they turned to was Smith & Wesson, who adapted their large N-frame hand ejectors to fire the standard military .45ACP round, using spring steel "moon clips" to allow the revolver's ejector to work with the rimless autopistol cartridges.
The revolvers were popular on the surplus market into the post-WWII era, and were sometimes converted into target pistols by their owners by the simple expedient of installing a set of adjustable sights. Smith & Wesson got into that market themselves in 1950, offering a version of the big .45ACP revolver with S&W's fine micro-adjustable factory target sights, as well as an oversized target trigger and hammer and large, hand-filling target stocks.
For 1955, a new model was added, referred to as the "1955 .45 Target Model". The standard barrel was a 6.5" untapered heavy barrel, giving a slightly nose-heavy feel in the hand and further dampening the recoil of the .45ACP, already mild in the big-frame Smith. After only two years of production, Smith and Wesson went to model numbers instead of the old name designations, and the "1955 .45 Target Model" became the "Model 25".
The revolver pictured above dates to 1956, one of those early pre-Model Number guns, and was purchased at a dealer in Spring of '05 for $425, which even at the time was well under market value. It was just sitting unnoticed in his showcase, surrounded by newer and flashier long-barreled stainless guns. Even the most wretched specimen of this 5-screw target N-frame will fetch almost $300, and a completely pristine example with box & docs could bring a grand or more at auction. Look for street prices in the $600-$700 range on an excellent condition shooter like the pictured example.
(For those just thinking about getting into S&W collecting, the finding of this gun is an example of why it's fun. This was "Corvette in a barn" stuff; the kind of find that has a Smith nut laying awake with the sweats the night before a gun show...)