In 1964 Remington and Smith & Wesson answered the demands of handloaders and wildcatters by launching the new .41 Remington Magnum cartridge. The .41 Magnum began life with a split personality, with two types of loads being offered. The first, a 210 grain lead bullet at just under 1000 feet per second, was intended to be a police loading that offered a larger and heavier bullet than the .357 Magnum or .38 Special, but without the muzzle blast and recoil penalties of the .44 Magnum. The second loading pushed a jacketed hollowpoint of the same weight to some 1300fps, and was designed for hunting deer-sized game.
To go along with the new cartridge, S&W debuted a pair of new revolvers. There was the Model 58, which was a fixed-sight piece that looked like a Military & Police on steroids, and the Model 57, which was a heavy-barreled adjustable sight model that was added to their premium lineup which at that time consisted of the Model 27 .357 Magnum and Model 29 .44 Magnum revolvers. Like the other two, it enjoyed an extra bit of polishing and attention to detail coming off the production line.
Unfortunately, this was during the era of Smith & Wesson's ownership by the Bangor Punta conglomerate (a gunsmith of my acquaintance swears that "Bangor Punta" is Spanish for "toolmark") and by 1969, cost cutting ensured that the extra fine finishes on the 27, 29, and 57 would be no more; collectors will pay a premium for the early examples, easily identified by their "S" serial number prefixes.
The revolver pictured above began life as a fairly generic Bangor Punta-era Model 57, with the standard six inch barrel and square-butt frame. Its previous owner subjected the gun to radical elective surgery:
- The 6" tube was removed and a factory 4" barrel was ordered and sent to Mag-Na-Port for quad porting.
- The action was slicked up considerably, while the hammer spur was removed and the serrated target trigger was replaced with a smooth combat trigger.
- The frame was altered to a round-butt profile, and the serrations on the rear of the frame were meticulously re-cut to give it a factory appearance.
- The front sight was machined for an orange insert.
- A hardwood Hogue Monogrip was fitted.
- The whole gun was finished to a non-glare matte blue.
The result is a one-of-a-kind fighting sixgun. Ironically, however, such is the nature of collectible guns and custom work that if the gun were in pristine original shape, as a "Pinned & Recessed" Model 57, it would bring almost as much money in resale as it would after megabucks were spent tuning it up; the moral being that if you are going to customize a gun, customize it for yourself and forget about realizing a profit. A like-new-in-box Model 57 could command over $600 (well over, if it's an "S" prefix) at auction today; plan on spending $300-$400 for a good shooter.