Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Smith #25: Model 624, 1985


Smith & Wesson introduced the .44 Special cartridge along with the New Century model (also known as the "Triple Lock") in 1908. It was the debut chambering for their new, large "N-frame" Hand Ejectors. Created by stretching the .44 Russian cartridge case roughly an additional .19", the new round gained acclaim as a powerful revolver cartridge and sold well for many years.

It didn't take long for handloaders to vastly exceed the original factory velocity and energy numbers of the cartridge, and by the mid-1950s, S&W had released their own hot-rodded version as a new chambering: the slightly-lengthened ".44 Magnum". From that point forward, .44 Special sales began to taper off. By 1967, the last .44 Special revolvers were dropped from the S&W catalog.

As so often happens, nostalgia appeared ten minutes too late to save slumping sales, but by the early 1980s letters, phone calls, and wistful gun magazine articles caused Smith to reintroduce the old chambering. Not only was the adjustable-sight N-frame Model 24 re-released in 1983, but in a new twist for the old cartridge, a stainless version was introduced in 1985: The Model 624.

Retaining the classic tapered-barrel lines of the original, the 624 was initially offered with a 4" or 6.5" barrel and shrouded ejector rod. Like all stainless Smiths of the era, the gun sported a flash-chromed trigger and hammer; the finish was a lightly brushed bare stainless. Sights were adjustable, and the frontstrap and backstrap of the grip were serrated. Additionally, a special run of 5000 3" guns sporting red ramp/white outline sights was manufactured for the famous distributor Lew Horton between '85 and '87; these shipped with a fitted holster and were destined to be much sought-after. In 1988, the .44 Special again temporarily disappeared from the catalog with the demise of the 624.

The 624 featured above was purchased in 2002 as part of a three gun set; a local seller was offering the 3", 4", and 6.5" guns, all Like New In Box, at $1000 for all three. I couldn't pass the deal up, although I knew I'd only be keeping one of them. Eventually, I used the two longer-barreled guns as trading fodder and kept the 3" piece, as it made a nice companion to my 3" .44 Magnum Model 629. In the above photo it is wearing a set of smooth cocobolo stocks from Kim Ahrends. In today's market, a 3" Lew Horton 624 in excellent condition with the correct box and accessories could bring anywhere from $500 to almost $600, depending on the area.

12 comments:

angus lincoln said...

Wow! That's a fine lookin' piece of wood and steel! How's the .44 spcl recoil compared to the .357 mag. in similar configuration?

Tam said...

Fairly mild for most commercial fodder; the difference in percieved recoil is like the difference between .45ACP and, say, .357SIG. Your most common loads are 200gr HPs at moderate velocities or 246gr LRN moving even more sedately, and neither makes a big steel N-frame jump around much.

Buffalo Bore, however, loads a 255gr Keith bullet @ 1000fps; that's a load that will get your attention.

Matt G said...

.44 Special loads that are within SAAMI specs, when fired out of any steel N frame, are just plain PLEASANT to shoot. That's an amazing thing to say, when we're talking about a load that, with a decent hardcast semi-wadcutter bullet, is a very decent manstopper. I would not hesitate to hunt deer with one, with our .240g LSWC load over about 7g of Unique. I also would feel very well armed for street or even duty use.

People also neglect to remember the outstanding inherent accuracy in the .44 Special. It's a favorite round of mine, yet I sadly have nothing specifically chambered for it.

Tam said...

I'm sort of a statistical anomaly what with owning five .44 Specials and only the one .44 Maggie.

Timmeeee said...

Yep, that's a keeper.

BobG said...

Nice wheelgun. I have always been a big fan of the 44 special; I shoot it a lot in my Super Blackhawk and Redhawk. I also have a little snubbie made by Taurus, but it is a far cry from the 624.

DesertRat said...

I picked one of these up a few months ago for $625. No holster and the box was falling apart, but I feel I got a great price on it.

Now I just need a few more models to finish my collection of 3" Stainless Smith Revolvers.

Mykl said...

I'm interested!
Lemmenoe!

SpeakerTweaker said...

Forgive me, but if that's a 3" barrel on that thing, that must be one behemoth of a wheelgun!

She's a beaut, though. NICE grips, too. How's it shoot?



tweaker

jon said...

I have a Lew Horton 624 with the 3" tube...I love It,in fact my wife through over her SP101 for it (stoled the 624 from me)and now I can't take enough 44 spec. ammo to the range when we go.It is a rather large piece but my wife used it to qualify for her ccw permit..I bought it from a local dealer in 1995 and would not sell it for any price...For a short barrel the accuracy and recoil is very good..

smooth said...

I bought my model 624 about 10 years ago. I shoot mild reloads 240g semi wadcutter with 5.1 Unique. Very nice and accuracy is excellant at 50 yds.

Electric_charge said...

I also am the proud owner of one of these Lew Horton Specials. Although it rarely gets fired it remains one of my all time favorites. It took me some years to find one and I finally purchased one at a Sacramento(California) gun show some years ago for around $300.00. I love the way it fits my hand. Unfortunately there was no holster with mine but was in the original box with the cleaning kit. Can you imagine being a detective back when snub nose .38's were the norm and pulling this out on a bad guy. I imagine he would be in need of a new set of drawers.