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.