Tuesday, February 09, 2021

I-Frame Details, Part One

The first I-frame revolvers were technically the Model of 1896, with its combination ejector rod/cylinder release and topstrap-mounted cylinder stop. The first modern one we'd recognize as the ancestor of all the later I-frames and J-frames is the .32 Hand Ejector Model of 1903, aka the ".32 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model", which was a six-shot .32S&W Long revolver with a round-butt frame, available with a 3.25", 4.25", or 6" barrel.

The 2nd Model went through five successive engineering changes from 1903 until production was suspended for the Great War. When it came back in 1919, the new guns were referred to as .32 Hand Ejector, 3rd Models. The lower revolver in the picture above is a 3rd Model with a serial number placing its date of manufacture probably somewhere in the 1920s.

The longer-barreled revolver is also an I-frame .32, although this one is a .32 Regulation Police. The Regulation Police joined the regular .32 Hand Ejector in 1917, was offered in the same three barrel lengths, and was serial numbered concurrently with it. While it would appear to be a square-butt gun, popping the grips off reveals it is not...

Interestingly, the Regulation Police can be told apart from a regular .32 Hand Ejector even with the stocks removed!

The first and easiest way is the shoulder on the backstrap, where the wood round-to-square conversion stocks meet the metal. The second way is that, because the serial number in its normal location (on the bottom of the grip frame) would be covered up by the stocks, the s/n on a Regulation Police is rollmarked on the frontstrap of the grip.



Unknown said...

Interestingly, I have an inherited .32 I frame Hand Ejector from the 1920's.

It's stamped: "Ser # 453250 (bottom handle, bottom barrel & rear of cyl), and 82360 (frame & cylinder)"

Any idea which is te real s/n?

Tam said...

453,250 is the correct serial number. .32 Hand Ejector production resumed after the Great War in 1919 at s/n 263,001 and stopped again in 1942 at serial number 536,684.