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Pizza Bob

The .44 Special is....Special

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In 1973 I decided, after much study and rumination, that my first S&W had to be a .44 Special. While at the time everyone was coveting the model 29, .44 Magnum (remember this was post-“Dirty Harry”), I wanted a .44 Special. I told my shooting buddy that I wanted a S&W model 24 and he laughed at me. He said that it had been discontinued in 1967, and even if I could find one, I probably would not be able to afford it.

That same friend, from whom I learned much of my S&W knowledge, later came to me and told me that J&G Rifle Ranch (an entity that still exists today) was selling original model 24 six and a half inch barrels. I bought one and salted it away.

I was a great fan of the late Skeeter Skelton at that time. He was a gun writer for Shooting Times magazine and a great proponent of the .44 Special. He constantly lobbied S&W to bring back the model 24. While he was eventually successful (S&W reintroduced the model 24 in 1983 and later, in 1985, the stainless version model 624) I couldn’t wait. I guess I wasn’t alone in wanting one because a mini-industry, converting various S&W models to .44 Special, sprang up.

I already had a leg up, in that I possessed an original barrel, I just needed a gun to convert. I found a gently used four inch model 28 at a LGS and purchased it for $125. Now I just needed a gunsmith to do the conversion. Skeeter recommended Miniature Machine Company of Deming, NM. Skeeter carried a lot of weight in the gun community, because when I contacted them about doing the conversion, I was put on a wait list – how long? Approximately a year. Sigh.

Very shortly thereafter, I read an article in another gun magazine about a gunsmith in CA that was doing this conversion. I contacted him right away, liked what he said and gave him the job. My 28 and the 24 barrel got shipped off to George Matthews in Downey, CA. He bored and recessed the cylinder as well as making sure that it was square to the forcing cone. Installed the barrel and changed the Patridge front sight to a Baughman ramp with a gold insert. The beauty of using the original model 24 barrel was, not only did it have the correct roll marks, but it was satin finished, just like the model 28. I didn’t even need to have the gun refinished. My buddy and I went a little further when I got it back. We installed a smooth combat trigger – common today, but not so much in the early 70’s. We also installed a SAO model 14 rebound spring – again, entities like Wolff, Wilson or Miculek weren’t offering spring kits so this was the hot set-up to help reduce trigger pull.

Sometime in the mid-80’s, as my eyes deteriorated, I installed a red dot optic using a B-Square, “no-drill” mount. It was a Tasco ProPoint and was huge. This was when Tasco optics were sourced from Japan and of good quality. It still resides atop that gun today. My converted model 28 is the most accurate of all the Smiths I own. Aside from the .44 Special being an inherently accurate cartridge, the work that George Matthews did, all contribute to its accuracy. Many turkeys and hams were won with that gun. Here is that gun…

11bnjab.jpg

This is all back story to establish how much I love the .44 Special. Over the intervening years, since my conversion came into being, I have managed to accumulate a few more .44 Special revolvers. Not all of them S&W’s, but most are. I tell you all this to introduce you to what will be the pinnacle of my small .44 Special collection.

I related the story of my encounter with all of the Heritage Guild stores in another thread – while that ended in disappointment, it primed my pump for a new addition to the safe. Saturday night I spent several hours combing 52 pages of S&W revolvers on a classified ad website for guns. Only one spoke to me.

In 2001 S&W introduced a series of revolvers called the Heritage Series. This offering was in collaboration with the S&W Performance Center and Lew Horton Distributors. These were not exact copies of older guns (30’s and 40’s) but rather paid homage to them. They were a very divisive offering. It seemed the gun community either hated them or loved them – I fell into the second camp.

This series of guns were available in several finishes, depending on the model. There was a blued finish as well as a nickel finish, but the most desired finish was a color case hardened frame done by the master, Doug Turnbull, himself. These frames were paired with a blue cylinder and barrel. It was this variation of a model 24-5, that I came across in those listings. A couple of negotiating e-mails later, and the gun, number 25 of 327, was mine. I just sent off the funds this morning. Here is what I am getting…

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Now the hard part, the waiting. I have two guns at my dealer right now. I’m waiting for my OGAM exemption to come from the NJSP. Since the exemption purchase is outside of the OGAM framework, I’ll be able to purchase the 24-5 separately regardless of the time interval. I hope to bring all three home at once.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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13 minutes ago, Vicious said:

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful gun. Just needs some honking huge wood grips and it would be for me.

I love CCH. I think the STD. manufacturing 1911 in CCH is gorgeous, too.

I have these coming for it...

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2 hours ago, Pizza Bob said:

Now the hard part, the waiting. I have two guns at my dealer right now. I’m waiting for my OGAM exemption to come from the NJSP. Since the exemption purchase is outside of the OGAM framework, I’ll be able to purchase the 24-5 separately regardless of the time interval. I hope to bring all three home at once.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

The last time I did this, the protocol was to exercise a single independent P2P, and then a day or two later exercise the exemption and its P2Ps. And not the other way around.

I don't know if the protocol has changed since then.

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1 hour ago, PK90 said:

Hmm.

Somehow I can't warm up to a case hardened double action revolver.

Same boat... not stainless, blued, nickel, or Parkerized, I’m not that interested. NP3 Plus was preferred over S&W stainless and anodizing. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

In regards to .44 Special, I only put one box of them through my 629-1. I can agree with the accuracy point, because my .44 Magnum is shoot the balls off a fly accurate. I’m guessing Hornady does a polymer tipped .44 Special loading. The LeverEvolution works well in my 6” 

I do like the 25, but more for caliber (big .45 ACP fan, especially in revolvers). But I can never downtalk a S&W fan for caliber choice.

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More thoughts by the late Steven A. Camp.  He was an export on the Hi Power as well and his site is well worth the exploration:

https://hipowersandhandguns.com/My Favorite Revolver.htm

I would love to try one of the new GP100s in 44 Special and wish I had one.   I love the smith 63 and 25 as well.

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There "ought to be a law" that every hand gun Noob start with a 4" or 6" S&W revo.  A LOT of folks walkin' around today THINK they know how to shoot their semi's, and they always shoot low & left.  In the right hands, a 4" S&W is a 50 yard gun.  A 6" is a 75 yard gun, and a 8 3/8" tube held steady will deny real estate beyond 100 yards all day long :)  Younger eyes can shoot a Model 29 at 100 yards & hit a one gallon paint can!

~R

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4 minutes ago, Underdog said:

I would love to try one of the new GP100s in 44 Special and wish I had one. 

Their 10mm GP100s is looking like a winner.  And you can use 40 S&W rounds.  Flame suit on

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1 hour ago, Screwball said:

I do like the 25, but more for caliber (big .45 ACP fan, especially in revolvers). But I can never downtalk a S&W fan for caliber choice.

Don't get me wrong, I pretty much like any Big Bore revolver and I have as many .45 caliber revolvers as I do  .44's (not counting magnums) - all the .45s are Smiths, while the .44's are Smiths , a Ruger and a couple Charter Arms.

You really can't fall in love with the Special unless you hand load. The anemic factory loading (246 gr LRN @ 750 fps) is a carry over from the black powder days. My conversion gun has seen thousands of rounds of 250 gr LSWC over 7.5 grs of Unique (900+ fps). There are some hotter self defense loadings these days.

The .45 ACP has always been a smokeless loading. Given that I compete with a model 625-8 PC, I'm sure that I have put many more rounds down range in that caliber than with the .44 Spl - doesn't mean I love it any less.

As for finishes - as I said in my OP, it was divisive in the gun community = people either loved it or hated it.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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49 minutes ago, Ray Ray said:

Their 10mm GP100s is looking like a winner.  And you can use 40 S&W rounds.  Flame suit on

Don’t know if his review went live on YouTube, but nutnfancy did have a noticeable amount of light primer strikes/failures to fire with .40s in a 10mm GP-100. Just something to consider... if anyone is looking at them.

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9 hours ago, Screwball said:

Don’t know if his review went live on YouTube, but nutnfancy did have a noticeable amount of light primer strikes/failures to fire with .40s in a 10mm GP-100. Just something to consider... if anyone is looking at them.

MAC on his channel did a review a while back, in his review it did fine on 40 Slow and Weak.

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Pizza Bob you always add so much to this forum! Great knowledge, beautiful pics of very unique guns. We appreciate it all. I want to also add and I'm sure I'm not the only one but when ever I read your threads you make me want to go get more permits just to get a fine wheel gun! 

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2 hours ago, david8613 said:

Pizza Bob you always add so much to this forum! Great knowledge, beautiful pics of very unique guns. We appreciate it all. I want to also add and I'm sure I'm not the only one but when ever I read your threads you make me want to go get more permits just to get a fine wheel gun! 

That's me, Pizza Bob the Enabler. LOL. Thanks for the kind words.

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15 hours ago, Screwball said:

Don’t know if his review went live on YouTube, but nutnfancy did have a noticeable amount of light primer strikes/failures to fire with .40s in a 10mm GP-100. Just something to consider... if anyone is looking at them.

I'll let you know. Spoke with a friend shooting one in IDPA. He told me that he had not had one light strike - and of course at that match he did. He was using expensive TK moons and TK said that they had some reports of light strikes. Their clips are .040" and they were talking about increasing them to .050".

When I get set-up, I'll be using the inexpensive clips from Ranch Products that I already have on hand for my S&W 646. The people that I've heard from have not had any problem with Ranch clips - we'll see. My gunsmith is still working on the right spring combination and polishing to give 100% reliability. Like any new venture, you learn as you go.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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32 minutes ago, Pizza Bob said:

I'll let you know. Spoke with a friend shooting one in IDPA. He told me that he had not had one light strike - and of course at that match he did. He was using expensive TK moons and TK said that they had some reports of light strikes. Their clips are .040" and they were talking about increasing them to .050".

That was pretty much the only conclusion I could make, with the lack of head spacing in the cylinder caused the failures.

Don’t know who makes Ruger’s clips (probably Ruger), but they are stainless with the cut between the cases. Just looked at Ruger’s website... 0.32”.

TK clips are a smart choice... and they even are supplying clips for S&W (the .45 ones I ordered from S&W for my 1917 are marked TK). I also never had an issue with my older S&W J-frame 9mm clips. I got a stainless clip from Revolver Supply... which is thicker than the OEM ones. I just rather stick with the standard ones, instead of testing the stainless... and then stocking up on them.

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18 minutes ago, Screwball said:

TK clips are a smart choice... and they even are supplying clips for S&W (the .45 ones I ordered from S&W for my 1917 are marked TK). 

You could save about $6+ per clip for your 1917 by using Ranch Products clips. Last I checked they were $40 per 100 - a lifetime supply. I have never had a problem with Ranch Products .45 ACP clips. With calibers that don't start with a "4" you need a clip that holds the rounds rigidly and that is where you end up paying $6 - $7 per clip. For the .45 and pretty much the .40, a little cartridge jiggle is a good thing - helps the rounds self-align.

The cost of the clip is indirectly proportional to the length of time until a RO steps on it - the more expensive the shorter the time period.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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14 minutes ago, Screwball said:

So, Ranch is going to pay me $4.62 for each clip I pick up?

S&W sells their clips for $1.38 each.

They are probably buying their clips from Ranch @ $.38 ea. and making a dollar on every one that you buy.

7 minutes ago, DirtyDigz said:

Bob, are you retired?  If you are, I think there’s a position waiting for you as curator of the revolver wing at the NRA museum.

Yes I am!!! And quite happy to stay that way.

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55 minutes ago, Screwball said:

But noted, you like Ranch Products. :ok:

It's not a matter of "like", it's a matter of value. When I can get an equal quality clip at a dollar savings per unit, why wouldn't I avail myself of it? I'm surprised that Tom is letting S&W undersell him by that much on his product (he gets $2.50 per). Maybe since he has, once again, become a full custom shop, he isn't interested in selling the nickel dime stuff direct anymore.

From what I gather, there are only four producers of moon clips - many sellers, but only four actual manufacturers.

1) TK Custom

2) Ranch Products

3) Revolver Supply (I believe that he is having them made, but they are proprietary)

4) David Hearth

There are probably some coming in from China, at least for .45 ACP, and that's what you'll get buying them off eBay or GB. If the clips are die cut they will be considerably less expensive. If they are EDM (electro discharge machining) cut, you can expect to pay $5 - $8 per clip.

For rimless cartridges the extractor groove dimensions are SAAMI specified, which is why you can usually use a variety of brass in the same clip and have it work well. For rimmed cartridges there is no SAAMI spec for the groove ahead of the rim. In some rimmed cartridges there isn't even a groove. These clips have to be more precise and usually are one or two headstamp specific.

Ranch Products used to be the OEM supplier of clips to S&W. I imagine as they got deeper into moon clip guns they needed access to EDM cut clips and it didn't make sense to have multiple suppliers and since TK does both die stamp and EDM, he got the business. Although I believe that Smith is sourcing the 8-shot .38 Super clips from Hearth. AFAIK, Ranch only makes die stamped.

Of course there is the snob appeal of having those little initials stamped in every clip. That's not worth a dollar to me.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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