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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Doing my weekly cruise of the gun store that's near my office in Santa Fe, I saw a neat S&W Model 15. A 4-screw, pinned, with diamond stocks (really lovely ones), and very little wear. Probably a 95% gun - had some wear at the muzzle (light, but on both sides), some light wear on the ejector rod, and some unusual wear on the outside of the crane hinge - looks like some crud was there and marked the bluing, and one small nick in the blue just forward of the LH stock. Serial number placed the gun at 1960, but the fact that it was a no-dash Model 15 puts it between '57 and '59, so I'm guessing it was born in 1959.

Five out of six chambers appeared to be slightly out of time, failing the cylinder-drag test (in which one applies gentle drag friction to the sides of cylinder and simultaneously slowly cocks the hammer, the cylinder did not fully "click" into its locked position before the hammer fully cocked). This failure to carry up would take my 'smith friend an hour or so to fix, I reckoned.

I've found that a lot of used DA S&Ws suffer from this failure to carry up, but that it generally makes no practical difference in firing (since the hammer is almost always cocked with sufficient force to rotate the cylinder into locked position).

It was a consignment gun with $395.00 on it (which means the guy would net $296.00 in this particular shop). Probably priced a bit on the high side, but I suspected I'd be able to get the shop to call the owner with a counter-offer.

Here's the thing - I didn't want to spend money, I wanted to trade into this. What I've had to trade is my Glock 26 - it has night sights, I've put a 3.5# connector in, and I've got several 17-round and 33-round mags for it. It also came with a factory LEO-marked 12-rounder (I got it right after the AWB died). The Glock is a perfectly functional, good gun, but it doesn't really light my fire. It's handy for out-of-state travel when I might want to bring a small SHTF gun just in case something happens while I'm on a long trip (how paranoid is that? :-\ ), but - while I've carried it quite a bit in the past - I find its thickness a lot less reasonable concealment than the slimmer Kahr that I use most of the time. Frankly, the thing's sat unloaded in the safe for most of a year now.

I talked to the store about trading on the consignment, and they were into it. Realistically, I figured the 15 at about $335 ($250 payoff to owner) and the Glock with the night sights and factory +2 mag at about $495 retail (Glock's condition is superb, and these guys run prices high - as you can see) - and figured that I probably should aim for a break-even trade so as to give the shop owner a reasonable profit on both transactions.

So, I took my Glock and went back for the Model 15 yesterday. I noticed that there was some schmutz around the firing pin hole - when I cleaned most of that off, the gun appeared to be in perfect time. (I didn't immediately think of this as the carry-up culprit, since I never let that much filth build up in my guns - the gun hasn't been shot much, but I wonder if it's ever been cleaned at all.)

The gun store guys tried to get me for $50.00 on the trade, but I said that was too much, and the store owner came out and told the salesman to do the deal. (From having managed a gun store for a couple of years, I have a decent idea of what's a fair profit and I'm all for supplying it to my friendly local store - but I'm not going to stand around be rooked, either. ;) )

Anyway, let me post this part and then post some photos that I took last night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Due to weird time constraints (we got invited to a friend's 50th BD party yesterday morning - and the party was last night. . . very New Mexico!), I haven't cleaned it at all. But here are some photos I took before I changed for the party:





 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
And some more:







She's really quite lovely - it'll be nice to tear her down and clean her up. :) And I'm very excited about getting out to the range - you'll note that I have 100 rounds of fresh powder-puff wadcutter reloads in the photo, raring to go!

I know a couple of you gents have seen this already on the S&W Forum or handgunplace, but I wanted to put up some photos over here as well. I started out in handgunning with a .38 special, and the older I get, the more I find the caliber appealing. Solid and reliable, but not fancy. Easy to load, easy shooting, easy on the gun. The Combat Masterpieces that I've fired were all outstanding samples of the gunmaker's art, and I'm hoping that this one does me right out at the range - I suspect it will.
 

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Damn you!

I love Model 15s, and a nice old one would light my fire so big I'd have to evacuate the house.

From your description, I was expecting it to be rougher, but it's just perfect to make a nice shooter. (I'm not a collector--keeping a gun I won't shoot is kind of like mounting the coffeemaker on the wall and looking at it for ten minutes every morning instead of using it.)



This one's a little bit newer than yours, but only seven or eight years. I believe this one is from '66 or '67. I don't remember exactly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've always had a thing for those 2" Combat Masterpieces. One day I'll likely get one.

I agree with you that the gun has just the right amount of wear to make it a perfect and treasured shooter. Without the light bluing wear, I might want to put it up and not shoot it - this one I'll want to shoot and care for. :)
 
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Very nice pistolas, both. In my squad, just about all my guys carry Glocks on their off-duty time, with an occasional Sig and a CZ mixed in. I almost always carry a revolver, usually an SP101, but also a J-frame...

Those plastic guns are great and very reliable, but they just don't ring my chimes like a revolver does. I've been accused of being old school...guess they're right-I like wood and steel guns.

Those 15s are excellent revolvers and it sounds like they are both owned by highly competent revolver enthusiasts...they're in good hands!!

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bob, I'm blushing. :)

I'm glad to hear that folks such as yourself are still out there carrying the wheelies in service to their fellow citizens. There's something more approachable about an officer with a revolver, and more solidly self-assured, too, and I think that probably crosses over to his attitude in the rest of his life. Be careful and thanks for your service. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
. . . an example of what S&W used to build as SOP . . .
Thank you, sir!

You know, I hadn't thought about it this way - wow, that's really amazing. I've been as thrilled with this gun's level of fit and finish as I have with that of any gun that I've ever owned, but this was just another gun off the line back then. Plain vanilla (though maybe the good Breyer's kind with the bits of real bean throughout it ;) ).

Nowadays, well, I guess Rohrbaugh makes guns that are similarly fitted and finished. And, honestly, I felt like I was getting a value when I saw how nicely made the Rohrbaugh I bought was - even though I paid almost $1,000.00 for it.



All in a day's work back then - it wasn't even that long ago! I see it in other things, too - the pride that was put into furniture, machinery, construction. I'm not saying that folks don't take pride in our work now, but it sure seems like we build more with an eye toward disposable convenience than toward making something that will be a legacy, a lasting monument to the fact that we were here, and that we were proud of our crafts and of ourselves.
 

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Erich,

Excellent trade! Glocks you can get anywhere; nice clean Combat Materpieces like yours are getting hard to come by, at least in my circles. They are my all time favorite revolvers. Yours is a fine example.

PGM
 

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I wish this one was mine, but it belongs to that rascally C. R. Sherrill, my shooting buddy and friend of some disrepute. I know he's shot this one some, but mostly I believe he just sort of looks at it. That's a Highway Patrolman from 1955, by the way.

 

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Hi Erich,

Congradulations on your new aquisition! I would say that you came out on top of the deal with the trade!

Your M-15 is indeed a fine example of the by gone years of the quality manufacturing standards of S&W when revolvers were still "built" and not assembled. Your M-15 appears to be in fine shape and I hope that you will have the time to share some initial shooting reports with us!

Again, congradulations!

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks!

I'm worried that I won't be able to get out to the range this weekend - too much stuff going on. :-[ Oh well, hopefully I can at least get some more wadcutters loaded for when I do get out there.
 
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This is how much I like'em: I got 4 (four) of'em. Three 4" and a 6". Guns I really like I tend to accumulate and around here 4" Model 15's are far and away the cheapest (quality) revolvers in the used gun market, being abundant former police revovlers.
 

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Hi there Erich,

I am sure that you are excited to get the opportunity to shoot it! If you are like me, I'm sure that you are itching to find out how it shoots!


I'm worried that I won't be able to get out to the range this weekend - too much stuff going on. Oh well, hopefully I can at least get some more wadcutters loaded for when I do get out there.
Part of the "fun" is the anticipation of getting to shoot the M-15!

I agree that there is something "more solidly assuring" about a LEO that carries a wheelgun. In capable hands, they are a formidable weapon and have been for many, many years.

Chris
 

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Hello,

These Smiths are fine example of old craftmanship... I had a 92 Model 19 ",5", purdy but with some faults in the machining so I sold it and buy only older Smiths.

The names were not bad too: Chief Special, Military & Police, Combat Target, Combat Masterpiece, Combat Magnum, Highway Patrolman... it really speaks to the pistolero.

Bye.

L.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yep, and the fact that it shoots one-hole 5-shot groups that are .25" center-to-center at 10 yards isn't bad, either!
 

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Hi Erich,

The only interesting guns are accurate guns....(quote).

It sounds like you have a real winner in spite of the earlier timing concerns.

Chris
 
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