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Forum > Black Powder > Black Powder > Harrington & Richardson 38 S&W Black Powder i.d.help... please

Harrington & Richardson 38 S&W Black Powder i.d.help... please

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jclatham6
Joined: April 2019
Posts: 2
Posted: April 3, 2019 10:49 AM

My wife has inherited one of the subject H&R drop top pistols.  I have been trying to determine when it was made.  The following is stamped on the top of the barrel.... (1st line ) "HARRINGTON & RICHARDSON ARMS COMPANY WORCESTER, MASS, USA   (2nd line) "PAT. OCT. 4, '87, MAY 14 & AUG. 6, '89, April 2, '95 APRIL 7, 1896".  The serial number of the frame is 65817 and located under the left hand grip and has no letters.  The serial number of the cylinder is 817 and the ejectors serial number is also 817.  I understand this means these these parts are original.

What I'd like to know is when this gun was manufactured?  I'm aware it was sometime around the turn of the 20th century, but I'd like to learn the exact year.  Can anyone help?

Also, I recently obtained some .38 S&W black powder cartridges from Buffalo Arms.  I assume these would be safe to fire infrequently in the antique piece.  I checked the load of these cartridges and saw they were 150gr and were rated at 650 fps muzzle velocity.  I recently saw some modern ammo that had very, very similar ratings.  I found some Magtech 38 S&Ws with 146 gr. LRN bullets producing 686 fps muzzle velocity.  I also found some Winchester Super X 38 LRN S&Ws with 145 gr. and 685 fps.  Would you agree these would be fairly safe?

TIA.

Ezequiel
Joined: August 2011
Posts: 7067
Posted: April 3, 2019 04:32 PM

Lets address the ammo supply first...These guns were made over a wide period of time  Early are blackpowder only and should be considered unsafe with any smokeless loads...even factory...That said  Blackpowder is highly corrosive and the gun was fired...even once with BP...it had to under go a very strict cleaning procedure...basically a complete tear down and decontamination process....smoke less powder was a much less tiresome cleaning procedure...So...the thing is  a very close inspection of the gun for corrosion.....the bore...the chambers...the cylinder and any part around those parts that would get spray as the BPC was fired.......That  damage most be near non-existent to be considered safe

Age...Patents run for 17 years and can be renewed for 17 more before the  process or part falls into the public venue...If the  gun is stamped...Patent applied for the gun can be stamped with that info.....but if it is a specific date.....that patent stamp can tell you the earliest it was made...but not the latest it was made...Reason...even after the 34 years expired...many companies would continue to stamp their product...just to make the buyer think that they were getting something they could get no where else.

I have a copy of the late Bill Goforths book on the H&R firearms...to my mind it is somewhat convoluted in its arrangement and it takes a bit of time to narrow down a particular gun......age can be determined by model.....which version it is and which change it within that certain production run......he does have some serial number to year data...but the gun's type and model must be ratified first......This take me a bit of  time..so I will take what data you have supplied and run it thru the book.......BTW...those short digit number runs stamped on various parts was a method used by assemblers to mark the parts fitted to a certain gun and to keep them all together....

jclatham6
Joined: April 2019
Posts: 2
Posted: April 4, 2019 05:36 AM

Thanks.  I'll be anxiously waiting and watching.

Ezequiel
Joined: August 2011
Posts: 7067
Posted: April 6, 2019 03:19 PM

From Bill's book.....Auto Ejecting 2nd Model(New Frame) made 1890 to 1904...the serial number data states there is a Letter code...The pats Oct 4,87 is for the cylinder retainer and the pat # 370926

May 14,89 target grips logo

Aug 6,89.....Modification to the double action mechanism Pat # 408,457

April 7,96  Ejector modification

April 12,95.....Ejector modification

There is also so indication that the gun nay be a 5th variation and made between 1897 and 1905

www.bluebookofgunvalues.com should have ser # Data...That is a fee service....

jclatham6
Joined: April 2019
Posts: 2
Posted: April 18, 2019 05:47 AM

Thanks for all your trouble, Ezequiel.  I apologize for the late response, but my computer has been down.  Thanks again.