Identification & values.
Q: In the attached photos, you will see an antique rifle that has been in our family for many years. We were told by our grandfather that it was brought over here from either Denmark or Norway. It has a bayonet attachment, so I assume it was military. Its bore measures a half-inch, so I am guessing it's .50 caliber. The breech rolls back and tilts up for easy loading. The hammer is underslung and located in front of the triggerguard. There is a "Model 1860" stamped on it and also the number "1733" on each separate part. We (my two brothers and I) would like to know more about the rifle.
A: You have a Norwegian kammerlader. This early breechloader was first introduced into Norwegian service in 1842. It was produced in a number of different variations for both the army and navy until 1870. This unique arm is well made and well thought out. To operate it, the lever on the right hand of the action is rotated to the rear, camming back and lifting the breechblock to a vertical position where the rifle was loaded with a paper cartridge, the rear of which was torn off and powder poured in the chamber, followed by the bullet (like the U.S. Hall). The nipple, located on the base of the chamber, was capped, the lever and block returned to their original position, and the gun fired by an underhammer located in front of the trig gerguard. Your pictures are a bit dark, but it appears as though you have a Model 1860 Short Rifle, though I would need to see a full-length shot to be positive. Caliber should be 11.77mm. It's a very interesting gun. My family is mostly Norwegian, so I've always had an abiding interest in this arm.
WINCHESTER MODEL 55
Q: I have a Winchester Model 55 semiauto single-shot .22 in 90 percent condition. I have been told that this rifle was only made for two years. I have shot it, and it is very accurate. Any info you could provide as to value and how long ago it was made would be great.
A: The Winchester Model 55.22 semiautomatic rifle (not to be confused with the Model 55 lever-action center fire) was made from 1958 to 1961. An estimated 45,060 were built. It was an unusual top-loading semi-auto single-shot, the empties being ejected from the bottom of the receiver. In 90 percent condition, a Model 55 is worth about $150.
THE AUCTION BLOCK
An incredibly rare cased Colt Flattop Target Model Single Action revolver with 9-inch barrel sold for a hefty $34,500, including premiums, at the March 10, 2014, James D. Julia auction. The revolver, chambered in .44-40, was all blue with hard-rubber eagle grips. According to Colt records, it is the only revolver of its type listed with a 9-inch barrel. Condition is 60 to 70 percent, with thinning blue. The black leatherette case, though faded inside, is in good condition and includes early ammunition and a cleaning rod. For more information about this and future auctions, contact James D. Julia Inc., 207453-7125, jamesdjulia.com.
PRE-WWII WALTHER PPK
Q: I have a German Walther PPK pistol that has been in my family since World War II. I am wondering if you can give me an idea of its value. A local gun shop dealer told me it was probably manufactured in 1939. Its serial number is 985XXX. All serial numbers match, including those on the magazine. It has an original leather shoulder holster. It is in excellent condition.
A: From your photos, it indeed appears that you have a very nice-condition pre-war 'Walther PPK. The holster seems to be of later manufacture and is probably not original to the gun. "PPK," by the bye, stands for Polizei Pistole Kriminal. Pre-war PPKs were made in .22, .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380 ACP The .32 (or 7.65rnm) is the most common. Your auto appears to be in about 95 to 98 percent condition, so, according to the "Thirty-Fifth Edition Blue Book of Gun Values" (bluebookinc.com), it is worth between $950 and $1,250.
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Due to the volume of requests each month, personal replies are not possible. The most interesting or unusual queries are answered in Guns & Ammo magazine.
"Civil War Revolvers, Myth vs. Reality," by Peter Shiffers; Andrew Mobray Inc. Pub.; 2013. Paperback, 183 pgs.
This follow-on to Peter Shiffers' earlier book, "Civil War Carbines, Myth vs. Reality'," like its predecessor, is an excellent, must-have book for anyone interested in studying and shooting Civil War arms. The author takes his generous selection of original period revolvers and puts them through several tests using loads as close to original specs as possible. Each handgun's history is clearly and succinctly dealt with, and black-and-white photographs are plentiful and of good quality. G&A highly recommends it. It may be ordered from Mobray Inc., 800-999-4697, gunsandswordcollector.com. Price is $29.99 plus $4.50 shipping and handling.
Q: I would appreciate it if you could tell me the date of manufacture of the following revolver: Smith & Wesson M&P with 4-inch pencil barrel. The crane is stamped "85115," and the inside frame is also stamped "85115" over the letter "P." The serial number is C330XXX, stamped on the butt and face of the cylinder. Caliber is .38 Special. I read your feature "Guns of D-Day" this afternoon. Great work.
A: Glad you enjoyed "Guns of D-Day." I had fun putting it together. Your Smith & Wesson Military & Police revolver was made in the 1950s, the "C" prefix beginning in 1948 and continuing until 1967 when, at serial number C99999, the prefix was changed to a Sounds like a fairly standard piece. The 4-inch barrel was a common length. It's one of the world's great revolvers.
EARLY H&R .38 REVOLVER
Q: I have an old pistol I would like to have your thoughts about to confirm its identification and value. It's a Harrington & Richardson five-shot revolver, caliber .38. The 3-inch barrel is octagonal with a fixed front sight blade. The top is flat with no rear sight. The grip appears to be checkered rubber on both sides with a small flat-head screw from the left side. The hammer works well at both half-cock safety and full-cocked positions. Pulling the spur trigger releases the hammer with a crisp snap. There is no connector between the hammer and the cylinder to cycle it forward, but the cylinder spins freely in both directions. The part that joined the two is missing. The barrel is marked with the following: "Harrington & Richardson, Worcester, Mass." Then, under that line, the following: "PAT. MAY 23, 1876." The serial number on the barrel is 3967. Interestingly, on the rear of the cylinder are four numbers located between the bullet loading slots. These are, individually, "5 - 9 - 6 - 7." I can only wonder whether there is any relationship between the serial number and these. It just seems odd that the last three numbers would be the same as a result of coincidence. The cylinder locking pin still holds in the cylinder, but only by friction. The part that would keep the pin in place is not present. I suspect that this is what the holes at the front of the action were designed for. From
Q: I have this old Colt. On the left side of the slide is stamped "COLT'S PATENT FIREARMS MFG CO HARTFORD CONN PATENTED APRIL 20 1897 SEPT 9 1902 DEC 19 1905," "serial 9X." On the right side of the slide is stamped "AUTOMATIC COLT CALIBRE 45 RIMLESS SMOKELESS." Can you tell me anything about this pistol based on the info here?
A: Ooh! That's a good one, a two-digit-serial-number Model 1905 Colt. This the pistol that introduced the .45 ACP round. Nearly 6,100 were made between 1905 and 1911, the year the M1911 Government was introduced. The pistol you describe was made in 1906. There were variants including some slotted for shoulder stocks and a run of 200 guns made for the U.S. military in 1907. This one sounds like a standard commercial model, but having such a low serial number increases its interest and worth. what little I have been able to find on the Internet, this might be an H&R Model 1. All I have been able to find was the estimate that "approximately 3,000 were manufactured in 1877 and 1878."
Can you tell me what you think? I sincerely enjoy reading your column and the Guns & Ammo magazine as well. C.D., email
A: Thank you for the nice comments about my column and Guns 8( Ammo. It looks like you've done your homework, as it certainly appears that you have a Harrington & Richardson No. 1 spur-trigger, single-action revolver. These were made circa 1877 and 1878, though actual production numbers are a bit difficult to pin down. Probably no more than 5,000 were made. Calibers were .32 and .38. H&R began business in 1871 and made scads of little inexpensive revolvers, sometimes for other companies who put their names on them. Your revolver looks to be in pretty good shape, so it's probably worth in the $275 to $350 range.
SHOOT MY S&W 25-3?
Q: I bought an S&W Model 25-3. I fell for the unfired little beauty. My question is, should I allow it to become a shooter or save it in its current condition? I do not sell my firearms.
A: Well, this is a poser. The Model 25-3, made in 1977, was a 125th anniversary commemorative. Some 10,000 were produced. Personally, I'd be tempted to keep it NIB because it does have some collector interest. You can always get a used standard Model 25 for a shooter price.
BRAZILIAN CW RIFLE-MUSKET
Q: I hope you will help me identify this smoothbore muzzleloader I obtained from my father-in-law. When I found this in his attic, it was completely covered in gold paint. The story is that it came from a Texas university's drill team. I stripped off the gold paint, removed the furniture, polished up the brass (triggerguard, buttplate and keepers on the left side for the lockplate screws) and oiled the stock. It is 451/4 inches from butt to muzzle. The bore at the muzzle is about 5/8 inch. A square piece of brass is welded to the muzzle on the right side below the front sight. The ram rod is missing. The sling keeper on the lower stock is also missing; it appears that someone may have tried to repair or replace it several times. The rifle appears to have been used (or abused) a lot, as the bore is misshapen, the cap nipple is eaten through and the metal around the hammer is very pitted. I believe the stock is walnut, and it shows a lot of wear from handling. All metal parts are marked with what appears to be an anchor with a on the left side and a "C" on the right side of the anchor shaft and immediately above the flukes. I have not found any other markings. Thanks for the help.
A: Interesting gun. You have an example of a rifle-musket (the gun was originally rifled; the bore on yours must be worn), originally made for Brazil by OP Drisser of Belgium. With the onset of the Civil War, the order was diverted, and the guns ended up being sold to U.S. agents. The "D anchor C" is Drissor's mark. Some 6,000 were imported, many of which had small brass shields emblazoned with the federal eagle attached to the stock just behind the barrel tang. These short rifles were an interesting amalgam of British and Continental features. Quality was good, and they were well thought of. Caliber was .58. The gun mounted a straight-bladed sword bayonet made by Schnitzler & , Kirshbaum of Solingen.
TIFFANY COLT NAVY?
Q: I bought this "Tiffany" 1851 Colt from a private party a couple of years ago. I spoke to a Colt company curator at a gun show (I did not have the gun with me to show him), and he told me that they did not have records back this far that would cover serial number 31XXX other than that it was built in 1852 and was a "Tiffany" version, sold through Tiffany. Can you find out any more about this gun and give me your guess at what it might be worth today? It is in excellent working condition. Lockup and springs are all as tight as the day it was sold. All markings are crisp. I have not tried to clean it since I got it. As you can see from the pictures, the grips are ivory and show discoloration from having been handled. It's a beautiful gun, and I fell in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it.
A: Well, you certainly have a nicely engraved Third Model 1851 Colt Navy, made in 1853. The simple fact that it is engraved and has ivory grips does not make it a "Tiffany" Colt, guns offered by that firm generally being more highly embellished, often with elaborate silver drips. Still, you have a nice revolver there, though condition is somewhat lacking. I see little original finish, some pitting and a missing barrel wedge screw. Sans engraving, an 1853 Model '51 would be worth about $1,000, but the decoration and grips would boost that figure by four or five times.
"Well, this is a poser I'd be tempted to keep it NIB because it does have some collector interest. You can always get a used standard Model 25 for a shooter price."