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View Full Version : Who does S&W caliber conversions?


parallaxbill
December 28, 2012, 19:39
Just a thought.
Since my 8,3/8" M27 needs it's barrel set back to fix a forcing cone erosion problem I was thinking it would be an excellent candidate for conversion to a 5" in 44 Special. Or perhaps 41 magnum?

What say ye, who does custom work like this?

STGThndr
December 28, 2012, 20:49
Curious about this myself.

BUFF
December 29, 2012, 02:49
Money-wise, you will spend far more having a caliber conversion done than it will ever be worth to anyone else. They made some sense back when some original chamberings were really scarce, like .44 Special, but S&W has made enough guns over the years since conversions helped convince them of demand, that you can usually find one cheaper than you can make one, especially when you factor in the price of your base gun.

I would probably only consider a conversion if you wanted something you couldn't buy already made the way you wanted it.

I always wanted a fixed sight N frame .38/44 Heavy Duty in .45 Colt. S&W made a whopping twleve of them before WWII, but I will never likely see one, let afford be able to afford one. In 2005, I had Hamilton Bowen ( Bowen Classic Arms ) convert a post-war, long action .38 Special H.D. to .45 Colt for me. It cost about $1,200 for the work, which included reboring and rifling the existing barrel and rechambering the cylinder as well as refinishing the gun after remarking the barrel.

parallaxbill
December 29, 2012, 03:13
I only have $350 in the 27 at this point since it had some wear. I need to do something with it, either rebarrel it or convert it. What it would be worth to anyone else isn't a factor because I doubt I would ever sell it. Plus I've never seen a 5" adjustable sight Smith in 44 Special personally.

I think I'll call Bowen to see what can be done and at what cost.

FUUN063
December 29, 2012, 04:11
Or, a Baines and Davis conversion. It was somewhat common way back when to make these conversions, but as stated earlier, it's expensive. The Baines and Davis was a .44 Magnum necked down to the .357. Hot.


Leland
:fal:

idsubgun
December 29, 2012, 05:27
One thing to consider, don't do a caliber conversion to a hotter round then the revolver can handle. I don't know what S&W has done with their current revolvers but the older ones will rattle apart with hot loads. I rattled my M29 Smith apart when I was younger because I fed it a steady diet of HOT reloads. Reloads that were in the reloading manuals, not some extreme over-powered loads. Last two rounds thru that gun shaved lead and both hit me just outside my left eye.
I ended up trading it off on the new-at-the-time Ruger Redhawk, which can handle ANYTHING you feed it!

A M27/28 will hold a .44 Special with no problem. I doubt I'd make a .41 Magnum. Having owned three .41 Mag's (2 Rugers, 1 S&W), I can tell you they are a HOT cartridge, and to use that caliber to it's full extent, I feel you'd be ruining your Smith revolver.

The .41 Mag is a great cartridge tho! Has almost the speed of a .357 and the hitting power of a .44 mag! I loved that cartridge and if Ruger brought their Blackhawk Hunter out in .41 Mag, I'd buy one in a heartbeat!

parallaxbill
December 29, 2012, 06:55
Yeah, I doubt I would do anything other than the 44 Special. I already have two 41 mags, a T/C and a 3 Screw Blackhawk.

idsubgun
December 29, 2012, 07:57
Yeah, I doubt I would do anything other than the 44 Special. I already have two 41 mags, a T/C and a 3 Screw Blackhawk.

I had a 3 screw and a newer Ruger, and I wish I had that 3 screw back many times. The smoothest shooting one was my Smith but after rattling my M29 loose, I was always apprehensive about shooting it a bunch.
My dad still has a 3 screw in .41 mag, I think. He collected 3 screws for a long time, and still has some left but not sure which ones. The only 3 screw that I know he has left is a .357 mag and I have my name on it for my "inheritence". I grew up with that gun.

bykerhd
December 29, 2012, 11:27
It might be worthwhile to contact S & W to see if they would rebarrel it for you and what they would charge.

Unless there is something really special about the revolver, to you, or you just REALLY want to have a custom revolver, rebarrelling is the least expensive option and MIGHT ??? preserve the most value.

Bowen does wonderful stuff, judging by his website and John Taffin's various reviews in magazines, but he is NOT cheap.

http://www.bowenclassicarms.com/

Retired Bum
December 29, 2012, 13:09
It is my understanding that S&W will only do factory repair/restoration on the numbered models. And then only if the parts needed are in stock. A 27-2 barrel for your .357 might not be available in the Smith inventory. I would call them and ask before I committed myself to spending big bucks on a custom piece such as a Bowen.

The days of S&W selling barrels and cylinders to qualified gunsmiths are over to the best of my knowledge. Swapping out barrels and cylinder in order to change calibers was popular at one time. I have seen US Model 1917's and Model 28's converted to .44 Spl and .45 Colt by gunsmiths. If done properly they worked just fine. The Model 58 .41 Mag M&P was also popular for conversion. I have a M58 but it is staying a .41 till the day I die. Besides I have N frames from the factory in .38 Spl, .357 Mag, .41 Mag, .44 Spl, .44 Mag, .44-40 Win, .45 ACP/.45 Auto Rim, .45 Colt, and .455 Webley. No conversions for me....

And so it goes.


The Retired One

parallaxbill
December 29, 2012, 17:32
I haven't yet ruled out sending it to Smith to repair it. It is super accurate but that flame out the left side with particle spitting just isn't good.

It is a M27-4, with an 8&3/8" barrel.

tdb59
December 30, 2012, 14:17
Hamilton Bowen

Andy Horvath

Prototype Services
December 31, 2012, 01:24
I have a Python barrel I want installed on my S&W, can't find anyone to do it.

Retired Bum
December 31, 2012, 18:08
I remember seeing the so called "Smythons" back in the 1970's. A four inch Python barrel mated to a S&W Model 19 Combat Magnum. A gunsmith would have to machine new threads on the Python barrel so it could be screwed into the K frame and drill the barrel for the retaining pin that Smith used back then.

I was offered such a conversion about thirty years ago. The price was so low that I became suspicious. After an inspection I saw why. The forcing cone was just a few thousands of an inch from a complete split. The owner had been shooting the hot Federal Index #357B 125 gr JHP in the Smython and those loads had literally burned out through flame cutting most of the forcing cone. So it was no sale.....

When S&W introduced the new L frame series about 1982 the Smython conversion lost popularity. Now a shooter could buy a new 586/686 for half the cost of a new Python and get a stronger revolver in the bargain. I have a six inch Python and an early production six inch Model 686. The 686 is the more accurate of the two in my Ranson Rest at 25 yards with most any load.

Having a qualified gunsmith installing that Python barrel on your S&W would be expensive. I wouldn't trust some 'smith who told me that he could do it cheap.

Something to consider. Such a conversion would be like building a street rod. Gonna cost you some serious money but it won't be worth much if you want to sell it later on. OTOH if it is really something that you want then why not.....

And so it goes.


The Retired One

Prototype Services
December 31, 2012, 20:17
Thanks, I'm completely aware of all that. Your info is helpful though. I started shooting handguns with a m-19, later a 686. I had a neighbor who collected S&W and he had a Smython in 357 and it was a tackdriver with HBWC 38s. As a hotrodder myself, I want it more for nostalgic reasons. I picked up a 38s with a bulged barrel cheap a couple years ago, and traded for a 6" Python barrel. Cost so far is about $100. If I still had access to a lathe with a 4-jaw chuck, I'd do it myself. I wanted a 38s so the firecutting of the 357 wouldn't be an issue, and maybe help accuracy a bit with the shorter cylinder.
Just a project for "someday"...

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 11:48
Thanks, I'm completely aware of all that. Your info is helpful though. I started shooting handguns with a m-19, later a 686. I had a neighbor who collected S&W and he had a Smython in 357 and it was a tackdriver with HBWC 38s. As a hotrodder myself, I want it more for nostalgic reasons. I picked up a 38s with a bulged barrel cheap a couple years ago, and traded for a 6" Python barrel. Cost so far is about $100. If I still had access to a lathe with a 4-jaw chuck, I'd do it myself. I wanted a 38s so the firecutting of the 357 wouldn't be an issue, and maybe help accuracy a bit with the shorter cylinder.
Just a project for "someday"...

Just thinking about it, I wonder if cutting the threads between centers with a dog driver wouldn't be the ticket.

I'm only 45 minutes away from you, you know. Stimp is even closer.

tdb59
January 03, 2013, 11:52
Just thinking about it, I wonder if cutting the threads between centers with a dog driver wouldn't be the ticket.



That is how I cut barrel threads.

Shank and threads are in proper relation to bore axis.

Is there a different way ? :tongue:

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 11:58
That is how I cut barrel threads.

Shank and threads are in proper relation to bore axis.

Is there a different way ? :tongue:

Oh, yeah. And viciously fought over, too. Go over to the gunsmithing section of PracticalMachinist.com and watch the circus in the chambering threads.

tdb59
January 03, 2013, 12:00
Oh, yeah. And viciously fought over, too. Go over to the gunsmithing section of PracticalMachinist.com and watch the circus in the chambering threads.

OH !

The argument of theory vs, results !

Glad that does not happen around here !

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 12:02
OH !

The argument of theory vs, results !

Glad that does not happen around here !

That was just mean.

idsubgun
January 03, 2013, 12:15
Cutting the threads between centers will work IF the bore is running true. otherwise, it's better to indicate the bore in a 4-jaw chuck.
Just because you run something between centers does NOT mean the bore is centered. The condition of your tailstock center and/or the alignment of your tailstock are two reasons why it wouldn't run true.

If I were doing it, I'd indicate it in my 4-jaw. Seeing how the bullet jumps from the cylinder to the forcing cone/barrel, I'd want to eliminate any possible errors.

I do however, usually cut threads for muzzle devices using a live center in my tailstock.

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 13:00
Cutting the threads between centers will work IF the bore is running true. otherwise, it's better to indicate the bore in a 4-jaw chuck.
Just because you run something between centers does NOT mean the bore is centered. The condition of your tailstock center and/or the alignment of your tailstock are two reasons why it wouldn't run true.

If I were doing it, I'd indicate it in my 4-jaw. Seeing how the bullet jumps from the cylinder to the forcing cone/barrel, I'd want to eliminate any possible errors.

I do however, usually cut threads for muzzle devices using a live center in my tailstock.

I ain't touchin' this. It's exactly what I referred to above.

idsubgun
January 03, 2013, 13:20
I ain't touchin' this. It's exactly what I referred to above.

Been doing this professionally for three decades. I know that things can go wrong especially when you assume something is correct. One thing I learned early in the game, it's better to spend an extra few minutes doing a job correctly then having to re-do it later, if you can. Sometimes there are no do-overs if the part is scrapped.

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 13:25
Been doing this professionally for three decades. I know that things can go wrong especially when you assume something is correct. One thing I learned early in the game, it's better to spend an extra few minutes doing a job correctly then having to re-do it later, if you can. Sometimes there are no do-overs if the part is scrapped.

I know exactly what kinda guy I'm talking to, which is why I have not the face to dispute it with you.

I'll only say this-- having something Fubarred in your game, like a misaligned tailstock, does not invalidate the method. It means YOU f-ed up.

idsubgun
January 03, 2013, 13:39
Why wouldn't you want to use a 4-jaw?

As for using the tailstock, and a live center, you'd have to verify the alignment before cutting the barrel. Verifying the alignment would take ten times longer then using a 4-jaw. If you did it by making cuts on a long piece of material, measuring each end, moving the tailstock if needed, etc. And I can almost gaurantee the tailstock will be out, no matter how anal a person is about keeping their's trammed in.

Just saying.

tdb59
January 03, 2013, 13:41
How do you verify bore location at both ends of the barrel with a 4 jaw ?

Or do you run a spud through the bore, and verify the runout ?

idsubgun
January 03, 2013, 13:44
FYI, I'm not trying to "put you in your place". I highly respect you and Stimpy for the machine work you do. I have just found that taking the easy way isn't always the best way.

shlomo
January 03, 2013, 14:08
FYI, I'm not trying to "put you in your place". I highly respect you and Stimpy for the machine work you do. I have just found that taking the easy way isn't always the best way.

None such taken. Mentioning an impressive CV is a legitimate means to establish that you know your onions.

On the rare occasions that I move my tailstock laterally, I cut a test bar between (dead) centers, with collars about 10-12" apart. I recently did this and the collars were within two tenths, measured with a micrometer. I am also aware that just tightening or loosening the tailstock ram lock will change this ever so slightly. I think about things like that.

Anyway, I would choose the between centers method for a number of reasons, and being "easy" isn't one of them. Concentricity on both ends, excellent to perfect axial alignment (which translates to pretty much perfect square for shoulder and forcing cone end), and also the ability to remove the work from the machine during threading, if desired, and put it back as it was without dialing in. I would think that it would take a LOT of tailstock error to make a meaningful difference in shoulder and forcing cone squareness, or in tapering 5/8" of fine threads on a 6 or 8" workpiece.

I said I wouldn't grasp the tar-baby, but I guess I did anyway. :rofl:

ETA: Forgot about the four-jaw thing. I am a dedicated four-jaw user. I can dial in anything round on one in under three minutes to .0002 or less. The three-jaw I have is a clapped-out POS that has up to six thou TIR, depending on where the jaws are on the scroll. I only use it if I wanna slam something in the chuck, turn an OD and/or ID, and part it off. Anything that has to start true gets the four jaw.

The main reason I would not use the 4-jaw for the python barrel is that I have no way to indicate the end that is up the spindle bore. I do not have one of those long indicators that reach up there a ways in the bore, nor a precision ground rod to run a test indicator on for yaw. Just usin' the best methods have available. ;)

Prototype Services
January 04, 2013, 01:38
Sorry I hijacked the thread.

Great, and enlightening discussion. I have never used the drive dogs or turned anything between centers like that. But it seems like it would be a great way to do the barrel. After looking at the Python barrel again, I noticed the site rib is tapered which would make my experience with a 4-jaw more interesting. And if it needed to be test fitted several times, more difficult. Will still be a fun project, one day. With help!:bow:

Dasho101
January 12, 2013, 13:49
emailed smith and wesson yesterday and got a reply today. they have no barrels in stock. and the guy who emailed me seamed kind like a snarky ass in his reply.

bykerhd
January 12, 2013, 18:18
Unfortunately, along with modern expertise also sometimes comes modern "attitude".

There are some of the best pistolsmiths working today advertising in the classified and other ads in the back of American Handgunner magazine.

If you decide to continue the project.