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I used to collect stuff. Divorce put an end to that. Not just financially. Spiritually, I grew to appreciate the old Zen koan “That which you own, owns you.” So I don’t own a lot of expensive anything, including guns. [Note to Internet-savvy gun thieves: that’s not a head fake.] Still, I am of the firm belief that Smith & Wesson stainless steel revolvers are some of the finest firearms ever made by hand of man. To my mind, they are as inherently valuable as a Breguet watch, and a whole lot less expensive. Even so, factory-issued limited edition Smiths strike me as a little . . . forced. Especially when they cost “only” $1370, as is the case (literally) for the Smith & Wesson limited edition Model 27 revolver, “dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of the .357 Magnum.” Here’s the pitch . . .

“Both the .357 Magnum and the Model 27 are living examples of this and they demonstrate our company’s innovative mind-set and willingness to stretch the boundaries. The anniversary Model 27 is truly artwork on a steel canvas and it would be a welcome addition to anyone’s personal collection.”

I hate it when they do that: sell a product as appropriate for . . . everyone! And use that “you know you want it” assumptive closing technique. Unless we’re talking about colorized two-dollars bills and the tat hawked by the Franklin Mint, collectors are a finicky lot. They want to know, well, this stuff:

Constructed of carbon steel and built on a large N-Frame, this six-shot .357 Magnum/.38 S&W Special revolver is available with a 6 ½ – inch barrel and a bright blued finish. Across the revolver’s barrel, frame and cylinder, elaborate engraving gives the Model 27 a striking look and sense of purpose. The classic handgun comes with engraved square-butt walnut grips, pinned patridge front sight and a micro-adjustable rear sight.

Featuring a crisp single action and smooth double action trigger pull, the revolver stays true to the specifications of the original Model 27 while meeting modern shooters’ demands for accuracy and reliability. Only 500 anniversary models will be produced with a unique serial number range from SFY0001 to SFY0500. Each Model 27 will be shipped complete with a wooden glass top presentation case.

I’ve bought and sold enough stuff to know that sometimes it pays to pay more. While the Model 27 is a fun, handsome gun, if you’re going to buy a factory-engraved Smith to salt away, why not put down seven grand on Smith’s Custom Engraved Model 22 – Model of 1917 Centennial.

Or better yet, spend less. Buy a non-engraved, original model with a bit of history for around $700 (including period holster) and have some fun shooting the shit out of it. Like I said, I’ve changed.

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  1. I share your enthusiasm for S&W revolvers.

    As some other gun-sage once said, an automatic pistol is just a machine. A fine revolver is a work of art.

  2. What handgunner wouldn't want such a magnificent piece of history, and engineering artwork, as the Smith and Wesson Model 27? It's like owning your own new-production Deusenberg roadster, or Beechcraft Staggerwing: thrilling to use, and eye-watering to behold. Since I am constitutionally incapable of buying something fun and gorgeous without actually using it, I hope they produce a non-engraved version (at a lower price) for those of us who like to own our history and shoot it too.

    While 'collector value' goes way down when a gun is used (as opposed to oiled and stored forever), the Model 27 is unlikely to suffer much from regular firing. The original .357 Magnum load was a hotrod by today's standards, blasting a 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter at over 1,500 fps. Only Buffalo Bore and a handful of specialty ammunition makers can compete with these ballistics, 73 years later.

    The Model 27 was built to be a shooter. I want one.

  3. Chris: You can probably find one used for a lot less than S&W will want for a new one. The Model 28 (Highway Patrolman) would be another possibility. It had a matte-type finish but like the 27, it was built on the beefy N-Frame.

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