On this week’s Wheelgun Wednesday we are throwing it back once again to what appears to be a familiar revolver, but in fact is something unlikely. At first glance you might think this looks like a vintage Model 29 or Model 27 from Smith & Wesson which are fairly common and desirable, but it is actually a Smith & Wesson Model 25-2 (1955 Target Model) chambered in .45 Auto (.45 ACP). Many shooters are aware that .45 Long Colt is a common cartridge for wheelguns in both single-action and double-action, but when some manufacturers get a little squirrely they make some 6-shooters in .45 Auto just for kicks.
The Model 25, and all of its permutations, from the original firearm was produced from 1955 through 1991 before it was retired. The cartridges it was chambered in were either .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt, or .45 Auto Rim. Depending on the “dash number” or engineering change, if you were at a loss for what your Model 25 was chambered in, the exact model name could tell you. Generally, odd dash numbered models were in .45 Long Colt while even ones were in .45 ACP:
- Odd Dash Numbered Models in .45 Long Colt – (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13)
- Even Dash Numbered Models in .45 ACP – (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12)
For people wondering why engineering change number “1” is not mentioned, well it was not labeled as a Model 25-1, but simply a Model 25. Also, if you have an early enough vintage where it was simply a Model 25 those revolvers were manufactured in both .45 Long Colt and .45 ACP (separately, of course). It was not until the first engineering change of a Model 25-2 (like the example in all of our photos) where Smith & Wesson started playing hot potato back and forth with the cartridges it was chambered in.
While I do not have a Letter of Authenticity from Smith & Wesson to nail down the date of this 1955 Target Model I own, through some of the paperwork in its original box I can give a best guess of it being produced in 1967. If am wildly wrong in my estimation the oldest it could be is from 1961 when the “Model 25-2” engineering change began.
Not only do I have a fascination with most all firearms, especially older double-action revolvers, I also am intrigued by how people describe and phrase things. Us ‘current’ gun folks have our own language and vernacular we use around the water cooler and gun range, but so did the shooters of old. This is the exact wording of the specification listing that came with this 1955 Target Model from back in 1967:
- Caliber…… .45 A. C. P.
- Number of Shots…… 6
- Barrel…… 6 1/2″
- Length Overall…… 11 7/8″
- Weight…… 45 oz.
- Sights…… Front: 1/8″ plain Patridge, Rear: S&W Micrometer Click Sight, adjustable for windage and elevation.
- Hammer…… Wide checked target type
- Trigger…… Wide target type with S&W grooving and internal trigger stop.
- Frame…… Square butt with grooved tangs.
- Stocks…… Oversize target type of checked walnut with S&W monograms.
- Finish…… S&W Blue
- Ammunition…… .45 A. C. P., .45 Auto-Rim, .45 Automatic Wad Cutter
A lot of the marketing for all firearms today has over-the-top, buzzword marketing and phrasing that can occasionally make even us gun writers cringe a bit. So, I also find it interesting to see how companies like Smith & Wesson “pitched” or described their own products from back in the day as well. This excerpt is taken from the Owner’s Manual pamphlet (they did not have multi-page manuals back then, but rather just a single sheet pamphlet):
The Smith & Wesson 1955 .45 Target revolver is a 6-shot breech-loading hand weapon. It is produced with a solid frame and a swing-out type of cylinder, having 6 chambers around a central axis so that 6 shots may be fired before reloading is necessary. The weapon may be fired either single action or double action, and cocking the hammer by either method causes the cylinder to rotate and align the next chamber with the barrel. The rate of fire is limited only by the dexterity of the operator in reloading the cylinder and his ability to aim the weapon and pull the trigger.
As far as a value for a Model 25-2 (1955 Target Model) like all old guns it is based on condition. I had the dumb luck and good fortune of acquiring this revolver from an older gentleman and it is unfired. I have the original blue cardboard metal-crimped box, its coinciding wood presentation box, and the bland cardboard box that housed all of it.
A wheelgun of this age, condition, and chambering goes for roughly $700 – $800 according to a standard Blue Book of Gun Values. Any Model 25 manufactured before 1982 that has a 6 1/2″ pinned barrel also has an additional $150 of value (which this example does). So, on the extremely optimistic side this could be close to a $1,000 revolver while more pessimistic projections would put it around $800. Again, any gun is only worth what someone is willing to pay you on any given day. I am absolutely keeping this beauty, but if you own a Model 25 at home that is some perspective of where yours might lie.
For anyone who is completely enamoured with the .45 ACP round and wants to launch it out of a revolver, a Model 25 could be just the ticket for you. Smith & Wesson makes a reproduction Model 25 Classic currently if you want to relive that wadcutter nostalgia. For all of our wheelgun lovers out there, what is your favorite Smith & Wesson revolver? What is your favorite revolver cartridge to shoot? Obsolete, uncommon, difficult to find, or otherwise? Let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.