A Little Rags to Riches for Your Friday

Some of you may have followed the story of this little gun in the blog, but here it is in a nutshell.

A few years back I ran across a S&W I-frame .32 Hand Ejector in a pretty miserable state. Basically there was no finish left, some minor pitting, the timing was buggered, there was massive endplay in the cylinder and an enormous cylinder gap and, to top it all off, the bore looked horribly pitted. I got it very cheap.

…and this was it’s good side.

I detail-stripped the gun and cleaned a century of gunk out of the mechanism, which miraculously solved the timing problem. I wasn’t sure the bore was salvageable, but I cleaned it out with Hoppe’s #9 and some bronze wool. It took a while, but what eventually what had looked like a pitted, useless mess turned out to be a pretty decent bore.

I shimmed the cylinder to remove the endplay, then removed the barrel. I relieved the front of the frame slightly, allowing the barrel to set back to produce a decent cylinder-gap of .005″.

Lastly I sanded the frame to remove every trace of rust, some of the lighter pitting and the last traces of the original finish, then refinished it in Antique Gray (similar to French Gray.) Eventually I stripped it again and rust blued it. It’s been through a couple of different grips, but today I settled on these antique mother-of-pearl grips donated from another gun.


It’s a handsome gun and a great shooter, and a prized possession! Not bad for a gun well on it’s way to the junk-heap of history.

So why am I telling you about this? Because I didn’t know how to do any of this when I bought the gun. Some creative Googling, a few Youtube videos, common everyday tools and a few items (like the rust-blue solution) bought online and a few- OK, more than a few- evenings were all it took. The most ‘exotic’ tool used was a Harbor Freight bench vise. The important thing is this- if I can do it, so can you.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 26 july 2019


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