The revolver had been gathering dust on the display shelf, unwanted and unappreciated. It was one of a group of police trade-ins purchased by my local gun shop, the Sportsman’s Loft. It was a S&W Model 13 .357 with 3″ barrel and round butt. The 13 and its stainless steel version, Model 65, appeared some 40 years ago. They served a generation of plainclothes law enforcement officers, and were the choice of agencies such as the FBI.
They were replaced not by better revolvers, but by auto pistols. The 13/65 revolvers were the last of their type, and arguably the best — elegantly simple, reliable, an ideal balance of size, weight, accuracy, controllable recoil and power.
So, why was this example languishing on the shelf? It looked terrible, with worn finish, surface rust, even some pitting. Most potential buyers took one look, shuddered and moved on to something prettier. I was about to do the same when I noticed the side plate screws were in perfect condition. Whatever else it had suffered, at least no one had attacked it with an ill-fitting screwdriver.
When Chris handed it to me, inspection showed the chambers and bore were immaculate, with not a trace of rust or pitting. The holes in the frame for the firing pin and cylinder-locking bolt were unworn and perfectly round. The cylinder stop notches showed no indication of peening. There was no indication of flame cutting. With the cylinder closed there was barely detectable rotational play and no perceptible fore-and-aft play. Both single and double action, the cylinder carried up properly. I was holding a practically new revolver; it was just uglier than a flat tire in a mud hole. I told Chris to start the paperwork.
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