Pinto Smiths

by
posted on April 17, 2013
wiley-clapp.jpg (2)

In the 1970s, I lived and worked in an area with a number of excellent gun stores. One of them was in a coastal city, and about half the salesmen were off-duty deputy sheriffs. This store was big enough to have an enormous array of guns, both new and used, and it was well connected to the major makers, so rare guns were not uncommon. It was in this cop-friendly emporium that I saw my first Smith & Wesson pinto revolver. Now, what is a Smith & Wesson “pinto” handgun?

The term is collector slang for a S&W handgun with different parts finished in standard blue and nickel plate. This two-tone finish is somewhat reminiscent of the sharply contrasting colors of a pinto pony, providing the name. Most commonly, the pintos involved a J, K or N frame revolver with nickel barrel and cylinder with the rest of the gun blued, though exceptions have been noted by the avid collectors. Only a few autos have been seen, usually Model 39s and 59s.

There are numerous theories as to how this style of handgun came to be. Some say that it came as a result of excess parts on hand. Others maintain that the Pintos were ordered by large distributors because the guns were novelties that might sell very well. S&W’s historian once told me that this began as a tradition that was started in the earliest days of the company. There is certain logic to a revolver with nickel barrel and cylinder, with the remainder blued. It’s particularly understandable in the black powder era, when corrosion of the parts immediately associated with firing is unavoidable. Today, we view nickel plating as primarily cosmetic, but it is much more resistant to corrosion than blued steel.

Regardless of the reason for them, S&W’s pintos are growing in their collector value. And they shoot every bit as well as the all blue or all nickel guns from the company’s golden age.

Latest

Springfield Armory Sa35 Rifleman Review 4
Springfield Armory Sa35 Rifleman Review 4

Rifleman Review: Springfield Armory SA-35

In 2021, Springfield Armory brought out its SA-35, a rendition of the classic Browning Hi Power, one of the iconic handguns of the 20th century.

New For 2024: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport III

In a crowded AR-15 market, consumers are looking for the best bang for their buck. Most look no further than the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport, and the company has an updated generation out for 2024.

Handloads: A 10 mm Auto Loaded For Bear

The fear of a bear attack has likely sold more 10 mm Auto handguns than all firearm advertising combined. The 10 mm does deliver some impressive ballistics for a cartridge chambered in semi-automatic handguns.

The Rifleman Report: Creative Minds At Work

As all of us who experience this “mortal coil” eventually learn, the days seem more fleeting with each passing year. For those of us who make a living observing and reporting about the firearm industry, they eventually result in a somewhat disorganized pile of memories about companies, products and the people who create them.

Smith & Wesson Issues Safety Alert For Response Carbines

Smith & Wesson has identified a condition in which an out-of-battery discharge can occur when certain Response bolts fail to fully close before the trigger is pulled.

Review: GForce LVR410

With a long and storied history in the United States, lever-action carbines continue to be favorites among modern American shooting sports enthusiasts. This evaluation takes a closer look at the 24"-barreled LVR410, which is being imported by GForce Arms, Inc. of Reno, Nev.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.