The US Postal Service placed an order for 150 custom Smith & Wesson Military & Police revolvers chambered for the .22lr cartridge. These revolvers were intended for staff training. By the late 1960’s these revolvers were sold to the gun trade and found their way into gun stores all over the United States.
These revolvers have become sought after collector’s items because of their rarity.
- In around 1955 the United States Post Office placed a special order with Smith & Wesson for 150 custom Military & Police revolvers chambered in .22lr.
- These “Post Office” revolvers were delivered in 1958 and have become a highly sought after collector’s item in part because of their rarity.
- In the late 1960’s these revolvers were sold and found their way into gun shops around the United States.
- One of these revolvers made its way to Fay’s Gun Shop of Chagrin Falls, Ohio in 1967, where it was purchased by a man named Frank G. Barnard.
- Frank Barnard wanted to have this revolver custom engraved and so he commissioned Floyd E. Warren to do the work for him. This actually cost more than the price he had paid for the revolver.
- The work took from 1968 until 1971 to be completed and the end result is well worth it, as can be seen from the pictures of it.
- This revolver is coming up for sale by Rock Island Auction at their Premier Auction to be held on 8th December 2023.
Among the most rare of the Smith & Wesson revolvers of the mid-late 1950’s are the special order Military & Police batch made in .22lr for the US Postal Service.
In 1958 a small batch of just 150 of these revolvers were made and intended to be used by Post Office staff as training guns.
These revolvers went on to become a much sought after collector’s item, they are designated as “Pre-Model 45” and tend to attract a premium price when they turn up for sale.
These revolvers were kept in Post Office ownership for a period of years before being sold off, which is when they moved into the hands of private owners.
One of these “Post Office” revolvers went to Fay’s Gun Shop of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and there it was spied by a man named Frank Barnard in 1967 who stumped up the princely sum of $83.20 to make the handy little Smith & Wesson “post office” revolver his own.
Frank G. Barnard had plans for this new revolver he’d just acquired, he wanted it custom engraved in the theme of the traditional Texas cattle brand pattern pioneered by Cole Agee and carried on by Weldon Bledsoe.
To do this work Frank Barnard sought out the services of Floyd E. Warren: Frank wanted the best workmanship obtainable on this revolver and he had confidence that Warren was a man who would do an outstanding job.
Barnard placed no less than $100.00 dollars into Floyd E. Warren’s hands and then waited patiently for the work to be completed.
It took almost three years for the engraving work and custom refinishing of the revolver to be completed. Floyd E. Warren began the work in 1968, and completed it in 1971.
The completed work features prominent and historic Texas cattle brands used in the 1880s and early 1900s, with the brands featured over a stippled background as has been traditional for this style of engraving.
The use of the stippled background serves to highlight the brand patterns in a very aesthetic way, making them stand out with crisp clarity.
In addition to the engraving which covers nearly the whole surface of the revolver Floyd E. Warren has fitted gold enhancements in the form of single gold inlaid bands on the barrel muzzle and breech, double gold inlaid bands on the rear of the cylinder, and a gold outline on the trigger guard with the initials FGB in gold inlay on the underside.
Floyd E. Warren signed the engraved revolver on the left side of the frame under the grip, so his signature is tastefully hidden unless one takes the grip off.
The grips are of polished antique bone and give the completed revolver a quite unique look: it is both eye-catching and functional.
This revolver is coming up for sale by Rock Island Auction at their Premier Auction to be held on 8th December 2023.
Rock Island Auction describe the condition of this revolver as follows:-
“Very fine as beautifully custom embellished by F.E. Warren with 99% plus of the blue finish remaining, a cylinder drag line, and very limited handling marks. The hammer and trigger retain nearly all original case colors. The exceptionally fine grips are highly attractive and display on the slightest handling marks. Mechanically excellent. A rare documented U.S. Post Office shipped S&W .22 M&P revolver decorated with a highly desirable relief cattle brand engraving that will make a grand statement to any S&W or Texas themed collection”
Picture credits: All pictures courtesy Rock Island Auction.
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.