Don't see much of that anymore, swappin' around barrels on revolvers. It was pretty common practice in the days following WW II. Why it was done was pretty much because it could be done. But shooters have always liked to tinker with their sixguns and change them up from the way they came from the factory.
Colts were the primary source, because of the lack of the front locking lug found on Smiths. And the New Service, or the Colt M1917, was a prime candidate. Remember, these guns were selling for under $15.00 at times, so they weren't that big of a loss if something went wrong.
One of the favored hybrids was to fit a Single Action Army barrel to the New Service. Caliber, of course, was either .45 Colt or .45 ACP. The SAA barrel didn't have the unsightly bulge at the breech end that the New Service barrel did. Heck, I remember Thompson SMG barrels being fitted to the New Service, Cutts Compensator and all. These with the fins milled off. Some even made custom barrels threaded for the Cutts Comp.
And, the little J-Frame or I-framed Smiths were fitted with Colt barrels, for some obscure reason. Heavier weight was one excuse, as most used the heavy Colt Officers Model Special or Officers Model Match barrels. These in both .22 r.f. or .38 Special.
At one time I saw some SAAs fitted with New Service barrels, for one gosh-awful looking gun.
Probably the least likely were the British Royal Irish Constabulary revolvers which had inserts silver soldered in the chambers and either new barrels fitted or the barrel lined. Most of the ones I saw were, for reasons I never figured, in .25-20 WCF. It was an awful platform from which to begin.
In the '60s and '70s, the practice of fitting Colt Python barrels to the Smith Model 19 became a popular practice in Police Practical type matches. This did lead to Smith's introduction of the L-Frame models.
If you can dream it up, a 'smith can buiild it up.
I just had a little barrel "Swappin'" done on a couple of my revolvers. The first was on my OM three screw Ruger Single Six. It originally had a 5-1/2" barrel on it. Many years ago I got the idea to have it chopped to 4-5/8", but the so-called "gunsmith" that did the work messed it up pretty badly. I was able to find a 9-1/2" barrel for it on eBay and now she looks like this:
This one is my Ruger Bisley in .44 magnum. It started out with a 4-5/8" barrel, but I find I like the longer barrels for a more muzzle heavy feel (It also helps with my old eyes!). Again, I was able to find a 7-1/2" barrel on eBay and here are the results:
The last one is not an actual barrel swap, but I did have the barrel on my M-65 cut down from 4" to 3". The muzzle was recrowned and a new front sight was then dovetailed into the barrel rib. Finally, the original square butt was converted to round butt configuration:
Sure do like that M-65. That is one fine looking revolver. Good luck with it.
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