Pre Model 36 Chief Special


August 23, 2006, 04:52 PM
new user here. I just received my authentication from S&W. i have a Pre-Model 36 Chief Special that was shipped in 1956 to a company in SF, CA.

The right side of the 2" barrel is marked ".38 S&W CTG" . I can not find this marking on any of the other guns like this that I have researched. All of them are marked ".38 S&W SPL" .

Do any of you know anything about this revolver? It is in excellent condition and has been fired less than 100 times. 93 times in the past month to be exact.



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Harry Paget Flashman
August 23, 2006, 05:15 PM
CTG stands for cartridge. My guess is...old gun, old terminology. I've seen CTG before on guns. My only concern would be ".38 S&W CTG" meaning ".38 S&W cartridge" instead of .38 Special(two different rounds). But, I do not believe the Model 36 ever came in the .38 S&W caliber.

I like the term "new user here".:) Sounds like a line you'd hear at a 12 step meeting.

August 23, 2006, 05:20 PM
Thanks Harry. I should have mentioned that fact. This revlover does not shoot a .38 Special. It shoots a .38 Short, which I am finding is quite expensive and difficult to find these days.

PS... My name is Larry and I am a gunaholic.

Old Fuff
August 23, 2006, 06:32 PM
Well Larry, welcome to The High Road.

Your problem is one of mis-identification. You don't have a pre-model 36, but rather a 38/32 Terrier (model 32-1). Measure the cylinder length and see if it isn't 1.38" (1 3/8") long. The Terrier was similar to the Chief Special (model 36) except it was chambered in .38 S&W (not Special) and had a shorter cylinder. Before 1961 it was made on S&W's I-frame or "Improved" I -frame. In 1961 they started making it as the model 32-1 on the J-frame. From the pictures you posted it appears that your revolver is one built on the J-frame. Post the serial number on the butt, and also see if the frame isn't marked 32-1 behind the yoke cut. Swing out the cylinder so you can see it. The thumbpiece and stocks indicate it was made between 1966 and 1968.

Incidentally, a model 32 is much more scarce then a model 36. Any collectors following this thread will quickly notice... ;)

August 23, 2006, 07:12 PM
Here is the letter from S&W. Let me know if this helps. The last paragraph on page 2 speaks about this particular revolver.

Cylinder = 1 1/4 inches exactly
Yoke is marked with a "P" above the number "74017"
SN# 80563

Thanks again

Old Fuff
August 23, 2006, 09:03 PM
Roy Jinks is a personal friend of mine, and he seldom goofs, but this time he did and I can see why if you sent him a copy of the photograph(s) you posted because for all the world it does look like a pre-model 36. Also the serial number you gave him could have thrown him off. :eek:

The .38/32 Terrier was introduced in 1936 at serial number 38,976 in the .38 Regulation Police serial number series that started at No. 1 during 1917. The Terrier was made on S&W’s I-frame, chambered exclusively in .38 S&W, and had a cylinder 1.250” (1 Ό”) long, with a round butt and 2” barrel. Following World War Two they slightly revised the frame, principally by changing the mainspring from leaf to coil, and called it the “Improved” I-frame. It also had a cylinder 1.250” long. In 1957 they started stamping the frame inside the yoke cut with the model number, in this case the model 32. In 1961 they discontinued the I-frame (Improved and otherwise) and changed to the well-known J-frame that was normally made in .38 Special. The first J-frame version was stamped “32-1.” It supposedly had a cylinder 1.38” (1 3/8”) long. For reference, the model 36 cylinder is 1.53” inches long. In the model 32-1, the flat latch (which is on your revolver) was introduced in 1966, and the diamond around the stock screw was discontinued around 1968. J-frame production started at serial number 712,954, but 1969 they started a new serial number series with an “R” prefix. The .38/32 Terrier was discontinued in 1974.

Your Revolver has a serial number of 80,563 – which is way out of sequence unless the letter “R” precedes it. Check the number on the butt again. The number “74017 in the yoke cut is an assembly number, and of no consequence to us here, although the same number should be stamped on the yoke. It has an I-frame length cylinder, which is quite possible because they often used up surplus parts. Serial number R-80,563 would have been made around 1971-72, and I suspect they were using up the last of the I-frame cylinders, rather then making new ones in the 1.38”, J-frame length.

Run this across Roy Jinks again with the additional information I’ve provided, including a full description of all the markings on the gun. In particular check for the letter “R” as a serial number prefix. I think you’ll get a second letter at no additional charge. If the letter “R” is there on the butt I know what threw him off.

August 23, 2006, 10:35 PM
Fluff... you are a walking encyclopedia and I am truly impressed with your knowledge on this subject.

There are no ALPHA characters in the SN#. 80563 is the number and it has not been altered.

You are correct on the number stamped on the Yoke. It is indeed duplicated on the Yoke Cut.

I am so confused now it aint funny. I can tell you that my father came into posession of this gun around 1962 if that helps us here. There are no other numbers anywhere on this gun other than what I have provided.

How could S&W /Roy Jinks be wrong on this? If they know exactly when and where it was shipped by the SN#, surely they would know what they shipped.


August 23, 2006, 11:27 PM
I have a Terrier just like that and it was made in 1957 and not that far off from your serial # ! Jinks needs to be contacted and corrected providence issued for the $$ you spent!

August 23, 2006, 11:41 PM
Don't know if this helps, but I removed the grips tonight and this gun has a Coil hammer spring.

Anyway to contact Mr. Jinks directly? I would like a legitimate ID on the gun from S&W for future benefit.

Gordon.. is this gun worth collecting? What would be a fair value on it today?

Old Fuff
August 24, 2006, 12:49 AM
How could S&W /Roy Jinks be wrong on this? If they know exactly when and where it was shipped by the SN#, surely they would know what they shipped.

I think that based on the information you sent him, Roy looked up the records for the model 36 (not 32-1) and determined that a revolver with that serial number had been shipped in 1956. Remember that these particular model revolvers were numbered in different serial number series. In post-war production, pre-model 32-1 production started at serial number 54,474 in 1949, but these early guns were made on the Improved I-frame. This range of numbers contined to January, 1969 and ended at 122,687. Then they started the "R" series.

At this time S&W would make up frames and serial number them for future production. If the model was a slow seller, or the frame was put back, it might not be assembled into a revolver until months or ever years after the frame was made and numbered.

Roy's records come from old shipping ledgers not production records. Perhaps at a later date someone at the factory came across the frame and had it built into a model 32-1 rather then a pre-36. The only difference between the guns would be the barrels and cylinders.

Or perhaps something went wrong with the stamping machine and the “R” wasn’t made. I am sure that certain features (cylinder latch thumbpiece, stocks, barrel style and front sight shape, etc.) seem to date it around 1966 – 69. Others sources state that the flat thumpiece was available as early as 1955.

Believe me, no one would be more interested in finding the answers to this then Mr. Jinks himself. You may find that you have a unique gun. :)

Call the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, MA and try to reach him at (800) 331-0852

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