Age of Smith & Wesson CTG


September 17, 2007, 09:57 PM
I'm trying to find out the age and date of manufacture of a .38 Smith & Wesson CTG. It was my grandmother's.

Serial # 246397, on bottom of butt. No letters in serial #.

It weighs about 1 lb. 2.6 oz. according to my postal scale.

It doesn't have a visible hammer.

Seems to have a 3" barrel if I'm measuring correctly - from the bullet chamber. It appears to be a five-shooter.

From far end of butt to tip of barrel, it measure 8 inches. A magnet sticks to it, if that's helpful.

On the top of the barrel it has Smith & Wesson Springfield Mass USA

Any information would be great. Thanks so much.


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September 17, 2007, 10:09 PM
You've got a 38 Safety Hammerless (also called a "Lemon Squeezer") 5th Model, made sometime between 1907 and 1940. The serial number is from around the middle of that range, but I'm sure someone with a Standard Catalog of S&W can give you a better date.

September 18, 2007, 12:02 AM
Thank you so much. Very helpful.

If anyone has more information, please comment.

Ron James
September 18, 2007, 12:20 AM
Alexa, You don't have a 38 S&W cartridge, You have a Smith and Wesson revolver that is chambered in .38 Smith and Wesson. 38 Smith and Wesson CTG ( CTG means cartridge) is simply the caliber. SDC had the model right and dates. I would guess yours was made in 1939:)

September 18, 2007, 12:51 AM
Ron James said:

"You don't have a 38 S&W cartridge, You have a Smith and Wesson revolver that is chambered in .38 Smith and Wesson."

I'm not sure what that means.

I just simply thought .38 meant "caliber" and it would be the type of bullets it uses. I also have a box of .38 bullets so that was my reasoning.

I'm still trying to figure out how to open the cylinder. Not much to push and pull on this thing, except the trigger.

The date makes sense. I don't know if she bought it new or used, but I was thinking it must have been made before 1944 because that's when she and her daughter moved, alone, to the "big city" and I suspect that's around the time she bought it, or at least just after her husband died in the mid-1930s. So 1939 sounds good to me.

Thanks so much.

Jim Watson
September 18, 2007, 08:22 AM
Terminology: The "CTG" on the barrel of most Smith & Wessons is the abbreviation for "Cartridge". Bullets are projectiles, the whole loaded round of ammunition is a cartridge.

Grandma's revolver is as SDC said. It is made for the .38 Smith & Wesson Cartridge. This is NOT the same as .38 Special. Be sure you have the right ammunition.

To open, grasp the two checkered areas of the top latch at the top rear of the frame and pull up and a bit forward. The barrel and cylinder will hinge forward from the frame and butt. As the gun opens, the automatic ejector will rise from the rear of the cylinder to eject the empty cases, if it had been loaded and fired. As it opens further, the ejector will snap back down into place and the gun can be loaded by dropping one cartridge into each of the five chambers. Close the gun by hinging the barrel and cylinder back down to the frame until the top latch engages.

Old Fuff
September 18, 2007, 08:38 AM
Notice on the back of the barrel at the top there is a latch. On each side the latch is round and checkered. Lift on this latch and rotate it upward and forward. The barrel will then rotate downward similar to opening a double-barreled shotgun. If there were cartridges in the cylinder they would be extracted and ejected. Twist the barrel backwards and it will close and the latch will again secure it again.

There are many .38 cartridges of different kinds. The one your revolver is chambered for is called the .38 S&W. The more common .38 Special is a different and unrelated cartridge.

On the back of the handle you will see a lever or bar. It is a grip safety. To fire the revolver your hand must depress this lever before the trigger can be pulled. S&W advertised that this feature made it difficult if not impossible for a small child to fire the gun because their hands were too small, and finger strength too weak, to both depress the lever and pull the heavy double-action trigger pull. This feature may have influenced your Grandma if or when she bought the gun.

It was one of Smith & Wesson's most popular models, and remained in production from 1887 to about 1940 or early 1941.

Measured from the cylinder face, the barrel is 3 1/4" inches long.

September 18, 2007, 11:59 PM
Hey, thanks, guys. I'll give it a try later. Sounds like it opens similar to my old Wyatt Earp toy cap guns I had as a kid. Can't believe I didn't think of that. I guess I was thinking on more modern terms with "safety locks" and such.

I did push on the top thing I thought could be a latch but nothing happened. Now that I know that's definitely how it should open, I'll try again when I dig the gun out again.

The safety bar on the grip doesn't want to move either. I'm wondering if it's "frozen" because it was near flood waters for over a month and in a damp house for weeks after. The water didn't touch it but the humidity and atmosphere were more than nasty for all that time. I'm going to take it to a gunsmith but I wanted to act like I knew something about it before I brought it. :cool:

You've all be so helpful. This is such a great site with so many helpful people. Thank you so very much. :)

Jim Watson
September 19, 2007, 08:07 AM
It looks very good externally, I hope the grip safety can be freed up without too much trouble. You need a good gunsmith, those little guns are kind of complicated.

Old Fuff
September 19, 2007, 08:41 AM
Jim is right on! Very few gunsmiths understand these kinds of revolvers, and disassembly - especially without certain tools - can result in problems. There are several small flat springs (including the one that tensions the grip safety) that are easy to break, and both difficult and expensive to replace.

That little bar doesn't have to move very far to unblock the hammer. If while holding the gun you can pull the trigger that safety's working as it should. Don't dry-fire it more then necessary because this can cause the firing pin to break. Fortunately they are available.

The best way to deal with this, at least to start with, is to CAREFULLY remove the stocks (they are now brittle with age) and then submerge the gun in a bath of penetrating oil. Let it soak for a few days, and then use an air hose to blow out excessive oil.

You can easly remove the cylinder. Open the barrel. While holding the cylinder latch up, turn the cylinder counter-clockwise and it will unscrew and come off. Reassemble in reverse order.

September 20, 2007, 04:01 AM
Thanks so much for the advice. I'll check into it. Like I said, it's a bit stubborn and I wasn't able to do anything with it yet. I'll give it another try and then it goes to the gunsmith.

Thank you very much! :)

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