.38 Military & Police Model of 1905 - ( 4th change )


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CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 11:38 AM
I am a new member and am unfamiliar with this Site.

I have just purchased a Smith and Wesson which I believe is a
.38 Military & Police Model of 1905 - ( 4th change )
The patent information on the top of the barrel is as follows:
October 8,01.December 17,01.Feb.6,06.Sept 14,09.Dec 29,14

The 38 Special revolver has serial numbers (SN 267xxx) stamped on the bottom of the butt, the rear face of the cylinder, and the bottom of the barrel above the ejector rod which all match and there are no letters in the serial number.

The Assembly # 2031 is inside the cylinder area.
1. Length of barrel (measured from the cylinder face to the end of the muzzle). = 6 inch

2. Adjustable sights

3. Dull or Brushed Nickel Finish - the finish looks more like Stainless Steel than Nickel.

The finish and the revolver is in excellent condition. The grips look old and have considerable wear but are in good shape with the center screw and the S&W emblem on each side. The grips look to be 90 years old and original.

I believe this revolver was manufactured about 1920 but I can't figure out the finish as it appears to look like stainless instead of nickel plate.

There are four screws on the right side of the revolver that hold the plate.

Is someone familiar with this finish on this revolver or can tell me more about it? I believe this revolver was made long before stainless being used.

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JesseL
May 14, 2008, 12:06 PM
Can you post a picture?

I know M&Ps were made with a nickel finish, but I've never heard of one with adjustable sights. Someone far more knowledgeable about older Smiths will be along shortly, but I'm guessing you may have something like a K-38.

Here's the M&P I inherited from my Grandfather:
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m5/J_M_Lambert/Guns/100_2567.jpg

mec
May 14, 2008, 12:20 PM
It could be a military and police target model that somebody had refinished with electroless nickle or the same or similar process that was popular a couple decades ago. can't think of the name but it may have started with an "n".
Supica and Nahas give the serial number range 241,704- 700,000 from 1915-1942 making your assement of 1920 very feasible. Heat treated cylinders began at # 316648 generally given as about 1920. Some would recommend against shooting earlier ones and it would be a good idea to avoid +P loads. If it was made in or after 1920, the knife thin front sight and tiny groove sight has given way to a larger and more visible sight picture.
Target sighted models in original condition are somewhat more valuable than those with service sights.

Old Fuff
May 14, 2008, 12:59 PM
If it is a factory nickeled 1905 .38 M&P Target (adjustable sight) model it would be most unusual. They did make them, but not many - which would make it particularly interesting to a collector. It is quite possible that time has dulled the nickel. To confirm the original finish and sights do this:

Get it "lettered." To do so you will need a snapshot of the gun, a full description including the serial number on the butt, and a check in the amount of $30.00 made out to Smith & Wesson. In exchange the company's historian, Roy G. Jinks, will research the original records (which are not computerized by the way) and send you a letter containing the details of what he finds.

This comprehensive document will contain an overview of the modelís history, followed by the details of your particular gun. This usually includes the caliber, barrel length, finish, and the exact date it was shipped from the factory, and to what distributor or dealer. If there are any special features they will be listed too. If your revolver is factory original the cost of the letter would be more then offset by the increased value of the gun.

Additional information on a historical letter will be found at the Smith & Wesson company website at: www.smith-wesson.com

Onmilo
May 14, 2008, 01:20 PM
Does your revolver look like this, only with a nickle looking finish?
http://www.fototime.com/9CF8D6D90CF083B/standard.jpg
Nickle does dull to a satin looking finish if not maintained.
It will also begin to flake at this point, look to see if there are areas of the nickle plating that are missing or beginning to bubble up off the metal.
If these are not present then the revolver may have had the original blue removed and you are looking at a revolver in a natural metal state.
Here is what original nickle finish looks like, this is an immediate postwar M&P made in 1946.
http://www.fototime.com/9A4D265F929DBDA/standard.jpg
If you look closely at the muzzle, you will see where my revolvers finish is beginning to frost and dull from age.

CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 03:25 PM
To JesseL,
I have a 38 Special S&W that looks exactly like you Grandfather’s revolver except mine has a 5 inch barrel.
Serial # C 311xxx

To mec,
Good information to avoid hot loads in this older gun as the Serial Number is below 316648.

To Old Fuff,
I have printed off the information to send for information from S&W Roy Jinks. I plan to do this along with getting the information on a couple of other pre 1957 S&W 38 Specials.

Onmilo,
My revolver looks very similar to your blued revolver except the front sight has a different profile, my grips look older and have a S&W emblem at the top of the grip on each side (it does look as if the grips could be interchanged) and the cylinder locking end underneath the barrel at the front end has more of a bulb.
My revolver has a uniform satin finish with no signs of wear. Mine does not resemble the finish on your nickel revolver (it is not bright). If the blue has been removed, someone has done an excellent job. There is no sign of any rust. I will try to take a picture however I am new at putting a picture on the web.

Chuck

mec
May 14, 2008, 04:00 PM
I shot a pair of those years ago. both were accurate. they looked the same with tiny round ivory bead front sights though I was told that one was made in about 1910 ( the .38 I believe) while the other in .22 LR was dated at 1930 or 31. I remember I was having a good day when I shot the 38. The light weight barrel gets kind of trembly out on the end of your arm but I managed a group of about 2.5 inches at 25 yards.

CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 04:04 PM
I was able to take a couple of pictures. How do I put the pictures on this posting?
Chuck

JesseL
May 14, 2008, 04:08 PM
To attach an image:

Hit the button at the bottom of this page labeled "Go Advanced".

Scroll down to the button labeled "Manage Attachments".

In the window that pops up hit the "Browse" button.

Select the file on your computer you'd like to display.

Click the "Upload" button.

Close the attachments window.

Submit your reply.

CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 04:28 PM
I have attached a couple of pictures. There is glare on the barrel that shows it as gold but the entire revolver has a uniform stainless steel satin finish

CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 04:42 PM
These are same view but with black background.
Chuck

Old Fuff
May 14, 2008, 06:25 PM
I believe that you were right in suspecting the gun had been refinished. The rear sight assembly and front sight blade should be blued, even on a nickeled revolver. Also the hammer and trigger should be color case hardened. Refinishing has undoubtedly lowered the collector's value, but would not hurt it as a shooter.

You can still get it lettered, but it will likely show the finish as "blued."

CSP8555
May 14, 2008, 10:04 PM
I think the revolver must have been bead-blasted and buffed and I think it may have been electrolysis with a plating. The stamped S&W markings on th side plate are not sharp, and washed out. It has not rusting and I have had it for over 24 hours. If this is a plating it is the best that I have seen and I would like to know what the plating or treatment is. This revolver looks like stainless steal.

I think this is a 1918 to 1920 .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 revolver in excelant condition.

Old Fuff
May 14, 2008, 10:24 PM
It may not rust, even if the surface isnít plated. A lot depends on your local environment. I have an old S&W .32 Safety Hammerless top-break made during the late 1890ís. It was once nickel plated, but now is devoid of about all of its original finish. Iíve had it for about a quarter century and with nothing more then an occasional coat of Johnsonís Paste Wax it hasnít rusted a bit. Of course if you live in a high humidity atmosphere that might not be the case.

CSP8555
May 15, 2008, 12:22 AM
I think the surface of my .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 (1918-1920) has been altered. I also think that this alteration is a benefit to me. I want to use this as a shooter rather than in the safe.

I would like to know what surface treatment has been done to make this look like stainless steel.
Chuck

CSP8555
May 15, 2008, 01:02 AM
I would like to thank
JesseL, mec, Old Fuff, Onmilo,

I appreciate your support and you knowledge.
CSP 8555
Chuck

SaxonPig
May 15, 2008, 09:27 AM
I'm no expert but it appears to be a Military & Police Target Model. The Target is the valuable part of that ID. Yes, it does look refinished but still a rare gun. Should be a fine shooter.

Old Fuff
May 15, 2008, 09:46 AM
Well most steel alloys do look the same, depending on how they are polished. Over time, high carbon steel usually (but not always) gets dull and may (or may not) rust. So far as plating is concerned, the cold blue test will usually prove the point, one way or the other.

Electroless chrome plating is a single-coat process, which unlike conventional nickel plating that consists of 3 layers (copper + nickel + chrome) is applied to the base steel, or in some cases - aluminum. Depending on the polish it can look like stainless steel.

In either case, you have a neat revolver that was top-quality hand crafted in a way that's no longer available - at least for an affordable price. It has, or the potential to have, the best of all available double-action trigger pulls - bar none - and without a lot of expensive custom work. It is accurate enough to hit 25-cent sized targets flipped up in the air, or cut a playing card in half after it's hit edgewise at 20 feet.

Have fun... :cool:

Checkman
May 16, 2008, 11:49 AM
I own an M&P 3rd Change with a 6" barrel (mfd. 1913). It was refinished by a real craftsman sometime in the past, but nevertheless it's a beautiful and accurate little shooter.

The sights are fixed and very tiny. But at twenty yards with shooting the classic 158 grain lead round nose it will cut the center out of a B-12 target. It seems more appropriate to shoot at a classic target when using a classic handgun. Okay I've overused classic haven't I?

Old Fuff is right. I can't get over the quality of workmanship and it's even more amazing when you consider that the M&P was just an "average" revolver for the working stiff. Times have changed.

Onmilo
May 16, 2008, 12:31 PM
I totally agree.
I know S&W made a bunch of 'improvements' to the gun when they came out with the Masterpiece line but these old target revolvers will still impress those that have the opportunity to shoot them.
Mine will still shoot respectable groups at 50 meters and at 25 meters off the bench single action the group is one hole every time with Match wadcutters.

Incidently, my revolver is a mere 26 numbers off the revolver Ed McGivern selected at the Smith and Wesson plant and was made on the same day as his Target .38.
I can't help but wonder if mine was one that the old master handled when making his selection and whether S&W made up a batch of special fitted revolvers for which he could select from.
The action on my gun is still crisp and incredibly smooth even after all these years have passed since it was made.

Garman5
January 7, 2011, 03:13 PM
I have one as well, that belonged to my grandfather. After talking to Roy Jenks at S&W, he was able to give me the model number and approximate manufacture date of 1916. Based on my description, he feels the gun may have been refinished. I plan on getting a letter from him as to the gun's history.

I am attaching some photos since it has some odd markings that somebody may know about:

S/N: 2754XX...there is also a number stamped on the yoke(?) of 6448. Just above the grip it says, "REL RUFFNER" which I am assuming is a previous owner or the gunsmith who refinished it.

Both my grandfather and father have passed away, so I am looking for some history on this gun.

Jim K
January 7, 2011, 04:07 PM
That gun dates from before 1919, so it is not stainless. I think the current "finish" is nothing more than bare steel. That, and the results of what appears to be heavy buffing, have about eliminated any collector value, even with the target sights.

The target sights appear to be the standard ones used by S&W at the time, and the gun is likely original in other respects. It is a shooter, but note that while it has a hammer block safety, it is the old type that is neither positive nor reliable, so the gun should not be carried with a round under the hammer. Also, do not use any +P or +P+ ammunition in it, only standard velocity.

Jim

Radagast
January 7, 2011, 04:29 PM
Garman5:
The grips are not original, they probably date to the 1950s, they were originally a fake ivory color. Time has not treated them well. If you ever feel the need to make your gun 'period original' you will need to find a set of round butt hard black rubber grips with rhe S&W logo impressed pn them.
The nickel plating appears to be aftermarket, if refinished by S&W the trigger and hammer would not have been nickeled as the straw colored hammer & trigger are registered trademarks of S&W.

The barrel may or may not be original to the gun. Look on the flat on the underside of the barrel. There may be a serial number stamped there, with a B prefix. If the number is B2754xx then the barrel is original to the gun, if not then it has been rebarrelled at some time in the past. If the barrel is original to the gun and has not been cut down from a longer length then yours is the earliest snub nosed M&P I have seen.
In the 1950s it was quite common to refinish old revolvers with nickel plating, fake ivory or stag grips and cutting the barrel back to two inches. As the barrel on your gun still has the locking lug I think yours is a factory two inch barrel and not a bubbaed original.
One way to check for a factory rework is to look for a star stamped near the serial number. S&W used this to indicate a refinish, re-barrel etc that was done at the factory to factory specs.
Caveats:
Your gun predates heat treatment of cylinders by a couple of years. Only shoot standard velocity lead ammo through it, no jacketed, semi jacketed, PlusP or +P+ ammo. You risk a blown or bulged cylinder if you ignore this. The original load that your sights should be regulated for is the 158 grain lead round nose, the 148 grain waddcutter should shoot close to the same point of impact. If you intend to use it as a self defence gun then look at the Nyclad range of standard velocity hollowpoints.
Your gun has a non positive hammerblock safety (the 4th change in the name refers to the 4th design change that included the safety. This safety can fail. A death during World War II when a dropped gun fired resulted in the development of the modern hammer block in use till today.
I recommend that if you keep the gun loaded that the chamber under the hammer be left empty so there is no risk of an accidental discharge.

Thanks for posting an interesting old piece. I would get it 'lettered' by Mr Jinks to find out if it is an original snubby or not. If it is I would consider sending it to Fords for a full restoration to factory specs. http://fordsguns.com/index2-1.htm That way you will have a family artwork, not a family clunker with someone elses name on it.

Radagast
January 7, 2011, 04:32 PM
Jim:
It's a necrothread, CSP8555 posted 2.5 years ago. Garman5's gun is a fixed sight job and appears to be a renickel to boot.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 02:43 AM
Garman5:
The grips are not original, they probably date to the 1950s, they were originally a fake ivory color. Time has not treated them well. If you ever feel the need to make your gun 'period original' you will need to find a set of round butt hard black rubber grips with rhe S&W logo impressed pn them.
The nickel plating appears to be aftermarket, if refinished by S&W the trigger and hammer would not have been nickeled as the straw colored hammer & trigger are registered trademarks of S&W.

The barrel may or may not be original to the gun. Look on the flat on the underside of the barrel. There may be a serial number stamped there, with a B prefix. If the number is B2754xx then the barrel is original to the gun, if not then it has been rebarrelled at some time in the past. If the barrel is original to the gun and has not been cut down from a longer length then yours is the earliest snub nosed M&P I have seen.
In the 1950s it was quite common to refinish old revolvers with nickel plating, fake ivory or stag grips and cutting the barrel back to two inches. As the barrel on your gun still has the locking lug I think yours is a factory two inch barrel and not a bubbaed original.
One way to check for a factory rework is to look for a star stamped near the serial number. S&W used this to indicate a refinish, re-barrel etc that was done at the factory to factory specs.
Caveats:
Your gun predates heat treatment of cylinders by a couple of years. Only shoot standard velocity lead ammo through it, no jacketed, semi jacketed, PlusP or +P+ ammo. You risk a blown or bulged cylinder if you ignore this. The original load that your sights should be regulated for is the 158 grain lead round nose, the 148 grain waddcutter should shoot close to the same point of impact. If you intend to use it as a self defence gun then look at the Nyclad range of standard velocity hollowpoints.
Your gun has a non positive hammerblock safety (the 4th change in the name refers to the 4th design change that included the safety. This safety can fail. A death during World War II when a dropped gun fired resulted in the development of the modern hammer block in use till today.
I recommend that if you keep the gun loaded that the chamber under the hammer be left empty so there is no risk of an accidental discharge.

Thanks for posting an interesting old piece. I would get it 'lettered' by Mr Jinks to find out if it is an original snubby or not. If it is I would consider sending it to Fords for a full restoration to factory specs. http://fordsguns.com/index2-1.htm That way you will have a family artwork, not a family clunker with someone elses name on it.
Thank you for all the information. Jenks said it was a 1916 gun originally and there is a "star" imprinted after the serial number on the butt, so it was refinished at some point. As for the serial number under the barrel, it does have what appears to be a "P" that is encircled, but could be a "B" that has slightly worn away. So, I'm guessing the barrel is original. I don't have any plans on putting any rounds through this given it's personal value to me and I have plenty of other guns I can play with. I will check out Ford's and see about getting it restored to original specs.

I know this was a necrothread, so thanks for replying to it. The thought to start a new thread crossed my mind after I posted this.

Oyeboten
January 8, 2011, 05:15 AM
Hi Garman5,



A Two Inch Barrel 'M&P' from 1916 would be exceedingly rare.


I imagine they existed as a special Order thing, but, I have not found any proof that any exist as Factory Originals, prior to the mid 1930s.



Possibly Radagast could comment on when the earliest known M&P Snubbys made their official debut as a Catalogued offering, or, if they existed as a special Oder thing form the beginning?


Since yours does not have a matching Serial Number on the flat underside of the Barrel, we would have to assume it was most likely re-Barreled at some later date, possibly by Smith & Wesson, or, someone else.


Obtaining a 'Letter' would solve the mystery, since it would state the Barrel Length it was shipped with originally.



I like those Stocks...they look like Amber.


I would not mind finding some like that in fact.


What if any Nomenclature or text is on the Barrel? And, could you post some close up images of it?



The quality of the Nickle job looks very good, so, who ever did it, was very well versed in quality Work...and, it may have been S&W who did the refinish and the possible rebarrel.

Radagast
January 8, 2011, 09:46 AM
Garman5:
I suggest you go to www.thefiringline.com and search posts by member Hammer IT.
Or use google image search for his name and Fords or S&W.
He has had several old and battered S&Ws restored by Fords to factory new condition and has posted before and after pics. IIRC they can even restore poorly polished roll marks.
Be aware that purist collectors will have a hissy fit about restoring a historical gun, normally I would be opposed too, but a gun with family history has a different value to me than a gun with broad historic value - restoring it is the same as looking after any family asset that I hope will be appreciated by future generations.

Oyeboten:
The 2 inch barrel was first offered with the 4th Change variant. I read Garman5's post as the barrel serial number matches the frame. If I am correct that makes his gun one of the first, if not the first factory K frame snub. If not the first, it's probably the earliest surviving K frame snub.

In the last year we've had the 5th production .44 Magnum turn up in the date of birth thread, a couple of 1st model triple locks that were doing duty as night stand guns and of course your immaculate snubby. I don't think it improbable that the very first K frame snubby would appear on The High Road. :)

Old Fuff
January 8, 2011, 11:48 AM
Concerning Smith & Wesson's .38 Military & Police revolvers with "pencil" style barrels.

All of these barrels were made from forgings, with the front sight being part of the forging. Each length of barrel was made from it's own forging, and unlike Colt's or some other makes, a longer barrel wasn't cut down to make a shorter one and the front sight relocated at the factory, although it often happened outside of the company. Also when it came to the 2-inch length the underlug at the front was part of the forging, and it - as well as the front sight had to be different then forgings for other lengths of barrels. So during most the 1905 Hand Ejector, 4th Chg. era the standard, and only lengths offered by the factory were 4, 5, and 6 inches.

The 2" length for obvious reasons required its own forging, and these were first ordered during early 1933. Production started in July 1933.

Without specific forging dies, it is highly improbable that any factory produced .38 M&P revolvers with 2" barrels were made before the July, 1933 date. However it is highly probable that the factory and others converted older guns by installing new barrels and necessary ejector rod and center pin components. It should also be noted that unlike other barrel lengths, the 2" ones were stamped on the left side using very small letters in 2 lines, "Smith & Wesson / .38 S&W Spec. Ctg." This will quickly seperate the genuine 2" barrels from a cut-down longer length.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 02:19 PM
Oyeboten, I got some close-ups of the gun for you...let me know if you need more and of what. I cropped out the last two of the serial which I assume is wise...right?

The second photo is to show the "P" stamp in front of the serial under the barrel. I know it is supposed to be a "B" to denote an original barrel.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 02:22 PM
Two more photos of the butt of the gun to show the "star" stamped along with the serial number, which I had to crop out for obvious reasons. The second obviously shows the other part of the serial minus the last two digits.

It just occurred to me that I could have put all four in the same post...thought you could only attach two pics to each post maximum.

Gary

Jim Watson
January 8, 2011, 02:31 PM
I am not a student of such things, but I see that the barrel markings are not sawn through as they are on shortened guns; and the latch lug is in place and the extractor rod is the short type. It may not be original from 1916 manufacture, but I bet it is still an all-S&W product.

Except for the grips, that is. They sure look like the Catalin polymer that first got noticed when somebody researched John Wayne's SAA prop gun; right down to the finger grooves.

I think the very neat REL RUFFNER marking adds something to the character of the gun. Whoever ol' RR might have been.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2011, 02:52 PM
I wouldn't contest Roy Jink's opinion that the revolver was made in or around 1916, which is way before the company was making 2" barrels. The star on the butt indicates a factory rework or refinishing (maybe both) and I think that happened after 1933 and the introduction of the snubby length.

The revolver might have been refinished at the same time, but if the hammer and trigger are nickel plated the refinishing was likely done by someone else.

Unfortunately S&W no longer has records concerning reworked or refinished revolvers, so we must resort to speculation. If you had the revolver lettered (at a cost of $50.00) it would tell you what the original barrel length and finish were, along with the shipping date and what distributor or dealer got it. On very rare occasions an individual may be mentioned.

There is a slight chance the barrel work was done by an outside gunsmith, but I doubt it because of the gun's serial number stamped on the barrel, combined with the star on the butt.

You have a lot of interesting history there. :cool:

Jim Watson
January 8, 2011, 02:59 PM
Hard to tell in the lighting of the pictures, but I don't think the hammer is plated. Too much glare off the trigger to be sure.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 03:58 PM
Neither the hammer or the trigger are plated and the pictures should hopefully show the same. I do intend on getting a letter for this gun and a late 50's/early 60's Model 19-3 I am picking up Monday; that I just purchased (love that CA 10-day cooling off period!). That gun is so clean and barely used that I couldn't pass it up. Really want those two lettered since they are the oldest/most valuable guns in my collection. After I've gotten some more detail on the 1905, I will look at my options to decide what to do next.

I do agree with Jim that the "REL RUFFNER" on the gun does make it unique. Would love to know where that came from. Like I mentioned before, both my grandfather and father have passed away and with them a lot of knowledge and experience. I am third generation law enforcement, so this gun has some significant meaning to me, given the places it has surely been.

Oyeboten
January 8, 2011, 05:01 PM
Hi Garman5,



Well...my own conjecture, is that the Revolver began Life as some other Barrel length...later, in the 1930s maybe, was re-Barreled with a then 'new' option of the Factory correct 2 Inch Barrel and the appropriate Ejecter Rod for it, and, was either Nickel to begin with, was re-Nickled, or went from Blue to Nickel at that time.

It appears to me that the Nickel your Revolver has was and remains a first class Job, so, might have been fairly pristine factory Nickel to begin with which later got a factory Nickel 2 inch Barrel, where they then aged together or, at any rate, the Nickeling was done by the very best practioners of the day.


Personally, I really REALLY like your Revolver, and, if it was mine, I would never have it restored or refinished - to my taste, it is entirely 'perfect' and lovely just as it is, with it's honest delicate signs of age, time, and use.


Looks like it is very fine condition anyway.



Old Fuff's mention of the dedicated Drop Forging Dies for each Barrel Length S & W offered makes sense to me, and, even though some Historical over-views of the 'M&P' Revolver infer by lack of explicit admission, that a 2 Inch Barrel was offered fairly early on, or at the beginning of the 4th Change, this seems to be an inference in wording rather than a positive assertion.

My own inquiries so far have found that there does not seem to be any original configuration examples known to anyone I have asked, nor any literature known to them to affirm that any were made or offered, prior to the early 1930s, or, as Old Fuff clearifies, 1933 ( when, the we have to assume, the dedicated Dies and Forgings made with them, for the 2 Inch Barrel option had to have existed, and had been in place long enough to have produced those Barrels and for those Barrels, or some of them anyway, to have been Machined and finished ).


I will be attending the Wallace Beinfeld Antiquarian Arms Show soon, here in Las Vegas ( aka, the old 'Sahars Gun Show' ).

And, I hope to find and converse with a few S & W Collectors or dealers who may be able to shed further light on this ( Hisdtory of the 'M&P' 2 Inch variation ) question, if there is any more light to be shed on to it, and, there might be.


I kind of hope that the 2 Inch Barrel was in fact an offering or a special Order non Catalogued possibility in 1916, and that S & W had actually made the Drop Forging Dies by then, to do so, and, that it was not untill 1933 that the option became formally Catalogued as an offering....but, this would be a little improbable, especially holding back an offering of a Model which would have been receiving acclaim and at least some popularity for decades already, had it been offered at the get-go of the 4th Change...so...hmmm...

Old Fuff
January 8, 2011, 08:55 PM
I will be attending the Wallace Beinfeld Antiquarian Arms Show soon, here in Las Vegas ( aka, the old 'Sahars Gun Show' ).

Hopefully you will find two leading Smith & Wesson authorities in attendance, Roy Jinks and Jim Supica. Both tend to be easily approachable.

Smith & Wesson didnít show much interest in .38 revolvers with barrel lengths shorter then 3 ľ inches (all top-breaks exclusively) until 1927 when Colt introduced their Detective Special, which was simply a Police Positive Special with a 2-inch barrel. It quickly became a hit seller. Then in 1928 the U.S. Postal Service, with the Army acting as its agent, purchased some 1500 Colt Banker Specials (these were ordinary Police Positiveís, chambered in .38 S&W/Colt New Police, with 2-inch barrels). Smith & Wesson placed a bid, but lost. Continued Post Office interest pushed S&W over the edge, and they brought forth snubby barrels for both their I-frame (1936) and K-frame (1933) revolvers.

Radagast
January 8, 2011, 08:57 PM
Old Fuff:
Thanks for the history lesson. :)

Garman5:
Your last set of photos show a much better quality of finish than I expected, I'll leave it to you as to wether you wish to have it restored.
My guess is the factory rework star is for the rebarrel and a nickel finish. The new barrel would have been a new blank, hence the matching serial number.
FWIW Old Fuff is our resident firearms examiner and all round gun sage. If he says something is so then it usually is.

Jim Watson
January 8, 2011, 09:08 PM
Interesting Google
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00917FB3D5B12718DDDAE0A94DF405B888EF1D3

In 1928 the largest life insurance payout was $2,159,000 on the life of Robert E.L. Ruffner of Charleston, W. Va.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 09:21 PM
Interesting Google
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00917FB3D5B12718DDDAE0A94DF405B888EF1D3

In 1928 the largest life insurance payout was $2,159,000 on the life of Robert E.L. Ruffner of Charleston, W. Va.
Funny, you should mention that because my grandfather was a Captain with the Charleston, WV Police. This story is starting to come together, but I think there is more and now I am intrigued to learn more. I have some family still back in WV who might have some info on the gun or this whole story.

Radagast
January 8, 2011, 09:27 PM
Fasacinating. Please keep us informed as you learn more.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2011, 09:35 PM
Given the circumstances, it might be a good move to get the gun lettered by Smith & Wesson to see if there is any conection between them and where the gun went when it was shipped. It's a long shot, but it might have been a dealer or distributor in Charleston.

Information concerning historical letters of authentication from Smith & Wessonís historian, Roy G. Jinks can be obtained from the link listed below.

In exchange for a $50.00 research fee (make any check out to Smith & Wesson, not Mr. Jinks) he will search through the companyís original records until he finds your particular revolver. He will then send you an official letter which usually includes:

A short history of the revolver modelís background.

What the barrel length, caliber/cartridge, finish and stocks were, as well as the exact date it was shipped from the factory Ė and to what distributor, dealer or individual Ė as whatever the case may be.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CustomContentDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&content=25301&sectionId=10504

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 10:16 PM
Fasacinating. Please keep us informed as you learn more.
Apparently, the Ruffner Family was very well known in that area, so the story is that much more interesting. There may have even been a link to Robert E. Lee and the Ruffner Family. There was also a connection to Booker T. Washington, who was apparently a garden helper for the family...interesting! I will keep you all informed as to my progress with the family history and the gun's history. Thank you all for being a "wealth" of knowledge and helping a guy piece together some family history.

Garman5
January 8, 2011, 10:19 PM
Given the circumstances, it might be a good move to get the gun lettered by Smith & Wesson to see if there is any conection between them and where the gun went when it was shipped. It's a long shot, but it might have been a dealer or distributor in Charleston.
I already have the form on hand to send away to Roy Jinks. I am waiting to pick up an older Model 19-3 that I just purchased, so I'll get that one lettered too.

Oyeboten
January 9, 2011, 03:36 AM
Hopefully you will find two leading Smith & Wesson authorities in attendance, Roy Jinks and Jim Supica. Both tend to be easily approachable.


I will seek them out!


I am sure I have met them in passing, casually, in times passed...but I was not into the learning curve I am now to have thought to put any fast and succinct questions to them.


Olf Fuff, being as you are listed as residing in Arizona, have you attended the old 'Sahara Gun Show', or, it's continuation in other locations here in Las Vegas?


My Workshop is close enough to where I used to light a Cigarette, and, walk to the Sahara in time to stub it out on the sidewalk before walking in. even though of course in those days, everyone was smoking in the Show and everyone's Tables had Ash Trays.

Not now! Oye...eeeeesh...gotta walk down the hall and go outside for a Breather if one wants one.


It was/is always such a charming array of old Guns of every sort, and other wonderful old items also, of course... intoxicating...just a wonderful Show. A lot to take in.


I used to exbitit my Work in it, at my Table, when I was making old Style Fitted and Presentation and Campaign Cases for various old Models of Revolvers and Automatics.

During that time ( I was always too poor then, to hardly ever buy anything, but ) I made many friends there who recognise me, and me them, when I attend as an attendee now a days.


Mr. Beinfeld was always very gracious and friendly to me, and he ran - and still runs - a First Class show.




Smith & Wesson didn’t show much interest in .38 revolvers with barrel lengths shorter then 3 ľ inches (all top-breaks exclusively) until 1927 when Colt introduced their Detective Special, which was simply a Police Positive Special with a 2-inch barrel.


Indeed.


How odd it took either of them so long to get off the Dime on that matter, and, to offer mid frame or smaller Hand Ejecting Revolvers with 2 Inch Barrels.

They ought to have also offered the option in their Large Frame Models, of course.


Seems obvious to me ( if with the advantage of retrospect, maybe, ) that it would have been positively received, and rewarded enough by the Marketplace, had they both started offering them in like 1902 or 1910 for that matter.


It quickly became a hit seller. Then in 1928 the U.S. Postal Service, with the Army acting as its agent, purchased some 1500 Colt Banker Specials (these were ordinary Police Positive’s, chambered in .38 S&W/Colt New Police, with 2-inch barrels). Smith & Wesson placed a bid, but lost. Continued Post Office interest pushed S&W over the edge, and they brought forth snubby barrels for both their I-frame (1936) and K-frame (1933) revolvers.


Now, as far as the Barrel Text one finds on the Round Sight Barrels of the older 'M&P' Revolvers, or, of the ones made prior to WWI especially, but, of any of them -


Are there ary variations you have seen, which could suggest age or period?


Seems like all the ( not many ) I have seen had the same Roll or Text.


Given the low numbers, relatively, of the 2 Inch Barrel K Frames, they may well have been using the same Roll Die through out, or, untill the late 'fourties or even into the 'fiftys I imagine....but, I don't know really what the Life-span of a Roll Die is to feel sure about that.

Jim K
January 9, 2011, 10:57 PM
I'll take Fuff's word on when S&W introduced their 2" M&P, but I know they were very popular with plain clothes police from the 1930's through the 1950's, when the Chiefs Special became available. Even then the M&P held one more round, so many officers still preferred them. The only other choice in the S&W line was the Terrier, the short barrel version of the old Regulation Police, but it was in .38 S&W and the ammo was not compatible with the .38 Special, which was issue for most departments by the 1930's.

Jim

Oyeboten
January 10, 2011, 02:59 AM
Though S & W did offer a Two Inch Barrel version of the 'New Departure' in .38 S & W Ct'g., fairly early on, or by the latter 1890s anyway I think.

Far as that goes...


And, those were available New, up until 1940 or '41 thereabouts...or till whenever dealers stocks ran out anyway.


Those would have made a pretty nice little Back Up Gun anyway.

Old Fuff
January 10, 2011, 10:37 AM
The late 1890's Safety Hammerless with a 2" barrel was a small-frame .32, not the .38 version, where the shortest cataloged length remained 3 1/4 inches. The little .32 was advertised as a Bicycle Revolver. :what:

Bicycles were becoming an increasingly popular form of transportation, but hostile dogs, as well as people were perceived (at least by S&W) as a threat, and a small revolver that was completely safe against accidental discharge, coupled with a barrel length that made it easily pocketable was the answer.

On special order, S&W would make up either the .32 or .38 Safety Hammerless with any barrel length running from 1 1/4 to 6 inches, and even the shortest length still had a fully functional ejector. Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson would do much the same.

Unlike the hand-ejector models, these top-breaks had a ribbed barrel, with the rib slotted at the front that would contain a separate blade that was pinned in place. Thus making custom lengths was easy.

I don't believe the short 2-inch length was added to the .38 as a cataloged option until the early or mid-1930's. That said, Roy Jinks told met that "They had made a lot of them," but they are seldom seen on the collector's market today. When they are they attract substantial prices compared to other lengths, with the possible exception of those that have 6 inch or longer lengths.

Garman5
January 11, 2011, 12:06 AM
The search continues for the origin of my grandfather's gun, but picked up a 19-3 tonight that I got from a buddy. If I could take a departure from the current topic, can anyone get me a manufacture year for it. Serial# K8494XX and I know it is Pinned and Recessed, which makes it more valuable according to my research. Thank you in advance for any information. I plan on getting this lettered along with the M&P 1905. Thanks guys! Pics to follow once I get back home to my digital camera.

Oyeboten
January 11, 2011, 12:17 AM
Hi Garman5,


Really, that Question would be best put to the Date-of-Birth Thread run by radagast, which you will find at the top of the Revolver section menu -


http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=372213&page=110



Definmitely looking forward to your finding out more about the Nickel 'M&P' Snubby.


I sure like that Revolver.

Garman5
January 11, 2011, 12:43 AM
I appreciate that someone else is into this gun as well. I will keep this thread on course about the aforementioned revolver. Hope to have an update for you all soon.

Oyeboten
January 11, 2011, 12:59 AM
As for me, I really vlike that old S&W 'M&P' Snubby, and, like it just as it is, too.


I hope you keep it Oiled, and, have fun shooting it now and then, and, never, ever buff it or let anyone change anything on it, including the Stocks.

It's a Gem..!

Garman5
January 11, 2011, 07:50 AM
As for me, I really vlike that old S&W 'M&P' Snubby, and, like it just as it is, too.


I hope you keep it Oiled, and, have fun shooting it now and then, and, never, ever buff it or let anyone change anything on it, including the Stocks.

It's a Gem..!
I have never put any rounds through it as long as I've had it...might be about time and no +P rounds. Looking forward to getting a letter back on it and finding a starting point to learning about it's adventures in life.

Oyeboten
January 11, 2011, 04:30 PM
Mid Range Wadcutters...158 Grain RNL Standard Loadings of .38 Special...keep it well Oiled...it will be right at Home.


No Jacketed, no Express Cartridges ( Silvertips, or light weight defense types) just stay with plain Lead Bullets of the standard Weight and Loadings used traditionally for Target or Carry at that time and since, for Revolvers of that vintage.

Never trust anyone else's re-loads, either...nor trust any old Factory Boxes which might contain unknown re-Loads.

You likely know this already, but, jus' sayin'...

Garman5
January 13, 2011, 02:07 PM
Well to use some Star Wars terminology...I am the Padawan and you are the Jedi Master. I know quite a bit about guns, but don't want to be the guy that buys a box of ammo because it's the cheapest. I truly believe in treating my guns in a way that Roy Jinks would not disapprove of in any way.

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