What's the difference between S&W 30 and 31 (J-frame .32s)?


PDA






MatthewVanitas
June 8, 2008, 09:07 AM
I've surfed around Google, and still not quite clear: what's the difference between the S&W 30 and 31?

-Are they descended from the .32 Hand Ejector?

-Are they by definition J-frame, or are there I-frame versions? Or are the I-frames a pre-30 model?

Thanks much for any info.

If you enjoyed reading about "What's the difference between S&W 30 and 31 (J-frame .32s)?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Ala Dan
June 8, 2008, 10:42 AM
I think I'm correct in saying that the S&W model 30-1 in .32 S&W Long
is only found in the round butt version, with barrel lengths of 2" or 4";
while the S&W model 31-1 is the square butt version of the same gun,
also offered with a choice of 2" barrel or a 4" barrel. Yes, models 30-1
and 31-1 are cousins to the original .32 caliber "Hand Ejector" models
as manufactuered by Smith & Wesson. Also, three frames were used
begining with the old I-frame, the Improved I-frame, and lastly the J
frame. I have my deceased fathers S&W model 30-1 with 2" barrel,
that I bought him NIB way back in 1971; however, its without the
original box and docs as time as passed by~!

FootNote: The S&W models 30-1 and 31-1 are both J-frame models.

Old Fuff
June 8, 2008, 11:20 AM
Both the models 30 and 31 were offered in a 2" barrel version, but you are correct in saying that the difference is round v. square butts.

CaptMac
June 8, 2008, 11:58 AM
Model 30 has a round butt and the 31 has a square butt

MatthewVanitas
June 8, 2008, 03:24 PM
Model 30 has a round butt and the 31 has a square butt

FootNote: The S&W models 30-1 and 31-1 are both J-frame models.

Good deal, that pretty much clears it up for me. I asked a similar question about ".32 Terriers" (which turns out to be a contradiction in terms) last year or so. Just to make sure I'm tracking that thread right: what would the I-frame .32 predecessor of the 30/31 be?

Much appreciate, y'all are a wealth of knowledge.

Clermont
June 8, 2008, 04:31 PM
I believe the round butt "I" frame S&W chambered for the S&W .32 long cartridge was cataloged as the .32 Hand Ejector and the square butt version was the .32 Regulation Police. The "J" frame was developed to accomodate the longer .38 Special cartridge.

Ala Dan
June 8, 2008, 04:44 PM
Att: Matthew My Friend-

Title- Differentiating I From J Frame

a) I frame: Five screws, short cylinder ( I believe in your case, chambered for the
.32 S&W cartridge), and strain screw on the frame.

b) Improved I Frame: Three (or Four) screws, short cylinder, with NO
strain screw.

c) J-Frame: Three, Four, or even Five screws, longer cylinder, NO
strain screw.

For reference: S&W .32 "Hand Ejector" Series:

a) .32 "Hand Ejector" 1st Model Double Action Revolver commonly
called the model 1 or the Model of 1896; built on the I-frame.

b) .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; or commonly called the .32
"Hand Ejector" 2nd Model; built on the round butt I-frame.

c) 1st change- .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; built on the
round butt I frame with five screws.

d) 2nd change- .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; also built on the
round butt I frame with five screws. Designed much like the First
Change model; with only minor changes.

e) 3rd change- .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; also built on the
round butt I frame with five screws. Designed much like the 2nd
Change model; with only minor internal changes.

f) 4th change- .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; again, built on the
I frame with five screws. Designed much like the 3rd Change model;
with only very minor internal changes, and identical in appearance.

g) 5th change- .32 "Hand Ejector" Model of 1903; yet again, built
on the round butt I frame with five screws. Designed like the 4th
Change model, with major internal changes in the trigger,
hammer, and sear; with two-piece extractor rod, blue or nickel
finish, service or target sights. A small S&W trademark is found
on the left side of the frame, with a few having the trademark
on the sideplate. Manufactuered from 1910-1917.

h) .32 "Hand Ejector" Third Model a double action revolver
built on the I frame with five screws. Cylinder had a nominal length
of 1.25", service sights with round blade front sight; a new hammer
block arm was also introduced on this model. Heat treated cylinders
began in 1920 with S/N 321000. Identical in appearance to Model of
1903 Fifth Change. Serial number found on the butt, cylinder, and
barrel. Manufactuered from 1917-1942.

i) .32 "Hand Ejector" (Post War) Pre-Model 30; built on the round
butt I frame with five screws. Its reported that the upper sideplate
screw was deleted in 1956, at S/N 640980; however, examples are
found in upper serial ranges with the fourth screw~! Dates
of manufacture ran from 1946-1960.

*FootNote- this pretty well covers the S&W pre-model 30;
and I'm sure that my friend Old Fuff will be along shortly to
take it from here. ;) :D

Old Fuff
June 8, 2008, 06:40 PM
You pretty well covered everything, except in 1917 S&W introduced the Regulation Police model, wich was nothing but a slightly modified I-Frame that was fitted with walnut stocks that converted it to a square butt configuration. The 6-shot 32's were included in the 1903 Hamd Ejector serial number series, but a second version, chambered as a 5-shot .38 S&W was numbered in its own serials, starting with #1. This would later become the platform from which the new J-frame would be developed. Because the bottom of the butt was covered by the stocks, the serial number was stamped on the frontstrap.

Jim K
June 8, 2008, 10:36 PM
Just to clarify, the I frame and J frame are basically the same except for a slightly longer grip and the longer length to accommodate the longer cylinder. The primary change to the so-called "improved I frame" was the use of a coil spring rather than the flat spring of the older guns (hence no strain screw).

The frames of the .32 HE (Regulation Police) and the .38 "Terrier" were the same, which is why the Terrier is 5 shot. Since the frame was lengthened but not enlarged for later guns, subsequent .38/.357 J frames are also 5 shot.

There have been some obvious changes and some more subtle ones over the years, mainly in way of lengthening and strengthening those frames, but it is quite remarkable how close a modern J frame is to the original .32 HE of 1896 and even closer to the 1903 model.

Jim

Oro
June 9, 2008, 10:46 PM
When precisely did the .32 HE transition from the improved-I to the J? Did all models on the imp.-I transition at the same time?

The J came out in '56 with the Chief Special - but did they move all I's over immediately or in phases?

Old Fuff
June 10, 2008, 12:05 AM
.32 Hand Ejectors were changed to the J-frame on April 20, 1961 at serial number 712,954.

.22/32 Hand Ejectors (Kit Gun and Target) in October, 1960, at serial No. 70,000. All J-frames are marked either Mod. 34-1 or 35-1.

.38 Regulation Police and .38/32 Terrier models 33-1 and 32-1 were also changed to the J-frame platform in 1960.

dosbama
July 15, 2008, 11:20 AM
I have a S&W model 31 serial #7016xx...should be an I frame, but I frame grips are too small. I know S&W changed to J frame at serial 712954, but my 31 seems to be J frame. any help out there ? Thanks








Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the first allows us to find out what's happening, the second allows us to do something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the first and then the rest of our freedoms. -- Andrew Ford

Old Fuff
July 15, 2008, 11:51 AM
Those serial numbers are approximate because S&W made and numbered frames before they assembled them into revolvers, and all of this wasn't done in numerical order. I have examined other revolvers going back into the late 19th century that had serial numbers lower then the supposed introduction date listed in various boooks.

Supposedly all of the J-frame model 31's will be stamped with the model number 31-1 or higher. The only way to know for sure is to order an historical letter from Smith & Wesson, and for a reasonable $30.00 fee they will go back in time, find the original shipping record, and send you a letter with all of the known specific information, including when it was shipped (not made) and to what distributor or dealer. Additional information is available at:

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CustomContentDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=11101&content=25301&sectionId=10504

slzy
July 15, 2008, 02:34 PM
is there a consumate book on s&w revolvers?

Oro
July 15, 2008, 03:05 PM
Yes, there is one - the "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson." Currently on the 3rd Edition, 2006. By Nahas and Supica. Well illustrated, well written, and logically organized. Very, very good book and a bargain for what it is.

That said, it is not a "bible" and does have errors and is not complete on all details. But it is very, very good and a "must have" if you own more than a few S&W's or just like them. When you really, really want to know the intricate details, the only source is guys like Old Fluff, rcmodel, Keenan, etc., and a bevy of folks at the Smith-Wessonforum.com, who have been living and breathing this stuff since the 50's.

Warning: The price at Amazon.com or elsewhere is misleading, the real cost is about $2,000. This is what you are going to spend in the following six months or year, rounding out the four or five guns you now realize you have to own based on perusing the book.

slzy
July 15, 2008, 04:16 PM
thanks kam,and i know what you mean.

Old Fuff
July 15, 2008, 07:06 PM
Should you decide to letter your revolver, add an extra check made out to Roy G. Jinks in the amount of $15.00.

He will send you a hardbound copy of his book, History of Smith & Wesson. Autographs and inscriptions are free.

As Smith & Wesson's in-house historian he has access to the factory's records. His experience spans around 60 years, and knows a wee bit more then The Old Fuff... :neener: :D

Oro
July 16, 2008, 04:49 AM
He will send you a hardbound copy of his book, History of Smith & Wesson. Autographs and inscriptions are free.

As Smith & Wesson's in-house historian he has access to the factory's records. His experience spans around 60 years, and knows a wee bit more then The Old Fuff...

That is good to know about getting his book. I have a .455 I've wanted to letter (no martial markings, which I find interesting). I'll get his book, too.

I didn't mean to denigrate either Supica's book or Roy Jinks by referencing other contributors on here and elsewhere (like yourself). What I meant was, when you need info fast and accessible, you come to places like this for some very knowledgeable and generous people, and especially the detailed gunsmithing stuff, and you get it FAST. That was what I was trying to give a "hats off" to towards the truly "senior" posters here.

Old Fuff
July 16, 2008, 09:54 AM
I didn't mean to denigrate either Supica's book or Roy Jinks by referencing other contributors on here and elsewhere (like yourself).

Never took it that way. You just gave an opportunity to plug Roy's book. Outside of hard-core S&W fans and collectors very few know about it. It's not as up-to-date as Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, but it was written by a man who has worked at the factory since I believe, the middle 1950's, and was in to Smith & Wsson's before that. Plus like I said, he has his hands on records that go back to before the Civil War. ;)

Hawk
July 16, 2008, 11:39 AM
Should you decide to letter your revolver, add an extra check made out to Roy G. Jinks in the amount of $15.00.

He will send you a hardbound copy of his book, History of Smith & Wesson. Autographs and inscriptions are free.

The "Images of America" book showed up yesterday. Cool stuff. It would go well with the other Jinks work.

I've been thinking of getting a letter even though I don't have anything that would rate having one. The letter would be worth more than the guns but there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps I'll letter the two I got from the estate of an actor I never heard of that played a small part in a show I never watched - I snagged them the day they came in on consignment so they represent good luck and timing which is rare for me.

Too bad the previous owner didn't care about boxes, papers or factory original stocks. Oh well, at least they fit in with my other non-collectibles.

All mine are post-GCA'68 so any letter would only state what distributor or dealer they went to. I wonder if S&W used to ship to individuals? A letter showing "S&W Model 3 shipped to V. Earp c/o General Delivery, Colton CA." would be nice.
:D

Old Fuff
July 16, 2008, 12:20 PM
All mine are post-GCA'68 so any letter would only state what distributor or dealer they went to. I wonder if S&W used to ship to individuals? A letter showing "S&W Model 3 shipped to V. Earp c/o General Delivery, Colton CA." would be nice.

Throughout its history S&W as well as Colt have sold handguns directly to individuals – especially to military and law enforcement officers. This was particularly true when a special options order was involved. Colt still has orders in their collection from Bat Masterson, and one from Frank (Buckskin Frank) Leslie in Tombstone ordering what amounted to a Buntline Special with ivory stocks.

So occasionally you do get a factory letter that lists an individual, but it’s not a common thing.

While original condition is important to collectors, a “documented” history can be more important if it’s associated with an historical event or person. But absolute proof is usually required to attract big bucks.

Old Fuff
July 16, 2008, 12:37 PM
Hawk:

If I may hijack the thread for a minute, take a look at this link, the opening price, and what it went for.

The revolver is an I-frame or Improved I-frame revolver made before World War Two, or shortly thereafter. It has never been particularly attractive to collectors, and in .38 S&W shooters are not breaking down any doors to get one.

What does it mean? Well I would say that certain individuals have a lot of money, and maybe some early post-war models (such as this and a certain K-22 Masterpiese) now have collector status.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=103727115

Hawk
July 16, 2008, 05:02 PM
I'll participate in the hijack.

A 400.00 open / 830.00 close is impressive but it still can be rationalized to an extent based on contemporary pricing. A current model 40 tops 600.00. S&Ws seem to still be planted in reality to some extent though there are obvious exceptions - some .44 specials, registered magnums - I'm sure there are a lot of other examples.

That pre-17 was definitely "through the looking glass strange" insofar as at least one bidder was participating in the THR thread on the subject and seemed to indicate he had bid nutzoid high to fill out a K-22/38/32 set. Can't say as I've ever seen that before and there were only the two bidders and no late action. I don't know how high over market a bid has to be to scare off the late bidders but the pre-17 would seem to have hit at least that point.

I probably whine as loud as anyone that all the good older revolvers have been priced "collector high" but S&W seems to be still "on the edge" of some pretty decent values. It does seem most of the ones I find are 'Nam era but that's not at all bad - the odds still look good.

It is probably too late for us casual sorts finding anything with more than 3 screws. Too bad, I really appreciate number 4 screw after trying to reinstall the cylinder stop / spring in the 28-2. :p

I can easily live without screw #5.

If you enjoyed reading about "What's the difference between S&W 30 and 31 (J-frame .32s)?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!