"38 S.&W. SPECIAL CTG" Year Identification


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jlwlynn
April 10, 2009, 10:31 AM
S&W was less than helpful with this question, but I've seen similar posts here and figure that someone here can help me! I would greatly appreciate it. Here is the description :

On one side of the barrel "Smith & Wesson". On the other side "38 S.&W.SPECIAL CTG". The trademark is partially obscured by the checkered wood handle. On the 6 round cylinder "141o15". On the frame behind the cylinder a large "1" and below "54244". Under the barrel I just noticed "k" then "1410[xx]" then "B". Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

([xx] added in place of digits)

jason

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Ron James
April 10, 2009, 10:47 AM
How about the serial number from the butt of the gun???

Radagast
April 10, 2009, 10:49 AM
jlwlynn: The serial number for a S&W is always found on the bottom of the grip frame. It's probably covered by the grips if you have the large target grips on it.
Sometimes the serial number was also stamped on other parts, but this was not necessarily so.
S&W did however stamp 'assembly numbers' on parts to keep fitted parts together as they moved around the factory.
As your gun does not have model xx stamped inside the frame, it was made prior to 1957 when model numbers were introduced. The 1 and 54244 are probably assembly numbers. Serial numbers were sometimes stamped under the barrel as well. If this is the case then K141015 would be your serial number, which dates your gun to 1952.

If it has a four inch barrel and adjustable sights then it is a K38 Combat Masterpiece, later known as the model 15.

If it has a six inch barrel and adjustable sights then it is a K38 Masterpiece, later known as the Model 14. Target grips became available on this model in 1951.

Old Fuff
April 10, 2009, 11:12 AM
First of all, welcome to The High Road, and yes - we will try and help you. :)

The folks at Smith & Wesson didn't mean to be less then helpful, but the trouble is that you didn't provide enough information so that they could make an accurate and positive identification.

The stamp on the side of the barrel, "38 S&W.SPECIAL CTG." doesn't tell what model the revolver is, but rather what cartridge it uses.

Even the serial number is not conclusive proof, because they often numbered several different models within the same serial number series.

The serial number (which I believe is K 1410xx) was stamped on the bottom of the butt, the rear face of the cylinder, and the bottom of the barrel above the ejector rod. I think the number 54424 is an assembly number that plays no part when comes to identifying a revolver, but is sometimes mistaken for some kind of serial or model number.

You didn't mention the barrel length, which is something that's important to know. Measure the length from the front face of the cylinder to the end of the muzzle. I think you will find that it is either 4 or 6 inches.

I would expect this revolver to have an adjustable rear sight, with the front one mounted on a ramp - but does it?

Your revolver apparently has (so called) "target stocks," that probably cover the bottom of the butt. If so, this is why you can't see the serial number that is likely stamped there.

The thumb piece on the hammer (the checkered part) is probably extra wide, and may be extra-extra wide and long. If to it is called a "target hammer." It is possible that the area on the trigger where you put your finger is also extra wide. If so it is a "target trigger."

Come back with the specified information and I think that we can get you an approximate date of manufacture.

jlwlynn
April 10, 2009, 11:40 AM
Oh, I'm sure S&W didn't mean to be unhelpful.. I'm sure they're busy. And you're right, I don't know enough about what info to give. I understand that CTG is 'cartridge', but figured maybe only certain models had that stamped on the barrel. The grips are completely covering the butt of the gun, and I was assuming that the number under the barrel was the serial number. I guess I was right from what you said.

Sorry about forgetting the barrel length. I thought it was 5", but if you're telling me it can only be 4" or 6", then it's definitely 6". It does have adjustable rear sights, but I believe the front sight is set (not on a rail). I could be wrong because I don't have it in front of me. Work would probably frown on that sort of thing. :) I would assume that the hammer is a target hammer just because my grandfather was a marksman and was always shooting in competitions. But, he had a ton of guns, so this could be just something he picked up. FYI: I inherited the gun from him.

jlwlynn
April 10, 2009, 11:42 AM
Actually S&W just got back to me and said "around 1952" for the date. So I take back what I said about them. :)

Old Fuff
April 10, 2009, 12:10 PM
Given this additional information I'll speculate that the revolver is a Smith & Wesson K-38 Masterpiece (sometimes called the "Target Masterpiece." During a time when marksmen still shot revolvers in bullseye matches it was Smith & Wesson's principal offering to a very picky crowd of buyers, and included all of the options and workmanship believed to be necessary to bring home the trophies. The barrel length was usually 6 inches, and as you know it was chambered in .38 Special. You could also buy an identical revolver in .22 Long Rifle or .32 S&W Long, although the latter is very rare. The serial number dates from around 1952, as you now know.

Among collectors it is known as a "five-screw model" (four screws in the sideplate, one hidden by the stocks, and one in front of the trigger guard). In itself the number of screws is not important, but they are prized by both collectors and shooters because it was made before certain cost-cutting changes were made. As a result it has a slightly higher market value that later production.

In 1957 S&W assigned model numbers in place of names, and future production was called the Model 14 (sometimes followed by a dash number). Your revolver is a more desirable "pre-Model 14."

If you want more specific information it can be obtained from S&W, but there is a reasonable $50.00 search fee. The procedure is as follows.

Given this gun's history within your family, you might want to 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 $50.00 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. This information is often invaluable to both you and future generations.

Additional information on a historical letter will be found at the Smith & Wesson company website at:

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

jlwlynn
April 10, 2009, 12:36 PM
Thank you so much!!! You guys have been great at getting me information VERY quickly. I think I'm going to plan on sticking around here for awhile! ;-) Especially since I'm trying to decide between a Springfield XD .45ACP and a Glock .45ACP for a protection/carry weapon. From what I've read so far, most people are about equally on either side of the fence! :) And then I'll want a good pistol safe because I have a young daughter. And then a good concealed holster, and then, and then.... *sigh*

Old Fuff
April 10, 2009, 12:48 PM
I hate to tell ya', but we have so much fun it ought to be illegal... :D

Radagast
April 10, 2009, 09:24 PM
We are helpful:
Get the Glock, the trigger smooths in better. Put Heinie Slant Pro night sights on it. :D
Gunproof your kid as well as buying a safe. Kids can find keys and remember combinations.
Galco make decent leather holsters, Milt Sparks are better but have a longer wait. www.lightningarms.com are a good source.

jlwlynn
April 14, 2009, 04:51 PM
Quite helpful! Thanks again! Also, could you tell me the approximate value of this gun? I'm never going to sell it (sentimental value), but would like to know its worth.

I'll have to read up on how to gun proof a 1 year old. I can't even get her to sleep most of the time!!! ;-)

Radagast
April 14, 2009, 07:26 PM
In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave a value of $450 in excellent condition. You would need to post pics to get a better assessment, as price varies with condition.

Rob P.
April 14, 2009, 10:30 PM
Can't help with the identification thing but as for this:

Thank you so much!!! You guys have been great at getting me information VERY quickly. I think I'm going to plan on sticking around here for awhile! ;-) Especially since I'm trying to decide between a Springfield XD .45ACP and a Glock .45ACP for a protection/carry weapon. From what I've read so far, most people are about equally on either side of the fence! And then I'll want a good pistol safe because I have a young daughter. And then a good concealed holster, and then, and then.... *sigh*

For one thing, we're trying to do something with all them folks who are on one side of the fence or t'other. That is to say, we're trying to toss 'em all onto one side of the fence and then build the fence higher and all the way around them so they can't infect the rest of us with their plastic fetish.

It ain't real if it ain't steel. :evil:

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