inherited 38 special


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murraywc
September 22, 2010, 11:03 PM
One of the teenagers at my church asked me to see if I could find out anything about a revolver his grandfather left to him. The story he was told that it was used in a bank robbery. The guy was convicted but before he gave the gun to this kids grandfather and asked him to keep it for him till he got out. The guy died while in prison.
The marking on above the hinge is 77171 the serial # is 5910xx. Does anyone know anything about what model this is and approximate worth. He also said he has the original wood grips for it but his grandfather put the plastic stag grips on it.

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SaxonPig
September 23, 2010, 09:13 AM
Looks like a S&W Military & Police from the mid to late 1920s.

If the finish is original it's worth around $300-$350. If refinished then about $200-$250.

Onmilo
September 23, 2010, 09:32 AM
Looks like a 4th Model Hand Ejector Smith and Wesson, which is the predecessor or the Model 10, and it appears to have a five inch barrel which is somewhat uncommon.

Easy way to tell if the gun has been refinished is to look at the end of the stud visible just below the cylinder latch on the left side of the frame.

If the gun was refinished by someone other than the factory, that stud will have a distinctive flattened appearance as most refinishers don't bother to remove them.

If it is original finish or a factory refinish, that stud will have a distinctive rounded appearance.

If still in doubt, remove the grips and look for a star mark hammer punched into the inside grip frame, it may also have a date mark and the letters RN.
That will indicate a factory refinish in nickle plate.

I would say $350-$400 for original and $300-$325 refinished. HTH

dovedescending
September 23, 2010, 09:40 AM
Now that's just purty.

springmom
September 23, 2010, 11:25 AM
No, no, no. It is actually a totally worthless piece. As a matter of fact it is, unknown to you, taking money out of your bank account in some mysterious manner. The only cure here...the ONLY cure, and I am willing to do this for you....is for you to send it to me as soon as possible.

Snicker, snicker. Seriously nice gun there.

Jan

ArchAngelCD
September 24, 2010, 03:41 AM
That is a wonderful looking revolver. I hope he keeps it and shoots it too.

Husker_Fan
September 24, 2010, 08:07 AM
It is a very nice looking revolver. It looks refinished to me since the hammer and trigger appear to be nickel as well. Those would be case hardened if I am not mistaken.

That gun should have about the nicest double action trigger pull of any made.

Onmilo
September 24, 2010, 08:55 AM
Immediate post war 4th Model hand ejector.
Factory nickle hammer, factory nickle trigger, not refinished.
http://www.fototime.com/9A4D265F929DBDA/standard.jpg
http://www.fototime.com/0BB7D331F3215CA/standard.jpg

Back in the days before gun control act 68, a citizen could order a gun direct from the factory and specify just about any option their little heart and pocketbook desired within reason, i.e. you couldn't order a special length barrel on a 4th Model Hand Ejector, but you could on a premium line N frame or a K frame target revolver.

Casehardened hammer and trigger didn't become a standard until well into the Model 10 dash series revolvers.

Husker_Fan
September 24, 2010, 11:43 AM
Well, you learn something new everyday.

Jim K
September 24, 2010, 01:32 PM
The OP's gun dates from the mid-1930's.

Sorry, Onmilo, S&W has been using color case hardened hammers and triggers since the breaktop days. In fact, in the 1920's, when the country was inundated with S&W lookalikes made in Spain, one counter attack by S&W as to trademark the colored hammer and trigger. If the Spanish stopped using colored hammer and trigger, their guns would look a lot less like S&Ws. If they kept using them, the guns could be seized by customs as in violation of the S&W trademark. Continual use of that trademark, necessary to keep it in effect, is one reason S&W continues to color their hammers and triggers to this day, even though the MIM parts are hard all the way through and do not need any case hardening.

Jim

Sport45
September 25, 2010, 12:04 AM
The story he was told that it was used in a bank robbery. The guy was convicted but before he gave the gun to this kids grandfather and asked him to keep it for him till he got out. The guy died while in prison.

While that may or may not be true many guns of that era come with tales. Many that are impossible to believe. (I'm waiting to tell my grandkids about their great grandpappy carrying my XD45 ashore on D-Day. ;))

He should value the gun and not the story. And the gun appears to be a nice one!

Onmilo
September 25, 2010, 09:26 AM
OK Jim Keenan.
To humor you.

"The standard was a case hardened hammer and trigger to prove you were buying a genuine Smith and Wesson and not some cheap Spanish knockoff revolver.
However, dealers and individuals could order any of a number of finish options including full nickle plate which would also cover such fittings such as hammers, triggers, cylinder latches, etc."

I know the history of the revolver I pictured including who bought it and when.

The serial number of the revolver the OP posted falls in the block of revolvers made for Texas State Prison system which were also 5" full nickle variations and made between 1927 and 1930.
It is interesting to speculate if the gun is a commercial version released on the market or an unmarked TSP gun.
Only a factory letter would prove that.

Old Fuff
September 25, 2010, 10:33 AM
OK Jim Keenan. To humor you.

I side with Jim. :)

Since the introduction of the first S&W revolvers during the mid-19th century, and up to the introduction of MIM parts that didn't color worth a darn, the standard finish on hammers and triggers was color-casehardening. Of course other finishes (such as nickel, silver or gold plating) could be special ordered and sometimes was. For a time stainless revolvers had casehardened hammers and triggers that were flash chrome plated to match the color or the rest of the gun.

In any case, factory plated hammers and triggers (other then on previously mentioned stainless revolvers) is very rare, so when they are encountered it's likely some after-market refinishing has been done. The fact that the Texas State Prison system ordered a handful of revolvers with plated lockwork doesn't change this overall picture.

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