Model 23 Smith Questions


September 28, 2010, 12:33 PM
I had a friend of mine inherit A Smith Model 23,. It has a 38 S.&W. SPECIAL CTG stamped on the barrel. Ser # s 705xx. he would like to know if it is a shooter suitable for Home Defense? and maybe what it might be worth.
I think I uploaded his pic but not sure.
What do you think?


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Jim Watson
September 28, 2010, 12:47 PM
The S&W Model 23 Outdoorsman is one of the biggest and strongest .38 Specials ever made. It was intended for the .38-44 High Velocity ammunition which is about current +P+ rating. It would certainly serve well for home defense.

They haven't been made for at least 40 years and are worth a good deal of money. I won't try to appraise his, but if it does not have sentimental attachment due to whoever he inherited it from, he could turn it into a more common gun and some cash.

Old Fuff
September 28, 2010, 03:25 PM
That's an early pre-model 23 with the pre-war long action. Those with a ribbed barrel were made from about 1950 to 1966, with a total production of just over 6000 revolvers (numbered in the range of S62484 to S263000, but out of the 6000 made, only a relative few had the long action.

They are now a highly sought collector's piece, and in the condition shown I would estimate the value to be in the $950 to $1250 range, and to the right buyer perhaps more. :eek:

September 28, 2010, 05:44 PM
The Standard Catalog of S&W notes that the postwar transitional variant of the .38/44 Outdoorsman was manufactured between 1946 & 1949 in the srial range S62490 to S75000 with 2326 manufactured. These are transitional models because they have pre world war II long action, the internal hammer block safety introduced in 1944 (hence the S for Safety prefix to the serial number) but they predate the current short action introduced in 1950.
The easiest way to tell a long action gun is by the long hammer spur, which your friends gun has. The dates match up as well.
the .38/44 in the name refers to it being a.38 caliber gun built on a .44 caliber platform. These were meant to shoot the .38 High Speed, a hot loaded .38 special round that was superceded by the .357 magnum. It should be safe to shoot with any modern .38 special ammo.
The grips appear to be original to the gun, the grip adaptor isn't.

In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave the following values for a transitional model: As new in box $1800, Excellent condition $1250, Very Good $600, Good $385.
Based on the oic the gun probably rates as very good to excellent.

THR member Peter M Eik may even be interested in purchasing it, IIRC he collects that model.

In 1957 the .38/44 Outdoorsman was designated the Model 23.

Short summary: Excellent house gun, safe to shoot. Bit large and heavy for carry. Rather valuable, so if your friend needs some cash he should sell it to a collector and buy a good used .38 special Model 10 or 64 for around $350 tops and pocket the rest. If he doesn't need the cash then he has a good house gun and an interesting conversation piece.

Lucky Derby
September 28, 2010, 06:57 PM
Would it serve well as a home defense weapon? Yes, but, it is quite valuable and perhaps something more affordable would be a better choice.

If the weapon were ever to be used, it will most likely be taken by the police, and gone into the evidence room where it will not be taken care of. It may or may not ever leave there except to be destroyed depending on the locallity.

If it does not have sentimental value, sell it and buy something more common and less collectable and pocket a substancial amount of cash.

If it does have sentimental value, keep it, put it on duty until something else can be afforded to relieve it of duty. Then put it away some place safe.

September 28, 2010, 07:06 PM
That's about a $2,000 gun. The pre-war Magna stocks will bring $400-$500 all by themselves.

Yes, could be used for self-defense but far more valuable as a collector piece.

BTW- It is not a Model 23. The model numbers weren't assigned or stamped until 1957. That's a 38/44 Outdoorsman.

Dave T
September 29, 2010, 10:48 AM
If your friend wants to know what the original cartridge for that Outdoorsman was like, get a box of Buffalo Bore's 38 Special +P 158g SWCGC-HP. That load will probably deliver 1200 fps out of that 6.5" barrel.


September 29, 2010, 11:46 AM
Thanks guys, here is a couple more pics. My friend lives in Seattle and has just got his CCW His wife is also getting her CCW. I think he will sell his Smith to a collector and use the proceeds for a couple of shooters.


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