Old S&W .32 CAL revolver value Question?


April 21, 2011, 04:38 PM
You guys might remember my thread about the .357.
I am now trying to figure out the value of an old S&W .32 caliber revolver.
I opened the cylinder and the four digit number on the frame is 24**. Is that a model number or serial number? There is also a 6 digit number on the bottom of the frame where the grips are.
Barrel markings include: OCT.8.01.DEC.17.01.FEB.6.06.SEPT.14.09
I would say this gun is in "Good" condition because it functions well but there is some minor pitting in a few places. The bluing looks good except on the cylinder.

My siblings and I are going to have to divide these guns between us one of these days for inheritance, so I'm trying to figure out values that would apply to a private sale. Thanks.

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April 21, 2011, 06:39 PM
The six digit is the serial number. Hard to price without pictures. Off the cuff, $200-250. Smarter people will have better answers later.

April 21, 2011, 06:55 PM
Thanks Coyote3855. It seems like there would not be much demand for these ancient revolvers. I know .32 caliber is not popular. I guess serious collectors might be interested. The grips appear to be brown polymer but may be metal. The grips are also very small compared to modern revolvers.

April 21, 2011, 10:45 PM
I've been doing some research on this. This could be the S&W - .32 Hand Ejector - 2nd Model (Model 1903) revolver. It has a 4 1/4" inch barrel. I found a pic that looks just like it on armchairgunshow.com. The bluing on mine is better than the pic. Here it is. Any ideas how much it would sell for at a private sale?

April 22, 2011, 10:27 AM
Does anyone else have knowledge about these revolvers?

Old Fuff
April 22, 2011, 12:04 PM
Does anyone else have knowledge about these revolvers?

Yes, but because of the number of requests for information, combined with a lack of a picture or complete description, a rapid response isn't always possible.

I opened the cylinder and the four digit number on the frame is 24**. Is that a model number or serial number? There is also a 6 digit number on the bottom of the frame where the grips are.

The number 24** is a in-house assembly number, and is meaningless after the revolvers as been assembled. The 6 digit number on the bottom of the frame (which you didn't provide) is the serial number, and that's critical to making a full identification.

Barrel markings include: OCT.8.01.DEC.17.01.FEB.6.06.SEPT.14.09

The patent dates are helpful, if the list is complete. I can determine from them that the revolver was probably made between 1904 and 1914.

It appears that you have a S&W .32, Model 1903 Hand Ejector. The stocks are probably original, made from molded hard rubber - not modern plastic. In excellent condition these little revolvers are popular with both shooters and collectors, being .32 S&W Long caliber not withstanding.

Putting a value on something that one can't examine, and lacking detailed photographs, can be a can of worms. Collectors want overall perfect condition. Shooters are more concerned with the mechanical condition combined with a clean bore and chambers.

S&W will provide you with more detailed information about your particular gun, but it will require a $50 search fee. See the following:

Information concerning historical letters of authentication from Smith & Wesson’s 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 company’s 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 model’s background.

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

April 22, 2011, 11:34 PM
Thanks Old Fuff. I can tell you that this revolver is not in perfect condition. There are a few spots that are pitted on the frame. The crown shows wear. The cylinder shows wear on bluing. There is no box or papers with it. The gun appears to function well when I cock the hammer. It looks exactly like the one pictured above except the bluing is in better shape.
I don't think that I will spend the $50 to have S&W research this for me. I am guessing that this gun is only worth around $200 in a private sale since it is not in perfect condition. Please let me know if I'm mistaken.

Old Fuff
April 23, 2011, 10:52 AM
I agree that the letter isn't necessary, unless you want to document the history of a revolver that has been passed down through the family and the process might continue.

It might be possible to narrow the date as to when it was made by posting the serial number stamped on: 1. The butt, 2. the rear face of the cylinder, and 3. The bottom of the barrel above the ejector rod. You would have to swing out the cylinder to see the latter two numbers.

outlook ranch
April 23, 2011, 06:53 PM
You can get as technical as you want, but it's only worth what someone will give for it.

April 23, 2011, 07:25 PM
I'm really not trying to find someone to sell this to. I'm just trying to value this gun so that my family members can split these guns between us fairly. It wouldn't be fair if one of us got a $2000 gun and another got a $200 gun because we didn't know better.

April 23, 2011, 11:52 PM
In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave a value of $275 for a good condition 2nd Model. I doubt the value has changed much in the intervening years.

April 24, 2011, 01:07 AM
Thanks Radagast. That is close to what I was guessing. Old Fuff, the serial number is 207*** if that helps. I don't feel comfortable giving the entire number.
I really didn't think anyone would reply to this thread because this gun is so old. Thanks.

April 24, 2011, 01:47 AM

Mine's number 2459xx, which makes it a Model 1903, 5th Change from about 1916. It is in original nickel plated finish and is in excellent shape. It locks up and shoots as new and it is a great little gun. The trigger is fantastic, maybe the best I've ever experienced in any S&W.

I paid $350 for this nice specimen earlier this year, which is probably average for one in this nice a shape. EVERYONE needs to have a nice S&W .32 Long revolver and this one replaces a S&W Model 30-1 that I foolishly traded off for something else three years ago.

How does it shoot? More on that in a moment. First, here's a photo of my sweet little I-framed Model 1903, 5th Change (w/ 4 3/4" barrel):

Here's targets from its first trip to the range, trying out a LRN bullet. Distance: ten yards at a little black one inch square with a florescent orange dot stuck on. ONE RAGGED HOLE WELL UNDER 1" IN SIZE AT TEN YARDS IS GREAT FROM ANY IRON SIGHT HANDGUN, IMHO! . . .

And here's from its last trip a couple or three weeks ago, this time testing a brand using wadcutter bullets. These shot lower on the larger bullseye target but again with a sub-1" grouping. Both trips I just shot one or two targets with this specific handgun . . . not because I'm babying this solid little revolver, but because I was shooting quite a few various guns.

There's probably not a caliber more fun to shoot in a revolver than the soft-kicking .32 Long. It's great on small game too . . . for it doesn't tear 'em up.

I love my "new" (to me) Model 1903. Yeah, zillions were made back "in the day," but that's because they were so affordable AND good!

BTW, the following S&W revolvers, from left to right, are a Model 19-5 .357 Magnum from 1983,; a classic 5" barreled M&P from 1950 (.38 Spl.) and the Model 1903, 5th change from 1916 . . . all classics in their own right even though manufactured over nearly a seventy year time span!


April 24, 2011, 01:57 AM
Gordon Freeman:
Your dad has a .32 Hand Ejector Model of 1903 5th Change manufactured between 1910 & 1917 in the serial range 102501 to 263000.
Be aware that this gun lacks the positive internal hammer block safety introduced in 1944, or the non positive safety introduced, IIRC in 1917. If dropped it could fire. Leave the chamber under the hammer empty when loaded. It also predates heat treatment of cylinders. Attempts to hot rod hand loads could result in a blown or bulged cylinder or barrel. Stick to standard pressure factory ammo or equivalent reloads only.

April 24, 2011, 12:43 PM
Thanks again Radagast. And thanks S&Wfan. Your gun looks a lot better than ours with the nickel plate finish. I don't see how you can shoot that well with the small grips and sights. That's impressive. I will warn whoever takes ownership of this gun about the hammer on empty chamber. Y'all have been a great help with this. Have a great Easter Sunday.

April 24, 2011, 01:52 PM
Hi Gordon,

Radagast gave you some wise advice about these early S&W hand ejectors. Back in that day folks were already used to loading only five in their single and double action revolvers, leaving an empty chamber . . . and Smith didn't invent the internal hammer block until about WWII.

The heat treating didn't get introduced into the Smith revolvers until the early twenties. However, the old ones like we've got, in good mechanical condition, will be just as safe as a new one shooting store bought ammo made for the .32 Long!

And . . . happy Resurrection Day to you too!!! He Is Risen!!!


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