Just bought this S&W... what do I have?


September 9, 2011, 12:23 AM
Just acquired this little gem. She's tight as can be. I believe it's a Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 2nd Model.

The following five digit serial number, 5595X is stamped on the cylinder face near the ejector. The on the bottom of the catch/rear sight it's stamped with four digits; 5595. No other serial numbers appear on this gun. I've checked under the grips, all over the frame, etc... nothing. Only a small "D" is marked on the solid frame on the inside and to the front of the cylinder paw that would lock the cylinder from rotating. The top strap on the barrel is marked the following; "SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A. PAT'D JAN. 17&25.65
JULY 11.65. AUG. 24.69. JULY 25.71. DEC 2.79. MAY 11&23. 1880". The front sight is pinned to the barrel.


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Owen Sparks
September 9, 2011, 12:28 AM
It is chambered for the .38 Smith & Wesson NOT the .38 Special. Do you plan to shoot it?

September 9, 2011, 12:35 AM
I have .38 S&W 147 gr RNL lying around for my British contract Victory which is chambered in .38/200 (.38 S&W with a 200gr RNL instead of the 147gr RNL). I know it's not chambered in .38 S&W Special since that cartridge wasn't invented yet when this gun was made.

As for shooting it. YUP! ;) I don't own guns that I don't shoot.

September 9, 2011, 12:41 AM
It is a S&W 2nd model. I'd put it late 19th century. 1890-99

September 9, 2011, 01:38 AM
There is no serial stamped on the bottom of the butt. No grind or machining marks on it either that would make it appear that the serial was removed. The first four digits of the serial stamped on the cylinder matches the four digits stamped on the bottom of the top break catch/rear sight.

This gun is tight and smooth..... like it came from the factory yesterday.This not my first S&W, but my first antique S&W and first top break. How the hell do I take her apart?

I took the grips off and there were no marking or any hint of a serial number on it. Just the numbers stamped on the cylinder and under the top break catch/rear sight assembly. Everything according to my S&W Collector guide says she's a .38 Double Action 2nd Model.... could she have escaped the factory without a serial number stamping on the butt?

September 9, 2011, 08:15 AM
It appears to be a Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 2nd Model. 5 round in .38 S&W, curved side plate, two sets of stops, #4001-119000, 1880-1884, black powder loads only. Yours appears to be refinished, the original nickle plated revolvers would have a blued trigger guard.

September 9, 2011, 08:31 AM
"There is no serial stamped on the bottom of the butt. No grind or machining marks on it either that would make it appear that the serial was removed"

I ran into this dilemma with a neighbors antique gun, and apparently serial numbers weren't required until the late 30's, but it's a moot issue if it's a safe queen.;)


September 9, 2011, 08:36 AM
If the gun had a serial, and it's been removed, that means it was stolen at some point. Even if guns weren't required to have numbers before 1968 the ATF says that if it ever had one, and it's been removed, the gun is contraband and by law must be surrendered for destruction.

Do what you think is best, but if you ever give the gun to a smith or an FFL holder he will be required by law to turn it over to the ATF.

September 9, 2011, 08:46 AM
The gun is worthless since it might have been refinished at some point and since nobody knows for sure that it ever had an original serial number. SOOOOO.... just send it to me;). Just PM me and I will send you my address, I have an entire collection of worthless guns of no value and I already have a place picked out for it next to this one below:D

Old Fuff
September 9, 2011, 11:29 AM
I wouldn't worry about the serial number. First of all it is a pre-1898 antique, and not classified as a firearm. Second, the number is available because it is stamped on other parts.

Any attempt to take it apart will prove to be a serious mistake. You can remove the stocks and soak it in a solvent bath, followed by a bath in Marvel Oil (available at most auto supply stores).

Another mistake would be to shoot it using cartridges loaded with anything but black powder. Also keep in mind that if you break a part replacements are not easy to find, and usually expensive if you do.

Keep in mind that this revolver was made to shoot, but that was back in the era when it was made. It is now over 100 years old, and time to retire it from active duty. What you have is an interesting example of American firearms history, so preserve it.

September 9, 2011, 12:55 PM
I paid under $500 for it. It was a pawn shop find. They told me the person that pawned it was a middle aged guy. He came in with that and a couple of other older pieces. Said that they were his great grandfather's guns and needed cash.

Well, everything so far points to it being a S&W .38 Double Action 2nd Model which was made from 1880-1884 and chambered in .38 Smith & Wesson (the parent cartridge of .38 S&W Special) and it was a black powder cartridge gun. It appears to have been refinished (nickle) at some point in time. S&W stamped serial numbers on their guns since they started making gun.

Serial Numbers were not required by law until the 1968 Gun Control Act. So it's possible that at some point in it's life when it was refinished the serial number on the frame was removed. Which in of itself is not a crime if it was done prior to 1968. There is no way to prove that the serial number was removed after 1968 and I have seen many pre-1968 guns with the serial numbers scrubbed from them during refinishing. Also this gun is an antique since it's date manufacturer was between 1880 to 1884. Anything made before 1899 does not fall under Federal Law as a firearm and can be mailed through the postal system, purchased without a 4473, and it pretty much treated as a modern day black powder non cartridged firearm.

In the end... this gun is tight, has excellent timing, smooth trigger in both double and single action, and has an excellent finish (even if it was refinished at some point in it's life).

September 9, 2011, 02:23 PM
Your is a black powder cartridge gun. I've shot .38 S&W black powder cartridges for years and they are a lot of fun. Smokeless cartridges should not be used in that era gun.

Let us know how it shoots.

September 9, 2011, 06:41 PM
Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 2nd Model. Serial Number 5595X, made between 1880-1884. Chambered in .38 Smith & Wesson



September 9, 2011, 07:31 PM
If you reload you can load ammo with black powder suitable for that handgun. If you don't reload you can buy black powder ammo for that handgun from several places including Ten-X (http://tenxammo.com/tenx_ammo_B.html).

Very nice find...

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