The S&W Model 39-2


P5 Guy
September 19, 2011, 08:13 PM
Do any of you board members have any experience or thought on the 39. The first American DA/SA semi-auto.
I got a really nice one with the box and papers. but only one correct magazine. Where could one find another proper magazine?
I am interested in your opinions and thoughts. Thanks in advance, P5

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September 19, 2011, 08:58 PM
You can find a mag on gunbroker, probably any day of the week. The S&W 39 is a very aesthetically pleasing gun. Sleek and well made, but it has undergone improvements over the years. The very early ones didn't feed hollowpoints well. A 39-2 should, and another plus is that you can add custom grips of your choice. It has a very ergonomic grip and points well, and is generally very accurate. I carried one and shot it as much as I could for 7 years, and killed many groundhogs with it. It was the first semi-auto to capture the police market (adopted by the Illinois State Police), starting the trend to autos by the rest of the law enforcment community. I bought mine in 1968 for $100.

September 19, 2011, 09:09 PM
Here is a source of new magazines:***687***11341***8906***

Congratulations and have fun! They are beefed up guns that should last a couple lifetimes!

September 19, 2011, 10:43 PM
Previous Model 39 thread (includes some spare magazine sources):

Very nice pistols and good shooters to boot...

September 20, 2011, 11:02 AM
of the 6 that I have, only problems have been when useing after market mags.
I now buy only factory mags and shoot 124gr ball and hp ammo. did try 147 hp but did not like recoil.


P5 Guy
September 20, 2011, 04:16 PM
Thanks for the replies.
$500 OTD, came with two magazines only one was S&W. Box, papers, cleaning tool, and advert for S&W ammo.
I took a couple of photos after giving my new purchase a good cleaning.

September 21, 2011, 02:13 AM
Be aware the early 39s had a problem with accidental discharges.
I wouldn't mind having a nice one as a piece of history, but I wouldn't do much with it otherwise.

Ala Dan
September 21, 2011, 07:41 AM
The S&W 39-2 and the West German SIG-SAUER P228's were the best 9mm's
ever made, IMHO~! ;) :D

September 21, 2011, 07:56 AM
The S&W 39-2 and the West German SIG-SAUER P228's were the best 9mm's
ever made, IMHO~!

I'm a "revolver guy" and I don't know anything about the Sig, but I'll agree on the 39-2.

This is my third one. I foolishly traded off the other two. DUMB!

Smith & Wesson still markets magazines (I don't know if they "make" them or not) but today they stick out of the bottom of the magazine well just a little bit. In return they hold one more round than the old ones did.

September 21, 2011, 01:15 PM
Be aware the early 39s had a problem with accidental discharges.Actually no, they didn't.

The Model 39 has always incorporated a firing pin drop safety, as first used in the P-38 Walther.
As well as a manual decocker that complety blocks the firing pin before the hammer is released.
As well as a magazine safety.

They only go off when you pull the trigger.


September 21, 2011, 02:15 PM
Just inherited my Dad's Mod. 39. The ejector failed and he sent the gun back to Smith and for $59 they updated the gun to the -2 configuration, but did not mark it as such. Shots very well. Parts can be a problem. I had to have a gunsmith make parts for the rear sight.

Rick in Alexandria, VA

September 21, 2011, 04:09 PM
Nice looking pistol.

I have the 2nd Gen model 469, got it for $250.

Looking at those wood grips, I can't help but think that my black plastic grips need an upgrade.

September 21, 2011, 05:07 PM
I've never heard of any S&W 39 being prone to accidental discharges. Has to be associated with human error, or singular parts failure of an individual gun. Not a running design or gun deficiency.

P5 Guy
September 21, 2011, 06:15 PM
I guess the 39 ADs are the same as exploding G22/23s?
So the magazine now holds nine rounds not eight? I'm going to wait to order until after I get out of the hospital. Hip replacement in a few days. Then I'll be able to stand and do some shooting.
Thanks for the information, please keep it coming.

P5 Guy
September 23, 2011, 01:00 PM
How much does the 9 round magazine hang from the grip. Does anyone have a photo they could post?
Thanks P5

September 23, 2011, 02:39 PM
Actually, yes they did.
The SLCPD withdrew them from service for that reason, a LONG time back. I personally knew the guy who had an AD with one that paralyzed a fellow officer.
There were other incidents elsewhere, the 39 most certainly DID fire on more than one occasion without the trigger being pulled.

Stories passing around about other incidents with the gun at the time (even before the super-accurate info source known as the Internet) were the primary reason I did not buy one. I was initially interested, but persuaded not to buy one by its poor rep.

In the mid-70s the chief of my first PD totally banned autos for some years after he fell during a foot pursuit and his 39 fired unintentionally.
Can't recall now the source, but there was one incident I heard where an officer jumped down off a stool and his holstered 39 fired when he landed on the floor.
In 2003 on this forum a poster mentioned personally witnessing a 39 fire on holstering.
AFTE Journal, July of 1980, cautions that an AD may occur if unloading the 39 with an obstructed ejection port.
And so on.

The guns, at the time, did not have good reps, partly for that issue & partly for feeding failures.
The guns were not drop safe unless the safety was engaged.

September 23, 2011, 08:11 PM
You have cited a lot of possible incidents, but nothing specifically documented as investigated, just secondhand from the persons involved in the incident. Are there any allegations followed up by a physical test of the pistols in question, which affirm or deny the allegation of "defective pistol"? I'm going to challenge anyone that might have PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERIENCE with any Model 39 AD that was mechanically or design related, right here, right now, to give us specifics. I packed and shot one almost daily, for seven years, and I know the gun inside out. It has the same design today as the most current S&W 9mm's, that it had then, and I cannot see how it can "fire by itself", without foolish handling, finger in the trigger while holstering, holstering while cocked and safety off, etc. Basically HUMAN malfunction. Cops have been known to blame the gun for AD's, especially if there is the threat of discipline or firing as a result of an AD, when they know otherwise. I'd be willing to bet there never was an attributable, documented, mechanical or design deficiency found to cause "unassisted" AD's. Show me. Same with the Glock. If you handle it as it is designed to be used, and take out the human error, the guns work as they should. Guns NOT being handled poorly don't shoot accidentally, people handling guns often DO have accidents..................

September 23, 2011, 09:11 PM
I can't give you lab results & I won't conduct any drop tests for you.

The S&W Model 39 was known during its heyday for the things I mentioned.
Whenever responses to subjects of design failures, manufacturer quality issue, and so on come up on these forums, you'll invariably see people get on with "MINE'S never been a problem" or "MINE'S always been perfect" posts. None of which is particularly helpful, and none of which changes the experiences of those who did have problems with their guns in the slightest.

Anyone who says "It's never happened with my gun, so those who say it happened to their gun ergo, to wit & thusly must be liars" is seriously deluded & ignoring reality.

When I made my first post in this thread, it was a cautionary note & nowhere in it did I say EVERY Model 39 ever made broke parts, failed to feed, and shot people by accident.

The incident I refered to with the SLCPD occurred during a stakeout, was thoroughly investigated, and both officers involved were exonerated from personal blame and/or mishandling of the Model 39. The one crippled as the result later committed suicide, the one not injured continued on with his career until he left law enforcement to enter the private sector. I will not mention names.
That whole sad occurrance WAS thoroughly documented, believe me. You don't have an officer-injured on-duty AD without it being so documented.

The department I mentioned where the chief had his AD was the St. George PD, in southern Utah. It was again documented at the time, and again I will not give you any names.
These people deserve their privacy.

The stool incident, as I said, I can't recall the source for & I did not know anybody involved in it.

The AFTE Journal entry I listed is findable on the Internet, I didn't make it up, and you can look that one up for yourself, too. Right next to the recall notice on the 586s & 686s, which was also a documented performance issue.

You can look up the 2003 thread I refered to on this forum yourself.
To which I'll add a March 17, 2010 post on this forum stating the Model 39-2 does not have an automatic drop [firing pin] safety.
And further, look at the Gun Digest Book Of Combat Handgunnery in which Ayoob says "...those guns were not drop-safe unless the thumb safety was engaged." (Mods: Limited quotations are permissable under copyright law in citing a source for reference purposes.)

The 39s did not have automatic passive firing pin "drop safeties" like more modern pistols do.
They did (also see Ayoob's comments) also experience feeding problems and parts failures, enough to elevate them above other pistols in those areas back then.

If you had positive experiences with your pistol, that's great. Others did not, for the reasons cited.

September 23, 2011, 11:10 PM
How much does the 9 round magazine hang from the grip. Does anyone have a photo they could post? -Thanks P5

About an 1/8 of an inch protrusion from the bottom of the frame as evidenced in this photo provided courtesy of THR & S&W Forum Member W.E.G. (from the following thread over at S&W Forum):

DPris: And further, look at the Gun Digest Book Of Combat Handgunnery in which Ayoob says '...those guns were not drop-safe unless the thumb safety was engaged.'

Actually, the Models 39, 39-2, and 59 were never absolutely drop safe, safety applied or not. The 1st Generation Smith Semi-Autos utilized inertial firing pins and could go off in the rare instance of a perpendicular muzzle strike of sufficient force to cause that firing pin to make contact with a chambered round. In that respect, no different than hundreds of thousands of 1911s & Browning Hi-Powers similarly unequipped with a firing pin safety. Something to be aware of, but nothing that kept me from carrying any of those three weapons (in a good retention holster) for duty or CCW over many years .

P5 Guy:

The first handgun I ever bought was a 39-2 back in the early 70's. Back then, they had a pretty good reputation where I lived (Atlanta metro area) and were an LEO off-duty favorite. I've owned several over the years and still enjoy my current one. It's not target accurate like a bullseye pistol, but it out-shoots my Beretta 92FS by a slight margin. Not as accurate as my CZ-75. Combat accurate...but really enjoyable to shoot due to the natural fit of the grip to my hand.

Mine digests pretty much anything I run through it but prefers 115-124 grain FMJs or JHPs. I used to routinely fire LRN hand loads through my first one.

They are nice pistols and have one thing that a lot of pistols don' The 39 is pleasing to the eye, evokes pride of ownership, and begs to be shot as soon as it comes to hand.

Enjoy your new Smith!

September 24, 2011, 12:24 AM
Agreed, but I didn't want to get too far into the safety issue.
I outlined the basics, and yes- the 39s were not the only pistols that could fire on dropping. Inertial firing pins in other makes could & did, but the 39s achieved more of a rep for ADs than 1911s or HPs, for instance. :)

I could also point out that the 1911 & HP are SAs & subject to different carry methods than the DA 39s that were designed from the beginning to be carried hammer down on a live chamber, whereas the other two were not, but I won't. :)

I do agree the 39 has eye appeal.


September 24, 2011, 01:18 AM
I had a model 39 for many years before I got stupid and sold it. It really fit my hand and shot well for me. I didn't like the model 59 because with it's double stack magazine the grip was too thick for me. I bought a Ruger SR9 a couple years back probably because the gun looked and felt a lot like I remembered my old model 39. The lighter weight and double stack with a thin grip was an improvement on the model 39 but if I can find another without breaking the bank...

P5 Guy
September 24, 2011, 03:28 PM
Thank you for the photo, not too much over hang, I guess you call it that.
The firing pin in the 39-2 I have seem to have a return spring? Does this make a difference? I have read about a refit for the M1 and SKS45 to stop slam fires when using softer than milspec primers. The refit has a spring on the striker to hold it back during the bolts forward movement. The M1 also uses a camming surface in the receiver to hold the striker/firing pin.
None of my rifles of that type have ever had a slam fire even with my "MATCH" handloads.
Please keep the great information coming.

September 24, 2011, 03:36 PM
Most of the AD's/ND's associated and mentioned above don't seem to be related to a firing of the gun when it was a drop/inertia firing pin discharge. I see vague accusations by (most often) LE officers who had a "suspicious" accident. If I had been S&W at the time of this so-called period of Model 39 malfuctions and AD's, I would have recalled the Model 39, or publication of such incidents (as have Glock "kabooms") would have made it into the common knowlege and been found in the gun magzines, or have resulted in lawsuits, etc. I think what we have here is "old cop's tales", similar in credibility to "old wive's tales". No subtance. Mechanical or design failures can be scientifically analyzed and explained. That is all I'm asking. Kind of like being from Missouri: "Show me."

September 24, 2011, 03:43 PM
Op wanted opinions. He got yours, he got mine, and I provided more "substance" than your doubts did. :)
Asked, answered, and done.

September 25, 2011, 12:47 PM
I must have missed the "substance". Could you direct me to it? Admittedly, my seven years with the gun doesn't mean much, as I didn't run after badguys with my finger on the trigger, or drop my gun after it was cocked, etc, as some "police accidental shootings" might have been (and LIED about; who knows). Also, I worked LE for 20 years, so I know a little about the police officer psyche. Still looking for DOCUMENTED allegations against the GUN.............................

P5 Guy
September 26, 2011, 04:03 PM
I didn't mean to start an argument.
I'm not intending to carry or use this pistol for HD/SD. I will be careful handling it, for sure. Just as I'm attentive of where my finger is on my carry gun, Glock 26.
If there is any other information out there, I' all ears.

September 27, 2011, 12:12 AM
P5 Guy: No worries. You didn't. Folks just like to express their opinions (and relate their experiences) when discussing interesting weaponry. You wind up learning a lot more from such discussion than from just seeing a bunch of posts that say "+1" or "nice gun". :)

BTW: The S&W Forum I linked to has tons of threads about Model 39s. The search function over there can be a little hinky for some reason. Try typing in "Model 39-2" (with quotation marks) under advanced search in the semi-auto sub-forum. Be prepared to repeat the search parameters a few times until it takes.

Lots of info over there concerning your pistol...

Have you had a chance to shoot it yet?

P5 Guy
September 27, 2011, 04:40 PM
Not shot the 39 yet, my trigger finger is itchy. And it will be awhile. Going into the hospital for some more work. New hips are on order.

September 27, 2011, 06:05 PM

Well, good luck with all that and here's hoping for a speedy recovery (and improved quality of life)! :)

Red Cent
September 27, 2011, 07:28 PM

Works for me.

P5 Guy
September 27, 2011, 07:37 PM
[QUOTE]Well, good luck with all that and here's hoping for a speedy recovery (and improved quality of life)!/QUOTE]

Thanks, I am missing the range. This should make things more comfortable.

September 27, 2011, 09:41 PM

Works for me.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh my jealousy meter just skyrocketed... :D

September 27, 2011, 11:53 PM
I have a police trade in 639, the stainless version of the 39. I bought a second S&W mag from Brownells when I bought the gun nearly 15 or so years ago. It is my favorite range gun and it goes with me around the country in the car, truck or RV. Gets cleaned about once a year and has never had a problem. My mags are stainless also.

September 28, 2011, 11:30 PM
The Model 39's and 59's have the best triggers in them of any guns I've seen, and my 39 runs like a sewing machine. I call my 39 my "dress up gun" because I have black pearlite grips on it, and it's pretty slick looking... but unfortunately, it's a single stack mag, so it gets kicked out for higher capacity guns as "regular carry guns". I do love to shoot mine, however, and it's a great gun to have and to shoot.

If I had to only have one gun, I wouldn't feel undergunned with a model 39, but I would hate loading those single stack magazines. I'd have to have a drum full of them.:evil:

I have about 40 pistols and revolvers, and the 39-2 is one of my favorites in the 9MM category. No problems, only good shooting and dependability.



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