Smith & Wesson .38 Special


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DVDdavidrq
January 9, 2012, 09:06 PM
I have seen several inquiries on THR about the manufacture date and some history about S&W .38 spec. revolvers. I have a S&W .38 Special with "Smith & Wesson .38 Special & U.S Service CTG’s" marked on the barrel. It's a six-shot revolver with blued metal and wood pistol grips. It's in very good condition.The serial # is 817XX.

Can anyone tell me the approximate date of manufacture and anything about the history?

Many thanks!

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NG VI
January 9, 2012, 09:45 PM
There's a sticky in the Revolvers subforum, some great people in there too.

Old Fuff
January 10, 2012, 12:59 AM
Because of the large number of inquires concerning Smith & Wesson handguns vs. date-of-manufacture, we try to direct them here:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=372213

All too often a request for information doesn't include the information that's necessary to make an accurate identification. This is not the gun owner's fault - obviously if they knew they wouldn't be asking us.

But anyway, go to the above link, and if that doesn't work out to your satisfaction we'll see what can be done here.

Hondo 60
January 10, 2012, 11:52 AM
DVDdavidrq

It's either VERY old (pre WWII) or that isn't the serial number.
Did you get that from the butt of the gun?
That's were the serial number is.

If you got that from the crane (open the cylinder)
then it's just a manufacturing number & useless once it leaves the factory.

Old Fuff
January 10, 2012, 12:47 PM
I have a S&W .38 Special with "Smith & Wesson .38 Special & U.S Service CTG’s" marked on the barrel. It's a six-shot revolver with blued metal and wood pistol grips. It's in very good condition.The serial # is 817XX.

The barrel marking shows that it's old. The "U.S. Service" cartridge referred to is the .38 Long Colt, used in Colt model 1892 service revolvers, which at the time were still current issue.

DVDdavidrq
January 11, 2012, 07:13 PM
Thanks for the responses. Yes, the six-digit serial number 817XX is on the bottom of the pistol grip and is also on the cylinder, on the end which closes toward the hammer. There is a different four-digit number on the frame inside near where the cylinder fits when closed.

SaxonPig
January 11, 2012, 07:23 PM
Very early M&P. Before 1916, I think.

DVDdavidrq
January 13, 2012, 07:45 PM
Many thanks! That's kind of cool to think it might be that old. Is there a specific ammunition I should use given that it's that old and Old Fuff indicated it is ".38 long colt"?

Radagast
January 13, 2012, 08:13 PM
You have a .38 Military & Police Model 0f 1905 1st Change manufactured between 1906 & 1909 in the serial range 73251 to 146899, so 1906 seems likely.

The caliber is .38 Special, also known as .38 S&W Special and is readily available at any gun shop. The .38 Special case is simply a stretched .38 Long Colt case, so both will chamber in the gun. If you shoot .38 long colt you will get a build up of lead and carbon in the cylinder chambers as the case is shorter than the chamber. .38 Long Colt is pretty much a specialty round for shooting in antiques and will be hard to find and costly, so there is no point in buying it. Stick to .38 Special.

S&W marked their guns Service Ctg because they would not stamp "Colt" on their guns. Colt played the same game, dropping the S&W part of the cartridge name when they chambered guns for .38 S&W .38 S&W Special, .357 S&W Magnum, and .44 S&W Magnum. CTH by the way is an abreviation of Cartridge.

Your gun predates heat treatment of cylinders, so avoid any PlusP, +P, +P+, jacketed or semi jacketed ammo. Use of these rounds could result in a bulged or cracked cylinder.
158 grain lead round nose or 148 grain lead waddcutters should shoot to point of aim and will as safe as any other round.

To check out the mechanical condition of your gun you can use this thread:
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=57816

Your gun also predates the positive internal hammer block safety. If dropped it could fire, so treat it as a five shooter, leaving the chamber under the hammer empty.

BTW, I'm the guy who answers the date of birth thread, so no need to re-post your question there.

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