S&W model 39 - collectible or shooter?


Fat Boy
January 23, 2012, 09:40 PM
The LGS has a model 39 for sale- I am thinking about buying it for a back up to my M&P Compact, and a range gun- I have some misgivings about this because I want to buy a gun to shoot, not put on a shelf.

What are the chances of a model 39 "breaking" and then finding replacment parts?

The other option currently in stock is a Sig 226- same price for both but the Sig has 2 magazines as opposed to 1 for the Smith-

I know the Sig holds more rounds, is newer(ish), etc- My choice would be the Smith, but i don't want to buy it and have it fail, then be an expensive paperweight-


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Ala Dan
January 23, 2012, 09:57 PM
I have one S&W 39-2 that is a "safe queen"; and one 39-2 thats a "shooter"~! ;)

January 23, 2012, 10:03 PM
They made a ton of them, I don't think you'll have any trouble finding spare parts for it. I know they're out of production now, but S&W may still be making the smaller parts, and I'm pretty sure Wolff makes springs for them.

They're durable pistols, I think it would take an awful lot of shooting to truly wear one of those S&W pistols out.

Old Fuff
January 24, 2012, 11:29 AM
Unless it is 99.999 to 100 percent new, or the same with the original box, papers and accessories, big-bucks collectors won't be interested. I don't believe there is any shortage nor demand for ones in lesser condition. So far as shooter/users are concerned the market is filled with later and better models.

If you want a shooter and the price is right, go for it!

But I think I might give the SIG another look. ;)

Murphys Law
January 24, 2012, 11:39 AM
If that were a 3rd generation Smith than i would say yes but the Sig 226 is the better choice when compared to the first gen 39.

Old Fuff
January 24, 2012, 08:46 PM
The S&W auto loaders inspired the SIG design as well as the CZ and many more I'd say.

Ah, no. The lockwork was mostly borrowed from the Walther P-38 (1938) and the rest came from the Browning Hi Power (1935). Neither the CZ nor SIG's have slide-mounted safeties. Smith did however add a magazine disconector.

January 24, 2012, 08:51 PM

January 24, 2012, 09:05 PM
I love my 39-2. It has the best stock trigger of any gun I've ever owned, and it shoots like a dream.

I don't shoot it a lot these days, because I made it "purty" with some slick black pearlite grips, and kind of turned it into a "barbeque gun"... but it can stand on it's own as either a collectible or a shooter.


January 24, 2012, 09:08 PM

Ah, no. ...Neither the CZ nor SIG's have slide-mounted safeties. Smith did however add a magazine disconector.

I'll agree on the mag disconnect, but disagree on the safety. Model 39s had a slide mounted decocker / safety. As do some of their other similiar models.

January 24, 2012, 09:21 PM
He was saying that the CZ and SiG pistols do not have them, unlike the S&W pistols. Meaning they are probably not immediate relatives, beyond the Browning short-recoil operating system.

January 24, 2012, 09:36 PM
Ok, so do you have the original model, the 39 with a steel frame, or the 39-2 with the alloy frame? Just curious. I just picked up a 39-2 and am currently stockpiling 9mm ammo to go and shnoot the shnitt out of it...

Sauer Grapes
January 24, 2012, 10:01 PM
I think most parts can be found for the 39. As someone said, I'm pretty sure that Wolff sells spring kits for them.
I just bought a 4006 with a broken decocker spring. This is the only part I wasn't able to obtain from a parts house. Luckily S&W still makes the parts available for it.
That doesn't mean you'll always be able to get parts for that particular model. I have a H&R 22 revolver sitting in pieces due to 2 broken parts that I can't find.

January 24, 2012, 10:42 PM
You might pose this Q to Smith and Wesson's Customer Service. My guess is that they have lots of parts for it, as it was produced in mass quantities for 25 years or so and in second and third gens thereafter. I don't think this should be a primary concern in your decision to buy/not buy.

Great gun, ahead of its time in many ways. Terrific trigger, slim profile, easy to shoot, accurate, light enough to carry, and substantial enough to matter and generally underpriced for its value.

You may like/not like the slide mounted decocker or the mag safety or what it may lack compared to something else designed with 40-50 years of evolution going for it compared to the 39, but its still a great gun, even now.

January 25, 2012, 07:15 PM
Parts are still mostly available from places like Numrich:


Spring kits are readily available from Wolff, and magazines are easy to find (although not cheap).

Really nice M-39s are going to BE collectible, but pristine condition and original accessories will (as with all guns) command the premium prices.

In the meantime, shooter grade 39s are available at anywhere from $300 to $500 all over the country (when you can find them).

Get one and, as said: "Shoot the snot out of it." They are really fun and accurate weapons to fire. My very first handgun was an M39-2, and I've owned several over the decades. I've always come back to owning one, like my current version:


February 18, 2012, 05:02 PM
I had the same question with my Christmas present. My wife found a NIB 5906 for me. It was bought in 1990 and never fired. I decided it was a shame not to shoot it so its gone through about 100 rounds. Now it has taken up a spot in the safe and I bought a 3913 for a carry/shooter.

February 19, 2012, 01:24 AM
I bought a new Model 39 in 1966 and shot a lot of ammo through it. It was my first 9mm, in fact it was my second auto after my Mark I Ruger. In those days I was living in NW Alaska and tended toward large caliber revolvers. I really enjoyed the 39 and wish I'd kept it longer than the twenty years I did.

February 19, 2012, 01:32 AM
Shooter, but beware! Many 39s and 59s did not work. They jammed. S&W eventually made them work, but not for a long time. I'd buy a 3906 and not go with a Sig. I have both and I don't have much of an affinity for the Sig. That said, the Sig is ultra reliable. But so is the 3906. And I love the third generation pistol...and the second generation. In fact, I wish I'd gotten a 639, which is a sexier pistol. I also have a 659 and a 5906, and I prefer the 659.

I'd pass on the 39, though, unless you're sure it works!


I first read about the problem with the 39/59 in a gun magazine published in the late 70s.
It said both guns had reliability problems. I do know that Smith eventually fixed those problems
(and perhaps still may). If it doesn't work when I got it, I'd send it back to Smith and have them
work on it. The 39 is an aluminum frame gun and I'd love to get one that worked. Shoot, I'd like
to have a 59 that worked.


My 3906. Very nice pistola, but I wish I'd gotten a 639!


The S&W 659 and 5906. Both are great autopistols, but I lean
towards the former.


The S&W 639, which would be one of my top choices.

I think you should try for a S&W model from the second or third generation pistols. They have all steel frames, balance and shoot nicely. It would cost S&W a fortune to manufacture these pistols today. (Look how much 1911 pistols are selling for.) You can get these Smith autos for good prices when you can find them, and they're great shooters.

Good luck!


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