S&W 38 special identification help


October 1, 2012, 02:42 PM
I inherited an old S&W 38 special. Have no idea how to determine model or age. It is not in the best of shape but belonged to my father so, I want to know a little about it. Here is what I know.
a) caliber - 38 special
b) bbl length (from cylinder to muzzle) - 5 inches
c) grips shape (round or square) - square
d) number of shots/cylinder bores - 6
e) type of sights. - front sight is fixed blade integral to the barrel. Rear sight is a recessed grove indented into the frame
f) serial number, and if there is a letter in front of or anywhere near the s/n on the bottom of the grip. - I can't read the serial number. It could be 595129 or 395129 or S95129. Several numbers can't be read.
g) Model number if it is under the crane. - Nothing under the crane. The serial number is on the bottom of the grip.
That number, if it is the s/n, should come from the butt of the grip (or under the barrel or face of the cylinder).

There are a bunch of dates on the top of the barrel. I guess patent dates? Can't read them well. One example is Sept.14.08

The firing pin might be part of the hammer? On the right side of the frame I see 3 small screws and 1 large screw up by the top of the cylinder. The barrel is pinned.

Any ideas or suggestions on where to look for model and manufacture date.
All help appreciated.

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October 1, 2012, 03:02 PM
Welcome to the forum.
Look to see if there is a number on the barrel flat, bottom side where the ejector rod is located, on the back of the cylinder when opened, and on the back of the ejector star. YOu have to push the rod in as if you were ejecting empty cases.

Hopefully, those numbers will be the same as the one on the butt and may enable you to ascertain a complete serial number.

There is a sticky for identifying S&W guns at the top of the page when you open this site.


If that doesn't do it. I'm sure someone here willing and be able to help.

October 1, 2012, 03:38 PM
Thanks. All great tips. 393129 is the number. I found it in 3 places.
Any help on model and date appreciated.

October 1, 2012, 05:43 PM
My guess is a pre-war version of the S&W Military and Police. I'm guessing about 1932 vintage.
It would become the Model 10 after 1957.
Don't shoot anything but mild 38 specials. No +P stuff.

Old Fuff
October 1, 2012, 07:02 PM
Pictures do help. :)

You have a Smith & Wesson, .38 Military & Police Model/1905 Hand Ejector, 4th Chg. It was made around the early-middle 1920's. The cylinder is heat treated, but avoid Plus-P ammunition. It also does not have a positive hammer block safety, so unless circumstances dictate otherwise carry 5 with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

If you want more specific information it is available from the S&W factory, in exchange for a $50.00 research fee.

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.


October 1, 2012, 11:36 PM
Thank you SOOOOOO much for not saying you inherited an old .38 Special CTG. :)

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