39-2 for ruger single six


January 5, 2013, 11:50 AM
So, a guy has been posting locally that he has a S&W 39-2 for sale for $450 or trade for a Ruger SS w/ mag cylinder. Wondering if the trade is a good one. I have no special need for either but I don't mind swapping if the deal is fair, at least for me. I already have a Ruger MK3, SP101 (.22) and a Beretta 8000 so it isn't a matter of need. I just don't know anything about the 39-2. Whadda ya think?

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January 5, 2013, 02:42 PM
It is a fair trade, as long as both guns are of equal condition.

January 5, 2013, 08:29 PM

It's a decent trade if the S&W Model 39-2 is in decent shape. The Model 39 was S&W's first really successful full size DA/SA pistol design of the post WWII era, featuring a steel slide, aluminum frame and a single stack magazine which held 8 rounds.

Gunbroker has two early Model 39 no dash that have Buy-It-Now prices of $750 and $799. One of the main differences with the early Model 39's over later models was with their really difficult to machine, heat treat, and fit extractors. Later models had a much simpler and less expensive extractor design. There is also a Model 39-2 listed that was made in 1974, in very nice condition, with the bidding starting at $469.

January 6, 2013, 10:44 AM
Opposite view here from someone that actually carried one. The S&W 39-2 is a very dated design. It wasn't very popular due to relibility and durability. Vast improvements have been made in understanding the stresses semi-auto undergo, better materials have been made and action designed improved. Much better guns are available for the same money or less.

January 6, 2013, 11:48 AM
I have no special need for either...
Then what's the point???

January 6, 2013, 03:01 PM
Well I actually carried one, and shot it a lot (S&W 39-1, the one that was supposed to be "flawed"). Packed it between 1968 and 1975, at which time I sold it to a friend. Don't know how long he used it. I know I had at least 7000 rounds through it. All that was ever done was a polishing of the feed ramp, which was later altered for the 39-2's. Materials for the S&W's, besides stainless, have not changed much. BSA1, you must have just had a gun that needed some minor tweaking for reliability. The vast number of 39 owners have great respect for them.

January 6, 2013, 10:01 PM
Then what's the point???
To replace perfectly good plinkler for clunker for which spare parts will not be available?

January 7, 2013, 01:02 PM
I also carried a 39-2 in the 70's,the only thing dated about it is the magazine capacity.Mine was reliable, accurate and fit my hand like nothing since!

January 7, 2013, 07:14 PM
Illinois State Police issued them in the '70's and dumped them.

January 8, 2013, 06:47 AM
The 39-2 is one of the finest, most ergonomic pistols ever devised, and mine cuts one hole at 10 yards all day long. I have abandoned several higher capacity autos for two of these, and I love them.
One has to shoot it to understand, but these are excellent handguns.
As for the Ruger, not exactly a bad trade, but if I had a the Ruger in question, I would trade for the 39-2 in a heartbeat.
And: Parts are still available, and they are NOWHERE near "clunker" status.
Holsters for the 5906 and its kin fit perfectly, and mags for the 3906/3904 work well also, making support even better.

January 8, 2013, 10:51 AM
Then what's the point???
"Then what's the point???"
I guess there's no real point other than trade a gun that rarely sees the outside of a safe. Thanks to all for your advice. Steveracer, the pics make it more compelling. I'm straddling the fence on this one.

January 8, 2013, 11:55 AM
Get off the fence. In the current market, all of the folks I know are scrambling to buy AR-15s and combat tupperware pistols. You are more likely to find a 39-2 (make sure it's the "-2" version. The no-dash ones were not as reliable.) for a very good price as fools are selling them to buy plastic guns.
I have a source that is alarmingly great for holsters if you run into a dead end there.

January 8, 2013, 12:21 PM

If the seller would come down a little with the price, I would say do it. The Model 39-2 had three improvements done to it over the earlier models to make it more reliable, with S&W redesigning the barrel bushing, the extractor, and the feed ramp (for better use with JHP ammo). It was introduced in 1970 and remained in production until 1982.


Nice pics!

January 9, 2013, 08:06 AM
Mr. Rogers, I have never had a malfunction with my 39-2s (I have two of them, an early transitional and a later police trade in) with any type of ammo. I shoot both of them more than 100 rounds per week of various ammo, and no malfunctions at all.

January 9, 2013, 08:23 AM
The 39-2 feels great in the hand, and most 1911 holsters fit it well enough.

I have a soft-spot for 39-2's

If the 39-2 were in excellent condition, and the Ruger had the lawyers splooge-mark on the barrel, I'd probably do the trade.

I'm keeping my "pre-warning" Rugers.
That's what Skeeter would do.

January 9, 2013, 05:59 PM
QUOTE: BSA1: "Illinois State Police issued them in the '70's and dumped them." -------- What does that mean? I was a working cop in Ohio back when Illinois State Police were using them, and never heard of any major complaints. Actually, they were one of the first big agencies to adopt a semi auto for service, and, to my knowledge, it was a reported success and they used them for years. They probably kept them as long as any service handgun is kept until swapping out for newer guns. Do you have some legitimate reference to the ISP replacing the Model 39 for specific reasons, or just assuming that something was wrong? They opened the door for most of the rest of the country's police departments to consider the use of semi-auto pistols.

January 10, 2013, 10:04 AM

After considering the pistol for several years, mainly so all officers could use the same gun (and qualify with them), while both on and off duty, the ISP adopted the Model 39 in 1968 and had them through the mid to late '70's. At some point it appears that the ISP traded their Model 39's in for new Model 439's, which were then in turn later replaced in the mid '80's by the Model 459.

So it really doesn't sound like the ISP ever dumped their Model 39's for another auto pistol design at any time. Moreover it appears that for a number of years they liked the S&W line-up and replaced/upgraded their service pistols as needed.

January 10, 2013, 12:02 PM
I believe the ISP was responsible for the improvements on the original model 39 that became the 39-2.

January 10, 2013, 12:06 PM
That's also my understanding. There were some "pre-39" pistols in the US military as well, and their use was minimal, but successful.

January 10, 2013, 04:56 PM
I'm sure when you had a police force that was as large as the ISP at the time (some 1700 officers), if they were having problems with their Model 39's, S&W was probably very receptive to making things right. Plus S&W would be getting all this feedback from one concentrated source, from officers who were using their pistols a lot more everyday than from the average civilian shooter.

I think there was a problem with the orginal feed ramp design and the ISP's preferred choice of ammo wouldn't feed reliabily with the way it was shaped. So when they revisited the Model 39 design they fixed it along with the extractor and the barrel bushing, thus making the new and improved Model 39-2.

January 10, 2013, 06:03 PM
I have ivory for one of mine, but I put it on the 439 instead.

January 10, 2013, 09:45 PM
Unlike computers, some "dated designs" in firearms rarely impede their function. A Model 39 performs today about as well as it ever did, and in the hands of a skilled shooter, can compete against Glocks, M&P's, and any other current 9mm fighting handgun. So can those old, "dated", 1911's, etc...........:D

January 11, 2013, 12:17 AM

You're so right. Just about anything made with all steel or steel and aluminum alloy could be considered dated; doesn't mean it can't get the job done. And while the Model 39 has seen it's day (getting its start all the way back in 1954), it's still a very capable gun in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.

Lucky Derby
January 11, 2013, 06:50 AM
While I generally don't care for S&W autos, the 39-2 is the best of them IMHO. They fit my hand really well and having shot several over the years I have found them to be both accuraite and reliable.
Why don't I care for S&W autos: Mag disconnect safety & backwards operating thumb safety (sorry 1911 guy here).
I would however have no issues carring one into harms way.
As far as ISP "dumping" them, they did not, they simply replaced them with newer, currently available versions as time went on.
Did a PD that adopted Glock 17s in the late 80s "dump them" when they recently purchased Gen4 Glock 17s?

January 11, 2013, 08:25 PM
I carry a 2nd generation S&W auto loader, the 469. Fantastic guns, IMO.

As for trading into one... hard to tell. My folks have a Ruger Single Six that will eventually be mine, and I taught my step-son pistol fundamentals with that gun, and squirrel hnted with that gun, so there is sentimental value attached. Because of that, I'd keep the Ruger.

Since the OP has no need for either, and apparently no sentiment attached, flip a coin.

Heads, make the trade. Tails, pass.

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