One for the S&W experts here.....


El Mariachi
January 28, 2013, 05:04 PM
Long story short, this is my daughter's current Boi-Toi's grandfather's revolver. Gramps is pushing 90 and his memory is about gone. Boi-Toi vaguely recalls many years ago that Gramps bought this revolver in the 40's and then had some 'work' done to it. Like going from a regular .38 to the .38 S & W Special. Patent markings/years on the barrel are dated between the 1900 & 1910's. There's an odd piece of curved plastic on the front/center of the grip & frame. New(old?) bluing is very nice, cylinder and timing seem to be fine, gun feels solid & real good in the hands. But something seems odd about it-----particularly the front portion below the barrel, that covers the right side of the shell ejecting rod. I searched Google images and could not find one similar anywhere. What say y'all?......

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January 28, 2013, 05:17 PM
Not a expert but I beleive that is a 38/44 heavy duty. a .38 special built on a .44 frame one of the experts will let you know for sure the piece on the grip is a grip adapter.

January 28, 2013, 05:36 PM
38/44 Heavy Duty built strong to handle hot 38 loads developed for the police to use to penetrate cars and body armor of the gangs and bank robbers in the 1930's. Immediate predecessor to the 357 Registered Magnum.

Heavy ejector rod shroud is there to add extra weight out front, and to keep from bending the barrel if the gun was used for attitude adjustment on hard headed slow learners.:evil:

Black plastic thing is a grip adapter to give the shooter a better grip on the hard recoiling gun. That grip adapter alone may be worth several hundred dollars.

Front sight has been modified..

That is one fine specimen.. with a pretty good price, but with the gun's history, it should be priceless to the family.

Tyler T Grip adapters are still made and on the market.

Go here for 38/44 Heavy Duty web site.

El Mariachi
January 28, 2013, 05:57 PM
...on hard-headed slow learners....

Love it...:D

Driftwood Johnson
January 28, 2013, 08:10 PM

Yup, it is a 38/44 Heavy Duty.

Here are a couple of photos of mine, showing what the front sight usually looked like.

The grips on mine are incorrect, they are too new and have had an ugly coat of varnish slapped on. The grips on your 38/44 are correct. If you take them off, you will probably find the gun's serial number penciled onto the inside of the grips.

As has been said, the front sight on yours has been modified. It looks like some sort of rear sight has been added too. The factory rear sight was a groove in the top strap.

Your gun left the factory chambered for 38 Special. 38 S&W Special is the same cartridge, since S&W developed the cartridge in 1899 they always put their brand on it. But it is the same cartridge. But as has been stated, the the Heavy Duty was designed for a special high velocity version of the 38 Special which would probably have blown up a standard 38 Special revolver. That's why the 357 Magnum was developed. It is too long to chamber in a standard 38 Special revolver.

Take a look at the rear of the hammer and see if it has the Reg. U.S. Pat. Office stamp on it. S&W only did this for a few years. The rear of the trigger should carry the same stamp.

January 28, 2013, 08:16 PM
Looks like a 38/44 Outdoorsman to me.
But I can't see the rear sight well enough to tell.

At any rate, it is not the normal 38/44 Heavy Duty "notch in the top-strap" rear sight.

The front sight might or might not have been modified if it is in fact an Outdoorsman.

At the time the gun was made, S&W would put just about any front sight on one you could dream up.

That one looks like one model of target front sight I have seen before.

You would have to factory letter it to find out for sure.

It could / would be worth the money.


January 28, 2013, 08:19 PM
OP's gun also has the desirable humpback hammer.

January 29, 2013, 05:49 AM
Very cool old S&W.

January 29, 2013, 07:43 AM
I agree that its an old police issue N framed S&W

I had the exact one a few decades ago and mine was marked with an agencys initials [ wish I kept it ].

January 29, 2013, 08:37 AM
Not an Outdoorsman (factory adjustable sight) but a modified Heavy Duty. Somebody cut the front sight and added some sort of blade rear sight.

Too bad...

January 29, 2013, 10:37 AM
Yup, as SP says, Outdoorsman is a little different.. Longer barrel 61/2" and adjustable sights.

January 29, 2013, 12:31 PM
The grip adapter could be a Pachmyer but it's hard to tell. There is writing on the left hand side of it but I can't read it. When you remove the wooden grips, do so carefully and don't pry them please, you can see that the adapter is held in place by two copper arms that slide under the grips and are held in place against the frame by the pressure of the tightened grips.

The underlug protects the ejector rod from being bent.

The gun looks original except for the modifications to it, as has been said. A good shooter.

The serial number will appear on the butt of the gun, the face of the cylinder, the the rear of the star ejector, on the underlug or barrel flat, and on the yoke, these numbers should match if the piece keeps it's original parts.

Looks like the serial number (389xx looks like) places it 1933 or so. Pre-war. It doesn't look like it has an "S" prefix to the serial number.


January 30, 2013, 12:40 PM
The grip adapter looks like it is hard rubber and might have been made by Fray-Mershon. They made Sure-Fit grip adapters, 10-Point rubber grips, recoil pads, and cartridge holders. There should be a number on the adapter denoting what size it was (small-4, medium-9, large-10). They were located in Glendale, California back in the 1930's and I believe they were eventuallly bought out by Pachmayr.

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