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.38 Military & Police Model of 1905 - ( 4th change )

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by CSP8555, May 14, 2008.

  1. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I am a new member and am unfamiliar with this Site.

    I have just purchased a Smith and Wesson which I believe is a
    .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 - ( 4th change )
    The patent information on the top of the barrel is as follows:
    October 8,01.December 17,01.Feb.6,06.Sept 14,09.Dec 29,14

    The 38 Special revolver has serial numbers (SN 267xxx) stamped on the bottom of the butt, the rear face of the cylinder, and the bottom of the barrel above the ejector rod which all match and there are no letters in the serial number.

    The Assembly # 2031 is inside the cylinder area.
    1. Length of barrel (measured from the cylinder face to the end of the muzzle). = 6 inch

    2. Adjustable sights

    3. Dull or Brushed Nickel Finish - the finish looks more like Stainless Steel than Nickel.

    The finish and the revolver is in excellent condition. The grips look old and have considerable wear but are in good shape with the center screw and the S&W emblem on each side. The grips look to be 90 years old and original.

    I believe this revolver was manufactured about 1920 but I can't figure out the finish as it appears to look like stainless instead of nickel plate.

    There are four screws on the right side of the revolver that hold the plate.

    Is someone familiar with this finish on this revolver or can tell me more about it? I believe this revolver was made long before stainless being used.
  2. JesseL

    JesseL Well-Known Member

    Can you post a picture?

    I know M&Ps were made with a nickel finish, but I've never heard of one with adjustable sights. Someone far more knowledgeable about older Smiths will be along shortly, but I'm guessing you may have something like a K-38.

    Here's the M&P I inherited from my Grandfather:
  3. mec

    mec Well-Known Member

    It could be a military and police target model that somebody had refinished with electroless nickle or the same or similar process that was popular a couple decades ago. can't think of the name but it may have started with an "n".
    Supica and Nahas give the serial number range 241,704- 700,000 from 1915-1942 making your assement of 1920 very feasible. Heat treated cylinders began at # 316648 generally given as about 1920. Some would recommend against shooting earlier ones and it would be a good idea to avoid +P loads. If it was made in or after 1920, the knife thin front sight and tiny groove sight has given way to a larger and more visible sight picture.
    Target sighted models in original condition are somewhat more valuable than those with service sights.
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    If it is a factory nickeled 1905 .38 M&P Target (adjustable sight) model it would be most unusual. They did make them, but not many - which would make it particularly interesting to a collector. It is quite possible that time has dulled the nickel. To confirm the original finish and sights do this:

    Get it "lettered." To do so you will need a snapshot of the gun, a full description including the serial number on the butt, and a check in the amount of $30.00 made out to Smith & Wesson. In exchange the company's historian, Roy G. Jinks, will research the original records (which are not computerized by the way) and send you a letter containing the details of what he finds.

    This comprehensive document will contain an overview of the model’s history, followed by the details of your particular gun. This usually includes the caliber, barrel length, finish, and the exact date it was shipped from the factory, and to what distributor or dealer. If there are any special features they will be listed too. If your revolver is factory original the cost of the letter would be more then offset by the increased value of the gun.

    Additional information on a historical letter will be found at the Smith & Wesson company website at: www.smith-wesson.com
  5. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    Does your revolver look like this, only with a nickle looking finish?
    Nickle does dull to a satin looking finish if not maintained.
    It will also begin to flake at this point, look to see if there are areas of the nickle plating that are missing or beginning to bubble up off the metal.
    If these are not present then the revolver may have had the original blue removed and you are looking at a revolver in a natural metal state.
    Here is what original nickle finish looks like, this is an immediate postwar M&P made in 1946.
    If you look closely at the muzzle, you will see where my revolvers finish is beginning to frost and dull from age.
  6. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    To JesseL,
    I have a 38 Special S&W that looks exactly like you Grandfather’s revolver except mine has a 5 inch barrel.
    Serial # C 311xxx

    To mec,
    Good information to avoid hot loads in this older gun as the Serial Number is below 316648.

    To Old Fuff,
    I have printed off the information to send for information from S&W Roy Jinks. I plan to do this along with getting the information on a couple of other pre 1957 S&W 38 Specials.

    My revolver looks very similar to your blued revolver except the front sight has a different profile, my grips look older and have a S&W emblem at the top of the grip on each side (it does look as if the grips could be interchanged) and the cylinder locking end underneath the barrel at the front end has more of a bulb.
    My revolver has a uniform satin finish with no signs of wear. Mine does not resemble the finish on your nickel revolver (it is not bright). If the blue has been removed, someone has done an excellent job. There is no sign of any rust. I will try to take a picture however I am new at putting a picture on the web.

  7. mec

    mec Well-Known Member

    I shot a pair of those years ago. both were accurate. they looked the same with tiny round ivory bead front sights though I was told that one was made in about 1910 ( the .38 I believe) while the other in .22 LR was dated at 1930 or 31. I remember I was having a good day when I shot the 38. The light weight barrel gets kind of trembly out on the end of your arm but I managed a group of about 2.5 inches at 25 yards.
  8. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I was able to take a couple of pictures. How do I put the pictures on this posting?
  9. JesseL

    JesseL Well-Known Member

    To attach an image:

    Hit the button at the bottom of this page labeled "Go Advanced".

    Scroll down to the button labeled "Manage Attachments".

    In the window that pops up hit the "Browse" button.

    Select the file on your computer you'd like to display.

    Click the "Upload" button.

    Close the attachments window.

    Submit your reply.
  10. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I have attached a couple of pictures. There is glare on the barrel that shows it as gold but the entire revolver has a uniform stainless steel satin finish

    Attached Files:

  11. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    These are same view but with black background.

    Attached Files:

  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I believe that you were right in suspecting the gun had been refinished. The rear sight assembly and front sight blade should be blued, even on a nickeled revolver. Also the hammer and trigger should be color case hardened. Refinishing has undoubtedly lowered the collector's value, but would not hurt it as a shooter.

    You can still get it lettered, but it will likely show the finish as "blued."
  13. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I think the revolver must have been bead-blasted and buffed and I think it may have been electrolysis with a plating. The stamped S&W markings on th side plate are not sharp, and washed out. It has not rusting and I have had it for over 24 hours. If this is a plating it is the best that I have seen and I would like to know what the plating or treatment is. This revolver looks like stainless steal.

    I think this is a 1918 to 1920 .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 revolver in excelant condition.
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    It may not rust, even if the surface isn’t plated. A lot depends on your local environment. I have an old S&W .32 Safety Hammerless top-break made during the late 1890’s. It was once nickel plated, but now is devoid of about all of its original finish. I’ve had it for about a quarter century and with nothing more then an occasional coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax it hasn’t rusted a bit. Of course if you live in a high humidity atmosphere that might not be the case.
  15. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I think the surface of my .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 (1918-1920) has been altered. I also think that this alteration is a benefit to me. I want to use this as a shooter rather than in the safe.

    I would like to know what surface treatment has been done to make this look like stainless steel.
  16. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

    I would like to thank
    JesseL, mec, Old Fuff, Onmilo,

    I appreciate your support and you knowledge.
    CSP 8555
  17. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    I'm no expert but it appears to be a Military & Police Target Model. The Target is the valuable part of that ID. Yes, it does look refinished but still a rare gun. Should be a fine shooter.
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Well most steel alloys do look the same, depending on how they are polished. Over time, high carbon steel usually (but not always) gets dull and may (or may not) rust. So far as plating is concerned, the cold blue test will usually prove the point, one way or the other.

    Electroless chrome plating is a single-coat process, which unlike conventional nickel plating that consists of 3 layers (copper + nickel + chrome) is applied to the base steel, or in some cases - aluminum. Depending on the polish it can look like stainless steel.

    In either case, you have a neat revolver that was top-quality hand crafted in a way that's no longer available - at least for an affordable price. It has, or the potential to have, the best of all available double-action trigger pulls - bar none - and without a lot of expensive custom work. It is accurate enough to hit 25-cent sized targets flipped up in the air, or cut a playing card in half after it's hit edgewise at 20 feet.

    Have fun... :cool:
  19. Checkman

    Checkman member

    I own an M&P 3rd Change with a 6" barrel (mfd. 1913). It was refinished by a real craftsman sometime in the past, but nevertheless it's a beautiful and accurate little shooter.

    The sights are fixed and very tiny. But at twenty yards with shooting the classic 158 grain lead round nose it will cut the center out of a B-12 target. It seems more appropriate to shoot at a classic target when using a classic handgun. Okay I've overused classic haven't I?

    Old Fuff is right. I can't get over the quality of workmanship and it's even more amazing when you consider that the M&P was just an "average" revolver for the working stiff. Times have changed.
  20. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    I totally agree.
    I know S&W made a bunch of 'improvements' to the gun when they came out with the Masterpiece line but these old target revolvers will still impress those that have the opportunity to shoot them.
    Mine will still shoot respectable groups at 50 meters and at 25 meters off the bench single action the group is one hole every time with Match wadcutters.

    Incidently, my revolver is a mere 26 numbers off the revolver Ed McGivern selected at the Smith and Wesson plant and was made on the same day as his Target .38.
    I can't help but wonder if mine was one that the old master handled when making his selection and whether S&W made up a batch of special fitted revolvers for which he could select from.
    The action on my gun is still crisp and incredibly smooth even after all these years have passed since it was made.

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