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I Inherited A Very Old S&W .38

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by magsnubby, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. magsnubby

    magsnubby Well-Known Member

    As some of you know, i lost my dad in January of this year. A few days after he passed my mom gave me the Taurus 85 i had bought him for Christmas a few years ago. While it's not an unusual or expensive gun, i'll always cherish it because my dad loved that gun.

    Today my mom gave me Dad's prized gun, an old well worn S&W .38 that Dad bought in 1941. He paid the princely sum of $9 for the gun and a box of .38 ammo. I was speechless. I never thought Mom would part with that old S&W but she knew that he had wanted me to have it.

    Sitting at my work bench, inspecting the well worn old S&W, the memories came flooding back. It was the first "big bore" gun i ever fired. All of us kids (all 7 of us) learned how to shoot "a real gun" using that old S&W. We lived in the country and in the summer time we always had a gopher problem. Nothing a water hose and the old S&W couldn't handle. Dad would get mad because i would use the .38 instead of the Colt Woodsman to shoot gophers. "But Dad, i like the .38 better". Alot of pest fell to that old S&W. No matter what guns came and went, the old S&W always had a home in Dad's gun cabinet. it was carried alot and shot almost as much. It was the gun Dad reached for when things went bump in the night.

    The finish is worn, it has about 50% of the finish left, a few light rust pits here and there and a home made cylinder release. The lockwork and the barrel are still in great shape and it still locks up almost as tight as any of my other K frames. The D/A trigger pull is smooth as silk. The S/A pull is light and crisp.

    I have no idea how old it is, all i know is Dad bought it in 1941. It has ".38 S&W Special Ctg." stamped on the right side of the barrel, 17462 stamped on the inside of the crane and the serial # is 317XXX. I think i'll write to S&W and see if they can give any history on the gun.

    I know it's not worth much monetary wise, but to me it's priceless. Someday i'll hand it down to my son.
  2. jobu07

    jobu07 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like some great history behind it. Keep it, treasure it, shoot it. A man couldn't ask for a greater gift.
  3. flyerI

    flyerI Member

    As you said the gun is priceless. My Dad has an old Remington 22 rifle that he taught me to shoot with. He got it for his 13th or 14th birthday if I remember the story correctly. He turned 74 last August. One day it will be passed on along with a shotgun that belonged to his father. That Remington will be the most valuable gun in my collection regardless of what ever else I own.
    As for writing S&W, I did so a couple of years ago to determine the date of manufacture of a .38 that I got from my wife's aunt. Evidently she was somewhat of a pistol herself. She walked into the livingroom one Thanksgiving with a S&W 357 and this 38, both in the original blue boxes and asked if I wanted them. Duh. I took the 38 and my father in law got the 357. She kept one 38 and to this day she can't remember where she hid the other 357.
  4. jlwatts3

    jlwatts3 Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry about your father, but it sounds like he left you a priceless gun.
  5. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Subject to what Roy Jinks at S&W says, (and yes you should get a letter) I think your dad's revolver dates from the middle 1920's. At that time S&W made a practice of numbering frames, and then drawing them out latter to be assembled into guns. So occasionally revolvers were made and shipped with serial numbers that were lower then one would expect.

    During 1941 the company was engaged in filling major contracts from the United Kingdom, as they had been in World War Two since 1939. Most of the revolvers made that year were in the 600,00 to 800,00 range and only a limited few ended up on the commercial market. Given the circumstances I think your dad most likely bought the gun used (but like new) rather then new. This in no way should detract from your fond memories, and I hope in the future it will be passed down through the family.
  6. magsnubby

    magsnubby Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff,
    You're correct, Dad bought the gun used,but like new, from his brother-in-law.
  7. sfhogman

    sfhogman Well-Known Member

    Be sure and get the history of the gun from S&W. It'll be signed by Mr. Jinks and will have a history of that model gun, along with its date of manufacture and to whom it was shipped. It'll cost about 40 bucks, I think. Worth it for Roy Jinks' signature and the S&W stamp, I'd say.

    A few years ago, my girlfriend's son came across his great great uncle's S&W. It had been left in a shaving kit box that had found it's way into the boy's grandparent's garage. When he saw the gun, Eddie Eagle kicked in, and the boy got his grandparents.

    I got the gun's history from S&W, and presented it to the grandfather. The boy will receive the gun when he's 18- till then it lives in my safe. It's a common J-frame with little monetary value.

    Every time a family member handles that little J-frame, they think of their Uncle Leonidas, the first to come to this country from Europe.

    Like your gun, it's a priceless family heirloom.
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


    I believe Roy Jinks has held the price of a letter to a very reasonable $30.00 ...

    There is a fair amount of work involved because the guns didn't necessarily get shipped in order. Some of that money goes to the U.S. Shooting Team.

    Details on obtaining a letter can be found at the S&W website (www.smith-wesson.com)
  9. sfhogman

    sfhogman Well-Known Member

    Didn't mean to mislead; I value Mr. Jinks' signature and that S&W impression on the letter very highly. I have one of his letters for my 38/44; it's framed and on the wall in my den.

    Few companies are fortunate enough to have such an historian as Roy Jinks. I really thought the cost of the research letters was about forty bucks. I can't see how they even justify the labor for thirty!

  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    My correction was not ment to be critical ... :)

    And I think the company loses money each time Roy writes a letter. We are most fortunate to have his services.
  11. 280PLUS

    280PLUS Well-Known Member



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