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Is this a S&W pre-12 that I just bought?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by aHFo3, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    I bought this revolver at a local gun store today. It is a 4 screw aluminum frame and cylinder 38 special. It is marked "REVOLVER, LIGHTWEIGHT, M13" across the topstrap, and U.S. across the back of the grip. There is no model number, and it is sporting round butt diamond grips. Oh yeah, the cylinder release is a flat one. Any ideas? Here are the pics:

  2. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    Aircrewman. Rare and very nice! Put a magnet to the cylinder please to confirm this.
  3. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member


    The cylinder certainly looks like it has the same finish as the frame, and the barrel and crane are distinctly blued.
  4. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    According to my sources, aluminum cylinders were made in 1953 and steel in 1954 (not sure of the cut off date).The same source list serial numbers range from C247,000 to C405,363 with about 40,000 produced. I wouldn't shoot it with that aluminum cylinder as they had a habit of blowing up which was the reason for their discontinuation.

    Curious, what did you pay?
  5. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    The pawn shop thought is was a model 13. I paid $300 otd, but I just discovered the cracked frame! I should've noticed :fire:

    I called the store and they will refund my $ :eek:

    What would you do with it?
  6. jad0110

    jad0110 Well-Known Member

    Dang. That's a shame about the cracked frame ... could you post pics?

    Gordon is right; it is a 5 screw Model 13 Aircrewman, not to be confused with the later all steel Model 13 357 Magnum M&P. If it weren't for the cracked frame, that gun would be worth a heckuvalot more than $300. Think 2 to 3 times as much.

    If the frame really is cracked, it is finished. Unless you want to keep it as a conversation piece, I'd return it.
  7. 44-henry

    44-henry Well-Known Member

    The thing is rare enough so that even at $300 in the condition you describe it might be a decent investment.
  8. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    that gun would be worth a heckuvalot more than $300. Think 2 to 3 times as much.

    more like 3-4 thousand
  9. .45FMJoe

    .45FMJoe Well-Known Member

    Why wouldn't you keep it since you paid so little for it?
  10. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    Any idea what S&W would do if I sent it to them?
  11. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    S&W would do nothing at best, or destroy it at worst. If it is a genuine Aircrewman (and there are lots of fakes!) then it was a liability to S&W due to the aluminum not holding up. It was also US Govt property, and not sold directly to civilians, so S&W disavows any responsibility to repair it- as if they had parts to do it anyway.
    Even with a cracked frame that (if it is genuine- and there are lots of fakes) that gun is owrth more than $300 as parts.
  12. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    The Standard Catalog of S&W notes that a genuine aircrewman will lack the upper side plate screw (model 12's had the fifth screw) It will also lack the bolster bushing in the recoil shield that was deleted by the military but kept for the civilian model.
    In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave the following values: Excellent $2000, Very good $950, Good $600, Fair $300, Poor $100. The markings appear to be correct, the US marking on the backstrap is rare and doubles the values above.
    I would check the gun as per the above to see if it is genuine, then check on the S&W forum to see if there is a collector with a hole in his collection before returning it. You may be able to make a quick profit, although not a fantastic one due to the frame cracking. FWIW I couldn't see any cracking in the photos.
  13. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    And there is micro heli arc EXPERTS out there.
  14. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    Here is a pic of cracked frame:
  15. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Well-Known Member

    Yeah, can't be much worse a spot for it to crack than that. Thats a shame.
  16. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    Well if v grooved with a small burr and micro heliarced by a skiled tech with the frame heat sinked wrapped properly; the barrel won't be coming out and yu could fire it with Wadcutters some. After it was dressed down and Magic Marker touched up the gun would be worth 2-3 times what youd have in it even if you did let people know about the almost invisable repair- hey it IS an Aircrewman, one doesn't actually fire those!
  17. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    There are far more very nicely done counterfeit Aircrewmen floating around then there are real ones.

    Run don't walk away from that one!

    The chance of it being a real one is very slim.

    The last one through these parts belonged to a close friend.
    It was so well done that even Jim Supica & Richard Nahas who wrote the S&W Collectors Bible couldn't agree if it was a fake or not. They looked it over stem to stern at the big K.C. collectors show and I believe Nahas finally bought it with the disclamer it was very likely a fake one and he would hold no claim against the seller if eventually proven true.

    BTW: The vast majority of them ended up de-milled like this one:

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  18. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  19. jad0110

    jad0110 Well-Known Member

    True. If not light wadcutters, I wonder if it would be safe to fire home made wax bullet loads from such a gun (primer only)?
  20. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    I had the thought of wax/primer loads too. I won't, though.

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