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S&W I Frame?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Owen Sparks, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    I handled an old .32 a while back and the owner told me it was built on the I frame. Why did S&W discontinle the I frame? Was it smaller or larger than the J frame? It felt downright dainty like a ladies pistol though it had a 5" barrel.
  2. langenc

    langenc Well-Known Member

    I think he is confused.
  3. Nasty Ned

    Nasty Ned Well-Known Member

    S&W I Frame

    The I frame was replaced by the J frame quite some time ago.
  4. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    Is the J frame a little bit bigger?
  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Yes, the J frame is somewhat longer than the I frame.
    The J frame was what it took to get .38 Special into the small frame S&W in the early 1950s. Simpler for them to just use it for all their small frame guns after it was in production. (There is also something called an Improved I frame, which you better talk to Old Fuff about.)
  6. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    So, I take it that the J frame is a stretched version of the I frame to accomidated a longer cylinder as the .38 Special is much longer cartridge than the old .38 Smith and Wesson round. Is this correct?
  7. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    Yes, the I frame had a window long enough for the .32 S&W long, it was also chambered for the .38 S&W. The J frame stretched the cylinder window to suit the .38 Special, the grip was also made slightly longer. The original I frame grip was the same as the small frame S&W top breaks (standardisation of parts or waste not want not.)
    In 1961 the I frmae guns such as the .32 Regulation Police were replaced by the same model using a J frame.
  8. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    To further muddy the water, be aware there are two I frames. The first used the leaf spring to power the hammer and has the tension screw in the front of the grips frame and the latter "Improved I Frame" went with the coil spring system and the tension screw vanished.

    Below is my one and only I frame revolver. Note the absence of the tension screw marking this as the Improved I Frame version. If you have an I Frame take care that you don't misplace the stocks as they are hard to replace.

  9. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Well-Known Member

    The major differences are.
    The I frame has the short cylinder with a leaf hammer spring.
    The improved I frame has the short cylinder with a coil hammer spring.
    The J frame has the longer cylinder and coil hammer spring.

    I've started a recent love affair with the I frame .32's, I've refurbished a couple of shooter grade revolvers now and these are much fun to shot, very low recoil, butter smooth actions all in a small package.


    The original M32 Terrier was an improved I frame and the M32-1 Terrier was a J frame. This 1969 Terrier is the J frame version.

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011

    MMCSRET Well-Known Member

    A question, please! My Regulation Police, 4", 38, has different stocks that the 32 cal. "I" frame pictured in post #9. Mine are walnut checkered, diamond w/o medallion; 20's production, the back strap is stepped and the grips fitted accordingly. What, when and why the differences???
  11. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Well-Known Member

    I have an old I frame .32 S&W long, 4 inch barrel, round butt, and the serial numbers show it was made in 1912. Yep the bi-plane era!

    And J frame grips do NOT fit. I found a pair of I frame ones for mine and they cost me $50!

  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Colt made a revolver (the Police Positive) which was about the same size as the Smith & Wesson model 1903, but had a larger square butt. It was popular in law enforcement circles of that day, and S&W had nothing to directly compeat with it. Joseph Wesson (son of D.B. Wesson, the company's co-founder) came up with the idea of making an easy modification to the round-butt frame so that square-butt stocks could be fitted to the round-butt version, making a new frame unnecessary. The modification was patented, and the number is stamped on the bottom of the checkered walnut stocks.

    The Regulation Police model was introduced in 1917.
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Yes and no... :confused:

    They usually don't fit, but can be made to do so. Very early J-frame Chief Special's (pre-model 36) used the same stocks as late Improved I-frame revolvers, but they were soon changed and were made about 1/8" longer, with the locating pin in the bottom of the frame moved.

    You probably wouldn't be interested, but for the record, reproduction grips made of black plastic for use on old S&W top-break .38 double-action revolvers will also fit on the I and Improved I-frame.
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I have an Improved I-Frame .22/32 Kit gun, and am currently running Herrett custom J-Frame grips on it. They fit perfectly.

    Pretty sure the 1969 Terrier in post #9 didn't come with those later J-Frame banana grips on it either!

  15. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Was the I-frame safe to carry a round under the hammer?

    I have a memory of Uncle Fuff in his rocking chair by the fire, wearing a Fitz special and Garfield slippers saying something about that.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  16. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Well-Known Member


    Considering the age of the I frames I would NOT carry a round under the hammer. The metal used then was much softer than the stuff used today.

  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Garfield slippers!!!!!!!!!!! :what:

    Anyway the issue of carrying the hammer down on a loaded chamber in pre- 1946 Smith & Wesson revolvers has nothing to with the materials used in they're construction, but rather the lack of a positive hammer block to prevent a discharge if the gun is dropped on a hard surface, or the hammer spur is otherwise struck a hard blow.

    All of the 1903 I-frame revolvers do rebound the hammer (moving the firing pin back into the breech), and then block it. This is about 95% secure, but an additional hammer block, introduced in post-war production, increases that to 99.99999999999999999999999999999% ;)

    In the unlikely event I was carrying a pre-war S&W as a defensive weapon, I would possibly fill all of the chambers, and take a very small additional risk. Under other circumstances I wouldn't.
  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    I was being nice...I didn't tell them about the robe you were wearing.


    With all of the distractions you should be proud that I was paying attention.
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

  20. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    the bustier was quite fetching, but you should shave your cleavage.

    Were it not for the lack of hammer block, I think a 3 inch I frame .22 would be the perfect "kit gun"

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