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smith model 27 info needed

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by remmag, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. remmag

    remmag Well-Known Member


    i am looking in the near future at purchasing a model 27 ,

    i do want to ensure i pick the right gun, i do want to try to get an older , quality finish, pinned and recessed gun

    can you guys shed some light on id for these

    i hear some talk about s prefix modells and have no idea what a -2 model is

    so any education or links to sites that can shed some light for me would be appreciated

    thanks in advance
  2. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member


    In the 1930s Smith and Wesson developed a high powered 38 Special cartridge that was too powerful to be fired in a standard 38 Special revolver. The high pressure the cartridge developed would have damaged or perhaps even blown up a standard 38 Special revolver. So a special new revolver was built, using the large N frame and cylinder usually reserved for larger 44 caliber revolvers. This revolver became known as the 38/44 model because it was built on the standard N frame used for larger caliber, but it was chambered for 38 Special.

    S&W realized the danger of having high powered cartridges that could be accidentally fired in a standard 38, so in 1935 they stretched the cartridge by about 1/10" and dubbed it the 357 Magnum. The new revolver chambered for it was also built on the N frame, it had the chambers lengthened to accept the longer cartridges. The new revolver was cataloged as The 357 Magnum. The first ones issued were marketed with a sales gimmick where the serial number was registered to the buyer at the factory. These were known as the Registered Magnums. These revolvers were the top of the line, with features such as checkering on the top strap and barrel rib not found on any other revolvers.

    In 1957 S&W switched their nomenclature over to a numbering system. The 357 Magnum revolver was renamed the Model 27. The Model 27 remained the top of the line for S&W 357 Magnum revolvers. Dashes, such as -2, are used to designate engineering changes as time goes by. All post 1957 S&W revolvers will have the model number stamped on the frame under the cylinder crane, usually stated as MOD 27, or MOD 27-2, etc.

    The list of engineering changes for the Model 27 is as follows:

    27-1 (1960) Change extractor rod, right hand to left hand thread.
    27-2 (1961) Cylinder stop changed, eliminate trigger guard screw.
    1967 6 1/2" barrel discontinued
    1968 Delete diamond grip
    1969 Change to N serial prefix
    1975 Target hammer, target trigger patridge front sight on 6" and 8 3/8" barrels, introduced with Goncalo Alves target stocks and case
    1979 3 1/2" and 5" barrels discontinued, 4" introduced with red ramp and white outline rear sight
    1980 Target stocks standard.
    27-3 (1982) Eliminate cylinder counterbore and pinned barrel.
    1986 Discontinue nickel finish
    27-4 (1988) New yoke retention system.
    27-5 (1990) Longer stop notch in cylinder.
    1992 Discontinue 4" and 8 3/8" barrels.
    27-6 (1993) Hogue grips, drill and tap frame, change rear sight leaf, change extractor.
    1994 Model 27 discontinued.
    27-7 (2000) Performance Center version built on new N frame with floating firing pin and extended frame lug.

    It should be noted that some of these engineering changes were not limited to the Model 27, some were common to all models.

    The S prefix serial numbers don't mean much, other than all N frame Smiths had the S prefix from 1946 until they ended with the changeover to the N prefix.
  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member

    Ooops, double tap
  4. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    S&W introduced the 357 Magnum cartridge in what collectors call the "Registered Magnum." These were made 1935-39 and were the top of line, deluxe, custom ordered revolver. From 1939-41 they are called "Pre-War Magnums" as the registration of owner to gun by S&W was dropped.

    Production resumed after WW II in 1949 with the newly designed "short action" revolver that S&W simply called "The 357." In 1957 this model was designated the Model 27. In 1961 an engineering change made it the 27-1. It became the 27-2 in 1962. Since the 27-1 was made only one year collectors seek them and prices run high.

    The 27-2 was made until 1981. From 1962 until 1970 the serials carried a letter S prefix. This became an N in 1970. If you hear "S series" it means it was made 1962-70 and has the S prefix. Up until 1968 S&Ws came with "diamond stocks." These had a small diamond of uncheckered area around the screw. The small Magna style stock was standard on 27s until 1974 or 75 when S&W decided all 27s should come with full target options (wide trigger, wide hammer, big target style stocks). IMO a mistake on the 3.5" guns.

    Usual barrel lengths are 3.5, 4, 5, 6, 6.5 (rare), and 8&3/8 inches. Blue or nickel for finish. The 3.5" barrel was dropped in 1979 and replaced by the 4" so the 27-2 in 4" length was only made three years.

    This is a 5" nickel M27 with "diamond" Magnas:


    This is a nickel 27-2 with the 8&3/8" barrel and the 1968-1981 "football" targets. It also has the Patridge front sight (not partridge) found on the vast majority of 27s with 6" or longer barrels:


    This is a blue "357" (or "Pre-27" as often called) from 1956 wearing period non-relieved (no speed loader cut-out) target stocks. The 6.5" barrel with a ramp sight is fairly uncommon:


    A 3.5" 27-2 wearing post 1968 Magnas. This barrel length is far and away the most sought after.


    There, you now know pretty much all you need to choose a 27 for shooting. Any will work as a shooter, but bear in mind that the older the gun is, and the shorter the barrel gets, the higher the price goes. Good luck
  5. HKGuns

    HKGuns Well-Known Member

    Some additional information, shooting .38 special out of my 6" Model 27-2 is like shooting a .22 caliber pistol. Little to no recoil at all with .38 Special, recoil with .357 Mag, mid range hand loads, is an extremely pleasant experience. Versatile and fun to shoot and hard to beat one in my humble opinion.
  6. remmag

    remmag Well-Known Member

    awsome info\

    thank you very much
  7. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    The 3.5" Model 27 is nice revolver. Close but not quite good enough for my palate.
  8. BrainOnSigs

    BrainOnSigs Well-Known Member

    FYI: Saxon Pig is not only a S&W savant but a collector as well.
  9. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    PJ- If a 27 isn't good enough for you, then you have very extravagant tastes.
  10. Who needs a model 27 when you have a model 610. BTW I have both. My model 27 is the one FBI agents could get. It became available via an estate sale. Seems the only time we see old S&W revolvers out here for sale is after someone passes on.
  11. Florida Guy

    Florida Guy Member

    I have the model 27 on my bucket list.
    I have been unable to find one with a price I am willing to pay.
  12. Prices keep going up so buy now before it becomes too much.
  13. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Well-Known Member

    Saxon, this is the guy who prides himself on only owning one handgun - and it's a Glock if I remember right.
  14. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    It is not about extravagant taste the price on the gun was $900+tax. For that kind of money I can do better.
    About month ago I added S&W 940. I have two handguns now and looking for one more revolver. The piece being South-western kinda thing it will be very difficult to find. The struggle is the glory.
  15. pendennis

    pendennis Well-Known Member

    My 5" has become my favorite. It's probably the best balanced of any of the N frames, and it's a tack driver. The 3.5" is on my acquisition list.

    Here are a few -
  16. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    That last one has the nicest wood I've ever seen. Very nice.
  17. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    I agree the wood on last sample is very nice. The shaping and checkering style is very crude. Too bad folks at Colt did not do the checkering job on it.
  18. oldbear

    oldbear Well-Known Member

    "Each to their own, said the little old lady, as she kissed the cow."
  19. HKGuns

    HKGuns Well-Known Member

    Yep and likely the reason he's on my ignore list as well! But I don't recall for certain.
  20. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Well-Known Member

    Every gun enthusiast needs to own at least one Model 27 sometime in their life!

    My current one is a 27-2 from 1970, when the 3 1/2" barreled model still came with factory Magna-style stocks. The checkering is flawless and so is this gorgeous 27-2 in original bright factory nickel plate . . .


    BTW, the price you THINK may be a little "high" THIS year will be the price you wish you'd paid NEXT year! LOL

    They aren't making them like this anymore, and one needs to keep some extra cash on hand when that rare one comes up for sale, for they don't last long!!!

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