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

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

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  1. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

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    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 Member

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    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:
    100_2567.jpg
     
  3. mec

    mec Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    Does your revolver look like this, only with a nickle looking finish?
    standard.gif
    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.
    standard.gif
    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

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    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.

    Onmilo,
    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.

    Chuck
     
  7. mec

    mec Member

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    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

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

    JesseL Member

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    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

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    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
     

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  11. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

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    These are same view but with black background.
    Chuck
     

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  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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

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    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 Member

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    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

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    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.
    Chuck
     
  16. CSP8555

    CSP8555 Member

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

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

    SaxonPig Member

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    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 Member

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    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

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    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 Member

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    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.
     
  21. Garman5

    Garman5 Member

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    .38 Military & Police Model 1905 (4th Change)

    I have one as well, that belonged to my grandfather. After talking to Roy Jenks at S&W, he was able to give me the model number and approximate manufacture date of 1916. Based on my description, he feels the gun may have been refinished. I plan on getting a letter from him as to the gun's history.

    I am attaching some photos since it has some odd markings that somebody may know about:

    S/N: 2754XX...there is also a number stamped on the yoke(?) of 6448. Just above the grip it says, "REL RUFFNER" which I am assuming is a previous owner or the gunsmith who refinished it.

    Both my grandfather and father have passed away, so I am looking for some history on this gun.
     

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  22. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    That gun dates from before 1919, so it is not stainless. I think the current "finish" is nothing more than bare steel. That, and the results of what appears to be heavy buffing, have about eliminated any collector value, even with the target sights.

    The target sights appear to be the standard ones used by S&W at the time, and the gun is likely original in other respects. It is a shooter, but note that while it has a hammer block safety, it is the old type that is neither positive nor reliable, so the gun should not be carried with a round under the hammer. Also, do not use any +P or +P+ ammunition in it, only standard velocity.

    Jim
     
  23. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Moderator

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    Garman5:
    The grips are not original, they probably date to the 1950s, they were originally a fake ivory color. Time has not treated them well. If you ever feel the need to make your gun 'period original' you will need to find a set of round butt hard black rubber grips with rhe S&W logo impressed pn them.
    The nickel plating appears to be aftermarket, if refinished by S&W the trigger and hammer would not have been nickeled as the straw colored hammer & trigger are registered trademarks of S&W.

    The barrel may or may not be original to the gun. Look on the flat on the underside of the barrel. There may be a serial number stamped there, with a B prefix. If the number is B2754xx then the barrel is original to the gun, if not then it has been rebarrelled at some time in the past. If the barrel is original to the gun and has not been cut down from a longer length then yours is the earliest snub nosed M&P I have seen.
    In the 1950s it was quite common to refinish old revolvers with nickel plating, fake ivory or stag grips and cutting the barrel back to two inches. As the barrel on your gun still has the locking lug I think yours is a factory two inch barrel and not a bubbaed original.
    One way to check for a factory rework is to look for a star stamped near the serial number. S&W used this to indicate a refinish, re-barrel etc that was done at the factory to factory specs.
    Caveats:
    Your gun predates heat treatment of cylinders by a couple of years. Only shoot standard velocity lead ammo through it, no jacketed, semi jacketed, PlusP or +P+ ammo. You risk a blown or bulged cylinder if you ignore this. The original load that your sights should be regulated for is the 158 grain lead round nose, the 148 grain waddcutter should shoot close to the same point of impact. If you intend to use it as a self defence gun then look at the Nyclad range of standard velocity hollowpoints.
    Your gun has a non positive hammerblock safety (the 4th change in the name refers to the 4th design change that included the safety. This safety can fail. A death during World War II when a dropped gun fired resulted in the development of the modern hammer block in use till today.
    I recommend that if you keep the gun loaded that the chamber under the hammer be left empty so there is no risk of an accidental discharge.

    Thanks for posting an interesting old piece. I would get it 'lettered' by Mr Jinks to find out if it is an original snubby or not. If it is I would consider sending it to Fords for a full restoration to factory specs. http://fordsguns.com/index2-1.htm That way you will have a family artwork, not a family clunker with someone elses name on it.
     
  24. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator

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    Jim:
    It's a necrothread, CSP8555 posted 2.5 years ago. Garman5's gun is a fixed sight job and appears to be a renickel to boot.
     
  25. Garman5

    Garman5 Member

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    Thank you for all the information. Jenks said it was a 1916 gun originally and there is a "star" imprinted after the serial number on the butt, so it was refinished at some point. As for the serial number under the barrel, it does have what appears to be a "P" that is encircled, but could be a "B" that has slightly worn away. So, I'm guessing the barrel is original. I don't have any plans on putting any rounds through this given it's personal value to me and I have plenty of other guns I can play with. I will check out Ford's and see about getting it restored to original specs.

    I know this was a necrothread, so thanks for replying to it. The thought to start a new thread crossed my mind after I posted this.
     
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