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Can you identify this S&W

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by BCouch, May 10, 2009.

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  1. BCouch

    BCouch Member

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    I am trying to identify a pistol I inherited from my grandfather. I have no idea how old it is, but I'm 67 and thought it was old when I was a kid. It is a 5-shot top-break Smith and Wesson. It takes S&W 38 ammunition - shorter than the standard 38 caliber. I can't find a model or serial number on it anywhere.
    [​IMG]
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  2. Oro

    Oro Member

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    You might have a fairly high-condition (presuming the bluing is original) S&W .38 "Double action" (see note #2 below). It would be either a 3rd, 4th, or 5th model based on the lack of thumb piece and the cylinder stop notch cuts. These specific variations were made from 1884 to 1911. These are not particularly valuable, but they are historic and interesting. Note:

    1) If you can post better, clearer photos it can be identified more precisely as to the variation

    2) If you cannot find a s/n on the grip butt or cylinder face, then it is likely a Belgian or Spanish "fake" which were quite common at that time (the Belgians and Spanish were the "Chinese" of that era in terrible IP theft and copyright infringement). I cannot on this screen tell from the sideplate or grip logo if it is legit or a fake. The lack of obvious s/n on the cylinder face or grip butt is pretty troubling and indicates a fake.

    3) there is a thread in the revolver forum on S&W "DOB" stickied at the top you might want to move this post to, or put it in the "research" forum where these types of questions are addressed.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2009
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1
    Guess I was typing while oro was posting.

    One of what was called the .38 Double Action Model.
    Either 3rd, 4th. or 5th. Model.

    Photo's are not good enough to ID it any closer.

    Is a real S&W?
    It should have a serial number stamped in the butt.
    It should have the same number on several of the parts.
    It should have the S&W address, and a bunch of patent dates on the barrel.
    It should have a color case-hardened hammer, trigger, and top latch.

    That it doesn't makes me think it is a Spanish copy, or really really buffed & reblued.

    rc
     
  4. Dark Skies

    Dark Skies Member

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    I can't tell from the picture (too dark) but if the top break action has to be opened by both the top break catch and a side thumb release (same type of catch as in a side swing chamber) then its the .38 Perfected Model made from 1909 until 1920 The side catch won't be present if it's one of the earlier models.
     
  5. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Well, as long as I am making similar points and observations as rcmodel, I think it means I'm coming up in the world.;)
     
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Well it's not a Perfected Model (because the trigger guard is the wrong shape). The serial number should be on the butt. It might also be on the rear face of the cylinder, on the barrel behind the barrel latch, and on the bottom or side of the barrel latch. Beyond that I can't tell much, but if someone tried to file off the serial number there should be evidence of it, such as crude file marks. All of these numbers are very small, and you may need a magnifying glass to see them.
     
  7. BCouch

    BCouch Member

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    Actually, the base of the grip looks like someone put it on a grinder.
    It made me wonder if it might have been used in a robbery or worse. I know my grandfather didn't do it, but I have no idea where or how he acquired this pistol. He did have a bunch of brothers and cousins, and some of them were pretty rowdy.
    I have seen TV shows where police labs used acid to retrieve serial numbers, and I wonder if it would do more harm than good to try.
    If I did, what is the procedure?
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Bear in mind that mere possession of a gun with the serial number removed is illegal.

    Raising a filed serial number by etching is possible, but I don't know the details and don't know what the feds would think about your doing it yourself.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    If the serial number was recovered it would do little good. Thje last revolver of this kind was made in 1911, and no records from that period other then those at the S&W factory still exist.

    I suggest that you remove the cylinder and see if you discover a serial number on the bottom of the top strap, or on the barrel latch. Sometimes they will be discovered on the inside face of the extractor star, the rear face of the cylinder, or on the inside of the sideplate. If you carefully remove the stocks (they are brittle with age) you may find the serial number on the inside of one panel. If you find a serial number the one missing from the butt can be restamped on it.
     
  10. atblis

    atblis Member

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    Well

    You might be okay. IIRC Serial numbers weren't even required until 1968. That gun was clearly manufactured before 1968 and the serial number was removed before then.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Nope.
    Serial numbers were not required to be applied until GCA 1968 but it is illegal to remove one from a gun of any age if it had one to start with.

    As Fuff says, there may be numbers elsewhere on the gun. A friend of mine working in a pawn shop got a gun returned to its original owner by finding one on a revolver with the number filed off the butt.
     
  12. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    As Mr. Watson posted, Defacement or removeal of a serial number is a Class 1 Felony. Even if the firearm in question is hundred year old clunker.
     
  13. atblis

    atblis Member

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    YEah

    Not what I am saying. I am saying the serial numbers were removed before 1968.
     
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    If a serial number can be located somewhere else on the gun the number issue is moot. In addition it could have been made before 1898, in which it would be exempt from the serial number statutes. Before getting to involved lets see if a number can't be found somewhere besides the butt. The butt wasn't the only place S&W stamped a number.
     
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