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Identity and Date of Manufacture of S&W Revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Brian Williams, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    mesinge2:
    What a lovely find. 1972 to 1973, serial range for those years was 420001 to 510000, so 1972 seems likely.

    I6Turbo:
    Your Model 686 Distinguished Combat Magnum Stainless dates to late 1982 or early 1983.
    There is a recall on your gun. With some magnum ammo the primer can flow back into the firing pin bushing, locking up the gun. Under the recall S&W will install a new firing pin and bushing, paying shipping both ways. Guns modified under the recall have an M stamped on the frame under the cylinder yoke.
    If you want to have your gun modified, call S&W and they will send you a shipping label.
     
  2. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    Thanks again Radagast!
     
  3. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    <<<Radagast wrote: If you want to have your gun modified, call S&W and they will send you a shipping label.>>>

    Radagast,

    Thanks again for the info. What do you recommend re: the recall? I routinely inspect my spent brass and have occasionally noticed a tiny, tiny bit of primer flow, but never experienced any hangup or dragging action. In fact, I'm not sure if the primer flow is any worse on the 686 than on my Trooper Mk III, or not. I shoot 125 JHP in the (claimed) 1375 - 1500 FPS range using 2400 and standard primers, but I don't know the pressures on these loads or how they compare to other loads that I might shoot in the future.

    Perhaps I'm over-reacting, but I am hesitant to send the gun to S&W these days given the stories I read about their QC. In your recent experience, what do you think are the chances that something would go wrong for me if I send them the gun -- getting lost, getting swapped out with a different gun, having undesirable parts installed (later style trigger or hammer), or faulty workmanship on the recall? Other than the minor primer flow, I love the way the gun functions as it sits, so I am reluctant to let it out of my possession.... Thanks in advance for any further input.
     
  4. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    I6turbo:

    I'm in Australia and I know the S&W importer and factory warranty gunsmith through work, shooting clubs, the state IPSC executive and as previously active members of the gun lobby. I also know where he lives. So I have no problem with excellent fast service. :)

    As you are in the USA, you will have to deal with the manufacturer. I've no personal experience with them. I have been recommending this action for the last three years, a lot of people have said they would take up the warranty, no one has complained about the service, a couple have posted to say that they had decent turn around times with no issues.
    Keep in mind that most QC control issues with S&W guns these days seem to be about factory production standards rather than CS/warranty. Canted barrels, locks not working, locks locking when they should not, a gun with a seven shot cylinder and six shot timing, barrel to frame gap, poor clear coat finish.
    All are something that should be caught on the factory floor. My guess is that like Ruger, S&W has more orders than qualified staff to produce the goods and either new staff are being added who have not yet been trained or vetted for giving a damn; or the current staff are working too much overtime or being pushed to pump out product, resulting in inspections being cut. It's happened before in the seventies.

    I can't see the gun getting lost once it is at S&W - losing guns is a sure way of booking a colonic inspection by the ATF.
    The serial number can't be duplicated without ATF approval, so they will send the same gun back unless there is a flaw likely to cause catastrophic failure. In which case its safer to get a brand new gun as a warranty replacement anyway.
    Later style hammers will not fit - yours has the firing pin on the nose. S&W will change the bushing and firing pin. If anything is unsafely worn they may also change that with equivalent parts at their discretion, but its not part of the recall.
    Probability of faulty workmanship seems low. My guess is the warranty guys working on these guns will probably have many years experience as the guns are old.
    Its your decision to make.
     
  5. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    a) caliber = 38 Spcl
    b) bbl length (from cylinder to muzzle) = 1.8"
    c) grips shape (round or square) = round? (boot grip)
    d) number of shots/cylinder bores = 5
    e) type of sights = fixed
    f) serial number = 602678
    g) Model number if it is under the crane = 37

    On box: "Special features: 2054P9"

    Barrel is pinned
     
  6. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    OrangePwrx9:
    Your Model 37 Chiefs Special Airweight was manufactured between 1966 & 1969. Serial range over those years was 391xxx to 786544.
    If the grips are original and have an uncheckered diamond around the grip screws, then 1966-1968. If they are original and the checkering runs up to the grip screws then 1968-69.
     
  7. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    For anyone curious, I found the engraver's info. His name is George Turner from Cleveland, Ms. He is a WW2 vet and still engraving at 91 years of age.
     
  8. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    Thanks, Radagast.

    The checkering runs up to the grip screw, so it must be '68-'69. In the blue box with the gun was an instruction manual/parts price list dated March 15, 1967.
     
  9. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    That's awesome. I'm not usually a big fan of engraving, inlay, etc., but with background like that I can definitely appreciate it. If that were my gun, I'd be interesting in trying to meet that old vet. Not many like that left!
     
  10. pittspilot

    pittspilot Member

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    Model 29-3
    6 inch
    AFU6xxx
    Blued.

    Thanks,
     
  11. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    pittspilot:
    Late 1984 to early 1985. AFJxxxx shipped November 1984, AHAxxxx shipped January 1985. My guess is it was shipped in time for christmas 1984.
     
  12. pittspilot

    pittspilot Member

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    Thanks so much!
     
  13. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Hi, I just picked up a new S&W .38, I'm pretty sure it's an M&P. Any help would be appreciated.

    a) .38 Special
    b) 5" bbl
    c) not sure of the butt style
    d) 6 shot
    e) Front Blade/Rear Groove
    f) sn. 408501, no letter present
    g) No model number

    My Googling seems to indicate that this is a M&P of the 1920's era. I can hardly believe it, it looks like a 20-year-old gun, not an 80-year-old gun. Edit: Post number 3006! I need to go cuddle my M1.

    [​IMG]
     

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  14. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Devonai:
    You have a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change manufactured between December 1920 (serial number 358xxx) & 1927 (serial number 500000).
    Assuming a production rate of around 20,000 guns per year, yours should date to around 1922 or 1923.
     
  15. bikemutt
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    bikemutt Member

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    I6turbo, FWIW I just sent a 686 and a blued 586 in for the recall. The 686 took over a month because Smith was "waiting for parts", the 586 took less than a week. Both guns were returned to me in the same condition as when I sent them out. I'll be sending another 586 in this week without any concern.
     
  16. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    Thanks bikemutt -- good input for those of us who might be considering the recall.
     
  17. slimpickens

    slimpickens Member

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    S&W 27-2 with Presentation Box and Tools

    Blue, six inch barrel. Pinned and recessed.
    Serial #8113XX. Birthdate please.
    Thanks in Advance
     
  18. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Thank you! Like I said, I can't believe this thing is 90 years old. :)
     
  19. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    slimpickens:
    Assuming it is chambered in .38 S&W Special, you probably have a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change manufactured in 1940 or 1941. Serial number 685xxx shipped in April 1940. As S&W were churning out guns as fast asd they could for Britain during that period I would guesstimate late 1940.
    If your gun is chambered in .38 S&W then it is a a British Service Revolver from the same period. These shared the same serial range as the .38 Military & Police, the only difference being the caliber.
    After the war many BSRs were converted to shoot .38 special by the simple expedient of boring out the cylinder. The case head of the .38 S&W is wider than that of the .38 special, a modified gun will have a chamfer to the end of the chamber. if this is the case then you have a modified gun with limited value.
    Modified guns should only be shot with lead standard pressure loads. Even then they will tend to bulge cases. Jacketed and +P or +P+ ammo may result in cracked cases and gas escaping.
    This gun also lacks the internal hammer block safety developed during the war and still used today. If dropped it could fire, so leave the chamber under the hammer empty.
     
  20. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Devonai:
    Rust, politicians and the MSM are the main enemies of firearms. regular prevention against all three will ensure your gun lasts forever!
    A lot of guns are purchased as insurance policies, put in a drawer and never used. When the owner dies of natural causes their estate often sells the gun. Normally Old Fuff snaps up all the old classics, it looks like you got in before his gundar detected this one.
    More seriously, your gun lacks the internal hammer block safety developed during WWII and still used today. If dropped it could fire, so leave the chamber under the hammer empty.
    S&W introduced heat treatment of cylinders in Sept. 1919, so your gun should be safe to shoot with +P loads. However take the following caveats on board: S&W does not recommend use of PlusP ammo in any gun made prior to 1957.
    Over the years of answering this thread I have noted there have been a few rebarreled guns from that era. This suggests bulged barrels and or cylinders still occurred on occasion.
    So if you want to shoot it and keep it as minty as possible, I suggest you stick to standard pressure lead loads only, no jacketed, semi jacketed, +P or +P+ ammo.
     
  21. slimpickens

    slimpickens Member

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    Radagast. Thank You, Sir.
    Slimpickens
     
  22. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Slimpickens:
    Mega screw up on my part, I didn't read the header of your post.
    Serial number 8113xx would have been a .38 Military & Police.

    As you have a Model 27-2 the serial number will have an S or an N prefix.
    Assuming the serial number is N811xxx then it was manufactured in the period 1980 to 1982. If the number you are quoting doesn't have an S or an N prefix, then it is not the serial number, rather it is an assembly number used to track parts in the factory. The serial number will always be found on the bottom of the grip frame, with target grips you will have to take them off to see it. Sometimes, but not always the serial number is duplicated under the cylinder yoke. Sometimes there is an assembly number there instead.
    Check, and if the serial number is different, get back to me.
     
  23. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Thank you for the additional info. I have no intention of doing anything drastic with this Smith. However, I was hoping to get clarification on the drop safety issue. My own research seemed to indicate that the 4th change introduced the internal hammer block safety. Do you know what changes were implemented on the 4th change?
     
  24. elkhunt

    elkhunt Member

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    Thanks for the help...

    a) .38
    b) 2" pinned
    c) round
    d) 5
    e) fixed
    f) R2517xx
    g) 60ND
     
  25. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    elkhunt:
    The R prefix indicates you have a Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special Stainless manufactured in 1979 or 1980. Serial range for those years was R220001 to R280000. As yours falls in the middle it could be from late 1979 or early 1980.

    Devonai:
    I don't have a list of the changes made. The Standard Catalog of S&W simply states 'changes from the 3rd Change were primarily internal'. I have been told, with no further detail given, that the 4th change did include a non positive hammer block, subject to failure when debris entered the gun. Wether this is true I cannot say. What is known that during WWII a dropped 4th change gun did fire, killing a service man. S&W then designed, introduced and in some cases retrofitted the internal hammer block still in use today. Asking at www.smith-wessonforum.com may give you a more compete answer.
     

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