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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. jgstang67

    jgstang67 Member

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    Hi, new here, I have a revolver that was my dads , his brother worked for s&w, can you give me info on:

    a) 38

    b) 4"

    c) round

    d) 6

    e) fixed

    f) 816035 with a P on the other side of the landyard

    g) 53602

    Thank you
     
  2. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    jgstang67:

    The P should actually by an S. Post World War II production of the .38 Military & Police revolver began September 1945 at serial number S811120, utilizing the old prewar long hammer and the new hammer block safety developed during the war. The change to the modern short throw hammer system occurred September 1948 at serial number S990184, so your gun was probably manufactured in late 1945. The presence of a lanyard ring is another indicator of this, as the lanyard was part of the wartime military specification and the first guns produced after the war used up the wartime frames and parts.

    Because of the above the early post war guns are sometimes called transitional models and are interesting to collectors. Unfortunately for you this doesn't increase the value, in very good condition your gun is probably worth around $350.

    Your gun predates model numbers, in 1957 the .38 Military & Police was designated the Model 10. Over the years there have been several changes to the design, some modern parts will not fit, if you need to repair the gun in the future try Numrich Arms in New York (they have a website) as they buy old guns and strip them for parts.
     
  3. shogun7788

    shogun7788 Member

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    .38 Special

    4 inch

    Square

    6

    Fixed

    AJB08** It also has "E10" markings on the frame and crane.

    MOD. 64-3

    Thanks.
     
  4. jgstang67

    jgstang67 Member

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    Radagast: Thank you for the info , thats great stuff. I double checked the letter and it is a "p". ? ? . I would never want to sell it knowing it was my fathers at one time. I would like to have it checked over before I take it to the range as it has been idle for a LONG time. I will check out Numrich Arms. Thank you again!
     
  5. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    jgstang67:

    If you can post some high res pics of the markings we will try to identify them for you.

    There is a how to check out a revolver thread stickied at the top of this sub forum. If your gun passes it then it will be safe to shoot with standard pressure ammuntion. Limited use of PlusP ammunition should be OK as well, although S&W does not recommend it for guns made before 1957. Stay away from anything marked +P+ as there is no industry standard for the pressure levels in those rounds.
     
  6. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    shogun778:
    Your Model 64-3 .38 Military & Police Stainless dates tro between July 1985 (serial AHTxxxx) & November 1985 (serial ALAxxxx).
    AJBxxxx is the serial number, it is the only reference S&W record. The rest of the markings are assembly numbers used to track parts in the factory.
     
  7. shogun7788

    shogun7788 Member

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    Thank you!
     
  8. Seamore2001

    Seamore2001 Member

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    I have a J-frame Chief Special Airweight model 37 with a 2" barrel and serial 2750xx. I believe it to be from ~1958 but would like to pin down the DOB.

    A bonus question: the box it came with is a S&W two-piece blue cardboard box marked 37 on the end-label. I would like to know if the box is correct for the gun. Additional details on the box label are Special features: "194" and "322", and for serial number it is simply marked "J".
     
  9. blackrussian

    blackrussian Member

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    Thank you very much.
     
  10. geno4243

    geno4243 Member

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    I am new here can anyone help !My uncle was a police officer years ago and this was his service weapon can you tell me what year it is ? ser. j 376461 Thanks It has Airweight 38 spl ctg smith and wesson
     
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Your uncle's Airweight was manufactured in 1976.
     
  12. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Seamore2001:
    Unfortunately I can't give you a year of manufacture for your model 37.
    The Standard Catalog of S&W gives states the serial range between 1957 & 1962 was 125000 to 295000, so early 1960s seems more likely. To nail down a shipping date and address you would need to pay $50 to have Roy Jinks, the S&W factory historian look up the original shipping records and send you a letter stating his findings. Such letters can add to the value of rare and interesting guns, but it is unlikely that it will add any value to a run of the mill J frame.

    Re the box: The box used from 1954 to 1959 was a blue two piece box with a diamond pattern silver border around the top of the lid, a S&W logo in the upper left corner, 3 silver lines (sun rays) leading from the upper left corner to the lower left corner where the text "Smith & Wesson, Springfield Mass." Runs diagonally across the corner.
    Corners were reinforced with metal and the serial number was generally written in grease pencil on the bottom of the box.

    From 1957 to 1966 a new blue two piece box was used. Solid silver border around the top of the lid, S&W logo in the top left corner, "Smith & Wesson Inc, Springfield Mass" between two diagonal lines on the bottom right corner. Serial numbers were written on the bottom of the box in grease pencil.

    From 1965 to 1985 a similar box to the above, but with "of Bangor Punta" or "A Bangor Punta Company" within the address lines.There was a printed label for the model number, finish and barrel length stuck to the box end.

    From 1983 on a one piece box was used.

    My guess is that the correct box for your gun is the second variety.

    A J prefix to the serial number was used from 1969, so if the box is a Bangor Punta marked box then the box is not original to your gun.

    I don't know what 194 & 322 stand for.
     
  13. Seamore2001

    Seamore2001 Member

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    Radagast -

    Thank you very much for the help. The box does appear to be a 3rd type and includes "A Bangor Punta Company" in the address, so not original to the gun. The box style didn't match a NIB 1958 Combat Masterpiece that my wife's grandfather bought new, so that clued me in that something might be wrong, but I wanted to be sure.

    And thanks for the advice on the letter - likely not worth it in this case.

    Your help was much appreciated.

    Seamore
     
  14. gilprice

    gilprice Member

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    Trying to date a Model 42 I picked up last week, serial number is 13762, any info is greatly appreciated.

    Gil in GA
     
  15. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Gilprice:

    Unfortunately the Centennial Airweight is one of the guns that the Standard Catalog of S&W does not break down the production by year. The following information will help you to narrow its approximate age down.
    The original Centennial Airweight was produced from 1952 to 1971 in the serial range 1 to 30160, when an L prefix was added to the serial number. Production ended in 1974.

    Stamping of model numbers began in 1957, so your gun was made after that date. If it has a flat cylinder release then it was made in 1966 or earlier. If it has a concave cylinder release it was made in 1966 or later.

    If it has the original grips and they are checkered walnut with an uncheckered diamond around the grip screws then it was made in 1968 or later. If it has the original grips and they are checkered walnut with no diamond after the grips screws, then it was made in 1968 or later.

    If it has smooth walnut grips they were apparently a standard option for the entire period of production, so they don't help narrow the age down.

    With the above you should be able to determine whether it is 1957-1966 or 1966 to 1971, and potentially 1966 to 1968 or 1968 to 1971.

    Fun fact, there was a pin stored under the grips that could be used to lock the grip safety down, it may still be there.

    Sharing the same serial range as the all steel Model 40 Centennial, approximately 40,000 guns were manufactured over a 32 year period, so they are not the most common of firearms. In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave a value of $525.00 in excellent condition.
     
  16. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi Radagast..!


    Here's a fun one -



    .455

    6-7/16ths Inch Barrel

    Fixed Sights of course


    Serial No. 65xxx


    [​IMG]
     
  17. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    Oyeboten:
    You have a .455 Mark II Hand Ejector 2nd Model manufactured between 1915 & 1917. Approximate serial range was 6000 to 74755. Various barrel markings have been observed: "Smith & Wesson .455", "patented Oct. 8, 1901, Dec 17, 1901, Feb 6, 1906", "Smith & Wesson Springfield Mass. USA".
    5 screw square butt N frame, lacks the ejector rod shroud of the 1st model.
    The grips appear to be original: checkered diamond walnut with a gold S&W medallion.
    Lanyard swivel is correct.
    59,150 manufactured for England, 14,500 for Canada. 13 commercial guns are known in the 13,000 to 16,000 range.
    English guns will probably have English proof marks and "Not English made" stamping. IIRC Canadian guns will probably have crossed banner acceptance marks.

    Many of these guns were converted to .45 long colt or .45 Auto Rim after the war.
     
  18. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Thanks Radagast!


    Indeed has some very small stamps here and there of the English Habit, happily, quite few, and not badly done with Ham Fists as one sometimes sees.


    Has no 'Not English Make' marking...which is fine with me.


    Was indeed converted to .45 Colt at some point.


    Looks like it spent it's life mostly in an open top Holster...close to no Muzzle wear, but lots of dings and freckles in the rear Frame and Butt.


    Recoil shield has only a very faint Halo barely having interfered with the Blueing.


    Mechanics seem supurb...as does Bore.


    So....was toward the end of the run then, I guess.


    Best wishes!
     
  19. jgstang67

    jgstang67 Member

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    38 pics requested from previous post

    Radagast, do these help ?

    Thank you
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    jgstang67:

    Now that changes things.

    Your serial number is just 816035.

    If the barrel is stamped ".38 S&W Special CTG" then you have a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change manufactured in 1941 or 1942. This lacks the hammer block safety, which was introduced on late 1944. I would leave the chamber under the hammer empty if the gun is being kept loaded or carried. It does have an earlier internal safety, but this can fail when the gun is dropped - a fatality on a naval vessel during WWII lead to the development of the modern hammer block. The '4th Change' refers to the 4th design change on this model, the early internal safety was part of that design change.
    Quality of the steel on this gun would still be good, so limited use of PlusP ammo should be fine.

    If the barrel is stamped ".38 S&W CTG" then you have a British Service Revolver manufactured in 1941 or 1942. This was the Model of 1905 4th Change manufactured for England during World War II to chamber their .380 revolver service cartridge, which was based on the early .38 S&W cartridge.
    After World War II a lot of these guns were re-imported into the USA, the chambers were bored out to accept .38 Special (a longer cartridge) and they were sold by mail order houses. A converted gun will tend to bulge .38 special brass as the .38 S&W chambers are wider at the rim than the .38 special cartridge.

    If the gun lacks English proof marks it is probably originally a .38 special. Another test is to look at the grips, if they are smooth walnut then it was probably a .38 S&W at one time. If they are checkered walnut with S&W medallions then it was probably a .38 Special. Also try inserting a .38 special cartridge half an inch into the chamber - if you can wiggle it from side to side it may be a .38 S&W that has been bored out. If it is a tight chamber it is an original .38 Special. If the .38 special wont chamber then it is an original .38 S&W.

    Converted guns have minimal value and it would be prudent to stick to standard pressure ammunition to avoid split cases and gas escaping. An unconverted .38 S&W will have a value lower than an unconverted .38 Special due to the high cost and low availability of ammunition.

    Oh, and I have no clue who stamped a P on it. :p
     
  21. jgstang67

    jgstang67 Member

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    Radagast : Thank you for the info. The barrel does have the ".38 S&W CTG" stamping. The grips are checkered with gold S&W medallions. I do not have any ammo but I do recall my father saying it was tough to find. (even many years ago) The "P" may have been done by my uncle who worked for S&W and owned the gun at one time ?? . I am going to a gunsmith to have it checked and buy some ammo. Thank you for the heads up on the safety issue,, I will follow your advise. I do not plan on carrying this particular weapon , just neat to own something my father and I shot when I was young.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  22. belercous

    belercous Member

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    O.K., me now please.

    I have a model 1905, 4th change, target.
    6" bar., .38 spl, square grips, 6 shot, adjustable rear sight, s/n; 6660xx

    And is this gun worth a factory letter? It is in pretty good shape with 85%+ finish.
     
  23. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    jgstang67:
    You can buy .38 S&W and .380 revolver (also known as 38/200) from Old Western Scrounger online.
    Winchester make a good quality .38 S&W load, but only in occasional batches - I believe at one point I had the last two packets of the stuff in Australia.
     
  24. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    belercous:
    Serial number 6660xx places your gun in the period 1935 to 1940.
    The Standard Catalog of S&W notes serial number around 651500 shipping in 1935 to the Secret Service and in the 748000 to 760000 range shipping in 1942 to the USA Naval Civilian Police Corps.
    If I had to guess I would say 1935 or 1936, but there is no way of proving that without a factory letter. As The High Road's resident guru Old Fuff has pointed out, during that period S&W did not sequentially number and ship guns, frames were manufactured and serial numbered then held until needed. As this was the middle of the depression there may not have been much call for target guns.
    A factory letter probably wouldn't add much value to the gun, but it would make it more interesting to a collector if you did need to sell it. I would get the letter to satisfy my curiosity, but not on an expectation that it would be a lotto ticket. :p
    Now, if I had a Registered Magnum I would definitely get the factory letter.
     
  25. 556A2

    556A2 Member

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    S&W Model 10-5

    .38 Special
    4" Pencil Barrel
    Square Butt
    6 Shot
    Fixed Sights
    D1097XX
    10-5
     

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