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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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    hddeluxe:
    The Model 29-3 .44 Magnum was manufactured from 1982 to 1987, when it was replaced by the Model 29-3E for Endurance package, designed to counter the problem some guns had of going out of time when shot with magnum loads.
    Between 1982 & 1983 the serial number had an N prefix followed by a number in the 800000 or 900000 range. After that the serial number changed to a three letter prefix and a four numeral suffix, for example ABC1234.

    If the letter A you quote is actually a poorly stamped N, then I would place your gun as being made in 1982 on one of the last N700000 range stamped frames. If it is definitely an A then it is not the serial number, it is an assembly number, used to track parts in the factory and irrelevant once the gun is completed.
    The serial number is sometimes duplicated on the frame in the cylinder yoke cut out, it is always stamped on the bottom of the grip frame; with target grips you may need to remove them to see the serial number.
    Assembly numbers are often stamped in the cylinder yoke cut out, never on the bottom of the grip frame, although they can be found on the flats of the grip frame.
    If you have a three letter prefix serial number, post it and I'll look up the date. If it is an N prefix serial number then 1982 is most likely.
     
  2. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    danjet500:
    The Model 29 that you are looking at was manufactured in 1957 or 1958. serial range for those years was S176000 to S181999. The J is an assembly number/mark and has no meaning after the gun has been completed.
     
  3. hddeluxe

    hddeluxe Member

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    Radagast:

    Thank you for the info. I took off the target grips and the number stamped on the bottom of the grip frame is ACZ9950. Hope this helps.

    Interesting is the fact that there is the date of January 22 198? on the bottom of the right grip half. The last digit is not recognizable.

    You are right. The previous number is undoubtably an assembly number. It was taken off the yoke above the 29-3 model number.

    I found this revolver in a pawn shop two days ago. It is in absoultely pristine condition. Not a mark anywhere on the finish or furniture. Lock up is tight. No end shake, and barely a faint hint of a turn ring. It appears it may have been purchased and then was a safe queen up until recently.

    Since I am a frequent flyer at this pawn shop they offered to sell it to me for $330. (Too good a price to pass up) I immediately purchased it and it now resides with my 19-3, 66-4, and the 686-3.
     
  4. RhodesianRLI

    RhodesianRLI Member

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    .44 mag

    6 inch barrel

    Square

    6 shot

    Adjustable, Orange plastic insert on front sight blade

    serial number N9096xx

    629 1

    on the bottom of the wood grips is a white round sticker with the number 20.

    The pistol is stainless steel with fluted cylinders, the box says smith and wesson and Bangor Punta, the barrel is not pinned and the cylinders are not recessed. Please let me know more info on this gun, thanks

    More info: took off the grips, there is 73X26 also a large S on one side, on the opposite side there is 7559, on the very bottom is the same serial number as is found on the yoke.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  5. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    hddeluxe:
    a) ACZxxxx should date to between January 1983 & October 1983, so it looks like the obscured number on the grip is a 3.
    b) That's the best use of frequent flier points I've ever heard of. :)

    Rhodesian RLI:
    The N9xxxxx serial range was used from 1982 to 1986, ending around 97xxxx. I don't have any further break down, but my best guess is that your gun probably dates to around 1982/83.
    Bangor Punta was a conglomerate that owned S&W from 1965 to 1987.
    The 629-1 was manufactured from 1982 to 1988, the -1 refers to deletion of the barrel pin and the cylinder counterbore.
    The other markings are assembly numbers used to track parts in the factory. They have no meaning after the gun is completed.
     
  6. bdb benzino

    bdb benzino Member

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    My mother has inherited an old S&W from her father and we would like to know the DOB.

    It is an older 38 S&W spl cartridge, a hand ejector like my old 1917 Brazilian I think. It is a 5 screw, square butt, 6 inch barrel, blued, 6shot, fixed sights,and the number in the crane is 32377, and the # on the bottom of the grip is 1966xx.

    Thank you for any input you might have.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010
  7. bigred0383

    bigred0383 Member

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    a) .38 s&w spl
    b) 1 7/8"
    c) round
    d) 5
    e) fixed
    f) BSN98xx
    g) 640

    Other than DOB, is this model up to a steady diet of +p (info from S&W and that located in the SCSW differ)?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  8. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    bdb benzino:
    Your mother has a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 3rd Change manufactured between 1909 & 1915. Serial range was 146900 to 241703.
    You are correct in that it is an early Hand Ejector type.
    This gun predates the internal hammer block safety and if kept loaded the chamber under the hammer should be left empty. If dropped the hammer it could fire.
    It also predates heat treatment of cylinders, so only use standard velocity lead ammunition, no jacketed, no PlusP and definitely nothing marked +P+ as there is no industry standard for +P+ and pressure could be close to those of the .357 magnum.
    Value is not that high on these old guns as so many were made. In 2006 the Standard Catalog of S&W gave a value of $385 in excellent condition, $285 in very good condition.
     
  9. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    bigred0383:
    If you have the Standard catalog of S&W then you can work out the approximate year yourself, as that is the reference I use. Looking in appendix 3 you will find that serial numbers in the BRFxxxx range shipped in August 1994, and in the CAMxxxx range in January 1996. Yours should have shipped during that period.
    As for PlusP, I vaguely recall from reading in gun mags back in those pre internet days that the first production of the 640 was not rated for PlusP by S&W, but the later ones were.
    Regardless, the maximum pressure for .38 Special is only 17000 PSI, the maximum pressure for .38 Special PlusP is only 20,000 PSI. During the same period S&W produced the Model 940 in 9mm on the same J frame, that had to deal with the 39,200 PSI 9mm cartridge. Even allowing for diffences in heat treating, I doubt that the .38 PlusP will cause any harm other than possibly accelerating wear slightly, but even then it should be good for thousands of rounds.

    S&W also say don't shoot PlusP through any gun made before 1957, yet THR member Saxon Pig has documented 1200 rounds of PlusP through one of his pre war revolvers with zero issues.

    Of course, I am not a lawyer, engineer, metallurgist or gunsmith, and I live on another continent, so you take my advice at your own risk. :)
     
  10. bdb benzino

    bdb benzino Member

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    Thank you so much!
     
  11. DUKESTER1

    DUKESTER1 Member

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    Smith & Wesson trying to get idea of date or info.

    Great grandads gun. Only has 5 numbers on bottom of handle, 81199 . Feels like handle is rounded. and 5 in barrel. six shots. Can see it says
    smith and Wesson Springfield Massachusetts USA. fixed solid sites Chrome plated and black looking handle. Also can make out ctg's
     
  12. snaggletoothshooter

    snaggletoothshooter Member

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    S&W Mod. 60

    a) 38 special
    b) 2"
    c) round
    d) 5
    e) fixed ? groove for a rear sight/fixed front
    f) R39X on bottom of handle and box, 221XX on the inside of cylinder arm ? (sorry for the incorrect terminology) Is this normal?
    g) "Mod. 60" marked on the frame visible when you drop the cylinder, not the arm with the 5 digit number.

    Any help, please, for the new guy? I'm an amateur when it comes to revolvers. :eek: This one was just too nice for me to pass up.
     
  13. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    DUKESTER1:
    CTG an abbreviation for cartridge. The original stamping was probably .38 S&W Special CTG or .38 S&W Special CTG & U.S. Service CTG.

    Assuming the gun has a swing out cylinder and the barrel length is measured from the muzzle to the cylinder, with a round butt and that serial number your gun a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 1st Change manufactured between 1906 & 1909. Serial range for those years was 73251 to 146899.

    This gun predates heat treatment of cylinders, so do not load it with PlusP or +P+ ammunition. Stick to standard pressure, lead only loads, no jacketed ammo.

    It also predates the internal hammer block safety. If kept loaded the chamber under the hammer should be left empty. Otherwise if dropped the gun could potentially fire.

    Original finish would have been blued or nickel. It sounds as if the gun has been refinished, with some of the markings having been buffed out. If this is the case it isn't particularly valuable to a collector, being worth maybe $250 or so as a basic shooter.
     
  14. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    snaggletoothshooter:
    The cylinder arm is called the yoke by S&W or the crane by Colt. Arm works just as well.
    The number stamped on the cylinder arm is an assembly number. These are used to track parts in the factory and have no meaning once the gun is completed. if you take off the grips you may find others on the flats of the grip frame.

    The number stamped on the butt is the serial number. Between 1969 and 1983 the Models 60 had an R prefix to the serial number. Yours dates to 1969.

    The model 60 is assembled on the small round butt J frame, and round butt J frame grip should fit.

    The Model 60 was the first stainless steel revolver, introduced in 1965 and still in production on the beefed up J Magnum frame.

    Limited use of PlusP rated ammunition should be fine in this revolver.
     
  15. snaggletoothshooter

    snaggletoothshooter Member

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    Radagast:

    You are an excellent source of information!! Thank you!!!
     
  16. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Hi Radagast,

    This one has been in my safe a long time...

    M28-2
    6"
    P&R
    N893XX

    Thanks!
     
  17. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    .455_Hunter:
    The N1 to N99999 serial range was used from 1969 to 1972. with a serial number that high I would guess at late 1971 or 1972.
     
  18. 1411

    1411 Member

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    .38 dob

    Great post, I have a few Smiths I am curious about.

    1.)
    1 7/8"
    6 shot
    .38 spcl S&W ctg
    ser. C 342XX
    Chief's Special

    2.)
    1 7/8"
    5 shot
    .38 S&W ctg
    ser 911XX
    Model 32 I
    Baby Chief

    3.)
    1 7/8"
    5 shot
    .38 spcl
    ser. 1J329XX
    Model 36

    Thanks for your help. Let me know if you need any other information.
     
  19. DUKESTER1

    DUKESTER1 Member

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    Got some picks of my gun.

    Will try and display gun. Would appreciate any info. Posted earlier what I saw on it. Trying to see if it is worth a lot or not. Thank you very much. I know great granddad was in the military and it was his. He gave it to my granddad and so on.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  20. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    1411:
    Gun number one is a post war .38 Miltary & Police revolver manufactured between 1948 & 1951 in the serial range C1 to C223998, so 1948 seems likely. In 1957 the .38 Military & Police was designated the Model 10.

    Gun number two is a .38/32 Terrier manufactured between 1949 & 1969 in the serial range 54475 to 122678. In 1957 the .38/32 Terrier was designated the Model 32. Originally built on the sale small I frame as the .32 Hand Ejector (hence .38/32) In 1961 the model 32 was changed to the .38 special sized J frame and was designated the 32-1. I think this is what you are reading as 32-I.
    Assuming it has the -1 stamp and has a flat cylinder latch, then it was manufactured between 1961 & 1966. If it has the -1 stamp and a concave cylinder release, then it was manufactured between 1966 & 1969.

    Gun number three is a Model 36 Chiefs Special. If the barrel is pinned to the frame then it was manufactured in 1971 or 1972. If the barrel is not pinned to the frame (a pin head would be visible flush with the frame where the barrel screws in) then it was manufactured in 1983.
     
  21. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    DUKESTER1:
    It does appear to be refinished, many years ago. The photo detail isn't great, but the hamer and trigger appear to be nickel plated as well, which is the giveaway for an aftermarket refinish, as the factory hammer and trigger were always color casehardened, basically an oily straw colored finish.
    It is not a chrome finish, the fact that it is flaking in places indicates it is nickel. Nickel was often laid on over a copper wash/plate. Some cleaning substances designed to remove copper fouling from the barrel would also remove the copper base coat, causing the nickel to flake.
    Value is probably around the $250 mark as a result. Some S&Ws are quite rare and were effectively hand made to order, such as the Registered Magnum. These bring in big money. The .38 Military & Police on the other hand was, although a quality product, mass produced with over 4 million manufactured in various versions. There aren't enough collectors to absorb all those guns and drive up prices. basically you have a nice old gun with some family history attached, but not much value.
    The grips are hardened rubber and original to the gun.
     
  22. DUKESTER1

    DUKESTER1 Member

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    Thank you much. Going to hold on to it for my son.
     
  23. onebath

    onebath Member

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    Age of S&W 57

    I just got hold of a S&W model 57
    No dash number
    Serial Number N452188
    .41 mag, blued, 4" barrel, Square Butt
    A little holster wear at muzzle
    Originall wood box with tools included

    Does anyone know when this was made?
     
  24. Radagast
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    Radagast Moderator Staff Member

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    onebath:
    Your Model 57 .41 Magnum Target was manufactured in 1977 or 1978.
     
  25. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Hi Radagast,

    I got this one fairly recently...

    .41 Magnum

    657

    6"

    AVF24XX

    Thanks again!
     

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