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Inherited S&W .38 Revolver, can you help me ID it?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by nebraska_farmer, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. nebraska_farmer

    nebraska_farmer Member

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    Good afternoon,

    My cousin inherited this revolver recently. He's not really a gun person and I'm not interested in this type of pistol, I'd like your help with a few questions. What model # is this, any idea the date of manufacture?, also what would be a fair price if he decides to sell it? Appreciate the input guys!
     

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  2. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    S&W Military and Police. Not ancient. See if it says 10 or 10-something on the yoke. If it does it is a later model 10. Looks in good shape. Without the model number, age is not determined. Could be from $300 to sky high if there is some unique provenance.
     
  3. mcb

    mcb Member

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    A Hand Ejector Model, Military & Police, Victory Model or Model 10 depending on when it was made. The barrel is pinned so it is pre 1982. It appears to have a screw on the front of the trigger guard so that makes it pre 1961 The side plate has a screw at the top near the rear sight so I believe that makes it 1955 or earlier (so not a model 10 since model numbers did not come along until 1957 IIRC)

    That revolver is a 38 Special not a 38 S&W if there was any question on that. Look at the side of the barrel again, it says [38 S&W Special CTG]. Now commonly call 38 Special. If it was a 38 S&W that is all it would say with no [Special] added in there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  4. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, it does have the older "long action"...judging by the hammer
     
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  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Why don't I get to inherent stuff like that :cuss:

    That is a great old revolver, if it is a five screw, it has a lot of finish on it. Prices have gone crazy since I was in the market, but if that was not refinished, no barrel pitting, some old geezer would love it.
     
  6. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

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    And the half moon front sight, which I think went away around 1952-53? And only the "Made in USA" on the right side of the frame. The stocks/grips are from post-1968. OP, can you post the serial number on the bottom of the butt? And is there a plugged circular hole in the middle of the butt? Smith and Wesson sent from the single line "Made in the USA" to a four line stamp: MADE IN THE U.S.A/MARCAS REGISTRADAS/SMITH AND WESSON/SPRINGFIELD, MASS. in May, 1948, so this revolver predates that. The barrel length appears to be 5 inches (measured from the muzzle to the front of the cylinder). Were it 4 inches, I would speculate this might be a Victory Model. Markings on the butt are needed for positive ID. The serial number there can be a clue to shipping date.

    We need more information to speculate on value. The finish is very good for a firearm of its vintage. Might be a reblue?
     
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  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Smith and Wesson 38 Military and Police Model of 1905, probably a 4th Change. 758,296 made between 1915 and 1942, so it can be difficult to pin down the exact date of manufacture by Serial Number. If you post the Serial Number at the bottom of the grip I will make a stab at dating it. Yes, it is a five screw, three screws visible holding the side plate on, one screw in front of the trigger guard. The fifth screw is hiding under the top corner of the grips. Not a Model 10, which started manufacture in 1957 and will say MOD 10 or something similar on the frame under the cylinder yoke (hinge). Made in USA is usually marked on the right side of the frame. Could possibly be a Victory Model.

    In the photo below, the revolver at the top is a 38 M&P 4th change which shipped in 1939. Like the revolver in the OP's photo it is wearing incorrect Magna grips.The revolver at the bottom of the photo is a Model 10. Note the different shape of the front sight and the short throw hammer.


    poZVD8kRj.jpg




    In this photo a Model 10 at the top, a Victory Model at the bottom, wearing the correct grips. So called because they were issued to servicemen, particularly fliers in WWII.

    pmGyTSCFj.jpg




    Victory Models usually had the 'Flying Bomb' stamped on the bottom of the grip. Barrels were usually 4". The V Serial Number prefix stood for Victory. Later when the modern style of hammer block was installed the Serial Number Prefix would be SV.

    pnhdo71Vj.jpg
     
  8. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    I am leaning towards refinish. The finish has a sooty black look to it. The side plate seam is a bit open , indicating that the edges were rounded slightly during buffing. The S&W logo shield does not look sharply edged. It would make sense that the worn original grips were replaced at the time of refinishing.

    Compare those details to those of the images posted by Mr Johnson.
    The images lack definition , but that's my guess. Some hi def close-ups would be helpful. Also , a good look at the front of the ejector rod knob would be telling.
     
  9. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    I have one that is very similar. Post war 1948-49 Military and Police Pre Model 10.


    M&P.jpg
     
  10. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Notice the different shape of the hammer. That hammer is called the Speed Hammer. It is typical of the late 1940s. Notice the difference between that hammer and the OP's hammer. The OP's hammer is earlier, notice the similarity to the hammers on the photos I supplied of a 38 M&P from 1939 and a Victory Model from the early 1940s. The style of hammer I showed goes all the way back to 1899 with the 38 M&P 1st Model, also known as the Model of 1899 Army-Navy Revolver. This one left the factory in 1899.

    poaKXhihj.jpg
     
  11. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    Show Off! ;)
     
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  12. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    That's a pre WW2 model of 1905, 4th change. Looks like 38 S&W, not 38 Special..Does it have a 5 inch barrel? If so it may have been made for Britain's war effort. The first ones to England were commercial quality guns with nice bright blueing. S&W owed England a million dollars for a failed 9mm light rifle project that the Brits had already paid for. They were paid back with 38 caliber M&P's
    Your grips are newer
     
  13. Monac

    Monac Member

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    It seems to say 38 S&W Special on the barrel, Jonesy814. Also it shows no sign of British marking, but does not look like those have been buffed out. And the round butt would be odd even for the more or less commercial type revolvers that S&W sent to the British early on. No, I think it is a pre-war, pre-numbered-model Military & Police. The round butt seems to have dwindled in popularity as time went on, so I would guess it was from well before 1942, but I am not an expert - see Driftwood Johnson's posts for that.
     
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  14. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    Clearly marked S&W .38 special on the barrel , so not a BSR.
     
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  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Yes, I can make out 38 S&W SPECIAL CTG on the barrel. So it is chambered for 38 Special, not 38S&W. Two different cartridges.

    Thanks for pointing out the S&W in question has a round butt. I don't know how much of an expert I am if I failed to notice that.

    This old 38 M&P from 1939 with its hard rubber grips has a Round Butt.

    pmWxE4IAj.jpg




    These guys have the normal Square Butt. Yeah, not really square, but the lower rear corner has more of a sharp angle than a Round Butt and that is what defines a 'square butt' in the S&W lexicon.

    poZVD8kRj.jpg
     
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  16. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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  17. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Sorry to be nitpicking, but the term Pre-Model 10 really only applies to those 38 M&Ps that were produced just prior to the introduction of the real Model 10 in 1957. That would be the 38 Military and Police (Postwar) produced from 1946 until the change to the name Model 10 in 1957.

    The term Pre-Model 10 does get used a lot, but that is the textbook definition of a Pre-Model 10 that us 'experts:) ' use.
     
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  18. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    HEY! I just turned 63 on the 24th and would love that gun. But I do NOT consider myself an old geezer. Everyone else does though.:fire:
     
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  19. nebraska_farmer

    nebraska_farmer Member

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    Thanks for the info guys! I'm always impressed with your knowledge. Here are a few more pics IMG_6277.jpeg IMG_6278.jpeg IMG_6279.jpeg IMG_6277.jpeg IMG_6278.jpeg IMG_6279.jpeg
     
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  20. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Driftwood previously educated me about the "pre Model 10" terminology.

    Unfortunately, I'd already labeled my photo before he did.

    (Hangs head down in shame.)
     
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  21. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    The round butt makes it a bit more desireable, imo.

    Around here, I would expect to see that gun with 500-600 on the tag at a local gun shop or show.

    It is a great old revolver in awesome condition. I would tell him to keep it.
     
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  22. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Nebraska farmer, thanks for putting up excellent photos. They are a great help in this kind of discussion.
     
  23. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Now we're getting somewhere with the new photos.

    The number 5452 on the frame under the yoke is an assembly number. It will not help us date the revolver.

    The caliber marking on the barrel clearly states the revolver is chambered for the 38 Special cartridge. S&W always says 38 S&W SPECIAL CTG because they developed the cartridge in 1899 and they want to make sure you don't forget, but it is the same cartridge. CTG simply stands for cartridge

    But the Serial Number of 605131 is very helpful.

    Before I say anything more about that, the serial numbers for the 38 Military and Police Model of 1905 4th Change started with 241,704 in 1915 and ended with 1,000,000 in 1942. That is a huge span, 758,296 revolvers were made over that time period. Although the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson has start and finish dates for many Serial Number series in the index, it does not break down that huge number any further than listing that range of numbers for those years. You could always ask Smith and Wesson for a Factory Letter. You can find the forms for that on the Smith and Wesson website. The last time I checked, the cost is $100 per letter. (I remember when it was $30 each, which was a real bargain because a Colt letter cost $100 then)

    You could also go up to the Identity and Date of Manufacture of Smith and Wesson Revolvers thread pinned to the top of this board, but frankly I have never had the patience to wade through all those pages. I have no idea if it is searchable by serial number, never bothered to try.

    But take heart, I have a few old Smiths with Serial Numbers very close to yours, and because of my pleasant demeanor and good looks I have been able to find Ship Dates for them.

    I am not going to give you the complete serial numbers, I am going to substitute an X for each of the last two digits. It will be close enough.

    6212XX shipped February of 1934
    6699XX shipped April of 1938
    6731XX shipped June of 1939

    So your SN of 605131 probably shipped some time before 1934. Not an exact date

    The closest earlier SN I have to yours is 3394XX which shipped April of 1920

    So that should give you a pretty good ball park estimate, your 605131 probably shipped in the early 1930s.

    One caveat: Notice I said Ship Date, not Date of Manufacture. For what ever reason, the official records kept by the S&W historian are all based on Ship Dates, not dates of manufacture. These revolvers were manufactured in batches. There is no public record I am aware of that states when these batches were made. Sometimes a revolver might sit in the store room for a while before it shipped. If you want to find the actual date of manufacture of a particular revolver you have to pay the $100 for it to be researched in company records.

    As Roy Jinks, the S&W historian always says, I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  24. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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  25. wild willy

    wild willy Member

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    Just a question.Why is the S&W logo on the other side compared to the other pictures?
     
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