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Need some help with ID/price check on a J-frame.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by omcf, Aug 13, 2011.

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  1. omcf

    omcf Member

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    Hello all-

    My buddy is retired, and just inherited what to me is a beautiful old-school Smith and Wesson J-frame with shrouded hammer. I believe this is at least 25 years old, probably more. It says airweight on it. Also marked for 38 special CTG, not 38+p.

    Some minor light pitting on one side near the thumb, some wear on the blueing where the cylinder swings down from the frame, The medallions on the wooden grips have seen better days.

    Other than that, we are guessing this gun has had 5 rounds total put through it.

    My friend wants to sell it, and I want to make sure he gets a decent price for it. I suggested we could call up S&W with the serial#, he wasn't crazy about that idea. I do recall the serial# was like three digits, a J, then more digits and maybe a SW.

    The closest thing I could find on Gunbroker was a no dash Model 38 asking 600$

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=246393844#PIC

    If a brand new 438 goes for 450-500$, is that a crazy asking price? Is this thing somehow a collectable?

    Any help with identification and ballpark for what it is worth would be appreciated. Pics to follow.

    Cheers
     

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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  2. omcf

    omcf Member

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    some pics

    I own a 340PD, but man this thing is sweet...
     

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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  3. Chindo18Z

    Chindo18Z Member

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    S&W "Bodyguard AirWeight" Model 38...introduced in 1957.

    A classic.

    On-line asking prices are well over $500, but nobody is paying.

    IMHO, as depicted, worth ~ $425.
     
  4. omcf

    omcf Member

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    I have to say, the "model 38, no dash" was my best guess. I did not think to look on the crane.
     
  5. RyanAnchors

    RyanAnchors Member

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    Damn I want one.
    I have a 638 Airweight (modern incarnation) and I love it. The bobbed hammer is awesome.
    One of those would look mighty nice next to it in the safe haha
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I agree, the Model 38 is a really nice revolver but no worth the current asking prices. I personally wouldn't pay more than $300 for one but I know I wouldn't find one for less than $400. IMO $400 should be the top end especially since they are still available. (and also being made under a different number in a +P version)
     
  7. bdb benzino

    bdb benzino Member

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    I agree that $400 would be the most I would pay, although the fact he didnt want to call about the serial # would concern me a bit. Good luck!
     
  8. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    The pitting and wear destroys value, $350 tops. If I was you I would run the serial number before buying.
     
  9. RickMD

    RickMD Member

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    In 100% as new condition it should bring about $450. In the condition pictured probably $200 to $250.
     
  10. Chindo18Z

    Chindo18Z Member

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    omcf: In the pictures showing the sideplate...are the depicted specks just lint adhering to oil...or is that actually pitting in the finish? I can't tell from your photos or description.

    If all those little specks are pits in the bluing, I'll revise my estimate to about $300 max.

    Folks will still pay a bit of a premium for pre-lock airweight shooter grade revolvers.
     
  11. omcf

    omcf Member

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    Afraid it is pitting, I tried rubbing it off with my fingernail- no dice. It is minor pitting though, purely cosmetic.
     
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Since that revolver is damaged I would let it pass, especially for the price.

    You can buy a brand new M442 Centennial frame without a lock for under $400 almost anywhere in the country.

    If the lock doesn't bother you the fairly new M438 Bodyguard frame is also under $400 real price.
     
  13. Husker_Fan

    Husker_Fan Member

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    I have a 38 in better shape with a flat latch and original diamond magnas. I paid $265 last year. I think mine, in better shape and with some unique early features is worth well north of $300, but I'm biased. I think I got one heck of a deal, but for the gun your talking about I wouldn't go over $300 from a private seller.
     
  14. Husker_Fan

    Husker_Fan Member

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    I'll also say that I think the $200 - $250 numbers others have mentioned are low. I say this because that is lower than what similar conditioned model 10 police trade-ins are going for.

    Those "pits" are not the same as rust pits on a steel frame revolver. The anodized finish on these guns can chip, but it is not the same as pitting. For a carry gun, it wouldn't bother me.
     
  15. omcf

    omcf Member

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    So from the comments above, I am leaning toward telling him he could probably get $300-400 for it if he was not in a hurry.

    I am still not sure I need it, but if I did, I would feel more confident knowing that an honest, fair price is somewhere in that ballpark.

    Any other S&W gurus want to chime in before I go talk to him?

    Thanks for all the comments thus far.
     
  16. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    omcf

    Great lightweight revolver. I had one years ago, eventually replacing it with a stainless Model 649, and more recently with a new Model 638. For this particular Model 38, I think somewhere around $325 to $375 would be a decent price range.
     
  17. Chindo18Z

    Chindo18Z Member

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    Yes.

    Prices vary significantly across different parts of the country. I find good deals because I look for good deals. That involves paying attention to local classifieds, frequenting pawn shops, word of mouth sales, and ruthless canvassing of gun shows for the inevitable under-priced deal.

    I've found bargain prices for used weapons that more commonly fetch twice the price. Model 18 Smiths are "hot" nowadays, but I walked away with a pristine one for less than $300 last winter. Deals depend upon luck, timing, and buyer savvy. Part of that savvy is understanding what the market average is for actual SOLD weapons...not simply what folks are asking.

    If I were in the market for that Model 38, I'd pay $300. I'd never pay $400. Everything within that price range is a negotiation over how badly I want it and how badly the seller needs cash.

    BTW: That's a nice little J-frame without some of the debatable manufacturing changes present on current models. The little bit of wear just ensures that you would have no qualms about carrying it as a serious pocket gun. A good CCW weapon...not a safe queen!
     
  18. psyshack

    psyshack Member

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    People use macro when taking pics like this. I can't tell if it's something stuck to the finish or if it's chipped up both.
     
  19. omcf

    omcf Member

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    Thank you all. Another member on another thread dated it to 1972 or so. Local pawn shop said it being in @80%, the most they would offer is 175$ to sell between 225-250$. I did notice light spots, I wont even call them rust, after I had cleaned the barrel. I am thinking 300$ might be high now...
     
  20. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    I'm thinking $275-350.
     
  21. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    omcf,
    Please take a second look at what I suggested in Post #12. You can get a new revolver for the price that's being asked for a damaged used revolver.
     
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