I was hoping someone could help me find the manufacture date for a S&W Model 36, serial number 717XXX. I'm carrying it as a backup and wanted to make sure it would stand up to some proper +P defensive loads.
1968-1969. Regarding +P, an older all-steel J frame like your Model 36 can handle limited amounts of +P ammo just fine. It may shoot loose if fed a steady diet, but it's a premature wear issue, not a gun-destroying kB! issue.
OTOH older alloy-frame Airweights should only be fed standard-pressure ammo because the frames are known to crack or stretch, and many written sources recommend against ever
firing an early alloy-cylinder Airweight.