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Old February 23, 2012, 03:31 PM   #1
Henry O
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Smith and Wesson Need Help With Serial & Period Grips

I recently purchased a Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 Special with a six inch barrel. The serial number is 19177. Where can I find out when this gun was made, and how to locate what would have been the original wood grips? Thanks, I really appreciate any help you can provide.

Last edited by Henry O; February 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM. Reason: Edit and update serial number
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Old February 23, 2012, 04:03 PM   #2
sgms
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Based solely on number given probably 1900-1902(if it is a M&P hand ejector). Tell us how it is marked and were the markings are or better yet pictures and you will probably get more complete information.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:06 PM   #3
carguychris
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Did you find the 109xx number inside the frame in front of the cylinder, on the butt, or on the front of the grip frame?

The actual serial number will be located in one of the latter two places. If the gun has oversize stocks or grips, you may have to remove them to see it. If the gun was made before the early 1950s, the serial number will be repeated on the underside of the barrel and on the cylinder face, although the numbers in these places may be non-matching or missing due to long-ago repair work. Only the number on the butt or grip frame is definitive.

The number inside the yoke cut, the part of the frame in front of the cylinder, may be an assembly number used at the factory to keep parts coordinated. It became meaningless once the gun was shipped. These numbers are often 4 or 5 digits, leading me to suspect that the number you posted may be an assembly number.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:09 PM   #4
Winchester_73
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Grips may not be easy to find for that gun. Early guns like that actually had hard rubber grips THEN wood later. Try the S&W forum

http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-han...ors-1896-1961/

Also remember, that any letter prefix, such as a S, SV, C, D, etc IS part of the serial number.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:48 PM   #5
Henry O
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Markings on Gun

The full serial number is 19177. It is on the butt of the gun in larger letters, very small letters on the cylinder face, and in a flat spot right below the leading edge of the ejector rod latch.

The left side of the barrel has an emblem and then the words: 38 S. & W. Special CTG. The right side of the gun body between the hammer and trigger has about a 3/4 inch circle logo with the words "Trade Mark" outside the circle.

You are correct, there is a manufacturer's number which does not match the two serials numbers that I found. That one looks like 791** and I cannot make out those last two numbers. It is located on the frame, on the side of the gun, just below where the ejector rod latches. The piece between the hinge and the ejector rod effectively closes that number inside.

The other serial number matches the one on the butt of the gun when the grips are removed. The ejector rod appears to be free standing. I don't see any type of latch on it. When the cylinder is open, the ejector rod moves freely.

Have determined the plastic grips are after market but old. Hope this is useful. Thanks for all of your help.

Last edited by Henry O; February 23, 2012 at 07:57 PM. Reason: Add location of serial numbers
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Old February 24, 2012, 10:15 AM   #6
carguychris
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Well, this is neat. The gun is a .38 Military & Police Model of 1899, the first .38Spl revolver model ever made.

This gun was made from 1899-1902, when it was replaced by the .38 M&P Model of 1902, which added the now-standard front locking lug that engages the ejector rod. The Model of 1899 has the distinction of being the only standard-production S&W revolver that has a modern-style cylinder release latch and lacks the locking lug. This gun is late in the serial number range and was probably made in 1902.

The gun probably came with black hard rubber grips with molded checkering and "S&W" logos. They would have been similar to the ones on the .32 Hand Ejector pictured in post #4 of the following thread:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=476860

These grips often bond themselves to the grip frame and become brittle with age, causing them to disintegrate if the owner tries to remove them. Dixie Gun Works sells reproduction rubber S&W grips, but I'm told they don't make them for a round-butt K frame like this one. Your best bet is probably the S&W forum classifieds or Gunbroker.

Mandatory Warning Notes:
  • Although all .38M&P's have rebounding hammers, models prior to the Model of 1905 4th Change lack a positive hammer block. When the trigger is fully forward, hammer movement is normally blocked by a hump on the top of the rebound slide; however, if the gun is dropped hard enough on the hammer, the impact may shear off the hammer pivot pin and allow the firing pin to move forwards and potentially strike a live round. This gun should ALWAYS be carried "five up" with an empty chamber under the hammer. Like an old Colt SAA, you should NOT load all six chambers unless you intend to empty all of them right away!
  • Keep +P ammo far, far away from this gun! Early .38M&Ps lack heat-treated cylinders and may come apart with sustained use of +P.
  • Very early .38 M&Ps like this one have some substantial differences in the lockwork compared to later models. Although all M&Ps are fairly stout, be aware that if you break it, finding parts may be difficult. Furthermore, early non-heat-treated guns generally have soft cylinders and tend to develop lockup problems if subjected to frequent double-action rapid-fire. This gun may make an occasional fun shooter, but if you're looking for something that will see hard use (such as IDPA), I would recommend a post-WWII gun.
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:23 PM   #7
Henry O
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Thank you

Chris, thank you very much for the information. I had no idea this was anything other than an older .38 Special Police and Military. Very much appreciate all the information. It is very helpful. The grips may end up being a search for the needle in the haystack but I am patient.

Thanks for the heads up on its age and use. I purchased it for target shooting but will explore another weapon and keep this one set aside for what it is. The condition is amazingly good. Again, very much appreciate your taking the time and providing the information.

Very best regards,
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Old February 25, 2012, 07:09 AM   #8
madcratebuilder
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Dixie Gun Works used to carry repro grips for this, may need some hand fitting. Here's a set on a .32 hand ejector.

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.38 special , 6 inch barrel , grips , mil-spec , revolver police unit

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