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Old July 8, 2012, 11:08 AM   #1
tommyd78
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Old smith and wesson .32 revolver

Hello I have a S&W .32 cal long revolver 4 inch barrel from my dad it may have been his dad's. I think it is a police model the # I found when I took off plastic grips is 516_ _ . I see not everyone uses full serial number, the same numbers are on the back of the cylinder. The last date stamped on top of barrel is July 1903. I would say fair shape at the most. Most of the finishing is off, was wondering the value.
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Old July 8, 2012, 07:35 PM   #2
James K
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It is a Smith & Wesson, .32 Hand Ejector, Third Model, made between 1911 and early 1942, serials 263001-534532. Since yours would have been made toward the last, it would probably date to 1940.

With so many made, there is collector interest only in ones in top condition, although the target grips do add some to the value. I would offer a WAG at about $225.

Check if there is a "step" in the backstrap under the grip. If so, the gun is a Regulation Police and would bring a few dollars more.

Jim
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Old July 8, 2012, 07:49 PM   #3
carguychris
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Quote:
It is a Smith & Wesson, .32 Hand Ejector, Third Model, made between 1911 and early 1942, serials 263001-534532.
James, I believe that the original post says it has a 5-digit serial, which would make it a .32 Hand Ejector Model of 1903, 2nd Change, made ca. 1906.

tommyd78: Please clarify. Also, one other question...
Quote:
...the # I found when I took off plastic grips is 516_ _ .
Is this number on the bottom of the butt, or on the frontstrap below the trigger guard?
Quote:
...the target grips do add some to the value.
However, most early .32HE's with original extension stocks (or target grips) had the serial number on the frontstrap so it could be viewed without removing the stocks. IOW the extension stocks might not be original to the gun, but it's hard to say, and it may be impossible to know for sure without requesting a factory history letter.

The serial number of the gun would have been written on the inside of the RH panel at the factory with light-colored grease pencil, but on hard rubber stocks this age, the writing is often so smudged that it's illegible.
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Last edited by carguychris; July 8, 2012 at 07:50 PM. Reason: topstrap --> frontstrap, whoops
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Old July 8, 2012, 08:04 PM   #4
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Your grips look longer than my grips. Optical illusion?



If you ever plan to reload for these things be aware that these older S&W’s did not have heat treated cylinders for most of their production. Yours, dating from WW1, most certainly would fall into that category.

Therefore if you ever plan to reload for the things you must stay within published reloading data and never attempt to +P loads for it.

If you ever shoot the thing or reload for it you will find that these 32 S&W Long revolvers are extremely accurate and low recoiling. There is hardly more recoil than a .22LR and the accuracy is just great.
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Your grips look longer than my grips. Optical illusion?
You don't have the same type of grips. You have standard I frame service grips, he has I frame target extensions. They actually have two screws in them, one in the center and one below the butt. They are somewhat sought after and also fit the the old 38 DA guns, and the 1st 2nd model single shots.

Quote:
I think it is a police model the # I found when I took off plastic grips is 516_ _ .
Quote:
Check if there is a "step" in the backstrap under the grip. If so, the gun is a Regulation Police and would bring a few dollars more.
Quote:
Is this number on the bottom of the butt, or on the frontstrap below the trigger guard?
Well since he took off the grips to see the SN, its a safe bet that a)the gun is not a regulation police(SN is on front strap) and b) that the SN is on the butt, meaning carguychris's ID theory is correct. There is no need to remove these target extension stocks to see the SN because extension grips do not cover the front strap, only the back strap and butt. Many guns that came from the factory with target extension grips had the SN on the front strap, but never say never with S&W.

Quote:
although the target grips do add some to the value
Looking at the photo, on the bottom right of the grip, it appears to be chipped. If that's the case, their value is nil.
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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old s&w evolver

Yes the 5 numbers were on the butt of the gun. I am not sure what you mean by a step on handle?
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:39 PM   #7
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s&w revolver

The grips cover the butt have to take off to see numbers so they are not stock grips? They were wood grips like I see on others?
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Old July 8, 2012, 10:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
The grips cover the butt have to take off to see numbers so they are not stock grips? They were wood grips like I see on others?
I would say 75/25 that the gun originally had grips like this one:

This is a 32 hand ejector third model so it is later BUT generally ALL of the round butt guns in those days had the hard rubber grips. The wooden round butt grips were earlier (model 1899 K frames for example) AND later (post war). For these I frames, I'm almost sure that all of the pre war round butts would have had hard rubber UNLESS special order. If the gun was special ordered with those extension grips, IMO the SN would be in the SAME place it is now.

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Old July 9, 2012, 08:12 AM   #9
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If those grips are in good condition they could be worth more than the revolver. I run into hand ejectors for $150+/-, condition is everything.

This one cost me just under $200 and cleaned up fairly well. These early I frames have become popular with shooters and collectors, the prices have gone up in the past few years.

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Old July 9, 2012, 08:24 AM   #10
tommyd78
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old S&W REVOLVER

Yes those are some pretty nice guns you got there very nice. I would have to say the grips on my gun are in better shape than the gun finish. I fired it and you don't need 2 hands to shoot. It would be a nice plinker gun. I had old bullets to go with it that I guess the powder was old cause I had some misfires. I don't know if I will shoot again I know its not worth much but I could get something off my next purchase which would be a Glock 23.
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Old July 9, 2012, 12:32 PM   #11
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Sorry, I wasn't thinking when I asked about the step but obviously, if the grips needed to be removed to see the serial, the gun would not be a Regulation Police.

If anyone has a standard (not RP) I frame with the number on the front of the grip, can you post pictures? AFAIK, only the RP had the serial number on the front strap, the reason being that the standard RP grip covered the butt. But on other guns, the serial was on the butt. While some grip styles covered the number, it would not be known until final assembly what grip would be installed, long after the serial was put on.
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Old July 9, 2012, 02:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
AFAIK, only the RP had the serial number on the front strap, the reason being that the standard RP grip covered the butt. But on other guns, the serial was on the butt.
FWIW I used to own a .22/32 Heavy Frame Target aka "Bekeart". It had the serial on the frontstrap. Then again, this model came with extension stocks as standard equipment, like the Regulation Police did.

I've also seen a ~1930-vintage .32 with target sights, extension stocks, and a frontstrap serial; however, the target sights probably put the gun in a different category.

I'm simply not enough of an expert on these old .32's to definitively tell you where the serial number should be on a 1906 fixed-sight gun with factory extension stocks. As stated above, I believe that .22/32's, later .32HE Targets, and .32RP's had frontstrap numbers, but I've never personally examined a pre-1920ish .32 that was wearing a pair that appeared original to the gun. Actually, I've never personally seen any in black hard rubber! (IIRC they were walnut after the early 1920s.)

Somebody on the S&W forum may be able to answer this question.
Quote:
...generally ALL of the round butt guns in those days had the hard rubber grips. The wooden round butt grips were earlier (model 1899 K frames for example) AND later (post war).
FWIW late prewar round-butt Third Models were available with wood stocks. I've closely examined a late 1930s 3-1/4" Third Model (high 400,000 serial) with walnut stocks that were numbered to it.
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Old July 9, 2012, 05:11 PM   #13
tommyd78
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old S&W revolver

So getting back to my original post these hand grips are plastic not rubber so does someone think these aren't original?
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Old July 10, 2012, 06:15 AM   #14
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If original grips they would be a very hard rubber. They may feel like a poured resin type of plastic similar to Bakelite. This hard rubber well chip or crack like plastic.
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Old July 10, 2012, 10:03 AM   #15
carguychris
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^^^ What Madcrate said. The stuff is like a very old, weather-beaten tire; it is very hard, has a glossy exterior appearance, and is not pliable like most modern rubber products.

I suspect that most people under the age of 40 have little exposure to this material; it seems to have rarely been used on postwar consumer products, probably because it is more expensive to produce than similar plastics. FWIW handles of old tools and some parts of old toys were made of similar hard rubber.

OTOH if the interior of the grips are hollow, they are injected-molded plastic and are definitely NOT original. FWIW I have seen somewhat old (probably 1970s vintage) injection-molded reproduction S&W stocks at gun shows before, albeit not for vintage I frames.
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Old July 10, 2012, 11:47 AM   #16
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Those grips appear to be injection molded - the round mark at the bottom looks like an ejector pin mark. I can't find anyone today who is making those grips, although other S&W grips are being reproduced.

Hard rubber, or gutta percha, is a natural product like rubber, but from a different plant. It was used quite a bit prior to the discovery of the vulcanization process for rubber because unvulcanized rubber is brittle, where gutta percha is flexible until it ages. Its use then diminished, but continued until the discovery of man-made plastics.

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Old July 10, 2012, 06:37 PM   #17
tommyd78
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old S&W REVOLVER

They are hollow grips so they are rare then? Okay so there was a reply that said the grips may be worth more than the gun? What do you guys think ? thanks. tom
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Old July 10, 2012, 07:34 PM   #18
Winchester_73
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Quote:
Those grips appear to be injection molded - the round mark at the bottom looks like an ejector pin mark.
I don't see the round mark you are referring to? They look like normal S&W I frame extensions to me although many vintage pistol grip types are being reproduced today.

Quote:
They are hollow grips so they are rare then? Okay so there was a reply that said the grips may be worth more than the gun?
I don't know about the "hollow grips" part but these grips are not super valuable even if original. While they are not easy to get or common, they are not really in demand either. They are not like having a set of coke bottle grips or pre war K frame magnas. I would say value is around $150, give or take $50. Later I frame extensions were walnut, and then some had medallions and some did not. I myself do not know the rarity peking order for I frame target extension stocks, but its probably a moot point anyways.
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Old July 11, 2012, 11:38 AM   #19
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Quote:
They are hollow grips so they are rare then?
Genuine S&W hard rubber or gutta percha stocks are flat on the inside where they fit up against the grip frame. IOW they are a solid piece except where needed to clear the frame and mechanism.

If the inside contour is hollow and follows the outside contour- i.e. the material is a fairly uniform thickness and is not flat against the grip frame- they are modern reproductions made from injection molded plastic; see posts #15 and #16. These are basically worthless by themselves and subtract some value from the gun as they are not factory-original. However, if it's any consolation, the loss of collector value will be minimal on a gun that is in rough shape otherwise.

Even if the grips are factory, they are visibly damaged and therefore are not worth a whole heckuva lot (+1 Win73). AFAIK the only I frame stocks that really get collectors' attention by themselves are (a) genuine factory mother-of-pearl, which get into 4 figures(!) if they're pristine, and (b) the rare mottled blue-and-red hard rubber.

That said, ALL decent factory I frame stocks have some value because the grip frame was lengthened in 1952; factory stocks made after this date can be mounted on an earlier gun but very obviously don't fit properly at the bottom.
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