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Old March 9, 2013, 01:19 PM   #1
The Bolt Man
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Help Identify My Model 36 S&W

I purchased a used Model 36 S&W and would like to know what the model name is and the year of manufacture.

The serial number on the butt is 618xxx. The number on the yoke is 98337. No other numbers or letters.

The pistol has a 1.80" pinned barrel and a square butt.

Any help will be appreciated.
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Old March 9, 2013, 02:54 PM   #2
Webleymkv
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Prior to the introduction of model numbers in 1957, the M36 (or perhaps pre-M36 as it were) was known simply as the Chief's Special. If your gun does not have a model number stamped on the frame under the yoke, then it is not technically a model anything. The Chief's Special was introduced in 1950 and was the first of S&W's J-Frame revolvers. The new frame size was necessary because the frame window of the older I-Frame was too short to accomodate the length of the .38 Special cartridge. New-made S&W J-Frames, including the M36 "Classic" are actually slightly longer than older ones because the J-Frame was redesigned into the "Magnum" J-Frame in 1999 when S&W began chambering certain J-Frame models for the longer .357 Magnum cartridge (though the M36 specifically has never been offered in .357 Magnum).

In order to be a M36 or Chief's Special, certain features must be present beyond simply being a snub nose S&W .38. The gun must be chambered for .38 Special rather than the older .38 S&W cartridge, have a five shot cylinder, be a DA/SA revolver with an exposed traditional spur hammer, and have a carbon steel frame with either blue or nickel finish. Models which are commonly confused with the Chief's Special/M36 include the Terrier/M32, Regulation Police/M33, Chief's Special Airweight/M37, Stainless Chief's Special/M60, and the 2" barrel version of the Military & Police/M10.

Be aware that S&W does not officially rate J-Frames made before 1999 for +P ammunition. While an older all-steel J-Frame such as the M36, 40, 49, or 60 is unlikely to suffer ill effects with limited use of +P ammo (I shoot limited amounts in my own 1970's vintage M36), it's best not to feed them a steady diet of +P ammo. Under no circumstances should +P ammo be fired in an older J-Frame "Airweight" such as the M37, 38, or 42 because of their aluminum alloy frame which is likely to stretch if shot with +P ammo.
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Last edited by Webleymkv; March 9, 2013 at 03:05 PM.
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Old March 9, 2013, 04:45 PM   #3
laytonj1
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Quote:
number on the butt is 618xxx
Assuming it's a model 36, the serial number dates it to 1967/68 range and the model number would be stamped on the frame near where you saw the assembly numbers.

Jim
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Old March 9, 2013, 04:52 PM   #4
The Bolt Man
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Webleymkv,

As you stated, "In order to be a M36 or Chief's Special, certain features must be present beyond simply being a snub nose S&W .38. The gun must be chambered for .38 Special rather than the older .38 S&W cartridge, have a five shot cylinder, be a DA/SA revolver with an exposed traditional spur hammer, and have a carbon steel frame with either blue or nickel finish. "

The Model 36 I purchsed has all these features as you have stated and it is blued.

My question now is how do I know if it would properly be called a Chief's Special or simply a M36?
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Old March 9, 2013, 04:59 PM   #5
The Bolt Man
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laytonj1,

You are right. The model number is stamped on the frame right above the assembly number that is on the yoke. It is marked "Mod 36". It is stamped lightly enough that I hadn't seen it until now.
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Old March 9, 2013, 04:59 PM   #6
laytonj1
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Quote:
My question now is how do I know if it would properly be called a Chief's Special or simply a M36?
It was known as the Chiefs Special until S&W began assigning model numbers in 1957.
See pic for location of model number. The one below is a model 629.

Jim
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Old March 9, 2013, 05:09 PM   #7
The Bolt Man
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laytonj1,

Thanks. That makes my Model 36 just that. It is simply a Model 36 Produced some time around 1967.
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Old March 9, 2013, 06:22 PM   #8
RJay
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Yes, but people still call them " Chiefs Special ", just as the Model 10 is still referred to as a "Military and Police". A rose by any other name, smells the same.
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Old March 9, 2013, 08:04 PM   #9
5thShock
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Sad that Smith&Wesson decided it was a good idea to get rid of the bit of poetry those names were. Why pack a Model 36 if you could carry the Chief's Special and who would buy a Model 15 if they could have a Combat Masterpiece?
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