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Old November 11, 2010, 05:55 PM   #1
kirktink
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Old S&W id help (thanks in advance!)

We've had an elderly relative pass away and found a S&W revolver in his bedside drawer. It is obviously quite old & I need help identifying it... the serial number is not on the regular place but on the bottom of the butt stock and is 3338xx under the stock on the left side (side with cylinder release) there is a u next to the stock alignment button. on the right side in the same place is an f (Right and left as viewed from rear as if aiming the revolver). the stocks are walnut with the checkering worn pretty smooth. It was obviously plated nickel or something as it is silver in places mostly worn down to steel it has a 6 inch long barrel,

on top of the barrel is : Smith & Wesson Springfield Mass. U.S.A patented
under this is : OCT. 8,01 DEC17,01 FEB .8. 08. SEPT. 14.08. DEC. 29. 14
On the right side of the barrel says 38 S&W SPECIAL CTG

I'm going to try to attach a couple photo's.

It is my understanding that some books are available for such identification, but no website so I really appreciate your effort for anyone helping with this ID!. It would be a really nice pistol if re-finished. It is really tight for its age. also any idea on value of such an item?

thanking you in advance

Kirk
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File Type: jpg pistolL.jpg (216.1 KB, 50 views)

Last edited by kirktink; November 11, 2010 at 06:04 PM.
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Old November 11, 2010, 06:34 PM   #2
Webleymkv
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It's a .38 Military & Police (Pre-model 10). Due to the poor condition of the finish, collector value is pretty much non-existant (M&P's aren't particularly rare revolvers as they've been in continuous production for over 100 years). It will, however, probably make a pretty nice shooter. Normally, refinishing hurts the value of a gun, but given the extremely poor condition of the finish on yours, It might actually help it a bit (your gun's value is as a shooter at this point anyway). After a nice refinish, I'd value it at $200-250.
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Old November 11, 2010, 06:46 PM   #3
carguychris
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First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.

The revolver is a S&W .38 Military & Police Model of 1905, 4th Change, the predecessor to the postwar Model 10. It was probably made sometime in the mid 1920s according to the serial number of 3338xx. The bottom of the butt IS the normal place for the serial number on a S&W of this vintage; certain small-frame S&Ws with extra-large stocks that covered the butt have the number rollmarked on the frontstrap, but that is not the case on this model. The serial number should also be repeated on the cylinder face and the underside of the barrel under the ejector rod. You are correct that the finish was originally nickel. The stocks appear to be correct and are probably original.

.38 M&Ps of this vintage should NOT be fired with modern high-pressure +P ammo. There's also some debate as to whether or not the pivoting "wing" hammer block on these guns is adequate for safe carry; given the amount of rust on the rest of the gun, there's a good chance that it may stick in the disengaged position or break if you work the action, if it's not already broken. IMHO you should get the entire gun checked over by a gunsmith before attempting to fire it. Firing a gun with substantial rust in the barrel is a bad idea if you value your fingers and eyes.

I'd put the value at $120-$150 in its current condition. These guns are fairly common- about 700,000 were sold between 1899 and 1940- and there's nothing exceptional about this one. Neat find, though.
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Old November 11, 2010, 07:57 PM   #4
8shot357
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Maybe he should take the grips off and soak it in WD-40 or something else for awhile.
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Old November 11, 2010, 08:44 PM   #5
kirktink
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Thanks much guys

I'm a "rifle smith" having built a number of benchrest, varmint and several custom deer rifles. (retired unless a good friend really needs something done)...

I confess to knowing very little about revolvers though... the bore looked much better than the outside. The elderly gentleman who owned this must have not taken it out of his bedside table for many yrs. It must have been carried a lot at some point in the past as the stock checkering is very smooth compared to fresh checkering.

The owner is actually who i consider my best friend, like a second brother. The cylinder really is tight considering it's age. I don't think it has been shot much having scoped the bore, probably just stored improperly. he must have kept the bore "oily" though as it looks much better than the rest of the revolver..

It would be a nice one for nearly 100 yrs old with a "re-finish".

Once again, thanks for the info & advice guys!

Kirk
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Old November 12, 2010, 10:57 AM   #6
carguychris
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A good soaking in penetrating oil is a good idea before you use the gun or try to disassemble it. Be aware, however, that you really need to tear down the lockwork and remove as much oil as possible before using the gun. S&W revolver lockwork is designed to work properly with little or no lubrication, and repeatedly oiling it will cause more problems than it will solve. Some uneducated S&W owners get caught in a "death spiral" of improper lubrication when the oil dries up and attracts so much dirt that the action gets gummed up, so they add MORE oil to free it, then THAT oil dries up and attracts more dirt, and so on...

FYI S&W revolver lockwork is actually fairly easy to service. Numerous books and DVDs are available on the subject; I recommend the Jerry Miculek DVDs.

A few tips:

1) The easiest way to remove the stocks (aka grips) without prying is to unscrew the stock screw partway, then gently tap the screw to loosen the opposite panel. After that panel is off, the other panel is easily pushed out with your finger.

2) Do not get the three small sideplate screws mixed up! They are specially fitted to the revolver, particularly the front screw that retains the yoke.

3) The proper way to remove a S&W sideplate is to remove the 4 screws, then whack the side of the grip frame vigorously with a non-marring tool such as a wooden block, plastic mallet, or screwdriver handle. This will cause the sideplate to "walk" upwards until it can be removed easily. NEVER pry on the sideplate!

4) Do NOT remove the little screw in front of the trigger guard! It retains a very small coil spring that operates the cylinder stop, and it is not normally necessary to remove these parts unless there's something wrong with them specifically.

5) The hand (the part that advances the cylinder) is spring-loaded by a tiny and barely visible captive hairpin spring inside the trigger. When the hand is reinstalled, this spring must be held back with a small tool so it engages the smaller pin on the hand. If this is not done, the cylinder will not advance properly. This is probably the most common n00b mistake when reassembling a S&W.
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Old November 12, 2010, 12:20 PM   #7
RickB
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I also have a nickeled, 6", '05 4th change .38, that I got from my grandfather. Before that, it belonged to grandpa's uncle. It was stored for years in a leather envelope, and the nickel is completely gone from the sideplate. Thankfully, it was stored in the desert for all those years, and that probably kept it from deteriorating to the same extent as the OP's. You might check S&W's website, to see if they're refinish it; some guns they will, some they won't.
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