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Old March 13, 2011, 07:19 PM   #1
RdKill
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Need S&W Model ID Help

I picked this up from an individual and all I can tell about it is that it's a S&W K frame round butt .38 Special. I have other Smith Revolvers and generally, I find the model number by opening the cylinder but where the model number normally is, is the number 309 and below that, 4644...neither of which I believe to be model numbers. Serial Number is on the bottom of the butt. It is six digits, 214xxx.


Also, on the right side between the Smith Logo and the cylinder, are a row of 6 dings that aren't dinged in. They are dinged OUT...like braille bumps in a perfect row that get increasingly closer together from bottom to top. How could that happen? Gun seems to be in good working order. Nothing appears out of whack...just wondering what it is and what could cause a row of outward dings on the plate?
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Old March 13, 2011, 07:44 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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You have a Military & Police, made long before model numbers were assigned in 1957. Some would call it a "pre-model 10" but I prefer the fine old name.

This gun has been heavily modifed. The barrel is a replacement from a later version, sawn off and the front latch lug replaced. The extractor rod was cut off to match and rather crudely knurled at the end. Finish is a reblue and the grips are much later types.

I don't know what the six whack marks are but have to consider the possibility that they were made by flattening out a bent sideplate.
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Old March 13, 2011, 08:49 PM   #3
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Yeah...the grips do not fit right at the bottom. They overhang about 1/16 of an inch. I'll be replacing those...or sanding them down. I could tell it was refinished and that they didn't take all the parts all the way down to the metal before they did it. Kinda sloppy. I can also see the steel wool marks. It has a few dings in front of plate so the plate probably was damaged at some point.

The barrel doesn't look "cut off" to me. If it is, they did a really good job with the crown and front sight. And the words are all centered? "shrug" 200 bucks ...I'd pay it again for another one. Having not considered the barrel was cut down, I guess that could explain why I couldn't place the model from ...so M&P was round butt? I thought maybe this was a 2" Terrier? I know they were round butt, but I've never seen one in .38 Special....just .38 S&W.

Here's some more pics...if that helps or changes anything... At any rate, I'm not having any buyer's remorse...though I would rather have it unmodified...but it is what it is, I guess. Looks like someone used it to drive a nail at some point.


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Old March 13, 2011, 09:08 PM   #4
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no wait...couldn't have anything to do with Terrier...weren't they 5 shot?

I'm counting 6 holes here

So it's not really a K frame either then is it?
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Old March 13, 2011, 09:52 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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The latch lug looked odd in the first picture, but I now agree that it is a factory 2" transplant rather than a cutoff. I still think the extractor rod was cut off to match, that knurling is really crude.

It is a K frame, but non-critical dimensions like the grip straps seemed to "drift" over the years. I don't have the book to look up age, but would not be surprised if this were a 1920s gun.

A Terrier, sometimes listed as .38-32, is a small five shot .38 S&W (Not Special) on the I or J frame.
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Old March 13, 2011, 10:01 PM   #6
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If I had to guess...sometime in the past 90ish years, someone may have swung the cylinder shut and bent the original pin and perhaps they replaced it with what they had in a "parts bin"? and had to cut it down to fit? Just a guess.

Another thing I can't find a match for, is the fact that there is no writing on the frame on the right side out past the side plate. I've never seen an M&P without writing there. Did some not have anything there at some point?
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Old March 13, 2011, 10:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
The barrel doesn't look "cut off" to me. If it is, they did a really good job with the crown and front sight. And the words are all centered?
I'm not sure that the barrel has been cut off either for the same reason. The crown and front sight alone don't prove or disprove a cut barrel but the lettering does. While the barrel could easily be from another M&P, actually due to the sight type, I do not think its been cut.

Quote:
Having not considered the barrel was cut down, I guess that could explain why I couldn't place the model from ...so M&P was round butt?
The barrel wouldn't have helped you any. The keys here to identification are the barrel length, type of sights, SN, caliber, etc. Since its a fixed sight 38 special, that limits it to pretty much a model 10, 12, or 64. The model 12 is an airweight version of the M&P which we have ruled out, correct? The model 64 is ruled out since the gun is blued and not SS. So that leaves the model 10 or pre model 10 aka M&P. M&Ps were available square or round butt with round butt being more common for 2in versions.

Another reason you are having trouble identifying the gun is that its a 5 screw which are ALL pre model number but some pre model number guns are 4 screw. 5 screw guns never have the model number in the yoke since the 5th screw was dropped BEFORE the model numbers came about.

Quote:
I thought maybe this was a 2" Terrier? I know they were round butt, but I've never seen one in .38 Special....just .38 S&W.
The terrier aka pre model 32 was 38 S&W only, round butt and the model 33 was the same, but square butt. The terrier and its cousin, the regulation police were on the S&W I frame (and improved I frame) which was never made for 38 special. The J frame was born out of a need to chamber the 38 special in an I frame size gun. The I frame was too short to accommodate the 38 special length so the J frame was born. When a S&W is 38 special, the I, M, X, and L frames are eliminated automatically leaving the K, J, and N (rare).

Quote:
If I had to guess...sometime in the past 90ish years, someone may have swung the cylinder shut and bent the original pin and perhaps they replaced it with what they had in a "parts bin"? and had to cut it down to fit? Just a guess
.

If the gun originally came with say a 4 in barrel, then the original ejector rod would have needed cut down to fit a 2 in barrel anyways.

Quote:
Another thing I can't find a match for, is the fact that there is no writing on the frame on the right side out past the side plate. I've never seen an M&P without writing there. Did some not have anything there at some point?
Not as far as I'm aware of either. It should say "MADE IN USA" there and later it had the "Marcas Registradas" address which I think is known as the 4 line address.

Quote:
It is a K frame, but non-critical dimensions like the grip straps seemed to "drift" over the years. I don't have the book to look up age, but would not be surprised if this were a 1920s gun.
If the gun is in fact a 20s gun aka pre war, then the SN would not have a letter prefix as the OP said, but many people omit the SN prefix because it is usually spaced apart from the numerical portion of the SN. It could be a V, SV, S, C, off the top of my head.
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Old March 14, 2011, 10:08 AM   #8
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Thanks for the help. I didn't leave anything out of the serial number other than the last 3 numbers. And I really don't see the real harm in listing those either. The entire serial number on the butt is 214002. It is by no means an airweight. It's a pretty heavy little piece. Still wondering about the missing "Made in USA" marking on the frame. It doesn't appear to be ground off there or anything. There are some little ping dents close to the plate but not where the writing should be. It really does look as though someone held the gun sideways and pounded a nail or a tent stake or something with the side of the frame. That particular part of the frame where that writing should be does not appear to even be a replaceable part of the frame...weird.
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Old March 14, 2011, 08:16 PM   #9
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214002 would make it a Military and Police Model of 1905 Third Change, manufactured sometime between 1909 and 1915.

The front sight is obviously incorrect for a gun of this time frame, it would have had a half-moon front sight. That style front sight didn't come about until after World War II.

The ejector rod on a gun of this vintage would have had a "mushroom head" on it, with a corresponding relief cut in the bottom of the barrel.

The "Made in USA" marking was added later, after this gun was made.

The odd pinging on the frame could be where someone clamped it into a vice to get the old barrel out.

There are some other things about this gun that are a bit... odd. I'm going to have to fetch my circa 1920 K frame and do some comparisons.
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Old March 15, 2011, 01:01 AM   #10
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hmm older than we thought huh? I solved the mystery of the weird dings. I took the plate off and looked at the other side. It is apparently, a factory scavenged part (probably not uncommon during war time and really bad economic times for all) It has been restamped with this gun's serial number. The dings correspond with the numbers. Under the 2, you can see where there was once a 5.

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Old March 15, 2011, 01:50 AM   #11
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Looks like someone started with an old M&P, likely with a 4" barrel, and pieced themselves together a snub nosed .38 Special. The snub barrel is from a different gun, and it looks like they cut the ejector rod short to fit the new barrel and then checkered the end. The frame looks like it's seen some heavy polishing, possibly to get rid of some pitting or rust spots on the old M&P frame, which may explain why the lettering is missing. You can still see a few faint spots of pitting if you look close.
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Old March 15, 2011, 07:29 AM   #12
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Looks like a early long action M&P that has had the roll mark on the left side polished off. A newer barrel and side plate with roll mark added.
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Old March 15, 2011, 09:47 AM   #13
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auto and mad, If you read the whole thread, others have established why the front of the frame doesn't have the "made in usa" mark. It wasn't polished off. The marks on the side aren't from pitting. They are dents....It looks like someone used the side of the gun to drive a nail.
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Old March 15, 2011, 09:52 AM   #14
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I didn't know that some of the M&P are pre "MADE IN USA" right frame mark. Its hard to remember all of the S&W facts and figures but as long as I forgot more than most people know, I will be fine.

Bottom line about this gun: if checked out by a gunsmith first, because of the franken-gun status, and its safe, its well worth $200 as a user. Its hard to beat S&W quality, esp on the pre war guns. I personally would rather have a J frame for carry, but this one would be a great glove box gun, winter carry, nightstand, or even a gun to hide in an odd place such as a garage because for $200, its not that big of a deal (assuming there are no little kids around).
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:02 AM   #15
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so +p ammo? Bad idea or "sure, why not"?
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:04 AM   #16
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Winchester...My sentiments exactly.
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:26 AM   #17
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so +p ammo? Bad idea or "sure, why not"?
With the frame size, yes, BUT because of the age, not a good idea. This gun at 214XXX is pre heat treatment of cylinders which occured in the 300XXX range, IIRC. Now on the other hand, there are some that think its more of a myth regarding +P ammo in an old S&W and there is a guy at the S&W forum that shoots one with +P frequently, apparently because he believes its a myth himself. Would I recommend it? No, I would not.

The other consideration would be how much extra power you would actually attain when firing from a snubnose barrel. It may not be worth it if even if it was a newer gun.
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:39 AM   #18
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The side plate that is on the gun now is, I believe, correct for that vintage.

It has the old-style hammer block safety lever, which was changed during World War II.

I think the "oddities" that I noticed last night are the result of the repolishing and rebluing at some point in the gun's past.
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:43 AM   #19
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I don't care about the power...just all my hollow points are +p

This has been a pretty cool little history lesson for me btw, and I appreciate all the input. Sure, like anyone else, I appreciate a perfect specimen in all it's original glory...but the things people do to a gun over the decades to suite their personal needs, I also find pretty cool...as long as it works and looks OK. Inspecting, theorizing..every little change, nick, odd ping mark and scratch tells something about the history and what all it's been through. The old original barrel may have been wore out...maybe this change was for the good of "keeping-er going"? I guess I'd rather have a franken-snubbie than a wore out 4 incher that won't shoot straight.
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Old March 15, 2011, 10:53 AM   #20
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"When a S&W is 38 special, the I, M, X, and L frames are eliminated automatically leaving the K, J, and N (rare)."

Just FYI: The L frame has been chambered in .38 special. IIRC it was a special order 681 for some LEA. Even more rare than the N rame .38s.
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Old March 15, 2011, 04:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
Just FYI: The L frame has been chambered in .38 special. IIRC it was a special order 681 for some LEA. Even more rare than the N rame .38s.
I forgot about them but since they're so rare/special order, I guess they're not worth figuring in anyways. Come to think of it, I think I read about a 686 special target version which was 38 special. Hmmmm.....there were a lot of N frame 38s made if you think about it, just not as many as the K and J frames.
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Old March 16, 2011, 08:51 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin
214002 would make it a Military and Police Model of 1905 Third Change, manufactured sometime between 1909 and 1915.
+1

I dug out my S&W book and the 3rd change was 146900-241703 with the large S&W logo on the side plate.
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Old March 16, 2011, 09:00 AM   #23
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Regarding +P ammunition in M&Ps of this vintage...

+P ammunition will not cause the guns to explode. They will, however, cause extremely accelerated wear and can even cause the chambers to stretch.

I've seen it happen.

There were a lot of people in the old days who couldn't be bothered to read warnings on ammo boxes (just like today) so they ran .38-44 HD ammo through their early M&Ps. No cylinder grenades that I've ever heard of, just lots of premature wear.

Friend of mine who is very into the early K frames says he figures that 100 rounds of +P ammo in a gun of this vintage will cause the same wear and tear as 5,000 to 10,000 rounds of standard velocity lead bullet loads.
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Old March 16, 2011, 10:52 AM   #24
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I never feed anything a steady diet of +p anyway...too expensive to punch paper with. It's just what I would load it with for SD should the need arise. Thinking about making a "truck" gun out of this one.
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