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Old February 8, 2013, 03:49 PM   #1
Red Eye
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Dash or No dash S & W

Hello all, I've been lurking for a long time, have hardly no posts but its time to ask.........

I'm a big Ruger revolver guy but was thinking of adding a S&W. What is the difference when a S&W says its a "dash" or no dash" model. Don't know what that means,is one better than the other?? please educate me.

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Old February 8, 2013, 03:57 PM   #2
nate45
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When S&W went from named models to numbered models, sometime around 1957, the .44 Magnum for example, became the Model 29. The Combat Magnum became the Model 19, etc, etc. After that time, whenever S&W made a design change to a model, they added a dash and a one, then a two and so on as other changes occurred.

I don't have my Standard Catalogue of Smith and Wesson handy, but it has all the info on what those changes were. Some of the changes that between a -2 and -3, etc of certain models are very minor. One small thing was changed, but it was still a change so a -4 went to a dash -5, or whatever the case may have been.
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:58 PM   #3
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With each dash number there was some kind of engineering change. Like when they stop using the top sideplate screw or changed the position of the gas ring.
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:03 PM   #4
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One is not necessarily better than the other, but as far as collector value a no dash model will almost always be worth more.

Like others said every time it goes from -1 to -2, to -3 etc. it means there was a design change. Sometimes something as simple as a painted front sight.
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:09 PM   #5
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Ok, I;m starting to get it but in the S&W world, would it be more desirable to get......say a model 19 no dash or a model 19-2 or 3,4??

Is it assumed that the dash models had good changes made to the original and they would be most favored to purchase or is it just a moot point, and the little changes don't mean much?? Buy whatever one you can find at a descent price?

Dragline and I must have been typing at the same time, he just answered my questions.....thanks

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Old February 8, 2013, 04:10 PM   #6
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"One is not necessarily better than the other, but as far as collector value a no dash model will almost always be worth more."

True, but like a higher software "Rev" number, a higher dash number may mean an improved version.

Jim
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Old February 8, 2013, 07:30 PM   #7
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In general...some of the later dash numbers...( like in a 686 model - popular .357 mag, L frame, Stainless)....production started in 1980 but in the dash 5 era ( starting in 1997 on this model ) is where MIM hammer and floating firing pin show up, MIM trigger and Internal Frame Locks...

a. do any of those things affect how the gun fires ...no..probably not...
b. do they make a difference to some of us - yes, definitely...

but in that model specifically ...you would need to know in the reference material book...that the no dash and dash 1's were recalled - and so some of them, when they were fixed, have a dash M on them...(recall had to do with the hammer nose I believe...) -- so in that model, you don't want a no dash or a dash 1 that hasn't been recalled and modified...

so its all over the board....
-----------
On some of the early models ....like the popular model 27's (N Frame, .357 mag ) ...production started in 1957 ...in the dash 1's the extractor rod goes from a right hand thread to a left hand thread ( useful info ! )...dash 2's are pretty desireable because it was the last series where the barrel is still pinned and the cyclinder is still counterbored....but are the dash 3 guns, bad guns, no certainly not......but I'd rather have a model 27 No dash - thru a dash 2.../ and personally, I like the dash 2's ( for no discernable reason )..../and then on this model, during the dash 3's they got rid of Nickel finish in this model in 1986 ...but the dash 3's started in 1982 so some of them are still Nickel and some aren't ...( and I really like the Nickel )....
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and on and on it goes...by model....
------------
Everybody should buy and shoot what they like - what fits their hands, etc...and I have about 25 S&W revolvers ( and I shoot them all - no safe queens ) ...but I can only keep track of the models I really like ...primarily in .357 mag, .44 mag and .22.....( so model 19's, 27's, 28's, 29's - blued or Nickel ) ...and the newer 66's, 686's, 629's etc and everything with a six in front is a stainless gun.../ then focus on frame size M, I , J small, K medium frame, L is a med-large frame, N frame is the Large Frame...and now we have some X frame Very Large. and a lot of collectors focus on K, L and N frames / K frames ( mod 19's, 66's in .357 mag ), L frame model 686's .357 mag , N frame model 27's, 28's in .357 mag....model 29's .44 mag(Dirty Harry fame...)....

The N Frames - model 27's and 29's especially have a devoted following..but there are lots of other N frames..

The S&W collectors book / catalog is about 430 pages of great info ...pick up a 3rd edition, even if you never buy a S&W revolver - its a great read - a great book for your gun library !!

Last edited by BigJimP; February 8, 2013 at 07:43 PM.
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Old February 8, 2013, 09:03 PM   #8
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Seems to me that most of the early changes were true engineering improvements. At some point (call it 1982), the changes were more related to cost savings or easier assembly.

The older revolvers did require more custom fitting by true craftsmen. More modern ones tend to be quite good mechanically but a bit more soulless and impersonal.
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Old February 9, 2013, 02:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Ok, I;m starting to get it but in the S&W world, would it be more desirable to get......say a model 19 no dash or a model 19-2 or 3,4??
In my S&W world, named Models are the most desirable. A Combat Magnum, would be preferable to a Model 19 no dash. They are hard to locate though. So far a shipped in 1959 4-screw Model 19 no-dash is as close as I've been able to come to a Combat Magnum.

As far as plain old nice goes though, my shipped in 1965 Model 19-2 is hard to beat. It is in very good condition, where as my 19 no dash has some holster wear.


From the top: 6.5 inch blue S&W .44 Magnum, 4 inch blue Model 19 no dash wearing elephant ivory magnas, 4 inch blue S&W Model 57 wearing exhibition grade stag, 4 inch blue Model 19-2 with its stock diamond target grips and last but not least my 4 inch blue Model 29-2.

As you can see from the photo the 19 no dash is a four screw which makes it kind of neat, but its not in the pristine condition my 19-2 is.
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Old February 9, 2013, 06:32 AM   #10
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Wow Nate, VERY nice revolvers.

thanks for all the replies. Well, now I've learned that once I narrow down the model I want, do my homework for the changes in that model.

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Old February 9, 2013, 09:52 AM   #11
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While I don't take issue with what's been posted so far, I would like to point out that dash numbers have sometimes been used to designate options, generally barrel lengths and types.

For instance, the Model 36 no-dash had a 1-7/8" or 3" tapered barrel, whereas the Model 36-1 was the same gun with a 3" heavy barrel, and was sold simultaneously (more about the Model 36 below). Another well-known example is the Model 10-5, which had a 2", 4", 5", or 6" tapered barrel, and the M10-6, the same gun but with a 4" heavy barrel.

It should also be noted that S&W was not always consistent about changing dash numbers when engineering changes were made. Arguably the most well-known example is the Model 36, which was produced from 1957 until the mid-1980s in no-dash / dash-1 form despite the fact that numerous changes were made during that time, most notably the deletion of the barrel pin in 1982.
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Old February 9, 2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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+1 on these comments too ....

its hard to generalize...you really need to go model by model....

a. I'd focus on caliber first...

b. Then decide on the Frame size that fits your hands the best...and understand the differences that each brand of stocks or grips will make on that particular frame...( there are a lot of different grips or stocks made by S&W and a lot of aftermarket options as well )...

c. Within each frame size...figure out the difference between round butt and square butt frames - and how they feel in your hands .../ you can change the feel with different stocks or grips too.

d. Barrel length...and what you want the gun for ( for me 4" makes a great carry gun - tactical gun in and out of holster, etc / 6" to me is a good woods gun or range gun but too clumsy in and out of a belt holster / 8 3/8" barrels are great range guns ...and you might find you don't like them in some calibers like .357 mag - but you like them a lot in a .44 mag ( or I do anyway )...

and no matter what ...have fun with the process ! - and don't be ashamed to keep a little notebook when you go to shops or gunshows...so you remember certain issues on certain models / or just carry the big book ...
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Old February 11, 2013, 10:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
With each dash number there was some kind of engineering change. Like when they stop using the top sideplate screw or changed the position of the gas ring.
Actually, the screws in the frame never alone designated any dash changes for S&Ws. The 5th screw you mention, for K and N frames aka the upper side plate screw, was removed by 1956, and so nearly any model marked gun will be a 4 screw, or less. There are a limited number of 5 screw model marked guns floating around, but these are pretty rare. This would have happened because a 5 screw frame was laying around, and S&W didn't waste anything. For the transition from 4 screw to 3 screw, in the early to mid 60s, it was the same thing, that the screw removal alone did not change the dash number.

The dash changes correspond mostly with functionality changes, whereas the amount of frame screws does not impact the function of the gun. I am not sure if the change in position of the gas ring designated a dash number change or not.

Carguychris below explains this in a different way below. He is basically saying that some changes, perhaps many of the changes did not cause a dash change for the gun.

Quote:
Arguably the most well-known example is the Model 36, which was produced from 1957 until the mid-1980s in no-dash / dash-1 form despite the fact that numerous changes were made during that time, most notably the deletion of the barrel pin in 1982.
Quote:
One is not necessarily better than the other, but as far as collector value a no dash model will almost always be worth more.

Like others said every time it goes from -1 to -2, to -3 etc. it means there was a design change. Sometimes something as simple as a painted front sight.
There are quite a few examples of later dash guns being more valuable than the predecessors. One shining example is the 29-1, more valuable and much more rare many previous S&W 44 magnums. 27-1s are hard to find as well. For many of the models that got the name change in 1957, the -1 is harder to find. For the -1, S&W decided to reverse the ejector rod threading, and then for many -2 guns, they changed it back.

In addition, a painted front sight never would designate a model dash change since front sights have optional choices. Painting a front sight was also something AFAIK that was never done by the factory. Now of course, a model that is fixed sight, as a model 58, with adjustable sights was then a 57. But as far as the front sight alone, it does not effect the model dash nor would it effect the model IE a model 27 could have a ramp or a patridge.

Quote:
In my S&W world, named Models are the most desirable
Same thing for my world, but S&W did actually keep the model name for the model number guns. In other words the model 10 was the "model 10 military and police" whereas before 1957, it was the "military and police".

Quote:
As you can see from the photo the 19 no dash is a four screw which makes it kind of neat
IIRC, aren't all 19 no dash guns 4 screw? Are you just saying its neat because its a 4 screw? I know that for some models, 4 screws are more rare than 3 screws, but I didn't think a 19 no dash could be a 3 screw. A lot of people probably don't know, but out of the 3 4 and 5 screw guns, 4 screw are by far the hardest to find. They are also high quality and can still be had for modest prices, since people are crazy for 5 screw guns.

Quote:
its hard to generalize...you really need to go model by model....

a. I'd focus on caliber first...
Well, there is also nothing wrong with looking for a model, moreso than a caliber. For example, if you said you wanted a 357, with S&W, there are tons of choices. However, what would I recommend, a model 27 (or variant) of course, followed by a 19 (or variant) probably. Remember, don't pass up a model 23 (for example) just because 38 special doesn't interest you. Many S&W models are hard to find today, and nearly any S&W is firearm with obvious quality emphasis. I recommend an open mind, and because there were so many S&Ws made, a good deal is probably just around the corner.
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Old February 11, 2013, 01:06 PM   #14
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Obamulate wrote:
"Seems to me that most of the early changes were true engineering improvements. At some point (call it 1982), the changes were more related to cost savings or easier assembly.

The older revolvers did require more custom fitting by true craftsmen. More modern ones tend to be quite good mechanically but a bit more soulless and impersonal."

Somehow I never thought of guns having a soul, but "easier assembly" means cost savings. Also, use of modern manufacturing techinques rather than those from the 1850's, keeps costs down. Anyone who thinks that a Model 1899 (the first M&P) made today as it was then, would cost the same as a modern Model 10 is, to put it mildly, out of touch with reality. And has never seen the inside of a Model 1899.

Incidentally, when guns began to be made by forging, the technique was denounced as turning out mass produced junk because old timers felt that chiseling frames out of iron billets was the only way to make guns.

Jim
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Old February 11, 2013, 04:33 PM   #15
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To further muddy the waters....sometimes the dash and following number might not match as to whatever was changed on the model. My M-19 is marked a -2, but is really a -3. It has the -3 features/changes but was marked -2.
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