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Old November 6, 2013, 12:16 PM   #1
rick35ovi
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Another old smith and wesson serial number..

Trying to get a date on an older S&W .38 revolver that was given to a friend of mine..there is no letter code, just the number 9797xx on the butt of the pistol. Any ideas on an age or model number would be great! thanks!
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Old November 6, 2013, 02:47 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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Is it a top break or hand ejector (swing out cylinder)?
Exposed hammer or Hammerless?
Five shots or six?
.38 S&W or .38 S&W Special?

Are there any markings on it that look like words and numbers?

Can you show close clear pictures?

Also what is the barrel length, measured from the front of the cylinder?
What is the finish, nickel plate or blue?
If nickel, are the hammer and trigger plated?
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Old November 6, 2013, 03:01 PM   #3
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All good questions i will find out for you..Sorry for the poor post..
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Old November 6, 2013, 06:44 PM   #4
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Jim, did you send your crystal ball to the cleaners again? you are going to have to stop using it for a bowling ball, that's why it dirty.
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Old November 6, 2013, 09:49 PM   #5
James K
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Not much of a need for a crystal ball (and mine is down with a software problem); only the .38 M&P ever got that high in serial numbers, just before they went to 999999 and started over with the "V" prefix.

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Old November 6, 2013, 09:53 PM   #6
Jim Watson
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I suspected as much but did not want to go to the trouble to check.

There is still the question of which caliber, what barrel length, and what finish. There were so many surplus guns like that prettied up for easier post war sale.
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Old November 7, 2013, 12:09 PM   #7
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Ah, Jim K. you are absolutely correct, I was merely trying to bring a smile to a troubled world. I also thought of the M&P. I have also seen posters who erred and added a number to the serial number or left off a prefix or suffix because they didn't know it was part of the serial number or gave a assembly number as the serial number and so forth and so forth. I have also seen posters who erred because it sad 38 S&W Special on top of the barrel and were led to believe a Spanish copy was a S&W. I get into more trouble by " assuming " I understood what was in the posters mind. JMHO and I have a few more out in the garage.
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Old November 7, 2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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The Spanish sometimes had interesting ideas on caliber markings. My favorite is:

"USE CARTRIGES THAT FIT BEST" [sic]

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Old November 8, 2013, 01:32 PM   #9
rick35ovi
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This a pic of what he has..sorry for the delay guys..
Attached Images
File Type: jpg smith.jpg (231.9 KB, 55 views)
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Old November 8, 2013, 02:25 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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That is not nearly as old a gun as I visualized.
It is NOT a 1940s era revolver as a six digit serial number without letter prefix would indicate.
It is a fairly recent (by my codger standards) Military & Police Model 10, round butt, 2" barrel; a very desirable revolver and in pristine condition.

Look again, the prefix might be separated from the numbers far enough to not obviously be part of the serial number... but it is.

I bet it has a model number, 10-X, on the frame under the yoke, too.
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Old November 8, 2013, 03:57 PM   #11
rick35ovi
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Okay, He is looking at the butt of the gun and giving me that number with no letter code..the letter code with be in the yoke area correct?
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Old November 8, 2013, 05:08 PM   #12
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Incorrect. A S&W of that configuration should have a letter prefix to the serial number on the butt, or my book is way off the mark.

We need a full set of pictures, including the butt and frame inside the yoke so we can read the markings. Third party phone conversation is not telling me enough.
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Old November 9, 2013, 02:18 AM   #13
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With a very few exceptions, S&W serial numbers are always on the butt. The number inside the crane is an assembly number, but wouldn't go to six digits.

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Old November 9, 2013, 04:42 PM   #14
gyvel
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Makes one wonder if it's a renumbered gun.

(aka "altered serial number")
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Old November 9, 2013, 06:11 PM   #15
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If it was assigned a new number from the BATFE it would have a ATF prefix.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:27 PM   #16
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"If it was assigned a new number from the BATFE it would have a ATF prefix."

Not necessarily. I personally know that during the 1980s police departments were allowed to re-number, and sell, guns the SN had been removed from. I owned one. I removed the crudely stamped # (TC508) and re-engraved it in script. I refinished and nickel plated the gun and engraved the slide "Custom built by Bill DeShivs" I sold the gun to a world famous, huge, fat wrestler via an FFL. Two weeks later said huge, fat wrestler was arrested in Pascagoula, MS for gunrunning. ATF visited casa DeShivs post haste wanting to talk to me about the altered serial number. I explained what happened, showed them the paperwork from the FFL where I purchased. They asked me to sign a statement attesting to this. I did, and that was the end of it. They told me then it was perfectly legal for the PD to do this.
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Old November 9, 2013, 10:21 PM   #17
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Maybe Rick can get us a picture of the bottom of the grip; that should settle the issue.

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Old November 9, 2013, 10:26 PM   #18
Jim Watson
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Wish he would show the butt and frame under the yoke.

That is a pretty recent gun with wide smooth "combat" trigger and plain checkered grips. Near new condition, too.
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Old November 10, 2013, 12:31 AM   #19
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I suspect there is a C in front of that number, which would make it 1967-1968, consistent with the grip type of stocks and the ramp sight.

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Old November 10, 2013, 10:49 AM   #20
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Uhm... the barrel doesn't appear to be pinned, which would make it post 1982-1983.

The full serial number from that time frame should be 3 letters followed by up to 5 numbers.
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Old November 12, 2013, 10:13 AM   #21
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Guys sorry for the delay, my buddy's camera is down but i had him look at the gun again and tell him to make sure there wasn't a letter there, Well naturally there IS!! Dang it!! The letter code is J979700 and the numbers on the yoke say 32330 A-17
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Old November 12, 2013, 10:38 AM   #22
Jim Watson
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Geez, that is the serial number for a 1982 Chief's Special or other J frame, not a M&P. My head hurts.
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Old November 12, 2013, 10:43 AM   #23
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J frame, Model 36, AKA Chiefs Special, made in 1982. If your buddy opens the cylinder and looks at the yoke he will see the Model number stamped there.: ADDED, what were you saying Jim K. about not needing a crystal ball
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Last edited by RJay; November 12, 2013 at 10:52 AM.
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Old November 12, 2013, 10:45 AM   #24
Mike Irwin
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Given the serial number and the photo, that's not a K frame, that's the smaller 5-shot J frame.
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Old November 12, 2013, 12:41 PM   #25
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But the cylinder stop notches are over the chambers as for a sixshooter, not behind the flutes for a five shot Chief.
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