View Full Version : Help ID, date S&W J frame

November 21, 2004, 04:21 PM
Hey, all.

Can anyone help me ID and date a revolver I inherited from an aunt.

It's a J frame S&W that looks like a Model 40. Blued, hammerless, no model number were it should be. 5-shot, 2 1/4 inch barrel, .38 special with grip safety.

It seems to have two sets of serial numbers. Odd, but true.

On the butt, on the back of the cylinder and inside one wooden grip are the numbers 51XX. On the arm of the cylinder is 479 (small space) XX and then on the frame where arm resets into the frame, the 479XX number is repeated with a bigger space before the XX and a 1 above and a 0 below.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.


November 21, 2004, 09:13 PM
The serial number is 51xx. The 479xx is an assembly number. What you have is a Centennial made before 1957, when they started using model numbers. It is sometimes called a pre-40. The length of 2.25" is most unusual - all that I am aware of are 1.875", commonly called 2" until recently.

How many sideplate screws? The 4th screw was eliminated in 1955.

November 22, 2004, 03:42 PM
Thanks for the response, Model520Fan.

There are 4 screws. The barrel length was an estimate on my part.

Any idea when they started making these things, and what the serial numbers run from and to?

It is a sweet performer, except for the occasional desire to go directly from after the first click to past the second click and fire.


November 22, 2004, 07:00 PM
The Centennial and Centennial Airweight had their own series of serial numbers which ran from 1 to 30160 from 1952 to 1971. Numbers ran from L1 to L9861 from 1971 to 1974. They started making them in 1952, and the fact that yours is a 4-screw tells that it was made 1955 or earlier.

November 23, 2004, 08:29 AM
Model520Fan, thanks for the detailed information on this revolver!

My great aunt lived in Eastern Kentucky and EVERYONE seems to carry there, even little old gray-haired ladies like her.

Thanks again for telling me so much about my little pre-40.