View Full Version : Smith and Wesson 38, 1950's, need info

June 27, 2010, 12:20 AM
My father left this gun to my son. It was a gift in 1958 from someone in Costa Rica. The serial # is 242332 and it has an iridescent grip. "38 S & W CTG" is stamped on one side. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Bill DeShivs
June 27, 2010, 12:45 AM
More information, and pictures, are needed.
6 shot or 5 shot? Barrel length? Finish? Condition?
Good pictures will answer all of these questions.

June 27, 2010, 12:53 AM
That was fast! I just came back to edit the post. It doesn't have a hammer. At first I thought someone disabled it, but that doesn't make sense. Was there a hammerless/concealed hammer model then?

I don't have access to a camera right now, except on my phone.

The barrel is about 2-1/2" long. I don't know how to judge condition or whether it is 5 or 6 shot, but I'm guessing 5.

Bill DeShivs
June 27, 2010, 02:18 AM
Yes, there were hammerless models.
Even phone pictures would help.
Does it have a grip safety? How does the action open? From the side, or top?
What is the finish? Blued or nickel?

June 30, 2010, 08:41 PM
Okay, I finally have some photos. Taken with my phone, but I hope they'll help.

Bill DeShivs
June 30, 2010, 09:10 PM
It's "Safety Hammerless" in .38 S&W (not .38 special) caliber.
The finish is the original nickel plate, in very good condition.
The grips are mother of pearl, and are likely factory original.
This is a very nice example. I'm not up to digging out my books, but maybe someone else can help with dates, production numbers, value, etc.

June 30, 2010, 09:25 PM
Good photos for a phone. from the information in the 3rd edition of the Standard Catalog of S&W it appears to be a .32 Safety Hammerless, 3rd Model, also called the New Departure and or the Lemon Squeezer ( because you have to squeeze the safety to fire it ) The SCofS&W states the Serial number ( 170000 to 242981 ), the lack of patent dates and the forged front sights are the key ID factors. I believe yours was made in 1936/37. The gun over all looks to be in excellent condition. I'm not knowledgeable enough to confirm if the grips are original, the example in the catalog shows a medallion, your pictures don't show one. They do appear to be real Mother of Pearl, and the last set I brought for a gun cost over 200 dollars. Perhaps some others may be more up to date on the value, it is a very nice collectors item.

James K
June 30, 2010, 09:28 PM
It is a Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless (aka "lemon squeezer") Fifth Model, made between 1907 and 1940, probably around 1920, but it is impossible to get any closer on the date without having S&W do research. The serial range is 220,000 to 261,493, end of production for the .38 Safety Hammerless series. With some 41,500 Fifth Models, they are fairly common, and, in average condition, bring only $100-150 or so.

But in top condition, as yours seems to be, they will bring $500 or even more at retail.

The cartridge is .38 S&W, not .38 Special. Ammunition is available, but I advise not firing the gun since anything that breaks is nearly irreplaceable.


June 30, 2010, 10:04 PM
Bill, RJay and Jim--Thanks so much for the information. That's exactly what i was looking for. My father passed away before I could get any details.

Nobody will shoot the gun. It has sentimental value to my family, as well as some collectible value. The story behind it is a little bit interesting. In the 1950's my father was the personal security guard for a high-ranking gov't. official. The gun was a gift from the president of Costa Rica to the gov't official, who left it to my dad when he died. I have the original D.C. license to carry.

I love that it's called a lemon squeezer.