View Full Version : Stainless Model 36?

Bottom Gun
August 18, 2000, 11:27 AM
I have a chance to pick up a used S&W chief special.
It's made of stainless steel, but the frame is marked "mod 36" instead of being marked "mod 60". It has the early style squared cylinder latch button and fixed sights. This particular one appears to have been heavily polished, presumeably to eliminate sharp edges. It is definitely stainless steel.
Can anyone tell me anything about this gun? I'm particularly concerned about the marking.

4V50 Gary
August 19, 2000, 12:40 AM
Don't worry Bottom Gun. The stainless steel version of the Model 36 is known as the Model 60. The 2" bbl versions were fixed sight and the 3" had adjustable (and a full length ejector rod). The finish on the Model 60 was dull (thanks to being polished in a tumbler). If it's shiny, it could be holster wear.

cuerno de chivo
August 19, 2000, 03:32 PM
sure it ain't nickled or chromed?

4V50 Gary
August 19, 2000, 08:37 PM
Opps. If it's marked M36, then it's not stainless but plated.

James K
August 19, 2000, 11:07 PM
Hi, Bottom Gun,

If it is not nickel, could it perhaps have had the original finish removed and left "in the white"? That would seem to be a possibility since you describe it as heavily polished and the corners rounded.

BUT, S&W had a false start with stainless steel. They got into it before anyone else. They produced a few guns and the hard stainless steel chewed their tooling up so badly (3-5 times faster than carbon steel) that they stopped stainless production and didn't resume for a couple of years, during which they retooled completely with harder tools.

My memory is VERY fuzzy, and I can't confirm this by any books that I have looked at, but I THINK that the first batch was marked Model 36, as this was the first stainless gun and they hadn't yet thought of giving stainless guns their own model numbers (they didn't give plated guns different model numbers).

Anyway, this is FYI. But, if the gun really is stainless, it would be from that first batch and quite rare.


August 21, 2000, 01:04 AM
Am I right in thinking that stainless is not magnetically attracted to a magnet? If so you could test it with a magnet.

Mal H
August 21, 2000, 02:14 AM
Nope, not right. Stainless is also attracted by a magnet, like any other alloy containing iron.

Bottom Gun
August 21, 2000, 11:34 AM
The gun does appear to be stainless, rather than plated. I at first thought it might be in the white since it has been so heavily polished, but I carried it for 20 years before I sold it to the present owner a few years ago and it never showed the slightest hint of corrosion, even in high humidity conditions. I never thought to research the marking before.
The present owner has expressed a desire to sell it and asked me if I wanted it back. I’m strongly considering it.
In spite of the heavy polishing, the gun still has a finish which is more dull than bright and shiny, which I would have expected.
If this does turn out to be a rarity, would it still be desirable in spite of this polish job which is almost equivalent to one of the new “melt downs”?
I checked it with a magnet and although it is magnetic like all ordnance stainless, it does not appear to have quite as strong a magnetic attraction as my blued guns do. This would appear to be correct as, if my memory serves me, I think stainless has a lower iron and higher nickel content.
Any ideas?

James K
August 21, 2000, 01:17 PM
I am having a devil of a time finding out about those early guns, but I think the serial numbers should be below 400000, with no prefix or suffix. The Model 60 was serial numbered with the Model 36 for a good while.


August 21, 2000, 10:12 PM
Bottom Gun, According to Roy G. Jinks, author of History of Smith & Wesson, the first production run began in May 1965 and 39 revolvers were completed in late summer of the same year.
The first revolvers completed were manufactured with a bright polished stainless steel finish on the frame, barrel, hammer and trigger. However, the material used in the hammer and trigger was not sufficiently hardened; and, in 1966 when the hammer and triggers were case-hardened, producing a dark finish, the process was changed. The bright polished finish was objectionable to law enforcement agencies and was difficult for S & W to manufacture. In late 1966, a change of finish was made, polishing the gun to a satin-rather than a bright-finish. The problems with the hammer and trigger were corrected by flash chrome-plating these stainless-steel parts after they were heat treated.
Model 60 serial numbers
1965/66 401,754-401,792 and 409,802-410,698 Bright polished finish with a polished hammer and trigger.
1966/67 475,001-480,000 Bright polished frame,barrel and cylinder with a dark case-hardened hammer and trigger. Serial number 490,001-491,503 had a satin finish, flashed chrome hammer and trigger.
Hope this helps.

Bottom Gun
August 22, 2000, 10:18 AM
That helps a lot. Thanks Guys!!