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Old November 18, 2011, 06:38 PM   #4689
Dave Anderson
Senior Member
Join Date: March 4, 2011
Posts: 298
Re: early Chiefs Airweight

Picked a nice little shooter up - I think it is a pre model 37 chiefs special airweight. 3 inch barrel, has a lot carry rub off the frame, and a little freckling on the cylinder. But she locks-up tighter than a drum . Anyway, serial 17xxx. Any idea how old she is??
Laytonj1 has already given the date on this one. It is worth noting that it may have an alloy cylinder as well as an alloy frame. S&W originally made these with alloy cylinder. After many complaints of damage due to high-velocity loads, S&W switched to a steel cylinder on January 13, 1954.

Roy Jinks says the change occurred at about s/n 35000. SCSW says examples with alloy cylinders have been found as high as s/n 44577. A total of 3,777 were made with the alloy cylinder.

Some of those which were damaged had their cylinders replaced with steel cylinders by the factory. A check with a magnet should quickly show whether yours has the steel or alloy cylinder. If it is alloy, both Jinks and SCSW say not to shoot it. Depending on condition, models with alloy cylinders may bring a premium with collectors.
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