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Old February 24, 2012, 10:15 AM   #6
carguychris
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Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 7,359
Well, this is neat. The gun is a .38 Military & Police Model of 1899, the first .38Spl revolver model ever made.

This gun was made from 1899-1902, when it was replaced by the .38 M&P Model of 1902, which added the now-standard front locking lug that engages the ejector rod. The Model of 1899 has the distinction of being the only standard-production S&W revolver that has a modern-style cylinder release latch and lacks the locking lug. This gun is late in the serial number range and was probably made in 1902.

The gun probably came with black hard rubber grips with molded checkering and "S&W" logos. They would have been similar to the ones on the .32 Hand Ejector pictured in post #4 of the following thread:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=476860

These grips often bond themselves to the grip frame and become brittle with age, causing them to disintegrate if the owner tries to remove them. Dixie Gun Works sells reproduction rubber S&W grips, but I'm told they don't make them for a round-butt K frame like this one. Your best bet is probably the S&W forum classifieds or Gunbroker.

Mandatory Warning Notes:
  • Although all .38M&P's have rebounding hammers, models prior to the Model of 1905 4th Change lack a positive hammer block. When the trigger is fully forward, hammer movement is normally blocked by a hump on the top of the rebound slide; however, if the gun is dropped hard enough on the hammer, the impact may shear off the hammer pivot pin and allow the firing pin to move forwards and potentially strike a live round. This gun should ALWAYS be carried "five up" with an empty chamber under the hammer. Like an old Colt SAA, you should NOT load all six chambers unless you intend to empty all of them right away!
  • Keep +P ammo far, far away from this gun! Early .38M&Ps lack heat-treated cylinders and may come apart with sustained use of +P.
  • Very early .38 M&Ps like this one have some substantial differences in the lockwork compared to later models. Although all M&Ps are fairly stout, be aware that if you break it, finding parts may be difficult. Furthermore, early non-heat-treated guns generally have soft cylinders and tend to develop lockup problems if subjected to frequent double-action rapid-fire. This gun may make an occasional fun shooter, but if you're looking for something that will see hard use (such as IDPA), I would recommend a post-WWII gun.
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