Smith and Wesson Serial Numbers

Smith and Wesson Serial Numbers

This is a discussion on Smith and Wesson Serial Numbers within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have posted a pic of it in snubbies and i know its a model 36 38 special Jframe but i'am curious as to how ...

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Thread: Smith and Wesson Serial Numbers

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    Member Array Bruce2's Avatar
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    Smith and Wesson Serial Numbers

    I have posted a pic of it in snubbies and i know its a model 36 38 special Jframe but i'am curious as to how old it is and was wondering if anyone in here just happen to have the catalog for S&W..

    Thanks in advance.


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    Got 'cha covered.
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    OK, back.

    If the serial number is 82643 as seemed to be indicated in your other post then in all likelihood the gun was produced in 1956.

    The Supica/Nahas book shows serial numbers 55050-75000 to have been 1955 production, 117770-125000 to have been 1957 production.

    The stocks look appropriate and correct for a 50s J-Frame with their diamond pattern surrounding the escutcheon. I don't know exactly when the forth side plate screw was dropped on the J-Frame. That's the one which would have been at the top of the side plate which was engineered away in favor of a clever retention tab. The top side plate screw deletion probably occurred during the year 1956 for J-Frames. The high-polish blue finish looks period correct. I think I can see a pinned barrel though the photo is dark to my eyes. The other side should feature a flat latch.

    All in all, a really dandy example! I'm glad to see it. Would even like more photos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    OK, back.

    If the serial number is 82643 as seemed to be indicated in your other post then in all likelihood the gun was produced in 1956.

    The Supica/Nahas book shows serial numbers 55050-75000 to have been 1955 production, 117770-125000 to have been 1957 production.

    The stocks look appropriate and correct for a 50s J-Frame with their diamond pattern surrounding the escutcheon. The high-polish blue finish looks period. I think I can see a pinned barrel though the photo is dark to my eyes. The other side should feature a flat latch.

    All in all, a really dandy example! I'm glad to see it. Would even like more photos.
    Here's my serial number..378551

    167.jpg168.jpg

    Couple more pics i'll try to do some better ones.
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    Ahh, that's different. It moves it into the early 1960s. Still has the period correct look on everything about it. My first J-Frame was a Model 36 that looked exactly like that one, but with a serial number in the 400,000 range which factory lettered to 1966. I'll go get the book again.

    Big skip for these years for data in the book. It goes from 1962 which ended at 295000 and 1969 which ended with 786544. Probably really late 1963 to sometime in 1965.

    A factory letter sent to Roy Jinks at Smith & Wesson along with a check for $50 would give you an exact shipping date and the original shipping destination, along with how the revolver was configured as it left the factory. Your revolver looks like a much better than average example that is dead stock.
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    I inherited it..lol my son and i used it for our CCW put 200 rounds thru it that day and now im afraid to use it after you told me it was that old. Did they +p rate these back then?

    Thanks for your time much appreciated.
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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    That ain't old at all. That pistol is barely out of high school, and wants to r-u-n. I have several guns that I continue to shoot twenty or thirty years after all humans born on the same day have been deceased. That Smith is built right. It's going to outrun you by a century. Your great grand kids will be shooting that if you take care of it.

    In my collection there is fired, and unfired. They all receive the same care and treatment, but if it's been shot it's been shot, and I'm going to continue to shoot it. The difference in the value of a 99% pistol that has been shot once or a thousand times is nil. New in the box is another story. Condition is everything, but you're not going to hurt the condition by shooting it, only dropping it, scratching it, or holstering it all the time. IMO...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce2 View Post
    I inherited it..lol my son and i used it for our CCW put 200 rounds thru it that day and now im afraid to use it after you told me it was that old. Did they +p rate these back then?

    Thanks for your time much appreciated.

    By what I have read ( not a lawyer mind you) that the ammo back then was +P but not called that and was down sized in the 70s or so and then later on they re did the old ammo and called it +P Overpressure ammunition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    That all said I would carry and shoot it . It should be fine I perosnal would not put too much +P or esp +P+ throguh it . Enoguh to make sure it fires and then carry it with +p and use normal old ammo .

    I mean there are guns from the 1900 still in used today ..

    But agian in terms of answer no it was not +P rated that did not extistend back then..

    Hopefull someone who carries the older guns more will chime in . They make plenty of good SD rounds that are not +P and the guns should last a while on them
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    Nice 36

    Shoot it, carry it.
    As was mentioned, it was made to be shot, the value will be there regardless if you safe-queen it, or carry it.
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    Looks like the one I buried. Kind of long so I will tell it tomorrow.
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    Do tell, 1 old 0311!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce2 View Post
    I inherited it..lol my son and i used it for our CCW put 200 rounds thru it that day and now im afraid to use it after you told me it was that old. Did they +p rate these back then?

    Thanks for your time much appreciated.
    Don't be afraid of it. It's a fantastically designed revolver, made of first rate materials, and featuring excellent workmanship. I assure you that it will eat more +P ammunition than you'll enjoy firing through it or want to afford to buy to feed it, and it'll be less the worse for the wear than you will for shooting it with +P.

    This little Chief's Special was produced very early in the history of the model, before the assignment of 36 as the model number. Serial number is 2018. Yep, low four digits. Factory lettered to O.S. Oshman and Son, Houston, Texas in March of 1952. It's seen a modicum of +P in its day, still sees some on rare occasions and is as tight as I remember it being when it was acquired.

    For several years, the factory had a policy of recommending of not using +P in Smith & Wesson revolvers .38 Special revolvers produced before the numerical model numbers began being stamped in them (1958) but ... too late for me. I'd already shot several of their older revolvers, including this one, with +P ammunition. I like the ballistics of 158 grain lead semi-wadcutters when they are propelled to 850-950 fps so I load with +P ammunition of that bullet weight. Doesn't matter if its factory loads or similar handloads produced at the bench here.

    I'm of the opinion that +P ammunition is a "tempest in a teapot." Some of it is even pretty anemic when tested over the chronograph. Especially the light-bullet stuff. I like the 75-100 fps gain that +P 158 grain factory loads exhibit in 2 to 4-inch revolvers so I use it. I'd feel comfortable though, choosing a standard velocity .38 Special load as long as it featured the 158 grain semi-wadcutter bullet. I'm not a true believer in either jacketed bullets or hollow points at .38 Special velocities. Jackets don't aid expansion. Folks just think the projectiles have to be wearing them so the market delivers what the customer wants and expects. Hollow points are gravy. If they open up fine but I don't view expansion as the do-all and end-all of effective stopping power.

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    The reason i questioned the +p rating was i know the newer ones are stamped with +p on the barrel and didnt know if they did that on the older ones also. WrongRecroom pointed out that the ammo back in the early days was probably +p rating by today's standards and after reading the article he linked too it could of very well been that way. I been shooting Remington UMC 158GR lead heads RN, .38's are hard to come by around here and thats what i was able to get.

    Thanks again to Everyone's input it is greatly appreciated.
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    For the most part, I honestly think "+P" is as much a marketing tool as it is anything else. It's sucked people in for years now. Perhaps the first +P loadings that were introduced back when the term gained currency had something a bit more to offer but so much of it these days appears to be overrated.

    Mind you, I don't have any pressure-testing equipment but sure looks like there are some instances of +P amounting to nothing more than the ink it took to print the description on the box.
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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    I'm partial to the Colt Detective Special myself, but that pistol was Smith's answer to the DS, and there is no question they got it 100% right, because I'm pretty sure they out-sold Colt by a mile, and that's the iconic revolver everyone thinks of when they think of a snub nosed .38, not the DS...
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    OOOooo... I don't know. I'm a Smith guy through and through but I think of the "Dick Special" anytime snub is mentioned. It's my very favorite .38 snub of all.

    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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