Anyone know the approximate DOB of a S&W .38?

This is a discussion on Anyone know the approximate DOB of a S&W .38? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have a S&W .38 Special, Military and Police version, that I think is old enough to be called the M&P, that is it was ...

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Thread: Anyone know the approximate DOB of a S&W .38?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    Anyone know the approximate DOB of a S&W .38?

    I have a S&W .38 Special, Military and Police version, that I think is old enough to be called the M&P, that is it was probably made before 1958 when they started calling it the Model 10.

    I have the original box, though that is in pretty bad shape, and the original packaging/brochure that came with it.

    Wondering if anyone might know when serial # 51XXX might have been born?

    Thanks.
    I'm in favor of gun control -- I think every citizen should have control of a gun.
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    Member Array vietnamvet66's Avatar
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    Go over to the smith-wesson/forum.com revolver section and ask. They are all about S&W, and some friendly folks.
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    Is there a letter prefix before the 51XXX? Is there no model number stamping on the inside of the frame, visible with the cylinder is opened? A "V" or "VS" prefix would indicate World War II military contract production. A "C" prefix would indicate a 1948-1967 production time frame. A "D" prefix would indicate a 1968-1977 production time frame.

    No letter prefix on the serial number located on the butt of the grip frame would indicate a really early Military & Police revolver. I have serial No. 503XX which was manufactured in 1904.

    What color is the box? Blue, gold, or maroon?

    I'll bet we could come pretty close to your revolver's production year if we could determine what prefix, if any.

    We love photos too if you could provide any.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    Nice gun bmc, thanks for sharing.

    There is no letter prefix on the gun, anywhere. The number on the butt of the gun, which is also stamped on the bottom of the barrel on a flat spot in front of the cylinder, is 911XXX. The 51XXX is seen on the crane when I pop open the cylinder. The box is a deep dark blue.

    I took a picture and put it in my album, which can probably be viewed from my profile, and as soon as I figure out how to put that picture into a post I'll edit this post and add the picture here.

    Thanks for the replies.
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    I'm in favor of gun control -- I think every citizen should have control of a gun.
    1 Thess. 5:16-18

  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array orangevol's Avatar
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    I sent an email to S&W customer service with the serial number and asked when my 642 was mfg'ed. They replied back and gave me the date.

    Email address is on the website.
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    Sounds like your gun was made just as we entered World War II. Your gun's ejector rod and grips (stocks to a purist) are pre-war. Your stocks may have the serial number stamped on the back side of one of the panels. If they do then it would be an indication that they are original to the revolver and that would be nice touch. The larger ejector rod head is a pre-war feature that carried over into wartime production but was discontinued for the later knurled ejector rod end in post-war production. The hammer is of pre-war design with its characteristic spur, indicative of the "long action," a feature that only continued for a couple of years into the post-war era. After 1948 the hammer was redesigned to improve lock time and also received a redesigned spur which offered more purchase for single action cocking. Don't fret about the "slower" lock time of the earlier design. The old "long-action" M&Ps are still valued because they have a particularly smooth and slick double action trigger pull, considered by many to be superior to the later design.

    I'm guessing your revolver also has the large entwined S&W logo on its right side, rollmarked into the side plate and is also stamped "Made in USA" on the lower right front of the frame. Earlier M&Ps made before about 1920 had no "Made in USA" rollmark there and later ones had a 4-line roll mark that included the address and the Spanish "Marcus Registradas."

    The 51XXX is an assembly number if it appears on the crane (yoke).

    That is a very nice looking revolver and appears all original as far as may be ascertained in the photo. Those don't happen along that nice very often. A factor letter is in order.

    The icon photo is an M&P from 1926. Here's a couple more that illustrate the minor changes made to the famous revolver.

    A "Victory Model" M&P from late 1943. Has same features as yours but with the rougher wartime finish and with plain walnut stocks.


    An M&P made in 1954. Note the differences. This one has redesigned ejector rod head, hammer spur contour, magna stocks that partially cover the sides of the frame, and this one also was made right after the half-moon front sight was changed to a ramp sight.



    I think that the M&Ps configured like yours are the most attractive variation and have the quentessential M&P look.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    Wow, lots of great information there bmc, and I really appreciate it.

    I agree -- a letter from S&W is in order. I took the stocks off and yes, the matching serial number is on the right stock. A picture is worth a thousand words, but no picture does justice to just how clean this gun is. It doesn't look like it's seen more than one box of ammo in it's lifetime.

    Thanks again for the info.
    I'm in favor of gun control -- I think every citizen should have control of a gun.
    1 Thess. 5:16-18

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