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Rancho Roy

S&W Break Top....What Did I Buy?

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I was in my LGS and saw this for $225..............Looked in great shape so I grabbed it.

What did I buy. I know near nothing about this type of revolver:

S&W Break Top
38S&W
4" barrel
Serial # 370289

DSC_5942-vi.jpg

DSC_5943-vi.jpg

DSC_5944-vi.jpg

DSC_5941-vi.jpg

Anything else you could tell me about it would be greatly appreciated

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Pictures?

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The serial number shows it to be a 4th Model double action. Manufactured from 1895-1909.

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Looks like a S&W Double Action 2nd Model.

 

And it looks like it's gonna be a bunch o' fun. :)

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What Charlie sez. ^_^

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Krazy Kajun you can't see the four pictures I posted?

 

Thanks to the other folks that told me what I got. Did I get a good deal? What is the value?

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"Smith & Wesson Double Action Frontier . 1878 "

 

Is it really possible that it is a 1878 manufacture...........???

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Send the serial # to Roy Jinks at S&W, he can tell you when it was made.

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Could be or it's just the model like the 1911 that is still being made today. the 1878 DA was made in 5 models that last Model 5 was made until 1919

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Looks like this is what you have .38 DOUBLE ACTION FOURTH MODEL

.38 S&W cal., cylinder same as above, 2 (rare), 3 1/4, 4, 5, or 6 in. barrel, blue or nickel finish, "S&W" monogram checkered hard rubber grips, also offered in an extended square butt target style. 216,300 mfg. 1895-1909. Serial range 322701-539000.

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You got a great pocket pistol side match gun.

 

If the bore is good, I'd think $350 (easily) might be a possible gun shop price.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Smith & Wesson Double Action Frontier . 1878

No.

 

the Double Action Frontier is a larger gun chambered for 44-40. The 38 Double Action is a scaled down version chambered for 38 S&W.

 

 

 

This is my nickel plated 3rd Model 38 Double Action. SN 1970XX, it shipped in June of 1888.

 

 

38DA3rdModel_zps3371e26e.jpg

 

 

There were five separate models made. The key to telling them apart is the 1st Model had the sideplate cuts right across the frame. Both the 1st and 2nd Models had vertical grooves on the cylinder just like the 44 Double Action. The 3rd Model did away with those grooves but retained the pinned front sight. The 5th Model usually had the front sight forged integral with the barrel.

 

1st Model manufactured in 1880, SNs 1 - roughly 4000. 2nd Model made from 1880 - 1884, SNs 4001 - 11900. 3rd Model made from 1884 - 1895 SNs 11901 - 322700. 4th Model made from 1895 - 1909, SNs 322701 - 539000. 5th Model made from 1909- 1911, SNs 539001 - 554077.

 

SN 370289 is in the range of the 4th Model. Be careful of those grips, they are hard rubber and are very brittle. Yours look pretty worn, the checkering is mostly gone.

 

 

Send the serial # to Roy Jinks at S&W, he can tell you when it was made.

 

Unless you're a member of the Smith & Wesson Collector's Association, you will have to pay $50 to get it lettered. Even if you are a SWCA member it's gotten tough to get the ship date for free these days.

 

 

By the way, there were more of these guns with a nickle plated finish, so it is nice to have a blued one. I paid $200 for my nickel plated 3rd Model a few years ago.

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As I posted on the "other website", THESE GUNS DO NOT HAVE REBOUNDING HAMMERS! THEREFORE CARRY IT WITH THE HAMMER DOWN ON AN EMPTY CHAMBER, LIKE A COLT'S SINGLE ACTION!

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Driftwood has spoken, and he is pretty much an "expert" on these old S&W's. He owns more than few of them, and I've seen him shoot some of them and been honored to be allowed to handle some of his guns at the range.

 

Granted, that's partly because I've got a few of 'em too, and we like to compare our toys. :)

 

I've got one one of the DA's in .44-40 and even used it (single action style) at a shoot in Pennsylvania last week. The are nice shooting guns, if a bit awkward in SA operation. I'd love to have a .38 S&W caliber one, as that is one of my favorite calibers. There were just a lot of interesting guns chambered for it over the years.

 

Conventional wisdom holds that these are black powder (or sub) only guns. I will not dispute that. I have fired mine with very light smokeless rounds, but I don't think I'm gonna do it anymore. Better safe than sorry, I feel. That being said, unlike Colt, who has said what the serial number for various models is for when you can use smokeless in them, Smith and Wesson has not done the same. But, if you inquire of them, they will likely tell you if it can be done.

 

For example, I have New Model 3 Target model chambered in the original .38-44 caliber, that is basically a longer version of .38S&W. When I wrote to ask them if modern .38S&W ammo could be safely used in it, they told me yes. That being said, I have never used modern factory ammo in it, and have no plans to do so.

 

Take it all with a grain of salt. Have fun, and shoot safely.

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Howdy Again

 

Remember I said earlier that the DA 38 is kind of a scaled down version of the 44DA? The similarity of the shape of the trigger guards is what can make this confusing. The big one here is not a Frontier Model, that one was specifically chambered for 44-40. This one is a standard model 44 DA chambered for 44 Russian. But basically the same gun as the 44 DA Frontier.

 

If you see them separately, and don't have a clue as to the scale, the DA 44 ALWAYS had those vertical grooves on the cylinder. Only the 1st and 2nd Model 38s had those, S&W changed the lockwork for the 3rd Model and did away with them. The other clue is to look at the cylinder flutes. The 44 is a six shooter, so the flutes will line up as you see them here. The 38 was a five shooter. Notice how the flutes line up differently.

 

44DAand38DA3rdModel_zps85d3872f.jpg

 

Regarding whether or not to shoot them with Smokeless, we go around in circles on that all the time over on the S&W Forum. Personally, I only shoot these guns with Black Powder. No, there is no definitive date (1900) like there is with Colts as to when they were safe to shoot with Smokeless. There have been notes in some of the old S&W catalogs, I believe around 1908, that seemed to imply it was OK to shoot them with Smokeless, but nothing that anybody could pin down. Rest assured, guns this old have most likely been fired with Smokeless at some point. Personally, I don't recommend it. If you do, make sure they are light loads, and don't shoot the dickens out of them.

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Great info Driftwood.

One of the key reasons I inhabit this forum is for solid info like this.

 

Thanks.

Harvey

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I have one of those model 4 double action .38s -- SN #392xxx. My father bought it in pawn shop in the early 40's. Back then, there were many of these on the market and were often worn out from smokeless use. Mine is one of those.

 

One of the things that beat these guns up was recoil. The pin at the center of the extractor fits into a notch on the recoil shield when the action is locked up. Over time, smokeless loads pounded the pin into the soft metal which deepened the notch. As a result, there's a fair amount of cylinder end shake (for and aft movement of the cylinder) where primer strikes are inconsistent. There's also excessive barrel to cylinder gap.

 

The other thing to check is the hammer sear. Pull the hammer back to full cock, then push forward with your thumb. The hammer should hold. If it falls, it's not safe to shoot.

 

Mine is a wall hanger now. These were not strong guns to begin with, but If yours is good to shoot, I strongly recommend BP only. That also happens to be the recommendation of expert and author David Chicoine.

 

Good luck!

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......The other thing to check is the hammer sear. Pull the hammer back to full cock, then push forward with your thumb. The hammer should hold. If it falls, it's not safe to shoot......

On an empty cylinder, Slim obviously meant to say.

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