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Old 07-28-2021, 06:08 PM
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Hair Trigger Hair Trigger is offline
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Originally Posted by airhunger View Post
Hey yall,

Newbie here, just got my first revolver, inherited from my 80-y/o Colorado game warden uncle, who inherited it from his (uncle? dad?) when he started working as a warden in the early 1960s.

I can't figure out what this gun is - help!

It's a S&W 38/357, and my uncle told me it was a highway patrol-issue unit, however, the S/N and the specs don't seem to line up?

I am pretty sure its a pre-HP (/FHP?) model 28 N-frame, serial # S 103214. From a different forum (1911 forum) I've found that to be a late 1954-early 1955 s/n, pre-HP? This serial # is stamped on the butt, the cylinder, and the body inside the cylinder area. (Sorry, I don't know all my gun terms!)

Also to confuse further, this gun has a 5" barrel, cylinder-to-muzzle. It does not say 'highway patrolman' or anything else on the gun, however, there is a second number stamped on the cylinder arm and on the frame that reads '23260'

Anybody know the scoop on these non-FHP, pre-HP 5" N-frames? Is it a model 28? What is this gun?

I know there's lots of chatter about pins and screws on these forums, but I don't know what screws or pins those reference.

Also, anyone have any clue what the value on this might be? This revolver doesn't really fit my needs (I'm a backcountry hunter and backpacking guide, and this is a bulky, heavy gun!) and I'm considering selling it at some point. The bluing is in exceptional condition, and it's been fired very little - maybe 200 rounds - since my uncle took ownership of it in 1961.

Pics attached, and in the album here: n-frame serial # S 103214 - Google Photos

Thanks! Help a newbie out!
It's an early Pre M27, known as The .357 Magnum, the follow-on to the Registered Magnum. Model numbers weren't assigned until around 1957. The M27 is S&W's Cadillac revolver in .357 Magnum. The M28 is a less-finished version, made to sell for less to law enforcement. Early guns had 5 screws, then the screw nearest the top of the side plate was deleted, making it a 4-screw gun, then the one in front of the trigger guard, and from there on they were all 3-screw guns. Yours is an absolute peach, looks like the cylinder stop turn line is the only mark on it. Originally, 3-1/2 and 5" barrels were available, the 5" was dropped in 1979. 4", 6" and 8-3/8" were available sometime in the early model numbered years. SCSW doesn't mention a value for a Exc or VGC 5-screw gun but does mention a 4-screw is double what a 3 screw brings, around $2K for ANIB condition, and mentions a premium for 5" barrels.

The number "23260" is a production number to keep fitted parts together while the gun was on the assembly line. You'd find similar numbers on the butt frame, yoke, cylinder and inside the barrel shroud. The "pins and screws" relates to the collectibility and era of manufacture. I explained the screws; the pinned barrel was deleted in 1982, and the recessed cylinder (the case rims fit flush into recesses in the rear of the charge holes) at the same approximate time. Those are hallmarks of Magnum revolvers made up to the early '80s and are worth more to collectors. Yours would be somebody's Holy Grail gun.

Just a SWAG, I'd say easily worth $2K+ by itself, and much more with the box, tools and paperwork. Given the family history behind it, I wouldn't part with it for 10x that, if it were mine. It would make an excellent carry when guiding, get yourself a chest carry rig; they don't interfere with pack straps the weight is carried off your hip and out of the way.

Last edited by Hair Trigger; 07-28-2021 at 06:10 PM.
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