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jsmith 12-13-2009 04:05 PM

LEMON SQUEEZER - .38 Safety Hammerless 5th Model
I haven't bought any top-break revolvers for quite some time until just this weekend. Seen this one, negotiated the price, and bought it right away for $300.

What I found was a nickeled .38 S&W Safety Hammerless 5th Model. A Lemon Squeezer. These are almost always found with the 3-1/4" barrels. This one has a 4" barrel. Has all the normal markings except it is missing the MADE IN U.S.A above the trigger guard.

The gun itself is in excellent conditon. It doesn't appear to have been fired a whole lot. Just the usual neglect from sitting around for a long time. There are just a few rust specs peeking through the nickel. The bore has just a couple of tiny rust spots but hardly noticible. Just needs a good cleaning and they will disappear. The rifling is strong. No rust in any of the chambers. Cylinder lock-up is excellent with no play. The top-latch is tight with no wiggle. It still has its original nickel finish and none is missing. The finish does show the usual handling wear with a few tiny dings. The cylinder has a faint dragline from somebody in the past removing the cylinder and not holding the top-latch all the way up.

The serial number is 242671 and all the numbers match. But the grips are another story. The right grip has numbers stamped on the inside but they don't quite match the serial number. The grip number is 242172. That's a 501 number difference from the serial number. Either one or both of the grips were replaced with ones off of another gun or the factory put the wrong numbered grips on intended for another gun.

The SCSW3 states that 41,500 were made between 1907-1940 in a serial number range of 220000 - 261493. My serial number is about in the middle so I would guess my gun was probably in the 1910's or 1920's. According to the prices in the SCSW3 and Blue Book, I did real good on this one.

Any comments out there!


Pilgrim 12-13-2009 07:08 PM


Has all the normal markings except it is missing the MADE IN U.S.A above the trigger guard.
Mine, mentioned here, doesn't have it either.

jimgoldth 12-13-2009 07:10 PM

Lemon Squeezer .38 Safety Hammerless 5 th model
this is a picture of 5 th model 38 S&W #251201 which lettered as leaving the factory on February 10, 1923. 4" barrel Blue Finish and checkered walnut grips. I believe that walnut grips became standard around 1923.

I paid $250 well over 10 years ago. Unfortunately it became a casuality of my retirement cash out.

cflier 12-13-2009 08:16 PM

Hello jssmith,
Nice old sqeezer. You got a good deal on that one. I suspect once the economy picks up those kinds of deals are going to dry up. You are right, 4 inch barrels are somewhat uncommon. By my estimates only 15 to 20 % were 4 inch barrels. Serial # 24139X shipped in 3/1914 ad # 24337X shipped in 4/1917. Odds are that yours shipped in 1916.

jimgoldth I have several 5th model safetys with serial numbers over 251201 that letter as having shipped with hard rubber stocks. Wooden stocks seem to have been the exception rather than the rule. I have not been able to figure out what the factory was using as a criteria for shipping with wood. They don't seem to have been a special order item.
Anyway, they are uncommon also.

jimgoldth 12-13-2009 09:50 PM

In S&W Catalog D-3 There is a Notice dated March, 1923


This catalog illustrates the only models, calibres, lengths and finishes that we are now manufacturing

STOCKS The .38 Hammerless and the .32 H. E. Models are now fitted with Walnut Stocks. Until large shell of first quality is available, we shall be unable to furnish anyPearl Stocks.

MONOGRAMS. We have discontinued placing the gold S&W monograms in the wood stocks.

NEW SIGHTS. The improved Service Sights of our M & P square butt models give approximately all the advantage of Target Sights in regard to speed and accuracy; the large, square cut, rear notch and the wide front sight making possible far more accurate sighting.

March, 1923

I do not know how long S&W continued using Walnut stocks, The no Monogram walnut stocks lasted until around 1930. Improved service Sights ??? That is why I believed that the Walnut stocks became standard in 1923.

cflier 12-13-2009 11:06 PM

Hi Jim,
Yeah I know, I have that catalog too. But, I have several 38 lemon squeezers shipped from the mid twenties to the late thirties with factory letters saying they shipped with hard rubber grips. According to the data base I have been collecting the later the gun shipped the more likely they would have wood grips. Sales were very slow during the last half of the 30s so maybe they were using up there hard rubber blanks and switching to I frame wood gradually. Somethings we will never know, but we do have the factory records available through Roy Jinks and thats really all we can go on.
The factory started installing the silver medallions starting about 1929, but I have never seen a lettered 38 Safety that mentioned medallions. I'm pretty sure that it could have been done as a special order non cataloged item like a special short barrel or a lanyard ring.
I know that I have a pair of 32 Safety grips with a small silver medallions in them that I'm sure are factory. The medallions are the size of the gold ones in the special order pearl and ivory grips. 32 Safetys were never shipped with anything but hard rubber as a standard grip and never cataloged a wood grip, but I've got the set of grips.
Never say never with Smith & Wesson, especially from about 1900 to WW II

jsmith 12-14-2009 08:46 PM


I do agree with you on 4" barrels. They seem to be an uncommon size in top-breaks. One of the big reasons I bought this one right away. Most people wanted short barrels, 3-1/4" or shorter, for concealed carry, usually in a pocket.

You do have a valid point about the bad economy. Right now dealers are having a hard time moving vintage guns. They have been coming down in price a lot just to sell one, sometimes hardly making a profit on it. I have picked up quite a few good deals just this year. People right now don't have much money and all they want are cheap modern guns, not much more than a few hundred dollars. Everybody seems to ignore the vintage guns unless they can buy them dirt cheap.


Combat 12-14-2009 10:34 PM

I bought my first .38 "squeezer" Sat. at a show.Nickle plated, 5" barrel with pearl grips.SN.2579xx.Condition looks like NEW.No rust spots,No problems with the nickel other than tiny rub marks that look like someone rubbed it down with a rough cloth.I'm really not a top break kinda guy but I'm really happy to get this one.Can someone give me a guess-tamint on when it was made?Here is a bad pic I took tonight.

cflier 12-15-2009 01:32 AM

Hello Combat,
Nice gun! I would estimate that your gun shipped sometime in late summer or early fall of 1927. Serial # 25760X shipped on 4/1927. #25859X shipped on 3/1929. At that time sales of these guns had really slowed down. S&W was only selling about 500 of them a year. The two above are both special order guns and that may sway the numbers somewhat, but i think not much. # 25960X shipped on 1/1931 which seems to support my ramblings.
Are you sure the barrel is five inches. As I sit here looking at the picture it looks more like 4 inches. I could go down to the Boars Nest and compare with one of mine, but I'm feeling some lazy tonight. It doesn't quite look 5 inches to me. I don't mean to be insulting, but are you measuring from the front of the barrel to the first part of the cylindar that the ruler reaches? Maybe it's my eyes. If it is and if any of my friends are reading this I don't want to hear about it.
In any event enjoy it as they will never be made again and they are unique classics.

PERAZZI 12-15-2009 11:55 AM

Lemon squeezers..
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Please,what year would a 2nd model .38 safety hammerless with a 373xx serial number be?

cflier 12-15-2009 08:57 PM

Hello Perozzi,
Welcome to the forum. It most likely shipped from the factory in very late 1888 or early 1889.

lcummings45 01-09-2010 12:48 PM

This is my first time on the board as a new member. i joined because I wanted to find out about a 32 lemon squeezer that my dad gave me. It belonged to his father. It is a 3 1/2" barrel, Pearl handle, excellent condition with no rust or pits. I don't have a picture right now but the serial number is 101804

cflier 01-09-2010 02:16 PM

Hello lcummings45,
Welcome to the forum. Guns with family history are the best kind. Many of us here without such guns envy you very much. Your old Safety Hammerless is a 2nd model and most likely shipped in the fall of 1901. S&W didn't ship guns in sequential order, but #101723 which is very close to yours, shipped 10/1901.

RJames13 01-14-2013 11:09 AM

I have inherited a .38 lemon squeezer from my dad.
Pearl handle, Serial# 2537**
Could someone give me some information on when it was manufactured and an approximate value?

oversize 01-14-2013 06:24 PM

I know my eye sight is bad, a nickel plated has the blued trigger -correct?

sonnyfiss 02-12-2015 05:20 PM

how do i identify my squeezer model and year

sonnyfiss 02-12-2015 07:10 PM

have 38 cal lemon squeezer ser 23339 want to know when made and is it valuable

grampa1212 02-27-2016 04:15 PM

Have 38 Model ?
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Just picked up a 38 S&W serial # 207xx no clue if its a 1st to 5th. Any help would be thankful.

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