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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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  #1  
Old 12-26-2009, 05:04 PM
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Default 38/44 Heavy Duty with box, value?

Sorry, but no pics yet. Saw a 38/44 heavy duty bkue with 3 inch barrell today at a local gun shop where I am visiting. It has a little holster wear on the tip of the barrell. The origianl diamond grips are in great shape and it feels mechanically perfect. Serial number is aorund 72,000 with a box numbered to the gun in great shape. What is a reasonable value for this gun? Thanks guys and gals in advance. It may become mine in due time. Happy Holidays.
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Old 12-26-2009, 05:14 PM
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I'd be sure to check that barrel length. If it is 3 inches then it has been shortened as I have never seen a 3 inch HD. Does the box list the barrel length? Make sure you measure the barrel from the face of the cylinder.
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:00 PM
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Oh, my bad. I meant to say 4 inch. I should know better than that by now.
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:02 PM
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With revolvers, the barrel length should be measured from the front face of the cylinder to the muzzle. On 38/44s I believe 3 1/2" was an available barrel length. If the barrel was cut, it greatly affects the collector value.
Also a refinish reduces value, even if done at S&W factory. Until recent times, S&W stamped the refinish code on the frame under the left grip.
Frame, cylinder, underneath barrel & inside right grip... and box... should have matching numbers for best value.
Best Wishes,
Russ

Last edited by flagman1776; 12-26-2009 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:14 PM
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It is for sure a 4 inch. The box has 4 inch on it. The gun has the original finish and I was not able to check the grips for a serial number. But how about a reasonable price for this gun? Does someone have an idea? I am on vacation so I don't have my standard catalog wiht me but would be interested in seeing what it says for value.
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:29 PM
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I stand corrected. 38/44 was 4" (357 Mag was 3 1/2).
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Old 12-26-2009, 07:16 PM
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Hello,
If I'm reading the Smith Bible by Supica and Nahas correctly it should start at around $1250 and go up for the condition you describe. But that was a couple of years ago and doesn't include the box which is worth several hundred. One thing to look for is the fit of the grips on the bottem of the frame. At serial # 72000 it is most likely a long frame and the long frame magnas are very hard to come by I'm told.
Sounds like a very nice gun to have. Good luck.
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Old 12-26-2009, 07:39 PM
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If that's the original finish and the box is numbered to the gun (or age-appropriate if unnumbered), that sounds like a $1500-1600 package to me, perhaps higher. I paid more than that a year ago for a 1946 transitional in similar condition. At the time I thought the gold picture box that came with my gun was original, but I have come to wonder about that. I think the '46 and '47 HDs probably came in red boxes.

If Bill is watching this, can you address the box question?

Here's a pic, which will look familiar to some of you:

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Old 12-26-2009, 08:31 PM
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If that's the original finish and the box is numbered to the gun (or age-appropriate if unnumbered), that sounds like a $1500-1600 package to me, perhaps higher. I paid more than that a year ago for a 1946 transitional in similar condition. At the time I thought the gold picture box that came with my gun was original, but I have come to wonder about that. I think the '46 and '47 HDs probably came in red boxes.

If Bill is watching this, can you address the box question?

Here's a pic, which will look familiar to some of you:

The grips on the gun I saw today were not diamond magnas like the ones above. The were the diamond target grips with the football like impression in the one side. They were the same walnut finish and not Coke bottle shaped. Should I assume those were not original? I would imagine they still haev some value though. Also the box was the same yellow box that DC has in the above picture. The serial number was matching and written on the bottom in the common black was pencil writing I have seen on other boxes. So it sounds like anything under $1000 would be a great price for this gun? Am I write to say that? Thanks again for the info.
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Old 12-26-2009, 08:47 PM
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Dave,
Boxes are a tough proposition and believe me, I have asked Roy many questions on that subject. I believe the factory did not really care too much about them except it was something to put the gun in. Pre war, it seems that the first HDs were in maroon one piece boxes and when the 38/44 Outdoorman came out in Blue Picture Boxes, the HDs went to that also. Since they were still only available in 5" barrel, only one box was necessary. It appears that the 4" HDs were shipped in the 5" box and the 6.5" guns were shipped in overstamped .44 Spl maroon one piece boxes. I believe that after the war, S&W used maroon boxes that were available and since there wasn't a dedicated 4" box that they ordered the gold boxes and began using those. I bought a 2 piece maroon box that had a 91000 serial number on it! It should have been in a gold box. Another theory is that we see boxes used to ship repaired guns back to the owner that may not be the proper box-who knows? I guess one day in all the documents from the factory, we may come across some invoices for the boxes if they were made outside the factory and then determine what should have been the correct box.
I hope this helps.
As for the gun in the thread, it is probably a 1949 vintage with long action and pre war style hammer and trigger or a transition gun. $1250 for a NIB transition with matching grips is not unreasonable but that is up to the buyer to decide.
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Old 12-26-2009, 08:58 PM
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Target grips were not available then and would not have come on the gun.
Hope this helps,
Bill
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:50 AM
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I say go for it, it may be a long time, if ever, that you find one like that. Correct grips can be found, probably from one of our members. I may be able to put you in touch with someone who may have them, he was able to provide me with grips for a transitonal 38/44 Outdoorsman.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:03 PM
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It's a big chunk of change for the gun. I can't help but think of the 2 or 3 pistols I could add to the collection with the same amount of money, but I think the rarity of finding a gun like tis at this price makes me want to go for it. He's asking $1000 to start out but maybe I can get him to come down a little on his price. It sure is good looking but I don't want to fall in love with something and not pay the right price for the pistol.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:08 PM
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To my mind, what you have described is without question a thousand dollar gun. If you can get the seller to come down a few bucks, that's great. But if he won't come down, I would stretch in order to get it.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:19 PM
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I would "gently" inform the seller that the stocks are not original to the gun and that it diminishes the value somewhat. I would also suggest that this is typically a collector piece and a shooter would probably not want to spend that much. If he won't budge after giving him the above info. you can ask if he would throw in a box of ammo or a holster or knock off the sales tax as a last resort.

Should none of the above tactics work, as David said, I would still probably go for it. By and large, it is getting harder and harder to find vintage S&W's for under $1,000. IMHO
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:30 PM
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Sounds good. I have yet to be led astray by the advice I have received in this forum so I appreciate the feedback. My gut told me to go for it, but when you are dealing with purchases in this value range you just want to go on more than a gut feeling. The gun is on consignment at a local shop in my wife's hometown and was just put out for sale the day or two before Christmas by a local collector. Needless to say, I almost feel like saying that the timing was perfect. I guess I will be sticking around for a couple more days until the shop opens back up. Thanks again, I'll post some pics when I get the gun back home which should be interesting being that I am in a very anti-gun buying state.
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:08 PM
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Bill, Hey, that is some great info there on the website "www.38-44heavyduty.com." So just two questions for you. If the heavy duty I am looking at is a more recent version that was produced under the model number 20, will that model number be stamped inside the frame? And if it is not then I can assume it is an older version. Granted I had mentioned that the serial number was @72,xxx which probably gives you a good idea when it was manufactured. My next question would be then are the Transitional models more valuable than the pre or post war models? Or is just apples and oranges at this point?
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:16 PM
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Thanks for the compliment on the website-I did it for other HD enthusiasts! If a HD is a MOD 20, or MOD 20-2, they will be stamped in the frame. Your gun has the 4 line address on the right side of the frame and the ejector rod knob is the same size as the rod itself. What makes it a transition model is the pre war hammer and trigger style and the long action. There are very few nickel transition HDs, so those would be more valuable in my opinion. Also, there were very few 6.5" transition guns made. The 4" followed by the 5" were more popular. Thanks for the serial number.
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Old 12-27-2009, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Aspenhill View Post
Dave,
Boxes are a tough proposition and believe me, I have asked Roy many questions on that subject. I believe the factory did not really care too much about them except it was something to put the gun in. Pre war, it seems that the first HDs were in maroon one piece boxes and when the 38/44 Outdoorman came out in Blue Picture Boxes, the HDs went to that also. Since they were still only available in 5" barrel, only one box was necessary. It appears that the 4" HDs were shipped in the 5" box and the 6.5" guns were shipped in overstamped .44 Spl maroon one piece boxes. I believe that after the war, S&W used maroon boxes that were available and since there wasn't a dedicated 4" box that they ordered the gold boxes and began using those. I bought a 2 piece maroon box that had a 91000 serial number on it! It should have been in a gold box. Another theory is that we see boxes used to ship repaired guns back to the owner that may not be the proper box-who knows? I guess one day in all the documents from the factory, we may come across some invoices for the boxes if they were made outside the factory and then determine what should have been the correct box.
I hope this helps.
As for the gun in the thread, it is probably a 1949 vintage with long action and pre war style hammer and trigger or a transition gun. $1250 for a NIB transition with matching grips is not unreasonable but that is up to the buyer to decide.
Bill
Hello Bill,
A little more info for your database. I have a prewar HD picture box that bears the number S64192 (on white tape). Just above the number is the notation, 4". This came with my almost new condition 4" HD S64082, shipped July 1946 (probably in your database).
I have no doubt this is original. Both were in Colin Dobson's collection.

Regards and Happy New Year,

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:14 PM
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Frank,
Thanks, I did not have that one. It is not unheard of for post war guns to ship in pre war boxes. I know of a couple .357s that were shipped in pre war blue picture boxes. Thanks for the info.
Happy New Year!
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:49 AM
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Default It's mine!

So I bought the pistol today. Made a deal with the owner and he dropped his price to $950. Looked over it again and maybe the finish isn't as good as I thought. But still conservatively speaking at least 85 to 90%. When it arrives from California I will post some pics and you can give me your opinions on the finish. So the serial number is 72472. It looks to be a transitional model from what people have told me. It has the 4 line address mark and the humpback hammer from what I can tell. This gun has been used a bit but has the original finish on it. A little brown discoloration on the backstrap but does not look like rust and I don't see pitting. It almost looks like someone tried staining the grips without taking them off. I am pretty sure they didn't actually do that but that is how I can describe what I see. Anyway, thanks for the info. I am looking forward to posting some pics.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:24 PM
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I too once thought that the pre war style hammer was a humpback hammer, but unless it looks like this, it isn't.

Congrats on getting the gun! I think you will like it.
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Old 02-17-2011, 11:32 AM
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i am trying to find out the true value of my gun - the pics up top represent my gun perfectly - the box is not perfect because its been in a gun safe and been taken to our ranch off and on - it is a 4" / blue / 38/44 throughout the years used less then 2 dozen times - all of its life spent in the vapor wax paper in the box - i had sold it about a month ago but the sale went through and i discovered that i had valued it way too low - $650 - but would like to know what its true value might be - pics are located with my site name - uhland - thanks
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
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i am trying to find out the true value of my gun - the pics up top represent my gun perfectly - the box is not perfect because its been in a gun safe and been taken to our ranch off and on - it is a 4" / blue / 38/44 throughout the years used less then 2 dozen times - all of its life spent in the vapor wax paper in the box - i had sold it about a month ago but the sale went through and i discovered that i had valued it way too low - $650 - but would like to know what its true value might be - pics are located with my site name - uhland - thanks
A somewhat worn gun in a somewhat worn box is at least a thousand dollar gun in my view. Better condition brings better bucks, all the way up to new in box or almost new in box around $2000. I have it in mind that there is a premium for Transitional HDs simply because I like them and would be willing to pay a premium for them myself. So it's hard to answer your question meaningfully without seeing pics of the gun and knowing its era of manufacture.

The transitional HD I posted above looks as though it has some blue loss on the barrel and shroud, but that's light scatter. I would rate that gun at 98-99%. The box isn't perfect, but it's pretty good. So I would guess that one would probably sell with no trouble in the mid- to high 'teens. (In my enthusiasm a couple of years ago, I paid more.)
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:33 PM
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Default father in law left me this S&W 38/44 HEAVYDUTY .38sp NICKLE

Father in law had this in the top of the bedroom closet when he passed. All anyone remembers is he got it for home defense back in the early 50's. It appears to have a EXCELLENT Nickel finish.
The grips I am not sure about. all his kids say it never left the closet after he bought it, so he got it this way. Also, I was told S&W did not "NICKEL" the hammer and trigger?
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Old 04-20-2019, 08:58 PM
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It does not appear to have a nickel finish. Looks like blue. However, the hammer and trigger also look like they are blued - which would indicate a refinish, if so. Perhaps the pics are tricking me.

If you think it is nickel because of the N7 in the yoke area, that is just a fitter's mark. It has nothing to do with the finish.

The stocks are not original, so somebody has definitely changed this gun. It did not come from the factory looking like that.

Oh yes. Welcome to the Forum. You came to the right place to ask questions.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:27 PM
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I agree with Jack-it is refinished and because of the light, it is hard to tell if it is blue or nickel. I think it has been chromed because chrome gives off a blue tint in the finish.
I hope this helps,
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650, coke bottle grips, ejector, heritage, outdoorsman, prewar, shroud, sig arms, smith and wesson, supica, swca, transition, walnut

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