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  #1  
Old 04-30-2010, 07:41 PM
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Default Dating a K-22 by serial number

Please bear with what might seem a basic question, but as a relative newcomer who only recently discovered his .38 Smith appears to be a fairly early K-38 (who knew?) I'm now keen on beginning the hunt for a K-22.

Through the conversations here I realize there are several general variations in the model linked to years or production, and at risk of oversimplifying things, is there a general range of serial numbers which will help date production of a K-22?

Thanks.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:58 PM
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Yes...any K-22 without a letter prefix before the SN would be pre-WW II. The K prefix guns started after WW II to 1970; a number before and after the K to 1983; and then the three-letter prefix with the number after this to the present.

If you find one, you can post the prefix letter(s) and a partial number, like K 123xxx, and someone can tell you the ship year and how it should be configured. Hope this is helpful.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
someone can tell you the ship year
All good info MD,but pardon me for picking a small nit. Serial number will give you the year of manufacture,but not necessarily the year the gun shipped. Could be years of difference.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:43 PM
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f.t.:

You are correct, the data tables will give the production and not the shipping year. I was going on the assumption that a popular model like the K-22 would have shipped soon after production, more so than lower production or less popular guns, but that never holds 100% with S & W as you know.

I recently saw a 17-1 for sale with a 1967 era serial number...that frame must have sat for at least 6 years before being finished.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:44 PM
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Why dont you give us the serial number of your gun (you can X out the last few digits if you are paranoid) and we can give you an approximate date. Also, frames shared serial number blocks among models. In other words there would have been K22's, K32's and K38's all sharing the same serial number range. It is even possible to have consecutive serial number guns that are different models as Smith didnt do things in serial number order.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 29aholic View Post
Why dont you give us the serial number of your gun (you can X out the last few digits if you are paranoid) and we can give you an approximate date. Also, frames shared serial number blocks among models. In other words there would have been K22's, K32's and K38's all sharing the same serial number range. It is even possible to have consecutive serial number guns that are different models as Smith didnt do things in serial number order.
Thanks I did not know that.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:03 PM
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Ok guys: Mine's a 17-4, serial number 79K118X. Thanks for the help.
Chris.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:25 PM
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RangeRover, Welcome & good luck finding your K-22. The hunt is half the fun.

Chriss, Welcome, your question should be posted in the 80's section, as your 17-4 was built around July of 1980.

Notime2
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:17 PM
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f.t.

I think you have it switched around. Serial numbers will indicate
when the gun was shipped. There is no information available as to
when the gun was manufactured - generally.

Later, Mike Priwer
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:28 PM
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Hey Mike. I thought I had it right,but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. Are you saying that a run of guns would be manufactured without serial numbers and stamped only when scheduled to be shipped? I'm confused. Please elaborate.
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:08 AM
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I believe what Mike means is that the gun data maintained by Smith and Wesson only revealed the ship date. The actual date of manufacture isn't something they kept in the archives.
That is how I believe it is.

bdGreen
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:29 AM
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The preface to the serial number section in the back of the SCSW says the data refer to "probable production era" for a model and serial number range, so I am led to believe the book dates are based on production years. I also thought the factory went by ship dates in recording production, so it is a little confusing to me.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:40 AM
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RangeRover, I'd like to suggest you get yourself a copy of the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 3rd Edition. It can be found at bookstores or online. It has info on all the models, the changes each one went through, as well as (approx) dates of manufacture.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:10 AM
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Smith and Wesson made a lot of guns. We sometimes debate their efficiency at tracking serials. Part of our confusion comes from us not having a clear idea of how and when they were assigned, and how and when assembly numbers were assigned. Its also probably important that those methods may have changed over time (remember, they've been in business for a while.)

S&W is known to hold blocks of numbers for some purposes. It means if they want to build a comemmorative, all the guns have sequential numbers. Or sometimes, anyhow. It doesn't mean they were all completed the same day or week, just that someone went to the effort to assure they had similar numbers.

From what I can glean from the books on the subject, S&W logs in guns when they move from production/inspection to the "vault", the place where they're shipped from. The letters we beg from Roy indicate another date, the date they're shipped from the vault. It may be important that those may be the same day, or a date years later.

Some guns were hot sellers. S&W is a business. They, like all other business entities have cash flow problems and concerns. If they have a completed gun, and a willing customer, they ship it. They also completed some batch blocks of guns. Its just cheaper and easier to build the same configuration guns at the same time. Even if there isn't a ready and willing customer.

We also know S&W made some ugly ducklings. Many of us don't feel that way today... But there was a time frame where you almost couldn't give away a Heavy Duty or Outdoorsman. Or K32s. So they languished. Probably in the vault.

All an adjacent serial number means is that the guns were probably in production at the same time, maybe even side by side for a few steps in the production process, maybe separated on different racks, too. We just don't know and Roy hasn't indicated if records exist of various guns in various stages. Its probably safe to say many gun frames were sequentially numbered at about the same time. Its an internal control issue.

But we also find guns from time to time where the factory has no records of them existing. Its not unusual for one of us to blow our meager allowances on letters. Only to get one back that says "Open on Company books." We have no idea what that phrase really means, but probably any of a number of things, including stolen (lunchbox guns), destroyed during production, pulled out for some reason and never shipped or sold, given to an employee for whatever reason, etc. I've got a beautiful early Centennial that came back that way. It just happens.

We seem to read way to much into serial numbers. A lot of are willing to pay a premium, some time a multiple of fair market, just to obtain a desireable number. I've done it before and I'll do it again. The family (my family) owns 2 637s. Younger son covets the one with a "CCW" prefix. Two reasons, he doesn't clean his guns, and the CCW is new/pristine, and its just a cool number. Sebago Son owns a K22. He mercilessly lofts it over my head because he located it in a chicken coop, and because it has K117 on the underside. All I've managed to score are K155 and K166. And I was mad at Blake (one of our posters) because he let K141 escape to an unwashed heathen owner. The guy who owned K137 wouldn't sell it to me, nor would the owner of K188.

So maybe I should rephrase the first sentence of that last paragraph. I read way too much into serial numbers!
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:53 PM
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f.t.

B D Green has it right . Researching serial numbers, by the historian,
starts with the shipping ledgers. These were ( and perhaps still are)
bound volumes that were pre-printed with serial numbers, in numerical
order. There are several sets of these books, because there were
different models with the same serial numbers.

When a gun was shipped, its serial number was located in the right
book, and the shipping date, and destination are recorded in the book,
on the line that contains its preprinted serial number. This is where
all history starts. And, as you can see, this scheme is independent
of when the gun was actually manufactured.

Given a serial number, and a model, the shipping ledger yeilds one of
two pieces of information. Either there is a shipping date, or the
rest of the line is blank, meaning that the serial number is open on
the shipping ledger.

Assuming there is a shipping date, that now becomes the key into
the invoice ledgers, which are books ordered by shipping date. Knowing
the shipping date, and the destination, the historian goes through
those entries ( all together ) , and tries to locate the invoice by using
the destination information ( name of person/business receiving the
gun). Once the invoice is located, then hopefully it will contain
information on how the gun was configured, if it was special.

Sometimes the invoices have useful information, sometimes not.
Sometimes target revolvers are identified as such, sometimes not.
The price of the revolver is on the invoice, of course, and from that
the historian can tell if the gun had adjustable, or fixed sights.

Note that nowhere in any of this research trail is the date of
manufacture.

Regards, Mike Priwer
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:04 PM
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Thanks you Dick & Mike, your posts clear-up some mysteries for me!
For a specific question: Where would K-22 Outdoorsman #6444XX fit into the equation?

Last edited by SDH; 05-01-2010 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:48 PM
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The factory manufactured frames in "runs". 100 or 1,000 or even perhaps 5,000. As these runs were done, the frames were each given a serial number. The parts were also given an assembly number to keep all of the matching and hand fitted parts together during the assembly process. Even stocks that were fitted to the frame received a serial number. Once the guns were completed, they were boxed and stored in the vault awaiting shipment. IIRC, the factory even jumped around within given serial number blocks just to keep the competition from figuring out how many guns they were producing at any given point in time.

When an order was received for a given model, the shipping clerk went into the vault and pulled the necessary guns for shipment. The clerk did not pay attention to serial number order as these were pieces of inventory and he only needed a correct number of the correct model to fill the order. The serial numbers were recorded as they left the factory for inventory control purposes but not as a method of dating the guns manufacture.

S&W was in the business to make and sell guns in the present and did not think about how crazy collectors would get at some future time about serial numbers and their relationship to dates.

The books can give you a range of serial numbers used for a particular model and the basic years that these guns were manufactured, however, looking at a serial number chart does not give you the actual manufacture or shipping date. Only the company historian can give you that by looking up the serial number in the shipping ledgers.

We have seen many cases where a lower serial number gun has a shipping date far later than a gun with a higher serial number.

It is possible that somewhere there are records, like the day books, that show what serial numbered guns were built on any given day and hence supply the date of manufacture, but the historian uses the shipping records and thus those are the shipping date.

I hope that this helps. It sounds confusing, but it really isn't if you think about it.

The Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation and its effort to digitize the company records may afford future collectors the ability to search a given serial number and find all relevant company records and correspondence pertaining to that gun. Unfortunately, that is thousands of investment dollars away. So support the SWHF by sending what you can today!!!
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Old 05-01-2010, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDH View Post
Thanks you Dick & Mike, your posts clear-up some mysteries for me!
For a specific question: Where would K-22 Outdoorsman #6444XX fit into the equation?
As the owner of 646390, I'll take a run at that one. Your gun probably shipped in 1933 or 1934. Mine shipped in April 1934.
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Old 05-01-2010, 06:31 PM
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More enlightening perspective from James...
And thank you David!
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:58 AM
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Many thanks gentlemen. I don't know if I have enough active brain cells left to store all that I wish to know.
f.t.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:30 PM
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As the original poster, thank you to all the contributors who replied. I got way more information than I had hoped - all of it valuable. I look forward to sharing details of a K-22 here at some point in the future.
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:54 PM
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My quistion for you is can you tell me anything about my Smith & Wesson triple lock the serial number in 6566 * thanks for any info.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:52 AM
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Joseph, I would suggest that you post your question as a new thread. As the second page of this one you may not get as many answers as you would like. Pictures and a full description with full serial number or the last digit or 2 X'd out would also be helpful.
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Old 04-18-2013, 06:06 PM
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Default k22 serial number

i have a question about the serial number on what i think is my pre war k22 the serial# is 4091xx
i would like to find an aproxx manufacture yr
any ideas?
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Old 04-18-2013, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fat tom View Post
All good info MD,but pardon me for picking a small nit. Serial number will give you the year of manufacture,but not necessarily the year the gun shipped. Could be years of difference.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
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i have a question about the serial number on what i think is my pre war k22 the serial# is 4091xx
i would like to find an aproxx manufacture yr
any ideas?
Welcome! The K-22s started in the mid-600,000 serial number range. If your .22 has this number on the front of the grip frame it is more likely a .22/32 Heavy Frame Target. Are you able to post photos?
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:47 PM
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Default K-22 ser# on cyl

Hello I'm looking at a k-22 ser# 99945 on the frame and swing arm but the # on the cyl does not match. Were the cylinders stamp with the frame #'s? Thanks

Last edited by jim23460; 10-02-2013 at 06:19 PM. Reason: Fat fingers
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:23 PM
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Hello I'm looking at a k-22 ser# 99945 on the frame and swing arm but the # on the cyl does not match. Were the cylinders stamp with the frame #'s? Thanks
Jim, the numbers visible on the opposing surfaces of frame and yoke are soft fitting numbers, not the serial number of the gun. The serial number is found on the butt of the gun, and may not be visible if covered by target stocks. That number is also found on the rear face of the cylinder and the flat underside of the barrel. It also appears in a couple of other places, but it is harder to see.

A postwar K-22 with no Model designation will have a serial number with a K prefix.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
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As the owner of 646390, I'll take a run at that one. Your gun probably shipped in 1933 or 1934. Mine shipped in April 1934.
And I know of one in the 640000 range that lettered as shipping in early 1932. I wouldn't have believed it. It's almost impossible to figure out what happened during the depression.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:16 PM
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Thank you for the info. I will see if I can get the grips off. Jim
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:05 AM
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Default I think this a K-22 from reading

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And I know of one in the 640000 range that lettered as shipping in early 1932. I wouldn't have believed it. It's almost impossible to figure out what happened during the depression.
Hi all, doing a little research on a pistol which my wife's uncle is handing down to our son.

Its a S&W, 6 shot 22 LR revolver, the right side of the barrel reads "22 LONG RIFLE CTG."

All the serial numbers on the underside of the barrel, bottom of hand grip, and backside of the cylinder all match.

The SN is: K210537.

Can anyone give a estimation on the date of manufacture?

Obviously the grips are not original, would like to get some original grips if anyone knows where I might get some at.

See attached photos.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Randy
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Old 11-08-2013, 06:57 AM
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Randy, welcome to the forum. With that serial number, the gun probably shipped in 1954.

The proper grips for that era are called diamond magnas. These have a relieved diamond in the checking field around the screw escutcheons on both sides. The name magna identifies the style of grip in which the wood comes up over the sideplate and frame, rising to the height of the frame knuckle right behind the trigger. Your gun might also have come with target stocks, in which the wood follows a semicircular upper curve from the frame knuckle down to the rear trigger guard junction with the frame.

The following guns are not K-22s, but they show the types of stocks I mentioned.





The K-22 is a K-frame gun (or midsize), so you are looking for K-frame magnas or target stocks of the proper era. N-frame stocks are too large and J-frame stocks are too small. Old stocks can be found on Ebay, Gunbroker, and in the classified section of this forum.
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:39 AM
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Awesome!

Thanks a great deal for the information. We'll
be looking for original/stock grips.

Nice to have a little info on the revolver.

Can you recommend a good fitting holster?

Randy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCWilson View Post
Randy, welcome to the forum. With that serial number, the gun probably shipped in 1954.

The proper grips for that era are called diamond magnas. These have a relieved diamond in the checking field around the screw escutcheons on both sides. The name magna identifies the style of grip in which the wood comes up over the sideplate and frame, rising to the height of the frame knuckle right behind the trigger. Your gun might also have come with target stocks, in which the wood follows a semicircular upper curve from the frame knuckle down to the rear trigger guard junction with the frame.

The following guns are not K-22s, but they show the types of stocks I mentioned.





The K-22 is a K-frame gun (or midsize), so you are looking for K-frame magnas or target stocks of the proper era. N-frame stocks are too large and J-frame stocks are too small. Old stocks can be found on Ebay, Gunbroker, and in the classified section of this forum.
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Old 11-08-2013, 11:42 AM
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For SDH, I can tell you that #63770X shipped July 1931, if that's of any help.
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:19 PM
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Hi all, this is my first post here. I was given an old K22 that belonged to my grandfather. I'm trying to date it and was hoping you guys could help me.

Serial: K 468XX (on bottom of grips)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1jo9wdfzjz...2018.34.15.jpg

^^^this is a picture of the firearm. Thanks in advance to all the nice people here!
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:57 PM
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...Roy says my OLD K22 Serno.643XXX shipped mid 1932.
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:33 PM
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Default K-22

Serial number K1740XX .... Book says 1952.. My grandfather bought it new 9/3/53..Still shoots like new..
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaoverstand View Post
Hi all, this is my first post here. I was given an old K22 that belonged to my grandfather. I'm trying to date it and was hoping you guys could help me.

Serial: K 468XX (on bottom of grips)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1jo9wdfzjz...2018.34.15.jpg

^^^this is a picture of the firearm. Thanks in advance to all the nice people here!
Welcome to the forum. That serial number points to 1948 manufacture, probably in the second half if we assume S&W produced and numbered their frames sequentially. (They didn't always do that.)

By the way, the stocks on your gun are prewar service stocks from the early to mid 1930s. Your gun almost certainly shipped with postwar magna stocks, which are the type that rise up over the sideplate on the right and the frame on the left.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:30 PM
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Thank you so much for your help. I'm guessing that the non-original stocks hurt the value some? I don't intend to sell this gun (at least not for a long while), but I'd like to know what to expect when I decide to.
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  #40  
Old 12-07-2013, 01:03 PM
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Generally, it not having the original grips does influence the value. Its not all that bad since there are vultures circling and wanting the ones you have. Sometimes you can break even on the swap. Just don't expect the new ones to fit like a glove. Back in that era they fitted the wood to the metal, then used a belt sander to make them perfectly fitted.

Prices on old K22s wander all around. They've been going up. Condition means a bunch, and so does having the correct gold box and black oxide screwdriver. Suffice it to say a 1948 K22 should be worth $800 or so, more or less based on condition and other things.
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  #41  
Old 12-08-2013, 12:18 PM
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I have a 6" s&w .22 with s/n 661xxx. it probably was shipped around 1935-6?.It looks like it is a K-22 outdoorsman in the blue book.
I bought this gun in a pawn shop in Wyoming in the early 1990's. It was the dirtiest gun I have ever had. I cleaned it and
hit a can at 25 yards with the first shot out of it.
Also, I just found in a store, a 4" Smith 17-3 in .22, it has some holster wear on the left side.What would be the official model of this gun? Manufactured 1958 and later. I took numbers AVN1296 & G7x2578 off where the clyinder opens so they are probably not serial numbers. They have $650 on it. Whats it worth? no box.
This is a great site with good information and beautiful pictures. The pictures are hard on me,now I want more and nicer smiths.
thank you,

Last edited by Col; 12-09-2013 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 29aholic View Post
Why dont you give us the serial number of your gun (you can X out the last few digits if you are paranoid) and we can give you an approximate date. Also, frames shared serial number blocks among models. In other words there would have been K22's, K32's and K38's all sharing the same serial number range. It is even possible to have consecutive serial number guns that are different models as Smith didnt do things in serial number order.
Hi there, I am buying a K-22 and interested in the manufacture date, the serial number is 16 K 8343

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Old 02-19-2014, 05:31 PM
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Default year made on this k22

ser k91434
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:59 AM
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I have a k22 with serial # k285348 wondering build date or shipping date

Last edited by boggyboy; 05-12-2014 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boggyboy View Post
I have a k22 with serial # k285348 wondering build date or shipping date
boggyboy
This thread has been seriously corrupted by a dozen different questions. In other words, it has been hijacked multiple times. Would you please be kind enough to repost your question in a brand new thread? You'll get better responses that way, and the discussion can be much cleaner. You won't have to wade through a bunch of old stuff to find your information.
Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:57 PM
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Gentlemen,
I have a 5 screw K-22 with a serial # of K 62109 on it. Can anyone give me an idea of the year that this gun is? Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:17 PM
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OK Please help?? SMITH AND WESSON K 22 #104716
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