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  #1  
Old 10-24-2010, 10:52 AM
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Question S&W 38 MIL

One of my gunshow finds yesterday was a 38 HE with a 6" barrel.It is a RB with an extra leaf spring pinned to the front of the frame. All matching SN. everywhere there supposed to be,668XX.Large logo on the side plate and pat. dates on top of the barrel.Now on the side of the barrel it is stamped: S&W 38 MIL. The book says it should be stamped with something else. Does anyone know what might be going on here? Thanks, Jeff
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Old 10-24-2010, 11:48 AM
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Doesn't sound like any S&W I have seen. But then I am not am expert and haven't seen them all.

Could it be a Spanish copy?
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Old 10-24-2010, 11:49 AM
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I believe the .38 MIL stamp went on the barrels of the 1899 Army and Navy contract revolvers, but the serial number makes this sound like it would be an early M1905. That's consistent with the flat-spring trigger return mechanism. (The familiar rebound slide mechanism shows up in the 1905/First change.)

Like you, I am a little puzzled. Can you post pics?
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:00 PM
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I'm pretty sure you have an 1899, or in other words, M&P 1st Model. There was a Military contract, which if I'm correct was for chambering to be in the 38 Colt for a Government contract, and S&W just couldn't put "Colt" on the side of their revolvers, so it was named 38 Military. Your gun should have an unsupported ejector rod. It also does not have the screw in front of the trigger guard, is a "pre 5 Screw 4 Screw.
Would look similar to my 1899 which is not a Military contract and has 38 S&W Special on the barrel.


and the insides look like:
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Last edited by H Richard; 10-24-2010 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:22 PM
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Might help...

A page from M&P history for this fine Sunday morning.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:56 PM
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Default couple of quick pics

Here is a couple of quick pics, Barrel is SN. to the rest of the gun.My camera skills are not good enough for me to get a detailed pic of the barrel marks.Also it came with the wrong grips, What would be the right ones for a gun of this age.[HINT] I'll be Looking for them high and low.[hint] Maybe someone somewhere might have a nice set.[hint,hint]
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:02 PM
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Mike, et al

He says the serial number is 668xx, which means it is not an 1899,
but rather a 1905 - no change. He also says it has the extra flat
spring, which would be correct for a 1905 - no change. This gun
should have the 5th screw in front of the trigger guard.

I just noticed the latest pictures for this gun, and it is a 5-screw,
as it should be.

I don't know why the barrel is marked that way . I'm not aware of
any military contracts for the 1905 - no change.

This is a very scarce gun - less than 10,000 total of these "no change"
guns.

Grips are readily available - small black hard-rubber would be
correct.

Mike Priwer
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:49 PM
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Never said it was an 1899. My post was to reference the caliber marking. Typically, 1902 and 1905 caliber markings are "38 S&W Special & US Service CTGs".

38 Mil on a 1905 is pretty cool and uncommon.
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:58 PM
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Mike is correct. that's not a Model 1899 ( Note the barrel lug, which is not on the Model 1899). SCSW, 3rd edit., calls this the .38 Hand Ejector, third model M&P. There are no references in my files of this model with a ".38 S&W Mil." barrel stamping, so I can only conclude that a workman used an incorrect stamp the day he stamped this barrel, or perhaps the regular die stamp was broken that day. Ed.
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:26 PM
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In my view, this is a very important gun. Its the missing link in the
evolution of the K-frame M&P line of revolvers. I think that SCSW is
incorrect in calling it a 3rd model; I'll try to develop a case for what
it really is.

First of all, its a round butt, from about 1906. There is no way that
the factory, at that time, would have considered this to be a 1905.
The Model of 1905 had been introduced only about a year and a half
earlier, and the defining feature of the 1905 was the square butt.

So -I would wager that this gun, in the factory records , is a Model of
1902. At that time, that is what the factory was calling a round butt
revolver; a Model of 1902.

Second, to the extent that the 1902 1st change ( a designation
developed by the Collectors, but surely not by the factory in 1906 )
is characterized by the beefed-up barrel and receiver, this gun is
the next step in the engineering changes to the 1902. Therefore
this gun should, in my view, be designated as a 1902 2nd change.

The significant engineering change, for this gun, is the redesigned
cylinder stop, and the introduction of the 5th frame screw. There
are less than 10,000 of these guns, with the 5th frame screw but
still the old levering trigger rebound mechanism.

Third, the next significant engineering change comes within a year
of the redesigned cylinder stop. The next engineering change is
the redesign of the trigger rebounding mechanisn, replacing the
old levering action with the new rebound slide.

So - this gun captures that important evolutionary change, of the
redesigned cylinder stop/introduction of the 5th frame screw, and
that makes it an important gun vis-a-vis the development of the
modern M&P.

Regards, Mike Priwer
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:17 PM
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Default More Mystery

I have a 1905-1st change (using N&J classes), or a what? I'm getting confused........1902-3rd ?? or 4th??


Anyway, it has 5 screws, a round butt, a rebound slide, and a funny barrel marking.....
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:59 PM
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Lets all learn to sing this song:

" 1905's have square butts ; 1902's have round butts "

Lee, and others

While I keep writing about this problem, I do understand what the
Collectors were trying to accomplish - much after the fact. And I am
aware that, decades earlier, Walter Roper was really the concept
guy behind what the Collectors later adopted.

The underlying problem is that, engineering-change wise, the Model of
1902 has two more engineering changes than does the Model of 1905, but
other than the butt configuration ( which was not an engineering
change per se, but rather a model change ) the guns are alway
identical. Because the Collectors are using the same "change"
designation for both round and square butt configurations, and
because the Collectors have done away with the Model of 1902 and
refer to all K-frames as Model of 1905 ( after about 1906 - which the
factory did not do ) guns with the same engineering changes are
called the same thing. I believe this to be the underlying reason for
adopting our current naming methodology.

However, in the process of doing this, we distort history. And this is
what I object to. I haven't found a way to resolve this issue
satisfactorily for both perspectives: a common name for same
gun sans butt configuration, and not distorting history.

The problem starts with the untimely introduction of the Model of
1905. It was introduced some months before the engineering change
that redesigned the cylinder stop/fifth frame screw. At that instant
in time ( and it existed for several months ) that Model of 1905 was
identical to what we now call the 1902 1st change - except for butt
configuration. This is consistent with what one would expect: they
simply changed the butt configuration on the Model of 1902 from
round to square.

The Collectors have, generally, dealt with this issue by deferring the
recognition of the Model of 1905 until the redesign of the cylinder stop,
and electing to call this early square-butt a pre-1905. Nothing can be
further from the truth, at the time, but that is what has been done.

And furthermore, at the point where the cylinder stop is redesigned,
the Collectors refer to both round and square butt K-frames as the
Model of 1905. This distorts history in two ways. By losing the 1902
as a designation, it is totally inconsistent with all the factory
advertising, up through the end of the 1960's . And secondly, it
loses the original definition of a Model of 1905 ; ie, a model with the
4-screw frame and earlier style cylinder stop.

This is a difficult situation to resolve, and as I mentioned earlier, I
do not have a solution to keeping history straight, and being able to
refer to otherwise-identical guns with the same name. Personally, I
think round-butt frame should be referred to as the Model of 1902, and
square-butt frames as Model of 1905. After all, it is the Model of 1902
that survives to this day; the square butt frame was discontinued
several years ago. (See my earlier story about "Long Live the King".)

Your gun is a Model of 1902, because it has a round butt. It is not
a late-1902, and it is not a 1905; it is a Model of 1902 . It is at least
a 1902 3rd change, because it has the new rebound slide. It may be
a 4th change, if it has the next engineering change.

To me, the most interesting part about it is the caliber roll marking.
This is the second gun, in as many days, to be so marked. I wonder if
Ed will suggest that the same miscreatant who incorrectly roll-marked
that earlier one, also did this one !

Regards, Mike Priwer
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:11 PM
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OK, I'm ready......
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
OK, I'm ready......
Mike

Regarding your comment about "not saying its an 1899" - I know you
didn't. My statement came from looking at your picture in the
referenced link. It was an 1899 - I think an Army contract.

Regards, Mike
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:24 PM
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Talking OK WOW

I will be putting this one in the "keeper pile" for sure. Mike, thanks for all that great info. Something else a little strange about this gun is at the same show where I bought this one, another dealer had one just like it in the 90000 SN. range.His gun was barrel marked the way the book says it's supposed to. I was just wondering could this be one of those cases where the factory "found" some 6" barrels already marked S&W 38 mil and decided to use them up on these early guns.But that seems strange since Handejectors gun is in the 100,000 SN. range.
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Old 10-25-2010, 08:42 AM
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Mike,
I will get back to ya.
Real busy today- it may be tomorrow.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:10 AM
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The wealth of knowledge amongst the members of this board fascinates me.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:05 PM
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One thing to keep in mind about this gun vis-a-vis 1899 Army contract
guns is that in about 1903, the barrel OD at the frame face was
increased about 0.040", and the frame was thickened, as well. The
shoulder on the barrel was added at that time, and we know this to
be the 1902 1st-change. From this point on, this is the barrel
configuration.

So - an 1899 Army barrel would not fit on a 1906-ish gun. The OD
of the threads is just too small, and the barrel would just flop in and
out of the receiver.

There was a Navy contract in 1902, but I think those guns are in the
25,000 serial number range - before the 1902 1st-change happened.
I'm not aware of any Army contracts after the 1902-1st change, but
there may have been one, or more.

One of us might want to post a message to Roy, asking if there were
any Army contracts from the date of the 1902-1st change, forward to
about 1907 or 1908.

Or maybe Ed Cornett knows.

Regards, Mike Priwer
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:30 PM
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Facinating discussion. Sounds like the factory was a little confused on how they were going to name their changes/variations.
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Old 10-26-2010, 03:41 PM
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Richard

The fascinatng thing about this is that the factory did not name their
changes and variations; that was done by the collectors, decades
later.

With one caveat, the only thing the factory named was the models.
Ie, the model of 1899; the model of 1902, and the model of 1905.
The collectors made up all the rest of it.

Now, the caveat is that while all of what I just said can be verified in
the public documents, ie, the marketing and sales literature,
internally, in the companies engineering department, there are a lot
of documents that relate to how the guns are made, and how they
are changed, from time to time. It is the case that Walter Roper
was keeping track of engineering changes, presumably so that the
service department could find appropriate parts when a gun was
returned for service. And it was apparently Roper who introduced the
notion of 1st change and 2nd change, etc, although I don't know
exactly what he called them.

So - there is an issue about the marketing department vs the
engineering department, when it comes to the nomenclature for
a particular gun.

Having said all of that, it is the case that it was the marketing and
sales literature that was distributed to, and used by, anyone buying
these revolvers. Ie, they did not have access to the engineering
change documents; only to the catalogs and flyers.

This is why I argue that the proper naming for the guns should be
based on what was available, from the catalogs and flyers, at the
time. Ie, we should not be retrospective, and create names for
guns several decades after the fact.

Regards, Mike Priwer
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  #21  
Old 10-26-2010, 04:23 PM
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Mike,

I always enjoy it when this discussion comes up. Last week I picked up a few catalogs, this one from 1934, S&W definately dealt with the round butt as a seperate gun from the square butt in this catalog. I know it doesnt have anything to do with the 1902 but I still find it interesting.

Dan



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Old 10-26-2010, 07:04 PM
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Dan

You are absolutely right. And I would make a large wager that
if one requested a letter for a round-butt from this era, say a serial
number in the 650,000 or so, it would letter as a 1905, and not a 1902.

Everyone - everyone - knows that a round butt is not a model of
1905, but rather a model of 1902. And furthermore, I do not believe
that there was ever a time when a round butt was referred to as a
round-butt 1905 !

And much furthermore, if the hand-written shipping ledger entry for
this gun indicated that it was a 1905, I would wager that that was an
error created by someone who simply didn't know any better.

Regards, Mike
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Old 10-29-2010, 07:08 PM
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Not to thread jack, but I've found a similarish gun that I am trying to figure out what it is.





has a square butt, s&w 38 mil stamping.... does that mean this is a 38 colt chambering? what is this gun? Thanks guys
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Old 10-29-2010, 08:46 PM
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We need some better, larger, pictures, and then we need to have
David Carroll look at this. This gun appears to have that drift-
adjustable rear sight. David has had one or more of these. Also
we need the serial number.

Mike Priwer
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