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Old 08-26-2017, 07:13 PM
policerevolvercollector policerevolvercollector is offline
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Default ***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.

OK.
Did the Centennial become the Model 40? If so, what is the difference between that and a Model 38 or 42?

Which one is pictured below? It has a low four digit serial number.
Is $550 a fair price??

I have more questions. But, this is enough to make my head hurt..

Best,
Charles
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:24 PM
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Bodygaurd Airweight became the Model 38. It looks like a "humpback" but there is a tiny bit of exposed HAMMER that can be manually cocked.

The Centennial became the Model 40. Hammer is completely concealed. There is a "lemon-squeezer" grip safety on the back of the grip frame.

The Centennial Airweight became the Model 42. This is an airweight version of the Centennial/Model 40.

Dinner interrupted my answer so back to answer your other questions but looks like H Richard beat me to it. I agree with H Richard. The revolver pictured looks like a "pre-Model 40", i.e. Centennial and does NOT look like an airweight because the alloy cylinders of the airweights tend to look darker and more shiny than that of the pictured revolver.

A low 4 digit serial # would seem to be consistent with a "pre-model 40", i.e. a named Centennial model based on information provided in the SCSW 4th edition but more informative members will hopefully chime in to support this or give better information.

Per the SCSW 4th edition for the Centennial model:
ANIB - $1300
Excellent - $700
Very Good - $450
Good - $325
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Last edited by g8rb8; 08-27-2017 at 07:42 AM. Reason: changed "trigger" to "HAMMER" in first line of post as pointed out by Hondo44 in post # 7 to clarify for future viewers.
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:24 PM
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The Centennial did become the Mod 40 when model numbers were assigned in 1957, and the airweight became Mod 42.

The picture you show appears to be a Mod 40, or perhaps a "Pre" Mod 40 (Centennial) in a Mod #had not been stamped on it yet.
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:57 PM
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I have a Model 42 which is stamped as such on the crane. Its serial number is 5 digits, SN: 19476. It is in about 85% and cost me a hair over $350 back in 2014. The right side of the barrel is stamped AIRWEIGHT along with 38 SPL CTG under it.

I will be happy to post pictures if desired.

Last edited by lamarw; 08-26-2017 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:18 PM
g8rb8 g8rb8 is offline
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I forgot to mention both smooth stocks/grips and checkered diamond center stocks/grips were standard so those pictured look like they could be original to the gun.

A quick check of Gun Broker would suggest sporadic prices based upon only 3 successfully closed auctions in about the past 3 months.
$499 for one in excellent condition with box.
$620 for one in excellent condition without box
$900 for one in excellent condition with box

Assuming the stock number to the gun, excellent working condition, and the single picture is representative of the overall condition which I am guesstimating as very good to excellent condition. $550 as a starting point does not seem unreasonable.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:30 PM
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The early ones with the high-horn smooth stocks in good to very good condition are not that common.

My pre-40 Centennial from 1953 cost me about 600 without box or papers last year, and it took some patience to find one.

It does still have its locking pin, something collectors look for.
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***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.-img_3571-jpg   ***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.-img_3573-jpg   ***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.-img_3478-jpg   ***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.-img_4383-jpg   ***UPDATE*** Model number confusion....Centennial etc.-img_5264-jpg  


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Old 08-26-2017, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g8rb8 View Post
Bodygaurd Airweight became the Model 38. It looks like a "humpback" but there is a tiny bit of exposed trigger that can be manually cocked.
If not obvious, g8rb8 meant "...there is a tiny bit of exposed HAMMER SPUR that can be manually cocked."
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:51 PM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is offline
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Charles,

All original models as shown in your post have a pin retained in the grip frame, hidden under the stocks to lock down the grip safety if desired. Shown in Absalom's post #6.

Original models made on the JC and JAC (airweight) frames were discontinued in 1974.

When re-introduced in the late 1980s the grip safety was deleted as on the most current versions.

However there was a short production run of the re-introduced version in the Classic Series with the grip safety, Model 40-1, w/o internal lock.

357 Mag versions are made on the JM (magnum) frame.
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Old 08-26-2017, 09:29 PM
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Do keep in mind that model #s were added in 1957, but did not replace the names. Thus the Centennial became the .38 Centennial, Model #40.
My EDC is a .38 Centennial Stainless, Model #640, etc.

Larry
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Old 08-26-2017, 09:48 PM
policerevolvercollector policerevolvercollector is offline
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I looked at the auction again. It HAD 8 days left and someone outbid me. The price was dangerously close to the "but it now" of $529.99 plus $25 to ship it. I used the BIN.

The serial number is 24xx making it a pre 40 from '53. Is that correct?

http://www.gunbroker.com/item/685494386

Best,
Charles

Last edited by policerevolvercollector; 08-26-2017 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by policerevolvercollector View Post
I looked at the auction again. It HAD 8 days left and someone outbid me. The price was dangerously close to the "but it now" of $529.99 plus $25 to ship it. I used the BIN.

The serial number is 24xx making it a pre 40 from '53. Is that correct?

http://www.gunbroker.com/item/685494386

Best,
Charles
Good buy at least based on the pictures. Yes, extrapolating from mine having shipped in December 1953, by all probability this 24xx should have shipped earlier the same year.

It has seen some use as evidenced by the wear on the stocks, but overall it looks in good shape.

PS: And yes, it is definitely mislabeled in the auction, it is not a Model 42.

Last edited by Absalom; 08-26-2017 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:27 PM
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That might be early enough to have a smooth ramped sight. If so, it's the earliest in my database.
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:36 PM
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Charles,

Here's my Centennial, although early ones were called "Hammerless Chiefs Specials". The steel framed ones eventually became the model 40. Mine is Serial 3220, and shipped in December 1953. This is a picture taken by the forum member that I bought it from, the only one I can find right now...



Best Regards, Les
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:38 PM
policerevolvercollector policerevolvercollector is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les.b View Post
Charles,

Here's my Centennial, although early ones were called "Hammerless Chiefs Specials". The steel framed ones eventually became the model 40. Mine is Serial 3220, and shipped in December 1953. This is a picture taken by the forum member that I bought it from, the only one I can find right now...



Best Regards, Les

VERY nice! Have you lettered it?
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:47 PM
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Charles,

No, but Roy gave the shipping date. Every time I get ready to order a letter, I find a new gun I "have to have". Looking at the auction pictures of your gun, it does look like a steel frame, so not a 42, or pre 42, as the ad leads us to believe. I seem to remember that you have a knack for finding guns that sellers have mis-labeled. I think you will be very pleased with this gun, and you seem to have gotten one of the very early ones, as they only started making them in 1952, and they didn't make a lot of them at that.

Jim, looking at the auction pics, this one has the serrated front sight.

Edit:

Here's a copy of a letter written by Col. Rex Applegate, regarding his involvement in the development of this fine fighting revolver.

“In 1947, after retiring from the regular army and moving to Mexico City, I formed a Mexican sales company for representation of American firearms and allied lines. During this period I carried a Fourth Model .38 S&W Hammerless with a 2” barrel, either in my pocket, or when in southern Mexico, in the hotter tropical climate, in a Myers special belt-attached, upside-down holster that was a very practical system, particularly when wearing an open bottom shirt as was customarily worn.
Just prior to one of my regular trips to the states around 1950, I had been in southern Mexico, near the Guatemalan border, in the area of Salina Cruz in the company of a Mexican Army officer. On this particular evening the officer and I encountered a very drunk, machete-wielding Indian who seemed bent upon decapitating us both. The officer carried his .45 Automatic in a US Army holster. While he was frantically trying to get it into action, I was successful in drawing my Safety Hammerless from the Myers holster, from under my sport shirt and dropped the machete wielding Indian after putting five slugs into his torso. He finally fell to the ground about five feet from me, just as I was getting ready to throw the empty gun at him. Due to the Mexican army connection, there were no repercussions.
I mentioned this incident to W.H.B. Smith when I next met him in New York, prior to our trip to the S&W plant, and complained about the lack of stopping power. We both began wondering why it was not possible, and advisable, for S&W to consider the production of a model similar to the Safety Hammerless, using the Chief Special frame in the more potent .38 Special caliber. We discussed this at some length with Carl Hellstrom [then president of Smith and Wesson].
On my next trip to the plant in the fall of 1951, Carl Helstrom presented to me a prototype model of one of the first Centennials. This is one of my most prized firearms and one which I will always treasure. I cannot help but think that, especially due to the urging of W.H.B. Smith and perhaps myself, that we were at least partially responsible for convincing Hellstrom to produce the Centennial Model.”
– Col. Rex Applegate, June 1990"

Here is the gun and custom holster that Applegate carried in Mexico. It was this Safety Hammerless, in .38 S&W caliber that he used against the machete wielding attacker. This photo was copied from the American Handgunner article (November/December 2011 issue, page 67), that the above letter was printed in. You can see that the idea of the Hammerless action with the grip safety was incorporated with the same modern solid frame of the Chiefs Special, to create the gun that you just bought!!



Apparently, Col. Applegate had also influenced Smith and Weason to produce the Chiefs Special. Here is a link to the thread that One of our SWCA members has posted. He has the very early Baby Chief, serial 111 that the factory presented to Applegate!! REX APPLEGATES BABY CHIEF

Best Regards, Les
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Last edited by les.b; 08-26-2017 at 11:32 PM. Reason: Add material
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:57 PM
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I've had several Centennials over the years. They're hard to find in good condition.

My favorite Centennial, s/n 2583 shipped 11/19/1953. It was the personal carry gun of a prominent (& legitimate) Chicago businessman. The gun shipped to a small sporting goods store in Wisconsin, near his Land O' Lakes cabin.
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Old 08-26-2017, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les.b View Post
Charles,

No, but Roy gave the shipping date. Every time I get ready to order a letter, I find a new gun I "have to have"......
Les:

Fascinating reading, that Applegate letter.

Since you got the shipping info from Roy without lettering it, I assume you only have the month, December 1953, and not the date?

Since yours is only 17 numbers from mine, it may just possibly have gone out in that same shipment on Dec. 3rd. Sloan's was a large retailer and mail order seller who advertised nationally, and they likely got their guns wholesale in larger batches.
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:02 AM
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Nice pick up on the Centennial. They're very underated guns. Been looking for a pre-model 40 for a while to go with my Airweight Centennial. Mine has the extra bug screw.

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Old 08-27-2017, 12:04 AM
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Thanks, Absolom!!

I love these little guns, and have "Hammerless" Smiths going back to my 1887 shipped .38 S&W Safety Hammerless all the way up through my 340 PD, which dates to October 2014!!! Very fine design for carrying concealed, small, can't snag on clothing, and could be fired from inside a pocket if needed, though I wouldn't recommend it.

Maybe I'll have to letter this one after all!!

Best Regards, Les
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Old 08-27-2017, 04:05 PM
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The frame on these early Centennial revolvers is DIFFERENT from the other "J" frame revolvers
The 'high horn' magna grips are different at he top (* hidden curve *)
area, being smaller than the others.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:58 PM
policerevolvercollector policerevolvercollector is offline
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It is on the way!! I confirmed te serial number with the seller : 2486.

Late 1953?

Best,
Charles
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
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It is on the way!! I confirmed te serial number with the seller : 2486.

Late 1953?

Best,
Charles
Probably, but not necessarily. I seem to remember from previous threads that Centennials were even worse than other models when it came to shipping in order. Apparently they were not very popular until they were discontinued in the 70s, and then everyone wanted one. But during that period from 1952-3, until they were discontinued, the company only made something like 15,000 of both the steel and aluminum framed guns. They didn't sell very well, and shipped sporadically, and not necessarily in order. But my guess, based on Absolom's and mine, which are higher numbers than yours, and shipped in December 1953, and Mitches, which is only slightly higher than yours, and shipped on my 8th birthday, (11/19/1953), would be that yours shipped in September or October of that year. But I know better than to guess on things like this, especially with the Centennials.

Best Regards, Les
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