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Old 08-07-2018, 10:03 PM
hoggy25 hoggy25 is offline
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Default My dads old .38

1st off. Hi everyone,
I am trying to identify my old .38. I've had this revolver since my dad passed away many years ago. I have finally gotten around to wanting to find out the age. It looks like a detective special but I am not familiar enough to know. I own a Model 36 myself and they are almost identical. So the gun is 2" barrel, 5 screws and pinned. The butt serial number is 3 2802. There is a space between the 3 and the 2. There is a yoke number with a B over 97597 over an 8. The gun has very little wear with just a line on the cylinder where it rubs being cocked etc.
Thank you for any info as my dad was AAF and AF from WWII 1942 through Viet Nam 1966. I am trying to put together his history and know he carried this gun during part of his career.
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:33 PM
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Pictures will help a lot, but it sounds like an early (pre-36) Chief's Special. Maybe even on the old I frame, as I have a vague recollection that the model showed up there then evolved to a J frame. I am sure someone with a clue will show to give you a more useful answer soon.

Question that may assist the more knowledgeable in helping you out with this information quest: is it chambered (and thus marked) in .38 S&W, or .38 Special?
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:40 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
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Doug M, the .38 Chief's Special J frame appeared in 1950. The I frame is too small for the .38 special cartridge.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:06 AM
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I think we need some pictures. It may be a Terrier chambered in .38 S&W. If so it is an I-frame. But allegedly the first Terrier's SN was around 40,000.
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:04 AM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Would be nice to know what the caliber is, and how many charge holes in the cylinder. Is it
38 S&W, or 38 Special ? Is it a 5-shot, or 6-shot cylinder ?

Mike Priwer
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:33 AM
hoggy25 hoggy25 is offline
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Photos as requested.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:50 AM
Andy Lowry Andy Lowry is online now
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Looks like an early Chiefs. The ramped front sight started in 1952-3. I have serial 124363 from 1957, so yours likely shipped earlier than that. The S&W Catalogue says that the trigger guard screw went away in 1953 at serial 462XX, so yours may be late 1952 or early 1953. There are members here who keep databases on this gun and one may be along to pin down the ship date more closely than I can.

5-screw Chiefs are not easy to find!

That's a very handsome revolver and an excellent keepsake. It will be fine with standard pressure ammunition if you want to try it out. If you do shoot it, I'd be interested to hear how it went. Welcome to the forum!
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:01 AM
Double-O-Dave Double-O-Dave is offline
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Hi Hoggy25:

Welcome to the Forum. I think Doug M. hit it right on the head - you have the predecessor to your Model 36. As Andy Lowry mentions, you should be fine shooting standard velocity .38 Special ammo out of it should you choose to shoot it. It should be regulated for the 158 gr. ammo. Personally, if it were mine and I wanted to shoot it, I'd only use 148 gr. wadcutters (target load).

Regards,

Dave
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:00 AM
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A Chiefs Special (pre-Model 36). The closest SN I have listed is 31899 which shipped in 4/53. These early ones (up to about SN 46000) are usually called "Baby Chiefs" due to some minor differences in the shape of the frame. Baby Chiefs are highly desirable.
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:19 AM
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Welcome to the forum.
Very nice S&W you have there, and it looks to be in very nice condition.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:42 AM
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I have a Chiefs Special close in serial number to yours, #33618, which shipped in June, 1953.
S&W did not ship guns in serial number order, but yours probably is in the 1953 ballpark.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:16 PM
hoggy25 hoggy25 is offline
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Than you everyone for you answers. I have no desire to fire the weapon as I shoot steel targets etc all the time.This gun will remain in our family, hopefully for a very long time.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:36 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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It may be my monitor, but the finish of your Baby Chief looks like maybe it is a reblue... it has a matte look to it and the S&W Monogram roll marked under the cylinder latch looks a little thin. If it is refinished, they did a good job with it... and since it is going to stay in the family, collector value or interest is secondary to keeping it nice to continue using it. I have virtually the same gun, only the original finish on mine is at best "appearance challenged." Still shoots like a champ though and is in my every day carry rotation. Enjoy yours and take advantage of opportunities to shoot it, the Baby is fun and was not meant to be "put in the corner."

Froggie

Last edited by Green Frog; 08-08-2018 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:55 PM
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At that time the matte blue finish was standard - except for the .357 Magnum which had the bright blue finish.
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Old 08-09-2018, 02:14 AM
hoggy25 hoggy25 is offline
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I really don't think it has been re-blued. The photos don't really do it justice. I had just put a light coat of oil on it to protect it for storage, just before I was asked to show photos. I'm 68 yrs old and will be passing this off to my daughter.
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Old 08-09-2018, 08:10 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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I stand corrected on the matter of refinish... notice I prefaced my remark by hedging with, “It may be my monitor but,”. I will repeat my encouragement that you keep it in the family and enjoy it... be sure to record whatever family history you can about it to keep with it for future generations. I'm discovering how fleeting these details can be but how much they add to the importance to the family. (I’m 69 and the oldest son in my family.)

Froggie
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Old 08-09-2018, 07:00 PM
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That is a very nice old Chief....wouldn't hurt it to let her out to play once in a while for a few rounds...since it was your Dad's, I would never sell it so shooting it with standard 38s won't hurt it.

Robert
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Old 08-09-2018, 07:12 PM
hoggy25 hoggy25 is offline
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Guess one of these days I'll compare how it shoots to my Model 36. See if there's an accuracy difference. Thank everyone for your input. I appriciate your comments.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:15 PM
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While I am not a fan of J frames generally, loading that with standard target WCs and/or standard velocity 158 SWCs will give you (and your daughter) something that is a lot better than strong language and a wish if someone gets into the house.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoggy25 View Post
Than you everyone for you answers. I have no desire to fire the weapon as I shoot steel targets etc all the time.This gun will remain in our family, hopefully for a very long time.
You ought to try a course with the five shot snubbie!

I coached a teen steel team. Five plates at a station, shoot them all, time ends when you shoot the "Stop Plate." Of course we used 9mm doublestack M&P's and Glocks and what have you. I sometimes let them shoot the course with a five shot snubbie. I always reminded them, "Be sure you save one for the stop plate." Then you could see the light go on - "Five shots. Five Plates. Save one for the stop plate." It made them aim a bit better and count a lot more accurately.
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