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Old 10-10-2018, 08:31 PM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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Default .38 S&W Terrier Question

I’ve been doing some research on this weapon and have learned that there have been several varieties of this gun made throughout the years. I’ve heard from sources that it started out as an I Frame then morphed to a J Frame?. It was a .38 S&W cal on a model 30 or 31 frame. Then it changed to a model 32. I’ve also heard of a model 32-1. There’s the I Frame then an “Inproved” I Frame. The original gun was on the I Frame and had what they called a “leaf” or flat main and the Improved I Frame had a coil spring, I think that’s right. I also heard that some had 5 screws while later models had 4? The modifications eventually made the weapon bigger and S&W dropping the I Frame altogether. And I’m not sure any of this is correct as I’ve read it from the “trusted” internet! All of this is confusing! If I wanted to add to my collection the smallest and shortest I Frame .38 S&W Terrier model which model would it be? What would it be identified by if not by model number? How could I identify it to a seller on an auction board or anywhere else to make sure I’m getting the right gun? That’s my question.

Last edited by Duigiud; 10-10-2018 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:01 PM
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Duigiud:

Jim (Hondo44) should be along shortly to help you with your quesitons. The early guns had no model numbers, just the Terrier name.

Here are a couple of examples:

Pre-war Terrier:








Early Post War Terrier:





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Last edited by RKmesa; 10-10-2018 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:23 PM
k22fan k22fan is offline
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Originally Posted by Duigiud View Post
[...] If I wanted to add to my collection the smallest and shortest I Frame .38 S&W Terrier [...] How could I identify it to a seller on an auction board or anywhere else to make sure I’m getting the right gun? That’s my question.
The only change in frame size during I frame production was extending the grip frame length when it got a coil mainspring and became the improved I frame in 1953. The improved I frame uses the longer J frame stocks that were standard for about four decades. Verifying that a 5 shot S&W hand ejector has a flat mainspring should get a Terrier that is as small as I frames ever were.

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Old 10-10-2018, 10:50 PM
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You've clearly done your research. Kudos! Not much to be confused about; seems as though you have it figured just right. Yes, there are all those versions. Pick the one you want, and good luck finding it.

That's a neat marque to want to add to your collection. I'm still looking.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:35 PM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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Originally Posted by RKmesa View Post
Duigiud:

Jim (Hondo44) should be along shortly to help you with your quesitons. The early guns had no numbers, just the Terrier name.

Here are a couple of examples:

Pre-war Terrier:








Early Post War Terrier:






I also see, (S. & W. 38/32 2” Blue). Does the “32” mean model #32? I assume it does. If I’m correct then that would identify one of my identifiers for an early original I Frame Terrier as a “Model 32”. Correct me if I’m wrong please.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:54 PM
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I also see, (S. & W. 38/32 2” Blue). Does the “32” mean model #32? I assume it does. If I’m correct then that would identify one of my identifiers for an early original I Frame Terrier as a “Model 32”. Correct me if I’m wrong please.
Nope. The 32 in the 38/32 designation means a .38 S&W caliber built on a frame created for the .32 caliber. Even though in 1957 when S&W started assigning model numbers, the Terrier did become the Model 32.
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Last edited by RKmesa; 10-11-2018 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:13 AM
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Nope. The 32 in the 38/32 designation means a .38 S&W caliber built in a frame created for the .32 caliber. Even though in 1957 when S&W started assigning model numbers, the Terrier did become the Model 32.
Does your pre-war Terrier have a flat leaf main spring and the post-war Terrier have a coiled one? Is this what Hondo means when he says “pre model” as being pre-war?
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Duigiud View Post
[1.] Does your pre-war Terrier have a flat leaf main spring and the post-war Terrier have a coiled one? [2.] Is this what Hondo means when he says “pre model” as being pre-war?
[1.] His pre-war Terrier has a leaf mainspring the same as post-war Terriers did until 1953.
[2.] Hondo 44 uses "pre-model number" for revolvers that were not significantly different than ones made after model numbers were assigned. Pre-Model 32s are the improved I frames made from 1953 until S&W started stamping model numbers on them in 1958.
Since I'm pilfering Hondo44's vocabulary tonight I thought it appropriate to also copy his style of numbering questions.

Last edited by k22fan; 10-11-2018 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:01 AM
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Great thread guys and I still want to be RKmesa when I grow up.man he has some nice guns!
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:11 PM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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After reading some of the other appended posts to this one it seems that in order to identify an original smaller sized .38 Terrier the flat or leaf spring has to be present. And for the flat or leaf spring to be present there would have to be a “strain screw” located on the front strap of the grip or about where the ring finger would curl around the grip when holding the weapon. If this screw is not present then it’s an improved model or later model with a coil spring and slightly larger in size? Is this basicly correct?
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:47 PM
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Yes. Good thinking.

Also the improved I frame has the elongated trigger guard that became standard on J frames when the J frame's grip frame was lengthened. Collectors call early .38 Special Chief's Specials with the shorter grip and smaller trigger guard Baby Chiefs. However, like all J frames Baby Chiefs have a coil main spring. If you compare the small trigger guards on RKmesa's Terriers to more modern Model 36s you'll learn another way to spot Terriers that are old enough to have the short grip frame .
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:51 PM
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OK, let me hit a few high points. Initially, around the turn of the last century, S&W released 4 frame sizes of hand ejector revolvers, those with swing out cylinders. The smallest (M size) were limited to 22 rimfire, the next size up were the I-frames, scaled for the 32 S&W Long, then came the K-frame for 38s, and finally the "New Century Triplelock" which was regarded as the 44 (N size) frame.

Folks wanted larger 22s for target work, so the 22/32 or heavy frame target models were born and for those who wanted a smaller 38, the 5 shot revolvers on the 32 frame were built, using square grips for the 4" Regulation Police model, and round grips and short barrels for for the Terrier.

We'll ignore the K-frames ("mid size") in 38 Special and 32-20 (as well as the K-22a) and N-frames for now so you don't get confused with 38/44s, etc!

In the early 1950s the demand became strong enough for a small revolver in 38 Special that the I-frame with its flat or leaf spring was "improved" by stretching it out a little and changing the mainspring to a coil spring and the "Baby" Chief Special was born. About this time the original sized I-frame was "improved" by changing it to use a coil spring, then a few years later the I-frame was dropped and all small S&W revolvers were built on the J-frame, an outgrowth of those Baby Chiefs. The Terrier was the smallest 38 ever built by S&W as the I-frame wasn't quite big enough to take the 38 Special, but lost that cachet when the I-frame was discontinued and the 38 S&W Terrier was built on the same frame as the the 38 Special Chief Special, and the Terrier faded away in popularity not long thereafter.

You can go back and read more about these in the stickies of this forum or you can see many more details in the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson.

Regards,
Froggie

PS The "38/32" on the end label of the burgundy colored box refers to the 38 caliber round in the 32 size frame. There was also a 38/44, the 38 Special in a 44 (N) sized frame.

PPS I originally asked for and Hondo44 agreed to the shorthand use of reference to a "6th screw" to denote the external appearance of a leaf spring action having the strain screw at the bottom front of the grip frame. This has no relevance in the larger frame sizes as they all have that screw, but it's a quick way to determine the "generation" of the smaller frames.

Last edited by Green Frog; 10-11-2018 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Add PS
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:18 PM
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Side bar question - - the I frame was the Terrier and when it became a J frame it was the M32, right?

I have a Model 32-1 (I think the dash is right but I am not certain) .38 S&W. Cool little gun.
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:33 PM
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Model 32 was the last of the improved I-frames, the 32-1 was the J-frame version, if I have my story straight. That's the way it works with the 30s and 31s anyway.

Also, the Baby Chief was virtually identical to the improved I-frame, except for the elongated cylinder window for the longer 38 Spl cartridge. The later "true" J-frame had a longer grip frame as well as a longer mainframe, and somewhere along in there the trigger guard got longer and the screw in front of it disappeared. This thread is getting too long and complicated... I hope Duigiud will enjoy and be inspired by it!

Froggie
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:40 PM
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Improved I frames were model number stamped starting in 1958. They were not superseded by J frames until 1961.

Since I started reading Gun Digests that labeled S&W revolvers with both their model number and traditional name, IMO, current production Model 10 dash what evers are still .38 M&Ps. By my logic Model 32s were Terriers for as long as they were made and that includes J fame Model 32s. However, my name is not Merriam Webster.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:18 PM
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Duigiud,

The Post War I frames are the most convoluted and misunderstood of the S&W Hand Ejectors. Write ups in the SCSW eds. 1 thru 4 exhibit the confusion and lack of discoveries for these models. Although the 4th Ed. on page 144 is my clarification in detail, the following sections on the I frames are still incorrect.

You can see my section in my commentaries here: http://smith-wessonforum.com/blog.php?u=134353

Although for some reason the commentary links are working sporadically much of the time.

Here's a “nutshell” version of the “.38/32 Terrier” evolution which is applicable to all post war I frames with a few exceptions:

1. Pre War:
Introduced in 1935 as a snubby barrel, rd grip version of the 38/32 Regulation Police. Flat mainspring and 6 screws.

2. Post War:
Transitional Model re-introduced in 1948.
A. Pre war post war: almost identical to pre war version including 6 screws, barrel and frame markings, and rd top Svc Grips, but new sliding bar hammer block safety.
B. Pure post war; no patent dates on barrel, 4 line address on frame, some new post war parts, like Mini Magna grips.

3. Improved I frame: 1952 coil mainspring, deletion of tension screw, the 6th screw, no dimensional changes, exact same size as the Transitional model above.
A. 1st version, rd sight
B. 2nd version ramp front sight with barrel rib

4. Model of 1953 New I frame forging: longer, egg shaped trigger guard (deleted 5th screw), and 1/8” longer rd butt grip frame (same changes to the Model of 1953 J frame. Four screws until late 1955, when upper side plate screw (4th screw deleted). These are the Pre Model 32s. NOTE: screw numbering is different than K and N frame because of the order in which they were eliminated.

5. Designated Model 32 June of 1957, Model # stamping didn’t actually occur until 1958.

6. Designated the Model 32-1 Jan 1961, I frame eliminated, .38/32 built on J frame with extended cyl window/frame, and longer cyl.
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Last edited by Hondo44; 10-12-2018 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Duigiud,

The Post War I frames are the most convoluted and misunderstood of the S&W Hand Ejectors. Write ups in the SCSW eds. 1 thru 4 exhibit the confusion and lack of discoveries for these models. Although the 4th Ed. on page 144 is my clarification in detail, the following sections on the I frames are still incorrect.

You can see my section in my commentaries here: http://smith-wessonforum.com/blog.php?u=134353

Although for some reason the commentary links are working sporadically much of the time.

Here's a “nutshell” version of the “.38/32 Terrier” evolution which is applicable to all post war I frames with a few exceptions:

1. Pre War:
Introduced in 1935 as a snubby barrel, rd grip version of the 38/32 Regulation Police. Flat mainspring and 6 screws.

2. Post War:
Transitional Model re-introduced in 1948.
A. Pre war post war: almost identical to pre war version including 6 screws, barrel and frame markings, and rd top Svc Grips, but new sliding bar hammer block safety.
B. Pure post war; no patent dates on barrel, 4 line address on frame, some new post war parts, like Mini Magna grips.

3. Improved I frame: 1952 coil mainspring, deletion of tension screw, the 6th screw, no dimensional changes
A. 1st version, rd sight
B. 2nd version ramp front sight with barrel rib

4. Model of 1953 New I frame forging: longer, egg shaped trigger guard (deleted 5th screw), and 1/8” longer rd butt grip frame (same changes to the Model of 1953 J frame. Four screws until late 1955, when upper side plate screw (4th screw deleted). These are the Pre Model 32s. NOTE: screw numbering is different than K and N frame because of the order in which they were eliminated.

5. Designated Model 32 June of 1957, Model # stamping didn’t actually occur until 1958.

6. Designated the Model 32-1 Jan 1961, I frame eliminated, .38/32 built on J frame with extended cyl window/frame, and longer cyl.
Excuse me but I’m a “Tenderfoot” to this forum and some of the terminology is too esoteric and escapes my knowledge base. What is “SCSW”? You appended “eds” to it so I assume they are editions of something to do with Smith & Wesson weapons? And your correct, I can’t open some of the older links to read your commentaries.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:25 AM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Duigiud,

The Post War I frames are the most convoluted and misunderstood of the S&W Hand Ejectors. Write ups in the SCSW eds. 1 thru 4 exhibit the confusion and lack of discoveries for these models. Although the 4th Ed. on page 144 is my clarification in detail, the following sections on the I frames are still incorrect.

You can see my section in my commentaries here: http://smith-wessonforum.com/blog.php?u=134353

Although for some reason the commentary links are working sporadically much of the time.

Here's a “nutshell” version of the “.38/32 Terrier” evolution which is applicable to all post war I frames with a few exceptions:

1. Pre War:
Introduced in 1935 as a snubby barrel, rd grip version of the 38/32 Regulation Police. Flat mainspring and 6 screws.

2. Post War:
Transitional Model re-introduced in 1948.
A. Pre war post war: almost identical to pre war version including 6 screws, barrel and frame markings, and rd top Svc Grips, but new sliding bar hammer block safety.
B. Pure post war; no patent dates on barrel, 4 line address on frame, some new post war parts, like Mini Magna grips.

3. Improved I frame: 1952 coil mainspring, deletion of tension screw, the 6th screw, no dimensional changes
A. 1st version, rd sight
B. 2nd version ramp front sight with barrel rib

4. Model of 1953 New I frame forging: longer, egg shaped trigger guard (deleted 5th screw), and 1/8” longer rd butt grip frame (same changes to the Model of 1953 J frame. Four screws until late 1955, when upper side plate screw (4th screw deleted). These are the Pre Model 32s. NOTE: screw numbering is different than K and N frame because of the order in which they were eliminated.

5. Designated Model 32 June of 1957, Model # stamping didn’t actually occur until 1958.

6. Designated the Model 32-1 Jan 1961, I frame eliminated, .38/32 built on J frame with extended cyl window/frame, and longer cyl.
I figured your code out. I just read in “Green Frog’s” post where he referred to “Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson” = “SCSW”.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:27 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Excuse me but I’m a “Tenderfoot” to this forum and some of the terminology is too esoteric and escapes my knowledge base. What is “SCSW”? You appended “eds” to it so I assume they are editions of something to do with Smith & Wesson weapons? And your correct, I can’t open some of the older links to read your commentaries.
SCSW = Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson which is now in its 4th edition. Each has more information about the subject than its predecessor, but new information and corrections to old misinformation continue to come to light. Anyone with a serious interest in S&Ws would be well served to own a copy of the latest edition available... for the cost of a couple of boxes of ammo, you will have access to a world of valuable information to aid your search for and identification of various S&W models and their modifications. You can become an "expert" fairly quickly by diving into SCSW and letting all that information wash over you!

Froggie

PS SCSW is available to order online through various sources as well as brick and mortar stores like Barnes & Noble, etc. I understand there is even a digital version available for your computer or tablet, but I have no experience with it yet.

Last edited by Green Frog; 10-12-2018 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:30 AM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
OK, let me hit a few high points. Initially, around the turn of the last century, S&W released 4 frame sizes of hand ejector revolvers, those with swing out cylinders. The smallest (M size) were limited to 22 rimfire, the next size up were the I-frames, scaled for the 32 S&W Long, then came the K-frame for 38s, and finally the "New Century Triplelock" which was regarded as the 44 (N size) frame.

Folks wanted larger 22s for target work, so the 22/32 or heavy frame target models were born and for those who wanted a smaller 38, the 5 shot revolvers on the 32 frame were built, using square grips for the 4" Regulation Police model, and round grips and short barrels for for the Terrier.

We'll ignore the K-frames ("mid size") in 38 Special and 32-20 (as well as the K-22a) and N-frames for now so you don't get confused with 38/44s, etc!

In the early 1950s the demand became strong enough for a small revolver in 38 Special that the I-frame with its flat or leaf spring was "improved" by stretching it out a little and changing the mainspring to a coil spring and the "Baby" Chief Special was born. About this time the original sized I-frame was "improved" by changing it to use a coil spring, then a few years later the I-frame was dropped and all small S&W revolvers were built on the J-frame, an outgrowth of those Baby Chiefs. The Terrier was the smallest 38 ever built by S&W as the I-frame wasn't quite big enough to take the 38 Special, but lost that cachet when the I-frame was discontinued and the 38 S&W Terrier was built on the same frame as the the 38 Special Chief Special, and the Terrier faded away in popularity not long thereafter.

You can go back and read more about these in the stickies of this forum or you can see many more details in the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson.

Regards,
Froggie

PS The "38/32" on the end label of the burgundy colored box refers to the 38 caliber round in the 32 size frame. There was also a 38/44, the 38 Special in a 44 (N) sized frame.

PPS I originally asked for and Hondo44 agreed to the shorthand use of reference to a "6th screw" to denote the external appearance of a leaf spring action having the strain screw at the bottom front of the grip frame. This has no relevance in the larger frame sizes as they all have that screw, but it's a quick way to determine the "generation" of the smaller frames.
Thanks, you cleared up allot of confusion.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:54 AM
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For many years S&W enthusiasts chased after the large and medium framed revolvers and much was learned and conveyed to the collecting community about all their variations and nuances. The little I-frames on the other hand, were the Rodney Dangerfield of S&W, and got "no respect." It was only within the last ten years or so that any but the most dedicated of S&W collectors chased after these little step children of the S&W line. Then, about 5-10 years ago, people "who couldn't even spell I-frame" had to start collecting them. I literally watched people come onto this forum with random small frame guns asking whether they had actually found one of these elusive I-frames! The Terrier you used to begin this thread and a few other special variants like the Bekhearts and Heavy Frame Targets (22 lr) and the more common Regulation Police model went from neglect to super star status virtually overnight. You've "hitched your wagon to a rising star!" Enjoy the ride.

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Old 10-12-2018, 06:48 PM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is online now
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Excuse me but I’m a “Tenderfoot” to this forum and some of the terminology is too esoteric and escapes my knowledge base. What is “SCSW”? You appended “eds” to it so I assume they are editions of something to do with Smith & Wesson weapons? And your correct, I can’t open some of the older links to read your commentaries.
I apologize for using too much 'jargon'!

Thx to Froggie for helping out.
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:02 PM
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Duigiud....welcome to probably the finest place in the world for truly expert knowledge regarding Smith and Wesson firearms. You have access here to some of the most well informed, friendly, and helpful folks on any aspect of S&Wania that you can think of. Here you will find literally "the guys who wrote the book". For example, when you get that 4th ed of the SCSW, and look at the I frame section, you will find Hondo44 there under his real name.

I have been dabbling with guns for at least 60 years, and S&Ws for nearly 50, but until I joined this forum, I really had not begun my education. Many of the guys who posted above have helped me in my quest to learn about various aspects of our obsession!!

Welcome aboard!!

Best Regards, Les
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:53 PM
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SCSW = Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson which is now in its 4th edition. Each has more information about the subject than its predecessor, but new information and corrections to old misinformation continue to come to light. Anyone with a serious interest in S&Ws would be well served to own a copy of the latest edition available... for the cost of a couple of boxes of ammo, you will have access to a world of valuable information to aid your search for and identification of various S&W models and their modifications. You can become an "expert" fairly quickly by diving into SCSW and letting all that information wash over you!

Froggie

PS SCSW is available to order online through various sources as well as brick and mortar stores like Barnes & Noble, etc. I understand there is even a digital version available for your computer or tablet, but I have no experience with it yet.
Just ordered my own copy from Amazon!
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:01 PM
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By the way...here's my two Terriers...the top one shipped in April of 1952 and the bottom shipped in September of 1954:



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Old 10-12-2018, 08:01 PM
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Duigiud....welcome to probably the finest place in the world for truly expert knowledge regarding Smith and Wesson firearms. You have access here to some of the most well informed, friendly, and helpful folks on any aspect of S&Wania that you can think of. Here you will find literally "the guys who wrote the book". For example, when you get that 4th ed of the SCSW, and look at the I frame section, you will find Hondo44 there under his real name.

I have been dabbling with guns for at least 60 years, and S&Ws for nearly 50, but until I joined this forum, I really had not begun my education. Many of the guys who posted above have helped me in my quest to learn about various aspects of our obsession!!

Welcome aboard!!

Best Regards, Les
Yes, I just figured out myself who ”Hondo” is when I ordered my own copy on SCSW not 15 mins ago through Amazon. I appreciate everyone’s help and patience with me.
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Old Yesterday, 12:55 PM
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Default Serial # Question for Postwar Terrier

Is there a serial # range for a postwar 5 screw I Frame Terrier .38/32 that’s fitted with the postwar hammer block? I’m not looking for the larger Improved I Frame coil spring just the .38/32 leaf spring model with the HBS.

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Old Yesterday, 02:25 PM
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The SCSW 4th Ed., says the postwar Terrier serial numbers began at about 54474 or 54475, depending upon which page you look at. The book doesn't list the approximate serial number at the transition point to the Improved I-frame Terriers. Hondo44 may have that information in his database.
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Old Yesterday, 04:19 PM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is online now
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Is there a serial # range for a postwar 5 screw I Frame Terrier .38/32 that’s fitted with the postwar hammer block? I’m not looking for the larger Improved I Frame coil spring just the .38/32 leaf spring model with the HBS.
The Post war Transition Model w/leaf spring and coil spring Improved I frames are the exact same size.
Not until the Model of 1953 New I frame is the grip frame lengthened 1/8".

Leaf spring model* range is ~54004 to ~ 585XX.

Improved coil spring model range is ~58832 to ~ 747XX.

*There are a few very rare examples of Post War Transitional models which are pre war I frames finished and/or refinished and sold post war WITHOUT the post war sliding bar hammer block safety. But they do have the 2nd type pre war side plate hammer block safety. These are known as Pre War-Post War guns.
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Old Yesterday, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Duigiud View Post
Is there a serial # range for a postwar 5 screw I Frame Terrier .38/32 that’s fitted with the postwar hammer block? I’m not looking for the larger Improved I Frame coil spring just the .38/32 leaf spring model with the HBS.
That relatively short-lived variant is one of my desires. You probably haven’t seen yet where I’ve mentioned having a pre-War Terrier, but only because I haven’t been able to acquire a post-War Transitional type like you describe. It would appear that a few thousand were built, but from the lack of success I’ve had getting one, it would be hard to prove it by me.

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Old Yesterday, 08:00 PM
Duigiud Duigiud is offline
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Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
The Post war Transition Model w/leaf spring and coil spring Improved I frames are the exact same size.
Not until the Model of 1953 New I frame is the grip frame lengthened 1/8".

Leaf spring model* range is ~54004 to ~ 585XX.

Improved coil spring model range is ~58832 to ~ 747XX.

*There are a few very rare examples of Post War Transitional models which are pre war I frames finished and/or refinished and sold post war WITHOUT the post war sliding bar hammer block safety. But they do have the 2nd type pre war side plate hammer block safety. These are known as Pre War-Post War guns.
Thanks Hondo! You’ve been a big help to me. I just got my copy of your SCSW today and have been enjoying reading it and adding to my knowledge base!

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Old Yesterday, 10:20 PM
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Cool, you'll have many hours of good reading, wishing, and maybe drooling.
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