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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 01-02-2021, 11:05 AM
Bore Snake Bore Snake is offline
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Helllo all,

I recently stumbled across a very clean 38/44 Outdoorsman. It is listed as "pre War". It seemes to be a survivor. All lettering is crisp and clear... so no "polish and reblue". Very minor wear of the finish at the muzzle, and a "ding" at the top of the side plate next to the hammer, (probably because someone was inside at some point).

Only major detractor is that it has the smaller modern grips as would be found on a model 10-xx. Serial is 537xx. Was hoping that someone could give me any kind of history on this particular revolver. Asking price is under $2k... and the seller is willing to deal.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:20 AM
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You will get unlimited help from the gracious folks here, and the first thing I would do is attach a number of clear, quality pictures.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:26 AM
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Happy New Year! The serial puts that .38/44 shipping in 1938. Other than that, all I have are more questions like what is the finish polish, are the grips too small for the grip frame, has it been reamed for .357 magnum, standard or humpbacked hammer, and so on? Pictures are almost required to get any valuation from the experts. To put period correct grips on it, you're looking at ~$250-700 depending on whether it had silver medallion service grips or magnas. Personally, I feel $2k is way too high but I haven't seen the gun. So, YMMV.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:51 AM
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I would post pictures, but due to the consigners website format... it would be easily identifiable where this revolver is. Call me a bit paranoid, but I have had a few firearms "snatched away" by forum members that live in the area. Not on this forum, but others. So I am being a bit protective at the moment.

Finish is a high quality blue, and again looks original due to the crispness of all the lettering. I would call the bluing "high luster", but not exactly "high polish". It has a humpback hammer... and the forcing cone side of the cylinder is angle cut at the cylinder flutes.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:56 AM
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For what it may be worth to you I picked one up about one year ago here in CA, 1937 vintage, in very similar condition from what it sounds like for under $1k.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:56 AM
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The installed grips fit the frame fine, but knowing this is an older specimen... I'm pretty sure they are not correct for the revolver. Again, the grips look like something from a typical K frame revolver.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:03 PM
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It does have a "target" front sight.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:08 PM
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According to my 2006 SCSW... there were just over 4,700 made, and one in excellent condition is estimated at $1400. But that is at 2006 pricing.

I should also say that the revolver "times" well too.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:09 PM
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A 1938 .38/44 Outdoorsman would likely have shipped with prewar patent-date magna stocks, which can be pricey as Wiregrassguy stated. To me the biggest concerns would be: Checking to see if it was reamed for .357, that the serial number matches on the butt, barrel lug, cylinder, inside of the extractor star, and yoke arm, verify original finish, and check for sound mechanical function (timing, endshake, binding, unusual wear). Another detail to check is the presence of the yoke detent spring and pin that holds the yoke and cylinder open during loading and ejection. It's not vital to operation but it is an interesting feature of the pre-war N frame. The "ding" you describe causes me to think twice about making an offer. Plus, for me, there is additional expense as I generally send old guns to my gunsmith for inspection, detailed cleaning, and service. And I would still want to buy a set of period magnas, and that's another $~600.00 adventure. Still, a pre-war OD is a nice addition to an N-frame collection and a lot of fun to shoot.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:12 PM
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SCSW also says that the .38/44 went to "magna" style grips in 1936. So it MAY actually have the original grips on it too, since it is a 1938 gun. I just assumed the grips would be an older style. (my bad)
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Gila for the suggestions. I will have to make a return trip to check all the things you mentioned. Most of my Smith collection dates from the Bangor Punta days and forward.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:30 PM
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The magna grips that are original to the gun are like these. Notice the large .5" medallion and sharp pointed gutters around the checkering. If original to the gun, the SN stamped on the back of the right panel will match the frame's.


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Old 01-02-2021, 01:13 PM
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Bore Snake,

Couple months ago, I purchased an Outdoorsman (all #’ match) in what sounds like a little better condition than yours. It has a little bit of wear at the muzzle, a slight drag line but no ding at the side plate.

It included the/a box, no tape with the serial # and a couple cleaning tools. No Sat or Helpful Hints. I paid $2100 out the door.
It shipped in May of 1934.

I have yet to post it here, someday....

I did have to drive 5 hrs there and back but it’s not often that I find these types of things “local” so that doesn’t bother me. Take what I said for whatever you want, maybe it’ll help you.

Best of luck,
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Old 01-02-2021, 10:06 PM
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If its not been bored to 357 and condition is great I put a HBH 38/44 OD at easily over 1600.

Nice Magna grips and its at least 2000 nowdays.

If the HBH is grooved its really going to attract some attention!!

I have one myself from 3/21/38

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Old 01-02-2021, 10:58 PM
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My high condition and unfooledaroundwith Outdoorsman with standard grips and box brought approximately $2,175 on Gun Broker auction.

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:03 PM
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A .38/44 cylinder bored too .357--is this safe to fire .357 ammo in ??
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:53 AM
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A .38/44 cylinder bored too .357--is this safe to fire .357 ammo in ??
Yes, indeed!!

The Outdoorsman was the workhorse used by Sharpe with his .38 Sharpe Magnum in the development of the .357 Magnum cartridge. The photos in D. B. Wesson's Scrapbook tell a story which would require many thousands of words, but could really be boiled down to just one--------WOW!!!

As an aside, a March 1, 1934 letter from D. B. Wesson to a customer who'd asked about heat treating of cylinders notes the steel used by S&W "------shows a tensile strength in the neighborhood of 80,000 lbs. as it comes from the mill"----and notes that while this is entirely adequate for any gun they made at the time, that "---------we do very much prefer the greatly increased factor of safety that is obtained with the 130,000 lbs. elastic limit that the treating gives." In other words, you're good to go with .357 Magnum ammo in an Outdoorsman-----------never mind the .357 didn't exist at the time.

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Old 01-03-2021, 10:38 AM
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Lots of good info posted so far. I'll add my .02 (exactly what it's worth).

I've noticed that the Pre war 38-44 (HD and OD) values having been trending downward these past couple of years. The really righteous 98%+, all original, not molested guns with serial number matching parts, including the grips seem to be holding steady.

Personally, I think $2K is a little on the high side for an OD that doesn't have numbered, or at least the correct Pre War magnas on it. A decent set of PW magnas sell for about $500 these days, so if it's important to you to have the correct grips on it you'd have to take that into consideration when negotiating a price.


This one shipped to the King Sight Company October 23, 1939. The magnas number to the gun.



This one shipped February 9, 1932 and it's wearing a set of service grips that do not number to it.

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Old 01-03-2021, 11:08 AM
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Lots of good information here. For me, the first question would be why are you buying it? Are you buying it as a collector piece or as a shooter? If for a collector piece and the stocks are not original then it is overpriced. Even adding period correct stocks will not make it original. If you are buying it as a shooter then it is overpriced.

If the stocks are original then it may not be that bad. I would call Roy Jinks and see if he can tell you what stocks it shipped with. How many are out there in unmolested shape and when will you find another?

Will the seller remove the stocks and see if they are number matched???

Those are my thoughts on the subject and worth 10 times what you paid for them.....
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:44 AM
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These Pre-war guns make my Post-war gun look like a ugly Duckling!
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:39 PM
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These Pre-war guns make my Post-war gun look like a ugly Duckling!
Oh, so not true! The OD (and the HD) are magnificent examples of S&W craftsmanship, in my not so humble opinion. I picked up an unmolested 1950 Model short action OD a few years back. It has a slight bulge in the barrel at the "&" stamp. Not collectible but still a joy to shoot and admire.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:55 PM
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Paplinker,

Yours looks very similar to the specimen I am looking at.

To everyone,

I ran into an older gentleman at a local gun shop yesterday. He seemed to think $2k was a good price for an all original gun... so price is most likely dependent on location.

The gentleman was very knowledgeable about the .38/44 OD and told me everything to look for. He told me that the grips were fitted to the frame when the gun was "in the white" and set aside until the gun was completely assembled. There should be serial numbers penciled on the inside of the Magnas, that hopefully match the rest of the gun.

I have access to the OD, and the consigner knows me well enough to trust me to pull the grip panels, so checking them should be easy enough.

Not to intentionally tease anybody, but I might not get to the consigner until next weekend. I will report back when I have all the info on the OD.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:04 PM
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I also found a very clean 48 and 57 when I was at the local shop yesterday.

Asking price on the 6" 57 was $1600, and it comes with the wooden box and accessories.

I forget the price on the 48, but it had the 8-3/8" barrel.

Never enough money available at one time for this hobby... especially when it seems like everything shows up at once.
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bore Snake View Post
Paplinker,

Yours looks very similar to the specimen I am looking at.

To everyone,

I ran into an older gentleman at a local gun shop yesterday. He seemed to think $2k was a good price for an all original gun... so price is most likely dependent on location.

The gentleman was very knowledgeable about the .38/44 OD and told me everything to look for. He told me that the grips were fitted to the frame when the gun was "in the white" and set aside until the gun was completely assembled. There should be serial numbers penciled on the inside of the Magnas, that hopefully match the rest of the gun.

I have access to the OD, and the consigner knows me well enough to trust me to pull the grip panels, so checking them should be easy enough.

Not to intentionally tease anybody, but I might not get to the consigner until next weekend. I will report back when I have all the info on the OD.

Thanks again everyone.
The number should be stamped on the right grip. Not penciled.

If they are Magnas and not the shorter service grips thats a great plus.
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Never enough money available at one time for this hobby... especially when it seems like everything shows up at once.
That's why God invented Lay-a-way. Talk to the seller. When my gun fund was low on funds I put several guns on lay a way at my LGS. Many are happy to make a sale or two or three even if it takes 3 months for it to become final.
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Old 01-05-2021, 10:59 AM
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Wiregrass,

Well according to your pic above, and looking at the pic of the gun in question... it does not have the original factory grip panels. That is a bit of a disappointment. So not worth the almost $2k asking price.

So now what? Would it be worth $1500 as an "almost" original in excellent condition? That's IF all the serial number match. I have yet to get back to the consignment shop to check the numbers. I might ask if anything else comes with the gun. Maybe the original panels are available.
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
That's why God invented Lay-a-way. Talk to the seller. When my gun fund was low on funds I put several guns on lay a way at my LGS. Many are happy to make a sale or two or three even if it takes 3 months for it to become final.
Yeah... I have considered that. Problem is... because of the current Covid issue, work has been slow and my "toy" fund has been shrinking due to focusing on ammo.

The place that has the .38/44 does 30 days. I didn't check layaway at the other place with the 48 and 57. There's also a very clean and original rare snubby "snake gun" that caught my eye somewhere.

I think because of Covid, people are trading off older collectibles for cash or more "modern" stuff. Haven't had a gun show in the area for a year, so I think people are turning to dealers for sales.
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:45 AM
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Bore Snake, it's worth what you are willing to pay for it. You've seen the gun and we haven't. All we can do is give you perspective based on past transactions and advice on what we would do if we were in your position. In the end, it will be your decision. Good luck!
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Old 01-05-2021, 01:39 PM
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I also recently bought a LNIB model 915 pistol. So that put a dent in the funds.
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Old 01-05-2021, 09:05 PM
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N frame target guns in general sell pretty well.

Humpback hammer N frames really do well.

AT 1750.00 I am pretty sure you would likely at least break even in the future.

If you are someone who likes to shoot 38 special I would say treat yourself. You will not regret it.

Most people who get there first Outdoorsman,22 or 38 are extremely pleased. The workmanship is very impressive.

Outdoorsman's Roper-King are my main collecting focus.

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Old 01-07-2021, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
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If its not been bored to 357 and condition is great I put a HBH 38/44 OD at easily over 1600.

Nice Magna grips and its at least 2000 nowdays.

If the HBH is grooved its really going to attract some attention!!

I have one myself from 3/21/38

Is there something extra special about "grooved" HBH compared to "plain" HBH?
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Old 01-07-2021, 05:46 PM
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Is there something extra special about "grooved" HBH compared to "plain" HBH?
Yeah, I would like to know that as well. My late 1939 38-44 Outdoorsman has the HBH with the grooves. Also, numbered to the gun, magnas. I heard the grooved hammer was for the RM's.
I personally think all the late 38-44's were probably shipped with magnas and grooved HBH's to get rid of the parts on hand. Big Larry
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Old 01-07-2021, 06:10 PM
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If you are buying it to shoot it, you should be very pleased. I have one with a similar serial number and it is a joy to shoot:

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Old 01-07-2021, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by larryofcc View Post
Yeah, I would like to know that as well. My late 1939 38-44 Outdoorsman has the HBH with the grooves. Also, numbered to the gun, magnas. I heard the grooved hammer was for the RM's.
I personally think all the late 38-44's were probably shipped with magnas and grooved HBH's to get rid of the parts on hand. Big Larry
I agree, It seems likely they were using up RM hammers on ODs.

But looking at the SWCA database and endless 38/44 auctions and postings on this forum the grooved HBH on a OD is not easy to find.
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Old 01-08-2021, 01:57 PM
larryofcc larryofcc is offline
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I agree, It seems likely they were using up RM hammers on ODs.

But looking at the SWCA database and endless 38/44 auctions and postings on this forum the grooved HBH on a OD is not easy to find.
I had to go and look at mine again. It is # 62022, one of the last made or shipped. It letters with the HBH, and it is grooved. This revolver is a 99%er, very slight turn ring. It came in its original numbered to the gun, box. No tools as per usual. It won't be seeing any range time soon. I have a prewar HD for that. Big Larry


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