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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 07-24-2021, 11:34 PM
Tinker Pearce Tinker Pearce is offline
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Default Airweight Chief's Special?!

Picked up a box-O-gun on the cheap, a fully stripped J-frame that had be coated and never reassembled. I reassembled it and noticed it said 'airweight' on the barrel. I stuck a magnet to it and thought, 'huh. Must be a replacement barrel.'

Turns out I'm a dufus (like you're surprised.) The magnet was seriously powerful and was sticking to the hammer and trigger through the frame. Huh.

So now I'm curious as to when they started making Airweight CSs. This gun has an assembly number on the frame under the crane, no model number or serial number. Serial number on the butt is 60373.




Any info would be appreciated.

Last edited by Tinker Pearce; 07-25-2021 at 01:16 AM.
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Old 07-24-2021, 11:52 PM
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First off, it is not a K frame. The Chiefs Special and CS Airweight were J frame guns from the beginning.

The serial number points to assembly in 1955, three years before the MOD 37 would show up. Hondo44 may be able to give you a more precise date.

Seems like a nice piece. Was it finished with Metalife or some such? That's what it looks like to me.
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Old 07-25-2021, 01:17 AM
Tinker Pearce Tinker Pearce is offline
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Originally Posted by JP@AK View Post
First off, it is not a K frame. The Chiefs Special and CS Airweight were J frame guns from the beginning.

The serial number points to assembly in 1955, three years before the MOD 37 would show up. Hondo44 may be able to give you a more precise date.

Seems like a nice piece. Was it finished with Metalife or some such? That's what it looks like to me.
Dang it, I can't believe I typed K-frame; I know better. I corrected the original post. Thank you. '55 is close enough. Yeah. I was thinking Metalife or GunCote.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:49 AM
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Howdy Tinker,

Somebody had some fun with your Airweight Chiefs Special.

From the beginning of Airweights in 1953 the barrel was always carbon steel so that's normal on yours. Initially the cylinders were aluminum, but that proved not to be a viable design so S&W halted production of Airweights with aluminum cylinders and switched to carbon steel cylinders on January 13, 1954, according to S&W Historian Dr. Roy Jinks.

Yours is the earliest 3-screw frame I've documented in my database. S&W began transitioning from the 4-screw frame, eliminating the upper side plate screw on J-frames, around the time yours shipped in early 1955.

The large coarse hammer could be original because yours is from the era when S&W began to transition to that hammer. The former was a small knurled hammer. One way to know for sure if it's original is to look at the bottom of it. If it's activated by a ball and socket arrangement it might be original. If it's a pin and fork style, it's not original.

The "fun" I mentioned with yours is the trigger. If that's a smooth combat trigger (not serrated on the front where your finger goes) it's from at least the early 1980s, when S&W began using the smooth combat trigger.

Do you have the original grips with the serial number stamped inside the right one?
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Last edited by two-bit cowboy; 07-25-2021 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:13 PM
Tinker Pearce Tinker Pearce is offline
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Howdy Tinker,

Somebody had some fun with your Airweight Chiefs Special.

From the beginning of Airweights in 1953 the barrel was always carbon steel so that's normal on yours. Initially the cylinders were aluminum, but that proved not to be a viable design so S&W halted production of Airweights with aluminum cylinders and switched to carbon steel cylinders on January 13, 1954, according to S&W Historian Dr. Roy Jinks.

Yours is the earliest 3-screw frame I've documented in my database. S&W began transitioning from the 4-screw frame, eliminating the upper side plate screw on J-frames, around the time yours shipped in early 1955.

The large coarse hammer could be original because yours is from the era when S&W began to transition to that hammer. The former was a small knurled hammer. One way to know for sure if it's original is to look at the bottom of it. If it's activated by a ball and socket arrangement it might be original. If it's a pin and fork style, it's not original.

The "fun" I mentioned with yours is the trigger. If that's a smooth combat trigger (not serrated on the front where your finger goes) it's from at least the early 1980s, when S&W began using the smooth combat trigger.

Do you have the original grips with the serial number stamped inside the right one?
No, this came with aftermarket grips. When I got it the trigger was smooth, with a squared-off tip and surprisingly sharp edges; I suspected the original owner had removed the serrations because stock triggers aren't sharp-edged as this one, at least not as far as I've seen.

Initially I thought this was a steel frame with a replacement barrel from an airweight; as a magnet would stick to the frame. But I was using a neodymian magnet and it was so powerful it was actually sticking to the hammer and trigger right through the frame.

The mainspring connects to the hammer by ball-and-socket.

It's a pretty nice little gun, with a good but not superb double-action pull and the finish, while plain, is functional enough. For what I paid for it I'm quite pleased with the results.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Tinker Pearce View Post
When I got it the trigger was smooth, with a squared-off tip and surprisingly sharp edges; I suspected the original owner had removed the serrations because stock triggers aren't sharp-edged as this one, at least not as far as I've seen.

Initially I thought this was a steel frame with a replacement barrel from an airweight; as a magnet would stick to the frame. But I was using a neodymian magnet and it was so powerful it was actually sticking to the hammer and trigger right through the frame.

The mainspring connects to the hammer by ball-and-socket.
Thanks for the clarifications.

Have you since confirmed it's truly an aluminum frame? (a less powerful magnet or a scale would tell the tale -- an all carbon steel Chiefs would be about 19 ounces; an aluminum frame would be about 14.5 ounces)

Still not sure that isn't a modern combat trigger. Here's an image of a '50s serrated target trigger -- you'd have to remove a lot of material to get it smooth. The second image is an '80s smooth combat trigger. I guess I've never thought them being "sharp," but maybe. I'm not even sure if a newer trigger could be machined to work with an old ball and socket hammer. Maybe?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg '50s serrated target trigger.JPG (149.5 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg '80s smooth combat trigger.JPG (141.6 KB, 15 views)
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:54 PM
MajorD MajorD is offline
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Hard to tell in the picture, but looks like the screw in the lower part of the frame may be switched with the yoke screw. ?
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Old 07-25-2021, 01:16 PM
Tinker Pearce Tinker Pearce is offline
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Hard to tell in the picture, but looks like the screw in the lower part of the frame may be switched with the yoke screw. ?
Possible, I've had this apart a lot since I got it, and wasn't much worried while it was non-functional. I just wanted to keep the pieces in the right places. Now that it's working everything is in it's proper place.
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