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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 10-25-2005, 06:50 PM
BigBores BigBores is offline
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Please forgive my edit here, but I need to update data on the FAQ's.

Here is what remains of the useful data in the old FAQ's.
Some of the posts contained links that were no longer valid, making the post useless.
Some of the posts were useless since the pics were no longer included.

If you have a post you would like to see in the FAQ's, give me a link in the Forum Office.

Lee Jarrett
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Old 10-25-2005, 08:47 PM
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3, 4 and 5 Screw Frames

One of the terms one hears fairly often when dealing with older S&W guns is whether the gun has a 3, 4 or 5 screw frame. This refers to the number of screws attaching the sideplate (3 or 4) and the presence of a screw on the front of the trigger guard (referred to, logically enough, as the trigger guard screw). Before the mid-1950's, S&W revolvers were made with all 5 screws, 4 sideplate screws and the trigger guard screw.

Around 1955/56, S&W began producing guns without the upper sideplate screw, resulting in a 4 screw frame (3 sideplate screws and the trigger guard screw)

Then, in the 1961/62 timeframe, S&W eliminated the triger guard screw, using just the 3 sideplate screws and resulting in the 3 screw frame that continues to be used on current production guns.

The dates given are approximate and mostly apply to K and N frame guns. The small frame guns went through a similar progression of 5 to 4 to 3 screws as well during a similar timeframe, so 3, 4 or 5 screw frame designation is valid these guns also.

Note as well that some early AirWeight guns had a "bug screw" set next to the upper sideplate screw (screw #5 in the first picture), purportedly to prevent the upper sideplate screw from loosening with use. And finally, there were limited runs in the 1990's (Heritage guns and??) that revived the use of the upper sideplate screw (although not the trigger guard screw).

Generally speaking though, when the terms 3, 4 or 5 screw are used they are meant to differentiate the 1950's / early 60's guns as detailed above.

I've attempted to share my limited knowledge for the benefit of those who are new to our hobby, and I'm probably better at taking pictures than relating S&W history. So, if anyone can correct my explaination or offer additional insight, please feel free to do so!

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Old 11-03-2005, 10:39 PM
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L Frame (Models 581, 586, 681, 686) recall info from 1987. Phone numbers have been deleted because they are not current numbers.

SWCA 1836
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Old 11-09-2005, 09:58 AM
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Here are some links to owner's manuals. These are PDF files and may take some time on dialup. They are located at "Steve's Pages."

These will require Acrobat or Adobe reader.
Old 12-16-2005, 09:13 AM
july1952 july1952 is offline
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Here's a neat site about revolvers and how they work. Once you get to this site, scroll down and click on the trigger in the diagram:
Old 12-23-2005, 12:39 AM
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Of course no S&W faq would be complete without some pics of bare butts ! Ray

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Old 12-23-2005, 08:10 AM
july1952 july1952 is offline
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The topic of "flame cutting" seems to come up quite often. I found a couple of really good definitions from two of our members here on this forum so I pieced them together.

Flame cutting refers to the visible straight line cut above the barrel, inside the frame, where the top strap meets the front portion of the frame. In most models, the flame cutting stops after it reaches a certain depth and is not a thing to cause concern. It's caused by the flame from the burning powder as it ignites and burns off.

All powders will flame cut, no matter what weight of bullet or charge. You can minimize flame cutting with the right combination and of course maximize flame cutting with the wrong combination.

First, a light bullet escapes from the case sooner than a heavier bullet, just from the laws of physics. Second, a slow burning powder reaches its peak pressure (also peak heat) slower than a faster burning powder. Third, when large charges of powder are used, pressure and heat get intense. When these three elements are coupled together (slow powder, heavy charge, and a light bullet) you get peak pressure just as the base of the bullet is flush with the forcing cone. This creates the worst case condition for flame cutting.

A combination such as a 110gr bullet and a healthy charge of W-296 or H-110 will surely be the worst combination for a 357 Mag. The same powder with a 158gr bullet will still produce a little flame cutting but not enough to worry about.

38 Specials rarely suffer from flame cutting unless the reloader is using some pretty hot loads with light bullets. That's because the powder charge is much less, thus lower pressure and heat. Stay with the faster powders and you won't have a problem.

Powder manufacturers produce quite a variety of powders intended to provide optimum performance in most any load. By selecting the powder with the proper burn rate for your load, you will see better accuracy, less fouling, tighter velocity spreads, and less flame cutting. If you look at a reloading manual chart, you can easily see the powders that produce a given velocity with the minimum powder will be the fastest burning. Likewise, the powders that take a heavier charge for the same velocity are slower burning. A good rule of thumb is to select the fastest powder that will give you the desired velocity, yet stay under max pressure limits. Powder burn rate charts are great but there is one thing missing. Each powder will burn at a different rate based on the weight of the bullet it is pushing, the diameter of the bullet, and the capacity of the case. Your reloading manual is always the best source of information for burn rate with your cartridge and bullet.

The same holds true with 357 Magnum loads, however to reach magnum velocities, you must use slower powder or your chamber pressure will be too high. Personally, I don't shoot any bullets lighter than 140 grains when I want magnum velocities. Avoiding the lighter bullets reduces flame cutting a lot.

The best thing a reloader can do is match the powder to the cartridge and bullet. There is no single powder that is best for all uses.
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Old 12-31-2005, 07:42 AM
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Link to table of S&W MODEL DESIGNATIONS:

Link to info on beginning S&W research:

S&W Collector Association home page, with link to how to order a FACTORY LETTER:


Jim Supica
Old 12-31-2005, 07:53 AM
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Frame sizes
Link to description of frame sizes:

Jim Supica
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Old 03-09-2006, 09:58 PM
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624/629 Cylinder Recall

The Skeeter Skelton article in the October 1985 issue of Shooting Times magazine stated: "A steel supplier has just advised Smith & Wesson that they shipped a very small quantity of incorrect stainless steel material (11 bars) to us that was not in accordance with their certifications. The incorrect material was used in the cylinders for some large-frame stainless-steel revolvers, Model Numbers 624 (.44 Special) and 629 (.44 Magnum). The approximately 500 units containing this material were shipped from Smith & Wesson between January 1, 1985 and June 8, 1985. They would be included in the following ranges of serial numbers: ADXXXXX, AEXXXXX, AFXXXXX, AGXXXXX, AHXXXXX, ALVXXXX, N910000 thru N953000."

Skeeter goes on to say that the bad cylinder steel caused the recall of about 21,000 guns to find 500 with improper steel.

Today, Kate Fredette of Smith & Wesson basically confirmed this same info. The serial number range includes:

ALVXXX (the “V” is not a typo)
N910000 thru N953000

Recalled guns were shipped between Jan 1, 1985 and June 8, 1985 only. The cylinder has to be checked on these handguns and the only way to know is by checking the full serial number against their records. The problem involves 500 guns shipped during that period.

If a handgun in the recalled range has already been returned to the factory for testing, a red letter “C” that is circled will be stamped on the box label, indicating that the gun passed re-inspection. No marks are made on the cylinder of checked guns, only the red “C” in the circle stamped on the box label.

If your gun is within this range and you do not have a box or know for certain that it has been tested, you should contact Smith & Wesson. S&W’s records prior to 1986 are not computerized, so it takes them a little longer to look up the particulars.

You can E-mail your gun’s serial number to: S&W will contact you regarding the status of your particular gun. If your gun is included in the recall, you'll be sent a prepaid FedEx label and shipping instructions. While E-mail is best, you may also call S&W Customer Support at 1-800-331-0852.

Recalled cylinders are tested by magnafluxing. If your recalled gun does fail, there are no replacement cylinders. S&W will keep your gun and you will be offered the choice of another handgun of equal value or a refund. However, only one gun has failed the test so far … apparently the one sent in by our own dogdoc from Alabama. He says he was offered a 629 as a replacement.

I hope this clears the recall questions up once and for all.
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:48 AM
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Here is an excellent link, telling and showing how the modern day revolver is made, start to finish:
Old 07-25-2006, 09:15 PM
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Endurance Package

introduced on the 29-3E and 629-2E in 1987
produced in earnest with the 29-4 in 1988
hand and bolt strengthened
retention system on the yoke (cylinder crane) strengthened
internal studs radiused
bolt cuts on the cylinder enlongated
finalized on the 629-3 in 1989 and 29-5 in 1990
longer cylinder notches to prevent bolt from jumping out of the notch upon recoil
bolt and lockwork improved to prevent battering under recoil
eventually added to all N-frames

See John Taffin's article
Old 05-14-2007, 08:49 AM
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CORRECTIONS to STANDARD CATALOG OF S&W, 3rd Ed., by Nahas & Supica are posted here:

Corrections to SCSW - 3rd Ed.

Special thanks to Richard Nahas for compiling this list. -- Jim
Jim Supica
Old 10-16-2007, 11:36 AM
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Link to the 38/44 Heavy Duty Website:
Old 11-16-2007, 12:14 PM
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Please note that this list is a general guide and not meant to be exact. There is some dispute regarding the dates on some serial numbers and your gun may actually be a year off from what is listed. The precise shipping date as "lettered" can be several years off depending on model. For the exact date on your gun request the letter from Roy Jinks.

Post-War S Series N frames:

S62,489 – S67,999……..1946 - Early 1947
S68,000 – S71,999……….Late 1947 – Early 1948
S72,000 – S72,499……….Late 1948 - Early 1949
S72,500 – S74,999……….Late 1949 – Early 1950
S75,000 – S80,499……….Late 1950 – Early 1951
S80,500 – S85,999……….Late 1952 – Early 1952
S86,000 – S94,999…….…Late 1952 – Early 1953
S95,000 – S102,999…….Late 1953 – Early 1954
S103,000 – S139,999……Late 1954 – Early 1955*
S140,000 – S149,999….Late 1955 – Early 1956
S150,000 – S175,999……Late 1956 – Early 1957
S176,000 – S181,999……Late 1957 – Early 1958
S182,000 – S194,499……Late 1958 – Early 1959
S194,500 – S206.999……Late 1959 – Early 1960
S207,000 – S219,999……Late 1960 – Early 1961
S220,000 – S227,999……Late 1961 – Early 1962
S228,000 – S231,999……Late 1962 – Early 1963
S232,000 – S235.999……Late 1963 – Early 1964
S236,000 – S257,999……Late 1964 – Early 1965
S258,000 – S261,999……Late 1965 – Early 1966
S262,000 – S289,999……Late 1966 – Early 1967
S290,000 – S304,999……Late 1967 – Early 1968
S305,000 – S329,999……Late 1968 – Early 1969
S330,000 – S333,454……Late 1969 – Early 1970

*Note that a number of N frames with serials in the S138000-S140000 range (and the range may be wider either way) are seen that were shipped much later than the serial would suggest should be the case. In one known example a gun with serial S136431 was not shipped until June of 1958. It's possible that a large block of serial numbers that appear to be from 1954-55 were not actually used until 1957-58. It at least one case a gun has a 5-screw serial and was built as a 4-screw gun.

N Series N Frames:

N1 – N60,000………….......1970-72
N60,001 – N 190,000…...1972-74
N190,001 – N430,000…...1975 – 77
N430.001 – N 550,000…..1978
N550,001 – N580,000….. 1979
N580,001 – N790,000…...1980
N790,001 – N932,999...…1980-83

Post-War S Series K Frames:

S811,120 – S999,999…….1946 – 48

C Series K Frames: (Fixed Sight Models)

C1 - C233,999………….....1948 – 52
C236,004 – C261,483…….1953
C277,555 – C314,031….…1954 – 56
C402,924 – C405,018…….1957
C405,019 – C429,740…..1958 – 59
C429,741 – C474,148…….1960
C474,149 – C622,699…….1961 – 62
C622,700 – C810,532…….1963 – 65
C810,533 – C999,999…..1966 – 67

D Series K Frames: (Fixed Sight Models)

D1 – D90,000…………….....1968
D90,001 – D330,000……..1969 -70
D330,001 – D420,000………1971 – Early 72
D420,001 – D510,000………Late 1972 – Early 73
D510,001 – D659,901………Late 1973 – Early 1974
D659.902 – D75000………..Late 1974 – Early 1975
D750,001 – D870,000………Late 1975 – Early 1976
D870,001 – D999,999………Late 1976 – Early 1977
2D00001 - 2D80,000……….1977
2D80,001 – 2D99,999………1978
4D00001 – 6D10,000……….1979
6D10,0001 – 7D10,000……1980
7D10,001 – 9D44,500…..1981
9D44,501 – 17D8,900………1982
17D8,901 – 21D0883……….1983

K Series K Frames (Adjustable Sight Models)

K101 – K614……………......1946
K615 – K18,731…………....1947
K18,732 – K73,121……..…1948
K73,122 – K84,149……..…1949
K84,150 – K104,047…...1950
K104,048 – K136,690...1951
K136,691 – K175,637...1952
K175,638 – K210,095...1953
K210,096 – K231,255...1954
K231,256 – K266,154...1955
K266,155 – K288,988...1956
K288,989 – K317,822...1957
K317,823 – K350,547...1958
K350,548 – K386,804...1959
K386,805 – K429,894...1960
K429,895 – K468,098...1961
K468,099 – K515,478...1962
K515,479 – K553,999....1963
K555,000 – K605.877....1964
K605,878 – K658.986....1965
K658,987 – K715,996....1966
K715,997 – K779.162....1967
K779,163 – K848,781....1968
K848,782 – K946,391....1969
K946,382 – K999,999....1970
1K1 – 1K39,500.........1970
2K1 – 2K22.037.........1970
1K39,501 – 1K999,999...1971
2K22,038 – 2K55,996....1971
3K1 – 3K73,962.........1971
2K55,997 – 2K99,999....1972
3K31,280 – 5K6,616.....1972
4K1 – 4K1,627..........1972
4K1,628 – 4K54,104.....1973
5K6,617 – 5K73,962.....1973
4K54,105 – 4K99,999....1974
5K73,963 – 6K58,917....1974
7K1 – 7K26,043.........1974
7K26,044 – 7K70,577....1975
6K98,918 – 8K20,763....1975
8K20,764 – 9K1.........1975
8K20,000 – 9K100,000...1975
9K1,001 – 9K99,999.....1976
10K001 – 24K9,999......1977
25K001 – 56K9,999......1978 – 79
57K001 – 91K6,800......1980
91K6,801 – 124K000.....1981
125K000 – 269K9,999....1982
270K000 – 311K273......1983

1980 Three-Letter Prefix Series Begins at AAA000

Contact me if you see any errors.
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:49 AM
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It should come as no suprise to anyone..I don't agree with the K frame numbers/dates from the 1946-7 era. From our earlier discussions, we know that the serial sequence started at K101 in December of 1946. They shipped less than 50 guns in 1946 using K prefix. The guns above at least K150 are 1947 guns.

The guy at the gunshows displaying K137 lettered it as a 1946 gun. Drew's K117 is a 1946 gun (December). My K155 and K166 both letter as January 1947. These were all K22s, with the K32 and K38 coming later in 1947.
Dick Burg
Old 02-29-2008, 07:31 PM
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Disassembly is easy enough, it's getting it back together that can be vexing.

Like many others, I'd recommend you get the kuhnhausen book for S&W revolvers. It's quite useful if you ever take the side plate off a S&W revolver.

There are loads of disassembly how-to's on the web.

Here's how i do it.

Get a 1 gallon zip lock bag and a small bowl to put parts in. You'll need the bag to catch the inevitable wayward spring.

Take out your GUNSMITH HOLLOWGROUND SCREWDRIVERS. Make sure they properly fit the sideplate screws. If not, stone one down until it fits properly -- with no slack.

1. Ensure the revolver is unloaded!
2. Remove grips. Remove the screw, take panels off.
3. Ensure the revolver is unloaded.
4. Remove the side plate screws. Pay attention to which screw goes in which hole. It's important for reassembly.
5. DO NOT PRY THE SIDEPLATE OFF. To remove the sideplate, hold the revolver by the barrel and rap the grip frame firmly with a non-marring hammer. The side plate will pop loose.
6. Lift the side plate off. Note the tab at the top of the side plate. When you reassemble, the top goes in first, with the tab inside the frame. DO NOT PRY the SIDEPLATE OFF -- it will bend. Do not force it back in place, it will bend.
7. lift the hammer block off. Note that the little looped end goes on the rebound slide when you put it back together.
8. Loosen the strain screw (it's that little screw in the grip frame that holds the main spring under tension.
9. Lift the mainspring out and rotate it off the hammer stirrup.

Put the revolver in the zip lock bag now.

10. GENTLY pry up the rebound slide. The spring will fly out when it decompresses. Try to catch it with your hand. If not, the bag will catch it (hopefully).
11. Retract the hand. While holding it back, GENTLY LIFT out the trigger-hand assembly. You can further remove the hand, but this is not generally required for detailed cleaning. Remember the hand is under spring tension, so if you take it off, remember to restore the original spring tension. It's important
12. Cock the hammer and lift it out of the frame.
13. GENTLY pry up the cylinder stop. It's under spring tension, and that little spring will decompress rapidly.
14. Open the cylinder. Gently pull the cylinder-yoke assembly toward the muzzle. It will come free from the frame.
15. Seperate the yoke from the cylinder.
16. Remove cylinder latch screw and cylinder latch (from the outside).
17. (Back on the inside of the frame). Retract the bolt and gently push it out. I push on from the outside of the frame. THIS TOO IS SPRING LOADED. THere's a little spring and plunger on the back of the bolt. It tends to fly away. Spring goes inside the bolt -- plunger on the outside.
18. If desired, remove adjustable sight assembly. Two screws. There's a small stud under the rear sight that slides into a groove in the frame. Easy to loose track of this if you're not careful.

That should do it for most purposes.

You can disassembly the cylinder. REmember, the threads on the ejector rod are left-hand, backward from most everything else.
EDIT- 6-28-09 The ejector rod threads are LEFT-hand threads AFTER about 1961.
BEFORE about 1961, the ejector rods have standard RIGHT-hand type threads.
Lee J.

I put six emtpy pieces of brass in the cylinder. Then, with padded pliers, grasp the ejector rod. Turn the cylinder and unscrew the ejector rod.
EDIT- 6-28-09 > I clamp the ejector rod in a vise padded with soft poplar wood jaws or a set of oak jaws padded with thick hard leather. Grooved plier jaws can cut THROUGH padding, even leather, when squeezed hard enough, and do serious damage to the ejector rod. Don't ask me how I know this......
Lee J.

The assembly pulls apart. You'll have the extractor star, two springs, a bushing, the ejector rod, and the cylinder.

That's as far as I usually go. This is only my procedure. Your mileage may vary. Look at the parts chart on page one of the FAQ.

I really recommend you buy the kuhnhausen book from MidwayUSA or other fine retailer before your get your revolver in the same room with a screwdriver. It will tell you lots about how your revolver works and potentially save headaches.
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:12 PM
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Re. the .44 recall of '85-'86:
No marks are made on the cylinder of checked guns....
Recalled cylinders are tested by magnafluxing.
Beg to differ. They may magnaflux today... which seems odd, as magnafluxing only finds cracks... but be that as it may, here's a pic of a 624 that went through the recall, and passed, back in the day. You can see the marks left by a hardness tester:
Old 06-23-2011, 07:00 PM
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Typos, errata & other minor corrections to "The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson", 3rd Edition, by Jim Supica & Richard Nahas

List compiled by Richard Nahas. Thanks to members of for their input!

Corrections to Standard Cat of S&W 3rd Edition:

Pages 5&6:
Add Don Mundell & Patrick Combs to Contributors

Page 26: Photos of grips are reversed

Page 44: Bottom left Photo has
“Auction Block-Engraved Guns” in Caption
This should be a heading on next column.

Page 124: Spelling error in text of 9mm caliber test revolver

Page 127: Photo attribution should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 129: Photo attribution should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 130: Left photo has spelling error “Collwction” &
Gun is post war frame rather than prewar believed to be factory. -ask Dave Nowak

Page133: Price block has error -should be $1000 not $100

Page 135:
1) delete “Model of 1950” reference to Pre Model 27

2) Photo attribution should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 140: Left column : delete 2nd bullet text under variations

Page 146: Right column 3rd bullet from bottom : delete “and” from “flat latch and 3rd variation thumbpiece” and substitute “or”

Page 149: Price block should be $295 instead of $95

Page 155: Bottom Right Column: Price block is cut in Half

Page 158: left column 2nd paragraph 6th line : delete “and” from “with and S&W medallions”

Page 161: Photo attribution should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 164: should be serial number “09” -right column -1st bullet from top.

Page 166: Photo attribution -right column -should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 174: Right Column “1968: Delete ddiamond grips”
Should read “diamond”

Page 175: Left column delete 1st bullet info in reference to “Premium for 5 screw etc”

Page 193: Left column under Engineering & Production Changes: delete “1974: Mahogany case as standard”

Page 196: Right column under “Variations”
Delete last bullet (only the bullet) so text reads: “Approximately five stamped with the Performance Center trademark ………. 4” barrel with recessed cylinder”

Page 206: Photo attribution -right column -Top Photo should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 230: left column -2nd bullet Montana Fish & Game
Should be “Stamped MFG001-MFG130”

Page 236: 2 items
1) Bottom left column under “Engineering and production Changes”- run together--6th bullet should start new line with
* 2002: Change markings from four lines to two”

2) “Product Codes and Features by Year” should wrap to top of next column and push “Engineering and Production Changes” to top of next column on next page (237)

Page 250: top of left column --2 product codes runs together
“170170 …..” should start new line under
“170113 GIGN 586-4”

Page 252: Left column -middle of page --“Notes on Models 520 , 619 and 620” --delete reference to “each with an unshrouded ejector rod” in 3rd sentence

Page 255: left column in middle of page -“2001 retail $730” sticks out past text

Page 280: Right column bottom:
Production and engineering Changes --bullets are missing
* 46….
* 1959…
* 1964….
* 1968…

Page 284” delete reference to “4110” steel barrel in Olympic Gun delete just “4110”

Page 287: Top right column just above photo delete “52-3” reference and make it “52-2” there are no 52-3’s models

Page 288 : Right column under “variations” delete reference to “800 thought to exist” and make it read “80”

Page 290: bottom left column has split price block

Page 291: Photo attribution -right column bottom photo -should be to “Dave Nowak collection- Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 300: left column price block should be $450 not $4500

Page 309 : left column --photo should be “top” and “bottom” not left and right

Page 315: left column should read
“Product Codes and Features by Year”

Page 319: Right column should read
“Product Codes and Features by Year”

Page 330: Model 76 photo attribution should be “ Nahas collection, Paul Goodwin photo”

Page 367: left column photo should read” Model 952-2 Long Slide with 952-1 Frame- S&W photo”
Lee Jarrett

Last edited by handejector; 06-23-2011 at 07:03 PM.
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