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S&W Revolvers: 1961 to 1980 3-Screw PINNED Barrel SWING-OUT Cylinder Hand Ejectors


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Old 09-18-2017, 03:10 PM
GUN MONKEY GUN MONKEY is offline
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Default Model 38 Airweight Questions

I recently acquired a Model 38 Airweight S/N 425xxx. It is blued steel with an aluminum alloy frame and is in excellent condition with the exception of a rub mark on the cylinder where the previous owner carried it under the seat of his car. I had never known him to have fired it, and it doesn't appear that he did. Of the five rounds he carried in it, none of them matched (I think they were some he scrounged from friends).

I would love to use this as a pocket carry gun, but if it has any significant value or collectibility, I would probably rethink that idea.

What would be the value of this gun (roughly)?
Does it have any collector value?
When was it manufactured?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:22 PM
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Hi Gun Monkey:

Welcome to the Forum. The Model 38 is no longer made. Its present iteration is the Model 638 (stainless steel cylinder and barrel, alloy frame). My EDC is a Model 638-1 and a Model 38-0. You don't mention what "dash number" your Model 38 is (look into the cylinder recess and you should find it - "Mod. 38" or Mod. 38-_). Nor does it sound like you have the original factory box with documents and tools. I'd venture to guess there is nothing that makes yours particularly valuable or unique, and that you have a good revolver for self defense.

In its present state, I think a value range for it would be in the $300.00 - $350.00 range, but there are a number of variables that affect pricing. I only shoot standard velocity .38 Special ammo out of my Model 638 and 38, and I have added CT LG-405 laser grips to both of them. The sights should be regulated for 158 gr. .38 Special ammo (standard velocity) at 7 yards.

Others with more expertise and knowledge should be around shortly.

Regards,

Dave
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:33 PM
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Sounds like you have a nice working gun. Take care of it, shoot it, clean it and in 20 years you will have a collectible.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:34 PM
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IMHO, the M 38 is the finest pocket pistol ever produced.

I like these much more than the more recent 'humpbacks' such as the 638.

Yours doesn't sound like it's a particularly collectible example, but it is quite serviceable and should be used.

I suspect the resale value is nearer $400-450 rather than less.

I wouldn't put a laser on it, but I wouldn't put a laser on any handgun.

I prefer the original magnas with a Tyler T to any other grip on this revolver.

Last edited by Rpg; 09-18-2017 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 05:10 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Its a pocket carry gun. Its the iconic S&W tool. I have three that I bought back in the 70s. Shot it with std. ammo and put in your back pocket.
No hot +P ammo. It is not a collectible S&W.
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Old 09-18-2017, 05:15 PM
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Bodyguards are made to be carried -- primarily in a pocket.

Carry it and take care of it, and it probably won't lose much value anyway.
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:21 PM
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The Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson gives the following serial number range:

1962 - 295000

1969 - 786544

So yours was probably shipped somewhere in the middle of those two dates.

Last edited by Inusuit; 09-18-2017 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:54 PM
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Lots of great advice above, Gun Monkey.

Up here in the North East, you would probably pay the $400-$450 that RPG quoted.

If you find it for less, it would be a steal.

Great pocket gun, everything you need, nothing you don't.

I only have two (38-2s) paid more for one, less for the other.
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:52 AM
GUN MONKEY GUN MONKEY is offline
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Thanks for the input, guys. The model number has no dash. It is simply stamped "MOD-38". As an "airweight" revolver, it fits and carries well in the pocket. I generally carry a Ruger LCP II .380, and it has proven to be very reliable, but it is hard to beat the peace of mind you get from carrying a revolver.

I have learned over the years as a concealed carry permit holder that the easier it is to carry, the more likely you are to carry. Just because you have made thousands of quick trips to the local convenience store without incident doesn't mean that today won't be the day when you could have saved your life or someone else's if you'd had a handy gun that you could just drop in your pocket on the way out the door. I think the S&W Model 38 would be ideal for such a purpose.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:00 AM
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I must agree with all of the above statements ,the air weight 38 special has been carried and used by men who depended or could have to depend on their handgun for self defense for many decades .Use the ammo it was designed for standard 38 special ,practice smoothly drawing and accurately fireing and you will have a weapon you can depend on and actually have in your possesion if you ever need it.Oh yea they atent making them like that anymore so it will only get more valuable with time .Great gun great investment .
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:09 AM
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I've had a Model 38 since the '70s, bought it used from a local gun store as a back up for my duty weapon and as an off duty gun. It's a flat latch no dash model and I'd never consider selling it.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GUN MONKEY View Post
...if you'd had a handy gun that you could just drop in your pocket on the way out the door.
Though some do without any problems, I never pocket carry without some kind of holster. I use DeSantis Nemesis holsters for my Model 38-0 and 638-1, and I don't carry anything else in the pockets they reside in. Well, actually, I carry a handkerchief (yeah, I know, I'm a dinosaur) in my off-hand pocket along with the Model 38, but that's it.

Regards,

Dave
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:48 AM
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I have owned a model 37 Airweight for maybe 50 years. But why is mine marked model 37 when we are discussing a model 38 in this thread. What is difference?
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:41 AM
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The 37 has an exposed hammer. The 38 hammer is enclosed in the frame
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:01 AM
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All pre-lock guns will be considered "collectible" sometime in the future... but what does that really mean when millions were made? The only one's that will bring a premium will be new in the box and even then, the premium value will be less then the same money placed in some interest bearing savings... Seriously, most guns are not good investments. Just too many made and the up and coming crowd have turned to black guns and plastic.
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:08 AM
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My Bodyguard is always ready to take a walk.
As said, its collectability what with a "rub mark" and no box is a long way in the future.
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:19 AM
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The serial number puts it in late 1965, perhaps early 1966.

It is just about the perfect pocket carry gun with a holster. You will not put a significant amount of wear on it carried in this way so its "collector value" will be maintained. Besides that, you can always blame the cylinder rub on the previous owner.
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:40 AM
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The whistle with the bells. 59 I believe.
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:05 AM
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^^^^much good advice above. Bunch of savvy "J-hounds" here! I second the use of standard velocity service ammo in this gun. Some mfgrs produce this load with a SWC bullet: I would recommend this. For some reason, these "earlier-gen" aluminum frame guns (Models 37, 38, 42) recoil like the dickens for me, and I am accustomed to the modern J-frame .357s with magnum ammo.

Try to obtain another J-frame pocket gun; your first may be down for service or repair and you will need another in the interim. IMHO, LCP II is not in the same class. These guns are the last you should ever sell, as they can always be with you unobtrusively in a pocket. For a pocket rig, you can start with the UM/Blackhawk size 3 or 4 ($10 at WM) and move on to something else later. These rigs "fit my pistol." Good shooting.

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Old 09-22-2017, 11:58 AM
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IMHO the Bodyguards are the perfect pocket guns. Powerful enough, easy to conceal, fast on the draw and reliable. I know it considered tactically unsound but I want to have the single action option.
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Old 09-22-2017, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4011 View Post
The 37 has an exposed hammer. The 38 hammer is enclosed in the frame
Well, partially enclosed in the frame. There is enough of a "nub" exposed that the revolver can be cocked and fired single action. The Model 40 also known as the Centennial has the hammer completely enclosed in the frame and can be fire only double action. The Model 42 is the Airweight version of the Centennial.
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