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


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Old 06-02-2019, 06:01 PM
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Default S prefix vs. N prefix

During a conversation a couple months ago or more, somebody said S guns were better than N guns. A couple agreed and a couple disagreed.

My question is, is there any substance to that statement?
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:08 PM
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I’ve always thought that some folks find the S-prefix guns a bit more desirable because they are earlier, not necessarily because they’re “better” guns. I may be incorrect?
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:11 PM
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That’s also my understanding.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:14 PM
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I remember the topic and I remember some felt the S was better but I can't remember the details.

I think it was because the earlier guns were built by better gunsmiths at S&W but I could be off by a mile.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:19 PM
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I remember the topic and I remember some felt the S was better but I can't remember the details.

I think it was because the earlier guns were built by better gunsmiths at S&W but I could be off by a mile.
Not a bad thought but also remember that the system wasn't under the demand pressure which started in the early 70's AND there probably wasn't the CNC machining capability.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:53 PM
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Earlier is generally considered better.

S prefix can be either post-war (WWII) K or N frame revolvers. None of the S or N prefix guns were CNC machined.

If you’re talking about N frames, S prefix guns might have diamond grips. Cokes, Targets and PC Magnas (early Model 58’s) are worth substantially more than later versions. That certainly effects the value.

All things being equal, an S prefix 29-2 with Cokes is worth $300-$500 more than a later gun with football Targets.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:55 PM
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I have no first-hand insight or even just opinion to offer.

However, I would counsel against categorical quality pronouncements based on formalities. Resale value, based on people's subjective perceptions, is a different story. More desirable is not the same as better.

There are people who dogmatically believe that quality took a nose-dive when the 5th screw and then the 4th screw were sacrificed, a view not really tethered to observable reality.

So be sure you listen to people with actual experience or better yet, compare guns yourself.
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Old 06-02-2019, 07:29 PM
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I own both. The polish on guns with an S prefix serial number is usually better than those with an N prefix serial number, but from a functional perspective, they are the same.

Bill
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:10 PM
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Pete-As with all things I believe condition is everything. If you make all things equal like a N and an S gun were hermetically sealed in a dark safe temperature and humidity controlled environment, I’m guessing there is not much difference. I have a an S that is darn near perfect, and an S that has been shot a lot and has a little holster wear. I find it hard to buy that Smith&Wesson got rid of all the really talented folks in 1968. “Sorry, we’re laying off everyone, as we are going from S to N on the butt of all guns” Just as “Sorry, you’re being laid off because we don’t need people to screw in the 5th screw, and in a little while we will lay off more of you when we go to three screws.”

Of course people have their preferences. And pay up for condition, provenance, and their particular beliefs.
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:24 PM
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I own both. The polish on guns with an S prefix serial number is usually better than those with an N prefix serial number , but from a functional perspective, they are the same.

Bill
Doc44-I do agree that my older guns seem to be a darker, prettier, bluing. My 28’s have no significant difference to my untrained eye. And my nickel guns seem to be about the same. I just enjoy all of them for different reasons. Could be the stocks/grips. Could be the barrel length. Could be the memory of a gun I had to sell to pay a house payment, or one that I let get away. That’s why my tastes are all over the place. And where I’ve put my cash.
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:49 PM
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I own both. The polish on guns with an S prefix serial number is usually better than those with an N prefix serial number, but from a functional perspective, they are the same.

Bill
I remember several people saying that.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narragansett View Post
During a conversation a couple months ago or more, somebody said S guns were better than N guns. A couple agreed and a couple disagreed.

My question is, is there any substance to that statement?
If more valuable equates to being better, then obviously with condition being equal, the S guns are better.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:31 PM
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There are differences within S prefix N frames (about 22 years production) and N prefixes (about 15 years) and models. .357 and .44 Magnums and model 27s, 29s and 57s always had Bright Blue finishes, but other S prefix guns generally had standard blue until the mid-50s to the early '60s, when all guns seemed to have nicer polishing and bluing. The change away from "soft fitting" in the late '50s didn't seem to affect how the guns worked, or lasted.

The differences between S333454 and N1 are probably minimal.
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Old 06-02-2019, 10:06 PM
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The op asked which is better. So I simply ask which is better a 50 dollar bill or a 100 dollar bill ? S=100 and the N=50
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:17 PM
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S Diamond targets or Cokes go for a lot more. S is generally preferred.
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:57 PM
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I think the value has a lot more to do with the panache of the earlier guns (similar to pre war vs. post war guns) like # of screws, etc., and the difficulty in finding equal condition earlier guns.

But just comparing S to Ns is far too general for me.
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:23 PM
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I think (that in itself is scary) I read here recently that a S 29-2 was P&R and the N was not.

Not sure it that's correct or not.
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Old 06-21-2019, 08:52 PM
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I think (that in itself is scary) I read here recently that a S 29-2 was P&R and the N was not.

Not sure it that's correct or not.
Not so. The N prefix was used from about 1969 to the early 80’s and the vast majority of them were pinned.

I’m not sure about 29-2’s, but there were “transitional” 27-2 that had recessed cylinders and non-pinned barrels. These were late in the run and not the norm.
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Old 06-21-2019, 08:56 PM
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Not so. The N prefix was used from about 1969 to the early 80’s and the vast majority of them were pinned.

I’m not sure about 29-2’s, but there were “transitional” 27-2 that had recessed cylinders and non-pinned barrels. These were late in the run and not the norm.
Thank you.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:38 PM
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This is easy even for an amateur like me. All things equal an S is worth more than an N.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:48 PM
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Perhaps a relevant date to define when S&W quality may have begun to decline would be when Carl Hellstrom passed and the family sold the company. As to CNC machining, my wife and I had a personal guided tour of the S&W plant in 2000 when we stopped in to visit. They showed us two CNC work stations which were operating as we watched.

This point in time was especially difficult for S&W after the infamous "deal" the company president made with Andrew Cuomo and the Clintons. The company was for sale with no buyers until Saf-T-Hamr stepped up with few bucks and a lot of guts.

I toured again in 2008 with the SWCA group and the place was humming with many CNC stations and lots of very young, green newbies doing assembly. CNC had a huge impact on the skilled labor component of gun assembly. CNC parts will fit up with very little fitting.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:21 PM
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Not so. The N prefix was used from about 1969 to the early 80’s and the vast majority of them were pinned.

I’m not sure about 29-2’s, but there were “transitional” 27-2 that had recessed cylinders and non-pinned barrels. These were late in the run and not the norm.
Same with the 29-3. They started out with the N prefix and recessed cylinders and eventually went to triple alpha and non recessed.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:47 AM
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I don't own any N prefix N-frames and gravitate toward prewar, transitional, and post-war S-prefix examples with diamond magnas and target stocks. That's my thing. I have but two examples from the 1960's, a rare Model 21 and a 4" Model 28-2 shooter. The rest of my N-frames are 5-screw and a mix of stainless and blue N-frames made 1984-2008, mostly shooters.

Lately I like the early-mid 1990's N-frames and am particularly fond of the 29-5 and -6, and 629-2E, -3 and -4. Yeah, these aren't P+R or especially collectible, but they are pre-MIM, pre-lock, with tight throats, and have all the endurance updates. These are well made superior firearms, IMO, from a practical standpoint.

Here's a couple "classic" N-frames:
S prefix vs. N prefix-44-magnum-s147233_july56_right_adj-jpg S prefix vs. N prefix-sw29ckrein05walkabout-jpg
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:42 AM
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I don't own any N prefix N-frames and gravitate toward prewar, transitional, and post-war S-prefix examples with diamond magnas and target stocks. That's my thing. I have but two examples from the 1960's, a rare Model 21 and a 4" Model 28-2 shooter. The rest of my N-frames are 5-screw and a mix of stainless and blue N-frames made 1984-2008, mostly shooters.

Lately I like the early-mid 1990's N-frames and am particularly fond of the 29-5 and -6, and 629-2E, -3 and -4. Yeah, these aren't P+R or especially collectible, but they are pre-MIM, pre-lock, with tight throats, and have all the endurance updates. These are well made superior firearms, IMO, from a practical standpoint.

Here's a couple "classic" N-frames:
Attachment 401972 Attachment 401973
Here is a 1992 M29-5 Classic DX 5"
Attached Thumbnails
S prefix vs. N prefix-29-classic-dx-jpg  
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:33 PM
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I think personal preference has a lot to do with this. Me, I just like the older stuff in revolvers as well as pistols and shotguns. For the most part technology has turned workers in the firearms industry from skilled craftsmen who took pride in the product they produce to workers who needed a job to pay the bills. I think this started happening in the 70's as an aging workforce started retiring and were replaced by the less skilled.
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