The members here are extremely helpful to people trying to identify guns.
However, many people do not post the data we need to help you, and we wind up playing 20 Questions
If you will take just a few minutes to read below and then post the data we need, you will sometimes see guns fully identified in 10 minutes or less! If you post at 4 am Eastern time, you might have to wait 2 or 3 hours for the morning crew to show up, but there's a good chance a west coast night owl will catch it for you.
Help us help YOU!
Start your own thread.
Do Not tack your question onto an existing thread. That only causes a confusing jumble of answers about different guns.
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Attachments and Images
Easy and fast!
POSTING PHOTOS on this Forum.
First, if the cylinder swings out to the side, check behind the yoke for a MODEL NUMBER.
If your gun does have a Model Number, post your questions in the subforums for the later models located here:
S&W Revolvers: 1961 to 1980
S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present
Model number, serial number, finish, caliber, and barrel length are usually all you will need to post for information on a Model numbered gun.
The part the cylinder swings on is called the Yoke:
Useful data may or may NOT be behind the yoke!
Model Numbers began in 1957-58.
So first, look for a Model Number
IF there is a DASH Number, give us the complete
This is a Model 67-1
If there is NO Model number behind the yoke, there is probably NOTHING we need from back there!
The assembly number which does NOT match the serial number on the butt is USELESS to us.
DON'T even tell us what it is.
We DON'T want to know!
This assembly number of 36000 on this gun is only there to keep the frame and yoke together during manufacture. Note it is on both parts:
One notable exception is a Reg Number found on Registered Magnums.
If your gun has that, TELL
No Model Number?
Proceed to Steps 1 through 5 below.
Items 1 through 5 below are absolutely essential for identifying your gun.
GIVE US all five of those.
The data after 1-5 are not usually required for a basic ID of your gun.
First, we need to know what TYPE S&W you have:
So called because the barrel "tips up" for loading.
ALL Tip-Ups should be posted here: S&W Antiques
Obviously because the frame opens, or "breaks" on the top.
Tell us whether or not your gun has a VISIBLE Hammer.
If you care, it is NOT called a Break-Top, Breakover, or Breakdown.
Note that this type ejected the spent shells automatically when opened, which relates to the name of the next type.
ALL Top-Breaks should be posted here: S&W Antiques
So called because the cartridges must be "ejected by hand" instead of happening automatically as in the earlier Top-Breaks. If your cylinder swings out to the left, you are holding a Hand Ejector.
My personal description for more than 30 years:
"The finest machine ever devised by man for slinging a bullet with one hand."
Feel free to disagree. This is America, and you have the right to be wrong.
ALL Hand Ejectors without Model Numbers should be posted here: S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961
2. Serial Number
After we know what TYPE you have, we need a serial number!
See the S
on the gun below?
part of the serial number! We need any letters that are with the serial number!
We DON'T need the actual number if it bothers you to post it.
Post the number below as S 880XXX
We DO need the EXACT number of digits.
The one TRUE place you can be sure of reading the serial number is the BUTT of the gun:
A few S&W models have the Serial Number on the front gripstrap which faces the trigger guard because the grips covered the bottom of the butt:
Every S&W revolver had the serial number in one of those places!
3. CTG or Caliber
is an abbreviation for "Cartridge".
It is NOT the Model of your gun.
GIVE us the caliber, but 44 Special
or 38 S&W
or 38 Special
or whatever it is will suffice:
4. Barrel Length
The barrel begins immediately in front of the cylinder, so Barrel Length is measured like this:
Fixed Sights or Adjustable?
Fixed Sights are a simple notch for the rear sight:
Top Break Fixed:
Hand Ejector Fixed:
Adjustable Sights will have screws on the rear sight which allow adjustment:
Top Break Adjustable:
Hand Ejector Pre-War Adjustable:
Hand Ejector Post-War Adjustable:
STOP Here and Read:
Items 1-5 above are all we usually need to tell you what you have.
The rest of the data below is not usually required for identifying a gun unless it is an unusual or special order gun.
The members here will quickly let you know if they need more data.
On small frame guns, it is often helpful to know if there is a Strain Screw
in the front gripstrap:
Also called Lanyard Loop, Lanyard Ring, and Lanyard Swivel.
How Many Screws?
We will usually know, but you might want to tell us how many screws:
4th Screw is in front of trigger guard:
Upper sideplate screw was dropped around 1955-56:
Trigger guard screw was dropped around 1961:
that some types of grips often cover Screw #1, and sometimes Screw #2 also:
also that many small frame guns NEVER had the Trigger Guard Screw even though they have the large upper sideplate screw.
Just tell us what you see.