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Old 09-06-2014, 11:53 AM
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In the 1960's several of my buddies worked at a local GM Plant.
They worked on the assembly line. Every year they would order a new car. When it came down the line they would load it up with options and special features. GM executive's would also take advantage of their position to make alterations to the "special order" car. I have seen Cadillac colors on Pontiacs and an Oldsmobile that had been in the paint shot twice and had a drop dead black paint job. None of the "build sheets" on these cars indicated nothing about these "extras" or in some case "hand fitting"

I have seen Ruger's that were "employee guns" that were non-standard and with outstanding fit/finish/wood. I would have never know about this until I traded for a stack of Ruger Collector Magazines. Ruger's I had passed up for years as being fake were indeed the "Real Deal"

My question is how do you tell an employee S&W firearm, when documentation says something else?
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Old 09-06-2014, 11:26 PM
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I don't know of any secret codes, but living nearby, I was lucky enough to buy a 686 from an employee. No special features or inlaid diamonds, but it has a very nice trigger.
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Old 09-07-2014, 04:01 AM
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There is a theory about what they nickname "lunchbox" guns. In short, guns with odd features or one of a kind that don't match either the standards models and / or don't match the S&W historical records. Of course, anyone who has an odd gun would prefer to have a prospective buyer think it is a (sometimes mythical) lunchbox gun instead of a parts gun .. one made out of pieces from like type guns many years later. A history letter from S&W is the place to start BUT when it doesn't "letter" as leaving the factory in that configuration (and others that the records show were never shipped out of the factory ... or no record on a certain serial number ... yet exist and are owned by someone trying to get a historical letter ) only careful and complete examination, matching the fitter markings and comparing numbers on all the parts is the only way to get a better grasp of whether it is genuine (and the records are lacking or incomplete) or ... it is just a gun that was made of parts from a few different serial number parts later on. In cases like this I have a concern that if numbers are mixed and they are completely off base, serial numbers way off base, it is likely a later put together. If the numbers don't match but are very close (within 100 to 1000 numbers of each other ) it might be more likely or more possible that it could have been a put together or "lunchbox" gun at the factory. One that I have was bought from a jeweler and S&W collector / dealer in Springfield, Mass. Hmmmmm ! Makes you think. In instances like this you can never verify for a fact but you will have a better idea if the probabilities of it being a later mix and match or a lunchbox gun are narrowed down but STILL only a theory. Only a true collector of that model gun would take a chance on purchasing it, likely for no more than the going price of a standard model, if they feel that sometime later they might be able to put more pieces of the puzzle together.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:44 AM
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Sometimes a firearm is listed as a sale to an employee, but the person is usually not identified. The problem with some special guns is prior to the Gun Control Act of 1968 they were not documented properly. For example, I have a 44 Magnum that was engraved for the President of Rex Firearms in October 1956 and the work was requested by S&W. This information comes from the records of Mr. White. The 44 Magnum is "open on the books" of S&W. Most likely, the gun was given or shipped to White with instructions, but no documentation was created.

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Old 09-07-2014, 10:26 AM
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I have had over a dozen Employee guns. I bought a Model 60 once, it had a bead blast finish, 3" barrel, red ramp front sight, presentation stocks and smooth trigger. It lettered as a 2", plain Md 60. Most, if not all of the employee gun had action jobs. I have seen more nickel Smith's in employee hands then blue. I know of a model 53 8 3/8" nickel with 6 or 7 cylinders. I had the chance once to buy a nickel Md 41 with 4 or 5 barrels. Almost all of the guns had presentation stocks. None will letter with the special features. Back in the 1970's, Smith & Wesson didn't have an FFL dealers license. When an employee bought a gun, S&W had a list of area gun stores that agreed to receive guns for employees. The employee would pick a store that they wanted the gun shipped to. The factory would put special instructions on the Packing Slip, "Ship to Stuart's Sports, Indian Orchard, MA. Attention: "Employees name". The employee would be told when the gun arrived and then they would pay Smith & Wesson for the gun.
Then go to that store, fill out the paper work and walk out with the gun. I could never confirm if S&W paid the shop for the transactions, or what compensation they received.
I also have heard of some strange barrel lengths on some revolvers. These stories were told to me by different employees. Several people have told me about Model 14's, 15's 19's and 66's with 8 3/8" barrels. Almost all of them with a nickel finish. I carried a Model 27 and a Model 29 on duty when I was a LEO. They both had 8 3/8" barrels, gold bead front sight, smooth target trigger and target hammer. Unfortunately, most will not letter because they were placed in inventory as a plain gun.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:05 PM
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I had one of the Model 19-2s with an 8 3/8-inch barrel. It came out of the Wayne Betz collection after his untimely death. The 19-2 had a bright blue finish. The barrel was from a Model 53 that had been bored out to .357 caliber and roll marked appropriately on the right side. The revolver lettered as a 19-2 with a 6-inch barrel with the added stated this model was not offered with an 8 3/8-inch barrel (but it should have been!!!!!!!!!!).

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Old 09-07-2014, 12:29 PM
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I would expect that more of these "specials" were created when S&W was a smaller company and more employees knew each other. Not a S&W, but I once owned an AH Fox double barrel shotgun that was engraved and had a highly figured straight grip stock. The engraving did not match a standard grade. The production record card for this gun still exists, and the letter from the Fox historian based on the card says that it is a Sterlingworth 2nd. The best explanation for the gun is that an employee bought it, and had friends in the factory restock and engrave the gun, as the stock and fore end as well as the straight grip trigger guard are serial numbered to the gun, and the engraving is of the correct style and quality for factory work of the period.
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Old 09-07-2014, 06:54 PM
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Having had a factory tour a few years ago, it would seem very difficult to remove any parts past the metal detectors currently deployed at the employee exits. Not saying it's impossible, but wouldn't be easy, and management has no sense of humor about this type of thing.
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Old 09-07-2014, 06:58 PM
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I have a double stack, Steel Frame, 9mm SN: 67xxx with long extractor rod, like the 39's of that serial number range, stamped 39-2. It sort of looks like the 39 is centered, then the -2 while still inline makes the 39-2 appear as it is not evenly centered right & left. Premium, deep, rich, show quality blue. the stocks are from a 39 but trimmed down to take the bump out of them for the more streamlined, grip-frame area. The back of the stocks are written in black marker "Walter Patak". I was hoping someone would help me find out if Walter Patak (or some name similar to PATAK) worked for S&W. If it were marked 147A, I would not have questioned it except the premium blue and the akward grips. It came from Rick Carlson, a jeweler and gun dealer in Springfield, Mass. about 20 or more years ago from a GunList advertisement. My buddy Don ( I won't say which "Don") was going to help find out about Walter Patak.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:04 PM
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Make that Walter PAJAK, and the serial number 62xxx.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:08 PM
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I would think it the days before metal detectors a little leakage was bound to happen.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:44 PM
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I picked up a model 631 .32 mag with a 2" barrel at my LGS a few years ago that was traded by a retired employee. Was wearing some unmarked boot grips that supposedly were a prototype ( so the story went) and had a very unique serial number. Gun also had a factory bobbed hammer and the sweetest, smoothest trigger of any J in my collection. I'd love to know more of the story but owner at LGS said guy hasnt been back. Still is one of my favorites.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:58 PM
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I would think it the days before metal detectors a little leakage was bound to happen.
Maybe pre WWI it happened, but not from what I've been told by past and present employees. Remember, it is a felony and the BATF along with State and Local police investigate. Any gun manufacturer doesn't want bad publicity. An employee stealing a gun is about as bad as you can get. I started going to Smith & Wesson in the early 1970's as a law enforcement officer. I was not given any special treatment of any kind when it came to guns. It's the same way today. I have known at least 100 workers both on the floor and from management. Never has any one of them ever indicated they had a gun that was in the least bit shady. Sure they would order a special gun and have it worked over and special features, but, they paid for it.
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Old 09-08-2014, 01:11 AM
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The house next door to my parents ( who bought the house from the developer ~1971) is about 1 foot bigger in every direction in every room. Their neighbor for many years who lived in that house was the job foreman and had picked out that house and was buying it from the builder as well. No word if he ever paid for the extra materials.
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Old 10-04-2014, 11:12 AM
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I have a nickle model 39 that was given to Fred Miller upon his retirement from S&W. It is so inscribed on the slide.

I am sure that if a worker back in the day wanted to get parts out of the factory and assemble a gun at home it was doable. These folks were talented craftsmen and I am sure that they would have had no problem altering a metal lunchbox or thermos to conceal what they needed to get by the guards or metal detectors. Not saying that anyone did, just saying that it was most likely possible.
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:26 PM
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This thread reminds me of Radar O'Reilly's jeep!
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:55 PM
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I do know from personal knowledge speaking with friends that were/ are guards they had to ban oversize thermos bottles. People would use a small insert and have space in the bottom. They were used for small parts, stocks and stuff. If anyone was ever caught with anything that usually had a serial number they were detained by the guards, using S&W handcuffs. All Supervisor's were notified. Springfield PD would be called and the person arrested. Smith & Wesson had a very strict policy about theft. You would loose everything. If a guard let something slide, they were fired. I do know of people that were fired.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:49 AM
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It seems more plausible that the *lunchbox guns* are not that, but were made for significant customers, employee appreciation or retirement, request of management, and possibly as example pieces for potential orders from a department/distributor.
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Old 10-13-2014, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Club Gun Fan View Post
I have had over a dozen Employee guns. I bought a Model 60 once, it had a bead blast finish, 3" barrel, red ramp front sight, presentation stocks and smooth trigger. It lettered as a 2", plain Md 60. Most, if not all of the employee gun had action jobs. I have seen more nickel Smith's in employee hands then blue. I know of a model 53 8 3/8" nickel with 6 or 7 cylinders. I had the chance once to buy a nickel Md 41 with 4 or 5 barrels. Almost all of the guns had presentation stocks. None will letter with the special features. Back in the 1970's, Smith & Wesson didn't have an FFL dealers license. When an employee bought a gun, S&W had a list of area gun stores that agreed to receive guns for employees. The employee would pick a store that they wanted the gun shipped to. The factory would put special instructions on the Packing Slip, "Ship to Stuart's Sports, Indian Orchard, MA. Attention: "Employees name". The employee would be told when the gun arrived and then they would pay Smith & Wesson for the gun.
Then go to that store, fill out the paper work and walk out with the gun. I could never confirm if S&W paid the shop for the transactions, or what compensation they received.
I also have heard of some strange barrel lengths on some revolvers. These stories were told to me by different employees. Several people have told me about Model 14's, 15's 19's and 66's with 8 3/8" barrels. Almost all of them with a nickel finish. I carried a Model 27 and a Model 29 on duty when I was a LEO. They both had 8 3/8" barrels, gold bead front sight, smooth target trigger and target hammer. Unfortunately, most will not letter because they were placed in inventory as a plain gun.
Don, just a year or so back, a local FFL had a nickel 19-3 in his case with an 8 3/8ths barrel. Interestingly the barrel was roll marked as a "38 S&W SPECIAL" and the frame stamped 19-3. The dealer told me he got it from a retired employee, and if I had the funds I would've owned it. But I did examine it thoroughly 3 times before he finally sold it. Great target stocks, even better action, with a partridge front, beaded sight blade. The condition of the revolver was 98-99% overall. Normal serial number, frame stamped with an N, and I am sure no part of the gun was refinished.
Oh well, can't get them all!
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Old 10-13-2014, 07:29 PM
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Kind of like My lunchbox M1 Carbine. All of the early features, no rebuild stamps, looks unfired, and it's blued in it's entirety.
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:17 PM
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This thread made me smile. Bought a Model 14-3 that was said to have been a S&W Salesman's gun or sample. Nickel, 8 3/8", and gold bead front sight. Funny thing is I like the gun so much, none of the other details really matter to me. He most likely had it made for him like that, so I would like to think. Who knows?
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:51 PM
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Years ago I met the man who made the wood stocks for Smith & Wesson .According to him most employes had a special poly based finish applied by him for their ordered guns.This was a spray based durable finish rather than the fragil brush on finish that is stock.So I have no doubt what you say is true.
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Old 10-14-2014, 09:18 AM
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This thread made me smile. Bought a Model 14-3 that was said to have been a S&W Salesman's gun or sample. Nickel, 8 3/8", and gold bead front sight. Funny thing is I like the gun so much, none of the other details really matter to me. He most likely had it made for him like that, so I would like to think. Who knows?
Bud Jr.
I don't think Smith & Wesson would allow a saleman to show customers a custom revolver that was not available. Customers says "I'll take five like this." Saleman says, Sorry, I had this one made just for me, they are not available." Next thing you know the dealer is calling C--T. I do know one of the retired S&W employees had alot of his guns ordered with 8 3/8" barrels, nickel and gold bead front sight.
I have a Model 53 just like that. I also had a model 29 & a 27 in that configuration.
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Old 10-14-2014, 10:43 AM
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Years ago I met the man who made the wood stocks for Smith & Wesson .According to him most employes had a special poly based finish applied by him for their ordered guns.This was a spray based durable finish rather than the fragil brush on finish that is stock.So I have no doubt what you say is true.
What a great little detail to know about. This is why I enjoy this site so much. Thanks for that.
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Old 10-14-2014, 11:43 AM
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Related to this, if your gun has an arrowhead stamped on the frame, it means the gun passed through the armorer's school. I have a Model 65, 3" RB which I purchased while attending the school and mine does indeed have the arrow. However, the gun was stock, without any customized details.

The armorer's school was a good place to buy guns because both a student and an S&W armorer went over the gun to insure it was mechanically perfect.
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Old 10-14-2014, 11:54 AM
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Related to this, if your gun has an arrowhead stamped on the frame, it means the gun passed through the armorer's school. I have a Model 65, 3" RB which I purchased while attending the school and mine does indeed have the arrow. However, the gun was stock, without any customized details.

The armorer's school was a good place to buy guns because both a student and an S&W armorer went over the gun to insure it was mechanically perfect.

Very cool! I had never heard of this until today. Thanks for sharing the info.
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
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Related to this, if your gun has an arrowhead stamped on the frame, it means the gun passed through the armorer's school. I have a Model 65, 3" RB which I purchased while attending the school and mine does indeed have the arrow. However, the gun was stock, without any customized details.

The armorer's school was a good place to buy guns because both a student and an S&W armorer went over the gun to insure it was mechanically perfect.
That's great, thanks. Have you got a pic or link to a pic of that mark?
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:40 PM
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I don't think my camera can get close enough for a meaningful picture of the armorers' school mark but in searching online, another poster here at the S&W forum described the armorer's school mark as a triangle. I recall it as being a triangle with a slight tail, hense an arrow, stamped on the left side of the frame, on the grip.

Last edited by federali; 10-20-2014 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 11-16-2014, 02:59 PM
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I got this one off an employee it's kind of special.

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Old 12-12-2014, 11:05 AM
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Here's an example of an employee gun. I got this from a fellow SWCA member and retired Smith & Wesson Traffic Manager. He had now idea they would put this presentation stocks on it when he got it. It was a Jovino Special order Model 60 square butt. It never left the plant, it was sold directly to him.
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Old 12-12-2014, 01:21 PM
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I find it ironic that some of the most valuable and 1 off guns out there are without proper documentation. I suppose its fine on the first post employee transaction but after that I would think the notion of "buying the gun, not the story" would come into play. Some of the SWHF paper may help in some cases but I bet there are some legitimate "factory" odd balls that can't be substantiated.
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Old 12-12-2014, 05:12 PM
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Your right. Look at my post about the model 60 I owned. The only way you could verify the gun would be to have the person give you a letter. I've seen alot of employee owned guns that were all tricked out by them.
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:13 PM
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I have a nickle model 39 that was given to Fred Miller upon his retirement from S&W. It is so inscribed on the slide.

I am sure that if a worker back in the day wanted to get parts out of the factory and assemble a gun at home it was doable. These folks were talented craftsmen and I am sure that they would have had no problem altering a metal lunchbox or thermos to conceal what they needed to get by the guards or metal detectors. Not saying that anyone did, just saying that it was most likely possible.
It would be a sure bet that some employee's had guns that were not paid for, or any records of there existence.
They sure wouldn't want to get caught with one though.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:56 PM
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I find it ironic that some of the most valuable and 1 off guns out there are without proper documentation. I suppose its fine on the first post employee transaction but after that I would think the notion of "buying the gun, not the story" would come into play. Some of the SWHF paper may help in some cases but I bet there are some legitimate "factory" odd balls that can't be substantiated.
I don't think that really mattered much to the employes back then. They were more concerned in getting their gun the way they wanted because they could.There would be no reason for them to think about a future owner on a internet gun forum having documentation to make up a total package.Before only a Few years ago, it was hard to spend over $500 on a mint used revolver .
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:55 PM
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This forum is such a wonderful spot. The things one learns by just hanging around boggles the mind...... Mine anyway! Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:24 PM
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It would be a sure bet that some employee's had guns that were not paid for, or any records of there existence.
They sure wouldn't want to get caught with one though.
John
If you ever get a chance to go the Smith & Wesson, go. After you come out, think about what you posted here. The security you go thru is nothing like what you would have to pass if your an employee. What do you mean by "It would be a sure bet that some employee's had guns that were not paid for"? Do you know what would happen if you stole a gun from there. You go to jail! Smith & Wesson will make an example out of you. I do know that the company sets up stings trying to catch people stealing guns. They also do stings on the security guards. If a gun goes missing the BATF is involved, along with the local police. Smith & Wesson must apply for an FFL every five years and any problems that arise could and would stop production.
Many employee have guns that were not paid for I know many employees that have just such guns. They received them as Service Awards, they have their names on them.
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:18 AM
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Related to this, if your gun has an arrowhead stamped on the frame, it means the gun passed through the armorer's school. I have a Model 65, 3" RB which I purchased while attending the school and mine does indeed have the arrow. However, the gun was stock, without any customized details.

The armorer's school was a good place to buy guns because both a student and an S&W armorer went over the gun to insure it was mechanically perfect.
Interesting , did the arrow have a mark inside? my 66 has a triangle with a J inside, to me it just looked like a inspector mark.
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Old 01-07-2015, 02:00 AM
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It would seem to me if S&W has such strict security, that they must of at some had a problem with employees or others.

What a bout the S&W employee that buys a S&W legit and breaks it, does he take it to work and fix it, can he take in his gun's hammer and slick it up on break time? It wouldn't seem unreasonable to think that one could of at one point in history.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:16 PM
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I think that we also must preface this discussion with a timeline. I don't think that current security measures would allow guns or parts out of the factory but what about 50 or 75 years ago. Things were not as rigid back then and at one time you could purchase a gun directly from the company and have it shipped to your house.

I would also bet that stuff could find its way into a dumpster and leave the factory without going through the metal detectors.

That is of course if Dumpster Don didn't find it first.

The ATF wasn't founded unitl 1972 and a lot of stuff happened prior to then and 1968 when the Gun Control Act went into being.

There are way too many guns that show up as "open on the books" to believe that things didn't happen.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:40 PM
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Quote, There are way too many guns that show up as "not on the books" to believe that things didn't happen, end quote.
I can't recall this statement. I've seen "Open on the books", but not "not on the books.. Once a piece is given a serial number, it is placed "on the books." Could you tell me of one example of "not on the books?
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:43 AM
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I think we are discussing symantics here. Open on the books or not on the books is followed by the fact that the company records have no information as to the disposition of the serial number that is on a gun.

The gun exists, the serial number exists, but the company represented by, in this case, the company historian, can give no explanation as to the disposition of the firearm bearing said serial number.

This could happen for a variety of reasons, just not recorded, given out by an executive and disposition not reported to whomever is to track these things, gun fell off the back of the truck etc.

I own such a gun and have read this response more than once in the 15 years that I have been on this site.
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:53 AM
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James
Thanks for the $50.00 answer! I was just asking you to show me where you have a
letter that says "Not on the books."
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Old 01-12-2015, 07:00 PM
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James, sorry no help. The .45 Target Model of 1950 serial number S126189 is one of those guns that just slipped out of the factory as it is open on the books. The serial numbers around this gun were shipped in the fall of 1954 and the winter of 1955. No help. Roy
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:05 PM
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Thank You, Sir James. You proved my point.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:56 PM
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I'm not sure what "point" that is but if you're happy, I'm happy.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:05 PM
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Club Gun Fan - it looked to me like he proved what others were saying.

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Old 08-10-2015, 09:27 PM
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The ATF wasn't founded unitl 1972 . . . .
Subtract 35?
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:04 PM
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Another possibility you might not think of happened at Ruger a few years ago here in Prescott, Az. Security was stealing pistols off the assembly line before the serial number were stamped, so you would want to make sure your Ruger has a serial number. Can't image how they sorted all that out.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:51 PM
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In 1972 ATF was established as a separate bureau within the Treasury Department when Treasury Department Order 221, effective July 1, 1972, transferred the responsibilities of the ATF division of the IRS to the new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Rex D. Davis oversaw the transition, becoming the bureau's first director, having headed the division since 1970.

This is what I was referring to.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:22 PM
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Bud Jr.
I don't think Smith & Wesson would allow a saleman to show customers a custom revolver that was not available. Customers says "I'll take five like this." Saleman says, Sorry, I had this one made just for me, they are not available." Next thing you know the dealer is calling C--T. I do know one of the retired S&W employees had alot of his guns ordered with 8 3/8" barrels, nickel and gold bead front sight.
I have a Model 53 just like that. I also had a model 29 & a 27 in that configuration.
The story could have been told wrong over the years. Either way, it will be one of the last two I ever get rid of(one for each hand). Maybe it was his personal gun??

Last edited by Be still; 08-10-2015 at 11:35 PM.
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