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  #1  
Old 09-24-2010, 11:01 AM
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Default Model 39 - short tang

I picked up this very nice, model 39 no dash a couple of years ago. Sadly, I have no box or papers. I understand that pre-model 39s had a shorter tang and no model number stamp. However, mine has an obviously short tang AND a model number stamp. Can anyone comment? Also... what is the meaning of the small letter stamped on the finger guard where it meets the frame? Mine is stamped "P". My serial is 8545 and it looks to be unfired. I plan to keep it so.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:34 AM
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thats a nice looking piece.

steel frame?????? the blueing on the frame makes it look like steel.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:43 AM
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As best I can determine, SW, it's alloy. I'm using a magnet and it doesn't seem to stick very well. The finish seems to be the regular black hard anodized.
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Old 09-24-2010, 12:46 PM
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thanks for the info.

It looks like its been dry stroked (trigger finish wear)

I once had a 39-2. very nice piece.
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Old 09-24-2010, 01:00 PM
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Nice gun.


I don't know about the short tang, but my 39-2 has the same "P" on the trigger guard, so I hope we find that it's a rare and desirable variation!
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Old 09-24-2010, 01:13 PM
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Yes, it would be nice to find out that it indicates some rare thing. But... I suspect it is an inspector stamp or some such thing.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:52 AM
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Very nice find!

My 31xxx serial 39 no-dash looks pretty much the same, except for the tang length. All the stampings are the same and in the same place, although the model designation on mine is stamped "Model-39" with a long low dash symbol, not "Model 39" . Mine also has the "P" stamp on the trigger guard.

I have a late model 39-2 A694xxx that has a different mark on the trigger guard, kind of a fat bottomed 'T' symbol, and '1' on the bottom of the mag well.
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Old 09-25-2010, 04:22 PM
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That is a very nice Mod 39 No Dash. They really did a great job back in those days with the polishing and bluing. Your 39 is great shape.

Now on to your questions. Something you have to remember about S&W is that they never always did something and they didn't throw away parts back then. As they transitioned from the Pre-39 to the Model 39, the parts and frames were slowly exhausted from the old Pre-39 parts. So you have a Model 39 with a Pre-39 feature. I believe the mark on the trigger guard was an inspectors stamp of some sort. Also, your 39 no dash probably shipped sometime around 1957 - 1958.
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:13 AM
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Default My 39

Here's my 39 shipped in 1959 (lettered from S&W). It has the long tang but according to the serial number was made before yours.
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:18 PM
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P= proofed
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithman 10 View Post
Here's my 39 shipped in 1959 (lettered from S&W). It has the long tang but according to the serial number was made before yours.
S&W had a tendency to make a large lot of a model then pull them from the vault as they were sold back then. That is what makes collecting these older S&W 39's interesting to me there are a lot of variations on models during transitions and when there were shipped out is often anyones guess, unless you get it lettered. Another example is when S&W changed the location of the slide serrations on the Mod 39 no dash forward of the safety body to match the location on the Mod 52. I have narrowed down a SN range (a perk to SWCA membership is a lot of help on research you can't get on the from the public side of the forum, you should check it out), but in that range, it is anybodys guess as to which one will have the slide serration where. Isn't collecting S&W semi-autos fun?
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:55 PM
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I'll bet you have a transistional Pre/Model marked 39. S&W was using up parts. I own one as new with box, and papers. Mine had a long beaver tail frame, but all the other accents were Pre 39, Short safety, no cut stocks ,and a Pre 39 magazine. I had it lettered by Jinks. They are more rare than the Pre 39. If it's alloy, you have a pre 39 frame. Looks like the rest is pretty much a Model 39.
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:26 PM
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The steel frame pre 39's were actually built prior to the alloy version in about 1954. The factory did not ship them until the mid 60's and they fall into 3 serial ranges. 39,000, 60,000 and 81,000. The early alloy guns have the shorter safety, the shorter tang and a longer extractor.

On the pre 39, the left stock panel is flat across the top whereas on the 39-2 there is a curved cut out at the rear top. On the pre 39's the saftey is in a field of 15 up and down grooves. On the 39-2 the field of 15 grooves is partly forward of the safety and almost touches the 4 line address. On the pre 39 the curved cut at the front of the slide falls short of the cut section on the frame. On the 39-2 the curved slide cut is in line with the frame cut.

NOTE: The observations above are based on a side by side comparison of my pre 39 and 39-2 and may be different on yours. My pre 39 is in the 17XX range and the 39-2 is in the A1462XX range.


PS: The safety shown in the original OP photo is the longer version, whereas all other features are that of the early pre 39. The "P" is a proof mark and unfortunately does not make the gun rare.
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Last edited by JSR III; 09-29-2010 at 11:36 PM. Reason: added PS
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  #14  
Old 10-06-2010, 09:23 AM
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Much thanks to Firebird, Smithman, JSR, and Automatic. Sorry if I left anyone out. That was ALL great info. It has cleared up allot about this 39.

I suspected that it was a pretty unique find, but now I'm really excited. The collector bug has bit me. I will get this 39 lettered very soon. As best I can determine, I have a pre-39 slide and frame with a 39 safety lever, left grip panel and model number mark. I wonder how many other 39s are out there with this mix of Pre-39 and model 39 features? As Automatic pointed out these mix and match models may be rarer than actual full Pre-39s and regular 39s. Or am I just too excited?
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:34 AM
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I have not paid much attention to my two magazines. They have the steel base plate with the S&W mark and a skeleton follower.

What features make a magazine a pre-model mag vs. a regular?
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:26 AM
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Thanks for this thread; it made me take another look at my steel frame 39, from the second production group. It has the short tang, and the slide serrations are around the safety cutout.
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:01 PM
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Pre 39 magazines do not have a skeleton follower. They have a flat steel, with a bevel front edge. I'll post a picture in the near future when time allows.
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:39 PM
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Pre 39 magazine
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:11 PM
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Pre model 39's also had a small safety and a unique left stock
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:09 PM
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Here's a late 39-2 but the stocks are from a 1950's Model 52.

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Old 12-10-2010, 06:07 PM
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Default My steel frame serial # 60X39 (1960) and my pre-model-39 serial # 2277 (1956)

These are two of my favorite 39's. Both are unfired complete with boxes and paperwork. The steel frame has a dust cover, and military magazines. The pre-39 has the original booklet and flat steel follower magazines.

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Old 12-10-2010, 08:17 PM
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Nice Pre 39. I have one just like it unfired in box serial 1446. It came with 2 flat steel follower mags and original brown wrapping paper. No manual but it does have the factory warranty card dated 1/14/56
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:30 AM
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Thank you. Mine was July 1956. Until I got this gun, I had never seen the green booklet before.
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Old 12-11-2010, 02:11 AM
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I snapped a few pictures of my pre 39.







Last edited by lah1940; 12-11-2010 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:42 PM
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Default Nice pre-39 pics

Thanks for the pics Iah1940. That is a beautiful pre-39.

My 39 seems to have a mixture of Pre-39 and "model numbered" 39 parts. My slide has the grip serrations under the safety and the curved cut at the muzzle stops very short of the frame shoulder. My frame has the short tang, also. However, the safety lever is the long one and my grip panel is not a straight across type. The frame is stamped "Model 39".

Some, here in the thread, have suggested that it could have been produced as a crossover just as they were using up the Pre-39 parts. Or they discovered some unused pre-39 slides and frames and decided to use them, but did not have any more pre-39 parts. My serial is 85XX. See the photos at the beginning of the thread. How do you think this could have occurred?
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:07 PM
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what exactly do they mean by shorter tang? I dont quite understand what that means.
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:38 PM
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I can verify that one in the 8400 range has the long tang, but like the gun with which this thread started, still has an earlier style slide with a shorter curved front cutout and rearward serrations. That short tang example is something of an anomaly being that far along in production. I expect a very advanced collector would covet it, but how much of a premium it would command I would be hard pressed to say.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:55 PM
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According to the SCSW : 927 steel frame guns were made first but not assembled or sold until 1966 ,
They serial in the 39000 range and 60000 - 64000 and again 81000 to 82000.

The first guns sold were alloy pre 39's beginning with serial 1001 to 2600,
Early guns are different and have smaller safety levers, a short tang, long extractor, unique frame backstrap,
no cutout on left grip panel needed for the safety lever , no trigger play spring and no model stamping.

"what exactly do they mean by shorter tang? I dont quite understand what that means.

The "TANG" sticks out just above the web of your hand and protects it from the slide and hammer .

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:27 AM
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ah and I dont know why but for the life on me I thought it was refering to the bit that sticks out at the bottom of the front strap where the frame meets the magazine, I guess I was just having a brain short

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Old 01-25-2012, 06:54 PM
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Kavinsky... I have never understood why my 39 has a short tang, but it is definitely shorter than normal like those on later 39s and 39-2s. But, for that matter I don't understand why I have a mixture of pre-39 features, but a stamped 39 frame. I am going to get my serial # researched by Roy Jinks. I will be very curious to find out the mfg and ship date. Despite my 85XX serial number, I believe my 39 to be an early manufacture 1955 or 56' gun. Or possibly an unused pre-39 slide was discovered in 58'-59' and then used to make mine. But, my slide is most definitely a pre-39 with the slide serrations under the safety lever and the shorter curved notch at the muzzle.The real mystery for me is why the pre-39 slide on a frame marked "model 39" AND the short tang too.

I found some other interesting model 39 info here:
WHAT IS MY S & W MODEL 39 WORTH - JustAnswer

Quoted from above site:
The distinguishing features of the Pre-39 compared to the Model 39 are as follows: short safety, short tang, a unique frame back strap insert and hammer stirrup, a unique left grip (no safety relief), no trigger play spring, no model number on frame, no patent pending on early slides (Late Pre-39 slides have the patent pending; however, slides were fitted without regard for serial numbers. For example, serial number 1069, which was shipped from the factory on Oct. 4, 1955, has the patent pending marking, while 1,150 that shipped on July 7, 1955 does not), two types of early flat magazine followers were used before standardizing on a third type, supplied with an instruction booklet (only the Pre-39s and early Model 39s to about serial number 7,000 were supplied with the instruction booklet).

Read more: WHAT IS MY S & W MODEL 39 WORTH - JustAnswer WHAT IS MY S & W MODEL 39 WORTH - JustAnswer
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:10 PM
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wait a minute, pre 39 slide? is there a length difference between the two?
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kavinsky View Post
wait a minute, pre 39 slide? is there a length difference between the two?
What we're talking about is just the length of the curved cutout toward the muzzle. For clarification, I've attached a picture of the shorter style of this characteristic. From my examination of various examples of Model 39 slides, I think there is actually a short, intermediate, and long cut, and that there are slight variations for the length in each of those categories. In fact, on my very early pre-39, the cut on one side is noticeably longer than on the other, so I'm not sure of how it ought to be classified! That said, there can be no doubt that as Model 39 production progressed, the trend was toward a longer cut.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:24 PM
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Kavinsky.... Yes there is a difference. A pre-39 slide and a stamped model 39 slide are "basically" the same. They are the same length and width, however, a few features are different. They include:

1. On a pre-39 slide the grip serrations are placed underneath the safety lever. Later.. on the stamped model 39 they moved the serrations slightly forward of the safety lever.

2. The curved notch cut at the muzzle end of the slide is short and does not meet the shoulder of the frame forward of the trigger guard.

3. on early pre-39s there is no "Pats pending" stamp. I have heard that it appears on "later" pre-39 slides and mine does have it.

4. I have heard that there is a difference with the hammer stirrup, but I am unclear on the difference. Maybe length. My hammer stirrup has a hole in it as do all 39s. On the 39-2 they eliminated the hole.

Frame differences-

1. The pre-39s have no "Model 39" stamp.
2. On pre-39s the wood grip panels have a straight cut across the top. On stamped model 39s the grip panels have a cut out for the safety lever travel.
3. The tang on stamped model 39s is longer.

Both pre-39s and stamped model 39s should have the long spring steel extractor.

I hope all that helps.

There is also a common confusion that pre-39s are the steel frames. Not so. they are alloy just as are the stamped model 39s and 39-2s. The 900 or so steel frames were produced very early, probably in 53' or 54' and then shelved. In about 1966 the were pulled out of storage, completed and shipped. If you ever find one. Buy it. Unless they are asking 20K I am looking now for a nice Model 539 from the early eighties. It's a 2nd generation model 39, still a single stack and with a steel frame. After phasing the 39-2 out in 1983, Smith continued to make the basic gun with some 2nd generation improvements in stainless (model 639) steel (model 539) and alloy(model 439). Only about 8K 539s were made.
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texabama View Post
Kavinsky.... Yes there is a difference. A pre-39 slide and a stamped model 39 slide are "basically" the same. They are the same length and width, however, a few features are different. They include:

1. On a pre-39 slide the grip serrations are placed underneath the safety lever. Later.. on the stamped model 39 they moved the serrations slightly forward of the safety lever.

2. The curved notch cut at the muzzle end of the slide is short and does not meet the shoulder of the frame forward of the trigger guard.

3. on early pre-39s there is no "Pats pending" stamp. I have heard that it appears on "later" pre-39 slides and mine does have it.

4. I have heard that there is a difference with the hammer stirrup, but I am unclear on the difference. Maybe length. My hammer stirrup has a hole in it as do all 39s. On the 39-2 they eliminated the hole.
I'm not in complete agreement on these points.

1. I would emphasize that the rearward slide serrations turn up well into marked Model 39 production (at least several thousand units in, maybe as much as some tens of thousands in).

2. As I noted in my most recent previous post in this thread, as regards these curved cutouts, there are variances.

3. I have a very early pre-39, and it does have the "Pat's Pending" marking.

4. The hole in the hammer persisted for a least several tens of thousands of units into Model 39-2 production.

The point is that there are few absolutes in the details of these, only general trends....
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goony View Post
I'm not in complete agreement on these points.

1. I would emphasize that the rearward slide serrations turn up well into marked Model 39 production (at least 6K units in, maybe more).

2. As I noted in my most recent previous post in this thread, as regards these curved cutouts, there are variances.

3. I have a very early pre-39, and it does have the "Pat's Pending" marking.

4. The hole in the hammer persisted for a least a few tens of thousands of units into Model 39-2 production.

The point is that there are few absolutes in the details of these, only general trends....
I have to agree with Goony. I have a 39 no dash with the rearward slide serrations in the 61XXX sn range. From my research, I have only seen a couple of 39 no dashes with the rearward slide serrations with sn's higher than mine. Also the hole in the hammer carried over on the 39-2 until around A200000 with their appearance diminishing towards the end. Then you get a few random 39 no dash pistols in the A prefix serial numbers.

I guess the point is that with any classic S&W there are no difinitive breaks in sn's for certain features. Remember S&W was and is in business to make money not collectables. These parts were mass produced and grabbed out of parts bins. Then the guns were stacked in a storage vault and shipped at random. This is just part of why collecting and researching S&Ws is so interesting.
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  #36  
Old 01-26-2012, 12:11 AM
Texabama Texabama is offline
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Gooney & Firebird...

Thanks for the clarifications. I'm still mystified by my short tang since I can find so few examples. Do you think its rare on stamped model 39s?
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  #37  
Old 01-26-2012, 07:44 AM
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Gooney & Firebird...

Thanks for the clarifications. I'm still mystified by my short tang since I can find so few examples. Do you think its rare on stamped model 39s?
Its a fairly rare occurance, but it does happen on some of the early 39 No Dash Models. I have probably seen it 4 or 5 times. There are also serveral Pre 39's that were sent back for repair and came back with the same serial numbers but Model 39 stamp on them. It may be worth lettering to find out if this is one of those pistols or what is going on with it. The SN seems a bit high for that, but there is a chance. Since the pistol is in good shape the letter would also increase the collectors value of your 39, since you would now know where it was shipped and when.
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  #38  
Old 01-26-2012, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for the reply FirebirdV8. I'm going to get the lettering paperwork off to SW this week. I bet Jinks has a big pile on his desk all the time. Do you know the typical wait time to get a reply from Jinks? As you have said.. collecting old Smiths is certainly an adventure.

On another note... Goony mentioned a couple of threads back the variation in the length of the muzzle end curved notch on the slide. I have kind of a theory on that. I have been in the business of selling CNC machine tools for just about my whole working life.... Back in the 1950s, before computer controlled milling machines were available, Smith would have had to use a tracer mill or other type thing to maintain a consistent spec length on the notch and other features. They might have actually been cutting the notch on Bridgeport mills one by one and thus not maintained a real consistent length.

It still amazes me that such beautiful guns were made essentially one by one on manual machine tools where a machinist had to constantly operate the tool.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by FirebirdV8 View Post
I have a 39 no dash with the rearward slide serrations in the 61XXX sn range. From my research, I have only seen a couple of 39 no dashes with the rearward slide serrations with sn's higher than mine.
That's just extraordinary. That slide would have to have been kicking around in the factory for something pushing a decade to have then turned up on a gun numbered that high. It does really make you wonder about S&W's management of the component flow during the manufacturing process, at least during that time period.
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  #40  
Old 01-26-2012, 12:15 PM
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That's just extraordinary. That slide would have to have been kicking around in the factory for something pushing a decade to have then turned up on a gun numbered that high. It does really make you wonder about S&W's management of the component flow during the manufacturing process, at least during that time period.


Here is a picture of one of my favorite pistols in my collection. I picked it up in Flagstaff AZ a few years ago. The original owner must have just kept it in a drawer somewhere as it hasn't been fired much.
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  #41  
Old 01-26-2012, 06:12 PM
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Right away what I notice is the rearward serrations but the long front slide relief cut. Go figure.

Also, that one sports the dark, satiny finished walnut stocks that appear on an undetermined fraction of Model 39 production.

Is this the one up in the 61000 serial number range that you mentioned earlier in this thread?
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:05 PM
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Right away what I notice is the rearward serrations but the long front slide relief cut. Go figure.

Also, that one sports the dark, satiny finished walnut stocks that appear on an undetermined fraction of Model 39 production.

Is this the one up in the 61000 serial number range that you mentioned earlier in this thread?
Yeah that is in the middle of th 61XXX range. If you really want to go crazy start trying to track the lazy &'s on the 39 series. I just gave up on that as it has no pattern at all.
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  #43  
Old 06-20-2012, 10:18 PM
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This is an outstanding thread. The 39 series is a particular favorite of mine. I need to take some pictures and join the crowd.....
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  #44  
Old 01-10-2013, 11:53 AM
25elk 25elk is offline
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After reading all of this thread I guess I can safely assume my 639 with a rounded trigger guard and "A" prefix serial number is an early production model 39-2. Not much info on these in SCSW.
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