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Smith & Wesson Semi-Auto Pistols Other Smith & Wesson Semi-Automatic Pistols from the 1950's to Present


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Old 11-16-2010, 03:13 PM
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Default Pre Production Model 39?

It's amazine what you can find in the books in your own library. I was rummaging through Small Arms of the World, looking for something else, when I found a photo of a S&W Model 39. The serial number was clearly visible on the right side and it was X 143. There was no other inscription on the right side of the frame. It was clearly a very early pistol; short tang and short safety. Does anyone know what this pistol represents in the great scheme of Model 39s and how many more there may have been like it?
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:31 PM
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Did they happen to show the other side too? The prototypes were different than the 'pre' Model 39s.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:22 PM
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Unfortunately they didn't. However they did have a picture of the right side of an engraved Model 44, the single action pistol. It is probably the same one illustrated on the cover of the 1955 Gun Digest. It looked about the same as most Model 39s, except the extractor was a long, slender piece, with a tongue at the back that fitted in a groove in the slide. It did not extend back as far as the Model 39 'no dash' extractor. It looked a lot like the extractor on a Mauser Broomhandle, particularly one of the older ones. Is this common among the 'prototypes'? I wonder where both of those pistols are now? S&W museum?
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:15 PM
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More questions;
I presume the prototypes had the same extractor as the engraved single action. Did they differ in any other way from the 'pre' Model 39s?
How many of the prototrypes were produced? Over what time period?
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:25 PM
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I have an old American Rifleman that shows both pistols. You can't make any serial numbes out, but it does show the features you talk about. When I get home tonight I can attach some pictures of the guns in the article and see if it looks like the one you found in the book.

These are from an American Rifleman in 1954.

If the book shows the right side of the slide see if the safety body goes all the way through, or if it is like the pictures I have attached where the slide serrations are complete.
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Pre Production Model 39?-s-w9mmsemiautoarticle1954_1-jpg   Pre Production Model 39?-s-w9mmsemiautoarticle1954_2-jpg   Pre Production Model 39?-s-w9mmsemiautoarticle1954_3-jpg  
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Last edited by FirebirdV8; 11-17-2010 at 07:29 PM. Reason: Added pictures
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:05 AM
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Wow!!! Great pictures!!! Some quick observations:
1. The safety drum doesn't go all the way through the slide, and the picture of the single action in Small Arms of the World, shows this feature too.

2. The safety has a round protrusion on the side facing the slide, and this probably fits in a hole in the slide to prevent the safety from moving.

3. The rear of the safety has a tongue that fits into a groove in the slide.

4. The magazines have a flat stamped floorplate, like the ones on a 45.

5. The lockwork of the single action is a lot different than that of the double action, not just a few parts eliminated to only provide the single action feature.

Thanks, much, V8.

I think I have to get a copy of that issue of TAR from one of the used magazine sources. Can you tell me the month in 1954 it appeared?

Colin, AKA Cyrano
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:10 AM
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No problem. It is a great article about the upcoming 9mm from S&W. It is in the Aug 1954 American Rifleman and the story is called: Two military Automatic pistols in 9 mm. caliber, The New Smith & Wesson Automatics.
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:18 PM
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Lots of good questions!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post
…Is this common among the 'prototypes'?
Common. But not all the prototypes were the same so that doesn’t mean that each and every one of the prototypes had that extractor and the safety body you mentioned.

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Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post
Did they differ in any other way from the 'pre' Model 39s?
Sure, they were prototypes. What they found during the tests determined which features they’d use in the production models. Some had different grip angles, some steel frames, I expect at least one must have had the extractor and the safety body seen in the production models.

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How many of the prototrypes were produced? Over what time period?
I have seen it was around 30 starting in the late 1940s and going until production started in 1954.

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Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post
2. The safety has a round protrusion on the side facing the slide, and this probably fits in a hole in the slide to prevent the safety from moving.

3. The rear of the safety has a tongue that fits into a groove in the slide.
I’m not exactly sure what you are referring to so I hate to hazard a guess.

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4. The magazines have a flat stamped floorplate, like the ones on a 45.
They are not flat like a 1911 (or even a Model 59). The forward part is raised and the edges are ‘curled’ to fit over ‘tangs’ on the base of the magazine body, instead of a flat piece that slides ‘into’ the magazine. (I hope that came out right.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:55 PM
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snw19_357,
Thanks much for the information. There's a tremendous lot about the early 39s and the prototypes that's not exactly common knowledge, and it's all new and exciting to me.

When I wrote "The Safety has a round protrusion...", and "The rear of the safety...", What I meant to say was; 'extractor' instead of 'safety'. My brain must have been on another planet at the time. The extractor does have a round protrusion on the side facing the slide and undoubtedly fits into a hole in the slide to prevent it moving back or forwards. The extractor also has a tongue on the rear that fits into a groove in the slide, somewhat similiar to the one on a Broomhandle, particularly the early ones with the long extractor. Thanks again for the information.

The photos of the only two single actions (later the Model 44), I've seen, both had the extractor I described above, and the safety drum did not protrude through the right side of the slide. Guess these were made even before the 'pre' 39s?

Last edited by Cyrano; 11-18-2010 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirebirdV8 View Post
I have an old American Rifleman that shows both pistols. You can't make any serial numbes out, but it does show the features you talk about. When I get home tonight I can attach some pictures of the guns in the article and see if it looks like the one you found in the book.

These are from an American Rifleman in 1954.

If the book shows the right side of the slide see if the safety body goes all the way through, or if it is like the pictures I have attached where the slide serrations are complete.
What month 1954 American Rifleman was this article in ?

I have seen pre-39 SN 102x that has exactly the same configuration at the one posted in that article. Between myself and another member, the best we can determine is this "experimental" configuration was used in the early release pre-39s that ceased some where between serial numbers 1025 and 1050 but exactly which SN the newer, production pre-39 with the long extractor that extends to the circular flat axis of the safety (on the right side) is still unknown.

I call this the clothespin shaped extractor for lack of the specific name of it and the axis for the safety lever does not go through to the right side of the slide.

From my research it seems the experimental frames left over after the x-prefix numbered, experimental models, plus an unknown but very small quantity that were "gifted" to special clients and Gov't Officials for promotional purposes, PLUS, the "official" commercial production release starting at serial numbered 1001 to approximately 1050 were built on the experimental frames before the standard production configuration model Pre-39 and 39. These early pre-39s were noticeably different than the production models.

In a few other threads in this forum there is very interesting discussions on this very subject.

IIRC ... Roy Jinks explained the matter of a very small run of pre-production pre-39s, numbered with a 2 digit serial number, were gifted near the end of the R&D period, but before the official production release.
Again, IIRC, Roy owns SN: 13, while Jack Webb (of the Dragnet series) was also gifted one of these pre-production models.

I'd be anxious to read that 1954 AR article. Thanks for your insight if anyone knows that can reply with a accurate response.
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:57 PM
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Sal,

You want the August 1954 issue of The American Rifleman. Scott Meadows' book, U.S. Military Automatic Pistols, 1945-2012 has a chapter on the development of the S&W pistol and has X48, X49, X104, X139, and pre 39 1132 pictured. Of course, Richard McMillan's monograph from 2005 is the canonical source on these pistols and he has pictures of X46, X142 and several other important pistols, including Model 44, SN 1214. Finally, an article in the March 1962 issue of The American Rifleman has an article about the Model 52 entitled "S&W Center-Fire Match Pistol."
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Old 10-24-2016, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
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Sal,

You want the August 1954 issue of The American Rifleman. Scott Meadows' book, U.S. Military Automatic Pistols, 1945-2012 has a chapter on the development of the S&W pistol and has X48, X49, X104, X139, and pre 39 1132 pictured. Of course, Richard McMillan's monograph from 2005 is the canonical source on these pistols and he has pictures of X46, X142 and several other important pistols, including Model 44, SN 1214. Finally, an article in the March 1962 issue of The American Rifleman has an article about the Model 52 entitled "S&W Center-Fire Match Pistol."
Kevin, Thank you. If there's anything I can do to return the courtesy ... you have but to ask. Sal
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Old 10-26-2016, 06:13 PM
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George Nonte's book "Combat Handguns" reports on the Army Pistol Trials of 1954 and states that the early X models were variations on features to submit for testing. The first was called X-46, 31 more were manufactured.

The Trials were cancelled due to the Army having 2.5 million 1911's in inventory. Subsequent to that the M39 was offered for sale. Pictured on page 70 of his book is serial number "X 138."

It's a good read, he's obviously a fan, with detailed descriptions of the history of ASP, too. Typical of the time some photos are extremely dark and there are some discrepancies in photo titles but it's worthwhile as introduction into what makes one gun better than another.

Last edited by tirod; 10-26-2016 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:23 PM
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Gentlemen:

I am resurrecting this old thread as the logical place for this post. I just ran across this image of X-138. I thought Forum members here would enjoy seeing it.

It now resides at the Royal Armouries in the UK. No telling how it ended up there. Only the left side image is available. The R.A. description says that it dates to "...about 1949".

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Old 06-29-2019, 04:22 PM
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Thanks for rattling the old brain on those AR articles.
I have to go dig out those copies from the 50s, 60s and 70s
that I bought for a $1.00 a box at that estate sale. Thanks to all that freely passed this valuable info to the casual and serious 39 collector and researcher. You never know, somewhere out there some kid just inherited his Grandfathers gun collection with a mod-44.
Hey Lee, could you put this Thread in the Notable Thread area . For quick reference.
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Old 06-29-2019, 05:03 PM
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FYI This is the cover of the 1955 Gun Digest.
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Old 06-29-2019, 06:26 PM
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Ken, thanks. Grabbed my 1955 Gun Digest, sold for $2.00.
Inside cover states this gun was engraved by Alvin F. Herbert, a S&W
employee for the Gun Digest. Im sure John T Ambers family still has it.
Spec sheet is on pg. 120. Price to be announced. Thanks Ken, these old
catalogues are a hoot to look at after all these years. Mike
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Old 06-29-2019, 08:55 PM
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Default 1954 American Rifleman

Does this issue have the Buffalo's on the front cover?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FirebirdV8 View Post
I have an old American Rifleman that shows both pistols. You can't make any serial numbes out, but it does show the features you talk about. When I get home tonight I can attach some pictures of the guns in the article and see if it looks like the one you found in the book.

These are from an American Rifleman in 1954.

If the book shows the right side of the slide see if the safety body goes all the way through, or if it is like the pictures I have attached where the slide serrations are complete.
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:56 PM
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I believe it is, Cougar; Should be August 1954 edition.

Later,

DC
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:29 PM
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Yep! Aug 1954. Neat article and pics. Pays to save some of this old paper.
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Old 07-06-2019, 10:29 PM
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Default August 1954

Just found a like new copy on ebay and bought it. great pictures and article on the then new 9mm Semi auto. I really love the comparison and information of the single and double action guns.


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Yep! Aug 1954. Neat article and pics. Pays to save some of this old paper.
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