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  1. #1
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    Newly acquired M&P (Model of 1902)

    I'm mostly a midcentury collector (1930s through 1950s), but every so often a hand ejector from outside that zone says, "Take me home." This one said exactly that, so I did.

    .38 Hand Ejector (M&P) Model of 1902, First Change. S/N 43786. Shipped May 1904. Four inch barrel, round butt, walnut stocks instead of the more common hard rubber. (But these stocks are seemingly not original; the number 9607 is pressed into the back of the right panel.)






    The caliber stamping is kind of interesting. (For those who may not know, "38 U.S. Service Ctg" is Smith-and-Wesson-speak for "38 Long Colt." The .38 Special round was developed as a more powerful answer to the .38 Long Colt cartridge and eventually squeezed it out of the medium-bore law enforcement and commercial shooting market.)




    It has a top sideplate screw, but it's a four-screw gun! The frame screw for access to the cylinder stop spring didn't come along until a few years later as the internal workings of the hand ejectors continued to be refined.




    This model didn't have the familiar rebound slide system for trigger return, so when I opened it up to clean it I was prepared to see an unfamiliar configuration. But I almost couldn't see the lockwork at all under the congealed oil and varnish.




    But I figured everything out, tore it down, got everything all shined up and put it back together with more reserved lubrication.




    The front strap and backstrap are pretty much down to the metal, and the top of the frame is pretty spotty. But the rest of the finish is actually pretty good. This one was carried a lot, but seemingly not much shot. Certainly the fouling pocket over the breech end of the barrel doesn't look as though anybody ever scrubbed it repeatedly to keep it clean.



    The recoil shield doesn't show any blue loss from cartridge slap.



    And best of all, it's a first change with a bigger barrel thread diameter and therefore a stronger barrel/frame connection. That means I can shoot +P in it, right?

    JK!

    But I will take this to the range and pop some low-pressure match ammo in it. The chambers and bore are in great shape, by the way.

    There are so many 1905/Fourths around that it is hard to get really excited about M&P models. But the early ones, while the engineering and design of the hand ejectors were evolving quickly even as production was under way, are a little more interesting. Of the million M&Ps made between 1899 and 1942, fewer than 30,000 were 1902/Firsts. This version came with 4", 5" and 6.5" barrels. It would be interesting to know the production statistics broken down by barrel length.

    Range report to come.
    David Wilson
    S&WCA No. 2206 / SWHF Founding Member No. 144 / NRA Life Member

  2. #2
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    Re: Newly acquired M&P (Model of 1902)

    David,

    That's very cool! I've got No. 781 around here someplace, I'll have to dig it out and get some snapshots up... not nearly as snice as yours!

    Good Gun!

    Drew
    ".... Evil Flourishes When Good Men Do Nothing...."

  3. #3
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    Re: Newly acquired M&P (Model of 1902)

    David, those are some great pics! I've never had one and seeing the innards is pretty cool, like a time machine!

    thanks!
    Give me a Scotch, I'm starving!

  4. #4
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    Re: Newly acquired M&P (Model of 1902)

    Nice buy David, I think I would ave taken it home too. I agree with you about the '02 models, the '05s are nice but,,,,
    My friends call me 'Mick'
    Save the Second Amendment, take a kid shooting!


 

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