How to locate and verify the serial numbers on your S&W revolvers
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  1. #1
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    Welcome to the forum.

    The # S172691 is the serial #.
    The # 82628 is the assembly #. The 7 below is just an inspector stamp.

    SERIAL # LOCATIONS:

    Here are the 6 (or 7 on Triple Locks) pre war fixed sight frame serial # locations which are also the locations remaining after WW II thru ~1956 to look for (not including the 3 stamped serial # locations on pre war style target sights for pre war models, and early post war Transitional models, see below):

    NOTE: Observing serial #s for accuracy or even existence, especially on penciled stocks, requires magnification, bright light, cleaning, and an attitude that it is there!

    1. Gun butt* - or forestrap* on I frames/single shots with grips that cover the butt

    2. Barrel - bottom of barrel or in extractor shroud

    3. Yoke - on rear face only visible thru a chamber with a flashlight**

    4. Extractor star – backside facing cyl

    5. Cylinder - rear face

    6. Right stock only*** - on back, (except most post war target grips because individual fitting not required.) Stamped, scratched or penciled depending on vintage and stock material.

    7. Mid-lock cam plate – “Triple Locks” only, in any caliber (up to all 5 digits).

    *NOTE: The one TRUE place you can be sure of reading the original serial number for all Hand Ejectors of any vintage with stamped numbers, (which includes any letter prefixed #s after WW II,) is the BUTT of the gun, (or front grip strap on non-round butt .22/32 Kit guns and Targets, .32 & .38 S&W Regulation Police pre Model of 1953 I frames. And the 32 Transitional Targets from 1957).

    The number on the butt may be drilled thru by the factory for installation of a lanyard swivel but is re-stamped on the grip frame, under the left stock. Factory installed swivels are always 1/10” forward of center.

    The Pre war serial # on the butt reads with barrel to the right including I frame serial numbers on the forestrap. After WW II the serial # reads with barrel to the left (except for serial numbers on the forestrap thru 1957).

    Pre-War serial #s are centered on the butt, unless there was a swivel. Post War serial numbers are all offset.

    ** s/n on Rear face of yoke:

    Photo by CptCurl

    *** Stamped since 1857, stock #s, exclusively on right panel only, changed to penciled #s c. 1900 and back to stamped #s in 1929. Scratched, penciled or stamped on hard rubber and premium stocks; numbering discontinued ~ late 1970s. Pre war penciled S/Ns are in the top half of the stock near the backstrap and read with the stock oriented with the back edge down. Post war numbering switched to lower right half of grip; earliest observed ~1960.
    Searching for the stock # is easier in bright sunlight with a 5 power glass.
    Sometimes a photo is needed to “see” the penciled #. Finding the serial number is made much easier using The Gimps threshold tool. http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-han...#post138932768

    Pre war fixed sighted guns have serial #s in 6* locations, target** models as many as 9. Triple Locks have 7 including the mid lock cam plate, therefore 10 locations on Target models.

    *Post War continued the 6 fixed sight locations thru ~1956, and 9 s/n locations on early Post War Transitional target models with pre war target sights only, thru 1957, but dropped the 3 target sight locations post war on the new Micro-click sighted models, which were no longer specifically fitted to the top strap.

    **Target models will have the serial number as shown:


    1. front sight blade, must be removed to see it
    2. under rear sight, must be removed to see it
    3. rear sight blade, must be removed to see it (although the rear blade can be #'d with the assembly [factory work] # instead of serial #.)

    If the s/n is more than 4 digits, the front and rear sight blades can have a partial s/n. All three parts must be removed to observe the #s. Non-numbered front and rear sight blades have typically been replaced, in most observations.

    We owe the Russians a vote of thanks; having been the 1st to require multi-serial # locations on their S&W #3 contract revolvers.

    TARGET SIGHT NUMBERING

    Photo by Mike Priwer



    Photo by Mike Priwer


    NOTE: The Factory is known to have pulled a blue gun from the vault for a special order...target sights, nickel finish, etc., and therefore may not have serial #s on added target sights, optional target stocks, etc.

    DECREASING SERIAL # LOCATIONS: The number of serial # locations or if model # is stamped on a particular S&W Hand Ejector has more to do with where it was in the production/assembly stages when change orders were issued, therefore as we've learned to expect with S&W, there are great variances and exceptions galore.

    Officially, on May 1, 1957 S&W eliminated the Soft Fitting Operation: So it generally corresponds with model numbers ordered June 12, 1957. It was no longer necessary to routinely stamp the serial number on the barrel, cylinder & yoke arm rear surface and show up unstamped over a transition period. So guns in process or in inventory as of 5/1/57 can still have more than 3 and up to 6 locations, and guns shipped after this time may have some of the former number locations because assembly was done over time and as inventory from the old process was used up.

    The 6 serial # locations were down to only 3 left on the majority of models (but not all) from c. late 1957 thru 1959 which are:

    1. Butt

    2. Extractor star - backside

    3. Right stock – backside (except most post war target grips because individual fitting not required.)


    ASSEMBLY (factory work) #s:

    These multi-digit numbers of 3 to 5 digits, are on the yoke at the hinge, in the ‘yoke cut’ on frame (accompanied with a stamped inspector letter) opposite the yoke near the hinge, and inside of the sideplate, for the pre war and early post war period. Once the gun is shipped, the only use for the assembly is to confirm the three parts it's stamped on are original. Assembly #s are random #s used during assembly at the factory. These #s never exceeded 5 digits, therefore it's very common to find duplicated numbers.

    In 1957 the assembly # in the yoke cut of the frame was relocated to the left side of grip frame after model #s were assigned and the serial # was eventually added in the ‘yoke cut’ where the assembly #, now moved to the left side of the grip frame, used to be. You know they are assembly (factory work) #s because of those 3 locations that always match on guns that are original, and that’s the only usefulness for them after guns leave the factory; still used to this day, long after serial number locations decreased.

  2. #2
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    Hondo, thanks for the information.


 

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