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Looks to be in nice shape. Generally for regulation police, value really is dependent on condition rather than just having a low serial number. Having an early one is a "nice to have" but won't necessarily bring you a premium over a similar condition gun having a 4 or 5 digit serial number.

Nice, but not mint, .38 RPs run in the $ 400-500 range these days
 

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There were about 5000 of the .38 RP made in 1917 from March to late fall before war production intervened, and regular production did not resume until 1919.

Guns from this batch, serials below 5000, commonly but a bit erroneously referred to as the “pre-war batch”, will usually be worth a premium over later guns. A strange phenomenon is that guns in the 5-, 6-, and 7-thousands are very rare, but exist, and shipped in 1918/19. Then when regular production resumed, most are in the 8000s and up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank y’all so much for your input. I was really hoping for a larger value # but it’s still special to me. I really like it and wouldn’t be afraid to shoot it at all. I just wish I knew the story/ personal history behind it. Hard to believe by looking at it, that’s it’s over 100 years old. I would think as time goes by, it would only increase in value. It will be well kept and preserved. Thank y’all again.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Nice revolver. Enjoy it and shoot it often.:cool:
 

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Good looking piece, thanks for sharing.

Welcome aboard from the
"GunShine"state of Florida. weiweinp

State of over 1 MILLION 971 THOUSAND Concealed Carry Licenses and counting!
 

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Welcome to the forum.

That's a nice one and looks all original. I doubt it has much history though, it has little wear, holster wear, nor battle scars. It likely spent its life in a pocket.

Notice when these shipped:

1 RP shipped March 5, 1917, serial # 1 was made 1st.
731 RP .38, sh. May 1917
1680 has logo right side
1993 Roy confirms that it shipped July 1917. No logo.
2381 shipped in June, 1917
4301 shipped on Sept. 15, 1917, RP, patent date on the stocks, no logo on frame
43XX shipped on 9/15/17
5000 Below this #, all eight RPs known are confirmed to have shipped in 1917
5693 RP 4” March 1918
6592 RP shipped in April 1918
None known shipped between 4/18 to 11/18.
November 11, 1918, WWI ended.

Those shipped after the war had no logos until ~ 1920.

Your 916 could have been made and shipped anytime after 3/17. Does it have an S&W trademark logo on the sideplate? If not it shipped after March/April 1917.
Is there a "patent pending" on the bottom/butt of the left side grip?

The low # has an appeal for some people regardless of condition, but not all or not all when not new looking and in the box.
 

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Thank y’all so much for your input. I was really hoping for a larger value # but it’s still special to me. I really like it and wouldn’t be afraid to shoot it at all. I just wish I knew the story/ personal history behind it. Hard to believe by looking at it, that’s it’s over 100 years old. I would think as time goes by, it would only increase in value. It will be well kept and preserved. Thank y’all again.
These old guns have so much history that like you said, too bad they cannot talk. However, they usually do no command collector prices but they are excellent shooters. So even though not a collector, they are a lot of fun to shoot.
 

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Welcome to the forum! I have an early one too, #648. It not as nice as yours, but is still tight and with a like new bore. It too has the small S&W logo on the right side plate and there is no patent date on the bottom of the stocks. I traded the only automatic pistol I've ever owned for it and was very happy with the swap.
Is it special... no. Certainly not 38 Special.:D But like all S&Ws, especially the older guns, it is an extremely well made firearm that is still very serviceable.
I bought a couple of boxes of Remington 38 S&W ammo at Bass Pro and a set of Lee dies and reload with home cast bullets.

John
 

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auntwennie,

OLD GUN CLEANING AND SAFETY CHECK PROTOCOL FOR HEIRLOOMS & NEW GUN OWNERS:

Simply put, the only usual issue with these marvels of yesteryear is they are gummed up and dirty. Old oils of its time do not match the quality of these old guns nor the technology of today, and actually dry up and harden to the point of impeding operation and accelerating wear. The simple solution does not need a gunsmith or removal of the side plate. Just one of many premium modern gun care products from any sporting goods, gun store or hardware store.

Most are both cleaning and preserving agents; Breakfree, Kroil & M-Pro7 are some of the best, and there are others, but do not use WD-40. Disassembly is not necessary. With grips removed and a spray can version of the product, flood and flush the revolver thru every opening and crevice until the black gunk stops flowing out, let it drain for an hour and wipe it down thoroughly with the same product.

Scrub barrel bore and cylinder chambers with a simple cleaning rod kit found at the same places as the cleaning agents above; patches cut from rags is all you really need. And scrub any observed exterior and crevice crud with an old toothbrush with bristles cut off short for stiffness.

To remove grips for cleaning the gun: loosen the grip screw completely and carefully push down on the screw head until the bottom grip separates, then remove. Now carefully push the top side grip off with a finger or toothbrush from the backside thru the grip frame. Mother of Pearl (MOP) grips take extreme care: if they are pulled off from the butt at an angle, the upper two corners are susceptible to chipping, even walnut grips. They must be pushed off the grip frame and kept parallel to the grip frame until they release and come away.

The gun is now original and will never have greater value. I would not refinish it and throw away all of the "character" acquired thru its life so far. It will only retain its value by retaining its originality. The only way to make it more original is to remove anything that it did not have on it when new, like any black tarnish or corrosion. Black and dark brown areas thru the blue, on bare metal or where nickel plating is worn off is very unsightly. Areas on nickel guns with no nickel plating left at all, will polish bright and blend with remaining plating.

A careful polish with the correct products is the way to do that. Well known polishing products are Flitz, Semi-Chrome, Mother's Mag Wheel polish or the equivalent.

An application of wax, Renaissance wax is a popular one, will enhance and protect the finish if you want something to do while watching the news!

Once cleaned and lubricated, with a few simple checks you can determine if it’s safe to use; no need to waste time and money on a gunsmith, especially if you don't know one. Cock the hammer in single action mode. Gently push on the hammer to confirm that it will not drop w/o pulling the trigger. Cock the hammer slowly and confirm the cylinder locks in position for each of the 5 or 6 chambers about the same time the hammer cocks. If satisfactory, now operate the gun in DA pulling the trigger very slowly; again confirm the cyl locks before the hammer drops. After each cycling of the action, confirm that the cyl is still locked in position for all 6 chambers.

Cylinders can have fore and aft movement and rotational movement. Check rotational movement with the hammer cocked just to make sure it won’t skip to another chamber. That's all that is really important from a safety concern. Then unless you experience 'spitting' at the barrel/cyl gap when fired, you have no reason for concern.

You have a quality made, very well engineered, assembled with skilled craftsmanship, and hand fitted revolver, no longer affordable on a competitive market basis, and the likes of which we'll never see again, ever.

Shoot it to your hearts delight, and it will delight you with its fine accuracy, and comfortable recoil.

Any current off the shelf ‘standard’ factory loaded ammo is loaded safely for use in these old guns.

Enjoy shooting it and you'll be amazed at its accuracy.

Disassembly
 

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welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass! Jim mentions the "Patent Pending" stamped into the wood on the left hand grip panel. There could also be a patent date in tiny print stamped there. The patent is for the rebated, extension grips that convert the round butt into a square butt for better aiming control.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh wow guys, what a good bit of info, thank y’all! I have always used WD-40 to clean and lube my guns. Maybe not a good idea with this one? Also, I have 40 year old rounds... are the safe to shoot anymore?
 
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