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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was recently given one of these. It was from my Great Uncle, he had been a Deputy and his son did not take care of it. The serial number is 275062. I have included a picture of the grips as well as the inside of the grips if that would help age it. I also got the holster, that is where it has spent most of its life unfortunately.
Thanks for any help anyone can provide.


475762
475763
475764
475765
 

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Model 1902 Military & Police model built within a few years after 1915, I believe. Gun has had SOME use to wear off most of the original nickel plating! No. on the grips should match ser. no., but they sure look like they've been on this gun since it was made; maybe some other explanation for the discrepancy?

What does the holster look like?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Model 1902 Military & Police model built within a few years after 1915, I believe. Gun has had SOME use to wear off most of the original nickel plating! No. on the grips should match ser. no., but they sure look like they've been on this gun since it was made; maybe some other explanation for the discrepancy?

What does the holster look like?
Handgun holster Denim Jeans Footwear Leather


Thanks for the info. The original owner has been gone for close to 50 years and I doubt his son has swapped the grips but who knows. The son was military and spent a good amount of time out of the country. He retired in 1980. I am just very happy to have it. The condition does suck but still a neat old gun. Man if it could talk.
 

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275602 would be in the range of the 1905 Change 4 which ran from 1915 well into WWII. This one is on the early end of the scale predating the heat treating of cylinders. The bronze medallion grips are correct to the "teens". Presuming the mechanicals are correct firing service loads with lead bullets poses no problem. On the bright side spare parts for this model are far more available
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
275602 would be in the range of the 1905 Change 4 which ran from 1915 well into WWII. This one is on the early end of the scale predating the heat treating of cylinders. The bronze medallion grips are correct to the "teens". Presuming the mechanicals are correct firing service loads with lead bullets poses no problem. On the bright side spare parts for this model are far more available
Thanks for that. I may clean it up and fire it just a few times. It would be neat to shoot it.
 

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Correct style, but what accounts for the serial number discrepancy? Seems odd someone would swap the same style grips, & the wear on the wood matches the wear on the metal.
This gun (as a round butt) originally shipped with hard rubber grips as standard at that time. Wood was special order. The owner may have come across somebody who wanted to swap, or found a pair of used wooden stocks off a broken specimen and decided he liked wood better. Just speculating here.
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! There's something of an argument ongoing among some collectors as to whether this gun is a Model 1902 or 1905. The argument goes: "S&W called it the 1902 in marketing the gun because it has a round butt and 1905s have a square butt." However, Supica and Nahas called it a 1905, round butt M&P. S&W stopped using the 1902 name around 1920 and just called these guns M&Ps. That's my preference as well. As Waidmann correctly says, it is in all respects a Model 1905 except for the shape of the butt frame. Parts look the same and interchange the same within its change period. As Waidmann points out, it is in Change 4 but before the hand and hammer block mods of the mid-20's. If you need a hand or sideplate, that's the era you should look to. Fortunately, hammers, triggers, bolts, rebound slides and springs work throughout the Change 4 and because of the Victory revolvers of WWII, they abound. I would recommend soaking it for a week or more in auto transmission fluid or any good penetrating oil that you may already have on hand. ATF is cheap and easy to find. It is a key constituent of the NRA's Ed's Red Gun Bore Cleaner.

That holster is interesting and may be worth as much as the gun. Does it have a maker's mark on it?
 
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This gun (as a round butt) originally shipped with hard rubber grips as standard at that time. Wood was special order. The owner may have come across somebody who wanted to swap, or found a pair of used wooden stocks off a broken specimen and decided he liked wood better. Just speculating here.
If hard rubber was standard, that explains the mis-match. But seems apparent the switch was made very early in the gun's history, for the wood to match so well the metal wear.
 

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When someone says I have a 1902, I and many other collectors think it has the 1899/1902 lockwork. That changed with the Model 1905 when the rebound slide was introduced and the flat trigger return spring/lever mechanism abandoned. It is simpler to say "I have a .38 Model 1905, round butt." And, only use 1902 for the M&Ps made from 1902 to 1905 which were mostly round butt. That just cuts down on all the follow-up questions. Did you know there are Model 1902s with square butts? To my knowledge, they don't have another name except Model 1902, square butt. And, of course all the .38s since 1899 are .38 M&Ps. 😉
 

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This really can’t be settled because there is no right or wrong.

The historical record is clear. For the less than two decades, from 1905 until shortly after WW I, when the Model 1902 and 1905 designations were “officially” used, by the company, retailers, and users, the distinction was the grip shape and nothing else. Those people are all dead, and the record can’t be re-interpreted.

Today’s discussion is about precision versus practicality.

Just like the numbered “Changes”, the Model 1905 - round butt is artifically constructed, unhistorical terminology which serves the purposes of the relatively small segment within the collector community that busies itself with internals. It does clarify the parts issue as explained by Guy.

Continuing to use the traditional round butt - square butt distinction, which a blind man could determine, is much more practical for most people.

But neither is right or wrong. Your preference will depend on your purpose.
 

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Lockwork smockwork.:D Round butt = 1902, Square butt = 1905 as far as I'm concerned.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! There's something of an argument ongoing among some collectors as to whether this gun is a Model 1902 or 1905. The argument goes: "S&W called it the 1902 in marketing the gun because it has a round butt and 1905s have a square butt." However, Supica and Nahas called it a 1905, round butt M&P. S&W stopped using the 1902 name around 1920 and just called these guns M&Ps. That's my preference as well. As Waidmann correctly says, it is in all respects a Model 1905 except for the shape of the butt frame. Parts look the same and interchange the same within its change period. As Waidmann points out, it is in Change 4 but before the hand and hammer block mods of the mid-20's. If you need a hand or sideplate, that's the era you should look to. Fortunately, hammers, triggers, bolts, rebound slides and springs work throughout the Change 4 and because of the Victory revolvers of WWII, they abound. I would recommend soaking it for a week or more in auto transmission fluid or any good penetrating oil that you may already have on hand. ATF is cheap and easy to find. It is a key constituent of the NRA's Ed's Red Gun Bore Cleaner.

That holster is interesting and may be worth as much as the gun. Does it have a maker's mark on it?
I do not see anything identifying on the holster. Please give me more details on soaking it. I do not want to make it worse in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I want to say thanks for all of the information. So, are we thinking this would have been made around 1915? Is this accurate?? Do you also think it would be safe to shoot with light loads? Looking for advice here too. Thanks a bunch for the help from everyone.
 
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