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I have what I believe is an "unpinned barrel" model 36. Serial # from heel of grip frame is J927xxx. There is no stamp that id's it as a model 36 anywhere. I bought this at an auction from a friend of my uncle's who passed away about 8 years ago. Was described as a chief's special. It also has identical numbers on the (crane?) swing arm of the cyl and grip frame starting with 51,xxx. Also on the grip frame are three stamps: a hexagon with the # 5, a triangle with a "Y", and another number toward the bottom of the grip frame , 4790. All three of these stamps are on the right side of the grip frame. This is a .38 S&W.SPL. Can you confirm model 36 chief's spl and what year? Grooved notch rear sight and ramped front sight fixed.Groove on top strap. Came with walnut grips. Great info here on this forum. First timer here.
 

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The serial number should be from about 1982 (the year they dropped the pinned barrel). "J" prefixes were assigned to Models: 36,37,38,49 and 50. When you swing open the cylinder look at the portion of the frame right under where the barrel is attached - you should see "Mod." followed by one of those numbers possibly followed by "-1."
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Armadillo. I was in a low light area but thought I had covered the surfaces pretty well while looking for the model #. No -1 after "model 36" however. I wasn't familiar with the term pinned until my brother mentioned it last night. I understand the pinned models are generally more valuable all other things being equal but is there a consensus that the pin adds strength or integrity to the frame/barrel match up? I was told I should probably not shoot +p ammo in this gun. Anybody have a different opinion on that? Just curious. I see Speer has a short barrel gold dot 135g plus p bullet in .38 spl.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Forester, Thanks for pointing out the topic on +P from Saxon Pig Jan 19th?. Great info. Confirms my opinion vs. what both Gander Mtn and Cabelas told me. My shooting partner is a big fan of Elmer Keith's receipes especially for N frames. Haven't blown anything up yet.
 

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Glad to point you toward that Ozzy. The truth of the matter is that it is a question which comes up repeatedly on this and every other gunboard I have ever been a member of. It's no fault of yours for asking the question. I have seen that question asked and either ignored or having the poster lambasted for asking it. It is much better to just point you in the right direction and let you read it yourself, without alienating you. As Saxon says, it is just amazing, with all the evidence to the contrary, that people are still going around saying that it is unsafe to fire +P rounds in a model numbered S&W gun.

Enjoy that model 36. It is a prime example of how this company used to make firearms.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Forester, so what's the difference with a "pinned" barrel on a 36? Just that it's older or is it stronger or some other features?
 

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The "pin" passed through a grove in the threads of the barrel to prevent it from shooting loose. It was the standard practice going back to the early hand ejectors. Beginning in 1982 S&W decided it wasn't necessary since they torque the barrel into the frame during the mfg process.

Magnum revolvers prior to that time had the cylinders were "countersunk" to countain the rim of the cartridge (like a 22 rf).

They discontinued both practices at about the same time. Therefor you will see them referred to as "pinned and recessed."

The transition is a distinction that interests collectors and us old-timers, but most shooters will never notice the difference.
 
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