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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to vintage revolvers -- can I please ask for your help and expertise?

Having grown up with polymer wonders, this is a different universe for me. But I must say, I am finding myself more and more attracted to vintage pieces.

After having looked around, I have concluded I want to start my collection with a S&W Model 10 made from the 1930s to the 1960s. I do not mind external wear, but it should be a good shooter in mechanically good condition. (I'm more interested in using it at the range than in looking at it).

How much should I expect to pay? How do I find something meeting my criteria? I have not seen anything at my local gun stores in Southern California. And gun shows in California don't offer much either. That's because even private party sales have to go through a licensed dealer, and we have a 10 day waiting period as well as a "only 1 handgun per 30 days" restriction. Unfortunately, all of these restrictions makes it unattractive for private sellers to even bother. Also: FFL dealers at California gun shows would rather use their exhibitions space for new models.

I've been playing with the thought of applying for a C&R license, but I'm still not clear what benefits I would have in California. (Handguns and private party transfers still have to go through a licensed gun retailer, even if they are older than 50 years or on the C&R list, so it's probably more trouble than it's worth).

I've seen some law enforcement surplus Model 10s offered online by Bud's in the $200 range, but I don't feel comfortable buying anything from a "sight unseen" bin and from an unknown year.

Are there collectors groups specifically for the Model 10?

Is there anything I should be mindful of? Any safety issues? Any of you guys want to sell anything? (I promise I would take *very* good care of it).

I'd appreciate any advice you could give me.

Here is a picture of my "ideal": the heavy barrel version with the thicker grip.

S&WModel10HB.jpg
 

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Marlowe,

Welcome!

This is a Military & Police 4" .38 special from 1947 or 48. It's successors will become the model 10 in 1957.

mAndP_0241.jpg

This one shows honest wear externally but is "newish" on the internals. I paid around $250.00 plus background/tax at a pawn shop in middle TN in, I think, Sept. of last year.
It shoots "lights-out"!

Mike
 

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welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass! I believe a C&R license in KA allows you to purchase as many guns per month as you want. But, I don't live there so you need a knowledgeable KA C&R resident to confirm. That would likely be worth the $30 for 3 years license. You can find decent shooting M10s or pre-10s or model 1899/1903/1905 for anywhere from $200 to $600. There are lots of options such as pencil barrel, heavy barrel, short barrel, long barrel, target sights, square butt, round butt, long throw hammer, short throw hammer, blue finish, and nickel finish. I prefer the long throw hammer, myself, but I won't throw out a short throw. Here are some of mine.

A pair of snubs. Blue from 1948, nickel from 1921.



.38 M&P Target

 

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About a year ago, I purchased one of the police trade-in model 10s from Bud's. I had the same feeling of apprehension, but mine is a great shooter. I had no idea how much holster wear to expect, or what model year I would be getting. But if memory serves me correctly, Bud's specifically said they would not sell/ship them to California. I could be wrong, though.

One thing you need to be mindful of is the fact that you can't stop at one revolver. One ALWAYS leads to many.
 
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M&P star 002.JPG 1905 chg 4 right.jpg dscf6469.jpg 1905 chg4 teens r.jpg wornM&Ptarget 006.JPG Try surfing Gunbroker.com. Many sellers are dreamers but there are enough realists to keep it interesting. All of these were snagged at or below $300 with plenty of pics and a decent description. Usually penny start/no reserve. They are out there.

P.S. I have not captured a Model 10 HB in this fashion, I have not tried. I did pick-up a Model 65 HB 4" in this range.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
mmitch: My goodness, what a beautiful picture and pistol! So perhaps pawnshops are the way to go, but it's probably a matter of luck to stumble upon a 1940s model. How does it differ from the post-1957 builds?

Thanks guys for all the other pictures. I'm feasting my eyes, and I'm salivating.

Wiregrassguy: Yes, if someone holds a Curio & Relics license *and* a "Certificate of Eligibility" issued by the California Dept. oof Justice, there is an exemption for the "1 handgun per 30 days rule". Of course, there's a fee for that, too. The main advantage of a C&R license for Californians seems to be that I could have a qualified C&R gun shipped to me directly (instead of to a dealer), if I'd also have the "Certificate of Eligibility". 5 days after receiving it, I'd have to report it to the Department of Justice (and pay another fee). So if I interpret the law correctly, there's little financial incentive to get the license unless I was to trade on a regular basis. I'd have to think this over.

The issue here is that (please correct me if I'm wrong), the Model 10 is *not* on the Department of Justice C&R list. Therefore, the only way it would quality as a C&R is if it is older than 50 years. In California, this means it would have to be from prior to 1963 for a dealer to sell it legally as a C&R. But if it does not qualify as a C&R, California dealers must not sell it. (See below).

dalegribble79: I think the reason why Bud's won't ship to California is that the guns they are selling are a mixed bag. Most are probably not older than 1963 (which would be the only way for them to sell them legally in CA). Here's why: In California, we have another mind-numbing law, which says that all handguns sold in California must be approved by the CA Dept. of Justice (curio & relics are exempt). To get this approval, the guns first have to pass a "safety test". (You can imagine how that works in practical terms).

The Model 10 is *not* on the list. Which means the only way it could be legally sold in CA is as a C&R (which makes them exempt), or via private party transfer (which also has to go through a dealer).

For me, this probably means that I can't buy from a gun store *unless* it is older than 50 years.

Sigh. Well, we have good weather here ....


Waidmann: Are the HB versions more rare (and therefore more expensive?)
 

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Well, I guess if you want a HB, you will need to find one from 1959-63. The 4" HB was introduced in '59. The easiest way to recognize one is to look for the trigger guard screw. They eliminated that in '62. I'm not saying that one without is not C&R, but you'll have to get a letter or call S&W to get a shipping date.
 

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Marlowe, "Cali-fornication" gun laws make a normal rational person scream. Their "safety" tests are nothing more than another way to ban greater numbers of firearms from its borders. The mfg. answer is to simply not spend the extra funds getting various models approved for sale in that state, thus reducing your choices. And IF you already own one gun on the banned list & moved out of the state, you can't even move back into the state with the gun you left with, plus I think they require you to register all the guns you own within 60 days of moving into the state! (That duck won't fly here in Texas). Makes you wonder how all those people managed to not shoot themselves with all those guns without all those safety devices for all those years....
"Run Forest.....RUN!":eek:
 

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Marlowe,

Thank-You.
The older (late forties and before) revolvers had the "long action" meaning the geometry of the hammer/trigger was different, and many prefer the feel of that older action. More of the individual components of the guns were hand-fitted, and the external screws in the guns went from 5, to 4, to 3 in the progression from the 40's (and older) through the 50's and early '60's.
Newer model 10 guns will exhibit loss of the "pinned" barrel, fewer-to-no hand fitted parts, stock (grip) changes including loss of the "diamond" around the escutheon/screw, inclusion of a hammer-block safety during WWII (allowing safe carry of all six chambers-loaded). Changes to the shape of the front sight, additional "multi-line" made-in and "marcas registradas" stampings, along with varying fonts for the typography in those rollmarks/stampings.
I think you will benefit from the acquisition of the third edition of The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson by Supica and Nahas. It is a great reference and a good read for all things S&W.

Mike
 
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^+1 (Guy), Marlowe: Yes but 64's (.38 Spl) and 65's (.357) the stainless equivalents abound. The entire M&P series from 1899 to present offers myriad variables. I would not offer a premium for HB over tapered, nor do I know of a reason to. The world of today is a bit crazy. Premiums to me: target models, (factory) snubs, Victory .38 Specials (not .38 S&W), and the 1899 models. Negatives: the 1902 version, early 1905's not having Made In USA on the right frame (since most lack hardened cylinders).
It is an oversimplification, and a number of rare exceptions are existant, but generally it is down to condition, condition, condition.


The stainless 64 and 65 will of course will usually command a bit more. The blue steel 13 (.357) HB generally command a price. Diligent hunting will eventually be rewarded.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Grasshopper: You are completely right - the "safe gun law" is bogus. Its only purpose is to create red tape for gun makers. For example, even though there are only minor differences between the current Glock Generation 4 and the previous Generation 3, the Generation 4 Glocks are *not* approved in California. There is absolutely no safety issue with any Glock, and the Gen 4 is not any "safer" than Gen 3. It is sheer idiocy. Unfortunately, it was easy to "sell" the safety certification law to uninformed California voters, because they were told that the state was awash in "unsafe" firearms, and something needed to be done as a "consumer safety" issue, just like with any other regulated product. And yes, California residents are required to register all handguns they bring into the state with the CA Department of Justice. (There's form to fill out, and of course, a fee to be paid. For every gun). Long guns are exempt (so far).

Unfortunately, when it comes to acquiring a Model 10, I'm impacted by a double-whammy: Federal law requires interstate transfers to go through an FFL in the receiver’s state. [18 USC 922 (a)(3) and (a)(5)]. So I can’t receive a handgun from out of state unless you have a FFL. But: a California FFL-dealer must not sell a handgun that's not on the "California approved" roster. The two regulations combined make it almost impossible to buy a Model 10 that's *not* classified as a "curio & relic", i.e. (since it is not on the ATF list), something older than 50 years. Or, I personally go to another state to buy it, then bring it to California.

It's very discouraging and disheartening. I don't see the point. If I wanted to commit crimes, a vintage Model 10 would not be my first choice, and I certainly would not need to go through all the trouble. The local gang bangers would be happy to set me up with a gun, for cash - no questions asked. :(

Mmitch, thanks for all the info! This is very helpful. Do you think a 1940s (or 1930s) model is still safe to fire regularly? What would I need to look out for in terms of functionality and safety? What do you think would be the price range I should anticipate?

Again, thanks for your time!
 

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The two regulations combined make it almost impossible to buy a Model 10 that's *not* classified as a "curio & relic", i.e. (since it is not on the ATF list), something older than 50 years. Or, I personally go to another state to buy it, then bring it to California.
That is not my understanding. I sometimes hang out on the Calguns.net forum and have communicated with many CA owners of nice older S&W revolvers. Many have FFL 03 C&R licenses. My best advice is to go there and ask in the C&R threads for specific local-based information.

There is a lot of testosterone on that site (fair warning ;) ).

P/S Please don't buy outside your state and transport it back.

Do you think a 1940s (or 1930s) model is still safe to fire regularly?
I fire old S&W revolvers all of the time (most bought with my C&R). Once you've made an inspection (everything is tight and lines up well), they are fine to fire. Just don't use an exotic load. I predict that they will be fine to fire in another 100 years. :D

Summary of the Model 10 and its predecessors:
1957-now--- Model 10
1946-1957--- .38 Military & Police (postwar, aka, the pre-Model 10)
1942-1945--- .38 M&P Victory Model (war production)
1899-1942--- .38 M&P Model of 1902 and 1905 (several changes in 44 years ;) )

To be on the safe side of the law, I consider anything from 1962 and before to be fair game to buy and ship to my home.

Nonetheless, the Model 10 has always been the workhorse. They made millions of them, but it remains a nice K-frame revolver:

.38 Model of 1905 (4th change, 1926):




Model 10:


Model 10:
 

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Marlowe,

Condition, locale and existence of box/goodies will dictate prices. I would opine 300-600 simoleons for good shooters in your area. Get too old (early '20's), and your into metallurgy that is pre heat treatment (read--will not take modern 38 special ammo pressures). If you stay in the late 40's to newer guns (there are literally millions), you will have a lot, from which, to choose, all with modern heat treatment and safety features.
You will want to read-up on end shake, timing and all aspects of the mechanical nature of the revolver. It's a learning curve. If you can find a local "hands-on" mentor to show you the good and the bad, what those things look and feel like, that would be sweet.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That is not my understanding. I sometimes hang out on the Calguns.net forum and have communicated with many CA owners of nice older S&W revolvers. Many have FFL 03 C&R licenses. My best advice is to go there and ask in the C&R threads for specific local-based information.

The legal issue is this: <<Effective January 1, 2001, no handgun may be manufactured within California, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale, or offered/exposed for sale unless that handgun model has passed firing, safety, and drop tests and is certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice. Private party transfers, curio/relic handguns, certain single-action revolvers, and pawn/consignment returns are exempt from this requirement.>> (From the CA Dept. of Justice web site).

So before 2001, California FFL dealers were able to sell *any* Model 10. Not anymore (since it is not on the state's "approved" list). Yes, C&R's are exempt, but they'd have to be at least 50 years old. Private party sales are also exempt, but California mandates that all private party transfers must go through a dealer. We don't have many pawn shops that will trade with guns (it's very hard to get local approval), but it's one avenue I could try.

You advised against buying out of state. Why is that? I figured I could maybe try at a gun show in Las Vegas, where I'd presume there would be a better selection. (I'd have to register the gun in California within 5 days, and pay a fee).

MMitch, so did they progressively get tougher as a result of better and better metallurgy? Or were there years in which big jumps were made (for instance when they switched to heat treatment)? What would be the best way to determine the year of make?

So I guess based on what I've learned here, and from the legal situation in CA, I should be looking for a plain .38 special, 4 inch barrel, straight bottom grip, in good firing condition, years prior to 1963 (to qualify as C&R) and as early as the 1940s, possibly 1930s, and as close to $300 as possible. Like a needle in a haystack, right?
 

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Marlowe,

Haystack, maybe. But there are beaucoup needles in that stack!

Per your quote:
"plain .38 special, 4 inch barrel, straight bottom grip, in good firing condition, years prior to 1963 (to qualify as C&R) and as early as the 1940s, possibly 1930s, and as close to $300 as possible"

Yep. (Though I'm not sure what "straight bottom grip" references.)

Mike
 

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You advised against buying out of state. Why is that? I figured I could maybe try at a gun show in Las Vegas, where I'd presume there would be a better selection. (I'd have to register the gun in California within 5 days, and pay a fee).
I guess that I am confused. CA law is different.

I never buy in another state without shipping it back to me via my 03 C&R. In GA, a buyer must certify that he is a GA resident to buy it and take it home (dealer or private transaction). I can buy from the other 49 States but need to ship it home. :confused: It's convenient.

Like a needle in a haystack, right?
No. I'd add another ~$100-$150 or so and get a very nice one. The days of nice low-priced M10's ended about 3-4 months ago (with the over-all market). ;)

Yes, you can pay $300, but it will have a few marks on the finish and maybe the stocks. The better deal, IMO, will be the nicer one with maybe a box, matching stocks, and a 3-day money-back guarantee. I've completed many deals with S&W guys and have never experienced anything but true (and mostly underestimated) descriptions.

Here is a nickel pinned and recessed Model 10 3-screw with matching box, tools, dox, and matching stocks.


This is from the CalGuns.net site. It's C&R transactions: :eek: ;)

Buying from a 01 Dealer:
C&R license - within CA - rifle = 01 Dealer DROS – 10-day wait
C&R license - within CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – 10-day wait – Must have HSC
C&R license and COE - within CA - rifle = 01 Dealer DROS – No 10-day wait
C&R license and COE - within CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – No 10-day wait/No 1 handgun per 30 day limit

Buying from a Private Party in CA:
C&R license - within CA - rifle = Cash and carry
C&R license - within CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – 10-day wait – Must have HSC
C&R license and COE - within CA - rifle = Cash and carry
C&R license and COE - within CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – No 10-day wait/No 1 handgun per 30 day limit

Buying Outside CA:
C&R license - physically outside CA - rifle = Cash and carry - no CA paperwork
C&R license - physically outside CA - handgun = Cash and carry – Must submit DOJ paperwork and $19 fee
C&R license - physically inside CA - rifle = Rifle shipped to your door
C&R license - physically inside CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – 10-day wait – Must have HSC
C&R license and COE - physically outside CA - rifle = COE irrelevant outside CA – See above
C&R license and COE - physically outside CA - handgun = COE irrelevant outside CA – See above
C&R license and COE - physically inside CA - rifle = Rifle shipped to your door
C&R license and COE - physically inside CA - handgun = 01 Dealer DROS – No 10-day wait/No 1 handgun per 30 day limit
It looks to me that you can use a FFL 03 C&R (it's $30 for 3 years) to go to Vegas and buy a Model 10 and spend $19 to get it DOJ registered in CA.

While in Vegas, you should pick up a .357 Combat Magnum and maybe a K-22? It's only $38 more fees to the DOJ. :D

K-22 (pre-war):


Model 19 Combat Magnum (yes, it's a 1973, but has a specific exemption into C&R via Federal rules):


JMO, a FFL 03 C&R is a good thing for anyone that buys old guns from time to time.
 

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The model 10 is one of the first pistols any S&W fan should get!
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Mike, "straight bottom grip" is my clumsy way of saying that I'd like the grip you have on the gun in your picture, as opposed to the rounded grips I've seen elsewhere. (Is there a proper name for these grips?)

1911: The more I research it from the perspective of a California resident, the more puzzling and confusing it gets. So, I've already established that a CA FFL can't sell a Model 10 that's not at least 50 years old. If it is, then it does not matter whether I have a C&R or not, because all private party handgun transactions (even C&Rs) must be done through an FFL dealer in California. This means I am unlikely to get lucky at a California gun show, as most potential sellers don't bother to bring their "for sale" guns anymore.

That leaves Nevada. I've looked at a site of a large dealer in Nevada (Clark County) and they are adamant that they can neither sell to a California resident in person, nor can they ship to a CA FFL. Apparently, the current law (at least in Las Vegas / Clark County) is that handguns can only be sold to Nevada residents in person, or shipped out of state (if the buyer is a resident from another state). But they can't ship to California. Here's a quote from their site:

<<<We sell guns to residents of 49 states! (No, not California!) Handguns ALL have to be shipped to a dealer if you do not live in Nevada, but rifles and shotguns can now be delivered directly to residents of most states. If you live in a state that we cannot sell directly to, we will be happy to ship it to a dealer in your home state. We are also happy to sell to C&R license holders any firearms that meet the C&R requirements. Sorry, but due to the MASSIVE restrictions, laws and outright stupidity from the politicians in Sacramento, we CANNOT sell or ship guns to ANYONE or ANY DEALER in California! No exceptions, including to C&R FFL holders. >>>

So, this really means that I'm very, very limited. Basically, it means that realistically, unless I buy something sight unseen (which I'm trying to avoid), I am limited to California FFL dealers, pawn shops or private sellers located in California! How bizarre!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
PS: If I look online, how would I determine the year (to make sure it qualifies as a C&R)? And what should I look for or ask for to determine whether it is working order and safe to fire?
 
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