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I have a model 36 that I bought as a no dash. I thought the dash would be in the crane area where it says model 36 like on the larger revolvers but apparently they ran our of room and it is supposed to be a dash model.
There is a 5 digit serial # in the crane area, and one digit number before the J on the butt, and the butt serial is a 4 digit number. It has diamond grip pattern, and a pinned barrel.

Can anyone help clear up my confusion? I have the printed version of the standard catalog but that still doesn't clarify it
 

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Apparently the 36 didn’t have dashes except for -1 which is a 3 inch. I just went through the same thing Saturday, was happy to find a no dash only to discover they’re not like the larger frames in regards to design changes. Mine had a J smack in the middle of the serial number. Apparently it’s called a floating J. Mine dated to 72 yours should be before 68 I believe because of the diamond grips.
 

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I still can't figure out the serial number either. I looked in the S&W standard catalog and I am confused....there is 6j**** and the 4 digit serial #. The number on the crane is 5 digit. The catalog made it look like it was earlier.
 

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The Diamond grip was deleted in '68 but it says the J didn't start till '69. So this one has diamond grips, but a j in serial number but the serial number is only 4 digits with a double repeating number.
 

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The model 36 was always a J frame because the I frame was too weak for 38. I think your gun is a 69. The diamond grips were deleted in 68 but if they had them they’d use them. There’s a few anomalies like that out there. Are they numbered to the gun? If I’m right the J in the middle was to prevent reusing a serial number for whatever reason. If you look up s&w floating J there’s some info. It goes in the same order as if the J was in the front.
 

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So the only serial number is the butt number. The one on my yoke is different than the serial. So yours is xjxxxx. A 6 digit number. So with the first few digits you can get a date
 

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Ok...so the number is 63### My standard catalog only shows digits that are 6 figure I must need the newer addition
 

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The serial number is on the bottom of the grip frame. You may have to remove the grips if they cover the bottom of the grip frame.


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