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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an old square butt .38 special on a K frame with 4 side plate screws, 1 screw on the front of the trigger guard, and 1 screw on the "front strap?" IDK if that's correct terminology, but it's the screw giving tension to spring under grips. No markings on side with thumb latch release, and large S&W trademark Logo on side plate. Along with "MADE IN U.S.A." ONLY under cylinder infront of side plate. I've included pictures with last 2 digits of serial numbers marked out. From what I could find having the S stamped in front of puts it between 1945-1948, but because the S is so far in front of the serial number I wasn't so confident in my search results. Obviously the grips are not original. This is how I purchased for $200 and was thinking of stripping, polishing, and rebluing, so if anyone knows the type of process they used to blue this wheel gun that would also be helpful. Thank you
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I have an old square butt .38 special on a K frame with 4 side plate screws, 1 screw on the front of the trigger guard, and 1 screw on the "front strap?" IDK if that's correct terminology, but it's the screw giving tension to spring under grips. No markings on side with thumb latch release, and large S&W trademark Logo on side plate. Along with "MADE IN U.S.A." ONLY under cylinder infront of side plate. I've included pictures with last 2 digits of serial numbers marked out. From what I could find having the S stamped in front of puts it between 1945-1948, but because the S is so far in front of the serial number I wasn't so confident in my search results. Obviously the grips are not original. This is how I purchased for $200 and was thinking of stripping, polishing, and rebluing, so if anyone knows the type of process they used to blue this wheel gun that would also be helpful. Thank you
It looks like a wonderful project gun! (y) You are correct about the vintage. :) The bluing process S&W used way back when would be very hard to replicate today. Are you looking to do the re-bluing job yourself? Or just prepping the gun and turning it over to a shop that does a "hot" re-bluing? :unsure:
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass, Ralph! Well, you've pretty well nailed down the manufacturing date as TTSH says. The serial number does include the "S" no matter how far apart it is from the numbers. I guestimate a late 1947, early 1948 shipping date. In April 1948, S&W changed the action to a short throw and stamped a 4 line registration message on the lower right side to enhance the Made in USA. At the same time, serial prefixes changed from S to C. The gun is called a .38 Military & Police (M&P) revolver. After 1948 and the short throw action, it would become the Model 10 in 1957. K frame, square butt grips for the Model 10 will fit without problems. If you want period correct grips, you should look for "sharp shouldered magnas" (see below). As far as rebluing is concerned, be aware it will not increase the value of the gun enough to recover what you have in it plus what you will pay to have it blued. Refinishing destroys any collector value even when the gun is in pretty poor condition. Nevertheless, these guns don't bring a lot at a collector sale because S&W made so many of them (~7 million). If you are handy with shop projects, I recommend looking into rust bluing it. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. it is laborious but you can do it cheaply with kitchen pots and pans in your back yard. Good luck!



Note the upper profile on the grip panel has a cliff-like edge. Later versions are more rounded. The washers that hold the medallions are black oxide. BTW, the .38 M&P snub shown is also a S 88XXXX gun from early 1948.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It looks like a wonderful project gun! (y) You are correct about the vintage. :) The bluing process S&W used way back when would be very hard to replicate today. Are you looking to do the re-bluing job yourself? Or just prepping the gun and turning it over to a shop that does a "hot" re-bluing? :unsure:
Well depending on what type of hot bluing is done I may try it myself. I have hydrochloric acid and waiting on nitric acid to arrive to rust blue a mod 36, but I'm having a hard time finding anyone in town who hot blues
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass, Ralph! Well, you've pretty well nailed down the manufacturing date as TTSH says. The serial number does include the "S" no matter how far apart it is from the numbers. I guestimate a late 1947, early 1948 shipping date. In April 1948, S&W changed the action to a short throw and stamped a 4 line registration message on the lower right side to enhance the Made in USA. At the same time, serial prefixes changed from S to C. The gun is called a .38 Military & Police (M&P) revolver. After 1948 and the short throw action, it would become the Model 10 in 1957. K frame, square butt grips for the Model 10 will fit without problems. If you want period correct grips, you should look for "sharp shouldered magnas" (see below). As far as rebluing is concerned, be aware it will not increase the value of the gun enough to recover what you have in it plus what you will pay to have it blued. Refinishing destroys any collector value even when the gun is in pretty poor condition. Nevertheless, these guns don't bring a lot at a collector sale because S&W made so many of them (~7 million). If you are handy with shop projects, I recommend looking into rust bluing it. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. it is laborious but you can do it cheaply with kitchen pots and pans in your back yard. Good luck!



Note the upper profile on the grip panel has a cliff-like edge. Later versions are more rounded. The washers that hold the medallions are black oxide. BTW, the .38 M&P snub shown is also a S 88XXXX gun from early 1948.
Rust bluing is what I had in mine. Seems to be the most realistically possible 4me to do at home and still produce good results
 

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Well depending on what type of hot bluing is done I may try it myself. I have hydrochloric acid and waiting on nitric acid to arrive to rust blue a mod 36, but I'm having a hard time finding anyone in town who hot blues
Understood. I am fortunate in that I have some (relatively) local options for hot re-bluing services. I am dying to try one of them, but I haven't yet found the perfect S&W "project gun" candidate. As member Wiregrassguy points out, you never want to spoil the value of a true collectible by having it refinished. But on the other hand, for the right project gun at the right price, the notion of giving it a second life with a high-quality refinishing job (NOT a butcher job) is very appealing to me. (y)

Good luck with your project! :)
 

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Nice get. Those look like old Ruger stocks. I have one a touch older than yours; s/n S8187xx with matching stocks. These are fine revolvers. It shipped 8/46.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Rust bluing is what I had in mine. Seems to be the most realistically possible 4me to do at home and still produce good results
In your opinion, do you think I would be taking away from the value by refinishing, approving it, or keeping the same. It's in pretty rough condition and I definitely don't wanna lose any more of the markings, but I haven't decided if I wanna keep or sale. If I keep, I'd prolly go ahead and refinish cause it'd be worth more TO ME that way, but if I choose to sell I wanna go with whatever is going to hold best value, obviously
 

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In your opinion, do you think I would be taking away from the value by refinishing, approving it, or keeping the same. It's in pretty rough condition and I definitely don't wanna lose any more of the markings, but I haven't decided if I wanna keep or sale. If I keep, I'd prolly go ahead and refinish cause it'd be worth more TO ME that way, but if I choose to sell I wanna go with whatever is going to hold best value, obviously
Different folks are going to have different opinions. I am one who is not "anti-refinishing", but it has to be a really excellent refinishing job or fuggedaboutit ! (n) I've seen some refinishing jobs that totally ruined the value of the gun. I was offered one refinished vintage M&P .38 a while back for chump change, but the refinishing was so poor (even though done by "professionals") I wouldn't have taken it even if the seller wanted to give it to me. :( On the other hand, I know of a refinished Model 10 sitting in a shop as we speak that I would love to own at the right price. (y)

So, again, for me... it's all about the quality of the refinishing. An excellent refinishing job could add value... a poor refinishing job will detract from the value. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Welcome to the forum. Keep us up to date on progress with the revolver.
Here's the mod 36 I'm working on, but like I said, still waiting for nitric acid to rust blue. She was in even worse condition than the K frame posted above so I think it's coming out alright. This one here in keeping so I don't mind if it technically lowers the value, cause it's raising it in my eyes. The screws and springs I was gonna niter blue. Does anyone know if it's safe to niter blue the trigger assembly and hammer assembly without doing damage? I don't have those disassemble and don't plan to cause of the pain in the butt it is reassembling.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I rust blued this piece using Brownells' rust blue solution and boiling water on my kitchen stove. It was a real mess when I got it.
You did good, you should be proud of yourself. Even if it came out bad, which it didn't, you still gave it a go with ur own 2 hands, and that's something to take pride in. Any accomplishment deserves a kudos. So kudo's to you
 

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If it was mine I would give it a good soak in Breakfree for a couple of days then while it's still wet maybe rub with bronze wool to remove loose rust. I wouldn't waste my money on a re-blue. Would make a good truck or house gun when all said and done. And yes replace the grips with some worn grips if you can find them. Project complete if the innards are good.
 

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Ralph, your M&P has a lot of pitting and that alone will kill it for anything but a shooter. I see no downside in refinishing it, especially if you do it yourself. Here's an example of a WWII Victory that I did a phosphate (Parkerized) refinish on a while back. It IS possible to do a quality job in your back yard or kitchen as bearcat6's pistol shows. After all, these guns were not created as works of art to be set on a pedestal and be admired. They are tools to be used every day.

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well that is a beauty and great job finding it
i know i have seen transmission fluid and i think acetone work wonders on cleaning up rust and not hurting the bluing but check to be sure about the acetone...
anything u do will be a improvement even if it is just a quick clean
love these old unloved gun
thank you so much for sharing it with us
God Bless,John
bronze wool is also very good
do not use steel wool or anything harsh on it
 
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