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Hi, I have a .38 S&W special and I need help identifying it. I'm not that familiar with firearms.This revolver belonged to my grandfather and may have even been his fathers. Grandfather was apart of the occupation forces of Japan if that helps. It's a 6 shooter with the serial number 188836(maybe 188856? hard to tell) stamped on the butt end and top part of the cylinder. Barrel length appears to be 4" long. I will provide pictures. I know the cylinder serial number is hard to make out but it says 188836. If you need more information about the gun I'd be happy to provide. Thanks.
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You are not kidding! That is an old one. I put the shipping date sometime around Oct 1918. I haven't seen that many round butt .38 M&Ps. Looks to be in good shape. It has been used a lot based on the stock wear. If only guns could talk. Have you checked inside the stocks to see if the same serial # is written on the inside right panel? In pencil?? I think it might still be a change 3.

I make your serial number to be 188836. I show a serial number 1806xx shipping in Oct 1918. It is also a change 3.

I have a change 3 from 4 years earlier with a six inch barrel.

 

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You are not kidding! That is an old one. I put the shipping date sometime around Oct 1918. I haven't seen that many round butt .38 M&Ps. Looks to be in good shape. It has been used a lot based on the stock wear. If only guns could talk. Have you checked inside the stocks to see if the same serial # is written on the inside right panel? In pencil?? I think it might still be a change 3.

I make your serial number to be 188836. I show a serial number 1806xx shipping in Oct 1918. It is also a change 3.

I have a change 3 from 4 years earlier with a six inch barrel.

Would I need to open up the stock with a screwdriver to see the inside right panel ?
 

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....and welcome to the forum.
 

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Would I need to open up the stock with a screwdriver to see the inside right panel ?
Yes, unscrew the screw on the grip frame and very carefully try to remove the stocks.

Here is what my 1914 looked like when I did that

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If the gun has been in the family for that long I am sure they are the original stocks. You've got a treasure there.
 

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Look at that right panel hard; hold a good light at an angle to the stock and sight down the length of the stock. I agree, it is a pretty neat feeling to hold something your great-grandfather did.
 

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My bad. I read an earlier cheat sheet. That serial number (188836) would have shipped in 1911 or 1912. Sorry.
 

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Look at that right panel hard; hold a good light at an angle to the stock and sight down the length of the stock. I agree, it is a pretty neat feeling to hold something your great-grandfather did.
I scanned over it with a magnifying glass in good light and I still can't manage to see and writing of any kind. Is this a good thing ?
 

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I scanned over it with a magnifying glass in good light and I still can't manage to see and writing of any kind. Is this a good thing ?
To me not a big deal but it would have been nice to have the penciled s/n. S&W, while making great revolvers, were not known for their consistency. And the stocks could have been switched out but I would tend to doubt that not knowing how much and under what conditions the revolver went through.
 

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To me not a big deal but it would have been nice to have the penciled s/n. S&W, while making great revolvers, were not known for their consistency. And the stocks could have been switched out but I would tend to doubt that not knowing how much and under what conditions the revolver went through.
Thanks a ton for helping me identify this gun. I thought it was something my grandfather my have picked up when he was still around. I never would've thought it belonged to my great grandfather.
 

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An additional observation:

The gun‘s ejector rod knob indicates that it was replaced between 1927 and 1947. The barrel is cut for the mushroom-shaped knob correct for 1912, but it has the barrel-shaped knob. Since as far as I can read it, the cylinder serial matches, but the rod and knob have a darker coloration, just these were likely replaced. Often cylinder and rod were switched out together.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Great early example of S&W craftsmanship.
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Guns that old often have an erased grip serial number. They were written in pencil and oil/cleaner will remove them. Now that the grips are off, you might want to immerse the gun in auto transmission fluid for a few days. That will loosen up dirt, gum and varnish that gets adhered to the metal over time. Flush it thoroughly with aerosol parts/carb/brake cleaner to rinse off the grime. To make cleaning easier, the cylinder and yoke arm can be removed from the frame for separate cleaning. Just loosen or remove the lower forward sideplate screw, open the cylinder and pull it forward out of the frame. Don't lose the screw or put it in another hole because it is unique to the location.

These guns are fun to shoot with target ammo. They were designed to use lead bullets but can shoot jacketed bullets without problems. They can also handle any pressure ammo up to +P. Shoot it often and enjoy!
 
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