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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently inherited this old S&W .38 Special revolver that was my grandfather’s and then my father’s and now mine. It is not in the best shape but the wear is only cosmetic and is functional. Serial number is 190xxx. I would appreciate any info.
 

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Welcome to the forum! I would say you have a nice older classic. If I am correct...a pre war M&P 38. Shoot it and pass it down. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
I brought it home, cleaned it and did shoot it. The action is still very smooth. And yes, I do plan to pass it down along with my other guns. I actually had the choice between this gun and a newish Charter Arms snub 38 that was in excellent shape. I chose the old Smith because it is iconic and the family history with it.
 

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Looks like a Hand Ejector 3rd Model made between 1909 and 1915. They are very accurate shooters and have found they are more accurate with lead bullets, 148 gr Wadcutter or 158 gr lead Semi wadcutter. Use a copper scrubbing pad with lots of oil to remove the rust, keep it clean and oiled and will be good for your kids and theirs.
Oops, Waidman beat me to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looks like a Hand Ejector 3rd Model made between 1909 and 1915. They are very accurate shooters and have found they are more accurate with lead bullets, 148 gr Wadcutter or 158 gr lead Semi wadcutter. Use a copper scrubbing pad with lots of oil to remove the rust, keep it clean and oiled and will be good for your kids and theirs.
Oops, Waidman beat me to it.
Thanks everyone. I’d never sell it (or any of my other guns for that matter) unless my wife and kids were hungry. However, just out of curiosity, what would an approximate value be?
Also, I’m not familiar with this copper scrubbing pad technique. Any advice? Do’s and don’ts? Will this also work on a sword? I have a sword my dad made with light surface rust on it.
Thanks again everyone.
 

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Be aware that the very early K frame pistols do not have hardened cylinders.

https://www.smithandwessonforums.co...id-heat-treated-hardened-cylinders-start.html

It's important to respect this (and the fact that the SAAMI ammunition standards didn't exist back then). For that reason, only use standard velocity ammunition in the early revolvers.

Give it a good cleaning and lubricate it properly. It's a great family heirloom. Congratulations.

I can't tell from the photos (because of the flash) but is the finish nickle plated? If so, don't start using steel wool on it. If there is a "N" stamped under the grips on the frame, it's factory nickle.
 

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There are competing opinions on "gentle" scouring products. No one recommends anything more abrasive than #0000 Steel Wool, often less. If the sword is plated, Mother's mag polish from the auto store is fine, never use ammonia products on plating. Otherwise a penetrating oil to loosen the rust then as described.
 

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Also, I’m not familiar with this copper scrubbing pad technique. Any advice? Do’s and don’ts? Will this also work on a sword? I have a sword my dad made with light surface rust on it.
Copper scrubbing pads can be found among the cleaning supplies at any grocery store, & copper wool can be ordered from Brownell's. Then there's the old trick of rubbing hard rust spots with the edge of a penny. On fresh, light, red rust these methods can be quite satisfactory, but on old black & hardened rust, they are not very effective, because iron oxide is so much harder than copper. Hard to make out exactly the condition of the metal on this gun--some spots look like old pitting, which of course is there to stay. In fact, I can't tell whether I'm looking at a blued or nickel finish; the latter is especially hard to work with.
 

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You can polish up your pistol using some "bronze wool"and a product called "Mothers mag wheel polish". Should be able to find it at any auto parts store. It will work on your sword also. Just don't polish your hammer or trigger, they are supposed to be "case colored" instead of shiney.
 

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I would also like to welcome you to this forum, from Southern Colorado. Nice revolver. You definitely made the right choice between the S&W and the Charter Arms!! As others have said, light loads with lead bullets (I prefer 148 gr. wadcutters), and shoot the heck out of it. There are a few people here that know a heck of a lot about Smith and Wesson firearms.

Gary
 

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It is nickel.
That compounds the problem of cleaning it, because more of the plating may flake off as you clean it. I've read that nickel finishes of this period did not hold up as well as modern plating because the nickel was applied directly to the steel, rather than over a copper or gilding metal base, as is now done. When the nickel begins to flake or bubble over large areas, just about the only thing that can be done (short of complete refinishing) is to have it removed entirely by reverse-electrolysis; but your gun hasn't reached that point yet.
 

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welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass! That old gun really needs to be completely disassembled and thoroughly cleaned. It isn't a difficult task if you are not afraid of small parts and springs. There are several videos on YouTube that will show you what needs to be done. We also have some sticky posts of videos of how the action works so you can see the interrelationship of the internal parts. Alternately, I'd find a gun shop or gunsmith with a sonic cleaner and have it cleaned up. It shouldn't cost too much and the smith can quickly check for timing, pushoff, etc. so you know for certain the action is working like it should. I mean, really, this gun is over 100 years old. It deserves some TLC in its middle age. ;)

As far as value goes...maybe $300-400. The .38 M&Ps were S&W's bread and butter guns...and they have made around 7 million of them since 1899. Some collectors will argue that the correct classification is a Model 1902 because it has a round butt. Sales catalogs at the time labeled it that way to differentiate the round butts from the more prevalent Model 1905 square butt guns and it would have been ordered as a Model 1902, .38 Military & Police round butt. The walnut, large gold medallion grips are original and, although worn, somewhat more valuable than the more prevalent hard rubber grips that often accompanied the round butts. They can be restored and there are skilled craftspersons out there ready to pretty them up for you. However, they would lose their "character" that matches the wear on the gun. I'd leave them as is and clean them up with some Blue Wonder cleaner and a toothbrush. The Blue Wonder will also remove rust from your gun and sword without harming the metal. If you want to shoot a lot, you will find some modern grips are easier on the hands and make accurate shooting easier. Although they are ugly, Hogue or Pachmayr rubber target grips are more comfortable on the range. They enclose the entire grip frame inside the grip so usually will work for a round or square butt. Whatever you choose, you will need K/L frame grips that work for a round butt.

Nobody asked, but if you got this with a holster where it is being stored, take it out of the holster and store it in a silicon sock, gun rug, etc. to prevent further deterioration of the finish. Leather tends to hold moisture that can rust the finish.

These old M&P's are fun to shoot. Don't be a stranger and stop by from time to time to tell us how you and your family are enjoying it on the range.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow. Lots of good thoughts and ideas here. I’m not afraid of small parts - I work on mechanical pocket watches as a hobby. I’ll take a look at the videos. I did not receive a holster. I have it stored in my gun safe.
to the forums from the Wiregrass! That old gun really needs to be completely disassembled and thoroughly cleaned. It isn't a difficult task if you are not afraid of small parts and springs. There are several videos on YouTube that will show you what needs to be done. We also have some sticky posts of videos of how the action works so you can see the interrelationship of the internal parts. Alternately, I'd find a gun shop or gunsmith with a sonic cleaner and have it cleaned up. It shouldn't cost too much and the smith can quickly check for timing, pushoff, etc. so you know for certain the action is working like it should. I mean, really, this gun is over 100 years old. It deserves some TLC in its middle age.


As far as value goes...maybe $300-400. The .38 M&Ps were S&W's bread and butter guns...and they have made around 7 million of them since 1899. Some collectors will argue that the correct classification is a Model 1902 because it has a round butt. Sales catalogs at the time labeled it that way to differentiate the round butts from the more prevalent Model 1905 square butt guns and it would have been ordered as a Model 1902, .38 Military & Police round butt. The walnut, large gold medallion grips are original and, although worn, somewhat more valuable than the more prevalent hard rubber grips that often accompanied the round butts. They can be restored and there are skilled craftspersons out there ready to pretty them up for you. However, they would lose their "character" that matches the wear on the gun. I'd leave them as is and clean them up with some Blue Wonder cleaner and a toothbrush. The Blue Wonder will also remove rust from your gun and sword without harming the metal. If you want to shoot a lot, you will find some modern grips are easier on the hands and make accurate shooting easier. Although they are ugly, Hogue or Pachmayr rubber target grips are more comfortable on the range. They enclose the entire grip frame inside the grip so usually will work for a round or square butt. Whatever you choose, you will need K/L frame grips that work for a round butt.

Nobody asked, but if you got this with a holster where it is being stored, take it out of the holster and store it in a silicon sock, gun rug, etc. to prevent further deterioration of the finish. Leather tends to hold moisture that can rust the finish.

These old M&P's are fun to shoot. Don't be a stranger and stop by from time to time to tell us how you and your family are enjoying it on the range.
 
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