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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I am new to this forum but have admired Smith and Wesson all my life. I recently acquired a snub nose S&W five shot revolver, I brought it over to Cabelas in Gonzales, La. To have the gun evaluated by their team of "EXPERTS" and give me an estimated value, I own the 2012 standard catalog of firearms 22nd edition and after my personal research believed that my revolver was in fact a "chiefs special airweight" well the "expert" at Cabelas offered me $200.00, and I felt deeply insulted! I said to this guy "thats a pretty low offer for a chiefs special airweight, don't you think" by the way the gun is in excellent condition, immaculate, I doubt 20 rounds been through it. The Cabelas guy says " that's not a chiefs special! So I ask "well what do you think it is?" he replied well the chiefs special didn't come in an alloy your gun is alloy, a cheap mass produced revolver. So I respectfully ask "ok, so what is the model? He replied " it's an airweight, a model airweight." at this point I know from all my research that he is off his wagon or at least I think he is, then his collegue says "it's probably like a model 38." at this point I tell them "I'd rather keep the gun than give it away!"

So here I am to see what you guys think, this is what I have I'm looking for a definitive date of manufacture and model name/number. Value is not important to me.

Serial numbers:
Bottom of handle 644xx
Bottom of barrel 644xx
Cylinder 644xx
Crane 148xx
Yoke 148xx

It has 2 bolts holding side plate
1 screw for grips

The grips are checkered wood with a diamond around the screw.

5 shot
Stenciled on gun:
Airweight
.38 spl. Ctg
Made in USA Marcus registradus smith and wesson Springfield mass.

The barrel and cylinder has a slightly different color/tint than the frame

The cylinder release is long and flat with vertical serrations

It does have a spurred hammer and the end sight is fixed.

If I can figure out how to post a pic I will soon thanks for the help,
Iron
 

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SCSW says : 1955 55050-750009
was wondering is there a screw in front of the trigger guard? There is also another screw under your grip. Sounds like a nice Airweight. And welcome to the forum.
 

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Welcome to the forum from sunny Florida.

Sounds like a Chief Special Airweight to me also.

Regards,

FlaRon weiweinp
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No sir, there is no screw in front of trigger gaurd. I read somewhere that it is recommeded to NOT shoot this gun with any type of ammo due to today's ammo being to hot even standard velocity. Is this fact?
 

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good grief! it is terrible when the g-s guys make low-ball offers. it is even worse when they don't have a clue what they are talking about AND make low-ball offers.

anyway!

welcome to the forum! i love the early chief's. yours is, in fact, a chief's special airweight, just as you assumed. here is a very early one:


here is the other side. this gun has the upper side plate screw. it also has the small locking screw for the upper screw. guns with the little"bug" screw are fairly scarce.


guns with the upper screw are considered "4-screw" guns, and were made from the chief's special airweight's inception, in 1952, until 1955. the upper screw was eliminated in 1955, and they became a "3 screw" (one screw is hidden by the upper "horn" of the grip panel). in 1957 S&W started using a model number designation. the chief's special airweight became the model 37. lots of folks call the older guns a "pre-37". if yours doesn't have the upper side-plate screw, and is not model-number-marked, it is very likely from 1956 or early '57.

as a sidenote, there were a very few true 5-screw "baby airweights", with the small "round" triggerguard, the screw in front of the triggerguard, and the shorter grip-frame (same grip size/shape as the earlier I-frames, but no I-frames were produced for the 38 special cartridge). these guns were in the 13000 serial number range. i have also heard of them in the 15000 range. i have NEVER found one (except the pic in scosw), but i am steadily looking out for one!
 

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Didn't some of the early Airweight's have aluminum alloy cylinders? I think I heard somewhere that they should be relegated to the wall hanger collection. This was pre "modern alloy technology". We don't know if yours is of that variety or not........and my memory may be wrong too.

If my memory is right, I think that S&W stopped using those early aluminum alloy cylinders for good reason.

Could this be what you're talking about Irondaib? If yours has a steel cylinder and is mechanically sound, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot standard .38 Special loads out of it. I suggest that you touch a magnet to the cylinder to determine if it's steel......and if so, you probably have a good shooter.

Best Regards,

Geezer
 

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by the way, the 644XX is the serial number. the numbers in the crane area are just internal factory assembly numbers to keep stuff together during finishing/assembly, and have no real meaning after final assembly.
 

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geez is steering you in the right direction! there were definitley some early ones with an alloy cylinder, and they SHOULD NOT ever be fired. the steel cylindered ones should be fine with any factory ammo, although i wouldn't shoot a steady diet of plus-p through it. that being said, if yours is in minty condition WITH the alloy cylinder, it is worth more as a collectible anyway, and could undoubtedly be traded for a steel cylinder unit AND extra cash!
 

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ar15ed
That is a nice one. I have wondered why they put the smaller screw next to the main top one. My guess would be to prevent a backout? It is a guess mind you. Does yours have a screw in front of the trigger guard?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
@ LeMat: I'm still trying to figure out how to post pictures here?!?!?? I'm new new to this here, but I'll be damned to let it kick my a$$! And to the rest of your comment haaahahaa! Yeah you right!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the warm welcome first off,I should've made that my first reply!
Alright now I don't feel like I'm losing my mInD :D the only thing that leads me to believe that it was made around 1955 is I actually have the original box, well half of it but the good half, the bottom it's blue with metal clips that reinforce the corners and on the inside under the disclaimer and warranty description it says April 15, 1955 and also I read somewhere about the diamond shape around the grip screw I can't remember what the discontinuation date was or were I read it but it was definetly in the 1950's maybe 57? Also the handle has the round butt design. I really think y'all narrowed it down for me. With all the history this gun has it must be a sleeper, and not yet recognized as a collector? even the blue book shows a low ball price In exc. Condition $275.00 to be exact. He'll I can't buy a used Rossi for that price! I'll do my part in driving that value up by not accepting any low ball Offers, I really doubt I'll ever get rid of it unless a really sweet trade comes along, it happens! I definetly did read somewhere that smith and wesson would honor the cylinder replacement as warranty, free of charge because it was "problematic". Thanks again fellows!
 

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Iron,

Welcome!
Usually, by the time any pricing book on firearms gets published, it's evaluations are old news. Go to Gunbroker.com, register and look at the finished auctions for specific guns. That research will do a fair job of informing you of a gun's actual market value.

Mike
 

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Welcome to the forum. Businesses have overhead, so they will never give you market value. If you sell a gun or trade in a car, you always lose out. Sometimes people do it for the convenience of not having to find a buyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've seen a picture of a C.S. Airweight with the small locking screw above the frame bolt, my snub doesn't have that feature, there are no bolts or screws up there, none on the front of the trigger guard either. Now I haven't taken it apart yet so I'm not sure about those hidden bolts, but in all that I can see there are three screws/bolts: 2 are in the frame on the right side, both below the cylinder, and the other through the grips (I'm guessing rosewood, checkered with a diamond shaped around the screw.

That's mainly what I do, go to gunbroker.com or gunsamerica.com or check out their msrp and take it from their, the book usually gives a decent brief history of the firearm although it didnt say to much on this one! It said a whole lot on that Colt Woodsman I have, lots of serial # information on that firearm. Im going to also order the Standard catalog of smith and wesson 3rd edition.
 

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Iron,

When you remove the stocks, you will find a third frame screw.

Mike
 

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Your doing your homework, well. Two factors a guy who pays rent, taxes and utilities has to make some money. Part of saving money often putting low wage know-it-alls behind the counter. This not confined to chain stores, who often don't take used guns.

You will usually do better either in a private sale or internet auction.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I definetly agree with you there waidmann. By no means do I no it all about vintage firearms, but I don't work in a gun library either! I tell you what Cabelas is very near my home and they have a spectacular gun library, I've actually picked up a few great shooters there, I guess the good prices (on some) is because the guys grading them and putting the price tag on em was the same guys I spoke with BRIEFLY! But hey nobody's perfect, the Internet must have been down that day!! And with the price of Gasoline I could buy another chief special airweight with the gas money to go elsewhere :)
 
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