Notes on Recent Smith & Wesson Models

The following information comes from Smith & Wesson Hand Guns by Roy C. McHenry and Walter F. Roper. Smith & Wesson Hand Guns is also available to purchase in print.

.35 AUTOMATIC PISTOL—Manufactured between May 6, 1913 and January 27, 1921.

.32 AUTOMATIC PISTOL—Manufactured between February 29, 1924 and July 9, 1937.

.38/44 REVOLVER—Introduced on April 1, 1930 to supply the need for a heavy-frame gun chambering .38 caliber special cartridges. Originally made as a target revolver only, the .38/44 Outdoorsman, later a service version was brought out, the .38/44 Heavy Duty in 4″, 5″ and 6 1/2″ barrel lengths. The high-speed .38/44 S&W Special cartridge, designed in cooperation with Elmer Keith and Major W. Earl Witsil, Chief Ballistician of Remington Arms Company, and produced by Remington in 1931, was developed for this gun. It was the forerunner of all modern high-speed .38 Specials—High-Way Patrol, SuperX High-Velocity, etc. The Smith & Wesson Magna Type Grip which distributes the recoil more evenly and makes shooting heavy caliber hand guns more comfortable was first sold in connection with the .38/44.

“.357” SMITH & WESSON MAGNUM—The highest powered hand gun ever made. The Magnum was developed for the new .357 S&W Magnum Cartridge which was produced in cooperation with Mr. Philip B. Sharpe and Mr. Merton A. Robinson, Ballistics Engineer of Winchester Repeating Arms Company, New Haven, Conn. Manufacture started in 1935—the first Magnum being presented to Mr. J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. The Magnum required special design and materials to handle the terrific power of the .357 S&W Magnum shell, and the first guns were made up on custom order only in any barrel length from 3 1/2″ to 8 3/4″. Registration certificates were issued with each Magnum until 1938. By that time, demand had become so heavy, that barrel lengths were standardized at 3 1/2″, 5″, 6″, 6 1/2″ and 8 3/4″, though any length could be supplied on special order.

Among the most important Magnum users are:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which ordered a large quantity of 5″ Magnums shortly after the gun was introduced. These guns were equipped with the Baughman Quick-Draw Sight developed by Captain T. Frank Baughman of the FBI. Besides the 5″ guns supplied, the 3 1/2″ Magnum also became extremely popular with FBI agents.

The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, which adopted the 4″ Magnum as standard equipment in 1939. Its guns were also equipped with Baughman Quick-Draw Sights and had Humpback Hammers.

The Utah Highway Patrol. 6 1/2″ Magnums adopted in 1936.

New Hampshire State Police—6″ Magnums in 1937.

Mississippi Highway Patrol—5″ Magnums in 1938.

U.S. Secret Service.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Police Department.

Tucson, Arizona, Police Department.

St. Joseph, Missouri, Police Department.

Wichita, Kansas, Police Department.

Butte, Montana, Police Department.

As a big-game gun, the Magnum proved highly successful, and has killed all types of North American game up to and including Moose and Alaskan Kodiak Bear. The 1938 edition of “Burning Powder” goes into this subject in considerable detail.

K-22 OUTDOORSMAN—Chambered for the .22 Long Rifle Cartridge, and manufactured from January 2, 1931. This revolver was built on the .38 Hand Ejector Frame, Model of 1905, Fourth Change, with square butt, and a flat-faced hammer with firing pin in frame, instead of the standard hammer nose design used on center-fire Smith & Wesson guns.

K-22 MASTERPIECE—Introduced in 1940, this gun is similar to the K-22 Outdoorsman, but incorporated the following improvements: 1—Short-Cocking Action. 2—Smith & Wesson Micrometer Click Sights. 3—An anti-backlash feature built into the lock work to prevent trigger travel after hammer is released.

.22/32 KIT GUN—A 4″ version of the .22/32 Target Revolver, introduced April 25, 1935. Round Butt frame. Supplied in blue or nickel finish. Round butt, Regulation Police Square Butt, or Oversize Target Stocks supplied. Most popular sights are the U.S.R.A. Pocket Revolver Front with a square-notch rear slide.

GENERAL REVISIONS IN .38 MILITARY & POLICE REVOLVER—Model 1905—Fourth Change, April 20, 1915: The hammer block was first installed in this model. Cylinders were heat-treated from Serial Number 316,648. New type square service sights were developed April 1, 1922, and installed in all service guns—beginning with serial number 406,301. The new type hammer block was installed in guns after serial number 557,143. Tangs on target guns grooved from August 14, 1923 on. First 2″ Military & Police Revolver produced in 1933.

WORLD WAR II MODELS—All variations of the Military & Police Model of 1905—Fourth Change. During the summer of 1940, Smith & Wesson went on to war production exclusively and since that time, no guns have been produced for direct commercial sale. Two principal types of revolvers have been manufactured, and the various changes in specifications listed below apply to both types:

December 4, 1941—Finish changed from bright polish to brush polish.

January 1, 1942—Stocks changed from checkered walnut with S&W monograms to smooth un-checkered walnut without monograms.

January 1942—Brooching equipment installed on Barrel Job and after considerable development work on broaching cutters, a large percentage of the rifling operation was put onto the broaching machine. Hook cutters, however, continued to be used for rifling many barrels. Although barrel broaching is still in experimental stage, results so far are extremely satisfactory, and it is possible that this method will replace hook cutters entirely after the war.

April 10, 1942—Finish changed from brush-polish to non-light-reflecting sandblast surface.

All wartime production had blue rather than nickel finish. Carbonia Heat Process, Black Magic Chemical Oxide Process, and Parkerizing Process were all used.


.38 CALIBER SPECIAL “VICTORY” MODEL. This gun is almost identical to the commercial square-butt Military & Police Model, and is chambered for the .38 S&W Special cartridges. 4″ barrels are standard on the “Victory” Model, though a sizeable order with two-inch barrels was put through for the Department of Justice. Both brush-polish blue and sand-blast blue were used, and also a few sand-blast guns were Parkerized. Smooth, un-checkered stocks on the bulk of production, but early “Victory” Model revolvers had checkered stocks with monograms. All guns equipped with butt swivels. The “Victory” Model was manufactured in large quantities for: The U.S. Navy—used throughout the service and adopted as standard for all Naval Flying Personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Maritime Commission. Also many thousands of these guns were distributed by the Defense Supplies Corporation to law-enforcement agencies and defense plants.

.38/200 BRITISH SERVICE REVOLVER—Also known as the K-200 or .38 Military & Police Model. This gun is similar to standard square-butt, Military & Police Revolver, but chambered for the Smith & Wesson .38 Regular Cartridge instead of the .38 S&W Special. The British use a 200-grain bullet similar to the .38 S&W Super Police, jacketed to conform to the Hague Convention. 5″ Barrel—Butt Swivel—Brush-Polish Blue, Bright-Polish Blue, and Sand-Blast with Blue and Parkerized finishes have been used—both smooth and checkered stocks have been installed. The .38/200 is a great favorite with the Commandoes and men in many other branches of the British Services. This gun has been in production since April 1940, and manufactured in tremendous quantities. It is undoubtedly the most extensively used military revolver ever made.

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Notes on Recent Smith & Wesson Models

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