Sw 38 Revolver Serial Numbers

Smith Wesson Dates Of Manufacture From Serial Numbers DOWNLOAD. .38 Regulation Police (Square Butt) 38 S&W I.38 Terrier 2' Round Butt 38 S&W I.38/44 Heavy Duty (fixed sights) 38 Spl N.38/44 Outdoorsman (Adj. Sights) 38 Spl N.357 Magnum 357 Mag N.44 HAnd Ejector Military Model 44 Spl N.44 Hand ejector Model 1926 44 Spl N (shrouded extractor rod).45 U.S. Army Revolver, Model 1917 45 ACP N. Model:.38 Single Action 2 nd Model Serial Number: 52851. Year of Manufacture: 1877-1891 Caliber:.38 Smith & Wesson Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Top-Break Barrel Markings: The rear face of the cylinder, the bottom of the grip and the underside of the barrel latch are marked “52851”. The top strap is marked “SMITH & WESSON. The left sid eof the barrel states ' 38 S & W SPECIAL U.S. SERVICE CTG'S' The top of the barrel reads ' SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFILED MASS USA PAT'D APRIL 9, 89 MARCH 27, 94 MAY 21, 96 JULY 16, 95 AUG 4, 96 DEC 22, 96 OCT 4, 98 OCT 8, 01 DEC 17, 01' The only other marings on the gun are the five digit serial number on the butt of the gun and the S.

The Smith & Wesson Model 10 Military and Police .38 Special Revolver

By Chuck Hawks

Smith & Wesson is currently marketing a semi-automaticpistol as a Military and Police (M&P) model, but the name is taken from thedouble action (DA) revolver that made it famous. Later, the same revolver wasassigned the model number '10,' when S&W stopped naming theirhandguns and gave them numbers, instead. To this day, shooters over 30associate the M&P name primarily with the forged steel Model 10 revolverthat is still going strong and was the mainstay of the S&W police (andcivilian) handgun line for decades, not the more recent plastic-framed semi-auto.

The S&W .38 Hand Ejector, fixed sight service revolverhas, in one form or another, been a best seller in the S&W revolver linesince 1899. The Military and Police tag was added immediately after the gun'sintroduction, as a result of an 1899 order from the U.S. military for thousandsof Smith & Wesson's new revolvers in the then U.S. service standard .38 LongColt caliber.

In addition, in 1899 S&W introduced a new caliber in the M&P,the .38 Special. (The actual bullet diameter is .357'). This was an enlarged andmore powerful cartridge designed to address the stopping power deficiencies ofthe .38 Long Colt service cartridge. The M&P revolver and the .38 Specialcartridge have been associated ever since.

As a historical note, the S&W Military and Police wasengaged in an intense competition with Colt's best selling Police PositiveSpecial service revolver for both the civilian and police markets during thefirst half of the 20th Century. Ultimately, S&W finally achieved market dominance dueto their ability to undersell Colt.

M&P revolvers have been periodically updated. Thefirst major change came in 1902, when the lock-work was simplified and anejector rod locking lug was added beneath the barrel, latching the cylinderinto the frame at front and back.

Starting in 1904, customers had a choice ofsquare or rounded grip frames. In 1915 the mechanism was again improved by theaddition of an automatic hammer block that rendered the revolver completelysafe with all six chambers loaded. The fixed sights were also improved at thesame time.

S&W began heat treating cylinders in 1919. M&P revolversproduced between 1942 and 1944 had a 'V' prefix added to their serialnumbers and were known as 'Victory' models. Incidentally, the S&WMagna grips were introduced after the end of World War II and, at some point,the hammer block actuation was changed from a spring to a cam.

The Model 10 designation was introduced in 1957/1958, so the revolver became known as the'.38 Military & Police Model 10,' the designation used by the Gun Digest, the Shooter's Bible and practically everyone else until 2010. Whateverit is called, this .38 Special, fixed sight revolver is the most popular in history, with over 6,000,000 sold and production continuing today.

Model 10's made at various times between 1958 and 2010 wereavailable with 2', 3', 4', 5' and 6' barrels. Therewere also limited production 'distributor special' versions with2.5' barrels.

However, the 4' and 6' barrel lengths have alwaysbeen the most popular. These were elegantly tapered barrels, without atop rib and only a small bottom lug (about ½' long) to serve as a latchfor the tip of the ejector rod. There was also an otherwise identical 4'heavy barrel (no taper) M&P version.

Prior to 1981, the barrel wasthreaded into the frame and pinned in place, while current Model 10 barrels aresimply threaded into the frame sanspin. The gun reviewed here has a 6' barrel, my favorite length for .38 revolvers.

The caliber is marked on the right side of the test gun'sbarrel, reading '38 S&W Special Ctg.' while 'Smith &Wesson' is stamped on the left side. The serial number is stamped on thebottom of the grip frame.

Our test gun's serial number indicates that it wasprobably made in 1977, before the 10-7 engineering change took place(later in 1977). The model number is stamped inside the frame behind thecylinder crane; thus, the cylinder must be swung open to see the model number.In the case of the test revolver, it reads 'Mod. 10-5.' That standsfor Model 10, 5th engineering revision. The fifth engineering revision (-5) wasa change from a 1/10' wide 'half moon' front sight blade to a1/8' wide ramp style front sight blade; this was instituted in 1962. Ourtest gun was therefore part of the Model 10-5 production run, manufactured between1962 and 1977.

Between 1958 and 2012 there were a total of 14 engineeringrevisions made to the Model 10. The lockwork has remained the same after the -4revision, in which the earlier leaf spring powered trigger returnmechanism was replaced by a more durable coil spring powered slider.

The Model 10 was temporarily discontinued in 2010, only tobe immediately reintroduced in the current 4' heavy barrel version without the historic M&P tag. Theblued steel Model 10 revolver is offered today in pretty much its originalform, but only with a 4' heavy barrel and a rounded butt. All Model 10's from1958 to the present are suitable for use with .38 Special +P ammunition, aswell as all standard pressure .38 Special loads.

The M&P is built on Smith's medium size 'K'frame, which is an appropriate size for a six-shot, .38 Special revolver. Thesmall 'J' frame was designed for .32 caliber cartridges (such as the.32 S&W) and the big 'N' frame for .44/.45 caliber cartridges.

None of these S&W frame sizes were originally intended for use with Magnumcartridges. Thus it was that when the .357 Magnum cartridge was introduced in1935, it was chambered in a big N frame gun, which was unnecessarily large forthe caliber.

Later, the .357 was adapted to K frame guns, but it tended toshake them apart and the recoil is ferocious. It wasn't until much later, whenS&W copied the Colt Python size frame, calling it the 'L' frame,that they finally had a frame appropriate for the .357 Magnum.

The sights on the M&P are fixed (non-adjustable). Thefront sight is the angled (quick draw) front blade introduced with the -5series and the rear sight is the traditional square notch machined into the topof the frame. This is a durable, but limiting, sighting system that wasbasically regulated for use with the traditional 158 grain LRN 'policeservice' factory load. Good revolver sights should be user adjustable forwindage and elevation, since otherwise the sights can be properly regulated at the factory foronly one load at one distance.

The K38 Masterpiece (Model 14) is S&W's K-frame, adjustable sight .38 revolver.It is generally similar to the M&P, but supplied with a fully adjustablerear sight and undercut target type front blade that allows accurate use of thewide range of .38 Special loads on the market.

Most Model 10's came with a high polish, luster bluedoverall finish with a color case hardened hammer and trigger, although nickelfinish was also available for most of the gun's life. The nickel plated finishwas discontinued in 1991, well after the satin stainless steel Model 64 M&Phad been introduced, which effectively replaced the nickel finish. Thestainless Model 64 is otherwise the same as the Model 10. (S&W pads theirmodel list by using different model numbers for otherwise identical stainlessand blued finish guns.)

Previously supplied with a either a round or squarebutt and checkered wood grips, current production Model 10's come with a roundbutt (only) and wood grip panels, while Model 64 revolvers are supplied withUncle Mike's combat style rubber grips. The test gun has a square grip framewith S&W Magna walnut grip panels; it is in completely stock form.

The Model 10 Heavy Barrel. Illustration courtesy of Smith & Wesson.

2016 Model 10 Heavy Barrel Specifications

  • SKU: 150786
  • Caliber: .38 Special +P
  • Action: SA/DA
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel: Threaded into frame
  • Barrel length: 4' heavy
  • Front sight: Fixed blade
  • Rear sight: Fixed notch
  • Overall length: 8-7/8'
  • Frame size: Medium (K), exposed hammer
  • Weight: 36 oz. (catalog)
  • Grips: Wood, rounded butt
  • Material: Carbon steel frame and cylinder
  • Finish: Blue
  • Purpose: Military and police service, home protection
  • 2016 MSRP: $739
Smith & Wesson Model 10-5. Photo by Chuck Hawks.

1962-1977 Model 10-5 Specifications (as tested)

  • Condition: Used, excellent
  • Caliber: .38 Special +P
  • Action: SA/DA
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel: Threaded into frame and pinned in place
  • Barrel length: 6' tapered
  • Front sight: Fixed blade (1/8' wide)
  • Rear sight: Fixed notch
  • Overall length: 11-1/8'
  • Frame size: Medium (K), exposed hammer
  • Weight: 31 oz. (catalog); 32 oz. (actual)
  • Grips: Walnut, Magna square butt
  • Material: Carbon steel frame and cylinder
  • Finish: Blue
  • Purpose: Military and police service, home protection
  • 1976 MSRP: $109

Like all S&W revolvers with swing out cylinders, thecylinder rotates counter clockwise, or out of the frame, because thehand that rotates the cylinder is on the right side of the frame and the cylinder swings out to the left. This is whyS&W revolvers have two cylinder locks, one in the form of a spring loadedpin at the front of the ejector rod and the second a hole in the recoil shieldat the rear of the frame window for the spring-loaded cylinder pin. The handtrying to rotate the cylinder out of the frame is also why S&W revolver cylindersare not quite as tight, with the trigger pulled back, as equivalentColt revolver models.

The firing pin is pinned into the hammer using a roll pin.There is rebounding hammer with an internal hammer block that positivelyprevents the firing pin from hitting the primer of a chambered cartridge untilthe trigger is pulled back, thus rendering the gun safe to carry with thecylinder fully loaded. The main (hammer) spring is a leafspring inside the grip frame, secured by a screw in the lower front of the grip frame.

The trigger pull of the test gun measured a clean fourpounds, per my RCBS pull scale. Like all S&W revolvers G&S Online has reviewed,the DA pull exceeded the eight pound max reading of my scale. It is probably onthe order of 12 to 14 pounds, so heavy that when dry firing I could not keepthe sights correctly aligned, no matter how slowly and carefully I tried topull the trigger.

This revolver's DA trigger function is adequate for use at contact range and not much else. If you want to hit what you are shooting at, cock the hammer manually for a SA trigger pull.

It is no secret that S&W has turned out a lot of poorly machinedand fitted revolvers, especially during the 1970's and 1980's. However, thistest gun has a tight and uniform cylinder gap, tight cylinder crane to frame fitand a uniformly machined cylinder star. The frame is straight and the barrel iscorrectly aligned in the frame. The side plate fits the frame perfectly, with anearly invisible line where the two meet. The hand ejector rod is straight, theaction is tight and there is very little cylinder play. The locking bolt doesnot drag between the cylinder locking notches and the cylinder indexes correctlyduring rapid DA fire. The grip panels correctly match the shape of the frameand are a tight fit. It is one of the good ones!

For the shooting part of this review I had .38 Specialstandard pressure Remington/UMC 130 grain Metal Case (MV 790 fps) and Winchester/USA125 grain JSP (MV 850 fps) factory loads. To represent .38 Special +P loads I used the Winchester/USA 125 grain JHP Personal Protection factory load (MV 945 fps). Groups were five shots at 25yards at slow fire pistol (bulls eye) targets, fired from a sturdy shootingbench using a Pistol Perch rest.

Guns and Shooting Online staffers GordonLanders, Rocky Hays and Jim Fleck helped me with the shooting chores. We did our test shooting at the Izaak Walton outdoor shootingrange south of Eugene Oregon. Overcast skies with a high temperature in theupper 50's F during our day at the range with the Model 10 were typical ofWestern Oregon weather in mid-March. The maximum wind velocity was 10-15 MPH. At least it did not rain.

Shooting results

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  • Remington 130 gr. MC: Smallest group = 1-3/4'; Largest group = 2-3/8'; Mean average group size = 2.13'
  • Winchester 125 gr. JSP: Smallest group = 1-3/4'; Largest group = 2-3/4'; Mean average group size = 2.08'
  • Winchester +P 125 gr. JHP: Smallest group = 1-1/8'; Largest group = 2-1/4'; Mean average group size = 1.79'


This time out Jim shot the smallest individual group. Notethat none of our test loads were the 158 grain LRN factory loads (MV approx.800 fps) for which the Model 10's fixed sights were presumably regulated. Idetest plain lead bullets and almost never shoot such ammo in my revolvers, soI don't keep it on hand. Unfortunately, none was available for sale locally,due to the Obama ammo shortage.

The sights, although fixed, present a decent, Patridge typesight picture in daylight conditions. Point of impact with a two hand hold, forme, was 1.5' low and 1' to the left at 25 yards with the 125-130grain standard pressure ammo. The Winchester 125 grain +P loads grouped about1.25' low and approximately centered in windage.

Shooting a bit low withthese 125-130 grain loads was not surprising, as I figured the gun was intendedfor use with 158 grain police loads. If only the Model 10 had an adjustablerear sight it would be easy to zero this revolver to hit dead on at 25 yardswith 125 grain +P JHP ammo.

The SA trigger pull releases the hammer crisply, without anytake-up and very little over-travel. All shooters appreciated the cleantrigger. At a measured four pounds, the pull weight is about 1.5 pounds heavierthan I would like, but it is so crisp it feels lighter.

The wide trigger has a comfortably gentle curve and a grooved face. I prefer a smooth triggersurface. Never in my life can I remember my trigger finger slipping on a smooth trigger!

As with all S&W revolvers, the checkering on top of thehammer spur is too sharp and tends to abrade the skin of the shooter's thumb pad after alot of single action shooting. All of our test firing for ourrecorded groups was done single action, of course, to maximize accuracy. I havenever understood the gun manufacturers' fascination with sharp edges on handguns.

S&W's two-piece Magna grips have to be among the mostuncomfortable ever designed from the standpoint of handling recoil and theyprovide no fill between the front of the grip frame and the back of the triggerguard. (Well, okay, they are better than the earlier S&W wood grips--faint praise, indeed.) However, the Magna grips servedsatisfactorily on the relatively heavy for caliber Model 10 with both standard pressure and +P .38 Special loads. Therevolver's 6' barrel and good balance helped minimize recoil and muzzle jump.

My only real complaint was that the S&W cylinder latch (slideforward to swing open the cylinder) was too tight and a bit difficult to operate. It tendedto hesitate or stick about half way when pressed forward, the only rough machine workwe found on this gun.

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Despite its age, this revolver showed signs of havingbeing shot very little prior to this review, with no signs of wear due to use,or even from being carried in a holster. I doubt it had fired a full box ofammo (50 rounds) in its entire life. It had been purchased by G&S OnlineTechnical Assistant Nathan Rauzon's Grandfather for home defense and spentvirtually its entire life in a gun case. Thus, we had the pleasure of shootingwhat was functionally a new Model 10-5 revolver.

The S&W Military and Police Model 10 is a good choicefor police service and home defense, just as advertised. It is the right sizefor the .38 Special cartridge, which particularly in +P hollow point form, is anexcellent choice for both purposes.

Like any revolver, it can be leftfully loaded with all springs relaxed for years and still be ready forimmediate action at a moments notice, without any preparation. Just cock thehammer and squeeze the trigger to fire accurate SA shots, or simply pull thetrigger for very short range DA use in an extreme emergency.

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For home defense, nothing is safer, more accurate, more reliable or more ambidextrous than a revolver. A good S&W Military and Police Model 10 is more than adequate for the job.

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Note: This review is mirrored on the Product Reviews page.

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