A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

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Virginian
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A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:43 am

While it's slow and not much varminting (groundhogs that is) going on in the mid winter, I thought I would dust off one of my pistols in the safe and share the story of this pistol. I purchased a pistol my mother had and has been her main protection for decades. I had a devil of a time finding out what exact model it was so here's the tale behind it.

I called S&W and based on the serial number the tech person stated the gun should have been made around 1957. His best guess is that it is a "chief's special" and stated they made a bunch of these. He also stated that if it flips open to load the cylinder (not break open) it is a "J" frame.

Here's a quote from my mother's description: Serial # = 87802 no letters at all, stamped on bottom of frame (I hadn't purchased it yet and was getting this info from an 83 year old with bad eyesight)

Could be: Model 60, or Model 637 - they are itentical except for barrel length. Model 60 has a 2.125 barrel, the 637 has a 1.875" barrel. Both are .38 Special, shoot 5 rounds. Barrel on my gun is stamped .38 S&W Spl and frame has the round trademark stamped on the left side. Right side of frame is stamped Made in USA, Marcas Registradas, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Mass. Frame appears to have three screws on right side of frame. Looks like it might be a J frame. Satin stainless finish, front sight is sharply ribbed, rear sight is sunk flush into the frame. Extractor has a knurled knob in it's middle. Model 60 is priced by S&W on website at $729; 637 is $469. I'm sure these are new prices and gun isn't new.

Here's some pics she emailed me. So off I go to determine what model it is and it's approximate value? I wish to buy it from her and want be fair as to it's value. It doesn't have the original grip but we may have them. I have to root through my father's stuff after we lost him. It does not have the original box and it is in very good condition.

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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:43 am

So I reached out to the S&W forum. Wow, those fellows sure know there pistols over there. I was getting info from in bits and pieces and it was getting to be problematic to figure what it was worth so I decided to drive down and pick it up so i could get extract info off the gun.

I do not have the pistol in front of me so I'm getting this info second hand. She removed the grips to obtain the serial number off the bottom inside of the frame. She look closely & there were no other markings inside the grips.

She doesn't remember whether it was purchased new or used but here's the story on why it was purchased. Pop was a pilot stationed on Edwards Airforce base and they had gotten married in 1964 or 65 (I don't remember). At that time you had to drive quite a distance to go to the nearest town in those days which was Lancaster. There were several incidents of guys doing "bump" into ladies cars to get them to pull over or run them off the road. Pop purchased this for mom and told her if this situation arises; pull over and point the gun at them out the window. They'll run for sure! Shake you hand a bit to make it look like your nervous & they'll move on all the more faster.

I should state that she is no stranger to shoot and a damn fine shot her whole life. They replaced the grips because she felt like she was holding a toy and didn't have much control aim with the stock grips. With these grips the gun grouped amazingly well considering the short barrel. Much to pop's surprise. Also, I was told on the S&W forum that those grips may be Fuzzy Farrant's, which in themselves may be worth $150+

Fortunately no incident ever happened and the gun hasn't been fired in decades. She's 81 now and her eyesight is declining so she felt before she possibly moves to a home where they don't allow firearms, it was time for it to go.

I'm always fascinated with the stories behind any gun in it's lifetime. Truly amazing to me!

New info tonight... First off, my apologies for doling out tidbits of information to everyone. My brother stopped by and took a look for her. I should have got all the intel before I posted. My mother's eyesight is really failing so she's not to blame. I am for not getting it my self. We are about 4 hours apart and I haven't made the time to drive down there.

Here's the latest and greatest as quoted:

I explained the problems to, (I guess someone helped her take the grips off?)and he took the gun, opened it, and saw things I never saw! I guess my vision is more blind than I knew Eric, I had really searched the inside surfaces. But when cylinder is rocked out, the part of the frame that then exposes, is clearly stamped MOD.60 - just like the forum guy named "Jim" said it should be. That places the gun squarely after 1960, and I think makes it a Model 60 for sure. But in the same location, he also sees it stamped (he had me write this down for you) GS 4 (whatever that means) and the serial number was repeated. He made it out to be 87802, no letters - the same number exactly as I took off the end of the grip frame. So that serial number is really positive I think, no mistake there. But he studied the finish on the gun in bright halogen light, and he declares he can't be sure it is stainless, perhaps it could be nickel finish.

None of this info changes the mystery much however, of the serial number that was made prior to l960, and stamped with MOD.60 after l960.

Now you need to find out what GS 4 stands for. Maybe that will explain everything. What is the "crane" which one of those forum guys says to look at? The "yoke" I understand. I gave him the ruler and had him measure the barrel, and he got 1 and 3/4" which probably translates to l.875" in decimals. I will took off the grips, nothing in the inside of the wood of the grips, no emblem, stamp, metal tag, burned in - nothing.

BUT !!! Got more information while I was under the grips. I haven't had them off gun since I first copied the serial number stamped in the frame. At the time I did that, I didn't appreciate the importance of all these little details. Just above the serial number is the number 5 - all by itself, and stamped with what appears to be an apostrophe to the left of it....like this: '5

And to the right of that metal pin that holds the grips in place, there is G S again, with the S stamped slightly above the G (out of alignment), and using a different size stamp - in other words the S is smaller than the G. It would be logical to me, if it was a C S, standing perhaps for Chiefs Special, but it's not a C, it's definitely a G.
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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:44 am

So I finally go down and pick the pistol up. Here's the rest of the story...

Here's an update on this mystery of this J frame. I did purchase it from my mother today and have it in front of me for further questions if need be. The good news is I found the original box, owners manual, warranty card and grips. It's a .38 Chiefs Special Stainless Model No. 60. Inside the box it is dated April 15, 1955 (I assume that is the born on date?) I was later corrected on that because S&W used that date when they copywrited the manual and used it for years.

Here's a few pictures.

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Meanwhile on the S&W forum there was quite a debate over what model, stainless vs. nickle, etc. etc. The grips are not Fuzzy grips so there's no real value on them, That places the value according to them at around $500. Well... we kicked around the of $650 (assuming Fuzzy Grips) and that's what she was expecting. So I ponyed the money and bought it. Funny thing is the guys on the forum said unanimously to pay the $650, she's your mom! Which I did. lol

The internet is amazing and there are people out there that are kind enough to share their knowledge about guns with me and do so in kind.
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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:45 am

Regarding if the grips are Fuzzy Farrant's, I can't add anything to this. There are no markings inside and out.

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I was told they are indeed not Fuzzy Farrant's grips.
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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:46 am

What I found odd about this pistol was the case hardened or discolored trigger?

And a few more...

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The trigger does appear to be hardened, or certainly a different color steel.

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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:46 am

One fellow on the S&W forum stated this:
Eric;

I will put on my Carnac the Magnificent turban and guess this number falls between 475,000 and 500,000. Is this correct?

Heck of a guess as it was 476XXX!

Another comment:

This is an early one with the case hardened stainless trigger. The usual model 60 trigger was flash chromed forged (standard) steel.

So there's another worthless post from Virginian :ugeek: and I only hope it was worth reading on a cold winter's day. Thanks for reading.

Eric
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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Hogpatrol » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:22 am

That's a heck of a story. Thanks for posting it. Amazing that it's in that condition after a half a century. On the G & S stamps, I'm thinking maybe they are inspector's stamps?

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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Clint E » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:32 am

That is great to see that it has been in the family that long . Hopefully it will still be in the family for a few more generations.

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Re: A tale of a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Chiefs Special

Postby Virginian » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:02 pm

Thanks for the reply Clint!

Eric
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