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Thread: S&W Model 36-1

  1. #1
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    Default S&W Model 36-1

    Local gunshop has one for sale - never seen one like it. It's not the usual Chief's Special. J-Frame, 3" barrel & factory rear adjustable sights. All other M36's Ive seen have been snubbnies with non adjustable slot milled into the top strap.

    Only minuses are that someone carried it a lot after a plum/purple barrel reblue, did a crappy job installing an orange sight blade & the wood medallion grips have a lot of wear thru the finish.

    Depending on who you ask, it was either made in 1950, or in the 60-70's. It's marked 36-1, and someone wrote that S&W never marked anything this way in the 50's ...

    So far, nobody on the Smith forums has had any real info on this yet. Anyone here ever seen one?

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    Seen one? No. Model numbers were apparently adopted for guns made in and after 1959, so it oould have certainly been made not earlier than 1959. 3" heavy barrels were an option on Chief' Specials into the '90s, but I can't find any info on factory adjustable sights as an option - whoch means that. I don't find such a reference in what I have handy
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    I sent an inquiry to a factory Smith mechanic who actually completed the S&W Armorer's school to se if he may have some info. Checked with Gun Broker & some of the other usual suspects & have come up empty so far.

    I'm tempted to just go buy the damn thing and be done with it, especially if some one can convince me that I could do a good job rust bluing it, I may do it as a project - or may just let the pros do it right ...

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    I worked part time in a small gun shop in the 1965/1968 time frame, I believe the shop received some around '67. Also received a 2" model with adjustable sights. No ramp, just a very tall sloping front sight. S&W also released the small target style grips during this time . I purchased a set for my wife's 3" heavy barrel Chief.

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    The 36-1 indicates a 3" heavy barrel, was introduced about 1967, the ones produced with adustable rear sights were made in odd and radom lots until 1974 (according to SCSW, I think there are documented examples of S&W shipping the 36-1 much latter than '74). In 1989 the Model 36-6 was reintroduced with a 3" barrel with a full lug (ejector rod housing). FWIW the model numbering system was introduced in 1957, not '59, and a very collectable 3" and 2" verison with adjustable sights will be marked as a Model 50.

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    Perhaps he will chime in to this conversation but I recall my friend, Alan, owning and carrying a S&W J frame M36 with a 3 inch barrel and to my memory adjustable sights about 1983 or some time period.

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    Thanks for the replies, guys. There's more intelligence & insight right here in the punctuation alone in your replies, than I'd gotten over at a Smith & Wesson Forum.

    I bought the little gun this morning & the gun shop owner gave me a little insight into it. He said, that, as far as he knows, the sight, although a Smith & Wesson part, was not factory installed. He said that there were a couple of shops about 20 years ago or so that installed them aftermarket on various J-Frames.

    So the answer to my inquiry is that there most likely is no such thing as a catalog model 36-1 with factory sights. Nevertheless, I always wanted a little J Frame revolver as a kit gun or trail gun, and NOW I'VE GOT ONE (Woo Hoo)!

    The action is like new, it locks up tight with no cylinder play, and it will be on it's way across town to Frank Glenn, a S&W Factory School Master Gunsmith for a reblue.

    It's gonna look really sweet once it's refinished to its' original glory, whether a factory model or not.

    Ser # J186xxx & I've no clue when it was made.

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    Well, S&W did turn out some J-frame models with factory adjustable sights, though all my material suggests they were .22s. And I recall seeing ads in years past from people offering to put them on fixed-sight guns. As well as a few magazine articles about exampes (usually of the "now here we have the perfect kit gun, oh why won't S&W or Colt make one so i can just go out and buy one?" variety), but it didn't occur to me that this might be one of those. Nice find, if well and carefully done.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    J100000 - J250000 = 1973-1974 according to the SCSW

    Jinks book, History of S&W, page 226, covers the .38 Chiefs Special Targets, and he indicates S&W produced both 2" and 3" .38 Special Chiefs, with factory adjustable rear sights; some marked as Model 36-1, some as Model 50, depending on year of production. Jinks provides a table for Chiefs Special Target production by year up through 1975, when I add it up it totals 2224, though its likely more were produced/shipped after 1975.

    Enjoy it, its nice when you score a long wanted gun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by will5a1 View Post
    J100000 - J250000 = 1973-1974 according to the SCSW

    Jinks book, History of S&W, page 226, covers the .38 Chiefs Special Targets, and he indicates S&W produced both 2" and 3" .38 Special Chiefs, with factory adjustable rear sights; some marked as Model 36-1, some as Model 50, depending on year of production. Jinks provides a table for Chiefs Special Target production by year up through 1975, when I add it up it totals 2224, though its likely more were produced/shipped after 1975.

    Enjoy it, its nice when you score a long wanted gun.
    I wish I could find my copy of Jinks - it has been missing since we moved. I'm sure it is "safe" in a box, but - which box? Could sure usefully supplement some of the other stuff i have more readily accessible.
    Last edited by Clyde; 08-16-2011 at 10:41 AM.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    The more I ask around, the more the info is falling into line with what you guys have already posted here.
    I took a trip over to visit Frank Glenn, the S&W schooled armorer. His take on it is that whoever told me the adjustable sight wasn't factory, is full of it. He thought the worn purple/plum finish on the barrel was also a factory finish, as evidenced by all stamped lettering still to sharp to have undergone the buffing prep for a reblue. He commented on the wide-spur target hammer & that hit had been blued. It had been fired, but not much; all the real wear was just from carry. He also commented that it was commonly called a kit gun in some of the catalogs, but couldn't really pin down the date range for manufacture.

    He didn't want to do the reblue, since he thought it would be best done by Smith & Wesson, so I'll be calling them in the morning.

    The more I look into it, the more insufferably pleased I am with it - especially since this is my first Smith & Wesson purchase.

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    I have seen 3 inch chief's specials with adjustable sights, usually with a square butt with the diamond grip which indicates an early model. The one I had was a nickel plated 3" model 36 with a round butt and wore the factory banana grips. I couldn't tell you if it was a -1 or anything or if it had adjustable sites, because it's been out of my possession for decades.
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    Back in the 70's when woman became police officers in the N.Y.P.D. they were issued S&W J frames with 3' bbls. and larger grips. They wanted to be equal to male officers.Wear same uniforms etc. So the Dept. made them carry ful size Model 10's. All existing stock of M-36,s at the equipment Bureau were offerred for sale to officers for around $47.00 After the initial rush they limited sales to only 3 per officer till they weregone. Sgt.Ron.

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    this may help: s & w made them in " I " frame in this same modle Earlie on i believe... as they changed over to "J" frames in this modle....
    MANY I FRAMES HAVE CUT DOWN J FRAME GRIPS...barrel length i cant remember?
    Last edited by DK PHILLIPS; 08-18-2011 at 07:21 PM.

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    smile Here It Is!

    The photo is so fresh the electrons are still wet.

    I refinished the grips , since the existing yellowed varnish had been chipping & peeling long enough ago that there was a lot of embedded dirt & discoloration in the exposed bare wood. Anyway, the wood was pretty & looks much better now.

    Grips question: These grips were finished in varnish, which outlined the checkering, but it wasn't used to cover the checkering itself, nor down into the grove cut around it - just left as bare wood. The medallions were also varnished over, & I find it hard to believe that Smith & Wesson would do such sloppy work on their grips.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I touched up the wood with cherry stain, which didn't change the color, just gave better contrast to the grain. I sealed up the wood with freshly mixed garnet shellac, then a final satin varnish. Baking in my new little toaster at 150 between stripping, staining & shellac prep operations allowed for a little better turnaround time to finished grips. The final satin finish application baked for 90 min & gave a hard enough finish to be able to hand rub it out with an x-fine (white) 3M finishing pad.

    I'll put the reblue on hold for a while so I can take it out & shoot it some first.

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    Those are the same, round butt, banana grips I had on mine. They were very comfortable to shoot. You did a great job on them. The front sight looks factory to me but I'd need to get on another computer, this monitor doesn't have the best resolution. I think they started offering colored ramps in the mid 1970's IIRC, and a colored ramp was usually accompanied by a white outline rear site on target models, but maybe not on a J frame. Anyway, from what I can see, I wouldn't refinish it. I think it looks great as it is, and you should take it out and enjoy it.
    Regards, Alan K.
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    Nice, from your original description I was expecting a much worse finish condition - that doesn't look bad at all. If you are going to use it as a shooter/carry gun I'd leave it as is.

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    Front sight looks factory to me - and I think the finish looks pretty decent, especially for a gun to be carried and shot.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde View Post
    Front sight looks factory to me - and I think the finish looks pretty decent, especially for a gun to be carried and shot.
    I was a little concerned about the front sight, since the insert appears to have been super glued into place & there's a light Dremel divot on the left side of the blade, presumably from someone fitting the glued-in insert.

  20. #20
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    The 3" J's are one of the best carry guns ever IMHO. The added barrel length and adjustable sights make it just about perfect. Yours looks to be original. Great deal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZshooter View Post
    I was a little concerned about the front sight, since the insert appears to have been super glued into place & there's a light Dremel divot on the left side of the blade, presumably from someone fitting the glued-in insert.
    Hands-on exam might alter views, but the shape of the looks factory to me. The insert could have been aftermarket/carefull home gunsmithing addition, hard to tell in the picture, which shows right side only.

    That is a nice find, one way or another, and you did a real nice job refurbishing the grips. I will repeat that since you are gonna use it as a shooter and carry gun, I wouldn't re-finish it, looks fine for that as-is.
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  22. #22
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    I think that gun is a model 36 Target , As they were marked 36-1 . It will be worth far more if you dont refinish it. If you want to spend the money you can get a rundown on the gun from S&W it mayhave been sent back to be rebarreled to 3".
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