Originally Posted by oscarmayer
if it's a steel frame you have a collector gun on your hands. very limited numbers were made. if it's a "normal" model 39 and it was made between 1955 and 1956. somewhere in the early 60's the design was changed a bit and it was a 39-2 , somewhat more reliable with a improved ejector. adopted by the Illinois state police as their standard duty gun in the mid - 60's in my opinion it never got the credit it deserved as an excellent handgun. need pictures to help determine the condition and value.
oscarmayer: A little bit of correction, it was the extractor that was changed to make the 39-2. The original M-39 had a long, spring steel extractor set into a recess in the slide.......they had a tendency to break. In the early '60s they went to a milled, short extractor with a coil spring to maintain tension, also in a different, smaller milled recess in the slide. The ejectors remained the same in both models.
Yes, if it happens to be a steel M-39 it's VERY rare. There are rumors of such, but I have never seen one. However if steel, it most likely a later Model 539...... a production model with a run of somewhere in the area of 3000 pieces. Here is a pic of my personal 539........modified, but carried on duty for about 12 years of my 35 year law enforcement career. This came in after I had carried one Colt Police Possitive and two different S&W wheel guns, and when our Dept. finally decided to go to the Smith autos........shows you how long ago I started, huh? We did have a couple of M-39's, but all issued guns were 39-2's and later. The early 39's were officer owned as well as was my 539. Mike
P.S. Notice that the backstrap is alloy, like all of the original M-39's. They just kept that piece and made the short run of 539's wothout making steel backstraps.