New to me S&W Model 52: Tips, anyone?

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by LDBennett, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    While perusing the large vintage gun stock of one of my favorite gun stores on Xmas Eve, a couple of S&W Model 52's grabbed me and forced me to look at them. One was an earlier version and the other a later version. Both were excellent for condition, in fact, looking like they had barely been fired. The temptation to buy was huge, since I had been wanting a Model 52 Bullseye S&W semi-auto for about 15 to 20 years. Even though the price was on the high end, I bought the older one. At this stage in my life I can afford a few expensive guns, and I have been buying them of late.

    I was not fully aware of what the Model 52 really was, except that it was one accuracte bullseye target pistol, specifically made for that sport. What I found out is that it is a blow back operated gun unlike the rest of the Model 39 series from which it got its frame. It takes only one particular load level and uses a lead hollow base wad cutter (LHBWC) seated all the way inside the case. So that would be a 148 gr LHBWC loaded to 770 FPS.

    Anyway, I am excited to shoot it so now I have to find some 148gr LHBWC's in the few gun stores we have here in the CA High Desert or order some up from an internet supplier. This all feels like a journey back 40 years as this model is no longer made and Bullseye shooting that used this gun has lost enough of its following that S&W dropped the gun from the lineup.

    Anyone got any S&W Model 52 tips?

    LDBennett
  2. 300 H&H

    300 H&H Active Member

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    LD,

    Neat pistol to have come across......Does your have the concentric rings in the chamber? I have read about these guns, but I don't remember if it is the S&W model or the Colt Gold cup in .38 wadcutter (also blow back operated) that has these, or both. It was supposed to delay opening of the breach untill the passing of the bullet. You will of course, have to give us a full test report form your range time!! Did you get the box and the instruction manual? Every thing I have read over the years about these has been very good, and I am sure you will enjoy shooting yours. Would be a neat thing to go with your gun is the original test artical in Gun Digest...John Amber's of course. I don't have an early enough edition to have your gun, but stumbled across just such an artical on the Colt Gold Cup gun this Christmas, as a friend filled some holes in my old G.D. collection. Great reading by the way. I hope you enjoy your new target pistol. Best regards Kirk
  3. Mark

    Mark New Member

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    A properly adjusted taper crimp die cures a lot of evils when reloading for this pistol.
    Mark
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    Mark:

    My understanding was the bullet had to be totally inside the case and that a regular 38 special crimp over the end of the case was required. How would a taper crimp be better when there is no body of the bullet to taper crimp against?

    Am I missing something here????

    How is it that you do yours?

    I am really open to suggestions as I see no details anywhere as to exactly how to load for this gun.

    LDBennett
  5. dusty9

    dusty9 New Member

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    As you have learned, the S&W 52 is a superb quality .38 Special bullseye target pistol ready for competition out of the box. It is designed to only use wadcutters seated flush with the case mouth. For something like 4 decades the standard loading for it has been 2.7 grains Bullseye. A slight roll crimp is standard, but many people prefer a taper crimp to extend the life of the brass.

    This is a fine pistol. You will enjoy it very much, unless, as I heard one person say, you get bored with just shooting the X ring out of targets.
  6. G21.45

    G21.45 New Member

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    So, are you going to tell us what you paid?
  7. 300 H&H

    300 H&H Active Member

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    Guns international has them ranging in price from the $950 to the $1,200 for clean used in the box. check them out.
  8. green_metalflake

    green_metalflake New Member

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    I have a 52-2 that I purchased new in ~1984. It is an amazing shooter that makes me look like I know what I am doing. I hate to confess this but each time I've shot it I purchased whatever .38 wadcutter loads I could find. It never had any trouble digesting & ejecting the empties.
  9. merbeau

    merbeau New Member

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    I own three - two that I used for years in the NRA matches and one for keepsake. I paid about $300 for mine so that shows my age. They shoot even better if you can find a counter weigth. There are orginal Smtih and Wesson around and some aftermarket brands. Because of the length of the 38 special cartridge, the slide on the 52 has to move slower. They are notorius for what we call follow through -- i.e., holding the pistol on the target. A slight movement on the shooter can result in a 7 ring shot. If you find the Remington hollow-based wadcutter which does really well at slower velocities.
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