S&W Model 39

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by usscroaker, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The SA version was designated the Model 44, even though it never went beyond pre-production, with less than 100 made. It is one of the rarest S&W's. None of my references from 1954-55 give it any model number, only "the S&W 9mm pistol," so it is possible that model number was posthumous, so to speak. I can't say what is marked on the gun, because I have never seen one, or even a good picture.

    Jim
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  2. mark_baron

    mark_baron New Member

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    My 39-2 has a S/N of A297xxx. Any idea of when it was made?
  3. Luis Fernando

    Luis Fernando New Member

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    Smith & Wesson 39

    Notes: Immediately after World War 2, Carl Hellstrom (the president of Smith & Wesson at the time) saw the large number of automatic pistols used by both sides during the war and saw that the American public would be fascinated by them. He thus designed the Smith & Wesson 39 and insisted it be marketed, despite the fact that previous Smith & Wesson automatic pistols had been dismal commercial failures. The 39 seemed to also be a failure until the late 1950s, and in 1967, the Illinois State Police became the first police agency to equip with the Model 39. There was some small use by US personnel in Vietnam, and then the US Navy modified the Model 39 into a silenced weapon (the Mk22 Mod 0 "Hush Puppy"). Most Model 39s are made of blued or phosphated steel, but Model 439 variant uses a carbon finish, and the Model 639 variant is made of stainless steel. Virtually all subsequent Smith & Wesson pistols can trace their ancestry more or less to the Model 39.
    The first Model 39 was manufactured from 1954-1966. It has a steel frame and slide, but the barrel is fairly short, and it is a light weapon. Civilian versions have walnut grips; military versions (known as the Model 41, and not to be confused with the .22 Long Rifle-firing Model 41) have black plastic grips. From 1958-1959, the military version was also manufactured in a single-action version, and called the Model 44. All three have an adjustable rear sight, and all three are identical for game purposes.
    The Model 39-1 is also nearly identical, but has a light alloy frame. It was manufactured until 1971. The Model 39-2 is a Model 39-1 with a modified extractor for more reliable functioning, and it was manufactured until 1982. In 1968, Smith & Wesson started what was then a top-secret project: the Model M39-WOX-13A. (This is otherwise identical to the Model 39 for game purposes.) This weapon was designed for the US Marines, but some were given to the Navy, fitted with a silencer kit, modified for use with subsonic ammunition, and became the Mk22 Mod 0 "Hush Puppies" (elsewhere in these pages). The Model 439 began as simply a re-named Model 39-2, but it was later modified with an ambidextrous safety and squared trigger guard. The Model 539 is a Model 439 totally in steel, and is otherwise identical to the Model 39 for game purposes. The Model 639 was the long-awaited civilian stainless steel version; early models had a round trigger guard, but later versions had a squared trigger guard, and it was produced until 1988.


    ( I'am not the autor of this text)

    Luis Fernando
  4. grampawmike

    grampawmike New Member

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    Jim, VERY interesting, never knew about the M-44. Finally decided to do a little looking and, BINGO, it shows up. Old memory vs modern technology; (ie. copmputer) memory comes out on the short end. Thanks again, Mike
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Luis,

    The S&W pistol program was not initiated because of the large number of pistols used in WWII, but in response to a request by the U.S. Army for proposals for a new pistol to replace the M1911A1. Carl Hellstrom didn't design the pistols, though he was in overall charge of the company and the design team that did. The Army ultimately decided that it had enough .45 pistols on hand that there was no need to adopt a new pistol at that time. (Of course, the 9mm Beretta M9 was adopted many years later, but that has no bearing on the S&W developments in the 1950's.)

    "Most" Model 39's are not made with a steel frame, phosphated or otherwise, they have an alloy frame. The steel frame Model 39 is quite rare as others have indicated.

    I have no idea what you mean by "game purposes." No one is discussing games, we are talking about real pistols. Also, I would be interested in your source for the information about a 9mm "Model 41".

    Jim
  6. Luis Fernando

    Luis Fernando New Member

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  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I said above that there is a lot of confusion about that whole group of S&W autos, but I would not depend on an auction site for accurate information. The Model 44 (so-called) is even more confusing. It really was the first to be announced, in 1954, and appeared in the 1955 Gun Digest. The cover has a picture of an engraved model. It has no model designation, and is described simply as the "S&W 9mm pistol". There were similar articles in the gun magazines at the time, all describing the single action model.

    The DA model (later called the Model 39) was actually produced later. It shows signs in design of being the result of a "crash" program. The SA gun was made in only a small quantity (100 or less is the usual figure given), though it was cataloged. The clamor for the DA model apparently led S&W to drop the SA model and concentrate on the DA model. Even so, it was some time before any appeared. Mine is #5683 and was bought new in 1957. It has an alloy frame.

    Jim
  8. Troyha23

    Troyha23 New Member

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    I also have a S&W mod 39. So you say that the long extractor spring will eventually break? Is there anything I could do to modify?
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Those extractors did occasionally break, but they generally are quite reliable, so I wouldn't worry much about a particular one breaking. There is no feasible way to modify the original guns to use the new type extractor.

    Jim
  10. Dog Soldier

    Dog Soldier New Member

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    The Mdl.39 9MM pistol was nothing more than a streamlined Walther P-38. In the history of the Mdl.39 S&W the S&W engineers based the Mdl.39 on the P-38.:cool:
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Well, no. It is true that the German P.38 inspired several designs of DA/SA auto pistols, and some aspects of the S&W Model 39 (and its successors) were derived in part from the Walther design, the two pistols are basically very different, and no one familiar with both would call the Model 39 a streamlined P.38. The P.38 uses a unique locking block system (later copied by Beretta), while the Model 39 is a cammed dropping barrel system using a basic Browning lockup with some variations.

    The double action system of the Model 39 is also very different from that of the P.38.

    One common, and positive, feature is the grip, which in both pistols is very ergonomic and comfortable. S&W got away from that, though, when they went to a large capacity magazine in the Model 59.

    Jim
  12. Dog Soldier

    Dog Soldier New Member

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    Not so fast Jim K. Streamlined can mean brought up to date and modernized. S&W engineers did just that. No one said the P-38 was exactly like a M-39 S&W.;)
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I don't know any other way to interpret "The Mdl.39 9MM pistol was nothing more than a streamlined Walther P-38" other than to mean that the two guns are essentially the same. By that kind of definition, an M9 Beretta is nothing more than a streamlined Luger.

    Jim
  14. Dog Soldier

    Dog Soldier New Member

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    There you go you have it figured out. English as a first language is so helpful.:D;)
  15. armenjs802

    armenjs802 New Member

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    Well, one of the few banned States in US, and for
    WTS forum I just sold a sw 439. pics available.
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