Use Serial number to determine Chiefs special age ?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by reprosser, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. reprosser

    reprosser New Member

    I posted information on a handed down revolver in the center fire forum,

    but probably should have posted here. I will leave the other thread with photos there for reference, rather than re-posting the whole thing.

    I think it is a .38 S&W Chiefs special model 36 with 3" barrel. I cannot find any info on the serial number to determine the age of the gun.

    Serial #:ATF-2600-xxx on the butt.

    Condition seems pretty good to me, but I know little of such things. Some light scratches, maybe a little rust, 90% blueing. Check out the photos on the other thread.

    Any info appreciated.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    That format is the way numbers are issued by BATFE to replace numbers removed or obliterated for whatever reason. S&W does use a 3-letter, 4-digit numbering system, but it would not be that format and would not have an additional series of numbers.

    I think that gun was marked with a number assigned by BATFE. There is no reason it should not meet any logging or registration requirements.


  3. reprosser

    reprosser New Member

    Would I contact the BATFE to learn when the serial number was assigned? I went to their home page, but did not see anything about serial numbers.

    Is there a way to get a ballpark age from the pictures of the gun?
  4. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    You can contact the BATFE but unless you have a compelling legal reason , I don't think they will even give you the time of day. Why is the manufacturing date so important? Open the crane, if it is marked Model 36 then it was made between 1957 and 1999. If it is not marked as a Model 36, then it was made 1951-1956.
  5. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Ron, by the pix in the other thread, the markings on the inside of the crane were also removed.
  6. reprosser

    reprosser New Member

    One reason is to help determine if I can use +P ammo. It is not clear to me whether the older versions will handle the higher power rounds. Of course, I could only use the lower power rounds with no worries...

    The other reason is just my curiosity about the history of the weapon. I don't think there are any other markings to help. It is not critical.
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    My rule of thumb on using +P in my own Model 36, I practice with plain 38 Special ( in fact I use wad cutters ), at the end of the session, I fire one cylinder of +P's just to make sure my sight picture is still there, and then for carry I loaded up with +p again. If you shoot high pressure loads on a continuous basis, then you are only going to shoot a very fine gun loose.
  8. oscarmayer

    oscarmayer New Member

    Jun 24, 2008
    it's a safe bet even if you could find out the year it was made and you contacted smith and wesson they would tell you no to +p, if made prior to 1990 something. but in the real world as stated here already practice with standard stuff and leave it loaded with the hotter stuff for serious use.
  9. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

    May 16, 2006
    Let's see....................
    No upper sideplate screw, so post 1955.
    3" Heavy barrel introduced 1967.
    Pinned barrel pre 1982.
    Diamond grips, pre 1969.

    Put them all together and I come up with 1967-1968 if the grips are original and 1967 to 1982 if not.

    Did you pull the grips and see if they are numbered?
  10. Jolly Bill

    Jolly Bill Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Upstate NY
    Just my personal philosophy: I'd stick with the ammo the gun was made for, or less.

    I don't think it's worth the risk to get the extra "BANG". If you really need it for protection, you do have 5 shots.

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