Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Smith #7: .38 Regulation Police, 1928

Realizing that not everyone would accept the .32 Regulation Police as a viable sidearm, Smith & Wesson released a parallel model at the same time. The small I-frame was able to accept a five shot cylinder chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge, originally introduced back in the 1870s in their top-break revolver line, and so a .38 Regulation Police only made sense. While the .38 S&W, which in its most common smokeless incarnation launched a 145 grain bullet at something just less than 700 feet per second, is not considered to be a serious defensive cartridge nowadays, at the time it was considered perfectly adequate, and was in fact adopted by Great Britain as their standard service handgun cartridge (albeit with a heavier bullet.)

The .38 Regulation Police was never Smith's strongest seller, with less than 55,000 copies sold between its introduction in 1917 and its first cancellation in 1940. While Smith did bring it back into production after the war and it was made as the "Model 33" as late as 1969, it's not the most common gun on the used gun market today. Still, like most I-frames, it is considerably cheaper than the larger-framed revolvers of the same vintage.

The blued example in the above photo, a good condition shooter with honest cosmetic wear and a dark bore with mild pitting, but good mechanicals and matching numbers, was made in 1928. It was picked up at a gun show in late 2003 for $190 and while it has appreciated a small amount since then, similar examples can be turned up for $200-ish still. A really outstanding prewar example might run over $400, possibly well over $400 if it has a matching box and all accoutrement.


Caleb said...

A Smith & Wesson question for you. I'm not an expert, but there's a decent condition Brazil Contract S&W available for about $300.

It appears to be a 1917 S&W in .45 ACP with a five inch barrel. My question is what exactly does the "Brazil Contract" have to do with anything; does it increase or decrease the value?

You can respond in comments, or just email me at admiralahab at gmail dot com.

Tam said...

Buy it. Period.

Gotta run, more in a short bit.

Caleb said...

Well, I got it. It should be here in a week or so.

NotClauswitz said...

I love those old-style grips, my 3rd Model Perfected has those.

Anonymous said...

my reg. police was caried by a cop who killed himself with it after retiring. also all owners have died in possesion of this gun see ya.
mike k.

Spud said...

I apologize for jumping in here but this is my first walk down this road. Long story short my Father-in-law passed away and going through his belongings I was given his gun. It is a nickel ".38 S&W Regulation Police" with blue trigger and hammer. On the bottom of the handle, which does look original, is the inscription Pat. June 6,1917, so this looks to be one of the guns you folks are describing in this thread. The curious thing is a .38 round is too large, it simply will not fit. I triple checked with a magnigying glass, it is a .38, not a .32. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

Tam said...

Make sure you are using ".38 S&W" and not ".38 S&W Special".

If you just walk into a gun store and ask for a "box of .38", you're going to get .38 Special, which is a longer cartridge than the old .38 S&W round for which these guns are chambered.