Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Smith #12: Model 30, 1960

Smith & Wesson had debuted the Hand Ejector series (as well as the .32 S&W Long cartridge) with the diminutive .32 caliber I-frame in the closing years of the 19th Century. It was still being manufactured after World War Two, but more and more changes were being made to simplify production or to make the gun safer.

During World War Two, Smith had changed the ejector rod to speed up the manufacture of the Victory Model. Prewar revolvers had knurled knobs threaded onto the end of the ejector rod. This added a part and required machining a complex clearance cut on the underside of the barrel to accommodate the knob. The Victory Model dispensed with this by simply knurling the end of the ejector rod itself. After the war, this change was continued on all the company's commercial guns. Also during the war, Smith added a sliding hammer block as a safety device to positively prevent the revolver's discharging if the hammer was struck a blow and this, too, continued on all models in the postwar era.

In 1953 the leaf mainspring was replaced with a coil-type unit, causing the strain screw to disappear from the front of the grip portion of the frame; this resulted in the "Improved I-frame". At the same time, the screw in front of the trigger guard was deleted, followed by the upper sideplate screw in 1956. The very next year, 1957, Smith dropped the old model names in favor of number designations for the different guns and the .32 Hand Ejector became the Model 30.

The changes made over the years can be noticed easily by comparing the 1918-vintage hand ejector shown here with the 1960 Model 30 pictured above. The Model 30 was acquired earlier this year in trade for a well-loved Model 65. It came with the correct box and the condition of the gun is as close to new as makes no nevermind; in fact, by the condition of the breechface and rifling, it may not have been fired this side of the factory. Even given the condition and the box, relatively low demand means that this is a $375-$400 gun, tops. An excellent condition shooter can probably be picked up for not too much more than $250 with some careful shopping, thanks to the unpopularity of the .32 Smith & Wesson Long cartridge in this country. As with all pre-1982 Smiths, however (and I can't stress this enough) it's best to get while the gettin' is good.


Chas S. Clifton said...

If you'll forgive my sticking my oar in here, when I looked at your "Recent Posts" list, I had a thought:

You would get a higher Google rating and provide more service to the readers if you titled the individual posts with the name of the S&W featured, e.g., "Model 30 in .32 S&W Long," or something like that.

Titles such as "#10" won't help the reader who is thinking, "Now when did she write up such-and-such a model?"

I enjoy the posts either way, of course.

Feel free to delete this comment after reading.

Tam said...

Good idea. :)

Carteach said...

I agree about the .32 never really catching on all that well on these shores.

We have a Taurus in .32, and it's a sweet shooting little pistol. Accurate, mild recoil, and power enough for the odd stray woodchuck in addition to paper punching.

I even have some nasty little 100 grain hollow point hand loads that make it a fine night table pistol.

montanabob said...

guy here in town had two or three of these (not all the same), but all in 32 for sale. Average of 500-600 a piece. Granted they were nice, but not THAT nice. 90% guns, so I passed. Did offer the guy at the store a package deal for all three, but he couldn't bite. Told me that the consigner had put those prices on and was firm about them. No budge. Two years later, I still see them floating around at the gun shows. Think he may have gotten rid of one of them, still has the rest. They're neat little guns, and I'm partial to the 32. Just like I'm partial to the 6.5mm. Must be something wrong with me---nah.

Anonymous said...

I recently found out about the S&W Model 30's and the 32 in general..fell in love with the whole .32 5 S&W's in 32 and 32 Mag, 1 Ruger and one T/C 10" them all and still looking..

Anonymous said...

Hey Tam, any advatage to having a J frame in .32 over an improved I frame? Both have 6 shots.

Tam said...

The only real difference between the two is the size of the frame window for the cylinder.

I guess the Improved I would have some fraction of an inch less freebore to jump before engaging the rifling, but the difference is probably too small to be noticeable.

Anonymous said...

Tam: Nice series. One more thing about J frames is there is a plethora of new and improvement parts. I have all sorts of different springs I can use to tune a J (lefotvers from when I have tuned Js). Not so much with the Is. Just took delivery of a 3rd Model .32 HE this morning. Will test it for accuracy. Bidding on a 31-1 this afternoon. Maybe I'll be able to do a side-by-side for ya ...