Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Smith #16: Model 31-1, 1971

With the changeover from names to model numbers by Smith & Wesson in 1957, the ".32 Regulation Police" became the "Model 31". It continued to be produced on the older improved I-frame, with its smaller cylinder window, while the new J-frame .38-caliber revolvers exploded in popularity. Over time, the fortunes of the "I-frame" continued to wane alongside the .32 S&W Long cartridge to which it was historically tied.

In 1961, the Model 31 was shifted over to the newer "J-frame" size, and the changed weapon was dubbed the "Model 31-1". It would continue in this form largely unaltered (except for the deletion, over time, of the flat latch, diamond grips, and pinned barrel) for over twenty years. Finally, the 4" barrel was deleted from the catalog in 1978, leaving the only difference between the Model 30 and Model 31 as a matter of whether the pistol had a round or square butt, since both had 2" or 3" tubes. The Model 31 (by then the 31-3) was finally discontinued in 1991.

The weapon pictured above is a Model 31-1 produced in 1971. With its square butt, four-inch barrel, and mild .32 caliber recoil, the unprepossessing little revolver is a splendid introductory piece to the joys of the S&W wheelgun for the recoil sensitive or small of hand. It was purchased at a gun show in early '03 for some $200, which was about fair market value at the time, given the excellent condition. Considering the explosion in S&W prices in the intervening years, a really cherry example might bring three bills, or even more if it has the correct box and accoutrement.


JPG said...

Another beautiful Smith, Sis - - and you continue to expand my consciousness concerning the marque. I have long been interested in 'em, but mainly fron the standpoint of service-style handguns, and concealed carry stuff. Strangely, for all my handgun enthusiasm, stretching back well over four decades, I've only owned ONE S&W .32, and that was a topbreak.

At first glance, your illustration appeared to show a revo with a five-inch tube. Frame size certainly alters perception. My first .22/32 kit gun, purchased in the mid-1960s, was a 4" square butt. That little gem shot well but somehow always LOOKED wrong, and I finally swapped it off.

A few years later, when I got one with two-inch barrel and round butt, THAT looked and felt right, and I have it to this day.


Matt G said...

Agree with Dad-- I saw a 5" square butt N frame, until I referenced the penny, and then started backing down to K, then realized how far off I was.

Enjoyable to shoot, yes. But my mind always turns to "how would it be best employed?" and I come up blank, except to put down treed varmints during a 'coon hunt.

Unknown said...

ID a Smith & Wesson 32 Long CTG / Serial#: 9753XX

Hi everyone. I`m Alvaro from Lima-Peru so i m sorry about my bad english and hope you will understand me well. I have a Smith & Wesson 32 Long CTG revolver. I m trying to get some information on what model is this, and when this revolver was made.
Serial#: 9753XX Made in Springfield, Ma.
Its a 4" barrel and 6 round cylinder Revolver.
There`s a "Smith & Wesson" logo on left side of barrel and "32 Long CTG" on right side. There are 4 screws on the right side of the gun (one of them on the wood handle center).
There is a number ( 623XX ) engraved on the hinge for the chamber when opened. There is also a "B" and "4" engraved above this number.
It has a square butt.

I will appreciate any help on this.

S.F. Cox said...

Really liked your article on the model 31. It was very informative and answered a few questions I had. I carry one daily either as a backup and sometimes as a primary. I find mine, a 3 inch barrel and round butt, a very accurate piece especially with handloads. Looking forward to more of your writings.

Anonymous said...

I believe I found a place to do some extended reading this winter.


Anonymous said...

Did mean to be Anonymous, just hit the wrong key

Unknown said...

Hi, I have Smith and Wesson 31-1 with 2inch barrel .32 caliber