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Revolver Week — Ladies’ Day with a S&W Model 60-7 “Lady Smith”

Smith & Wesson Model 60-7 “Lady Smith

Okay, ladies, admit it. The miniscule revolver pictured above is just so darned cute! Today’s Revolver Week article is on a gun that Smith and Wesson specifically marketed toward women, the Lady Smith variant of a S&W Model 60, change 7. And there’s quite a history behind the Model 60, as it began life as a Model 36 “Chief’s Special” which, as you may have guessed by that name, was designed in 1950 as a small-framed concealable revolver suitable for plain clothes police duty.

S&W Model 36 “Chief’s Special” (image from S&W online catalog)

The first thing you’ll notice in observing the differences between the Model 36 shown above and Model 60 is that the former is blued and the latter is made of stainless. The Model 60 presented today was probably made in late 1994, which would place it near the middle-to-late range of 60-7 production (1990 to 1996). These were the last Model 60 revolvers made before Smith and Wesson changed the line to the J-Frame magnums, which were able to take the much hotter .357 Magnum load in addition to the milder .38 S&W Special (hereafter the .38 Spl).

S&W Model 60-7 “Lady Smith

Once again, when dating any Smith & Wesson revolver, the serial number is the key. This example falls in the BRS range:

S&W revolver serial numbers are on the butt of the weapon

Change 7 is considered by many as the apex of the Model 60 design, so there is a demand for them. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, change 7 brought about a different heat treatment that strengthened the gun. Next, it was the last of the Model 60 revolvers to be chambered solely for .38 Spl. Why is that a factor? Because, let’s face it, does a .357 Magnum load in a compact, light, small-gripped, five-shot revolver really make sense to anyone? It doesn’t to me, especially when you’re throwing lead from a barrel that measures under two inches in length. So, why bother?

The five-shot S&W Model 60 sporting “Lady Smith” rosewood grips

Smith & Wesson Model 60-7 “Lady Smith“:

  • Length: 6.38 inches/162 mm
  • Barrel length: 1⅞ inches/47mm
  • Height: 4.41 inches/112 mm
  • Width (at cylinder): 1.30 inches/33 mm
  • Width (at grips): 1.22 inches/31 mm
  • Width (frame): .55 inches/14 mm
  • Weight (unloaded): 19.92 ounces/565 grams
  • Caliber: .38 S&W Special
  • Capacity: 5
  • Trigger pull (single-action, average of five pulls): 2 lbs. 10.4 ozs./1.2 kilograms
  • Trigger pull (double-action, estimated): 11 to 12 pounds/5 to 5.4 kg
Five-round cylinder of the S&W Model 60

As you can see from the specifications above, handgun is small, light, and adequate. It’s easily concealable in either a holster or a purse, although I tend to steer people away from off-body carry. Purses can to snatched; guns in retention holster, not so much. The grip is a tad small for the .38 Spl. My pinky has minimal purchase when I hold the Model 60, and my fingers wrap completely around the gripto meet my palm just below the thumb. But Ursula’s fi9ngers seemed better positioned when I asked her to hold the “Lady Smith.” I’ve yet to fire this example, but I doubt either I or Ursula would have trouble controlling it. But if it were a later .357 Magnum variant loaded for bear… well, that would probably be pretty painful

S&W Model 60-7

And then there’s that superb Smith & Wesson double-action/single-action trigger which I described in Monday’s article on the S&W Model 10-5. The trigger on this smaller J-Frame is not much different. Indeed, the single-action pull is even lighter than what I measured on the larger K-Frame. But in double-action there is a slight difference. Whereas the Model 10 had no take-up upon initiating the pull, the Model 60 has an odd millimeter or so of travel followed by a barely audible “click” before the trigger engages. After that, the double-action pulls are nearly identical between the two revolvers — smooth all the way to hammer trip. This clicking may or may not be related to the hammer spring, as the Model 10 uses a leaf spring, and the Model 60 uses a more modern sprung strut:

Model 60 hammer strut
With the hammer cocked, this Model 60 is in single-action mode

By the way, ever wonder about the actual difference between a “medium” K-Frame and a “small” J-Frame? You’ll recall on Monday I wrote about a K-Frame S&W Model 10-5 in .38 Spl. Today we’re looking at a J-Frame S&W Model 60-7 in the same caliber. So, let us compare. Both being .38 Spl, it made since for this comparison to line up the back of the cylinders in the below image. Mentally subtract the barrel and disregard the grips and you’ll note that there really isn’t a whole lot of dimensional difference between the 6-round Model 10 and the 5-round Model 60. The difference in cylinder widths is noticeable, as one would expect — 1.46 inches/37 mm (K-Frame) vs 1.30 inches/33 mm (J-Frame). But the real difference shows up in the height of the weapons, which is most impacted by the grips. It’s on that measurement that the J-Frame wins the concealability race by .71 inches/18 mm.

J-Frame Model 60 above a K-Frame Model 10

As I noted on Monday’s article, to check the Model and Change numbers on a Smith and Wesson revolver, just open the crane and check. Below you can see that this is a Model 60-7:

M 60-7; short for Model 60 Change 7

In the above photo of the Model 36 “Chief’s Special” you’ll see Smith and Wesson’s tradition checkered wood grips. The “Lady Smith” on the other hand sports smooth rosewoods in a deep, rich, reddish hue:

The stylish rosewood grips of the “Lady Smith” Model 60 variant

Gun sights are as you would expect for a weapon made for short range defense — fixed front paired with a channeled rear “sight” running along the top strap:

Model 60 fixed front sight
Groover rear “sight” of the Model 60

Put the two together and this is what you’ll see, which is probably adequate for ranges out to about ten to fifteen yards or so:

Model 60 rear sight view, but…
… when aiming a gun, focus on the front sight and place it on target

The “Lady Smith” variant of the Model 60 first appeared in the 60-6 in 1989. Indeed, all -6 revolvers where so marketed. It was only with the Model 60-7 that both “Chief’s Special” and “Lady Smith” variants were marketed under the same change number umbrella.

“Lady Smith” marketing stamp on this Model 60-7

I hope you enjoyed Ladies’ Day here on Revolver Weeks. Friday I’m going to present a fake. A fraud. An outright rip-off. But it’s a rip-off with a lot of history behind it, made by some of the most ingenious gunsmiths on the planet. Gunsmiths who operate furnaces in their backyards, manufacturing their own parts on a scale you simply will not believe. Until then, here’s today’s gallery of additional Model 60-7 “Lady Smith” images:

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Revolver Week — Military Monday with a S&W Model 10-5

Smith & Wesson Model 10-5

Next week we return to travel and travel photograph, but this is Revolver Week. And today we begin Revolver Week with a Smith & Wesson Model 10, change 5. Or, more simply, a Model 10-5. This particular example dates back to 1966-1967. I can say that because of the serial number (see below). The “C” range of serial numbers stretched from 1948 until they ran out in 1967. The range for 1966-1967 are serial numbers C810,533 through C999,999. As such, I guesstimate this one at probably around the late-first to mid-second quarter of 1967. But that’s a pure shot in the dark.

So, why am I calling this “Military Monday?” Because before Smith & Wesson changed the name to Model 10 in 1957, this line of revolvers was called Military and Police model, or M&P for short. And, yes, both the military and numerous police departments in both the U.S. and around the world used the M&P revolver back in its heyday.

S&W Model 10-5, formerly the M&P model

This line of revolvers has a long, long history, beginning way back with its introduction as the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1899. Since that time it has gone under several names, including the S&W Victory Model used during World War II and exported to various allied powers such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. But I digress. Today’s topic is specifically on the Model 10, and this example is the fifth change of that model.

S&W Model 10-5, hammer cocked

If the profile of this gun appears vaguely familiar to my readers, it’s because the Model 10 is a K-Frame (medium frame) revolver. And, yes, I’ve done a previous article on a rare pre-war K-Framed S&W K-22 Outdoorsman. Both have the classic tapered “pencil” barrel, but the K-22 is chambered in .22 LR, while the Model 10 and its predecessor the Hand Ejector Model of 1899 were made to handle the .38 S&W Special cartridge (hereafter referred to as “.38 Spl”).

.38 S&W SPECIAL CTG. (CTG. = Cartridge)

The bluing on this particular example is exquisite. Perhaps too exquisite. While the stamps and roll marks are incredibly sharp, my go-to guy Paul Lee, owner of my favorite local gun store El Paso Gun Exchange, looked over the weapon and thought he detected minute evidence of blued-over pitting on the frame backstrap. As I trust Paul, I’ll just go ahead and declare this one a probably reblued weapon. But you sure could fool me when you see this kind of clarity:

S&W trade mark
Smith & Wesson production stamp

That crispness extends even to the assembly numbers hidden beneath the left grip and inside the crane:

Assembly number stamped on the frame butt
Assembly number on the crane, matched to the number on the frame butt

While we’re looking at the stamps inside the crane, here is how to tell both the model and change number on a Smith & Wesson revolver:

MOD. 10-5; Model 10, change 5

The image below shows the frame backstrap, which Paul thought might indicate that the finish was not original:

Paul’s eyesight is a lot better than mine, apparently

So, how do you tell if a Smith & Wesson is a Smith & Wesson? Silly question:

SMITH & WESSON roll mark on a 4-inch tapered “pencil” barrel

The M&P and Model 10 were basic, dependable, well-built revolvers. As they were designed for military and police budgets, there aren’t a lot of frills here. That extends to the very basic sights — a fixed blade ramped front sight paired with a rear “sight” that is nothing more than the groove running alone the top strap. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, as this type sighting system has been a fixture of revolvers dating well back into the 19th century.

Rear “groove” sight running along the top strap
Front ramped “blade” sight

Now let’s discuss the particulars of the Smith & Wesson Model 10 with a four-inch tapered “pencil” barrel. The trigger pull in double-action is estimated, as it exceeded the limitations on my digital guage. Single-action measurement is an average of five pulls.

  • Length: 9.13 inches/232 mm
  • Barrel length (actual): 3.94 inches/100 mm
  • Height: 5.12 inches/130 mm
  • Width (cylinder): 1.46 inches/37 mm
  • Weight: 30.64 ounces/869 grams
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Caliber: .38 S&W Special
  • Trigger pull (single-action): 2 lbs. 12.1 oz./1.25 kg
  • Trigger pull (double-action): approximately 11 to 12 lbs./5 to 5.4 kg
S&W Model 10-5 cylinder

The firing pin on the Model 10 is fixed directly onto the hammer. But you needn’t worry. Although this model lacks a transfer bar, there is an internal hammer block that keeps the firing pin safely away from the cartridge primer unless the trigger is pulled. Unlike the old West-style single-actions, it is safe to carry this gun with all six chambers loaded. When I released the trigger, the top of the hammer receded a full ⅜ of an inch/9.5 mm.

Firing pin on the hammer

Let’s discuss Smith & Wesson’s marvelous trigger, a feature I love with every older S&W revolver I’ve ever handled. It is, quite simply, superb in both double-action and single-action. Double-action is as you would expect — long and a bit weighty, but easily controllable through the pull. There is a slightly audible click just prior to halfway through the pull, but there is zero grittiness or hesitancy all the way to the trip of the hammer.

S&W Model 10-5 with hammer cocked

But single-action is where these old Smiths really shine. There is absolutely no take-up on the single-action pull, and the trigger weight is an almost uncomfortably light 2 pounds, 12.1 ounces/1.25 kilograms. I say “almost” because I’ve trained for years with DA/SA weapons, mostly older hammer-equipped semiautomatics, so I’m comfortable firing pretty much any weapon is either double-action or single-action. Those who grew up firing Glock-style, striker-fired weapons will probably be taken aback by the lightness of this trigger when the hammer is cocked back. On Wednesday I’ll be taking a look at a S&W Model 60-7, but I’ll tell you right now that trigger is even a couple of ounces lighter in single-action, so this superb trigger is not an anomaly with Smith & Wesson.

S&W Model 10-5, grips removed, cylinder open, leaf hammer spring exposed

Wednesday’s revolver is one for the ladies, another Smith & Wesson. On that article I will present to you a S&W Model 60-7 “Lady Smith” also chambered in .38 Spl, but in a more compact J-Frame. Until then, I’ll leave you with this remaining gallery of Model 10 photos:

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Fun Firearm Friday — Collectible 1938 Smith & Wesson K-22 ‘Outdoorsman’

1938 Smith & Wesson K-22 “Outdoorsman”

Today I’m going to present a first look and firing review of a very special firearm. This is a highly collectible prewar Smith & Wesson K-22 ‘Outdoorsman’. So, just how rare is this target-grade .22 LR pistol? The first edition K-22 was introduced in 1931, and in 1940 the ‘Outdoorsman’ was superseded by a second generation version marketed as the K-22 ‘Masterpiece’. In 1941 production ceased altogether as Smith & Wesson geared up to support the war effort.

When I first saw this handgun I had an inkling that it was probably prewar because it lacked the ribbed barrel of every postwar K-Frame (medium frame) Smith & Wesson I’ve ever seen. That pencil-thin tapered barrel just looked so elegant compared to the later ribbed barrels. But I wasn’t sure, as the gun was merely tagged for sale as a, “Smith & Wesson .22,” with no further information. So, I went home and did some research, started getting excited when I thought I recognized what it was, called the store for a reading of the serial number, and verified that this was indeed a rare prewar K-22, probably with incorrect grips installed as they lacked the familiar diamond pattern surrounding the screw holes.

Replacement S&W grips

Once I got the K-22 home I removed the grips and verified that they were indeed not the originals. The factory-installed grips would have the gun’s serial number marked on the insides:

Period-incorrect grips — Made after 1969

Grips not serial numbered to this gun

While we have the grips off this K-22, let’s take a look at what’s beneath them on the frame:

S&W K-22 grips removed

S&W K-22 grips removed

Production of the K-22 ‘Outdoorsman’ ended December 28, 1939. The total number made was 17,117 before the launch of the improved ‘Masterpiece’ K-22 in early 1940. The prewar K-22s, both the ‘Outdoorsman’ and the second generation ‘Masterpiece’, sported a non-ribbed 6-inch/152mm round barrel, adjustable rear sights, a trigger set between three and four pounds/1.4 to 1.8 kilograms, checkered Circassian walnut grips, all in a package weighing in at about 35 ounces/990 grams. With the K-22 came a Smith & Wesson claim that the gun was capable of shooting 1.5-inch/38mm groups at an astounding 50 yards/45.7 meters. That’s a lot better than I’m capable of as you can see from the two targets presented below (but in all fairness I shot free-handed rather than bench-resting the pistol). The targets I used were ones I printed on 8.5×11-inch/216x279mm standard letter-size paper.

The first target displays 18 rounds fired in single-action at a distance of 10 yards/9.1 meters:

8.5×11 target, 10 yards, 18 rounds, single-action

This next target shows 18 rounds fired in double-action at a the same distance:

8.5×11 target, 10 yards, 18 rounds, double-action

Oddly enough, I did better at double-action, but I’ve found over the years that the longer, heavier trigger pull in double-action forces me to maintain tighter concentration and control when I’m firing — pretty much the opposite of the rest of the shooting world, I’m sure. Plus, I’d just completed testing a single-action only 1973 Ruger Super Bearcat with a much lighter trigger, so I may have been thrown off by that as well.

As far as I can tell, the K-22 retailed for around $40 (S&W billed dealers $22.19 for them in 1935). In today’s money, that $40 works out to $624. Keeping in mind that this was in the midst of the Great Depression, it’s a wonder the K-22 found the audience that it did. Being billed as pistol suitable for both hunters and marksmen, the K-22 came equipped with an adjustable rear sight:

Adjustable rear sight and blued hammer

The K-22 initially came with a Call gold bead front sight (named after Charles Call), but that was changed to a higher-visibility ‘silver’ (actually stainless steel) bead about 500 pistols into production:

Silver bead front sight used after first year of production

Typical roll marks and stamps on the K-22 ‘Outdoorsman’ include the following:

Smith & Wesson roll mark

S&W trademark logo

S&W patent markings

K-22 caliber mark

“MADE IN U.S.A.” stamp

I already mentioned that the grips that came with this example were not original to the gun. There is one other anomaly that I saw as well. On every K-22 I’ve found pictured on the internet, both prewar and postwar, all are equipped with case hardened triggers and hammers. Not so this example. Both are blued, and I suspect they did not come this way from the factory:

Trigger blued rather than case hardened

Hammer blued rather than case hardened

The reason that I only suspect this is because I did not receive from the Smith & Wesson historian confirmation on this even though I pointed out the bluing when I sent in photographs along with a request for the gun’s history.

Most of the letter sent back from the S&W historian is boilerplate typical of other S&W history letters I’ve seen:

S&W Historical Foundation letter for this specific K-22

You have to get past the first four paragraphs to get to the specifics of this particular K-22, which I’ve cropped out below:

S&W Historical Foundation letter — Information specific to this K-22

A quick note about these Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation letters. If you have a Smith & Wesson firearm made between 1920 and 1966, obtaining a history on that firearm is something you should really consider. It’s fun researching where your gun first headed from the factory, and you may even get more history on it. I’ve seen at least one letter for a pristine, like-new K-22 with original box and manual that turned out to have been shipped to a police department for training purposes.

Now onto the subject of serial numbers for these pieces of prewar history. Any collector will tell you that the value of a collectible falls considerably if the gun is not fully ‘matching’. By matching, I mean all parts are original to the gun. On the K-22 Outdoorsman there are three places you need to check for this match. The first place to look is to turn over the gun and check out the primary serial number on the base of the frame butt:

Serial number stamp — Frame grip butt

Now it’s time to check the cylinder for a match:

Serial number stamp — Cylinder

And, finally, as we have the cylinder swung out away from the frame, let’s turn over the gun and look at the flat portion at the base of the barrel for one more match:

Serial number stamp — Under barrel

There is one more number stamped on these weapons, but it is not related in any way to the serial number. Again, with the cylinder swung out, look at the frame just below where the pinned barrel is mounted. Here you will find a number that was used internally at Smith & Wesson. The purpose of this number was to assist the craftsmen who handcrafted these works of art. This is an assembly number that assisted in keeping together until final assembly the parts meant for a particular gun:

This number was used by the factory to facilitate hand fitting of parts

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of firearm history at least half as much as I enjoyed researching it. For additional information, may I suggest the following articles:

American Rifleman article: A Look Back at the Smith & Wesson K-22 written by Dave Campbell; November 13, 2012

Gunblast article: Smith & Wesson K-22s written by Mike Cumpston; January 8, 2003

One last look at this nice example of a prewar (1938) Smith & Wesson K-22 Outdoorsman:

Prewar Smith & Wesson K-22 “Outdoorsman”

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