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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. Just couldn't resist picking up a nice old blued S&W Model 39-2 at a local swap meet yesterday. Guy had been trying to peddle it for weeks, guess it's too "old school" for many folks today. But I've long noticed that the 39s fit and point well whenever I've examined one.

This one has the removable bushing, something I've never dealt with on an S&W autoloader before. Are these guns typically more, or less, accurate than the later version? Also one of the magazines had a strange looking, sort of 'skeletonized' follower; he says that's the original. The other has a flat follower, it looks like what I'm used to seeing with S&W semiautos.

Speaking of mags for this pistol, I'd suspect that some hunting around should yield good bargains on spares--will all the later versions of 39/639/3906 etc. magazines fit this old timer?

Thanks for looking, and any help you can give. Sorry to say due to my computer illiteracy, can't provide any pictures of this acquisition. (Heck I don't even own a computer, no kiddin'!)
 

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I had two M39s some years ago and as I recall they had the X type follower and the bushing I think. As long as I used ball ammo they worked like champs. The problem was the ability to feel JHPs reliably. The 3rd generation solved that issue forever and in my experience the newer mags worked just tine in the older guns. There should be a good stock of originals out there tho - Accuracy was as good as it gets with 9mmP. Provided you did not bet the ranch on it I think you should be pretty happy with your M39. They always shot pretty well for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks oberstlt. Hope this one works with jhp ammo; dunno how inclined I'd be to keep it otherwise. Anybody else, please chime in, it's appreciated.
 

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Howdy Mr. Brian D.,

I really think the only way you will be able to confirm it for sure is to try it sir. I bought a model 39 once in the early 70s if I recall correctly, and mine fed JHP rounds perfectly. I carried it some off duty as a LEO, and that was all I would carry in it. Another buddy shot mine and got one to carry working narcotics. His fed JHPs perfectly too. This were both early productions.

If you have problems getting yours to feed JHP rounds, you might want to find a new mag, or replace the springs with new Wolff springs in your existing mags, before you give up on it.

Good luck, and please keep us posted.

twoguns
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I'm happy to report that the 39-2 worked very well with:

115 gr. ball
124 gr. ball
115 gr. hollowpoint
124 gr. hollowpoint


But boy howdy was 147 gr. anything out of the question! All were too long, and the jhp's in that weight had too big of a cavity up front. In no way shape or form will those rounds ever find their way into this gun again during my time as owner.

But that's fine and dandy, this old timer will work its way into my carry rotation--actually it already has!
 

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Howdy Mr. Brian D.

Thanks for updating us sir. Glad to hear your new lady worked well with both the 115 and 124 JHPs.

Sounds like you found yourself a keeper for sure.

twoguns
 

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39s were the rage when I was younger. Though I never cared for them (they were 9mm and they were DA - two strikes and you are out ;)).

However a couple of years ago I found a mint 39-nothing for about $200 so I thought why not, at least for the sake of posterity.

It has a weird trigger pull - it is sort of like it does has "under travel" rather than over travel on the trigger. Occasionally it has a nice crisp 4.5 lb SA pull and sometimes it feels like I am pressing against a steel block and bending the trigger until it goes off.

It is accurate however and I really like the grip shape. Been looking at another one that has the anodizing polished off and has a great SA trigger.

That same shop about 10 years ago had about 200 mags for $5 apiece - too bad I didn't sock more than a couple of them away!

If I could find a spare barrel cheap I would rechamber this thing for .356 TSW much like George Nonte's Super .38 model 39 (which he had to load short so it would fit in the magazine).

Jim H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The grip shape--which makes for good 'pointability'--is the main thing that always attracted me to the Model 39s, JimH. Just never quite got around to buying one until they became quaint or old-school or decrepit, a/k/a CHEAP! Mine seems to have a decent DA trigger pull, and the SA is consistent from shot to shot. Of course twenty or so draw 'n' fire exercises, plus some practice draws and dry-firing beforehand, don't really make for a complete evaluation, just sort of a thumbnail sketch.

Unlike you I don't feel undergunned with a mere ;) 9mm parabellum, Jim; imo anyhow the jhp loads available today will most likely get the job done. Speaking of which, anybody run the 9mm CorBon Pow'r Ball load through their chronograph? That stuff could be just the ticket for a 'retro' 9mm like the Model 39.
 

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Hello. I've not chronographed it from an M39 but from a Hi Power the Corbon PowRball averages 1505 ft/sec and 1476 ft/sec from a Taurus PT92.

Best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Stephen. CorBon just flat out tells the truth with their stated velocities, don't they? I sure have found them to be right in line with my chronograph readings.

Might need to pick me up some 9mm Pow'r Ball ammo then. Btw after my previous post in this thread I found the...color me slightly embarrassed...9mm Pow'r Ball thread! :-[ More good info there.

By the way SAC, have you ever done one of your excellent write- ups on the S&W Model 39 or its later descendants?
 

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Hello. No, I've not written up the Model 39, 59 and their kin. I don't own any but if I run across anyone in my immediate area who has one and will let me shoot it, I might.

Best.
 

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Brian (and other 9mm fans).

Half of my rantings are just good natured ribbing - heck, more than half. By logic I cannot see that a good 9mm expanding bullet that penetrates should be much less - if any! - effective than a .45 with ball ammo.

The only real trouble I have with it is those pesky multi shot failures to stop with decent hits - of the dozen or so cases in which more than 8 rounds to the chest failed to stop a subject quickly with 9mm all but two (Diallo in NYC and nother subject here in Ky.) have been expanding bullets (the average of the 10 worst cases was 22 hits before incapacitation !!!!!).

To be sure this makes up a minority of cases, but those same figures do not show up in other calibers (I am sure the .38 spl and .380 is because people run out of bullets first BTW).

Still and all I think most folks will be fine with one if they shoot it well and do the rest right.... the gun and the load are probably only about 10% of the overall picture (5% each). How you shoot it probably makes up another 15% but I would not quibble with those who think otherwise.

Good luck and ah.... "more power to you."


Jim H.
 

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Jim - location, location, location! The older I get the more about shot placement I think!
I am an emphatic supporter of good placement but all of those multiple hit failures were with excellent shot placement - I cull out the bad ones as I do not really expect them to work (if I included the torso hits - that number would increase substantially).

As an example, 3 cases involving .40 S&W (all hollow points) that I have good details on, took a total of 36 hits until incapacitation (11, 13 and 12 respectively). Of those hits at least 16 of them were heart shots.

Often, too often, bullets don
 

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I'm far from an expert on anything, but I have always liked the way the 39-2 felt. I had one years ago, during my IPSC (strictly local club) phase, but don't think I ever shot it. I traded it off for something or other later on, but regretted it right away. It seemed to be almost perfect for me as a carry gun. Nice and flat, and fairly light.

A couple of years ago, I found another one, almost like new, and jumped on it. This one I've fired enough to know it feeds anything I've put in it, and I can hit what I shoot at with it. It's my almost always carry gun now. (When I don't feel like lugging my Colt Commander.) And it just so darn pretty.
 

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Cajun;

I guess it is a sign of the times. When the most common centerfire autos out there were 1911s, Brownings, P-38s lugers and S&W 39s - I thought the the P-38s and the S&W 39s felt "clunky" (sat too high in the hand).

Not having run into a 39 for many years that day not so long ago, with a plethora of autos and many years of handling most of them, I picked up that 39 and said "I dont remember these feeling this good".... I bought it on the spot.

I may by another one I have my eye on.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Jim, our mutual pal Rick Miller (the gunwriter) told me just the other day that he too owns a Model 39, but it must sit disregarded in the back of his gunsafe somewhere, because none of us have seen it "in the flesh" at the range!
(He says 'It's a nice gun but I just can't seem to get excited over any 9mm.') Boy the effect of that Paladin/Gunsite Kool-Aid lingers for years doesn't it? ;)

Stephen, I chrono'd some 9mm Pow'r Ball today, and my BHP results mirrored yours almost exactly, 1492fps. It was "only" going approx. 1420 fps in the S&W M-39. But it dropped down to about 1290 fps in the Kahr K-9, which has about a 3"-3.25" bbl.
 
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Hi guys, newbie to the forum here, sorry to jump in but I have a couple of questions (comments).

First, I've never fired a model 39 I have fired a mod 59 but it was too fat for me. I had a friend who carried a 39 years ago and loved it. I love the look and feel as well and have been (not to aggressively looking for one...$$$) for a range gun along with a couple of other options...Hi Power clone and P-38.

Second, I've heard that there is (was) an issue with the extractor breaking...any ideas truth or myth/certain geberation -2, -3?

Finally, is there a steel vs alloy frame model comparison? 39-1 is steel, 39-2 is Alloy, 39-6 is some conbination, I really want a steel frame???

I'm interested but unless I could pick up a beater I am probably leaning towards a P-38 I have a line on for cheap money for now.

Thanks
 
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