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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there all,

I was perusing the gunshop this week and walked over to the orphan (used) case and spied this little S&W revolver. It's smaller than the J-frame and fires the .38 Smith and Wesson Cartridge.

It is a diminutive 5 shot revolver and is in about 98% condition with the original bluing. I picked it up, handled it and left the store without purchasing it. Two days later, I went back and purchased the little gun that held my facination two days earlier.

After a little research, I discovered that what I owned was the sturdy little S&W Terrier Model 32 made from 1936 to 1974. I would enjoy dating the little revolver.



Does anyone have access to any dating information?

It is a wonderful little revolver that is a fine addition to my collection of modern handguns.

Chris
 

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Hi Chris,

(Never mind my picture request in my earlier PM - here it is! Nice!!!)

I have Supica and Nahas' Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson sitting right here beside me, waiting for you to PM me or post the SN! (I tried but couldn't get it off the butt of the gun in the image posted. Just off the top of my head, I'd guess mid-50s/early-60s. You have a nice I-frame, same as that 22/32 I told you about in the PM just now. The J-frames started in '61 acc. to Supica & Nahas, so it's got to be before then.)

I'm off to shave and then to church to renew our vows. Anybody who wants a ton of cake is welcome to come . . . cheers, erich
 

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Hmm. I'm looking through the Standard Catalog's SN info, and not finding any for the I-frame (because it looks like you SN is in the 69XXX range).

I'll check again later - gotta shave! :)
 

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I was over on the S&W Forum just now (I'd posted there right after I signed off here this a.m.), and it looks like you've got it solved. C. 1953, original style I-frame. The fifth "tension" screw is visible in the photo you posted, now that I look.

Can you post a photo of the other side of the frame so we can see the other screws (in particular the high sideplate screw)? Thanks.

So . . . are you going to shoot it?
 
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I have a 1905 (manufacture date) S&W Hand Ejector in .32 S&W Long You will love the "I" frame as it is a svelte little thing! I have been begging S&W to reproduce the "I" frame streched-out, but no thicker.

Modern metallurgy (read: Scandium technology) would permit such a handgun to be chambered in .32 H&R Magnum and weigh in at approximately eight ounces! With a titanium cylinder, this "I" frame recreation would be just fine for the "hideout" crowd, without sacrificing terminal ballistics. It would also handle .32 S&W long, as well as the old .32 S&W cartridges.

What's not to like?

Scott
 
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Some people just never could warm up to a .32. I, on the other hand, think it would be perfect for a hideout gun.
 

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Great find Chris!

One of my favorite revolvers. I have one in each frame size; the J frame shoots like a dream but the I frame is so CUTE. I had to quit loaning mine out....too hard to get back.

Great gun for training recoil-shy folks. No bark and no bite. Fun for walkabouts as well, when some plinking might be in order.

I sometimes carry it deer hunting for finishers. Works fine, plus it doesn't rupture eardrums like a hot .38 or magnum.

Factory loads are a bit light, in deference to the large numbers of blackpowder and import junk revolvers still floating around. I came across a half case or so of .38 Colt New Police sometime back which is _slightly_ better; heavier bullet and small meplat on the nose.

You can reload it with wadcutters; just don't seat them all the way down like in a Special. Leave about half of it outside the case. Hardcast 158gr semiwadcuters at 600-650 fps work well also.


Good find!


Regards,

Pat
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi there all,

Thank you all for the information.

I just picked up a copy of the Supica and Nahas Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson Firearms from the local Book Warehouse, as well as, a box of .38 S&W ammo from the Bass Pro Shop here where I live.

I am still excited about my new aquisition and think I just still got a great deal on the Terrier at $265.00.

The next item on my list will be a Chief's Model 36, which I will hopefully aquire at the next gun show here in town at the end of October. It will give me some time to save.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi there,

I just got a reply from the Smith-Wesson Forum and a member posted a picture of his vintage 1948 era terrier. It looks exactly like mine!



Mine is lacking the flat cylinder latch and the serrated front sight and I believe that it may be a "transitional model" and a earlier production than 1950. I am getting more excited as I find out more about this diminutive pistol.

I picked up a box of .38 S&W from the Bass Pro Shop yesterday. Remington, Magtech and Winchester make the .38 S&W cartridge and it was easier to find than anticipated!

Pff, I don't know whether or not I want to shoot this one or not. It was evidently someone's "night stand" handgun and was not fired at all or very little judging by the cleaning I gave it yesterday. There is no wear under the top strap by the barrel and the cylinder charge holes were clean of any residue.

As for the reloading, my equipment is on loan to a friend of mine and I will call him to see if he has it set up. I hear a Lee 3 die .38 S&W set calling my name!

Chris
 

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Hiya Chris,

Unlike hot-loaded Specials and .357's, You can shoot a .38S&W Hand Ejector forever without ill effects. The only way it'll get loose is to slam the cylinder open and closed.

The 'half-nickel' front sight marks it as early 50's at the latest, as does a 5-screw frame.

They didn't change the thumbpieces on I frames; they had transitioned all I frames into J frame production (1961) before they dropped the flat latch(1966). Might be a replacement.

If you have had the grips off, you can tell if its an 'improved I frame' if it has a coil mainspring like a J frame. Earlier I frames used a flat spring, with a tension screw in the forestrap.

They grow on you.


Regards,

Pat
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Pat,

I went to the range today and shot.....My 642-2. I couldn't bring myself to shoot the lovely and diminutive Terrier!!!

While I was there, I did look over a nice .38 hand ejector, 1905 fourth revision, and was really tempted to take it out for a serious "I need to buy this...." I am glad that I didn't. I looked it up in the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson and it was priced at $175.00. They had $450.00 marked on the revolver!

Chris
 
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I think that that "I" frame is the quintessential "hideout gun." While its not very powerful, the solid frame can take a handload with a power level that is eqivalent to that of a low-end .38 S&W Special. It can be done!

The Brits knew what they were doing when they loaded the .38 S&W up as the .38/200. This relatively low-powered round emulated the vaunted .455 Webley in a true .36 caliber heel-type lead bullet. This functions well simply due to the round's ability to penetrate deeply.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Scott,

I wish I had access to S&W production figures by frame size, but I believe that the best selling S&W handguns were always in the smaller frame sizes.

Unfortunately, I don't reload anymore and had to stop back when I became a single parent and couldn't leave my reloading equipment set-up and sitting out anymore.

However, I do have a friend that reloads and I imagine that if I supply the die set, brass, bullets, powder and primers, he wouldn't mind me rolling a few founds.

I would like to get some reloading info.

Thank you,

Chris
 
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38 S&W, all bullet weights
Bullet Powder Weight Powder Velocity OAL Primer Source
145gr Lead 2.6 gr Win 231 675 fps Winchester
Suggested starting load: 2.3 gr

Pressure: 11,500 CUP


150gr LRN 2.0 gr Red Dot 650 fps CCI SP guest
This is a great load for older 38 S&W revolvers as well as new 38 Special derringers. Great plinking round for 357 and 38 special as well

Email author: mcustoms
See all of mcustoms's loads
200gr LRN 2.4 gr Unique Unknown CCI SP guest
Est. vel. 650fps. This load duplicates both the British .380 Mk.1 and the Super Police cartridges. Bullet is RNFP gas check from Beartooth bullets.


Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any data, whether or not occasioned by publisher's negligence or based on strict liability or principles of indemnity or contribution. Handloads.Com neither assumes nor authorizes any person to assume for it any liability in connection with the use of any data.



I hope that this is of use to you.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi Scott,

Thank you for the reloading data. It would seem like a pretty economical load to reload and could make great plinker/shooting load.

Again, thank you,

Chris
 
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The little guns shoot in a fashion similar to that of the .32 S&W Long and the .32 ACP. Granted, they are of an "older" mindset, that of accuracy (read: bullet placement) being of more import than power. The main reason that the .38 S&W has a viable place in the cartridge "world" today, is due to the ability of the handgun to be chambered in a revolver of such a diminuitive frame.

Were it again being produced in the "I" frame, a 5-shot .38 S&W can place its projectile with as much certainty as many newer cartridges. With modern metallurgy, the old S&W Terriers could contain pressure can generate energies approaching that of the mid-range .380 or the low-end .38 S&W Special.

Scott
 

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Hi there all,

I was perusing the gunshop this week and walked over to the orphan (used) case and spied this little S&W revolver. It's smaller than the J-frame and fires the .38 Smith and Wesson Cartridge.

It is a diminutive 5 shot revolver and is in about 98% condition with the original bluing. I picked it up, handled it and left the store without purchasing it. Two days later, I went back and purchased the little gun that held my facination two days earlier.

After a little research, I discovered that what I owned was the sturdy little S&W Terrier Model 32 made from 1936 to 1974. I would enjoy dating the little revolver.



Does anyone have access to any dating information?

It is a wonderful little revolver that is a fine addition to my collection of modern handguns.

Chris

I just came across your post from years ago. I have one of these, here is the original manual
 

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