SOLD FOR: $7,025
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: 39, USAF General Officer’s Pistol
Serial Number: 81942
Year of Manufacture: 1957-1969 (a later serial number was issued as a General Officer’s pistol in 1969)
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Action Type: Double Action, Semi-Automatic, Removable Magazine Fed Pistol with Decocker Safety & Magazine Disconnect
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “SMITH & WESSON” with the four line Marcas Registradas address, the left side of the frame is marked with the serial and model numbers. The right side of the slide is marked “PAT’S PENDING”. The right side of the frame is marked with S&W’s monogram logo. The left side of the trigger guard is marked “P”. The top of the barrel is marked “9MM CTG.”. Each magazine floorplate is marked “S&W”.
Barrel Length: 4”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a serrated ramp blade, integral to the slide. The rear sight is a flat top, square notched leaf in a base that is micrometer-click adjustable for windage.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The backstrap of the grip frame has raised checkering (from the factory), the butt has a lanyard loop. The grip panels are bordered checkered wood with S&W medallions at their tops. The grips have a few scattered individual blunted checkers, minor nicks and scuffs. Otherwise, they show only light handling marks. The checkering is generally sharp. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Fine-Excellent condition.
Type of Finish: Blue & Black Alloy Grip Frame
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 98% of its metal finish. There are only light handling marks and minor operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Excellent condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The pistol features a magazine disconnect safety, thumb safety that doubles as a decocker and a nice slide to frame fit, with little measurable play. The double action trigger pull is smooth, single action has a smooth takeup followed by a crisp break with a short reset. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with a two-page signed biography of USAF Major General Edward Dillon, a series of printouts of photos of Gen. Dillon and the pistol, a manual, a DD Form 1574 “yellow tag” dated April 27, 1973 which lists the pistol by serial number, cleaning rod, brush, S&W Leather Company black size 40 belt in a blue cardboard S&W box, black leather shoulder holster and harness in a blue cardboard S&W Box, black leather S&W thumb-snap holster, black leather S&W snap-top single magazine pouch belt-slide and a total of two 8-round magazines. The holster and magazine pouch show minor use-wear, in about Fine condition. The belt and shoulder holster show little to no wear, in about Excellent condition. The boxes for the shoulder holster and belt do show storage wear with some light fraying and short tears at edges and corners, in about Good-Very Good condition. The magazines show very faint operational wear with intact feed lips and strong springs, in about Excellent condition.
Our Assessment: This model 39 from Smith & Wesson was issued as a General Officer’s pistol to Major General Edward Dillon of the United States Air Force. The pistol is documented by serial number in Williams & Brunner’s book “U.S. General Officer Pistols: A Collectors’ Guide”. The timeline is interesting, as well. While earlier serial numbers were documented as shipped as early as 1967, this pistol comes with a Defense Department Materiel Condition tag dated in 1973 and the book states that this serial number was shipped in 1982. General Dillon’s career with the Air Force started in 1951 and he soon graduated fighter gunnery school at Nellis and served flying F-86 Sabres. In 1956, he joined the Air Force Reserve and worked primarily in Tactical and Strategic Airlift. In 1975, Dillon returned to active duty, returning to Reserve in 1982 as mobilization assistant to the vice commander in chief of NORAD and to the vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, remaining in this position until he retired in 1989. His long career and impressive list of decorations and awards make his General Officer’s pistol a wonderful addition to any collection. Its high condition and the nice assortment of documentation and S&W leather accessories only add to its value. Please see our pictures and good luck!