SOLD FOR: $4930
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: M13 Aircrewman
Serial Number: C301602
Year of Manufacture: 1954-1956
Caliber: .38 Special
Action Type: 6-Shot Double / Single Action, Swing-Out Fluted Cylinder Revolver
Markings: The right side of the barrel is marked “.38 SPL. CTG.”, the left is marked “SMITH & WESSON”. The side plate has S&W’s monogram logo, the right side of the frame is marked with the four line Marcas Registradas. The yoke and yoke cut have inspection marks. The sides of the grip frame have inspection marks. The butt of the grip frame is marked with the serial number. The backstrap is marked “PROPERTY OF U.S. AIR FORCE”. The topstrap is marked “REVOLVER, LIGHTWEIGHT, M13”. The left side of the frame is marked “P”. The inside of the right grip panel is stamped “301 / 302”. The front face of the ejector is marked “301602”. The back of the yoke is marked “301602”. The barrel flat is marked “301602”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked “C301602”.
Barrel Length: 2?
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a serrated ramped blade integral to the barrel, it has remains of red paint in the serrations. The rear sight is a square notch at the rear of the top strap.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered walnut magna stocks with S&W logo medallions and smooth diamonds around the grip screws. There is a heavy scrape on the left panel on the back down at the bottom. There is a small crack on the right panel where the backstrap widens into the frame. There are some scattered scuffs that have thinned the finish, most noticeable on the sides at the bottom. There are a few little nicks and light scratches, the most noticeable are on the bottom faces. There are some scattered light handling marks. The checkering is mostly strong. The grips rate in about Very Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: Black Alloy with Blued Steel Barrel & Yoke
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is a patch of scabbing and light erosion at the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 83% of its metal finish. The edges have finish loss. There are some scattered little spots of oxidation on the yoke and barrel. There is some thinning on the edges of the barrel. There is some thinning and light discoloration on the cylinder along the front edge, on the trigger guard, and on the grip frame. There are some scattered little nicks. There are some minor scratches, the most noticeable is on the left side at the top of the grip. There are some spots of dark discoloration from previous oxidation on the hammer and trigger. There is a turn line through the finish on the cylinder. The screw heads are sharp to tool marked, the heaviest worn screw is the grip screw. The markings are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: Due to the alloy construction of the cylinder, we do not recommend shooting this revolver. The action functions correctly with light side-to-side play in lockup. 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: None
Our Assessment: When the Korean War started in 1950, the US Air Force put out a call for lightweight, compact personal defense weapons they could issue to aircrews. Colt and Smith & Wesson, two of the largest and oldest revolver manufacturers, both submitted prototypes that used aluminum alloys in their designs. Fun Fact: While a common material today, aluminum was almost exclusively used in prototypes and one-off firearms prior to the 1950s. Oliver Winchester built a prototype shotgun with aluminum receiver plates as early as 1865, but the cost to purify and process aluminum was prohibitive back then. The Air Force would adopt Smith & Wesson’s design and ordered over 40,000 of these lightweight six shooters in .38 Special. These would arm aircrewmen as well as agents in the Office of Special Investigations. Unfortunately, the aluminum alloy that was so cutting edge and lightweight that it helped Smith & Wesson win the Air Force contract was this product’s ultimate undoing. By 1959, many of the aluminum cylinders and frames of these revolvers showed significant breaks, cracks, and weaknesses, some units having ruptured altogether. The Smith & Wesson M13 Aircrewmen revolver, which requires the low-pressure M41 Special Ball ammunition as they couldn’t withstand commercial ammo loaded with lead bullets, was scraped (literally, in most cases). But these guns were the beginning of a revolution in gun materials, and this revolver and its accessories showcase that history perfectly. Whether you’re a general firearms collector, military historian, or specifically a Smith & Wesson fan, this revolver would improve any collection it joined. Please see our photos and good luck!