SOLD FOR: $4200
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: Pre-Model 39, USAF Contract Pistol
Serial Number: 1533
Year of Manufacture: 1956 (Smith & Wesson Letter)
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 number “1533”. 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.”. The 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, 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 compressions and little marks through the finish, some of the most noticeable are on the right panel at the top. The checkering is generally strong. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Fine 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 93% of its metal finish. There is some thinning and finish loss on the edges. There are a few little scuffs that have thinned the finish, most noticeable on the slide towards the front. There is some standard operational wear on the controls. There are some little spots of light discoloration from previous oxidation, most noticeable on the left of the sldie at the front. There are some scattered draglines and light scuffs. The screwheads show light use. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Fine 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: Included is a single 8-round magazine, multiple Smith & Wesson letters, a copy of the Smith & Wesson invoice to the Air Force, and a brown storage box.
Our Assessment: Dismayed by the commercial failure of their .35 and .32 semi-automatic pistols, in 1946 Smith & Wesson president C.R. Hellstorm said the product line needed to be modernized. Their top goal was to release a Double/Single action semi-automatic pistol chambered for the 9mm cartridge. In the 1950s Smith & Wesson began the development of the Model 39 semi-auto pistol and it was finally released in 1955. Impressed with the German P38 Double Action, American Ordnance personnel issued a proposal for America’s very own double action pistol. This Pre-Model 39 from Smith & Wesson was shipped to the exchange officer, Captain Robert H. Campbell and was one of 30 Pre-Model 39’s sent to Goose Bay in Labrador, Canada in May 1956. The pistol is documented by serial number in Williams & Brunner’s book “U.S. General Officer Pistols: A Collectors’ Guide” (though it notes the shipment to Goose Bay, not General Officer issue) and this pistol is from Mr. William’s personal collection. With its long extractor, short safety, and short tang, this one is one of the earliest made and is of the first shipment that ever left factory doors. With such an early serial number, it is possible that this member of the 30 gun shipment was sent to the base for testing purposes itself. No matter the case, this is a historic pistol in high condition and the S&W letters only add to its value. Please see our pictures and good luck!