SOLD FOR: $4425
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: Model 39, USAF Contract Pistol
Serial Number: 81982
Year of Manufacture: 1969 (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 “81982 / MODEL – 39”. 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 is 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 96% of its metal finish. There are some scattered light handling marks. There is some thinning on the leading edges of the slide. There are a few little scuffs that have thinned the finish, the most noticeable is on the right side of the frame behind the grip but it is quite small. There are a few tiny faint nicks through the finish on some of the edges, most noticeable on the left side of the frame above the trigger. There is some wear on the controls from normal use. There are some scattered draglines. The screwheads are sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Fine Plus 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 pair of 8-round magazines, a Smith & Wesson letter, a Smith & Wesson box (non-matching label), paperwork including the manual, and a copy of the original invoice from Smith & Wesson to the Air Force.
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. The design became the Model 39 when the number system was introduced and went on to go through a number of design upgrades. Impressed with the German P38 Double Action, American Ordnance personnel issued a proposal for America’s very own double action pistol and the Smith & Wesson was the choice. This particular Model 39 comes from the collection of author Kevin Williams, known for his work on General Officers pistols and covert organization pistols of WWII. This model 39 from Smith & Wesson was shipped to Transportation Officer at Warner Robbins AFB, Georgia in 1969 as a part of an 85 gun shipment. Mr. Williams has informed us that this pistol is a General Officer’s pistol, though he was not able to determine which General it may have been issued to. 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!