SOLD FOR: $6052
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: M13 Aircrewman
Serial Number: C290041
Year of Manufacture: 1954 (Smith & Wesson Letter)
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 “290 / 041”. The front face of the ejector is marked “290041”. The back of the yoke is marked “290041”. The barrel flat is marked “C290041”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked “C290041”.
Barrel Length: 2?
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a serrated ramped blade integral to the barrel. 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 chip loss repair on the front of the right grip panel at the corner where the frontstrap widens into the frame. There are a few scattered light handling marks. There are a few scuffs and minor compressions. There are some scattered light handling marks. The checkering is mostly sharp. The grips rate in about Fine overall condition as repaired.
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 no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 93% of its metal finish. There are some scattered little marks through the finish, the most noticeable are on the trigger guard, cylinder, and right side of the barrel. There are a couple of hairline scratches. There is some wear on the edges of the trigger guard. The grip frame has some minor thinning on the front strap. There is some light finish wear on the edges. 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-Fine 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: Included is a Smith & Wesson letter and a brown storage box.
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. This one comes with a Smith & Wesson letter stating that it was shipped to Norton Air Base, San Bernadino, CA. Not just that but it gets even better, this one comes from the collection of author Kevin Williams, best known for his work on the topic of General Officers Pistols & Clandestine Organization Pistols of WWII. 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!