SOLD FOR: $4,625
Make: Smith & Wesson, Customized by Armament Systems and Procedures Inc.
Model: 39-2, ASP
Serial Number: A448975
Year of Manufacture: 1977-1978
Action Type: Double Action, Semi-Automatic, Removable Magazine Fed Pistol with Decocker
Barrel Length: 3 1/2″
Sights / Optics: The sight is an ASP yellow Guttersnipe sight fixed to the top of the slide at the rear.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip panels are two-piece smooth Lexan panels with clear witness windows. There are some scuffs and light handling marks. There are some scattered light handling marks. There are a few light scratches. Overall, these grips are in Fine Plus condition.
Type of Finish: Teflon-S
Finish Originality: Original to ASP Customization
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is what is either a tool mark or a small patch of minor surface erosion on one of the lands at about the midsection. In my opinion, this bore rate 9 out of 10.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 93% of its metal finish. There is finish wear on the edges. There are some scattered little nicks and scratches. The safety has some thinning and discoloration. There is finish wear on the edges. There is standard operational wear. The screwheads are sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. 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 serial matching S&W box, S&W paperwork including the manual, three ASP 7-round magazines, two ASP promotional paperwork, ASP IWB leather holster, ASP shoulder rig, ASP magnetized leather dual magazine pouch, an assortment of ASP paperwork including a manual and serial-matching instructions, February 2000 Guns Magazine, and 1979 November/December American Handgunner Magazine.
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. 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. 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.
The Model 39 is by all means a great pistol, it sold well and is a historic gun. At the time of its release, there was only one problem, guys wanted a smaller carry gun. Enter the ASP. The pistol was designed by Paris Theodore of Seventrees Ltd., a custom leather shop based out of New York City. The ASP was designed for clandestine organizations and protection of high-ranking government officials; when it was released to the public was the talk of the town. The ASP is a radically transformed model 39. The frame, barrel, and slide are all cut to reduce the dimensions and a solid bushing is fit to the slide. The edges are all rounded and the hammer is bobbed to reduce the chances of snags or hangups. Checkering is also kept to a minimum and reserved for only the front and backstraps. The trigger guard is radically reprofiled, the front is hooked, and the side is slimmed down to allow quicker access to the trigger. This pistol has the width reduction on the right side for a right-handed shooter, and yes, there are also left-handed models. The magazine disconnect mechanism is thrown in the trash, because who wants that? With the exception of the grips, all the parts are finished in durable Teflon-S finish which also serves as a dry lubricant. The trigger gets a thorough action job with hours of polishing and honing, made even better by the slick Teflon-S finish. Perhaps the most eye catching features are the grips and the rear sight. The magazines are heavily modified with large cuts on the sides and the grips are now clear Lexan so you can see how many rounds are in the gun while it is loaded. The magazines are also coated in slick Teflon-S and have new springs and followers for reliability. The mags now have pinky rest baseplates that help not only with the grip of the compact piece but also aid in speedy reloads into the beveled magazine well. The unique sighting system, referred to as the “Guttersnipe”, was a narrowing channel with fluorescent yellow panels that would form three triangles, all pointed at the target when the sight was properly aligned. The theories behind Theodore’s design are all about speed and getting into the fight first, after all, there is no runner-up in a gunfight. The gripping surfaces are designed to produce enough grip, but to also be usable if the initial quick draw results in a less-than-stellar purchase on the gun. The Guttersnipe sight, might not be capable of MOA groups, but it isn’t meant to be. In a test, an army intelligence officer, drew from under a suitcoat, fired seven shots, reloaded, fired another seven rounds, reloaded again and fired the remaining eight rounds. At a distance of just under 21 feet (6.4 meters), his 22 round group could be covered with a palm of one hand. Pretty good proof that an ASP is a perfectly capable pistol, in the right hands.
After the initial delivery of the first 250 ASP pistols to the government, the New York based company ran by Paris closed its doors. Lack of operating capital and mismanagement made them shut down, but in 1976 the firm of Armament Systems and Procedures appeared without Paris and produced pistols for roughly a decade. While the original run was 250 pistols, production numbers on the Armament Systems and Procedures run are unavailable. The ASP pistol is massively influential on custom handgun design and was the first of its kind. In 1976, pistolsmith Charlie Kelsey, a Formula One race car driver and mechanical-engineer-turned-gunsmith, sent a pistol to ASP for the conversion, and got back nothing. After two years of waiting he sued, and in the process became convinced he could build a better gun himself. He called his attempt “Devel,” which is an old Scottish word for delivering a sudden or severe blow. He consulted with industry legend Ken Hackathorn and the result was the DEVEL line. Pistolsmith Wayne Novak credits DEVEL with being his biggest inspiration and most innovative man in the business. Soon after ASP and DEVEL had success, Smith and Wesson finally wisened up and released that there was money to be made with carry features and added ASP-inspired pistols to their product catalog. From bespoke to big box, we have finally come full circle.
The ASP is a fascinating pistol that many other notable figures in the gun industries are tied to, either directly or indirectly, and many can trace inspiration to it. This one is truly a great offering. It comes with its original Smith & Wesson box, ASP paperwork, ASP leather, and the three ASP magazines that it left ASP with. On top of that, it comes with magazines that have articles on the ASP and photos by legendary firearms photographer Ichiro Nagata. If you are a seasoned collector, you may have been buying guns when the ASP was first released and never got your hands on one. Maybe you’re a younger guy who has fond memories of dual-wielding the ASP in the 2010 blockbuster video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. Maybe you are a fan of highly customized pistols or just want something rare. No matter the case this pistol appeals to just about every segment of firearms aficionado and with all the included accessories is a phenomenal addition to any collection. This offering is perfect for display and really is the complete package. Please see our pictures and good luck!
Some are hot, some are not, but thankfully most can be shot!