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Another Member Of The “Family”


About this time last year, I stumbled upon a good deal on a S&W Model 36-1. This was a variation of the S&W J Frame, five shot revolver, that was marketed as the “Chiefs Special” until 1957 when Smith & Wesson introduced model numbers.

For those not familiar with the Model 36, it is a five shot revolver designed for the .38 Special cartridge. They aren’t particularly light, but they do have a substantial amount of recoil due to their smaller size and weight.

The Model 36 came in mostly 2 inch barrel versions, but the 36-1 had a 3 inch heavy barrel. It was a popular variation and made with “Square” and “Round” butt stocks. A number, approximately 1,500, were made for the New York City Police Department for issue to the “Bureau of Female Officers”. Presumably, these were intended for the generally smaller stature female officers on the department.

There were also versions made for various local and federal agencies, as well as a target version. The Model 36 spawned a number of different models, including chamberings in .32, 22LR, 22 WMR, .327 Federal Magnum, and even .357 Magnum. They come in blue finished carbon steel, stainless steel, a Titanium version, and a Scandium version. There are also concealed hammer Double Action Only versions. As I said, a popular gun.

My 36-1 has a serial number that starts with AWA, which means that it was more than likely produced in 1987. The sharp eyed reader will notice that it is definitely post 1981 production as the barrel isn’t pinned.

I am at least the third owner of this gun and plan to keep it and probably pass it on to someone else when I’m gone. The finish is still close to new since it wasn’t carried much by it’s previous owners. The person I bought it from had a trigger job done by a local gunsmith with a very good reputation. He does a lot of work on both semi automatic pistols and revolvers. The trigger is very smooth in double action, and has a crisp break in single action. It’s very accurate for a small framed revolver and is a breeze to shoot. The heavier barrel helps stabilize the gun during shooting and helps with accuracy. I need all the help I can get in that department.

When I bought the firearm, it had a very nice set of Herrett Grips. I liked the way they fit and looked, but they are big and make the gun harder to conceal. I bought a set of non S&W replacement grips that look like the original grips, but are nice and shiny. I also bought a Tyler T adapter, which fills the void at the front of the grip, but doesn’t add to the bulk of the gun. Did I mention that it’s a dream to shoot?

I use 130 grain range fodder for practice, and right now have 135 grain Speer Lawman Jacketed Hollow points for self defense.

When I carry, the gun sits in a very nice Side Guard Holsters “Quick Clip” Inside Waist Band holster. The Side Guard folks are very nice to deal with and make a nice product. Oh, their prices are also very reasonable. The set up sits very comfortably and I hardly know it’s there.

A couple of pictures of the gun and the holster are below.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. For $75 you can get a historical letter from S&W on it. They will give you the date it was shipped from the factory. If you are going to leave it to someone it might be worth it.

    • Thanks. I can get the date shipped by calling S&W Customer Service. I don’t think that this is historically significant enough for a “Jinks Letter”. None of my Smiths are that rare or historical, I consider them all shooters. The only one that might qualify is the Model 13-3 3″ that I have. I know it’s not an FBI gun because the barrel is not pinned.

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