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Pharaohawk
12-08-2007, 11:41 AM
S & W Model 36, 3” Heavy Barrel

This is another gun I inherited from my father. Unlike the model 36 Chief Special that I have seen and shot before, it sports a heavy three-inch barrel. The frame is the regular J frame with the five holes in the cylinder, which incidentally were charged with Federal Premium .38 Special (+P) 129 grains Hydra-Shock ammunition.

In the rear and front sights, my father had put some liquid paper correction fluid. It is amazing how well it shows, even in low light, in comparison with others revolver sights that use red or orange front sights. I have observed when hunting that white is the last color to disappear in the darkness; it will show well after the orange color had subsided.

http://www.freeimghosting.com/images/farohhawk/p1196079522900.jpg


In the box with the gun was also a set of Herret’s wooden grips and the original S&W banana grips, but the gun sports an oversized grip made by Sile. At least that is what it says in the escutcheon that shows an American eagle grasping arrows and what looks like a snake in its talons.
The grips fit perfectly all around. It makes me wonder if they were custom made, since they are also a perfect fit for my hand. It tames the recoil of the Hydra-Shock plus P ammo to a point that it is pleasant to shoot many rounds.

Two speed loader HKS models 36 were stored with the gun; they also are loaded with the Federal ammo. I had the opportunity to shoot the gun at the sand pit in the country property, where we have a range of sorts. He never got around installing a steel silhouette, but there were plenty of clay targets in a box in the garage.
The gun delivers to point of aim at 15 yards with the 129 grain + P ammo, with enough accuracy to break all the clay targets that I shot at. The action of the gun seems to be much smoother than the usual Chief Special. It may be that he had improved the action himself, as he was very mechanically adept and had plenty of gunsmithing tools.
Sincerely,
Pharaohawk

Drifting Fate
12-08-2007, 11:56 AM
That's a nice gun from a different age. It's large and heavy enough that most people today won't accept only 5 shots from something that size, but they are reliable and easy to handle. And, there is an elegance that a plastic framed pistol can never match, no matter how good of a tool it is.

One thing to be aware of - the gun dates from before the J-frames were strengthened to handle a lot of +P ammo. In it's day, it was common to carry +P, but you'll want to use it very sparingly, if at all, during practice.

Erich
12-08-2007, 04:03 PM
I've got a 36-1 that is one of my favorite guns. I had gunsmith Sam Damewood of Alamogordo, NM bob the hammer to a profile like that on the S&W 547, smooth the trigger face, do an action tune, chamfer the chambers, and put a gold bead on the front sight.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b381/Erich505/36-1andAK17mar70110001resized.jpg

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b381/Erich505/36-1andAK17mar70030001resized.jpg

I carry it with my handloaded version of the 158-gr FBI Load in town, or with fire-and-brimstone 158-gr handloads from the Speer # 8 that give me (no kidding) 1185 fps (ES 44.68/SD 19.02) when hiking up Bear Canyon. They group fine, too.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd222/505Erich/Model36-113oct70070001resized.jpg

I recently put large-ish Pachmayr stocks on it, which I find fill the hand better and help me control the gun in rapid fire. S&W factory wood stocks are prettier and point well for me, but they allow the gun to squirm too much in my hand during the trigger pull.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd222/505Erich/Model36-113oct70050001resized.jpg

Ian McDevitt
12-08-2007, 05:52 PM
Erich, I am trying to get into reloading starting out with a little Lee press. I want to load .38's as I like the cartridge and have 4 X .38's. I have a 4" Police Positive that I think can take some heat and a K frame 4" Smith. Can you share with me some of your favorite loads? I would like to work up some + P +.

Michael Biggs
12-08-2007, 06:04 PM
Good carry piece, get a few speed strips.

Erich
12-08-2007, 06:07 PM
Ian, I'm sorry, but I don't post reloading data on the web. :( I'd recommend that you get several reloading manuals and read up as much as possible on the web before attempting any loads that are not listed on powder manufacturers' current websites.

Ian McDevitt
12-09-2007, 10:26 AM
No problem! I just grabbed that Lyman Pistol and Revolver book at Cabelas!

jklinstein
12-09-2007, 10:37 AM
I purchased one of these (like new) for my wife. Easy grip, easy trigger, low recoil... great house gun.

How tight does the lockup need to be on these? I have a snubbie that's solid, but this can be jiggled.

Erich
12-09-2007, 12:40 PM
If you don't know that your gun is right, run it by a 'smith for a check-out. It is impossible to diagnose accurately whether there is a problem over the internet with only a vague description ("can be jiggled") to go by.

DaveJames
12-09-2007, 01:44 PM
That was always a favorite of mine had a nickeled pair that had the traditional bobbed hammer job and the banana style grips.

That model and the 3" Dick Spl of any sort where way ahead for any thing else at that time for deep carry IMO

Cold War Scout
12-09-2007, 02:03 PM
Wasn't this the FBI carry gun for a while in the early 1980s?

kabar
12-09-2007, 02:16 PM
I think the FBI was issuing 3" model 65 or 13 K-frames.

Cold War Scout
12-09-2007, 02:26 PM
I think the FBI was issuing 3" model 65 or 13 K-frames.

Model 13 is what I was thinking of.....

Jeff22
12-30-2007, 03:19 AM
When I started as a cop (1981) most agencies around here carried S&W Revolvers, mostly K frames. Among the more knowlegible shooters, the 3 inch Chief's Special was a very popular off duty & backup gun. I bought the first one I ever fired. (A friend made me a deal. I made the last payment on the day President Reagan was shot).

At that time the County Traffic Police was separate from the Sheriff's Department (they merged in January of 1982). Among the avid shooters there was one group that carried S&W Auto pistols, another that carried Colt Pythons (with Detective Specials as hide-out guns) and a final group that preferred the Smith & Wesson revolvers, mostly 5 inch Model 27s. And ALL those guys had 3 inch Chief Specials for hideout guns.

I always thought the 3 inch J frames balanced better and looked cooler . .

I currently own an M36 with the 3 inch tapered barrel, an M60 with the 3 inch heavy barrel, and a (now-discontinuted) M650 3 inch heavy barrel in .22LR, that I use as a "practice gun" for the other two.

Originally, for service ammo I used the S&W Nyclad 125 grn "Chief's Special" load, later made by Federal (and now sadly discontinued)
Then I switched to the WW 158 grn Lead SWC HP +P and currently am carrying the Federal 129 grn Hydro-Shock HP. Once those are all expended, I'm probably going to switch to the Speer 135 grn +P HP.

Rex G
12-30-2007, 09:49 AM
I had a Model 60 in the same 3" heavy-barrel configuration that I used for a while in the 1980's, which I could shoot almost as well as a full-sized duty sixgun. IIRC, the difference was only notable at 25 yards; up close, there was no difference. On a plainclothes assignment, I very nearly used it to shoot a felon, who fumbled his draw and dropped a huge Ruger Redhawk onto the pavement before running away. (We caught him.)

shane
12-30-2007, 09:54 PM
I love the 3" 36's! No gun feels better in my hand than those with Houges' Monogrip. I feel very well armed when I have one of those handy little guns on me, even with only five shots. I knew of one big county where I used to live where the detectives were issued these guns. I especially like the 357 version with short barrelled Gold Dots.

Jeff22
12-31-2007, 04:28 AM
I remember reading once that there was a police department in Austrailia that issued the M36 with a 3 inch barrel as the primary weapon.

I also remember reading about a University Police Department back in the 1980s that worked for a Chancellor who wanted a VERY low profile for the cops -- their squad cars were unmarked, they all wore blazers, and the Chief's Special 3 inch was their duty gun.

JWnTN
01-01-2008, 06:00 PM
Back 25+ years ago, the mayor of a small town in Virginia decided the officers' K and N frame revolvers were scary, so the town purchased 3" Model 36's for the department.

Fortunately, the chief convinced the mayor that the five shot revolvers could not be used in the state's qualification course and the officers needed to qualify with what they carried. Except for a few used for off-duty or back up, I don't think the revolvers were ever used.

NewMedico
02-23-2008, 11:06 PM
I've got a 36-1 that is one of my favorite guns. I had gunsmith Sam Damewood of Alamogordo, NM bob the hammer to a profile like that on the S&W 547, smooth the trigger face, do an action tune, chamfer the chambers, and put a gold bead on the front sight.





I carry it with my handloaded version of the 158-gr FBI Load in town, or with fire-and-brimstone 158-gr handloads from the Speer # 8 that give me (no kidding) 1185 fps (ES 44.68/SD 19.02) when hiking up Bear Canyon. They group fine, too.



I recently put large-ish Pachmayr stocks on it, which I find fill the hand better and help me control the gun in rapid fire. S&W factory wood stocks are prettier and point well for me, but they allow the gun to squirm too much in my hand during the trigger pull.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd222/505Erich/Model36-113oct70050001resized.jpg

Erich,
Long time no post here (on my part) but your collection scares me. :D Truly a brother from another mother.



NewMedico,
Eric

Erich
02-24-2008, 07:08 AM
:)

Actually, I found some nice condition old Herrett's Shooting Aces stocks for the gun - makes it feel like a skinny K-frame (but still carries like a J) with the longer trigger reach they give me. I'm hoping this will make me shoot better due to the better ergonomics.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd222/505Erich/Herrettstocks16feb80020001resized.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd222/505Erich/Herrettstocks16feb80010001resized.jpg

Francisp
02-24-2008, 06:25 PM
Great roscoes!

Old Tired RN
02-29-2008, 10:58 PM
have my BUTT KICKED for letting get away from me. That three inch barrell & full length extractor rod & heavy barrell thus allowing carry of +P. I know you are not supposed to shoot +P in it, and I wouldn't do that except to carry. It was an old pinned & rescessed model with those diamond grips and the old blue box. How I miss that gun. Yea, I know the small semi-autos give a greater tacticall advantage, but no matter what else I'm carrying, to this day, I STILL keep a little 5 shot chief hidden on me somewhere.

RN

seth bailey
02-29-2008, 11:06 PM
I just handled a stainless one today, part of a friend's family collection. I think the barrell was skinny though, and it had a bobbed hammer (still had a single action notch though, so I guess the bob was done after market). It was nice though, I become more and more a fan of the .38 for everyday carry.

Erich
03-01-2008, 10:49 AM
I know you are not supposed to shoot +P in it, and I wouldn't do that except to carry.

I've shot hundreds of rounds of .38/44-level handloads (1185 fps with a 158-grain bullet) from my 3" 36-1, and it hasn't loosened up in the slightest. Look at what Elmer was shooting in his original Chiefs Special: any +P admonition in a steel-framed J is hooey.

DaveJames
03-01-2008, 06:53 PM
Just looking thru the new Shot Gun News and it seems that CDNN has New???? 3" 36's for sale along with the 21 and 24's, maybe S&W is bringing back a classic

kabar
03-01-2008, 06:57 PM
I've got the latest CDNN catolog... there are 3" blued model 36's are on page 15. You gotta call for the price.

Jeff22
01-23-2012, 02:27 AM
A few months ago I found a nearly new S&W 36 3inch heavy barrel Chief Special. I was able to pick it up for $350.

The gun is early 1980s production and looks like it has been shot very little.

I have it loaded with 110 grn Hornady "Critical Defense" HPs.

choirboy
01-23-2012, 05:53 AM
As I sit here typing, in Michael Jordan's underware, the "J" that Dad hammer bobbed and took the single action lug out of, sits in my tee shirt pocket. It is a tad loose from testing different carry loads after thirty+ years. My hands are a tad shaky from stroke damage now, but over the years I took multiple sawbuck bets about putting 2/5 in my 18 x 18 in clanger target at 100 yards freehand. All of my "J" frames are two inch pencil barrels.

CWS the old FBI wheeler was a 3 inch "K". The guys that shot a lot complained about "Treasury Loads" stretching them out of time.

Choirboy

Winchester67
02-04-2012, 08:51 AM
When I was a boy, a good friend of my fathers always had a three inch Chief in .38 Special on him. It had adjustable sights, and was rare. This was in the 1970's...to this day, he still has it. I have a standing order to buy it for what he asks if he ever wants to give it up. I am a Glock guy now, but for a lot of years a J frame got the nod, and 158 Grain Plus P loads never caused any problems for me.

valian
02-05-2012, 05:05 PM
I have several 3" small framed revolvers, though none are J frames.

I inherited a 3" Ruger SP101 from my deceased brother a few years ago. My favorite is a stainless Colt DS_II, wow, what a nice piece it is and to think i picked it up for only $280 when Colt discontinued them in the mid 1990s! The other is a Rossi stainless 88 which has a good trigger and windage adjustable rear sight.
The boost in velocity from the 3" barrelled 38s is just enough to allow reliable expansion from many 38 loads that will not do the same in the 2" barrels.

These guns do not get much carry time anymore, except for the Ruger sometimes in the woods and the Colt just for the heck of carrying such a nice gun now and then. Usually the lightweight J frames get the nod for a BUG now or a nickle finished Colt Cobra for 6 shots and the same weight as the light J frames.

5thShock
02-05-2012, 05:15 PM
Ah, a snake in nickle, indeed, why not carry for art as well as lethality.