I bought 2 minty examples in the box 4 years ago for $850.00 each. One was a 1974 in the blue box and one was an 1985 in the funky folding box. They have to be fed a diet of the proper ammo to work as intended. 148WC with 2.7 Bullseye or 3.1 231 works in mine. The plastic follower magazines are not as goos as the old steel follower. After I got a 945, I don't use them much.
Parts are hard to find and expensive, when found, from my reseach.
If you just want to collect them, the above does not matter.
I have an old Model 52. Very accurate gun. Very light trigger. Nicely machined and built.
Only shoots flush mouth .38 Special Wadcutters, and even then these must have the right powder and charge to cycle. Back then most .38 wadcutter ammo would cycle them, but over the years fewer manufacturers bothered to check if their loads would.
I used mine for Bullseye, but most Bullseye shooters preferred to use their 1911s in .45 for the mid-caliber matches.
At one time there was a gunsmith who was converting the magazines to six rounds (standard is five) so they could be used for PPC shooting. I was going to have this done, but never got around to it.
I don't think I've shot mine in over 20 years, at least. I used to use it for rabbits, small game and varmints. It kills far better than a 22 handgun, but does not ruin meat. You can eat right up to the bullet hole. And accuracy was much better than many .22 handguns (though a moot point for me, since I also had a companion S&W Model 41, and still do).
Will have to pick up some wadcutters and dig it out of the safe.
BTW, at one time some gunsmiths were converting these to .38 Super, for those who absolutely did not want one in a 1911.
The slide moves approximately .100" to .110" before the rear of the barrel starts to drop down out of its locked position. It unlocks quickly, and lacks the large locking lug surfaces of the 1911, but regardless, it is a tilt barrel locking action.
And the .38 Super conversions, when done by a competent gunsmith, worked fine.
The 1911 National Match Mid Range guns shoot the flush mounted 38 special round from an unlocked breech. The chambers have concentric rings in them so the brass expands on firing and retards slide movement. As soon as the pressure drops the brass "shrinks" and the guns eject.
Just an interesting point of trivia.
If anyone has a nice model 52 that is taking up space in their safe please drop me a PM.
The best model was the 52-1, which had a flat, machined extractor. Around the 60's S&W was acquired by a South American conglomerate Bangor Punta.
S&W production took a dive quality wise. The 52 they made was the 52-2, not as desirable as the 52-1. Of course, you had to shoot flush seated wadcutters through them.
The original 52 was a double/single action gun.
The 52-1 was a change to single-action only. It
also had the long extractor which was prone to
breakage. The 52-2 was the change to the spring-
loaded short extractor. There was also a 52-A
made for the Army Marksmanship Unit using a .38
Special semi-rimless cartridge.
i have a nice 52-2 for sale......shoots holes in holes.....the slide has a slight plum hue to it...this was normal on some of the 52's.....800.00 is my price if anyone is interested ...i can be reached at 561-654-6242.....david
The 52-A was actually a Model 39 double action chambered in 38 AMU. Originally, to distinguish it from the 39, it was to be marked as the Model 39-1. Because there might be confusion with existing the existing Model 39 in 9mm, S&W changed the model number to 52. 100 were supposed to be made, but only 87 were actually built. A few were sent to the AMTU (Army Marksmanship Training Unit), who felt there was not enough difference between the 38 AMU and the 9mm, and subsequent orders were for the Model 39. S&W still had most of these guns in inventory, and decided to sell them to the public (mainly collectors). Because there was already a Model 52, this would again lead to confusion, so they now had a -A stamp added to make them Model 52-A. But note that these are not true Model 52s. They are Model 39s.
As for the first Model 52 being both single/double action, yes, it was, but the factory added a set screw to lock the double action out.
And skybuster, right on about the early extractors. They would break. That's why they were changed to the short style on the 39-2 and 52-2.
I never saw the one piece extractors break on the 52-1. The model 39, yes. I had about 10 different model 39's. The 39 was of course, the gun that flunked the army trial for a new offical sidearm in 1954. They were, however, adopted by the Illinois State Police as the issue firearm.
I knew the major Smith & Wesson distributor in Chicago, H.H. Harris. He was located just down the street from the Chicago Police Headquarters on south
State Street. He told stories how the workers at Smith and Wesson would "create" collector items in the shop and then sell them. One of those was a steel frame model 39 which was selling for $250 and up, when the standard
model was about $70. He showed us a snub nose model 29 - 44 magnum, and all kinds of creations. That ended when Bangor Punta acquired the company.
The 39 never "flunked" the Army trials. The Army in it's wisdom
decided not to adopt a 9mm pistol. They stayed with the .45 until
the JSAP trials which resulted in the adoption of the Beretta 92.
S&W submited the Model 459. HH (Herbie) Harris was one of my distributors.
He held alot of Bangor Punta stock (S&W) and attended all the stock
holder meetings. The first Model 36 with adjustable sights were made
for Herbie. I worked closely with the ISP on the adoption of the Model
39. Master Sgt. Louie Seman was the man responsible for choosing the
39. Their range at that time was on the grounds of the Illinois State
fair grounds in Springfield. I awarded Louie a S&W rifle at his retirement
party. They had a heck of a range staff.