Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Smile Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    Hello all;

    I am lusting for a pistol that is reasonable in size, old-style craftsmanship (I despise plastic pistols) and is NOT high capacity. I loved the feel of the S&W model 52 that I had umpteen years ago so I thought that a model S&W model 39 would be just right (I don't take recoil well - arthritis) and the double stacks are just too fat for my hands. There is one available near me in very good condition. BUT- it is an early model 39 (NO dash). Long extractor, double-step feed ramp. The feed ramp I reason that I can work around (get a smith to smooth the ramp if necessary), but the long extractor? I keep reading that they were a problem issue for Smith and that is why they went to the 39-2 (short extractor). I looked, but I can't find a source for spare extractors from the usual sources. Anyone have any ideas about this? Feedback from owners and former owners of model 39's would be much appreciated. Thanks! (P.S.: please don't try to sell me on a "Block", or similar, just interested in one of these fine old Smith's!).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Midwest City, Oklahoma
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    S&W 39s were good pistols in there day, they did have some problems with some JHPs. But were flawless with fmj ammo, unless your gun is an upgrade to the original 39 be aware of this. Like most semis it can be worked into perfect reliability with most if not all JHP ammo.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    i much prefer the 39-2. much more reliable. can you shoot the gun in question and check it's reliability with the kind of ammo you want to carry?
    MORDENTE MEUM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Collier Twp, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    I owned a 39 back in the mid 80s, while the grip size fit my hand really well, the gun was not reliable at all.
    Tomorrow's battle is won during today's practice.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    No, MPI, unfortunately I cannot shoot it before buying.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Austin, Texas
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodsman22 View Post
    Anyone have any ideas about this? Feedback from owners and former owners of model 39's would be much appreciated.
    I've got a single stack 3914 in 9mm in the late 90s and have carried many miles. Also put many boxes of practice ammo and a few boxes of self defense ammo through it with 0 problems.

    Hope this helps

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Boyertown, Pennsylvania
    (Berks County)
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    Woodsman,

    I've had two Model 39s. Both were -dash twos, but didn't realise there were reasons S&W made the -2 mods. I still have the first one I bought. Not sure why I got rid of the second, as they were both flawless! If I were you, I'd make a offer that assumes you need to have a few bucks worth of gunsmith work done. If the seller bites, you buy the pistol and see how it runs. If it runs a little lumpy, send it to a good gunsmith that specialises in autoloaders. If the seller refuses to budge on the price, keep on lookin' for a -2.

    Ray

  8. #8
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    During the 80s or 90s a friend bought a S&W 39 to carry as a duty pistol. I bought the department ordered Beretta 92sf. As men do we started comparing the two guns the 39 was slimer and felt good in hand being a 8 shot 9mm. The Beretta was bigger was 15 shots it felt good in my large hands. The big difference came on the gun range while testing with various different loads. As you can imagine the 92 shot everything and was accurate with most. The S&W 39 had problems with all but the most round JHP or JSP but was as accurate with FMJ ammo as the Beretta. He kept carrying the S&W 39 but was cautious in the round he carried. I use to joke with him that we can't share ammo because his gun was too picky. Yes even way back then when 1911, Hi powers, S&W 39s and 59s needed throating and polishing the BERETTA was still as reliable as they are NOW. I still have that gun, he sold his 39.

    If the price is right I wouldn't past on a S&W 39-2 or 39.
    Last edited by Neko456; November 30th, 2010 at 07:53 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    d4xycrq:
    I just may do that. I am also looking at a couple of 39-2s online. This is not an easy decision. I have read pros and cons about the early 39's (i.e.: "very well made", "extractor reported to be fragile, but will extract ANY 9mm round", etc.). I have also read that the -dash2's can be finicky about which 9mm rounds they work well with....sigh. Trouble with the no-dash 39 is, IF the extractor does break, it seems there are NO replacements anywhere (other than buying a spare "beater" 39 just for the slide parts and that would be truly crazy, even if I could find one). Numrich's site lists a schematic of both the 39 and the 39-2. But the schematic diagram for the 39 is obviously wrong and corresponds to a later model gun/s whereas the schematic for the 39-2 lists only 3 parts and shows no drawing! Go figure??!! Maybe I should just look for an old Star model B or similar single-stack.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need help with a decision to buy a S&W 39

    Neko; I am a little confused by what you are telling me in your post. You seem to say the Smith is nowhere near the quality of a Beretta, but then you say that you would not pass up the 39 if the price was right. I know Beretta is a top-quality gun and no argument there. But like I said in my initial post, I am looking for something good in a single-stack (the doubles, and esp. the Beretta 92 and even the Czech CZ-75B pistols) are just too big in my hand. I am sure a Beretta is just the thing for a police officer, but I just want something I am comfortable with, can shoot at the range and that can be a "home gun", if you know what I mean.

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