AI4FR Virtual Militaria Items Tour 

United States Items


This Smith & Wesson Model 34 revolver was manufactured some time in late 1971 or early 1972 according to the company records. it is a six shot revolver that is chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge, but it will easily accept .22 short and .22 long cartridges as well as a variety of different projectiles including shot cartridges. The Model 34 is built on S&W's "J" frame platform which is smaller and lighter than the "K" frame. The Model 34 is constructed of steel and has a beautiful blued finish. It is a double action revolver with a barrel length of 2 inches and an unloaded weight of 22 ounces. The revolver utilizes a 0.10 inch thick serrated ramp front sight and a square notch rear sight that is adjustable for both windage and elevation. While nearly mechanically identical with its larger frame brothers, the Model 34 uses a coil spring rather then a leaf mainspring. The revolver is also pinned and recessed. In handgun terminology, pinned usually indicates that there is a cross pin installed through the frame and barrel while recessed, which is also known as counterbore, would indicate that the cylinder is recessed around the case head so that the rimmed cartridges fit flush with the cylinder.

The Smith & Wesson company first began assigning model numbers in 1957. The S&W model 34 was introduced in 1935 and was known back then as the 22/32 kit gun because it utilized the small I frame of the 32 Hand Ejector model. The revolver was changed to a J frame and given the Model 34 name designation in 1953. Seen here with a 2 inch barrel which first became an option in 1957, this revolver model was also offered in a 4 inch barrel version. Other options included a round or square butt and a nickel or blue finish. Between 1955 and 1974, a version of this revolver was offered with an aluminum frame and cylinder that had a 3 1/2 inch barrel and weighed 14 1/2 ounces. Sadly, the Model 34 was officially discontinued in 1994.

The Model 34 is about as close as you can get to rimfire revolver perfection. This model was called the kit gun not because it came as parts to be assembled, but rather it was meant to be included with in the fishing, camping, hiking, hunting and general outdoor kit. These small frame revolvers have gone many a mile with with the outdoor adventurers.


The history of the Smith & Wesson company began in 1852 when Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson formed the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. to manufacture a lever action pistol called the Volcanic pistol. A short while later the company came under financial difficulties and was sold to Oliver Winchester who at the time was a shirt manufacturer. In 1866, using the original lever action design created by Smith & Wesson, Winchester’s company emerged as the famous Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

In 1856 Smith & Wesson formed a second partnership to produce a small revolver designed to fire the rimfire cartridge that they had patented in August of 1854. This revolver became the first successful fully self-contained cartridge revolver available in the world. Smith & Wesson secured the patents for the revolver which legally prevented other manufacturers from copying it. That patent along with the Civil war gave the young company a very lucrative business. The partners realized that the patent rights would not last forever so they went back to the drawing board and designed the Model 3 American in 1869. The Model 3 revolver was the first large caliber cartridge revolver and the success of this firearm established S&W as a leader in handgun manufacturing. The two most important customers for the new revolver were the United States Cavalry, which purchased 1,000 units for use on the Western Frontier, and the Russian Imperial Government that purchased 20,000 revolvers and paid S&W in advance with gold.

Horace Smith retired from the company at the age of 65 and sold all of his shares to  Douglas B. Wesson in 1875. The company went on to introduced a number of hammerless revolvers in the late 1800's that are still being manufactured today. S&W then introduced the Model 10 or as it was know then, the .38 Military & Police revolver which has been in continued production ever since. The Model 10 has been used by just about every police agency or military force in the world. In 1935 they came out with the worlds first magnum revolver.  In 1955 the Model 39 was introduced which was the first American made double action auto-loading pistol.  In 1955, the Model 29 which was chambered in .44 magnum was introduced. You might recall this revolver from the movie "Dirty Harry" with the actor Clint Eastwood. In 1965 the Model 60 was introduced that was the world’s first stainless steel revolver.

In 1964, the company passed from the Wesson family control, and subsequently several conglomerates took control of it. Then from 1987 to 2001 a British company, Tomkins PLC, purchased Smith & Wesson for 112 million U.S. dollars.

In March of 2000, Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the Clinton Administration. The company agreed to numerous safety and design standards, as well as limits on the sale and distribution of their firearms. Numerous gun rights groups and individuals whom were already angry with such things as the assault weapons ban, responded to this agreement by initiating large scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson products.

On May 11, 2001, Saf-T-Hammer Corporation acquired Smith & Wesson from Tomkins PLC for $15 million U.S. dollars, plus took on the $30 million dollar debt that had accumulated for a total purchase price of $45 million U.S. dollars. This was a fraction when compared to the $112 million originally paid by Tomkins PLC. 

Saf-T-Hammer purchased the company with the intention of incorporating its line of security products into all Smith & Wesson firearms in compliance with the 2000 agreement. The acquisition of Smith & Wesson was chiefly brokered by Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott, who had left Smith & Wesson in 1999 because of a disagreement with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase, Scott became the president of Smith & Wesson to guide the 157-year-old company back to its former standing in the market. On February 15, 2002, the name of the newly formed entity between S&W and Saf-T-Hammer was called Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.    

I have very briefly just touched on the many accomplishments and history of the Smith & Wesson company.  These accomplishments which are so numerous that it would be literally impossible to understand the history of modern handguns without first understanding the history of Smith & Wesson. The description above really does not give S&W the pat on the back that the company so rightfully deserves. I do hope that it will give the reader some idea of what Smith & Wesson has done since becoming an industry leader back in 1852. Today, the company continues to lead the world with innovations that will take it, and the more then 1400 employees, solidly into the 21st century.  

The photograph on the left is of the front and back of the S&W Model 34. The picture on the right shows the top and bottom of the revolver.  

The photograph on the left is of the S&W logo that is located on the left side of the receiver.

The picture on the right is an inscription that is stamped on the right side of the frame. It reads as follows, "MADE IN U.S.A." and then underneath that is "MARCAS REGISTRADAS" , then below that is "SMITH & WESSON", and then on the bottom is SPRINGFIELD, MASS.". The first line indicates that the revolver was manufactured in the United States of America. The second line is a Spanish word meaning Trademark. The third line identifies the manufacturer as Smith & Wesson, and the bottom line indicates the city and state the company is located in which is Springfield, Massachusetts.  


The photograph on the left is of some of the stampings that are found on the left side of this revolver. The stamp on the frame that has the red arrow pointing at it is the model number of this Smith & Wesson revolver. The model number can only be revealed by opening the cylinder. The model number will then be found stamped on the inside of the yoke. The model number of this S&W revolver is 34. Also seen in this picture is the inscription that is found on the left side of the barrel which is "SMITH & WESSON". This mark identifies the manufacturer of the revolver. The right side of the barrel is stamped ".22 L.R. CTG." This marking indicates the caliber of the revolver and translates to .22 Long Rifle Cartridge.

The photograph on the right is of the underside of the wooden grips. Noticed the letter J stamped on the grip panels as well as a 5 digit number stamped on the top grip panel in the photograph. This 5 digit number is different then the serial number and is also found stamped on the receiver and the yoke. The J stamp probably indicates that the grip panels are for a S&W J frame revolver.



Below is a brief description of the frame letters used for Smith & Wesson revolvers.

The I frame was introduced in 1896 with the S&W Model 32 hand eject revolver. The I frame revolvers can be thought of as a typical 6 shot .32 caliber older revolver. 

The I frame was later enlarged slightly to accept the .38 special round and with the introduction of the Chief’s Special in .38 Special caliber it became the J frame in 1950. A typical 5 shot .38 special revolver can be thought of as a J frame. These J frame firearms are  lightweight and easy-to-carry. The Model 34 revolver on this page is a J frame.

The K frame was introduced in 1899 with the .38 Military and Police or Model 10 revolver. A typical 6 shot .38 special revolver can be thought of as a K frame. The K frames are good and popular workhorses for both duty and sporting use. The S&W Model 19 and the S&W Model 65 are K frame revolvers.

The L frame is slightly larger then the K frame. If the K frame can be thought of as a medium size revolver, then the L frame would be thought of as medium-large. S&W lists both the K and L frame revolvers under the same category in the companies sales brochure. The L frame was announced in 1980 with four models, 581, 586, 681, and 686, all of which were chambered in .357 caliber. The idea behind the L frame was to design a handgun that was strong enough to withstand a steady diet of full-power .357 magnum ammunition while still being comfortable to carry for long periods. The K frames were a touch too lite for this while the N frames made carry difficult. The S&W Model 586 is a L frame revolver.

Moving down in the world, the tiny M frame has only been used for the 7 shot .22 caliber Ladysmith revolver introduced in 1902. 

Moving up in the world, the N frame was introduced in 1908 with the Triple lock .44 special revolver. A typical 6 shot revolver in .44 or .45 caliber can be thought of as a N frame. Clint Eastwood used an N frame S&W Model 29 revolver in the movie Dirty Harry. The N frame revolver is often used by hunters and competitive shooters.   

When you hear folks speak of a hand cannon they might have be talking about the monster X frame revolver. For ultimate power and velocity there's nothing even close to an X frame. If you see Dirty Harry running the other way then he probably spotted an X frame revolver in the hands of a crook. A typical 5 shot revolver in .460 or .500 caliber can be thought of as a N frame. 





Smith & Wesson Model 34 instruction manual 

Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson by Jim Supica and Richard Nahas

Smith & Wesson website located at  

      AI4FR                                                                                                                                                                                                  AI4FR                                                                                                       AI4FR

Copyright © John Whitt 2017 All rights reserved.