American Rifleman - July 2019 - 36

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S&W "Flat Latch"?

Q

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never heard of this one. What is it?

A

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to your NRA

36

JULY 2019

AMERICAN RIFLEMAN

The "flat latch" term is sometimes used to describe the
earliest versions of the S&W
Chief's Special, which was introduced
in 1950; it became the Model 36 in
1957 when S&W switched to numerical designations for its handguns.
The flat latch, used only on Chief's
Special/Model 36 snubbies and their
J-frame variants made from 1950 until
1966, was simply a modified, "flattened" design of S&W's more prolific
concave, checkered thumb latch that
unlocks the swing-out cylinder of
their revolvers.
According to S&W historian Roy
Jinks, "The flat latch was used on the
early Chief's Specials to keep them
as flat [as possible] and [make them]
easy to slide in and out of various
pockets. The company never referred
to it as a flat latch; that is a term the
collectors have since dubbed it."
Prior to the appearance of the flat
latch, S&W revolvers, starting with
the K-frame in 1899, sported a nowfamiliar concave, checkered thumb
latch. As Jinks notes, after 1966 the
company changed to this standardstyle thumb latch for its Model 36, as
it was deemed easier to use. However,


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American Rifleman - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - July 2019

Contents
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover1
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover2
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 1
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Contents
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 3
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