American Rifleman - April 2021 - 80

I HAVE THIS OLD GUN ...

Gun: Registered Magnum
Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Chambering: .357 Mag.
Serial No.: 50XXX (numbered in sequence with other large-frame S&W Hand Ejectors)
Registration No.: 2221 (stamped on inside of ejector shroud recess)
Manufactured: April 14, 1937
Condition: NRA Excellent (Modern Gun Standards)
Value: $16,000 to $20,000
Note: Shipped in Type II blue cardboard box, with registration card, screwdriver and separate
" Wesson Grip Adapter. " Registered Magnums in this condition, without box and paperwork,
typically bring $4,500 to $6,000. An original box and registration certificate can fetch
upwards of $1,000 each, and an empty mailing tube recently sold for $350.

SMITH & WESSON REGISTERED MAGNUM

S

ome firearms and cartridges were
literally made for one another.
That certainly was the case for
Smith & Wesson's Registered Magnum
and its exclusive chambering in the
.357 Magnum, a cartridge that pioneering handloader Phil Sharpe championed. Since its introduction in 1935,
the Registered Magnum has achieved
the unabashed title as one of the holy
grails of modern-day gun collecting.
It started with the cartridge. With
the country in the throes of the Great
Depression, and organized crime running
rampant, law enforcement-primarily
armed with .38 Spl. revolvers-found
itself under-gunned. But Sharpe
felt that the caliber had potential. Assisted by Elmer Keith, S&W
Vice President Douglas Wesson and
Winchester, the .357 Mag. emerged,
using a slightly elongated .38 Spl.
case to prevent it from chambering
in standard .38 Spl. guns. Indeed,
the resulting Registered Magnum was
anything but standard.
Each revolver was built to order,

with customers specifying a blue or
nickel finish, any barrel length from
3½ " to 8¾ " , and numerous front and
rear sight options. Guns were sighted
at 25 yds., with buyers specifying
either a 6-o'clock or " dead-center "
hold. But most notably, in addition
to its serial number, each gun was
stamped with an individual registration number and came with a
registration card. When this card was
filled out and sent back, the owner
received a certificate (signed by
Douglas Wesson) confirming the owner's name, registration number and
customized features. Unbelievably,
half of these registration cards were
never mailed to S&W.
Although priced at a hefty $60
(discounted 20 percent for military
and law enforcement personnel),
the Registered Magnum proved
to be unexpectedly popular, with
5,500 made before Oct. 16, 1939,
when Harold Wesson decided they
were too costly to manufacture.
However, roughly another 2,000

" Non-Registered Magnums " (without
registration numbers) were produced
until America's involvement in World
War II began.
This particular Registered Magnum,
Registration No. 2221, was confirmed
by the S&W Historical Foundation
(swhistoricalfoundation.com) as
shipped on April 14, 1937, to Robert
R. Imse-a prominent St. Louis, Mo.,
businessman and member of the
Missouri Athletic Association, c/o
American Sporting Goods Co. This
95 percent gun shows little use, and
remarkably, retains its original box,
factory-signed registration certificate
and postmarked mailing tube. The
stock panels have been replaced with
period-correct Magna stocks. In 2019,
online auctioneers Lock, Stock &
Barrel (auctions@lsbauctions.com)
sold this boxed gun with tubed certificate for $12,300. Today, a Registered
Magnum in this condition, with these
ultra-rare accoutrements, would easily
command $16,000 to $20,000.
-Rick Hacker, Field Editor

American Rifleman does NOT accept submissions for the I Have This Old Gun column. Topics are assigned to Field Editors in advance. Due to the volume
of mail received, our writers are not able to answer individual questions. Please consider instead sending your correspondence and questions through our
Dope Bag/Q&A service, which is available to all NRA members in good standing. Details appear in the Q&A section.

80

April 2021

american rifleman

Photos by author


http://www.swhistoricalfoundation.com

American Rifleman - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - April 2021

Contents
American Rifleman - April 2021 - Cover1
American Rifleman - April 2021 - Cover2
American Rifleman - April 2021 - 1
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