I'll start with an ancient Smith we're trying to get off the books at the gun shop, first photo. It's a S&W Top-Break .32 Safety Hammerless 1st Model.
It has no grips and we're hoping somebody will want it for a mere $150, but no takers so far. But the lack of grips exposes the revolutionary feature of this little .32 revolver that was introduced by S&W in 1888, a grip safety. It came to be popularly known as the "Lemon Squeezer" because you gotta squeeze the grip to activate the safety before it will fire.
BlueBook on SMITH & WESSON : TOP-BREAKSThe design evolved over the years and in 1952 came out in a J-frame size .38 Special snubby called the Centennial, or the Pre-Model 40. When Smith took away their revolvers' names and gave them all numbers in 1957, the Centennial lemon-squeezer became the Model 40.
.32 SAFETY HAMMERLESS FIRST MODEL (LEMON SQUEEZER)
- .32 S&W cal., double action only, 5 shot fluted cylinder, 2, 3 (most common), 3 1/4, 3 1/2, or 6 (rare) in. round barrel, blue or nickel, black rubber grips. This model was officially called the New Departure. 91,417 mfg. 1888-1902. Serial range 1-91,417.
BlueBook on SMITH & WESSON : NUMBERED MODEL REVOLVERS (MODERN HAND EJECTORS)That's what the second photo is, a S&W 40(No-Dash) .38 Special with stag grips in absolutely perfect Like-New-In-Box condition, we're offering on gunbroker for a mere $1,050.
MODEL 40 CENTENNIAL
- .38 S&W Spl. cal., 1 7/8 (new 2008) or 2 (disc. 1974) in. barrel, double action only, fully concealed hammer, grip safety, smooth walnut grips, case colored frame, blue or nickel finish. Mfg. 1952-1974, reintroduced 2008 as part of S&W's Classic Firearms series.
The grip safety never really caught on with revolvers as nobody else copied it to my knowledge, which admittedly is not complete and never will be. But a fella named John M. Browning certainly made it famous with his auto-pistol designs featuring grip safeties, the most famed of which is the 1911 .45, which is now celebrating its Centennial, not to be confused with the S&W Centennial Model. Even though Browning's famed model is called the 1911, it actually was introduced in 1910 by Colt hence this is its 100th year. It was only after adoption as the official U.S. service pistol the following year that it got its moniker that has stuck for the ages, the 1911.