A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Smith & Wesson Model 34-1 .22/32 Kit Gun

When I went to the gun show, I was hoping to find an affordable S&W K-22. I found a Smith & Wesson in .22 long rifle, but it wasn't a K-22. The revolver I found was a Model 34-1, or a .22/32 "Kit Gun". A "kit gun" is a small handgun designed to be taken backpacking, camping, or hiking. In other words, it can fit in one's "kit" or knapsack.

The first .22/32 Kit guns were built on an I frame in 1935. The inexpensive ammunition and high quality craftsmanship made the little shooter an enduring combination. There were some improvements over the years, and in 1957, the .22/32 Kit Gun was assigned a model number of 34. In 1960, the J frame was adopted.

My Model 34-1 is easy to date as a 1968 revolver because it has no diamond on it's grips, and it does not have a letter prefix on it's serial number. That combination only occurred with the Model 34 in 1968. In addition, it is a round butt, pinned and recessed gun. When one considers that it can be carried in a pocket, and it digests the cheapest ammunition available, it is amazing this revolver can still be found for sale! The closest revolver offered by S&W today is the Model 317. Even so, the alloy framed modern rendition cannot hold a candle to the older gun.

Due to work constraints, I had to wait a few days to try out my new kit gun. After work today, I finally had the time. I thought about taking it to the range after work, but that just did not seem appropriate. Instead, I tossed the gun and a box of cheapo Federal ammunition into a rucksack, and I headed for a secluded spot along the river. I loaded up the revolver and walked among the willows looking for moccasins or at least a couple of dangerous tin cans to dispatch.

The snakes were avoiding the hundred degree heat, but I soon came face to face with a tomato can. It was a large Italian son of a bitch. It stared at me with an empty heart and piercing eyes. I took aim with the micrometer adjustable sights on my precision can killer, and I ventilated that empty can with a full cylinder of red hot .22 lead from a distance of 20-25 feet. The can tried to escape as I quickly fumbled six more rounds into the cylinder. I blasted away again as I approached the can, dispensing cold hard can justice on the soggy riverbank.

Because of it's size and caliber, it is inevitable that the S&W Model 34-1 will be compared to less expensive revolvers such as the H&R 923. The Model 34 Kit Gun is indeed a premium handgun for the person who wants a .22 pistol in their pocket. I paid $300 for this Model 34. A used revolver similar to this H&R 923 usually sells for $50-100. There is a huge difference in the craftsmanship, trigger pull, and ease of use that elevates the Smith & Wesson above the H&R. The H&R, however, carries nine rounds instead of six. Is the Smith six times better than the H&R? Hardly. The Smith, however, is worth $300. I have a feeling it will be traveling with me for a long time to come.

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Blogger Ben said...

"It was a large Italian son of a bitch. It stared at me with an empty heart and piercing eyes."


8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet that Italian SOB had a stilleto secreted on his person. Good thing you plugged him before he was able to cut enough x's on you to spell Waxahachie.

9:21 AM  
Blogger garys said...

You may have a future as a fiction writer. Maybe you could get a job with AP, they hire fiction writers all the time. Only they call them reporters.

Also, I came across this at Instapundit. http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=5289736

Seems the post Katrina gun confiscation suit is going forward in federal court.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the Swedish mobster said: "Bring the gun, leave the can, Ole"

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it called a .22/32?

9:49 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

It was originally a .22 caliber handgun built on a .32 caliber frame.

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:03 PM  
Blogger Tam said...

I'm not sure that .22lr is enough gun for those big eye-talian cans. They charge when they're wounded...


Nice writeup!

7:09 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

That is one sharp little .22/.32. I wish I had your good fortune at finding these jewels.
Neat story too.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am fond of the model 34. Mine has a 4 inch barrel, is in mint condition, and oh yeah, I paid $160.00 for it in 2005.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a model 34-1 .22/32 Kit Gun with a 4" barrell in pretty good condition, still in the original box. I think it was manufactured in 1964, it does have the diamond grip and I think it's a J frame instead of the I frame. The original price on the box was $263.00. Do you have an idea what it would be worth?


9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just purchesed a model 34-1 yesterday. The grips do not have the diamond inlay but do have the medallion. The grips also covere the back strap about 2/3rds down the grip. I am real curious about this pistol and would like to find out more. Can you point me in the right direction?
The price I paid was $425.00.
The pistol is I would say would still have 99.8% of bluing. It is as clean as could be. It dosn't look like it was fired much. Probably less than 500 rounds. It is like brand new. The serial number starts M536xx.
Thanks for any info. It's going to be a great fishing companion.

Dean from West Mass.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 22-32 kit gun that I bought in 1963 for $40. It is in mint condition and shoots as good if not better than most other 22,s that I own. The ser# is 4486 it has no model number where it should be. It has J over 23024 over 3. I have been told that it is a model 1953 22-32. It has grips like yours. Jim B.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just brought home my Model 34-1 yesterday. To tell the truth it was much more than what you folks paid. I think I paid premium price; $750. But, what the heck I wanted it and finally got it paid off at a gun store in SLC, UT. I would say the bluing is about somewhere around 96-98%. there is no wear on the end of the barrel, but some wear on the cylinder. It is a dream that finally came true. Oh, the barrel is also pinned. I am getting a Model 17, K-22, with a pinned barrel from the same folks. I am anxious to kill some cans with this thing. I have 3 other Smiths. A Model 15, Combat Masterpiece, that looks like NIB, and also a Model 17-3, K-22. The latter has been tuned quite nicely. Boy, do I like those Smiths. They are beautiful! Glenn

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harley Shaw wrote an article about 30 years ago entitled "Sporting Uses of the Snubby" which featured this exact model Kit Gun. In fooling with numerous .22s over the years the only hollowpoints I've found which expand with any reliability from short barrels are the Remington Yellowjackets and CCI Stingers, however they are better suited for varmints than an eating rabbit. What I have settled on for general use is normal high velocity solids, on which I have clipped off the points to a flat-nose, using the "SGB" or Small Game Bullet" die, see http://www.graybeardoutdoors.com/producttest/hannedline_h.shtml

Another good option if you can't find a .22 Kit Gun are any of the .32 S&W Long I or J frame revolvers, as these are fairly common and are similarly compact and accurate. The .32 S&W Long ammmo is a biut more expensive, but is more effective than a .22, especially when hand loaded. Of the factory loads, targget wadcutters from Fiocchi are best as small game loads.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a model 34-1 .22/.32 kit gun for sale it has original box and paper work with it very clean gun all bluing , 4" barrel this is an all original 1 owner gun when I got it . I know the history of it and it has not been fired for over 20 yrs I know of any one interested seriously e-mail me or spread the word salmonriver(at) netzero(dot)com

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the article on the kit gun. I just acquired a S&W 34-1 .22 in a pristine nickel finish. I paid $290 for it. I believe it to be a rare find, as I have not seen one similar. I hope to get out and shoot it this weekend.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great story. And you can't beat a S&W 34. I have one nickel finish, 4" barrel, what a joy to shoot.
Cans quake with fear every time I take it out of the gun safe.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

]]I just traded for a very clean nickle plated S&W 34-1 4" barrel. Grips have the diamond pattern and the medalion. Not a clue what year it was made. Ser.# M182xxx. Any assistance greatly appreciated.

What is a pinned barrel? I've heard the term before but I don't know what it means.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

A pinned barrel is described here.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own a Model 34 with a 4 inch barrel and it was fitted with custom made matching elephant ivory grips and silver S&W medallions in 1982. It is in perfect condition. Any idea what it may be worth or where I could sell it?

7:47 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I own a Smith & Wesson Model 34 Kit gun with a 4" barrel and custom-made matching real elephant ivory grips and silver S&W medallions. Any idea how much it is worth and where I could sell it?

7:50 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Kat, the revolver itself is worth $300-400 depending on the revolver's condition, your region of the country and the collectors present. The grips themselves are likely worth around $150-200 if in good condition.

Together, especially if you had the revolver lettered as being shipped with the grips, I would venture $500-600.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a model 34-1 I bought at a gun show in about 1984. It has 4" barrel and round butt. I carry it in a beautiful Hunter holster I found in a bin at a gun show for $5
I am afraid of tomato sauce cans so I have concentrated on Diet Coke and Pepsi cans. Many have died at my hands. Using CB .22 cartridges I have nailed many a poisonous toad and a rat or two. This little revolver has always been my favorite going back to the 1950s when I was a kid.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a sample of the 34-1 myself,paid $375 but it was worth every penny,mine wears the longer 4 inch barrel,nice find on the snubby.

(Toasts) "To good guns and fast women"

Nice shooting BTW.

10:04 PM  
Blogger SWFLA said...

Any of you interested in still selling your S & W model 34-1 hand gun? Please respond if interested.

4:09 PM  
Blogger SWFLA said...

Some of you expressed an interest in selling your Model 34-1 Smith & Wesson. Please reply if still interested, as I could be interested.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i got a 34-1 Nickel snubbie in .22lr and a magnum cylinder with walnut anatomical grips unfired with original box paid $500

afraid to shoot because of value;(

8:19 AM  
Blogger John said...

Great review. I just last week inherited my dad's old 34-1 (along with several other firearms). It's the one that he taught me how to shoot a revolver with.

So the first chance I got, I took my daughter out in the back yard and taught her how to destroy cans with it. I think she's going to be a good shot.

It's truly inspiring to think about how the generations are linked through something as as simple as a .22 revolver. I hope her memories of our time together are as fond as my memories with my dad.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you in that the S&W model 317 does not hold a candle to the model 34 as I own both models as well as an S&W K-22 , the one thing I dislike about the model 317 after firing 40 or so rounds extraction of the empty shells becomes very difficult , I have to put a cloth over my hand to be able to push the shell ejector , never had this problem with the 34 or the K-22 probably because they were made of steel and not an alloy ! And the 34 and K-22's feel like real guns ! The model 317 feels like a plastic toy !

11:19 PM  
Blogger gene said...

Hi guys NEED HELP, I have a 34 I've had 50 years, I passed it on to my son for him and his boys, before I sent it to him I took the side plate off to clean and oil it. I must have lost a part or something, now it won't rotate the cylinder, the arm is there that goes to the cylinder to rotate it but there is nothing to hold it against the cylinder. Did I lose a spring or what? It worked perfect before. does anyone have a picture showing all the internal parts an their position. Or can you tell me what I did to screw it up? Thank you, Gene, email dippstic@aol.com

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own the Smith & Wesson model 34 and it is a great little kit guns , I don't know if I would feel comfortatable carrying this little gun on mountain trails here in North Arizona with mountain lions and bears nearby , but it is a fun little gun for popping at tin cans ! A far better weapon to carry than any of the little North American mini-revolvers which some people feel are great trail guns , guns that are single action only , and have no rear sights and take forever to load and unload as the cylinders have to be removed !

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own the Smith & Wesson model 34 as well the K-22 and just recently traded an FIE 380 automatic for a Smith & Wesson model 10 in .38 special and all I can say is that the Smith & Wesson revolvers seem to have the smoothest trigger pull of any revolvers on the market , I was amazed the other day how accurate and how smooth the trigger pull on the model 10 was while shooting double action at a beer can 30 paces away , every shot hit the target ! Smith and Wesson reminds me of the old Zenith radio and tv ad , the qulity goes in before the name goes on !

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Doc": I just bought a 6 inch bbl'd S&W 22/32 Kit, blued with about 97% original finish. It's a square butt with original diamond grips. Ser# 34XXX and old style cylinder latch. Gun is tight with bright shiney bore. I'd never seen one with a 6" bbl before. It's on a "J" frame. Does anyone out there know the year of manufacture?? I believe they discontinued that rectangular cylinder latch in the early 1960's so I'm guessing mine was made in the 1950's but that's as close as I can come for a date when it was made. I'm still on my 10 day wait here in CA. I can't wait to start dueling tomato cans. Who do you have to write to get a factory letter??
I'd appreciate any help.

11:53 PM  
Blogger jim said...

I just picked up an I frame model 34 nickle finish for 299, the salesmen thought he was getting the better end of the deal!

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your story, in fact enjoyed it so much I had to go out and get myself a model 34-1.

Mine is nickel with a 4" bbl. and had seen very little use. was perfect except for a few spots where the nickel has flaked off on the cyl. where it probably was layed down for many years.

Wished I could have picked up a blued 2" bbl. but will be very happy with mine.

I can keep them all in the black at 50 ft. on a fifty foot pistole target from a rest position. That's not all that great but good enough for a plinker.

Tomato cans can be very dangerous to the unarmed and defensless, good thing that's not us,we are always ready for a dangerous situation like this to come up.

Good hunting, and keep writing the good stories.


8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the story enough to post a coment / review of my own S&W 34-1 Nickel 4". Excellent pistol, bought from an old friend, in near mint condition. Received with factory wood grips sitting idle and Pachmayr Presentation grips installed. Have left rubber grips on as factory grips are small for a large mans hand and pinky is left hanging like many small frame pistols. Paid $400 plus shipping for this gun and feel I received a very fair price. Will eventually purchase ivories or custom grips as the rubber Pachmayrs resemble the "Pig and Silk Purse" cliche on a Nickel plated S&W, regardless of caliber. Have found a speed loader to be particularly useful for loading small .22 LR rounds with ease and eliminates fumbling. Would recommend several speed loaders with at least two minimum, well worth the $20 for two. As a .22 pistol hunter and trapper this is a great gun but perhaps TOO nice in nickel finish to be dragging through the wild getting furries. Will probably keep this one clean as a safe queen for teaching target shooting to heirs and proceed out with my blued Ruger 22/45 Mark II. Overall the S&W 34-1 is a great gun and highly recommended if you can get your hands on one. Would like to find out info as to date of manufacture. Grip frame has makers marks in six different areas.

5:11 AM  
Anonymous jason said...

I have a old smith and wesson holster its got the numbers B20 34. I assume its for a model 34 but not sure. Am I right? whats its worth? I was wanting to sell it If anybodies interested let me know jay32113@hotmail.com

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me know.

5:54 PM  
Blogger macguy said...

I really enjoyed the article. I also have a S&W Mod. 34-1 2" barrel, blued which I bought in about 1965 new at a gun store. I have not had time to shoot it much but do now take it with me when hiking. It also has the rounded grips. The serial is 91938 and there is W below the serial number. Several people would like to buy it from me but not ready to sell and don't need the money. As I am almost 82 I likely will not have it for to much longer.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 34-1 purchased new in 89 I think. This is a beautiful gun. I live in the country in S. AZ and we have snakes and things like that. I hike, work hard, and almost always carry a .22, am afraid to say usually a Beretta 22 bobcat.
The reason I don't usually carry the Smith is because it is such a beautiful pistol. I could not deal with a scratch or any scar of any sort. But I do carry it. The end of the barrel has a little shine from pocket and holster ware. The thing always goes bang, no matter what. Shorts, which are rather silent, shot, which will cause a reptile pause, and long rifle, which is great, even for self defense because the accuracy is there and the reliability does not ever fail.

This pistol is on my desk, right now, and when I go to get the paper in the am, about a half mile walk round trip, it will be going along. Never fails, looks good, and mighty comforting too.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have S&W mdl 34-1, 6 shot revolver with medallions imbedded, purchased new, only fired a couple times, cleaned and put away. Pre-1980 with original bluing, beautiful craftsmanship. S&W historian said, yes, I could get $800 from a collector, given the pristine condition. And Have heavy duty leather belt holster. Wish I knew how to post a photo. Original owner.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have S&W mdl 34-1, 6 shot revolver with medallions imbedded, purchased new, only fired a couple times, cleaned and put away. Pre-1980 with original bluing, beautiful craftsmanship. S&W historian said, yes, I could get $800 from a collector, given the pristine condition. And Have heavy duty leather belt holster. Wish I knew how to post a photo. Original owner.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have S&W mdl 34-1, 6 shot revolver with medallions imbedded, purchased new, only fired a couple times, cleaned and put away. Pre-1980 with original bluing, beautiful craftsmanship. S&W historian said, yes, I could get $800 from a collector, given the pristine condition. And Have heavy duty leather belt holster. Wish I knew how to post a photo.
Original owner.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Re: the jewel has a 4" barrel and nice carry case

9:11 AM  

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