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