A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, January 01, 2007

Serious Business: The Highway Patrolman

The Model 28-2 is a rather unusual Smith & Wesson. It is a revolver that had features deleted rather than added, with the sole purpose of building a more pragmatic gun, not of cutting costs. As such, it became the epitome of minimalism in handgun design. The Model 28, also known as the Highway Patrolman can trace it's heritage directly back to the venerable Registered Magnum. The Registered Magnum later morphed into the Model 27. Law enforcement agencies favored the Model 27, but the high polish and sumptuous topstrap checkering was not practical in a carry gun. To accommodate them, Smith & Wesson followed the path of Staatliches Bauhaus. The minimalistic approach was never to create something that was less, but rather to remove ornamentation from art in an attempt to reveal it's most fundamental form, the essential substance of the work if you will. As as result The Model 28 becomes the N frame imperative.

Pinned and recessed N frame Smith & Wessons are rapidly becoming scarce on the used handgun market. As a firearm created specifically to fire the .357 magnum round, the N frame is a requisite gun for the Smith & Wesson collector.

Representing the essential N frame, the Highway Patrolman is blued, but it is not polished. The topstrap and frame rounds are beadblasted to achieve a stippled appearance. The overall effect is a gun that exudes serious business. It is not a flashy gun. It needs no ballyhoo. It speaks the hardcore indisputable language of the .357 magnum. It speaks that lingo again and again, and that is enough.

I took the Highway Patrolman to the range yesterday, among many other guns to shoot. I was shooting with an old friend who was a shotgunner, but not a handgunner. We shot clays for about an hour, and then we set out targets. I started to work with him on handgunning skills. We were, of course, shooting .22 revolvers, but I had brought along a couple of 1911s and the Highway Patrolman as well. Todd is a man with an interest in history, so he shot my GI 1911 copy and liked it. He then picked up the big N frame Smith, fondled it a bit, felt it's heft, and put it back down. I asked him if he wanted to shoot a cylinder or two through it. Todd declined. "That's a damned serious gun," he said. He was right. It's a unique revolver in a long line of resplendent Smith & Wessons, a gun stripped to it's elemental form, designed for nothing more than deadly social callings, and keeping officers of the law alive. It doesn't get much more serious than that.

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41 Comments:

Blogger AlanDP said...

I have one of these. It's great to read such a favorable report on it, but then I already know how great it is from shooting it.

It only cost me $300, in 1998 or 1999, I think. At the time it seemed like a great deal, and the more I hear about them, the more I think the gun shop just didn't know what they had and they should have been asking a lot more for it.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it be OK to use some of this information on the wikipedia article for S&W Model 28? It's currently a stub, and the descriptive portions your article be a neat addition.

Thanks,

Jim

5:40 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

certainly Jim!

6:10 PM  
Blogger Firehand said...

This is just like the one I bought after corresponding with you at High Road. They are fine pistols, indeed.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez, xavier, that's poetic! maybe some aftereffect of new year's bubbly? truly though, in my 30 years on the broker's side of the showcase, i always appreciated the singleminded utilitarian simplicity of this model; unfortunately the fetish for autos usually meant i let them go for cheap (sold my shop and dropped my ffl in '03)...really glad to hear they're getting some new attention and demand...enjoying your posts...jtc

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Jim Dlouhy said...

Thanks for the OK to use your material. I've posted changes to the Wiki article, I hope the changes are allowed to stay. I have one of these that I bought for my wife years ago. It's wonderfully comfortable to shoot with serious .357 loads. I'm still trying to figure out what's causing some cylinder drag occasionally, but it's still a joy to shoot.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Porta's Cat said...

A man could do a lot worse than to be armed with that and a Remington 870, only.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... I had one, and it was a thing of beauty... but Yabu (BadBadJuJu) lusted after it and I sold it to him cheap.....

... it certainly was one sweet ride, though....

Eric

4:49 PM  
Blogger Al said...

I still have mine from the '70s. It started as a 4" bbl. and I had a 'smith install a 6" bbl so I could use it in the Georgia "Governor's Twenty" law enforcement pistol matches in 1978. It did very well for me, but I was outclassed by most of the others I shot against. I paid $97.50 for my M-28 new in the box. Now? $300-350 IF you can find one.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought one with a 6" bbl in 1975, still have it! I handload & have most than likely shoved 15k rounds down the bore. It came with the 'duty' (small, K-frame) grips, so I slapped on a set of Pachmyer Presentation grips to control the power. I carried it concealed (sholder holster) in WA as an off duty MP in '75 with Speer 110g JHC. It's a BIG piece! Now "Maggie" (as I call her) rests in the safe, clean and oiled waiting to punch some more .357 holes at the range. OBTW, I paid $180.00 for it BNIB! God, those were the days...

3:46 AM  
Blogger dtmjr said...

Are you sure that the 28-2 was only made in 357? I have one that I bought privately in the late 80's and its a 44 special. Could this have been a mess up from the factory?

7:40 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I have crossed paths with one other Model 28-2 that was .44 special. The owner swore it was factory. There could have been someone doing conversions. I would want a Roy Jinks letter on that one.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently bought a 357 model 28 Highway Patrolman. I'm not real big on wheel guns but this is a (jewel)I added a Hogue Monogrip and control is great.Shot 38 special for target then I steped up to 357. I love this counrty. Semper Fi

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me if this is a square or round butt revolver?? Thanks.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Square butt

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one of these and it’s a really great gun, I bought mine around 1994 out of a pawn shop for 270.00 bucks it was the best buy as far as pistols go I think I ever made.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bought mine in 1972 first gun .many more folled All were sold.Expt my model 28.It aint going nowhere!!How can I find manufacture date??Serial N1910xx thanks max

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a model 28-2. I am not a big handgun guy and would like to know a fair price to sell it. it is in nice shape. I have to agree it is a real hand gun for all time.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Anon, prices around the country vary from $300 to $500. Barrel length makes a slight difference. Unless you are in need of the money, you may want to hang on to it. S&W no longer makes the N frame, and it's rapidly escalating in value.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bought mine in 1972 first gun .many more folled All were sold.Expt my model 28.It aint going nowhere!!How can I find manufacture date??Serial N1910xx thanks max

Max ,
Your DOB is 1973.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Max ,
Yours is a 1973

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet! It wasn't easy finding history on this fine gun. A few years ago prior to grad school I got rid of all guns (Ruger p89, SKS, 16" pistol grip m-brg...except of course, M28-2. I'm into gun nostalgia so it's great to know this was birthed out of minimalism. I just got a Jericho 941 (baby eagle) because it's a TOP 5 9mm, AND it's made in Israel (brith place of Jesus). When the Muslim world is trying to wipe you off the map, you take weapons seriously and this gun is genius (CZ/Tang. modeled, and surpassed). Thanks for the 357 SW edification.

R. Gabriel

10:19 PM  
Blogger awestback said...

Can anyone help me with the age of my gun? I just bought my husband at Patrolman .357 Mod. 28-2, the Ser#N8188. You are righ tit is a beautiful gun, I can wait to shoot it!!

11:28 AM  
Anonymous T said...

Carried a S&W 28 as a Buffalo, NY Policeman for 30yrs. I still have it & shoot it on a regular basis. It is a fine piece.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awestback, your M28 is born between 1980 and 1983 (non P&R). Nice gift to your husband !

5:34 PM  
Blogger Philblack said...

awestback, your M28 is born between 1980 and 1983. It's P&R. Great gift to your husband !

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently purchased a highway patrolman from a co-worker, says his dad ( a former deputy) bought the six-shooter new. I'm not that familiar with the s&ws,just wondering the DOB , ser is S214xxx, also it says "MOD-28" not 28-2. any help would be appreciated. Great gun so-far, I like the heft and balance, he had put some pachmayrs on it sometime ago and the originals have been misplaced ):

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just picked up a used model 28-2 "Highway Patrolman .357 CTG" w/ 4" bbl in the original box yesterday. It is in excellent condition, and a very serious piece of steel that looks like it wants nothing more than to please me. "Minimalist" is simply the sexiest part about this thing.

Was wondering if anyone knew the birth date of my new best friend? Serial number S3063xx.

Thanks Xavier and friends!

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering the DOB of a 28-2 my Dad left me. S2348XX
Thank you.
Rusty

5:07 PM  
Blogger searcy jim said...

inherited 28-2#n5085 please what is mfg date this has never been fired what is value

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I inherited my S&W from my pistol packing sister in law ,she loves guns.However she could'nt tell me the DOB. It is a S&W highway patrolman 4"
barrel S# N288XX. I would appreciate any help that you can give me. Thanks in advance.
Bruno

12:03 PM  
Anonymous bruno said...

I inherited my S&W from my pistol packing sister in law ,she loves guns.However she could'nt tell me the DOB. It is a S&W highway patrolman 4"
barrel S# N288XX. I would appreciate any help that you can give me. Thanks in advance.
Bruno

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first handgun was a 28-2 w/ a 4" bbl. It looked brand new and I only paid $250 for it.
I bought it when I was managing a business in a high crime area.
Many times that N frame revolver stopped arguments.
We fired in excess of 4,800 rounds through it it 8 years and it was still tight.
Had it reblued and gave it to my wife for Christmas in 1996.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do i know the year my m28 was made s305610

8:16 PM  
Blogger Canucksvt said...

Hello Xavier, I bought a Model 28-2 yesterday that did not have a box or paperwork. I saw it in a gun shop I had never been in. I paid $450.00 ($479.25 with tax). I don't know if I got a fair deal or not, but I do know that this example I bought locks up tight, and has a little bit of wear on the muzzle and some edges. It appears to be honest wear from use and not from neglect. I plan on taking her out tomorrow and seeing what she can do. Sorry to respond to such an old post, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work!

-Carl

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have had a m28 for about 20 years, but bought it second-hand. serial number is 112864 - any idea what year it was made? Thanks in advance,

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

got a S series I bought used around 1982 for $200. Great shape with a small amount of holster wear. Definitely a classic.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Tennessee Jed said...

Thanks so much for this article. I recently inherited a Model 28 from my father when he passed away. He bought it around 1980, and it spent most of its life in a drawer. I've never shot a handgun that is so easy to deliver so much power on target. "A damned serious gun", as your friend said. Out of respect for Dad, I got a nice IWB holster for it, and it's been by primary CCW for a few months now.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smith and Wesson Highway patrol serial numbers S10350 to S139999 are said to be in the years 1954 to 1955. In 1957 the model number is stamped on the gun, 28. The 1960 was marked 28-1. The 1961 or 1962 was marked 28-2, with the elimination of the trigger guard screw. 1968 the diamond center in the stock grips are deleted. And in 1969 the N serial # prefix is born. Hope this helps those looking for gun production dates.

LL Gunner

10:59 PM  
Blogger Ryan Payne said...

Hey i saw how you can find out the birth date of the Smith & Wesson Model 28-2 and i just got my'n and i really wanna know what the DOB is? if you can help i would greatly appreciate it... and if you could also just let me know how you came across that information cause iv'e been trying to do so for a while now and can't find out how your find things like that out... my serial number is "N1577xx"

Thanks,
Ryan...

4:15 PM  
Blogger Ryan Payne said...

Hey i saw how you can find out the birth date of the Smith & Wesson Model 28-2 and i just got my'n and i really wanna know what the DOB is? if you can help i would greatly appreciate it... and if you could also just let me know how you came across that information cause iv'e been trying to do so for a while now and can't find out how your find things like that out... my serial number is "N1577xx"

Thanks,
Ryan...

4:17 PM  

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