Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

S&W Model 27 357 Magnum

Posted by Gunner on November 12, 2007

  S&W Model 27 8 3/8th inch barrel made in 1958

   The S&W Model 27 is the original .357 Magnum revolver and was first produced in 1935; production ceased in the 1990s. The Model 27 was built on Smith and Wesson’s carbon steel, large N-frame and was available with 3 1/2″, 4″, 5″, 6″ or 8 3/8″ barrel lengths and had adjustable sights. The model 27 came about from the 38/44 Outdoorsman which was an N frame chambered in the 38HV round. This round was a 38 loaded to maximum pressure and was to powerful for the K frame so S&W chambered the N frame for the round. Later the 38 case was lengthened to prevent it from being chambered in a K frame chambered in 38 special. Thus the 357 was born.
   When first introduced by Smith and Wesson in 1935 it was known as the .357 Registered Magnum. The model was essentially a custom order revolver. Barrel lengths could be had in quarter inch increments from 3.5″ to 8.75″ in length. In addition to the different length of barrels available there were different grips, front sites, triggers, hammers and finishes available. Each Registered Magnum came with a certificate of authenticity.
  Even though it was introduced in the middle of the Great Depression, and was extremely expensive at $60 to $65 a great sum at that time. Smith and Wesson found itself backlogged with orders for the four years that it produced the Registered Magnum. The Kansas City Police Department issued the Registered Magnum to its officers and many other law enforcement officers across the United States carried the Registered Magnum. In 1939 S&W stopped producing the Registered Magnum. It was replaced with the .357 Magnum. The .357 magnum was available with barrels lengths of 3.5″, 5″, 6.5″ and 8 3/8″. It has been reported that these were the most popular barrel lengths for the Registered Magnum. Essentially the .357 magnum (the ancestor of the Model 27) was still the Registered Magnum, but standardized for ease of production and economy.
   It was noted for its durability and reliability. The 3 1/2″ barrel length was extremely popular with FBI agents in the 1940s through the 1960s. Skeeter Skelton considered the Model 27 with a 5″ barrel as the best all around handgun. General George Patton carried an ivory handled Model 27 with a 3 1/2 inch barrel (along with his ivory handled Colt Peacemaker); Patton called the Model 27 his “killing gun.”
   Workmanship on this gun was of the highest standards of S&W. Much of the gun was handcrafted and had a deep blue hand polished finish which was the pinnacle of gun finishes of the time. The trigger was finely tuned and is so smooth it’s hard to believe even the best craftsman could achieve results like this. Of course all older S&W revolvers had excellent triggers but this gun surpasses even those. This 8 3/8th inch barrel version is accurate in the extreme and is such a joy to shoot especially at longer distances. With the N frame even the hottest 357 rounds are comfortable to shoot. One feature this gun has is unique to this model and that is the cross hatching on the top strap to reduce glare.

 Photo Courtesy of Xavier

Overall it’s just one beautiful revolver without peer.
   In later years a new model was released in order to be an economical alternative to the model 27 and that’s the model 28 Highway Patrolman. This gun was for the most part a standard N frame without all the extra features, handwork and fine bluing of the 27. This gun was intended as solely a working law enforcement gun. The most common was the 4 inch barrel.

   This was a very popular law enforcement weapon for many years. Between the model 28 and the later model 19 S&W had the market all to themselves as far as law enforcement guns are concerned. In later years the model 19 became very popular and supplanted the model 28 with the exception of the devoted N frame shooters.
   If you can find an older model 27 grab it since they are pretty hard to find these days. Most shooters that own one won’t part with it so there are few traded. You can find a model 28 much easier and a lot cheaper. Both guns are well worth the cost if you run across one. To me the older model 27’s are works of art but should be shot and enjoyed!

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16 Responses to “S&W Model 27 357 Magnum”

  1. Tom Sussman said

    Sir, I have a S&W 357 model 27 F.B.I. Commerative Pistol purchased by my father an ex FBI agent, qs q special offer to agents. It ahs the FBI seal on it and his Bureau ID# engraved with “1934 FBI-1984.
    I also have a certificate from S&W and the
    presentation Case. What is it worth

  2. Gunner said


    It’s always difficult to place a price on a gun like this one. A lot has to do with finding the right person who has an interest in limited edition guns of this type.
    I would say a reasonable price to start would be in the $1500 range. The least I would value it considering a sale would be approximately $1200.
    I hope this helps.

  3. Dear Sirs,
    I have a S&W model 27-3 , with 4 in barrel,blue
    It has gold engraving “The First Magnum , April 8, 1935″ on the receiver and ” 50th anniversity
    S&W .357 Magnum ” on the barrel. It has a wood
    presentation box with an unsigned document stating
    1 of 1500 made. It is unfired . What is it worth ?
    I have searched the internet with no luck.
    Thanks for your help.


  4. Gunner said

    Well sir guns of that type vary wildly in price from state to state. A collector may be willing to pay up to $1200 or possibly a bit more for it.
    That is one nice revolver!


  5. Tony May said

    My Dad’s gun,S & W 357 mag,3 1/2″, blue, N frame, appears to be a model 27; however, it is marked
    24 when you swing the cylinder out. It was a gift presented to him by a life time friend and past
    county sheriff. I am waiting on a factory letter from Mr. Jinks, but would welcome any input on what seems to be a puzzle. By phone conversation with Mr. Jinks, the revolver left the factory as
    a Model 24, .357- so it might be of some interest to a collector.
    Thank you

  6. Gunner said


    I believe I have an answer for you. The way I understand it the model 27 was not made in a 3 1/2 inch barrel but the model 24 was so they made the 24 in 357 Mag and marked it like yours. I sure don’t see very many of them at all. Since the model 27 and 24 are the same gun except for barrel length that explains the markings.
    It’s a nice gun for sure!


  7. Steven Selmers said

    I have owned a Registered Magnum (S&W s/n 401) for over 45 years. I am told it is very valuable. can you tell me if a low serial number is more valuable than one of a higher number ?

  8. Gunner said


    You certainly have a real jewel there! To give you the short answer yes the lower serial numbers do enhance the value. The closer you get to the original release date of this gun the better collectors like it. Since your serial number is 401 that would be the first batch made I’m sure. That would date it to 1935. These revolvers were hand fitted by the best S&W gunsmiths and usually special ordered. When the gun arrived the new owner filled out the registration form and returned it to S&W thus the term registered magnum.
    I would imagine you could contact S&W and find out who owned it first and other details about your gun. I’d love to see a picture of it!



  9. Ivan Navarro said

    Sir I got my first pistol today and love it. Can you give me any more details about it. It is a .357 MOD 27-3. What is the AVU 2430. Another number below states 19499. It is a 4 inch. Maybe a value. Thanks in advance.

  10. Gunner said


    That’s a fine gun no doubt about it. Check this link for some history.
    As far as value that depends on a few things. Is the top strap show cross cross lines? Is it blued? You can also call S&W and give them the serial number and they can give you the date it was made.

  11. Kevin Weitzel said

    I recieved my father pistol after he passed away just recently. It’s a S&W .357 mag. model 19-4. Now I have looked at alot of those models on the internet, but mine looks like a model 27, exacally like it. It has a blued 5″ barrel. He always told me that it was worth alot of money. Not really expecting it be worth to much.

  12. Gunner said


    First of all my condolences on loosing your father. I lost mine many years ago and it certainly hurts.
    As far as your revolver. The model 19 and 27 look identical until you put them side by side and see the difference in size. A 5 inch 19-4 is rare. Did you measure from the front of the frame? If it is a special 5 inch limited edition of some sort it would be worth more.
    I’d say if it’s a standard 4 inch in great condition the value is about $450— $500. A rare 5 inch version could be a couple of hundred more.
    If you want to send a picture feel free.


  13. Justin said

    I am trying to find the value of my Grandfathers 1935 357 magnum with the 8.75″ barrel serial number is 6 digits. I do npot have the original “registered” info.

  14. Gunner said

    Email sent

  15. John LaFontsee said

    Hello Gunner, First of all I love your site. I have aquired a handgun from a friend that has passed. It is a Smith and Wesson Model 27 357 6” Registered: #22xx Serial # D 51xxx .I was told by my friend (he was 65 years old), that it was his fathers gun and he was a judge.I would like to know the year it was made and poss. value. the gun functions like new but some of the blue is rubbed off at the end of barrel. it has custom RH grips and trigger extender. please help. Thanks John

  16. Gunner said


    You have a real winner! They made the registered magnum from 1935 until 1939 when they changed the name to the model 27. Hopefully you have the registration paper that came with all of them. This helps the value. An original box also adds value. These were special order guns as well. George Patton carried a 3 1/2 inch version with ivory grips for many years.
    On one like this I would have it appraised since values vary. A real pro should place a value on it with pictures to go on at least. The value could be rather high. Don’t hold me to the value since I haven’t seen it, don’t know the barrel length or exact year made. A little checking revealed values in the $3000 to $5000 range for an excellent 98% condition gun.
    They are certainly rare these days. The old trigger extender I haven’t seen since the early 70’s but were common in those days. My best advice is contact S&W and pay the fee to have it dated and a new certificate issued verifying the date made etc.

    Good luck!


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