American Rifleman | This Old Gun: Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum

S.Some firearms and cartridges were literally made for each other. This was certainly the case with Smith & Wessons Registered Magnum and its exclusive chambering in the .357 Magnum, a cartridge promoted by the pioneering hand loader Phil Sharpe. Since its introduction in 1935, the Registered Magnum has earned the undisguised title of one of the holy grails of modern gun collecting.

It started with the cartridge. With the country in the midst of the Great Depression and organized crime rampant, law enforcement agencies are armed – mostly with .38 Spl. Revolvers – were under fire. But Sharpe felt the caliber had potential. With the support of Elmer Keith, S&W Vice President Douglas Wesson and Winchester, the .357 Mag. showed up with a slightly elongated .38 Spl. Case to prevent it in standard .38 spl. Weapons. In fact, the resulting registered magnum was far from standard.

Each revolver was made to order, with customers specifying a blue or nickel finish, barrel lengths from 3½ “to 8¾”, and numerous sight options for the front and back. The guns were sighted at a distance of 25 meters, with buyers setting either a 6 o’clock or dead center.

Above all, each weapon was given an individual registration number in addition to its serial number and delivered with a registration card. When this card was completed and returned, the owner was given a certificate (signed by Douglas Wesson) confirming the owner’s name, registration number and custom features. Incredibly, half of these registration cards were never sent to S&W.


Although the price was a whopping $ 60 (20 percent discount for military and law enforcement personnel), the Registered Magnum proved unexpectedly popular. 5,500 were made before October 16, 1939 when Harold Wesson decided they were too costly to make. However, around 2,000 other “unregistered Magnums” (without registration numbers) were produced up until the start of the American involvement in World War II.

This particular registered magnum, registration number 2221, was made by the S&W Historical Foundation (swhistoricalfoundation.com), as sent on April 14, 1937 to Robert R. Imse – a prominent St. Louis, Missouri businessman and member of the Missouri Athletic Association, c / o American Sporting Goods Co.

This 95 percent weapon is of little use and remarkably retains its original packaging, the factory signed registration certificate and the postmarked shipping tube. The bearing plates were replaced by correct Magna bearings. In 2019 online auctioneers Lock, Stock & Barrel ([email protected]) sold this hose certified boxing pistol for $ 12,300. Today, a registered Magnum in this condition with these extremely rare features would easily cost $ 16,000 to $ 20,000.

Gun: Registered Magnum
Manufacturer: Smith and wesson
Chambering: .357 Mag.
Serial number.: 50XXX (consecutively numbered with other S&W hand ejectors with large frames)
Registration number: 2221 (embossed on the inside of the recess of the ejector housing)
Produced: April 14, 1937
Condition: NRA Excellent (modern weapon standards)
Value: $ 16,000 to $ 20,000

Note: Delivery in blue cardboard type II with registration card, screwdriver and separate “Wesson Grip Adapter”. Registered magnums in this condition, with no box or paperwork, typically fetch $ 4,500 to $ 6,000. Original box and certificate of registration can each fetch up to $ 1,000, and an empty shipping tube recently sold for $ 350.

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