I decided to do a little bit of reading on Smith & Wesson semi-auto pistols and I sort of wish I hadn’t. Not that I’ve been turned on to them or away from them, I was just really confused at the end. Luckily, the internets saved me by giving me the understanding that I’d been lacking.
If you ever plan on purchasing a 3rd Gen. (read non-polymer) S&W semi-auto pistol, you can tell the details of it from the model number. From thehighroad.org, forum member Gixerman1000, comes the following:
Here’s the rest of the codes for any one who wants to know
Chambering is known from the first two digits
39XX = 9mm single stack
59XX = 9mm double stack
69XX = 9mm double stack * see note
10XX = 10mm single stack
40XX = 40sw double stack (with some older single stack compacts)
45XX = 45acp single stack
The type of action, the size and over all configuration is know by the 3rd digit
XX0X = Standard size, standard action, standard slide mounted safety
XX1X = Compact, standard action, standard slide mounted safety
XX2X = Standard size, with frame de-cocker
XX3X = Compact, with frame de-cocker
XX4X = Standard size, Double Action Only
XX5X = Compact, Double Action Only
XX6X = Non standard size, standard action, standard slide mounted safety
XX7X = Non standard size, with frame de-cocker
XX8X = Non standard size, Double Action Only
Non standard size is usually a shorter barrel and slide on a standard frame, this somewhat mid size class is basically only seen with the 45acp and 10mm guns, for the 10mm guns this is as small as it gets.
The finish and material used is know by the 4th digit
XXX3 = Aluminum frame / Stainless steel slide (the frame is gray to match the slide)
XXX4 = Aluminum frame / Carbon steel slide (the frame is black to match the slide)
XXX5 = Carbon steel frame and slide.
XXX6 = Stainless steel frame and slide
Once you get an under standing of the numbers it’s not that bad and with the wide range of models and options I guess they had to come up with something.
Note* The 69XX is about the only one that brake these rules, for example the 6906 is basically an aluminum framed compact 5906 (or compact 5903), the aluminum framed compact version of the 3906 is the 3913 so I have no clue why S&W just did not call the 6906 a 5913.
So there you have it. Of course, you can always look in the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson 3rd Edition for information on the model.