How to Tell if a Smith & Wesson has Pinned Barrels

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Smith & Wesson has produced firearms since 1852, and as of 2011 is the largest handgun manufacturer in the U.S. On early Smith & Wesson revolver models the barrels were pinned. This gun-making technique was implemented as a safety feature to keep the barrel secured in the weapon frame. If you're trying to figure out if your Smith & Wesson revolver has a pinned barrel, a few telltale signs will give you your answer.

  • Unload the revolver completely. Visually inspect the cylinder to ensure that no ammunition is present.

  • Set the revolver on its side -- either right or left. Look on the side of the frame -- where the barrel meets the frame -- just in front of and slightly above the cylinder face. If your barrel is pinned, you will see the small round pin slightly protruding in this area. The pin may be blued or finished just like the weapon, to help blend in. These pins are typically 1/16 inch in diameter.

  • Check the year the revolver was manufactured. This information can be found in your manual or on the bill of sale. Pinned barrels were discontinued by Smith & Wesson in 1982, though still manufactured until parts depleted in 1984.

  • Check your exploded parts diagram on your owners manual. The diagram will indicate a barrel-pin if so installed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask a competent gunsmith look at your revolver to tell you if the barrel is pinned.
  • Never attempt maintenance on a loaded firearm.
  • Never point a weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot or kill.

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