Cart 0

Smith & Wesson S&W Model 12

Posted by HANDICRAFTGRIPS Co., Ltd. on

Smith & Wesson Model 12

The Smith & Wesson (S&W) Model 12 is a .38 Special revolver on Smith & Wesson's medium-sized K-frame. It is an aluminium alloy-frame version of the Model 10 (also known as the M&P). It was made from 1953 to 1986 in both two-inch (50.8 mm), 17 ounces (582g) and four-inch (101.6 mm), 19 ounces (539g) configurations. Early models used an aluminum cylinder as well as frame.

Smith & Wesson Model 12
My .38 SPL S & W model 12-2 (5).jpg
1976 S&W model 12-2
Type Revolver
Place of origin United States
Production history
Manufacturer Smith & Wesson
Produced 1953–1986
Mass 17 oz (482 grams) 2 inch (50.8 mm) barrel and 19 oz (539 grams) 4 inch (101.6 mm) barrel

Cartridge .38 Special
Action Double-action
Feed system 6 round cylinder

Production variantsEdit

In 1953, the United States Air Force (USAF) ordered a variant of the S&W Military & Police Airweight with a two-inch barrel and aluminum cylinder to be issued to US Air Force flight crew members, called the Revolver, Lightweight, Caliber .38 Special, M13.[1][2] Some 40,000 Smith & Wesson M13 revolvers were produced.[2] After persistent reports on cylinder and frame failure with the M13 and its counterpart, the Colt Aircrewman, the Air Force attempted to remedy the issue by issuing a dedicated low-pressure .38 cartridge for the weapons—the Caliber .38, Ball, M41 round.[3] However, after continued negative reports, Air Force officials decided that the revolvers were not suitable for issue, and the model was withdrawn from service, all but a few examples being crushed or destroyed.[2]

A civilian model of the M13 was released in 1953, called the Military & Police Airweight. This designation was changed in 1957 to the Model 12 Airweight.[1] The Military & Police Airweight initially used both an aluminum cylinder and frame, and weighed only 14.5 ounces.[1] The aluminum cylinder proved insufficiently strong to withstand continued firing with standard .38 Special cartridges, and in 1954, S&W changed over all new production Airweight revolver cylinders to steel, increasing the weight to 18 ounces.[1]

The Model 12 variants 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3 used a narrower hammer[4]and had an aluminum grip frame that was 0.08-inch (2.0 mm) narrower than the standard steel K-frame.[1] The final version, the Model 12-4, used the standard frame dimension[5] of the other K-frames. It also featured a rounded butt.

  • Pre-Model 12: predates model number markings. It has an alloy cylinder and will be a five-screw design with four sideplate screws and a screw in front of the trigger guard.
  • Model 12 (1957):
    • -1 (1962): Change extractor rod to LH thread, eliminate screw in front of trigger guard
    • -2 (1962): Front sight changed from 1/10″ to 1/8
    • -3 (1977): Gas ring on yoke to cylinder
    • -4 (1984): Change frame thickness to same as all K frames[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e Scarlata, Paul (23 September 2010). "Smith & Wesson's Model 12 Airweight". Shooting Times. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Boorman, Dean K. (2002). The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. Lyons Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 1-58574-721-1.
  3. ^ TM 43-0001-27, Army Ammunition Data Sheets - Small Caliber Ammunition, FSC 1305 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Dept. of the Army. 29 April 1994. : The standard .38 ball M41 cartridge first issued in 1956 had a pressure limit of only 13,000 CUP for a bullet velocity of 725 ft/s (221 m/s). After the M13 was withdrawn from service, a higher-pressure cartridge, the Caliber .38 Ball, Special, M41 was introduced. The M41 Special cartridge had a revised pressure rating of 16,000 CUP, giving a velocity of 950 ft/s (290 m/s).
  4. ^ The earlier Models 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3 used a 0.240″ hammer, compared to the 0.265″ wide hammer of the standard Model 10.
  5. ^ Camp, Stephen A. "Shooting the S&W Model 12". Hi Powers and Handguns. Retrieved 3 April 2011.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment