By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is THE grail gun for many serious S&W collectors, the Model 44 semi-automatic pistol.
Upon first glance this is a plain-Jane Model 39. There were, however, only 16 of them every produced. None of them were ever stamped as Model 44. They were first catalogued in 1956 or 1954 depending on your source), and Smith did not start model number designations until 1957. They are a single-action only design.
All of them were blue steel, with a lanyard attachment point on the butt. They came with walnut grips. The safety does NOT drop the hammer. The trigger is sold and slides to the rear (like a 1911). The placement of the grip screws is unique to this pistol.
Only ten were manufactured for the civilian market, in the 1200 serial number range. In addition six were made with steel frames for the U. S. Army with an X serial number.
Every now and then one surfaces in the collectors market. Cost is somewhere in the low-to-middle five figures. They are so rare I could not even find a reference photo for one-on line. You couldn’t retire on that money, but you could buy a very nice used car or a cheap new car.
Editors Note: I also failed to find the image. I'd like to see one. Thanks, Bob.