Smith & Wesson Model 52

Smith & Wesson Model 52
S&W M52-2 with bbl weight
Type Semi-automatic Pistol
Place of origin  United States
Weight 40 oz.
Length 8.55” (192 mm)
Barrel length 5” (102 mm)

Cartridge .38 Special
Action Short recoil, SA
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 5-round single column, detachable box magazine

The Smith & Wesson Model 52, sometimes referred to as the 38 Master, is a semi-automatic pistol developed by Smith & Wesson for Bullseye shooting. It was one of the first semiautomatic pistols chambered in .38 Special with flush-seated, full wadcutter bullets. The shape of the rimmed cartridge limited the magazine capacity to five rounds. A variant, known as the Model 952, in 9 mm Parabellum, is still produced in limited quantities by Smith & Wesson's Performance Center. The Model 52 was discontinued in 1992 when the machinery to manufacture the pistol broke down and it was deemed too costly to replace.[1]


The Smith & Wesson Model 52 was introduced in 1961 as a match-grade target pistol derived from the Smith & Wesson Model 39. It was chambered in .38 Special Wadcutter for the sport of Bullseye shooting.[2]

The first version, known simply as the Model 52, retained the basic trigger mechanism of the Model 39, with the Double-Action function selectable via a simple frame-mounted setscrew, allowing the pistol to be fired in either single-action or double-action mode depending on the setscrew's adjustment.[2]

In 1963 the Model 52-1 was introduced with a separately developed single-action trigger system and was manufactured until 1970, when it was succeeded by the Model 52-2. Changes to the 52-2 included an improved extractor and this version was manufactured for 23 years.[2]

In 1992, the 30-year-old machinery used to make the Model 52 was showing signs of age and was starting to fail. Smith & Wesson decided against replacing it and the handgun was discontinued. The last model 52-2 was completed on July 23, 1993. The pistol's serial number was “TZW9149” and it was delivered to the company's private gun vault as an archive piece.[2][3]

Model 952

The Smith & Wesson Model 952 was introduced in 2004 as a Performance Center pistol based on the Model 52 but chambered in 9mm. Enhancements included a 5” match-grade barrel, titanium-coated spherical barrel bushing, 9-round magazine, loaded chamber indicator and a slide-mounted decocking lever.[4] An enhanced version was produced in 2004 and a long slide variant with a 6" barrel debuted in 2006.[5]


  1. Jinks, Roy G.; Krein, Sandra C. (2006). Smith & Wesson (MA) (Images of America). Boston: Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7385-4510-3.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Supica, Jim; Richard Nahas (2007). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (3 ed.). F+W Media, Inc. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-89689-293-4.
  3. Hartink, A.E. (2002). The Complete Encyclopedia of Pistols and Revolvers. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc. pp. 278–279. ISBN 978-0-7858-1519-8.
  4. Ayoob, Massad (15 March 2010). Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 285. ISBN 1-4402-1503-0.
  5. Ramage, Ken (2 November 2006). Handguns 2007 - 19th Edition. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 26. ISBN 1-4402-2676-8.
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