Retired from Service, this 40 Year-Old Smith gets a Second Chance with a New Life

This 3" Round-Butt .357 Magnum is Well-Suited for Home Protection & Concealed Carry

My interest in the K-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers is well known at my local gun store. So when a guy came in with this Model 65-3 for sale, my phone rang. John said "I have a fellow here with a Smith and Wesson you may be interested in." I dropped what I was doing and walked across the street to investigate.

This is what I found, well almost...

From 1981 or 1982, a Model 65-3, 3 inch barrel, polished stainless-steel, 3-screw k-frame, .357 magnum, round-butt service revolver. The first thing that caught my attention was the striking appearance of the full-length unshrouded extractor rod. The finish of the gun appeared very dull from years of neglect, but it was very evident the gun had been fired very little.

Smith & Wesson 1960 Model 65-3
S&W Model 65-3

The grips were the original checked walnut and the right grip was about five shades lighter in color than the left grip from light exposure (likely from being carried, holstered on the right hip for years). I instantly recalled a set of Rosewood round-butt grips I had seen on Rogers Guns and Grips website, that I knew would be perfect for this gun.

The Round-Butt Rosewood Grips

I don't want to divert my article away from the gun, but I have to talk about the grips because they greatly influenced this purchase. Evidently Smith & Wesson stopped making grips from Rosewood in the late 70s and the last of their inventory would have been used up by the early 80s. Grips such as these would have came with a special gun or special order.

Smith & Wesson Model 65-3
Model 65-3 with Heavy Barrel

I paid his $800 Asking Price without haggling...

When I got home that evening, I went to Rogers and bought the Rosewood grips for $300. The following Sunday afternoon, I spent about two hours cleaning, oiling and waxing the gun. I installed the old Rosewood grips and took the photos you see on this page.


Mechanically, this handgun felt as though it had not been fired enough to even break it in. Like many service guns, it had been carried a lot, but fired very little. The action of the cylinder, trigger and hammer are so tight that it defies the gun's age of 40-years-old. I believe the condition to be a testament to the quality of the handgun, as much as the lack of use.

Smith & Wesson Model 65-3
Model 65-3 Polished Stainless Steel

There were Five Factors that came together with this gun that made it irresistible to me; the Round Butt, the 3" Barrel, the .357 Magnum Caliber, the K-Frame Size and the Full-Length Exposed Extractor Rod. This gun was my introduction to the Model 65.

My second order of business after ordering the Rosewood grips, had been to look up the gun in the Standard Catalog. I learned that the Model 65-1 was introduced in 1972 (so there were no Model 65 "No Dash" guns). The book said the -3 was issued in 1982. The seller told me more than once that the gun was a 1981.

Smith & Wesson Model 65-3
Model 65-3 with Rosewood Grips


Is the gun collectible? Yes, they aren't making them any more. Did I buy it to collect? I actually bought this one, more to use than collect. I have $1,100 in a gun that doesn't have the original grips, box or paperwork. Well, I do have the original grips, but boy are they ugly.

I feel like I have a $1,500 carry gun.

In the past, I once bought a gun just because I had a beautiful holster to pair it with. In this case, I think I bought this gun just to see it paired with those extraordinary Rosewood grips. I love the outcome!

Smith & Wesson Model 65-3 in my glove box
Riding in a 4" Holster Until I Find a 3"

More investigation is required on my part to definitevly pin down the year to 1981 or 1982. After that, the only question that remains is "What color and style holster?"

I'm shopping for a 3" holster.

  Shop Holsters

Smith & Wesson
Model 65-3

Wearing Rosewood Grips - and one last photo before cleaning with the original checked walnut grips from the left side. And finally, a couple of photos of my Craft paddle holster.

Another S&W Favorite

This Model 17-1 K-22 Masterpiece by Smith & Wesson is my Birth Year Gun...

It fell in my lap accidentally. As I said earlier, I paid more for the grips on it than the gun itself. If this gun had came to me with the Diamond Magna grips, I never would have bought the Mother of Pearl for it. Sometimes things in life just work out right.

"If any of you old gun lovers have a story to share about finding a birth year gun, go to my Facebook page and share it."

The Blue Book of Gun Values says this model should bring a 25% premium. I was puzzled about it at first, but went to the forum and several members let me know that it was low production numbers. Again, I'm really happy with this old gun, even though the condition could be better and the import/export marks are there.

Author with Birth Year Gun
Smith & Wesson Model 17-1 with grips also acquired from Rogers

Smith & Wesson

K-22 Masterpiece

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