'The Chief Special'
Smith and Wesson Model 36 in .38 Special with a 3" barrel
A compact and iconic five shot, double action revolver, the Model 36 was designed in the era just after World War II, when Smith & Wesson stopped producing war materials and resumed normal production. For the Model 36, they sought to design a revolver that could fire the more powerful (compared to the .38 Long Colt or the .38 S&W) .38 Special round in a small, concealable package. Since the older I-frame was not able to handle this load, a new frame was designed, which became the J-frame.
The new design was introduced at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention in 1950, and was favorably received. A vote was held to name the new revolver, and the name "Chiefs Special" won. A 3" barreled version design went into production immediately, due to high demand. It was available in either a blued or nickel-plated finish. It was produced as the "Chiefs Special" until 1957, when it then became the Model 36. The "Chiefs Special" continued to be manufactured as a separate variant.
Due to it being an easy to conceal, the Model 36 was very popular amongst detectives and plain clothed police officers as well as a back-up gun for regular officers. It was widely used by the NYPD, the Norwegian, Malta and Japanese Police forces. The Chief Special was also popular amongst conceal carrying civilians and would go on to be the basis for Smith's other J-Frame revolvers such as the 636 and 637.
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