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I'm curious about the rhyme and reason behind the S&W numbering codes.

I seem to recall that a 6 prefix (as in 686 or 629) means Stainless steel, and a 3 prefix (as in 340PD or 329PD) is crazy space-alloy stuff. Is there a pattern to the model designations (29, 14, 10, etc) - are they assigned for any particular reason? I don't see many patterns.

As for the autoloaders, it seems the caliber seems to come first (4513, 457) in some cases; is the number afterwards an arbitrary model designation?

What does a 5 prefix (as in 586) stand for?

Any other info?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Smith and Wesson has a method to the madness of numbering ... but, depends. Model to model and year to year the numbering system changed.

Semiautos: first generation were two digit, second three digit, and third generation has 4 digits (steel frames). There are a few web sites that detail a listing of what they mean. 645 is a .45 steel frame from the 80's, a 4506 replaced it. In the 4 digit system the numbers refer to caliber, alloy or steel frame, double or single action. Which number is which I don't recall but the info is out there.

A 586 means it's a blue finish and 686 is a stainless steel version for your model of an "L" frame .357 Smith revolver. Any dash number denotes what engineering change has occured when it was made.
 
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