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Thread: Springfield Armory's S&W 76 Collection - Experimental, Toolroom and One-off versions

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    Registered User Marcus99's Avatar
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    Springfield Armory's S&W 76 Collection - Experimental, Toolroom and One-off versions

    **My sincere appreciation to The Springfield Armory, especially Curator Alex MacKenzie, for allowing me to study and photograph their exceptional Smith & Wesson Mod. 76 collection**

    When I did cursory internet research before purchasing my S&W 76 I learned that Smith & Wesson created a number of experimental and toolroom examples indicated by an X and T letter prefix at the beginning of the serial number, respectively. What I did not know and learned only by chance when browsing the Springfield Armory's online archival catalog (available HERE) is that the Springfield Armory houses many, possibly all, of these early prototype S&W 76's. Thanks to The Springfield Armory's generous accommodations and the assistance of Curator Alex MacKenzie I was able to research these amazing guns (26, to be exact) and post my findings here.





    My initial goal was to identify the differences between the early prototype guns and the later production. That is what is more or less detailed below. However some examples were so unique in their own right that they exceeded what might otherwise be considered a minor design alteration and instead thought of as a M. 76 version unto themselves. Where the line is to be drawn I'll leave up to the reader, although I made a list of what I consider to be minor design changes. As far as I know these guns are in the same factory configuration as they came directly from S&W.

    There is a lot of ground to cover so I'll get started. If anyone has anything to add/correct/discuss please feel free.

    Prototype to Production

    - Shrouds/Barrel Nuts - The shroud seems to have been experimented with a lot. There were different lengths, serrations vs. knurling on the base, locking mechanisms and one was even reinforced with two layers. The early experimental examples often lacked a shroud entirely and had simply a nut.
    - Barrel - The barrel length was apparently toyed with somewhat in the early stages of development.
    - Barrel Nut Locking Mechanism - The production models using a latch mechanism, whereas most of the experimental and toolroom examples used a leafspring. Even amongst the leafsprings I noticed a variations - X187 was very narrow and smaller in size. T1144 and X185 lacked a locking mechanism entirely.
    - Finish - I noticed a variety of finishes including the common parkerizing as well as a frying-pan style.
    - Sights - A few had a higher, almost suppressor height blocky front and rear sight.
    - Magwell - The early examples had a blocky, less refinished magwell.
    - Selector - The selectors knob height was elevated on at least one example. X185 and X187 had a right side only selector. Some selectors functioned for only Semi and Full. Others lacked markings.
    - Rails - Several examples had rails, or were tapped for rails.
    - Grip - The early examples were smooth without checkering. However even amongst these there were finish variations where some were matte instead of glossy (this was also true for the later checkered grips that I observed.) One grip even included a safety.
    - Stocks - Perhaps second only to the shrouds these numbered the most in variation. I observed differences in height (T1186 and X219 were raised), width (the early examples were often, but not always straight), length, left vs. right folding, and T1144 was even bar metal without a rubber coating.
    -Receiver Materials - X213 was a bare aluminum receiver. It weighed substantially less than the production steel receivers, but also displayed what I suspect is excessive wear in several areas. X211 was also aluminum, albeit finished. I suspect other complete experimental guns were also built on aluminum receivers but I base this solely on their weight and I did not have a scale to weigh them.

    The Notable "Versions"

    - The Aluminum Receiver (X213)


    - X186




    - T1187


    - T1186


    - T1112




    - Compact Version (X185)




    - Caseless Ammo Version (X219)




    - Thumb Safety and Ejection Port Cover Version (T1208)


    - X187




    - Mid-length barrel with shroud Version (T1120)


    - Extended shroud with regular barrel (T1153)


    - Bare Wire Stock (T1144)
    Last edited by Marcus99; 01-16-2018 at 10:33 PM.

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    Registered User Marcus99's Avatar
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    - Protected Bolt Slot Channel Version (T1115)




    - Grip Safety Version (T1211)




    - Bayonet, Right-folding stock Version(T1236)




    - L-Stock, Reinforced Shroud Version (T1235)





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    Registered User KickStand's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the amazing post.
    I new the X stood for experimental, I didn't know the T stood for tooltoom. I guessed technical, I was wrong.

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    Nice work Marcus. All I can say is WOW!

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    That caseless gun with the switch is fascinating. Would love to know more about that one.

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    Name:  9mmCaseless.jpg
Views: 910
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    The 9mm caseless ammo

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    Registered User Marcus99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KickStand View Post
    Thanks for the amazing post.
    I new the X stood for experimental, I didn't know the T stood for tooltoom. I guessed technical, I was wrong.
    That could well be the case too. I have always heard toolroom so I went with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abacab View Post
    That caseless gun with the switch is fascinating. Would love to know more about that one.
    It was featured in an April 1968 Guns and Ammo article. I haven't read that article, but I can tell you from my own observations that the electrical mechanism seemed very susceptible to damage. My guess is that it was done merely for the sake of seeing whether it could be done and was never a serious consideration. The wiring is completely exposed, and although the switch template and battery compartment were made of metal the switch itself and "ignition" (for lack of a better word - the part that sat adjacent to the ejection port and what I assume ignited the round) were made of plastic.

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    Very interesting, Great pictures. Thanks for all the info.

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    great post, thank you!

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    This may be one of the greatest posts on this board!

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    Awesome, thanks for posting!
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    Two thumbs way up!
    Please visit my FB page for the latest CF-W bolt information.
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    Great post. Its good to place a picture to these different pre-production guns. I dug the following out of Dwayne Charrons book.

    S&W Serial # Ranges and origins.


    X-185 completed Nov 1966 1ea
    X-186 to X-189 completed Jan 1967 4ea
    X-210 to X-219 completed Oct 1967 10ea
    T-1111 to T-1120 completed May 1967 10ea
    T-1121 to T-1212 completed June 1969 91ea
    T-1232 to T-1237 completed April 1971 4ea
    TX-332 to TX-334 completed Aug 1979 3ea
    Total tool room guns 123ea

    76 production began June 1968 with SN U-101 and ended production July 1974 with SN U-6100.
    WE ARE GOING TO LOSE !

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    How did SA come into position of these X76s?

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    Registered User Marcus99's Avatar
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    I'm glad that people found the thread informative. The more I've come to learn of the S&W 76 and the more I've shot and handled mine the more I've come to appreciate these guns. They are sometimes derided because they are copies of a "superior" firearm; the Swedish K (I've not shot a Swedish K although I have handled one and in that regard I did not find it superior.) I think this is unfair. The 76 represents American ingenuity by one of America's oldest and most reputable manufacturers to meet a military need during wartime. They are well made, reliable firearms that shoot smoothly and represent the final breadth of the tube-built submachinegun era. I only wish parts were more widely available.

    Quote Originally Posted by anm2_man View Post
    X-185 completed Nov 1966 1ea
    So was X185 the first S&W76? The X185 (what I termed the Compact version) was one of my favorites. My gripe was that instead of placing the rail where it was the rear sight should have been moved further forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by strobro32 View Post
    How did SA come into position of these X76s?
    They were donated by S&W in the late 1990's.
    Last edited by Marcus99; 01-19-2018 at 04:24 PM.

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    Mr. Miata
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    Neat post. Thanks!

    My first FA gun was a S&W76 tool room gun. It had the straight topped stock, smooth grip, and spring steel barrel nut catch. I ended up selling it to a S&W collector. Very cool to see all those variations in one place!
    AWWWW NUTS!

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    Registered User ordnanceguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strobro32 View Post
    How did SA come into position of these X76s?
    These S&W Model 76s were given to the Springfield Armory Museum by the S&W factory. As you probably know, the S&W factory is located in Springfield, Mass. not far from the Armory which is now administered by the Park Service. As "neighbors" the factory and the Armory have had a long relationship which continues to this day. The same is true for the S&W Collectors Association which not long ago made a sizeable cash donation to the Armory to assist in the refurbishment of the Armory's historic tower clock and bells which had not been working for more than two decades.

    The factory originally wanted to donate all of its remaining M76s, some S&W suppressors for the M76, parts and a pile of other related material, to the Springfield History Museum. That facility is where much of the original S&W factory museum stuff ended up. This was an effort to prevent the entire M76 lot from being destroyed. However, the BATFE would not permit the transfer. As it turned out, however, the BATFE was persuaded to permit the transfer to the Springfield Armory Museum. The lot found a warm reception there and it is now safe from destruction. The SA Museum, the S&W company, the factory historian and others deserve a lot of credit for making this happen as it would have been a lot easier to give up and toss it all into the smelter.

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    Thanks for the info, I enjoyed it, I have a MK76 SMG and like the platform.

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