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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 11:33 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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    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
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    The 9mm caseless ammo

  7. #7
    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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