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Many / most of you wheelgunners on the Forum already know about the circa 1980 S&W Model 520 (not to be confused with a later iteration under the same branding - I’m not sure why S&W opted to recycle a Model number like that…)

This 520 was a gun spec’d and ordered by the New York State Police as its next duty sidearm. Blue, 4-inch barrel with fixed sights, Magna stocks, N-frame, pinned & recessed, chambered in .357 Magnum…the gun seems likened to an “M&P” treatment of the Model 27 or the 28. It even gives a little .38-44 HD vibe to me.

As the story goes, the NYSP decided to not wait the six-month timespan until their 3,000-gun order could be fulfilled and went with an in-stock item instead. I’ve read this may have been the 28 or the 581/681. Once completed, the order of 520s was apparently made available to distributors, unissued to the NYSP.

This example arrived to me in what appeared to have been an unfired state, at least beyond any shooting performed at the factory. I added the BK Grips grip adapter shown. There were no papers with mine, just the box (numbered to the gun) and a sealed set of factory tools.

I’ve addressed that “apparently unfired” condition, having put about 300 rounds of .38 Special ammo through it thus far. .357 loads to follow in future range visits.

The gun handles like a S&W 4-inch N-frame should; that is to say, very well. The fixed sights have taken longer for me to get used to than I thought they would have, though most of my Smiths are adjustable-sighted.

More to come, Lord willing, as the journey with this one continues.























Stock photo of, I believe, the other / later Model 520:




"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
Posts: 6499 | Registered: September 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That’s a damn fine score right there, 4” N frame goodness. Those don’t just happen every day.
 
Posts: 1522 | Location: Raleigh, NC | Registered: March 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That bluing is fantastic. Hard to beat S&W's quality bluing.



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Posts: 1645 | Location: York County, VA | Registered: August 25, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Very nice. These are excellent pistols. Getting one of these is on my bucket list.
 
Posts: 2174 | Location: Lawrenceburg, In | Registered: May 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That sure is nice!!!


 
Posts: 1073 | Location: Toano, Va.  | Registered: January 11, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What a beauty! Approximately what year?
 
Posts: 5440 | Location: 7400 feet in Conifer CO | Registered: November 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, all!

As for the date, it looks like these were made available to distributors roughly mid-1980. The guy I bought it from had a picture of a factory letter to distributors about the gun dated May 1980. I’ll post that up in a bit just for the back-story.



"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
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Beautiful gun and a cool history too. Thanks for sharing!




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Posts: 14742 | Location: Florida | Registered: May 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow, that's a beautiful handgun! If I was the NYSP, I'd have happily waited 6 months for those! Our last department order took at least that long, and all I got was a P320 lol.

Like you, I'm partial to adjustable sights, but there's definitely something to be said for the slick profile and sleek simplicity of the fixed-sight models, especially for duty use where you are issuing a specific load and can match it to the gun.

Awesome score, and I'm glad you're shooting it...those guns were meant to be shot.
 
Posts: 6128 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you! For sure, I plan to keep shooting this one and eventually carrying it.

Here is a picture of the distributor letter on the 520s. Not my original image here.




"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
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The NYSP at the time carried the 4” model 28, and I imagine figured they could use the same leather and speedloaders then in service ( if they even used speedloaders at that time?)
I think the model 681 L frame was introduced about the same time, and they elected to go for the L instead. I may be incorrect but believe that was the last issued NYSP revolver, moving to the glock 17 next, being the first big agency to adopt the glock at the time.
 
Posts: 3014 | Location: Finally free in AZ! | Registered: February 14, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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^^^ Thank you for that info!



"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
Posts: 6499 | Registered: September 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I remember perusing "Gun List" with a friend when I was stationed at Fort Wainwright and seeing them listed for around $450 by an individual that had a number of them. We both thought that was a great deal with all kinds of possibilities (involving Hamilton Bowen), but neither one of us pulled the trigger.
 
Posts: 719 | Registered: January 17, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I owned a Model 520 many years ago, bought it at a pawn shop in Smyrna, Georgia in 1988 or thereabouts. ANIB w/all. I never fired it. Eventually, I traded for one of the S&W Model 24s they reissued in 1983- a 4" model. Again, ANIB w/all. I still have that one.
 
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Oh I bet Mr. Bowen could have done some amazing work on one of these!



"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
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quote:
Originally posted by parabellum:
I owned a Model 520 many years ago, bought it at a pawn shop in Smyrna, Georgia in 1988 or thereabouts. ANIB w/all. I never fired it. Eventually, I traded for one of the S&W Model 24s they reissued in 1983- a 4" model. Again, ANIB w/all. I still have that one.


While I’ve not owned one to-date, I have heard and read only very good things about 24s.

I may have my dates and / or gun-memories off-base here, but did that 24 possibly grace the main page of the S&W Forum once upon a time? I think I recall a tapered-barrel 4-inch S&W being pictured there similarly to how a P225 is here, and I was thinking you’d owned the S&W Forum, also, for a time.



"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
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That thing is gorgeous. Nice find sir. Smile
 
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Wow, just WOW.


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Eeewwww, don't touch it!
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Posts: 33142 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by captain127:
The NYSP at the time carried the 4” model 28, and I imagine figured they could use the same leather and speedloaders then in service ( if they even used speedloaders at that time?)
I think the model 681 L frame was introduced about the same time, and they elected to go for the L instead. I may be incorrect but believe that was the last issued NYSP revolver, moving to the glock 17 next, being the first big agency to adopt the glock at the time.


That is correct. Here is the gun they went with instead of the M520s:


This is my NYSP marked M681

The story I heard is that the NYSP officials were at S&W to inspect the new M520s when one of the S&W people showed them the new Stainless Steel L frame (big mistake). The NYSP changed the order to the new M681 and S&W had to sell off all the M520s originally set to be sold to the NYSP.

OP - congrats on the M520. I always wanted one, but never found a reasonably priced shooter.
 
Posts: 110 | Registered: September 12, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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^^^ Sweet on that 681 and thank you for the info - love hearing the backstory on stuff like this!



"The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." - George Costanza
 
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