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Hutch
January 6, 2001, 05:39 PM
The one-gun-a-month rule is neat!

I just got a K-frame 38spl, with the following markings.

S/N on the butt is V followed by a lanyard swivel ring, followed by 655386. There is the Smith and Wesson Springfield Mass on TOP of the barrel (4 inch, thumbnail sight), and is marked 38 S&W Special ctg on the side of the bbl. It has a humpback, checkered hammer, and the 5-screw config. It has a matte blue finish, kinda reminds me of the Remington Express blue. I'm a little suspicious that it has been reblued, but I'm not sure. It has NONE of the British proof marks associated with the "Victory" models.

The stocks are a very poor fit, and are not the original, per the seller.

What can anyone tell me about this one? What are the proper stocks for this revo?

BTW, what's the best referrence book on these things that is commonly available? How do I get one?

sw627pc
January 6, 2001, 07:11 PM
Well first off, it is NOT a .38 Special. It is, as marked a .38 Smith and Wesson. Different cartridge completely. (.38 specials MAY fit - but the brass will come out bulged a lot as the older .38 S&W has a slightly larger case).

It is a Victory Model, and there were a bunch without British or US government markings. Most of these went to the Post Office, and other such non military uses. From the serial number it is the first model (first style hammer block) and parts from newer K frames aren't going to fit right. The original stocks should be the "Magna" style, slim wood panels that do not extend past the grip strap.

Best reference book (IMHO) is the "Standard Catalogue of Smith and Wesson" by Supica and Nahas. They are currently updating said book and I'm not sure just when the new one will be out (but I'll be ordering one as soon as it is).

Hutch
January 6, 2001, 09:20 PM
Bob, it is indeed marked 38 S&W Special on the barrel. I'll go try a cartridge.... Yup. A Special fits jes' fine. Am I to understand that ALL the V-prefix sernos were chambered in .38 S&W? BTW, I have a Victory Brit re-import that has a .38 Spl cylinder (poorly) fitted, and my father-in-law has a Brit Victory model that was sloppily bored out or deepened (whatever) to accept the Special cartridge.

Thanks for the tip on the book. I'm hot to trot for one, so I'll go check Amazon.

Mike Irwin
January 7, 2001, 12:28 AM
SW627,

Don't know why you're saying that it's not chambered in .38 Special, as there were quite a few thousand V-prefix Victory models made in .38 Special, along with the ones that were made in .38 S&W for the British. They were numbered in the same range of numbers.

Check pages 93 & 94 of the Standard Catalog.

I've been talking to one of the authors of the Catalog, Rick Nahaus, and I've been trying to convince him that I should be the copy editor/proofreader on the update.

I pointed out over two dozen places where an editor would have served him well on the original. :)

I haven't talked with him in a couple of months. I'll have to give him a call and see what he's up to.

Hutch, when you go to Amazon to buy the Standard Catalog (you should also be able to get it through any decent book shop or gun store in your area), be sure to check out my review. :)

James K
January 7, 2001, 12:29 AM
Hi, folks,

If the barrel is marked .38 S&W SPECIAL, it is .38 Special, not .38 S&W, and was made for U.S. forces. (Colt marked some of their guns .38 Colt Special; it was solely a matter of factory pride, the cartridges are the same.)

The gun is a Victory Model, the wartime version of the S&W Military and Police (now called the Model 10). Victory Models were made in .38 S&W (British .38/200) for the British and in .38 Special for the U.S. The Victory Model did NOT have Magnum stocks, it had plain uncheckered wood stocks of the old type which ended at the arch cut in the frame. Magnum stocks extend up to the grip frame hump and were first used only on the .357 Magnum, hence the name. (The term "Magna" is a recent usage and not correct.)

Victory Models bought under U.S contracts were marked with U.S. Property and the initials GHD (Guy H. Drewry, who was commander of the Springfield Ordnance District) on the top strap.

Almost all Victory Models were Parkerized, but I have seen some early ones (which yours is not) with a non-glare blue. Other indicators might show if the gun has been refinished.

Most of these were not relegated to non-military uses, but were issued to flyers, especially Navy flyers (many are Navy marked), to other Navy units, to base defense forces, to military police, and to other support troops. Others did go to plant guards, postal workers, and the like. They were so common that some GSA guards were still issued them as late as 1980.

Since yours is the early model, it does not have the new style hammer block safety and can fire if dropped on the hammer. Most parts are not interchangeable with the new K frame revolvers.

HTH

Jim

Hutch
January 7, 2001, 11:02 AM
Thanks, Jim. I will have to haunt the shows, looking for the correct stocks, unless, of course you happen to know a parts house that uh.. "stocks" them? (ouch). Mike, I'll order the book you described soon (this week). I assume the Jinks book is out of print? Can I get one of those, or is the currently available tome as good or better for the casual (but interested!) collector?

sw627pc
January 7, 2001, 11:40 AM
Mike,

OOPS, missed the statement on the barrel markings. Yes, if it is MARKED .38 S&W Special, it is a .38 Special. I've seen so many of the .38 S&W guns that had been bored through to use .38 Special that I'm a bit too quick to jump on that one. As for stocks, my Victory model has "Magna" style grips (and the serial number is on the grips - they're original). The Magna style grip (and S&W used that term) was introduced in 1935 as an optional grip. They later became the standard "service" grip.

sw627pc
January 7, 2001, 02:05 PM
A little further information (and maybe I'm wrong above). Went and dug out the grips from my Victory model. They are magna style. They do have the serial number on the inside. BUT they also have the S&W medallion on them, which, according to the Standard Catalogue, they shouldn't. This gun is a "British" V model, BNP marked, US Government GHD, etc. Lanyard ring hole in grip strap. When I got this one (as a project gun) it was pretty much junk (paid a whole $5.00). About 5% finish left. Six inch barrel had been cut to four (said "& Wesson" on the side). .38 S&W cylinder, bored straight through to allow .38 Special brass to fit. The grips that were on it (diamond centered, magna style) were almost smooth (checkering worn almost off), gouged up pretty bad, and soaked in oil (or something) so they are almost black. About the only think still original now is the frame and action parts (minus the hand). New cylinder, new barrel, and new grips. It is now a 2 inch .38 Special that is my wife's chosen carry gun. Semi-matte phosphate style blue job. Action is wonderfully smooth (didn't do anything but clean it up and replace the springs) and for a fixed sight snubby it will shoot 2 inch groups at 25 yards all day if the shooter can hold it that tight. (once in a blue moon I can do it - from a rest it is easy, off hand with a two inch tube it is a challenge). Looking in the Standard Catalogue a Victory model should have either plain wood (military) or wood with a medallion (civilian) old style grips. I don't know if someone stamped the serial number into these grips for some reason, or they came from the factory for some odd reason. I understand that there were a lot of "atypical" Victory models as S&W had more orders than they could fill at the start of the war and used parts from anywhere they could find them.

Mike Irwin
January 7, 2001, 05:27 PM
Bob,

Think I have a possible reason why your Brit "Victory" model has the Magna grips...

It may be a transitional model. Some did apparently go to the British in the first batches with Magna grips with medallions, as well as bright blue finishes as opposed to brush, sandblast, or parkerized finishes.

Hutch,

I THINK that Roy Jinks book may be back in print again. I've been seeing reprints at gunshows, so you should have too much trouble finding one.

I'm fortunate. Both my Jinks book and my Supica & Nahaus books are signed by the authors. A little benefit of my having worked for NRA. :)

Jim makes a very good point. The hammer block safety on these guns, which is part of the sideplate, can be pretty readily disabled by dried grease and gun. You need to make certain that it moves freely in its recess.

sw627pc
January 7, 2001, 05:43 PM
Mike,

It was kind of hard to tell, but the original finish on that one MIGHT have been bright blue to start with (wasn't much left when I got it). You are right on the hammer block, I had mine hang up once from dirt. Luckily I noticed it while cleaning and pulled the sideplate and fixed it. Now I check it everytime I get the gun out. It is the later version of the first model (top strap says "U.S. Property" vice "United States Property".

James K
January 7, 2001, 08:18 PM
"Magna" or "Magnum", S&W did not put those stocks on the M&P in war time, because they had no Magnum stocks for the K frame. The standard civilian K frames had the small checkered stocks with the S&W gold seal medallion. Some of the early Victory Models used those stocks from storage, but all the later ones were plain wood, uncheckered and without the medallion. They were not specially made, they were simply the blanks from which the normal stocks would have been made, with the checkering and drilling operations skipped in the interest of war production.

A Magnum stock on a Victory Model would have to have been put on after the war, when S&W started making those stocks for the K frame.

Jim

sw627pc
January 11, 2001, 07:33 PM
Jim,

In that case I have to assume that someone changed stocks and for some reason stamped the serial number into the interior wood, or possibly the gun went back to S&W after the war for something and they replaced them. All I know is that the grips are most definitely Magna style, and the serial number stamped inside them matches the gun. But this one had been "through the mill" long before I got it and there is no way to tell what might have been done along the way.

James K
January 11, 2001, 11:31 PM
Hi, Bob,

I think that is a fair assumption. Many Victory Models got "upgraded" in various ways after the war. Thousands of the .38/200 were rechambered to .38 Special, had barrels cut to 2", had grips replaced if needed, were blued or reblued, grips rounded, lanyard loops removed and holes filled, etc. Some of this was done by local gunsmiths, but an awful (and I mean that word) lot was done by the famous (or infamous) Churchill, Ltd., the English gun shop owned by (then) Interarmco. Those guns now have the look of age, and many collectors are convinced they have some special item (invariably "made for the OSS") that is unique and valuable.
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Hi, sw627pc,

U.S. Handguns of World War II is without a doubt one of the best books I have seen. Even for those with a limited interest in the guns covered, the historical information and the author's effort to put gun production in context, along with the descriptions of testing, inspection and procurement procedures is invaluable.

One thing I learned from that book is that the old style S&W safety did not fail because it stuck, though that can happen. It failed because the blow actually compressed the metal of the hammer and frame; the safety block was very hard and it did not give, but the softer hammer (S&W hammers were and are only case hardened over softer steel) and frame gave enough to let the gun fire.

Jim

Hutch
January 12, 2001, 01:26 PM
I managed to find a copy of Jinks' 1977 book for sale on the 'net, and I should get it next week. I see at Amazon that the Supica and Nahaus catalog is not available for "3-5 weeks", so I'll have to wait that one out. Is there a website or discussion board that specifically targets (wince) us newbie S&W fans?

sw627pc
January 12, 2001, 07:47 PM
Jim,

Interesting on the safety, I never heard a lot of reports of them failing. I have seen (and experienced) the old style safety sticking though. Same result of course. Must have taken a pretty good "whack" to fire that way. As I mentioned I picked this gun up for $5 as a project gun. Pleased with the results but the grips went into a box as they were not only pretty worn down but almost black from oil or perspiration or something. Besides, while my wife could shoot it I couldn't hang onto the durn thing with the skinny little grips and smooth checkering. Might be why I really prefer N frames. :)