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Old January 2, 2013, 10:01 PM   #1
Shifty616
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Looking For Info on a S&W Revolver

Hello all new member here,

I recently acquired a Smith & Wesson revolver from my father-in-law.
He didn't know much about it, and I would like to find out things like the model and the era it was made.
Also, I think it uses .38 S&W, but I'm not positive. My father in law said it might be a .32?
There are two numbers on it. 64746 is on the cylinder and frame when you pull the cylinder down.
7304xx is on the bottom side of the barrel and bottom of the grip.
I'm sorry for any incorrect terminology, this is my first of hopefully many guns.
Thanks.
Here are some pictures:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_0185.JPG (198.3 KB, 114 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0186.JPG (212.1 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0187.JPG (179.8 KB, 83 views)

Last edited by Shifty616; January 2, 2013 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Fixed Pictures
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Old January 2, 2013, 10:11 PM   #2
Mike Irwin
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Your pictures didn't come through.
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Old January 2, 2013, 10:32 PM   #3
carguychris
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The serial number is 7304xx. (Many people online will omit the last couple of digits of a gun's serial for security and privacy reasons.) The definitive location of the serial number of most S&W revolvers is on the butt of the grip frame, although a few prewar small-caliber revolvers with oversize target stocks (i.e. grips) had the serial number on the front of the grip frame instead. The number visible inside the yoke cut- the part of the frame that is visible when the cylinder is open- is commonly an assembly number that was used at the factory for assembly purposes, but became meaningless after the gun was shipped.

Given the serial number and the absence of a locking lug at the front of the ejector rod, i believe that this is an early WWII vintage .38/200 British Service Revolver, which would originally have been chambered in .38 S&W but may have had its chambers lengthened to accept .38 Special when it was re-imported. The barrel has been cut, the stocks are aftermarket, and the gun has been refinished with nickel plating; the original finish was probably blued on an early gun like this. These types of modifications were commonly done to these guns to increase their market appeal when they were resold.

More info here:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=497657
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Old January 3, 2013, 01:38 PM   #4
Shifty616
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Thanks for the information. How could you tell it was originally chambered for .38/200 instead of .38 SPL, since there isn't any markings on the barrel?
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Old January 3, 2013, 03:30 PM   #5
Bart Noir
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The .38/200 (also called the .380/200) is the same cartridge (dimensionally) as the .38 S&W.

Notice that I didn't write .38 S&W Special, since that is a different cartridge.

I looked at the dimensions just now. The .38 Special is slightly smaller in radius, but longer. The .38 Special fires a bullet of .357 diameter. The .38 S&W fires one of .361 diameter.

So, if the cylinder has a "shoulder" in each chamber the .38 Special round should drop into a gun made for .38/200, but not go in all the way. The shoulder will stop it.

If there is no shoulder in each chamber, then the .38 Special will fit into either gun and this shows you nothing.

If you have an actual .38/200 (or a .38 S&W) cartridge then you can see if it fits. It will not fit into a gun made for .38 Special, I think. But since the difference of the case size is only .0075 of an inch, at the base, it may be that the actual machined size will allow the .38 S&W to fit in the .38 Special gun. There are people on this forum who have actually tried this, I am sure, so maybe one will tell us if I am right.

You ask a good question, since I believe that the British also obtained S&W revolvers that were made for .38 Special. I am not sure about this....

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Old January 3, 2013, 05:04 PM   #6
PetahW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shifty616

How could you tell it was originally chambered for .38/200 instead of .38 SPL, since there isn't any markings on the barrel?

Experience.................. More than a few, here, have it.




.
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Old January 3, 2013, 05:14 PM   #7
carguychris
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AFAIK all S&W centerfire swing-out cylinder revolvers were made with shouldered chambers.

The tolerances for the diameter of .38S&W and .38Spl chambers overlap to some degree. .38S&W cartridges will fit in some .38Spl revolver chambers, but the fit will be very tight, and it may take a hard push to get the cartridge in all the way- IF it will go in all the way.

.38Spl cartridges will fit very loosely in a lengthened .38S&W chamber. When fired, the cases may be hard to extract, due to radial stretching or bulging in to the oversize chamber; IOW the cases may not "spring back" as intended.

.38Spl cartridges will project almost 1/4" from a non-lengthened factory-original .38S&W chamber. This will render the cylinder impossible to close.

I realize that "loose" and "tight" are difficult to define on the Internetz, but it's the best I can do.
Quote:
...I believe that the British also obtained S&W revolvers that were made for .38 Special. I am not sure about this....
I am not aware of the British having obtained such revolvers, and I've read quite a bit about this subject. The Brits did not have .38Spl ammo in their standard military supply chain, so it would be impractical to use them.

OTOH the American military DID use a good number of the .38S&W revolvers from Lend-Lease production overruns; the Americans likewise did not have .38S&W ammunition in their standard military supply chain, but the guns were largely issued to security guards at non-critical stateside facilities, so the guard could buy his own ammo at the local hardware store.
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Last edited by carguychris; January 3, 2013 at 05:20 PM. Reason: minor reword...
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Old January 4, 2013, 12:30 PM   #8
Shifty616
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Thanks again for all the info. I took your information and looked at other threads on the same gun and have learned a lot. Now I just need to clean it, oil it, and buy some nice walnut grips for it
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Old January 4, 2013, 03:26 PM   #9
Mike Irwin
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"the Americans likewise did not have .38S&W ammunition in their standard military supply chain, but the guns were largely issued to security guards at non-critical stateside facilities, so the guard could buy his own ammo at the local hardware store."

At some point, either during WW II or just after, the ammo did enter the standard supply chain, and was referred to at times as the .38 S&W Short, or something like that. Supposedly the OSS armed many of its field people with revolvers chambered for .38/200.

I have a book around here that has reprints of WW II/1950s era equipment tables. I'll have to look for it.
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Old January 4, 2013, 03:28 PM   #10
Mike Irwin
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The markings on the gun (logo, Made in USA) are still pretty distinct, so I would suspect that if it were a British contract gun that at least some of the British ordnance markings would still be visible on the left side of the frame and/or barrel. The British tended to stamp the information pretty deeply.
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Old January 4, 2013, 05:56 PM   #11
Mk VII
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We did take some .38 Spec ones (not many), having made a clean sweep of almost everything S&W had in the inventory at that point. Most would later be reamed out to take the service cartridge (reaming often very rough) and stamped /380 on the frame barrel socket.
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Old January 4, 2013, 07:54 PM   #12
Bart Noir
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Did I not say that smarter people would give further answers?

Thanks, gents. Assuming that you are actually gents. Mike, him I am certain of. But MK VII is a cartridge and I am not sure of gender there

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Old January 5, 2013, 01:08 PM   #13
Shifty616
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Quote:
so I would suspect that if it were a British contract gun that at least some of the British ordnance markings would still be visible
So do you think it was a commercial unit that was sold here in the U.S.?
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Old January 5, 2013, 01:42 PM   #14
James K
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I guess I don't have enough experience, but without more and better pictures or further information, I have no idea how anyone could tell the original caliber of that gun or whether it was made for the police, the British, the U.S. military, some other country, or for commercial sale.

Many surplus Victory and pre-Victory model revolvers were cut down after WWII by companies that bought them and resold them to the public, but that revolver could have been cut down by any gunsmith also.

In any case, it has little value except as a shooter; if it accepts .38 Special ammunition, it should be limited to standard velocity.

Jim
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