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Old July 4, 2013, 08:17 AM   #1
ken obert
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information about S&W Victory model SN V549xxx

Gentlemen, happy Independence day....I have a question about a Victory model S&W 38 cal SN # V 5495xx. It has the smooth brown walnut stocks which are also stamped 5495xx (I could not see the V as a prefix) on the right stock, and has the lanyard ring in place. The barrel is 5 in long and is stamped 38 cal. The last patent # is Dec 29 14. The revolver belongs to a friend and the frame has 5 screws where as my Victory model 38 S&W special ctg SN # SV 780xxx only has 4. Could someone explain the difference and tell of the manufacture date and destination? I have enclosed 1 photo of revolver. Thanks for your help.
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File Type: jpg S&W 38 cal 5 screw.jpg (87.7 KB, 54 views)
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Old July 4, 2013, 08:40 AM   #2
Mike Irwin
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BOTH of your revolvers should have five screws -- the four that you can see in the side plate plus another on the underside of the gun just in front of the trigger guard.

ALL S&W K frame revolvers were 5 screw in this time period until sometime in the 1950s.

The fact that your friend's does not have the V prefix means that it was manufactured earlier, probably in 1940 to 1941 as the change to the V prefix was made at serial number 1,000,000 around 1942.
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Old July 4, 2013, 09:08 AM   #3
ken obert
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S&W 38 cal SN V5495xx

Thanks Mr. Irwin, my bad for not noticing closer on my V model which does not have original stocks. The replaced stock was covering up one of the screws.
Another question about the absence of the S. I know from previous posts that it indicates the hammer block that was added after the accident in 1944, without this mark the revolver does not have this improvement. Also the barrel only has the stamp as 38 cal. Does this mean that it can not fire the special round with more lead weight and powder? Do they call the ammo which will fire in the 38 cal the 38 short?
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Old July 4, 2013, 09:14 AM   #4
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I'm no expert but I believe that S&W shipped revolvers to Great Britain from 1939-42 that were serialized in the commercial range. Collectors may call these "Pre-Victory Models."

In 1942 they hit 1,000,000 and started over with V1. They were made until sometime in 1945 but I don't know how high the serial went. These are the true "Victory Models" according to serious collectors. In 1945 a new safety to block the hammer was added these were stamped SV.

Most VMs came with 4" barrels in 38 Special for use by U.S. military and civilians (defense plant guards, etc were often issued these pistols) or 5" barrels in 38 S&W for Great Britain (this includes Canada, Australia, etc). A very, very few were made in 38 Special with 2" barrels and collectors go nuts over these.

After the war many of these were reissued to German civilian police departments during the reconstruction period. I have one marked for a PD in Saxony and I joke that it was packed by a "Saxon pig."

Many of the 38 S&W guns were cut up and reamed for the longer 38 Special. Sadly, these guns are pretty much ruined. Most often the barrels were cut to 2" because that was cool but the front ejector rod lug is usually lost at this length. The 38 S&W bore is slightly larger than the Special and combined with the lost lug these guns can be unreliable and very inaccurate.
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Old July 4, 2013, 07:52 PM   #5
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They never "hit" one million. The addition of the V was made because S&W's numbering machine only went to six digits, so when they reached 999999, they decided to add an initial letter (the "V" for Victory) which would be put on all guns when the frame was made (the serial number was stamped later). Sometime in December 1944 at about serial V769xxx, when the new hammer block safety was added and the "S" added to indicate that change.*

They reached VS811119 when the Army contract ended and production continued into the post-war period without the "V", starting with S811120.

*Revolver frames already completed and marked with the "V" had the "S" added ahead of the "V", giving an "SV" prefix. Revolvers fully completed or called back for the modification had the "S" added after the serial number. Frames made after the change have "VS" numbers.

Jim
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Old July 4, 2013, 08:14 PM   #6
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The revolver should have the full barrel stamp, ".38 S&W Ctg." or ".38 S&W Special Ctg." If it has only ".38 Caliber" it is some kind of replacement.

Contrary to what is sometimes written, serial number 1000000 was never reached. The reason for the "V" in the first place was that S&W's numbering machine only went to six digits, so as 999999 approached the decision was made to add an initial letter which would be stamped on all frames when they were made. The letter chosen was "V" (for Victory). The actual serial number was added later in production.

As noted, the "S" indicates the new (and still current) hammer block safety. The highest Victory model serial number was VS811119; after the war, production continued without the "V", at number S811120.

I have recently seen information to the effect that a number like V768xxx indicates a revolver with the old style hammer block, never upgraded. SV769xxx indicates a revolver whose frame had already been made before the change and the "S" was added when the new safety was installed. V750xxxS indicates a revolver that had been recalled to have the new safety fitted. And VS810xxx was a revolver manufactured new with the new hammer block. That seems to make sense, but I would appreciate any data to either confirm or contradict it.

Jim
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Old July 4, 2013, 10:39 PM   #7
SaxonPig
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Gee, call me a liar over 999,999 not actually "hitting" a million. I knew they stopped at 999,999 but one million sounds better. We're talking 1/1,000,000 difference... literally. Tough crowd...
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Old July 5, 2013, 09:47 AM   #8
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Hi, Saxon Pig, sorry 'bout that.

As they say in Washington, a billion here and a trillion there and pretty soon it adds up to real money.

Jim
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:31 AM   #9
ken obert
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Information about SW Victory SN 549xxx

Thank you Mr. Jim, your knowledge of these WW II revolvers is amazing. I know enough now from your sharing information w/me that I can explain these facts w/my family to whom I will leave my father's revolver with. I am sending away the info needed to acquire the S&W letter to authenticate this collectible revolver made during WW II. I appreciate your time and study of these revolvers and again add my thanks.

Thank you SP for all you have shared w/me as well.
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Old July 5, 2013, 11:55 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
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"Frames made after the change have "VS" numbers."

Jim,

From Standard Catalog Second Edition:

"It is reported that a VS serial prefix exists but the authors have never confirmed this."

Has that been confirmed?

I've always heard of the VS, but I've never seen any guns so marked that were made in the short time frame that it would have been used.
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Old July 5, 2013, 06:07 PM   #11
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Hi, Mike and guys,

Remember the "V" was stamped in the frame when it was made, the number was stamped later. So the "V" was already there on the first guns. The "S" had to be stamped either ahead of it, behind it, or behind the number space.

The logical place would be ahead of the "V" to make the serial read SVxxxxxx, and I seem to recall seeing them that way. I have also seen VxxxxxxS. Was the "S" placed pretty much at random or was there a system? I think if some folks who have Victory Models contribute the information on their guns (X out the last three of the serial if they want), maybe we can figure out the system. (My Victory Model is a Vxxxxxx, with the old style hammer block.)

There are a lot of unanswered questions about those guns. For one thing, pre-Victory Model serial numbers were stamped starting from the rear and reading toward the lanyard loop. Victory Model numbers were stamped starting at the loop and reading toward the rear. That apparently was done to allow room for the "V". The first guns had the V behind the hole adjacent to the number. But at some point (probably when numbers went to six digits, the "V" was moved to the front of the hole to allow more room for the serial.

Also, apparently S&W had some revolvers left over at the end of the war and sold them with the "SV" number. SV809978 was blued and had checkered grips when it was shipped to the NYC police in March, 1946. (The last Victory Model has been reported as SV811119, so the NYC PD gun was apparently a leftover, not new production. Was the gun unfinished or was the Parkerizing removed?)

I think I will try to see if I can find or create a decent data base and figure out the system, if any. There is a lot of confusion now, what with pre-V, V, VS, SV, not to mention the "S" being reported as a "5" and vice-versa, fake Victory Models being made from Post-War M&P models, etc.

So, again, let's see pictures or at least a FULL description of Victory serials.

Jim
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Old July 5, 2013, 09:11 PM   #12
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Hi, Mike and guys,

Here is what I have so far. In serial numbers, * represents a gap, + represents the lanyard loop hole, <( and ) represent the ends of the butt, with <( or )> indicating the front.

1. Through 999999, no V. The serial number is stamped reading from the rear of the butt toward the lanyard loop hole. Example: (946xxx + )>

2. V 1 through about V 300000. The serial number is stamped reading from the lanyard loop hole toward the rear of the butt. The V is to the right of the hole. Example <( + V121xxx ).

3. About V 300000 through about V 750xxx. The serial number is stamped from the lanyard loop hole toward the rear of the butt. The V is to the left of the hole. Example <( * V * + 486xxx )

4. From about S V 750xxx through about S V 774xxx. The serial number is stamped from the lanyard loop hole toward the rear of the butt. The letter "S" (new hammer block safety) is stamped between the "V" and the front of the butt. The letter "S" is stamped on the sideplate indicating the revolver was changed during production or after completion.
Example <( * S * V * + 724xxx )

5. From about S V 774*** to end of production. The serial number is stamped from the lanyard loop hole toward the rear of the butt. The letter "S" is stamped between the "V" and the front of the butt. There is no "S" on the sideplate. Example <( * S * V* + 800xxx )

I have to credit several sites and sources, too many to list here, but I appreciate the information.

P.S. Note the first example. That number arrangement should unmask fake Victory Models made from ordinary M&P's of the 1920's and 1930's.

P.P.S. Mike, I have seen a report of a VS serial VS825xxx, but no picture, so that one is in the question category.

Jim

Edited to number the marking variations for reference.

JK
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Old July 6, 2013, 07:39 AM   #13
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" Mike, I have seen a report of a VS serial VS825xxx, but no picture, so that one is in the question category."

Exactly.

I've always heard that "they exist" but no one in the collecting community ever seems to have seen one.

As far as I know, neither Rick Nahaus nor Jim Supica has ever seen one or you'd think that they would put it in their book and published it in the S&W collectors newsletter.

It ranks right up there with the "they made a few first model hand ejectors in .32 S&W," but no one has ever seen one.
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Old July 6, 2013, 02:13 PM   #14
ken obert
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Information Victory Models S&W 38 Special

handle SN.jpg
Does this help w/your idea about the placement of the serial numbers and the letters added?
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Old July 6, 2013, 06:37 PM   #15
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Yes, that would be my No. 5. The grips are not original.

Jim
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Old July 6, 2013, 08:46 PM   #16
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Well, for what it's worth I have V746119 shipped January of 1945. No S anywhere to be seen.
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Old July 6, 2013, 08:56 PM   #17
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Hi, Mike and guys,

I have been reminded of an error that I have made before, but I am not sure if it really is that serious a one. I have generally followed the practice of most collectors in calling any WWII M&P with a serial number starting with "V" a Victory Model.

But just to get it straight for the record, the factory did not do that. S&W made the M&P for the British and other countries in .38 S&W from about 1937 on. The standard caliber for the M&P was .38 Special. (The otherwise identical guns made in .32-20 were not called the M&P Model - they were called the .32-20 Hand Ejector.)

So S&W called the .38 S&W caliber model the ".38/200 British Service Revolver" or "K-200". Those guns were numbered in the M&P series and when the numbers reached 999999, they added a "V" (for Victory) in front of the number. AFAIK, at that point, they had ceased making any M&P revolvers for the commercial market.

Those guns were not, strictly speaking, "Victory Models". Around V40000, the U.S. contracted for revolvers for American forces, to be otherwise identical, but made in .38 Special. S&W then began to use the term Victory Model in the factory for those guns, but not for the guns in .38 S&W (.38/200) being made for the British. So, using the strict factory terminology, there were no Victory Models under serial V40000 and no Victory Models in .38 S&W.

I hate to try to explain all this every time someone calls a .38/200 a "Victory Model", so should I (we) continue the error of calling any "V" numbered M&P a "Victory Model"? Or is V123456 in .38 S&W a K-200 while V123457 in .38 Special a Victory Model?

Now does that clear things up? I think I need a drink.

Jim
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Old July 6, 2013, 08:59 PM   #18
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Hi, SP,

Thanks, I edited the list. I will do so as contributions come in.

Jim
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Old July 6, 2013, 10:18 PM   #19
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All this nonsense about this model and that model etc etc etc may be delightful for serious collectors but I find it tiresome. I have been through this with the Registered Magnums. Some say the registration card had to be returned to make it an RM. Geez, how many would that be, a couple hundred? None of the police sales count. I say if it has a Reg # stamped on it then it's an RM. KISS.

Same with the VMs. Some say any V serial is a VM. Here we have only the American models are VMs. I say ALL the M&Ps made for military duty 1939-45 are VMs. KISS.

I am a simple man. I like simple solutions. The minutia is wearisome. Keep It Simple, Sir.
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Old July 7, 2013, 12:08 AM   #20
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Thanks for the "Sir" instead of the usual meaning of that second "S".

Jim
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Old July 7, 2013, 09:19 AM   #21
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"All this nonsense about this model and that model etc etc etc may be delightful for serious collectors but I find it tiresome."

Then don't read the thread and go find something else to do.

Maybe tiddlywinks.
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Old July 7, 2013, 11:14 AM   #22
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Yeah, it should be obvious, even to a forum curmudgeon, that he didn't mean he was annoyed with the thread & conversation. It's pretty obvious that the topic interests him but he believes that the issue at hand has gotten lost in an intricate network of irrational details that don't have a solid framework of "proof" or records supporting them.

He's not peeing on the thread and saying "don't talk about this."
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Old July 7, 2013, 12:26 PM   #23
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I know, that's why I'm suggesting tiddlywinks!
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Old July 7, 2013, 04:12 PM   #24
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...with manhole covers, my Dad always used to say...
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Old July 7, 2013, 10:30 PM   #25
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I expected better from you, Mr. Irwin. The condescending dismissal of another man's opinion is disappointing. I am expressing my feelings on the topic. I didn't realize that I was required to conform to your sensibilities.
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