First S&w victory question
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Thread: First S&w victory question

  1. #1
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    Default First S&w victory question

    Just picked up this pistol (bought from gb). Question I have is about the serial numbers. The numbers on the butt, cylinder and barrel match but the frame and yolk have a different number. Given that the butt and frame are a single piece is this correct?

    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    You have matching serial numbers as is normal, the other numbers are assembly numbers that were in use during that time period and are not recorded for identification.

  3. #3

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    Yes, those are assembly numbers inside the crane/yoke.

    The actual serial number should be located in 5 places; on the butt, underneath the barrel, on the cylinder, on the back side of the extractor, and stamped or penciled on the right grip.

    Grips can be easily changed though. I have Victories with both penciled and stamped grips as well as one that has no markings and another with a different serial number from another revolver.

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    Much later S&W did not mark the S/N other than the butt and inside crane. Even assy numbers were abandoned.

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    Ah looks like the grips are not numbered. Your thoughts please
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    Quote Originally Posted by flboater View Post
    Ah looks like the grips are not numbered. Your thoughts please
    Well, mine are that somebody took a pair of checkered Magnas (without any markings or S&W roundels) and sanded them down. Or that your gun got through with a set of grips that slipped through getting numbered. Second guess seems more likely. Could be replacements for damaged original set.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Unnumbered stocks are simply replacements. The stocks were numbered because they were hand-fitted to each revolver.

    You did not mention it but it appears that your revolver is a 5 incher in .38 S&W. Because so many of the .38 S&W guns were re-chambered to .38 Special you might want to check and make sure that your example was not so modified. The easy way to check is to see if a .38 Special cartridge will load completely into the chamber. If so, then the revolver has been modified. If not, you are good to go.

    HTH.

    Regards,
    Charlie

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    I do not see a photo of the right side of the pistol but the barrels are plainly marked as to caliber many of the five inch barrels went to the Brits but are usually covered with their proofing. Five inch pistols were commonly used to arm guards at war material plants, most Navy pistols are marked on the left side top strap.
    Bored out cylinders as mentioned by Ordnance guy will seriously render the pistol to shooter category. The internal dimensions between chambers for .38 S&W and Special are very different.

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    But chambers reamed for .38 Spl (pity a lot of that went on after the War) will still accept 38 S&W and do what they were supposed to when new quite well.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Thanks for the great feedback. Sorry to admit that I don't have a .38 spl l cartridge but here is a pic of the right side of the barrel. Looks like there is a British proof
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  12. #11

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    Yep. British .38/200 revolver that will accept American .38 S&W (not .38 Special) cartridges. All I see are British nitro proof markings. Any broad arrow markings to denote military use?

    From your 4th photo it appears that your cylinder is unconverted. However, at some point you DO need to check to see if it has been converted to .38 Special. This is as simple as swinging the cylinder out and seeing if a .38 Special cartridge will drop all the way in.

    If so then you can shoot standard pressure non +P .38 Spl ammo in it. As noted above, whether converted or unconverted you can still shoot .38 S&W ammo through it. There's about 5 companies that currently produce S&W ammo. I know Remington, Winchester, Mag-Tech, & Privi-Partizan make .38 S&W ammo, and I think Federal also does, but not certain about that. There may also be others. It's also a very easy cartridge to reload for.

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    Thanks for the right side photo, hopefully your revolver is intact as a .38 S&W ctg. And with the british proof it just adds to the mistique of what service the weapon performed in WWII. Unaltered you have what was once a drag on the surplus market with many having the barrel cut to 2 or 2 1/2" just to find buyers. Today that $37.50 revolver is selling in the $6-800 range.

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    Here are two other marks but I don't think either is a broad arrow. What is the "nitro proof" and what does it mean in terms of likely use in the absence of broad arrows? I will get to a store today and buy a .38 round. Actually I will try to get some s&w
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  15. #14

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    Even though American ordnance sent to England was proofed in the U.S. before being exported, British law (The Gun Barrel Proof Act) required a separate British proof. This basically required all firearms to be proof fired according to the British Rules of Proof. If I understand it correctly, it is a civilian law that often got applied to imported military weapons. I believe your proof marks were probably applied during the 1950's. There are several Brits of good repute more knowledgeable than me that can provide better info.

    That line of arcane markings on the right side of your barrel IS the British nitro proof mark. That's what NP stands for. To translate that entire inscription it's NP for "Nitro Proof", .38 for caliber, .767 is the length of the case in inches, and 3.5 Tons (British Long Tons) is how much pressure the revolver endured during the proof loads. FWIW, a Long Ton is 2,240 lbs.

    The marking on the right side of the frame just below the "Made in USA" stamp is a typical British inspector mark and very frequently found on British weaponry. The WB marking on the butt stands for Col. Waldemar Broberg, the U.S. military inspector that passed this revolver through the U.S. end. Since he was the inspector at S&W in 1941 & 1942 that helps to narrow down the date of manufacture a bit. The other marking on the butt looks to be a lightly struck flaming bomb, another U.S. ordnance mark almost always seen on the butt of Victory Model revolvers.

    The gun was sent to England to support the general war effort but the lack of either broad arrows or crossed pennants on your revolver indicates that it likely never saw actual military use, although that is never 100% absolute. It could have alternatively been issued to a police or civilian agency. Or to a British government official. Or someone else. Without some provenance it is probable that you will never know exactly where it saw service.
    Last edited by VeloDog455; 05-20-2017 at 07:30 AM.

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    The commercial proof marks are post-1955, and were required before sale to the public was possible. The Broad Arrow was the military property mark and was not applied to Lend Lease items such as this revolver; it was US property. Crossed pennants were a military proof mark and were not applied for the same reason.

    Peter

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    Again, thanks but I am confused. I don't see broad arrows or crossed flags so does that, combined with the nitro proof indicate British military use during the war?

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    Quote Originally Posted by VeloDog455 View Post
    and 3.5 Tons (British Long Tons) is how much pressure the revolver endured during the proof loads. FWIW, a Long Ton is 2,240 lbs.
    Not so, it is the maximum service pressure of the ammunition it was proofed for. The proof pressure would have been 30 to 45% higher.


    [/QUOTE] The gun was sent to England to support the general war effort but the lack of either broad arrows or crossed pennants on your revolver indicates that it likely never saw actual military use, although that is never 100% absolute. It could have alternatively been issued to a police or civilian agency. Or to a British government official. Or someone else. Without some provenance it is probable that you will never know exactly where it saw service.[/QUOTE]

    My previous post was intended to correct this misunderstanding. However, it seems to have confused flboater so I will try again.

    The S&W in question was a Lend Lease item; see "United States Property" on the top-strap. As such it was NOT British property and would NOT be marked with the Broad Arrow British military property stamp. Nor would it be subject to British military proof and hence no crossed pennants military proof stamp. However, it would certainly have been issued within the British military, but we shall never know where or to which unit or force.

    Technically, after the war it should have been returned to the US. This never happened in practice and it was disposed of as surplus by the British War Office. It was/is an offence to sell an unproofed (by a British or other acceptable proof house) gun. Since the US had/has no nationally legislated proof house the gun was "unproofed", and was therefore proof fired (post 1954) by either the London or Birmingham proof house: from the pictures I cannot make out which.

    I trust that this is a clearer explanation.

    Peter

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    Peter. Thanks and your explanation was perfect. I greatly appreciate you sharing your knowledge

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    Quote Originally Posted by flboater View Post
    Peter. Thanks and your explanation was perfect. I greatly appreciate you sharing your knowledge
    You are welcome.

    Peter

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    Kewl!


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    As a civilian, my father had such a revolver during the war - it was handed back after VE day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staffy View Post
    As a civilian, my father had such a revolver during the war - it was handed back after VE day.
    Was in in the us or England?

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    Yes, England - he could have hung onto it, but we kids kept 'Finding' it and the ammo!!! We were allowed to handle the .303 and had a Canadian boys size .22 rifle for practice. Don't ask what the details are as it is a long time ago and they were just guns. Hermann used to fly over us to Liverpool etc, but apart from the few dropped bombs we were pretty well out of that side of things.
    Have been in OZ almost 50 yrs.

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    Thanks for the story. Very interesting that your dad had a pistol like this even though he was a civilian.

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    He sometimes had large amounts of money to carry. Also, he was Home Guard and the rifle was a NoI MkIII*, the .22 I think was a Cooey single shot.

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