S&W 38 CTG


June 7, 2006, 07:55 AM
I have a Smith and Wesson 38 pistol. It has a 4 inch barrel, checkered woodened S&W emblem grips, with a blued finish. Serial number 982***. The top of the barrel is engraved Smith & Wesson Springfield Mass. U.S.A. Patented Feb. 6, 06, Sept. 14, 09, Dec. 29, 14. Left side of the barrel is engraved SMITH & WESSON. Right side of barrel is engraved 38 S.&W. CTG. Bottom of barrel it stamped CAL 38 SPECIAL with matching Serial number almost across it. Can provide pics if needed. Any information on history or price is appreciated.

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June 7, 2006, 01:14 PM
It sounds like a 1905 4th Model Military & Police. The serial is very close to if not in the World War II era. I am confused on the caliber. The .38 S&W and the .38 S&W Special are different calibers and you indicate that your gun is stamped with both designations. It may have been reamed for the longer and incorrect diameter Special caliber. This is not uncommon for the .38 S&W guns but it's a bad idea.

Could it actually be a 5" barrel? Measure from the face of the cylinder and not from where the barrel meets the frame. Many of these were made in .38 S&W with 5" barrels and sent to England for the war effort. Many, as I noted, were later reamed and maybe restamped .38 Special. A ring on the butt would also suggest military service.

Value depends on condition. Original Victory Models in good condition have gone up a lot recently and I see them selling for $300 to $500 based on condition. If refinished and modified it would be worth $100 - $200 as a "shooter" grade pistol.

Does your gun look like this one? This is the 5" barrel.


June 7, 2006, 03:11 PM
Yes it has a 5 inch barrel. The gun is almost identical to the one in the picture. The gun I have hasn't been drilled for the laynard loop. It doesn't have the "V" stamp for victory model either. The 38 CTG appears on the side of the barrel and is engraved. While the 38 special looks to lighter and it is on the underside of the barrel. If the cylinder is closed the push rod covers it. Is there any more info available on this gun?

December 5, 2006, 07:02 PM
Hi! I also just inherited a 38S&W that is IDENTICAL to the on pictured in the post above. My SN is9609xx and is absolutely 100%, never fired according to my father. Can you tell me any more about the gun? It belonged to my grandfather who I never met, but i do know that he worked as a policeman at the Bath Iron Works in Maine during World War 2. Evidently he was issued two of these revolvers and the one I now have was never used. Thanks!

Old Fuff
December 5, 2006, 09:38 PM
The history of the Smith & Wesson model .38-200 revolver is an interesting one that has been covered extensively in past threads. These can be located by using the forum's search feature.

In 1940 Smith & Wesson for all practical purposes was bankrupt. During the Great Depression they had continued to build revolvers and make parts, even thought those revolvers for the most part weren't selling. While this might seem foolish, their motive was to keep their skilled and valuable work force intact. If they were laid off and moved on they couldn't be easily replaced, and management knew it. But they could only keep this up for so long, and that time was about up.

In desperation they contracted with the British to design and build a 9mm carbine. They had absolutely no experiences with such arms, and the prototypes wouldn’t work with the U.K.’s ammunition. At this point the customer ask the company to refund a one million dollar pre-payment they’d made. Smith & Wesson couldn’t do it, as they’d spent the money, and had no other available funds. To save themselves they offered the British a deal. They would pay the debt in revolvers (sold at a special lower price) rather then money.

There was one problem. What revolvers S&W had on hand were chambered in .38 Special. The British service cartridge – normally used in Enfield and Webley top-break revolvers) was based on the .38 S&W cartridge, loaded with an extra heavy 200 grain bullet, and called the .38-200. So Smith & Wesson proposed to convert .38 Special revolvers they had on hand to .38-200 by reboring the barrels and replacing the cylinders as necessary, or using both new barrels and cylinders.

By now the Germans had conquered most of Europe, including France, and were planning to invade England. Given the circumstances the harried Brits. quickly accepted Smith & Wesson’s proposal and the deal was on.

Production started in March 1940, and by September the firm discontinued its commercial business to concentrate on .38-200 revolvers to the exclusion of others. This situation continued until February 1941, when they got caught up enough to restore some commercial and U.S. government orders. However they continued to make .38-200 revolvers throughout the World War Two period. During this whole period some 568,204 .38-200 revolvers were made.

It is interesting to note that next to the .38 Special cartridge, the .38-200 is the most common chambering found in the Military & Police revolver. Yet it was never cataloged for sale in the United States.

The standard barrel length was 5 inches. However during 1940 and 41 some were made with 4 and 6 inch barrels. With Hitler on the march the British did not quibble about barrel length. After 1942 these revolvers were marked “United States Property” or U.S. Property and sent under the Lend Lease Program, rather then being purchased directly as the earlier guns had been.

After the United States entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 this country found itself facing a serious shortage of handguns. As a result many .38-200 revolvers were diverted, and rather then sent to England or her Commonwealth countries, spent the war in holsters worn by security and plant guards at U.S, manufacturing factories.

A substantial number were also sold(?) to the O.S.S, the U.S. Army’s clandestine service during the war. For what reason the “spooks” need these revolvers is still not publicly known.

Following World War Two, during the middle 1950’s, these revolvers were declared surplus by the British Army, and many – if not most – were exported back to the United States. Unfortunately, because the .38 S&W cartridge wasn’t popular a substantial number were rechambered to .38 Special. These are usually marked on the side of the barrel, “.38 S&W Ctg.” And elsewhere, .38 Special. Both cartridges can be fired in the rechambered revolvers, but split cases and poor accuracy are often the result. It is most advisable not to shoot Plus-P cartridges of any kind in these revolvers, and some will go so far as to say they shouldn’t be shot at all. Be that as it may, they have a lot of interesting history behind them.

Old Fuff
December 5, 2006, 10:01 PM

Welcome to The High Road. :)

You apparently have one of the .38-200 revolvers that was purchased by the Defense Supplies Corporation (DSC), a government agency charged with supplying domestic police departments and defense factory guards with sidearms during World War Two. It then ended up at the Bath Iron Works. It was obviously diverted from a shipment that should have gone to England, but after January 1942 our needs came first.

A more complete history of your particular revolver can be obtained from the Smith & Wesson factory, and their historian, Mr. Roy G. Jinks. The cost for making a records search (which is no easy task) is $30.00.

You will need to make out a check in the above amount to Smith & Wesson (not Mr. Jinks) and enclose with it a snapshot of the revolver to aid positive identification, and a full description, including the serial number as stamped on the butt. Don't use any xxx's in this case, because he needs the full number. You will in about 6 to 8 weeks receive a formal letter from Smith & Wesson, signed by Mr. Jinks, that explains the general background of the model, and then the specific details about your gun - including the date shipped, and to whom.

Be sure your revolver is marked on the barrel, ".38 S&W Ctg." and not ".38 Special Ctg." You will still get the history and background, but the details will be different then what I have outlined here."

December 6, 2006, 10:35 AM
Old Fluff is like the old E.F. Hutton commercials.
When he talks (types). People listen.

Thanks Old Fluff.
And welcome to THR gsoule.


Sleeping Dog
December 8, 2006, 10:35 AM
Old Fuff is the one worth listening to.

Old Fluff is his evil alter-ego :evil:

Fluff is what fills the air after a pillow fight.

I'm not sure what Fuff is, but seems to be gaseous, like hot air. Not sure if the air is heated in the lung, stomach, or large intestine. :confused:

Back on topic: Good info on the history of the pistol and of S&W. It's a great looking gun, compared to my sort of clunky 686.

Old Fuff
December 8, 2006, 10:54 AM
Ah.... Gentlemen... that's "FUFF," not "FLUFF." :D

Those that know him are well aware that the only thing that exceeds his ego are his good looks. :neener: ;)

December 8, 2006, 04:49 PM
WOW!:what: Old Fuff, I never herd any of this. I think this is the most I have learned from one post on THR. Thank's

December 12, 2006, 06:39 PM
Wow! Thank you very much for all of the information concerning this revolver. I did, in fact, use the search function to gather as much information as possible before posting. It was when I saw the picture I did a double-take and just had to chip in. I was a little disheartened to learn about the 'V' precourser (Victory) of the serial number that was not present on mine, but the explanations of the weapon in question are more than comforting that it is an authentic era hand gun. One futher question that I would like to ask - when was this gun retired from the Department of Defense? I carried a .38 while assigned as a crewchief on UH-1H Helicopters during the 80's. Any chance this is the same version? It's been a few years and three tours in Iraq since I switched to the M9, but it sure looks familier. Thanks again for the comments. Here is a pic of the .38.

Old Fuff
December 12, 2006, 07:36 PM

I was a little disheartened to learn about the 'V' precourser (Victory) of the serial number that was not present on mine, but the explanations of the weapon in question are more than comforting that it is an authentic era hand gun.

As 38-200 model revolvers go, the "non- V" serial numbered ones are harder to find and generally considered to be more desireable.

In 1899 S&W started to number their new Military & Police model at #1. The first of 38-200 version was sold exclusively to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries starting in 1940. All were numbered in Smith & Wesson's regular commercial serial number series starting in the upper 700,000 range. This continued until early 1942 when they hit #1,000,000 (one million) and the machine that stamped the numbers wouldn't go any higher. That's when they started over at #V-1.

When the United States got into the war following Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 - and Germany declaring war on us on December 8th, it quickly became clear that we were exporting handguns to England when we were far short of enough to meet out own needs. That's when the Defense Supplies Corporation (really a government agency) stepped in and told S&W to fill their requirements first. They either got the gun you have, or they authorized S&W to send it directly to the Bath Steel Works. I finely noticed your gun has a 4" barrel. That's why the DSC got it and it didn't go to England. They had dibs on any 4" .38 that didn't go to our Army or Navy. If it had been a 5 or 6 inch length it probably would have been shipped out. The short length adds to the already considerable value of the piece.

Your gun is an exceptional one - with an exceptional history. I wouldn't worry about it not having a "V" in the number. :cool:

Old Fuff
December 12, 2006, 07:48 PM
Darn!! I forgot your second question.

Following the Second World War, the military services continued to buy the .38 Special, Military & Police revolver - that became known as the model 10 in 1957. These, and a handful of old Victory models were issued as late as the Viet Nam War. As for Iraq, I don't know. But if it was, or is, the number would be very limited.

Unfortunately, because of President Lydon Johnson, many thousands of these fine revolvers were cut up and sold for scrap. :cuss:

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