Need to ID an old S&W revolver M&P


December 14, 2006, 11:16 PM
Serial#774448 it has a small p stamped on the gun butt ass well. The grips are similar to the 1917 but it is a 38 S&W CTG. The last patent date is DEC. 29 1914. There are markings above the grips on the left side of the gun and one marking between the cylinder and end of the barrel on the left side as well. it has fixed sights. I hope someone can help.


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Old Fuff
December 14, 2006, 11:44 PM
The following was extracted from a post in another thread, and should answer most of your questions.

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.


December 15, 2006, 05:26 AM
are there any particular symbols on the gun that I can use to find out its use in service?

Old Fuff
December 15, 2006, 09:45 AM
The only way we might be able to help you with the markings is if you could submit clear photographs of them. Within the production range of the .38-200 revolver, yours is an early one, likely dating from 1941. However you can be fooled, because S&W would serial number frames before they were made into revolvers and then draw them out of inventory later.

It should have been shipped to England or a Commonwealth country, but some weren't. The British stamped proof and government ownership marks all over the revolvers they got, and stamped them "Not English Made" on the right side in front of the trigger guard. I suspect (with no way to prove it one way or the other) that your revolver might have been picked up by the Defense Supplies Corp. (DSC) that was really a government agency, and sold to a police department or defense factory. In that case the markings on the revolver would have come from them. For details follow the posts in the link I provided before.

If you interested enough to spend some money, a $30.00 check made out to Smith & Wesson, a snapshot photograph to aid identification, and a full description of the gun may be sent to Smith & Wesson's historian at their factory. Mr. Jinks will go back through the records, find your particular gun, and send you a letter explaining the details as the records show them. This should include the date it was shipped, and who to. For additional details go to:

The Real Hawkeye
December 15, 2006, 10:16 AM
I saw one of these in a gun shop yesterday. Looked pretty cool, and it had been converted to .38 Special, so I asked for the price. They were asking $300 for it, so I turned it down. Nice looking gun, but I'm glad I didn't get it after reading that you shouldn't shoot it.

Old Fuff
December 15, 2006, 10:34 AM
The .38-200 revolvers are now being priced as collectables rather then shooters. As collectables their value depends on them being completely original, and not being chambered to something else. Shooters have little interest in them because the .38 S&W cartridge isn't very popular, and when the revolver is rechambered to .38 Special accuracy is a something thing, with split cases a possibility. :eek:

Never pay inflated collector prices for something that isn't collectable. :uhoh:

The Real Hawkeye
December 15, 2006, 10:38 AM
Yes, that was my thinking as well, and I told them as much. I said to the man that if it was unaltered, I'd pay that amount, but being a converted chambering, it's not worth the $300 he was asking. He just siad ok and put it back under glass.

Old Fuff
December 15, 2006, 12:24 PM
He just said ok and put it back under glass.

Well he may or may not find a sucker, but it won't be you... ;)

December 15, 2006, 11:20 PM
what do the marks look like? there is not a "not english made" stamp or any other seemingly english stamps. the barrel, cylinder, and frame all match with the same serial # and it is still a 38 S&W.

Old Fuff
December 15, 2006, 11:43 PM
If (big "if") as I suspect the Defense Supplies Corporation go ahold of it, it would have gone to either a police department, or to a defense plant manufacturing whatever. In that case they could have stamped it with anything they wanted to. Such marks were not regulated by any authority except whoever had the gun. The only way you can get more specific information would be to have the revolver "lettered" by Roy Jinks at Smith & Wesson. His records might (just might) show which particular police department or defense plant - or whoever - got the gun.

In 1941-42 there was a war on. Some strange and unpredictable things happened.

December 16, 2006, 01:34 AM
I appreciate it thanks

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