Trying to identify my smith and wesson 38


August 5, 2008, 05:35 PM
I'm new to the group.

I bought my smith and wesson 38 at a yard sale many years ago, and I would like to identify what I have.

It's a revolver with a blue/black finish. The barrel say "smith & wesson special ctg". The serial # under the barrel is 983372.

Thanks for any help.

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August 5, 2008, 06:47 PM
Hi, welcome to THR. Your description of the revolver is a bit too vague. If you open the cylinder, the model number should be listed on the frame below where the ejector rod fits in). If there's a dash followed by a number, it refers to a particular upgrade for that model (i.e. 10-2: model 10, upgrade 2).

August 5, 2008, 07:21 PM
Also, the revolver may not necessarily be made by S&W, due to the fact that "smith & wesson special ctg" is the cartridge designation, and many makers have stamped this on their revolvers. Many of the Spanish knock-offs made it a point to spell out the words "smith & wesson".

Does it have any other markings? Does it actually have the S&W logo on it? Can you post pictures?

If it is actually a S&W, and if it is prior to 1957, it might not have a model number stamped on it.

David E
August 5, 2008, 08:28 PM
What else does it say?

Grips? (wood/plastic, smooth/checkered)

Single or double action ?


August 5, 2008, 09:31 PM
If you can post an image, that is always helpful.

August 5, 2008, 09:59 PM
I can't find the cable for my camera, so I can't do pictures tonights. Here's more information though.

When opening the cylinder, the number on the frame is "2051 2".

It does have the smith & wesson logo, although it's rubbed off to some degree.

On the same side as the logo, on the frame in front of the trigger, "made in the u.s.a." is stamped.

One side of the barrel has "38 s. & w. special ctg". The other side of the barrel has "smith & wesson".

The grip is textured plastic. When I take the grip off, there is an "S" stamped on the frame under the grip.

The number "983372" is on the flat part of the underside of the barrel, under the injector rod. The same number is on the base of the handle.

I don't know how to tell if it's single or double action.

August 5, 2008, 10:17 PM
I found the camera cable. Here a few pictures.

Thanks again for the help.

August 5, 2008, 10:19 PM
It's a model 10 or a derivative. Probably not a Victory model, without a V serial number.

August 5, 2008, 10:23 PM
From what you have supplied so far it sounds like you have a 38 Military & Police in 38 Spl. Look at the serial number on the butt of the gun and you will probably find an S prefix. If this is true your gun may be what is referred to as a "Transitional" gun shipped about 1948.
A picture would certainly help.

August 5, 2008, 10:23 PM
It looks like an early S&W Mod 10 to me.

August 5, 2008, 10:29 PM
There is NOT an "S" prefix on the butt.

August 5, 2008, 10:32 PM
I bought it in 2004 in Arizona from an estate sale of a deceased elderly military man. I guess he could have it from his service time, although his son did not know when he sold me the gun.

August 5, 2008, 10:41 PM
If your gun has no prefix before the serial number on the butt such as V, SV, S, or C then it was probably produced and shipped during WW II. With no military, proof or property markings my belief is that it was probably shipped to the Defense Supplies Corporation for further distribution to a defense plant, civilian law enforcement agency, or other entity that would have met the requirements of the DSC to obtain firearms after the war had started.

Is there a hole in the butt of the gun were the serial number is? This was for a lanyard ring. Look closely since these were sometimes plugged and welded then finished.

August 5, 2008, 10:43 PM
And the large captial "S" stamped on on the handle under the grip? Which number is the serial number and does that number date the gun?

I'm a newbie. Sorry for all the questions :)

August 5, 2008, 10:47 PM
There is a hole in the butt of gun, right in the center to the right of the serial number.

And I'm not sure the grip is original, because the first 3 numbers of the serial number is obscured until you remove the grip. Unless this is normal.

August 5, 2008, 10:49 PM
The additional markings are fitters marks of no significance. The primary SN is on the butt and can date shipment of the gun and to whom it was shipped. You will also find the SN under the barrel, back of the cylinder, and under the extractor star.

August 5, 2008, 10:58 PM
Here's a few pictures of the butt with the grip off, showing the large S and small J.

August 5, 2008, 11:01 PM
The rubber grips are definitely not original to the gun. The gun would probably have been shipped with pre war service grips. Sorry, but I don't presently have a picture to show you.

August 5, 2008, 11:16 PM
The serial # "983372" is in at least 4 locations on this gun. Under the barrel (on the flat part right behind the cylinder, on base of the butt, and on the rim of the front of the cylinder (stamped a little crooked there), and on the bottom side of the ejector star.

Can we date it exactly from the serial #?

August 5, 2008, 11:45 PM
I'll take a shot at it. If it is a Smith and Wesson and if it is a 38 Special Hand Ejector M&P, the serial number would put it between 1940 and 1945. This is according to the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson - Second Edition - Jim Supra and Richard Nahas. Serial number for that model from those years ran from 700000 to 1000000. --- I did notice that the pistol has a line of writing on the right side. That should mention where it was made and clear up if it is a Smith or not, at least in my mind. The problems I have wit hthe gun are the complete spelling out of Smith and Wesson in the cartridge designation rather than just 'S&W 38 Speciall Ctg', and the serial number under the barrel.

August 6, 2008, 12:00 AM
Did all the WWII M&P models have a "V" in front of the serial #? Most websites I googled seemed to say that. My gun does NOT have the "V" in front of the serial #.

There is a picture on a wikipedia article ( that looks exactly like my gun (except for the grip), but their article says that there should be a "V" if it was made during the war.

I realize that wikipedia is not the most reliable source ;)

August 6, 2008, 12:05 AM
The writing on the right side is "made in u.s.a.". The barrel has the "38 s. & w. special ctg" on one side and just "smith & wesson" on the other side.

August 6, 2008, 01:28 AM
Last post for tonight :)

I read a few places online that the M&P model was stamped with serial numbers 1 to 1,000,000 (from 1899 to roughly 1942).

Then S&W restarted the serial number at 1 again by putting the V before the serial numbers (during the war and because their serial # machine couldn't stamp more than the 6 digits at that time).

Is this true? If so, would that make my gun (serial # 983372) one of the last M&Ps made before WWII?

August 6, 2008, 07:28 AM
Looks like a M&P pre 10, likely a Victory. There are several variations of this gun. Check out this forum (

August 6, 2008, 03:13 PM
Just noticed the following on the top of the barrel. Not sure if it's meaningful to dating the gun:

"smith & wesson springfield mass. u.s.a. patented feb.6.06.sept.14.09.dec.29.14"

August 6, 2008, 03:33 PM
Which .38 caliber S&Ws came with a lanyard? That's mostly what the hole in th butt was for, a lanyard ring.

During WWII, MPs were sometimes issued revolvers and the pistols going to the "legs."

August 6, 2008, 03:52 PM
barrel length is 4". was that common? (With my limited knowledge) I thought they were supposed to be 5".

Phil DeGraves
August 6, 2008, 04:16 PM
The 4" is the most common for the M&P revolver. Yours has the long action hammer and the half moon front sight so it is definitely a pre Model 10 M&P.

August 6, 2008, 05:14 PM
OK, I feel pretty good about this now that there is a good deaL descriptive information on the revolver. In post #20 I said I thought it was a .38 Special Hand Ejector M&P. That is what it is. Post #20 asked about the 'V' prefix on the serial number and said the gun had no 'V'. The information I have explains that the'V' was used on the .38/200 and the .38 Special Victory models from 1942 to 1945. You have a .38 Military and Police Model 1905 4th Change revolver that was made in the neighborhood of 1940 to 1942/1945.

August 6, 2008, 05:18 PM
I believe it is a ww2 era Military and Police 38. Probably one of the civil defense pistols of that period.


August 6, 2008, 05:19 PM
Thank you Marsche

August 6, 2008, 05:28 PM
Thank you everyone for your input.

I paid $175 for the 38 M&P AND a very nice 357 Highway Patrolman 28-2 (serial # N81984)

I imagine the 357 will be easier to date?

August 6, 2008, 05:46 PM
I paid $175 for the 38 M&P AND a very nice 357 Highway Patrolman 28-2 (serial # N81984)

I hate you. Lucky dog!

August 6, 2008, 06:02 PM
Here's the story....

I went to a yard sale in 2004, and the son was there selling off his dad's estate. The sale was full of military junk. I asked the son if he had any guns. He said "yeah, but I'm not selling them".

I poked around for another 10 minutes, then I asked "are you sure you don't want to sell any guns?". He said "I don't think so..."

I poked around another 10 minutes, and before I left, I asked one more time "are you really sure?". He said "maybe". I said "well, what do you have?".

He went to the back room and came out with the 38 M&P, the 357 HP 28-2, 2 nice holsters, a nice leather carrying case, and some ammo for both guns.

I said "what do you want?". He said "well......hmmm.....i'm not about $175?". I said "for everything?" (remaining calm of course in my demeanor). He said "is that too much?". I said "no, that works for me".

I couldn't get the money out of my pocket fast enough!

August 6, 2008, 07:03 PM
Can anyone date my S&W 357 Highway Patrolman 28-2 (serial # N81984)?

August 6, 2008, 07:12 PM
1972 to 1974, serial numbers N60001 to N190000

August 6, 2008, 07:50 PM
Thanks again marsche

August 6, 2008, 09:51 PM
Oh for crying out loud.

You have a Model of 1905 (4th Change) Military & Police in .38 Special made between 1915 and 1942. That serial is very near the end of this run and the lanyard suggests it was made during the early part of WW II.

When they reached serial 1,000,000 they went with the V serial prefix. These wartime revolvers were made in two basic variations. A 5" barrel in .38 S&W (not Special) for Great Britain and a 4" .38 Special for domestic use. If sold to the military it will bear military stampings like "U.S. Navy" or the such. If none are present it likely went to a police department or defense contractor for security use.

The original stocks would be smooth wood.

This is essentially the gun that would become the Model 10 in 1957 when model numbers were assigned.

This is maybe the best selling handgun in history.

August 6, 2008, 09:58 PM
Thanks SaxonPig.

I think my question is thoroughly answered, and I appreciate all the help and information :)

December 4, 2008, 03:50 PM
To help people in the future. :)

December 19, 2008, 09:31 PM
I'm also trying to identify a S & W .38 special revolver4" bbl 6 shot brushed steel, bottom of butt there is a S flaming bomb symbol 874xxx, inside yoke B 44 523, there is also a letter P upper part of frame. Can you help me identify? thanks cp

December 19, 2008, 09:36 PM
Flaming bomb is clearly a military stamp.

See the above replies and apply them to your gun.

Old Fuff
December 19, 2008, 10:00 PM

Your description suggests that you have a World War Two version of Smith & Wesson's Military & Police model, also known as the .38 model 1905 Hand Ejector, 4th change. During Wartime they were called the Victory model, and most have the letter "V" stamped on the butt along with the serial number. However very early revolvers didn't necessarily have the "V".

The brush-blued finish was used from late 1941 to March 1942. Thereafter they were sandblasted and Parkerized. Originally it had a lanyard loop mounted in the butt, but it is common to find that the loop has been removed and the hole pluged.

Oh, almost forgot. Welcome to The High Road. Glad to have you on board.

December 20, 2008, 10:00 AM
Hi everyone, I'm new to the group also.

I bought my "Charter Arms 2 in, 6 rounds, .38 Special Police Bulldog" a couple of weeks ago, and I would like to identify what I have.

It's a revolver with a blue/black finish. It has original wooden grips, weight is appr.19-20 lbs. The gun is almost new and amazingly accurate for its size. Serial # 671642.
I couldn't find any info in the books or the Internet about this model w/2 in barrel.

Thanks for any help.

December 20, 2008, 10:14 AM
jblueep it really is no big deal but the serial number of that 28 would make it made between 1969 and 1972 according to the smith and wesson bible. Again not a big deal but if you really wanted to know.

In 1969 S&W decided to change the serial [prefix] to-N- Below is the seerail numbers for Guns starting with the-N-Prefix.




December 21, 2008, 08:52 PM
To the original poster, your gun would have looked similar to this(better finish obviously) when it left the factory. It's a Model of 1905 4th change Military and Police.

December 23, 2008, 01:16 AM
This is in my shop... the customer's father apparently won it in a poker game years and years ago...

Top is marked Smith & Wesson Springfield MASS USA Patented Feb.6.06. Sept.14.09. Dec.29.14

On the butt of the handle is a serial 670xxx

Inside the cyliner is stamped KO 29731

The side of the barrel is stamped -38 S&W CTG-

The grips are plastic - probably not original?

Anyone have an idea of what/when/how much, etc?

My best guess is 38 MILITARY & POLICE (MODEL OF 1905 - 4TH CHANGE), but I'm not sure.

Thanks in advance


December 23, 2008, 01:55 AM

That is a .38 Military and Police Model of 1905 3rd Change. This is the first model made with the fifth screw at the front of the trigger guard. Made from 1905 to 1906. Total production of 10,800 according to my S&W Standard Catalog.

If the nickel is original, the gun is likely worth quite a bit more than an equal condition blued gun. It's a shame they removed the original stocks, which would have been either checkered hard rubber with S&W logo or checkered walnut with a diamond around the grip screw escutcheon.

Help some? :)

Old Fuff
December 23, 2008, 10:06 AM
That is a .38 Military and Police Model of 1905 3rd Change.

Don't think so.

3rd Change = Serial numbers 149,000 to 241,703
4th Change = Serial numbers 241,704 to 999,999

This one is 670,xxx - and therein hangs a story.

In 1940 Smith & Wesson was in deep trouble. The Great Depression had left them next to broke, and in desperation they accepted a order from the British government to design and build a 9mm carbine. Since they had no money they ask for a got a one million dollar advance. Remember those were 1940 dollars. Unfortunately the carbine flopped, and when the customer ask for their money back. S&W couldn't pay it, so they made a deal. They would pay back the cash with revolvers, which the English could by for an extra-low price. Now it was the British that were in trouble because Hitler was on their doorstep. Production of what became the .38-200 M&P revolver started on March 11, 1940 and between October 1940 and February 1941 they made .38-200 revolvers exclusively and refused all other orders, including some from our own U.S. military forces.

During this 1940 - 42 time period they did two things: (1) Convert older .38 M&P revolvers they had on hand, from .38 Special to .38 S&W - or use up older frames that were still in stock, and (2) Make new revolvers from scratch. Because they were using older frames or guns, exactly what was the lowest number isn't known - except perhaps by Roy Jinks. But it was thought to be somewhere in the 700,000 or even 800,000 serial number range.

So now you have gone and messed up the whole history. And to make things even worse, I don't see any signs of British proof marks or military ownership stamps. But they might have been polished out when the gun was nickel plated - it isn't the original finish. Also the grips are not, as you suspect, original. But in the mid-1950's when most of the remaining revolvers were returned to the United States as inexpensive war surplus, many of them were nickel plated and had the stocks replaced with what you see.

If it were mine, I'd spend the $50.00 and get it lettered by Roy Jinks at Smith & Wesson. I believe it was made, and/or assembled during 1940 and is one of the earliest .38-200 revolvers known.

One other thing. Be sure the letter "V" isn't also stamped on the butt along with the serial number. That would call for an entirely different story.

December 23, 2008, 10:53 AM
Thanks for the info. I seem to be the problem child, so messing up history - eh... typical ;)

I will try to get the owner to get it lettered, if they do, I will repost when I find out what it is.


December 23, 2008, 04:00 PM
Crap, I missed the 3rd X and mistakenly thought it was a 5 digit serial number. :uhoh:

Old Fuff, what can you tell me about the gun I posted a picture of earlier? Serial number is 984,XXX, no prefix, number offset to make room for the lanyard loop. From what I have been able to find out so far, it was likely made in 1941 and probably shipped to a government agency.

Curiously, it still has the old style hammer block and a long action but has the new style double action sear.

Old Fuff
December 23, 2008, 05:19 PM
Old Fuff, what can you tell me about the gun I posted a picture of earlier? Serial number is 984,XXX, no prefix, number offset to make room for the lanyard loop. From what I have been able to find out so far, it was likely made in 1941 and probably shipped to a government agency.

It’s one of the last revolvers made in the original K-frame serial number series that started in 1899 and ended on April 24, 1942 when they reached 999,999 and the machine that stamped the numbers wouldn't go any higher. At that point they started a new series with the letter prefix "V" at V 1. If it's a .38-200 without any British or British related, proof marks and military ownership stamps on it you are probably right. Distribution of handguns to domestic police forces and defense plants were arranged through an agency named the Defense Supply Corporation, or DSC. Any and all handguns manufactured from 1942 through the end of the war in 1945 either went to the military services, were exported to allies, or to the DSC. There was no commercial market at the time.

Curiously, it still has the old style hammer block and a long action but has the new style double action sear.

Shouldn't be, but one never knows. Does it have a notch in the hammer face under the firing pin for a hammer block to nest in? It almost has to be a post-war replacement. When dealing with Smith & Wesson I know it is not a good idea to say, “never happened.”

December 23, 2008, 09:26 PM
No, it's marked as a .38 S&W Special and has a 4" barrel. I wouldn't have purchased it if it had been the .38 S&W simply because I know some of them were poorly converted to fire .38 Special. DSC was the name of the agency I couldn't put my finger on. Mine is pretty much identical to the Navy stamped Victory my father has, with the exception of not having ordnance dept acceptance marks, etc. on it.

I just checked a picture I have of the hammer next to an original and it does have the notch for the new style hammer block. Still, in comparing this to known long action guns, mine does appear to have the long action????????

Thanks for the info!

Old Fuff
December 23, 2008, 11:24 PM
Being pressed for time, I didn't go back and look up your earlier post, and just presumed it was a .38-200. :confused: :o

It may or may not have been a DSC revolver. Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, and while I was young I still remember trying to wake up my father and tell him. Three weeks later it was 1942. Within those three weeks president Roosevelt had issued the order to put the previously organized DSC into action. Only Roy Jinks at Smith & Wesson can tell you if it shipped before the DSC took over or not. That information will cost you a reasonable $50. As a point of reference, the U.S. Navy bought 3000 .38 M&P commercial revolvers in .38 Special / 4" Barrels / with lanyard loop, around March-April-May, 1941 with serial numbers in the mid 740,000 to high 752,000 range. Concerning your revolver, keep in mind that there can be a vast difference as to when the frame was serial numbered and when the finished gun left the factory. This was especially true at this time of history.

As for the hammer. Long-action hammers designed to use the new hammer block were first used starting in January, 1945. An "S" was added before the "V" serial number prefix, and the first one was SV 769,000. Thereafter S&W continued to make new revised revolvers while retro-fitting older ones. All of the ones I have seen had the wide D.A. sear.

The first short-action hammers had the narrow sear, and were introduced with the new K-22 Masterpiece target revolvers that came out in December, 1946.

Short-action/narrow sear Military & Police .38's didn't come about until February 1948. Post-war, long-action M&P production (with the new hammer block) started in September 1945 and continued for a short time after the short-action was introduced. Post-war / long action .38 M&P revolvers have serial numbers that have an "S" prefix that started at S 811,120

I have never seen one, but it is possible that to complete some of the long-action .38's they made some long-action hammers to take the then current narrow sear. If so, Roy Jinks would know. Then at a later date, it is possible that someone replaced the original hammer in your gun and in its place installed a long-action/narrow sear one. I can't see any other way to explain it.

December 24, 2008, 09:59 PM
Thanks Old Fuff. I've read about everything I can find on the M&P from that time period, but I haven't sent off for the factory letter yet.

Until I have some concrete information from Mr. Jinks, I'll have to assume the hammer was replaced at a later date.

December 24, 2008, 10:49 PM
Hi, welcome to THR. Your description of the revolver is a bit too vague. If you open the cylinder, the model number should be listed on the frame below where the ejector rod fits in). If there's a dash followed by a number, it refers to a particular upgrade for that model (i.e. 10-2: model 10, upgrade 2).
No model numbers on S&Ws until 1957.

Old Fuff
December 25, 2008, 09:09 AM

If the information you have posted is correct (and I have no reason to doubt it) the revolver dates from 1940 or '41 - although is could have been assembled later. The hammer with the notch in the face for the new (and current) hammer block didn't come about until 1945. So I would say that without question that the hammer must be a replacement - unless for some reason the revolver wasn't assembled until after 1945 - and that's unlikely. Only Roy Jinks would know for sure.

One onther point: If the entire action wasn't updated to use the new hammer block, and that would require a new sideplate as well as a rebound slide, and hammer, plus the hammer block itself, and the gun still has the old-style hammer block mounted in the sideplate; THAT SAFETY WON'T WORK! Why? Because of the large notch in the hammer face. If you carry, shoot, or keep this revolver loaded, BE SURE THE HAMMER IS RESTING ON AN EMPTY CHAMBER.

December 25, 2008, 06:29 PM
Old Fuff:

The rebound slide and sideplate/sideplate hammer block are original and have not been altered. If I'm at the range shooting the gun, I load all six. If I were to carry it or leave it loaded, I would indeed leave an empty case in the chamber under the hammer. I already had this practice due to the weakness of the old style safety and hadn't even considered the safety being 100% useless because of the notched hammer. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

I do have an original hammer(obtained from a generous fellow on the S-W forum), but the single action notch on it is ruined(appears someone did a little too much stoning and cut through the case hardening) so it's in the parts bin.

Old Fuff
December 25, 2008, 08:46 PM
Check Numrich Gunparts Corp. at:

They did have hammers, both stripped and with the double-action sear and mainspring stirrup. But since there are so many different flavors of K-frame hammers be sure the specify "long action," and include the serial number of your revolver.

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