Victory model question


Nomad, 2nd
December 2, 2010, 06:13 PM
I've got a Smith Victory model.

Was given it by an (Old... in years we've been friends and in age) friend of mine after I sat with him for some days following a bad car wreck, and helped him following that.

he gave it to me because I refused money, and he knew my weakness. (We did WW2 renactments when I was in High School) and he knew I could not say no.

He gave me this particular one Because it is Marked USMC on the back strap.

I'm not talking on the top strap above the cylinder where some are marked "Property of US Gov" or "US Navy"

(I am Medically retired from the Corps)

Nether of us have seen another marked in this manner (Although We have seen some with similar Navy markings)

My buddy (Who is very knowledgable... as in the D Day Museum has had him do things for them) says it is believed to be 'unit markings'

I am pretty sure it is not faked, because he bought about a dozen of them back in the 60's or 70's (Still has them all) when they were nothing special and were ~$50 each. (No value to faking them)

Was just wondering if anyone had any info...
Not worried about price, because I will never sell. Just wondering about history.

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December 2, 2010, 07:45 PM
The S&W Victory was not only used by the military, many were issued or sold to private defense companies for use by plant security guards.

One company that often causes people to think they have a USMC firearm was the United Shoe Machinery Company, who marked the products they made with USMC.
They made Model 1917 rifle spare parts, and this often causes people to think they have a Marine rifle.

It's possible you have a Victory that was used by the Marines and they marked it, or it might be a USMC plant guard pistol.
Most Marine firearms were never stamped with Marine stamps. If marked at all, they were usually stamped with Navy stamps.

Old Fuff
December 2, 2010, 08:03 PM
There is one way you can tell for sure. For a $50.00 research fee Smith & Wesson will go back and find the original shipping record. If indeed it is a genuine USMC issue (and I agree with dfairswheel's observation, but you never know), the increase in the revolver's value would more then pay for getting it researched.

Information concerning historical letters of authentication from Smith & Wesson’s historian, Roy G. Jinks can be obtained from the link listed below.

In exchange for a $50.00 research fee (make any check out to Smith & Wesson, not Mr. Jinks) he will search through the company’s original records until he finds your particular revolver. He will then send you an official letter which usually includes:

A short history of the revolver model’s background.

What the barrel length, caliber/cartridge, finish and stocks were, as well as the exact date it was shipped from the factory – and to what distributor, dealer or individual – as whatever the case may be.

Nomad, 2nd
December 2, 2010, 08:09 PM
Thank you.

It may be that way.

He also has some with "USN" in the same place.

I have no idea as you say.

Ether way, It's not going anywhere until I pass it on.

Thank you, and please any more info...


(Wt grease pencil to show markings)

ETA: As I said, don't plan to sell, but may spend the $50 just to know and have something 'neater' to pass on whatever the result.

December 2, 2010, 10:28 PM
I have seen one marked US above the grips on the rear. This was suppossedly done at
Quantico after WWII. Per S&W all 1905 HE's including Victory Models were distributed through Army Ordnance. All M1911A1's are marked U.S. Army. Most issue weapons simply U.S. Absent a compelling reason like the commercial grade .357's carried by embassy guards I don't see the Corps marking firearms USMC.

The US was above the MC, a four letter block.

The Oncoming Storm
December 2, 2010, 10:40 PM
I could be mistaken, but I'd be willing to be money your revolver is an M1917. They were originally WWI issue revolvers to supplement the M1911 pistols they couldn't produce fast enough. Is it chambered for .45 ACP? If so, it's a Smith & Wesson M1917. I believe some soldiers still used them in the second world war too.

Nomad, 2nd
December 2, 2010, 10:43 PM
I could be mistaken, but I'd be willing to be money your revolver is an M1917. They were originally WWI issue revolvers to supplement the M1911 pistols they couldn't produce fast enough. Is it chambered for .45 ACP? If so, it's a Smith & Wesson M1917. I believe some soldiers still used them in the second world war too.

I also have a S&W 1917.

This is a Victory model in .38 Special.

The Oncoming Storm
December 2, 2010, 10:48 PM
Ah, gotcha. I think it's the grips that made it look just like an M1917. Carry on. ;)

December 3, 2010, 12:32 AM
Over the years I had two Victory models in .38 Special, one was original and in very good condition and the other a project gun.

I am a shooter and not a collector so I sold the very good one to a real collector of Victory models years ago and had to add only $40 to get an excellent M19 in 6" that serves my purposes better.

The guy who bought the Victory checked the grips underneath, they were painted in a yellowish/white oilpaint and he said that it was done by the Marine Corps to avoid rusting. I have never had this confirmed by anyone else but maybe you want to check your grips and someone here can comment on this.

Both of mine had the small flaming bomb stamped into the bottom of the grip frame.

Nomad, 2nd
December 3, 2010, 12:47 AM
Clean, No bursting bomb, Grips SN match the gun.

Guess no ordanance mark (I shoulda thought of that) lets us know...

Nomad, 2nd
December 3, 2010, 02:05 AM

I am not aware of any 4" pre-Victory guns serialed below 748000 that were originally marked "US Property"

Found that elsewhere...

Did some digging:
It's a 4" .38 S&W Special
V 621,XXX

Also, I was wrong.

There is a bursting Bomb and then "US Property GHO" (I think it's GHO) on the left top strap over the cylinder.
EDIT: It's GHD... the Inspector's initials.

Had to get it into better light.

SN's all match (Cylinder, barrel etc)

It has the "P" proof mark (Underside of barrel, sideplate, cylinder etc)

Interestingly it has the "S" (Improved hammer block) on the Cylinder, but not the other places it says to expect it)

December 3, 2010, 09:51 AM
Wow, you have a winner. I love the Victory 38 Spec. Only have one, likely issued to Navy according to S&W letter. Saw one at recent gun show for $495....was sorely tempted...but unfortunately passed it by.

Old Fuff
December 3, 2010, 09:59 AM
Interestingly it has the "S" (Improved hammer block) on the Cylinder, but not the other places it says to expect it)

Cock the hammer and see if there is a big notch cut in the hammer face just under the firing pin. That would indicate that the revolver does have the hammer block. If the notch isn't there the "S" stamped on the cylinder must have a different significance,

Nomad, 2nd
December 3, 2010, 10:16 AM
What do you mean by 'notch'? it's concave below the firing pin, but I don't know if that qualifies.

Old Fuff
December 3, 2010, 10:28 AM
Concave would indicate that it doesn't have the safety. The pre-hammer block hammers were concave as you describe. When they introduced the newer hammer block (still used today) they cut a square notch under the firing pin to make a place for the part to fit. If you have access to a Smith & Wesson revolver made after 1945 you'll quickly see what I mean.

Nomad, 2nd
December 3, 2010, 10:30 AM
(I have a pile of Smiths)

No safety;)


December 5, 2010, 08:43 AM
Just checked my Victory and it has the "s" on the cyl face just past the serial nr, and the concave hammer. No idea what the "s" stands for.

December 5, 2010, 09:27 AM
The letter probably won't help. All it will say is the date it was shipped to some central receiving station. Likely will not indicate which branch was destined to get that particular gun.

At there are a couple guys who are experts on these. Post your questions there.

Old Fuff
December 5, 2010, 09:29 AM
I suspect that it's an inspector's stamp. After parts were inspected the inspector would stamp a letter or number on it so they could tell that (whatever) was O.K. Not only would they know what parts had or hadn't been inspected, but who had done the inspecting. :uhoh:

December 5, 2010, 09:30 AM
It could be that an owner of the pistol had USMC engraved on the back strap.

I have been squadded with members of the USMC rifle team, and they had their leatherman's engraved with USMC.

I think I have seen other items they own or carry engraved with USMC.

Marines are very proud of their service long after they retire.

This could have been a pistol that a retired Marine carried in some capacity, "liberated" it and took it home. Then had it engraved.

December 5, 2010, 09:35 AM
It could be that an owner of the pistol had USMC engraved on the back strap.

Doresn't look like engraved but stamped, doesn't it?

Nomad, 2nd
December 5, 2010, 02:58 PM
Doresn't look like engraved but stamped, doesn't it?

I'd say.

December 5, 2010, 03:07 PM
Doesn't look stamped to me.

Looks like it was engraved with a pantograph engraving machine like a jewelry shop would use in 1960, or 70, or 80, or something..

The font is not at all typical of what a stamp set a USMC armorer would have at his disposal in WWII.


December 5, 2010, 05:32 PM
I think rcmodel is correct........FWIW:D

Nomad, 2nd
December 5, 2010, 05:54 PM
Buddy of mine:

When I read your initial post on this, my first thought was about what you've already been told (about the shoe company, etc.), as I've read mention of that before. I guess you've asked on the S&W forum? Also, I've seen a few Marine Corps-marked Victory models, but while they were marked on the backstrap it was in a different font and more spaced out...I asked about this a few years ago, though, as I was just curious enough to care.

The short answer I got at the time I asked a few years ago is that nobody will likely ever know for certain. One guy who did the engraving with a gubment guy standing over his shoulder, it was filmed, etc. could be "wrong" when he says it was one way and somebody else, from a different plant/factory/agency/branch/year had the same thing happen with the details (this is just a silly/extreme example; no such films exist, that I know of, on this front). The markings were done differently at different times/for different reasons--outside the obvious--and even non-US property marked examples were issued to the military, which blows the "official" story about only those going to plant guards and the like being un-marked out of the water.

I ran into some of this when I thought I knew what I was doing with War of Northern Aggression-era revolvers and swords--I've now been collecting and buying/selling these for about 15 years. At the time I started really getting into all of that, I thought all revolvers (all weapons, period) which were issued to troops were marked, and anything not marked couldn't ever in a million years--with *very* few exceptions--have gotten issued without proper markings. Then, I found out more about people ganking the US-marked ones from the factory (workers, that is), inspectors not having some marked for one reason or another (mistakes, not enough time, etc.), periods where factories couldn't meet the military demand and civilian-marketed weapons were pulled to be issued at the last minute, companies (in my specific experience, Colt) having records of a lot of revolvers reflecting their sale to the government and no markings on them while others in lots not marked as sold to the government having perfectly believable property markings on them, et al. What it tends to come down to, when there's enough money or question involved, is that almost anything could have happened...Paying the company to do a serial number search may or may not tell you anything concrete about it, but it's the most obvious and logical starting point--after searching for various message boards (especially those more about the Victory model, specifically, rather than the overall Smith board) which may have lists of lots/serials they know were issued to one branch or another. In the end, the best you can do sometimes is pick the most likely story you can put together and like well enough. It does help to compare the fonts used, location of markings, etc., but sometimes it just doesn't help enough--particularly as so many units over time have marked weapons themselves--which may or may not have been purchased with unit funds, rather than issued by their branch--sometimes against regs. I've seen this myself in some of my units, even when the weapon was an otherwise "normal" M9 or 1911.

I talked to a friend of my grandfather when I wondered about the Victories a few years ago, who has/had (not honestly sure if the guy is still alive) a Victory with Marine engraving on the backstrap...He is/was a Marine pilot (Korea), and brought that one home with him from over there. He said he sat in the little "shop" onboard his carrier when some enlisted guy engraved this Victory (the guy also did people's Zippos and such, he said), in the closest font they had to what he had seen on other revolvers/pistols in his unit, and figured others did the same. His was Navy-marked, and actually issued to him (the armory records mysteriously burned a few months before he shipped home from the war, hence how he got it home easier), but he said he had it engraved because he wanted to, "Marine it up" somehow to take away from, "that Navy crap on the topstrap"

Anyway, I'm sure his story (and others like it) isn't the only reason we see such seeming oddities decades later. All I've got on it at this point.

Anybody got a pix of United Shoe Machinery Company markings?

Old Fuff
December 5, 2010, 06:28 PM
There was a war going on...

The Navy placed two contracts (I believe, haven't had time to check) for Victory models with Navy markings. But after that they got revolvers marked either U.S. Property or United States Property. I don't believe the factory stamped any Victory models with USMC because during the war they didn't place any actual contracts for revolvers that would be so marked. Outside of the factory anything could have happened.

Smith & Wesson generally made up and used roll-stamps to mark top or back straps. Using regular hand stamps would have taken too much time. If there was a USMC roll stamp, Roy Jinks would have undoubtedly known and mentioned it.

To the degree that Victory .38 revolvers were used, most were issued to aircrewmen or S.P. units, and what they got had either Navy or U.S. Property markings.

December 6, 2010, 12:10 PM
I think that USMC denotes use by the U.S. Maritime Commission.

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