Victory Model Questions


Elbert P . Suggins
December 14, 2010, 12:36 PM
I tried to use a previous thread but it kept redirecting me and asking to log in again so I do apologize. Have a Victory Model with V on left side of swivel and 2378XX on the right side of swivel. United States Property on the strap with no UK markings. 38 S&W CTG on the barrel. Were these sent overseas? Did they use these in our military? Are they worth as much as a 38 Special. Why were they happy with such a light loaded cartridge? Thanks.

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December 14, 2010, 03:17 PM
I don't know the specifics on the revolver, but the cartridge was same/similar to thier 38/200, IIRC, an anemic round the Brits were inordinately fond of for some reason. These were the people who made the 577 Trantor for crying out loud, and they loved that little pipsqueak of a 38/200. Egad.
All I know, sir.

December 14, 2010, 03:39 PM
The .38/200 British Service Revolver, also designated the Model K-200, was manufactured for the Brits during the war - it's essentially the same as the [.38 Special] Victory Model but chambered in .38/200, which is the same cartridge that we refer to as .38 S&W. A total of about 560,000 K-200s were manufactured and the earlier ones were marked "United States Property" or "U.S. Property" on the top strap.

To the best of my knowledge, all of these guns were intended to be shipped overseas and were not used by our military. Other than noting that one specimen with RAF marking sold for a very high price at auction, SCSW says nothing about the guns being marked in any way by Britain.

As for why the Brits stuck with the .38/200 cartridge as long as they did, I guess I'll be able to answer that one as soon as I figure out why they still have a Queen.

December 14, 2010, 04:23 PM
There are two flavors of Victory Model. The most commonly seen version was made for Great Britain (England, Australia, Canada, etc.) in blue or parkerized mostly with a 5" barrel in 38 S&W (not Special). The American version comes with a 4" barrel in 38 Special. They all generally came with a lanyard ring and smooth walnut stocks.

A few with 6" barrels and a very, very few with 2" barrel have been noted.

The U.S. military did use these. One of mine was shipped as part of a Navy contract and naval aviators were issued these revolvers. Many were sold to American police departments and security companies (often protecting defense plants) as this was one of the few guns available during the war for non-military use.

Unfortunately many of the British guns were butchered after the war trying make them more appealing to American buyers. They were reamed for the longer 38 Special (these don't work all that great as the cases often bulge) and the barrels were cut back in many cases. Sometimes they were cut back so far the locking lug for the ejector rod was lost and this is not a good thing.

Finding one in good original condition is getting harder and rising prices reflect this fact. The 38 S&W is a good cartridge if one reloads. Factory ammo is pricey, hard to find and underpowered.

Here's an English VM with commercial style checkered stocks (I have the originals but they are not my favorite so i swapped them) but otherwise in original condition. This one has German police markings as some of these were transferred to civilian police use after the war.

December 14, 2010, 04:30 PM
The official story they gave was, the .455 Webley kicked too hard for the English solders to shoot well in training! They felt they got better results with the 38/200 Enfield revolver.
SO, 38/200 it was when they were getting the S&W's.
It wouldn't do to have two different 38 calibers of ammo clogging up the supply lines!

Sort of the same reason the U.S. dropped the .45 ACP for a 9mm.
Easier to qualify everyone with.

It may also be that solders were a lot easier to kill in 1942 then they are now??
But probably not!

It may also be that the brass-hat mucky-mucks who decide such things were never going to have to fight a war themselves with 38/200 revolvers!


December 14, 2010, 04:31 PM
SaxonPig - I always appreciate learning from your posts. Did you mean that the .38 S&W chambering was shipped as part of a Navy contract?

Old Fuff
December 14, 2010, 05:39 PM

You may be surprised to learn that during the war the Army's Office of Strategic Services (OSS) ordered substantial numbers of S&W .38-200 revolvers, many which were delivered through the U.S. Navy to hide they're true destination. In fact it is alleged that next to England and her Commonwealth Allies, the OSS was the next largest purchaser of these handguns.

The OSS also contracted for .38 S&W jacketed ball ammunition, and was the only U.S. military service to do so.

December 14, 2010, 05:57 PM
Interesting story - so, were they just acting as a conduit, or did some of the .38/200s (and ammo, presumably) remain intentionally in the US to be used by the Navy and/or other branches?

ETA: This has developed into an interesting thread for me because it includes sequentially 3 of the half-dozen or so people on THR that I personally have the greatest respect for. You guys are an ongoing education in all things firearms.

December 14, 2010, 07:40 PM
The original 38/200 load the Brits developed featured a flat nose bullet which the Germans objected to in the late 30s as 'violating the Geneva Convention as a dum dum' and the Brits agreed and changed the load! (No, I am not making this up.). It is virtually impossible to find a 200gr load today, but hand load with the right bullet type and a 38/200 is a relatively effective man stopper. Dave

December 14, 2010, 08:03 PM
I said ONE of mine was a Navy contract gun. The one pictured is not that one, but rather is a correct (save the stocks as noted) British Victory Model. The Navy gun is, of course, in 38 Special and was shipped with a 4" barrel.

Old Fuff
December 14, 2010, 09:02 PM
Interesting story - so, were they just acting as a conduit, or did some of the .38/200s (and ammo, presumably) remain intentionally in the US to be used by the Navy and/or other branches?

Donít know a whole lot because these revolvers were supposed to be used in some kind of classified operation, the details of which still havenít been released. Some documents that included serial numbers have been found, and S&W historian, Roy Jinks found that some of them had been shipped to U.S. Navy receiving facilities Ė obviously as a cover.

Starting in early 1942, most if not all of the .38-200 S&W revolvers were shipped against U.S. Army contracts, although most of them were shipped overseas under the Lend Lease Act. Others went to the Defense Supply Corp. (DSC) for domestic distribution to police departments or security departments in factories or other facilities involved in defense material production. Then as been mentioned, the OSS bought a large quantity, and tried to hide the fact.

Since the Army was distributing revolvers to themselves, overseas allies, the OSS Ė and whoever it is difficult to say if they kept any for themselves, but given the acute shortage of .38 revolvers during the war years itís impossible to say. If they did itís probable they were issued in-country rather then any war zone.

December 14, 2010, 09:46 PM
Old Fuff

A friend of mine has what appears to be a typical Victory model revolver. Matte finish, 4" barrel, .38 Special, plain wood stocks, and a lanyard ring. There is no V prefix and the serial number is 994XXX. There are also no U.S. Property or Ordnance markings anywhere else on the gun. Aside from the S&W trademark on the right side of the frame, the letters G.E. co. have been engraved near the trademark. It appears to have been done with some sort of electro-pencil engraver. Would this be a DSC gun, perhaps used at a General Electric Co. plant for use be their security guards?

Elbert P . Suggins
December 15, 2010, 01:10 AM
Thanks for all your replies. And is it unusual in my case to have the V on the left side of the lanyard? All the pictures I have seen of SNs it has been on the right side along with the number. And whereas this revolver does not have any markings of UK or otherwise would this have been one of these you are speaking about that stayed in this country for other than military use? And also the grips are smooth not checkered. And the cylinder has not been altered to shoot anything other than 38 S&W. Cabelas didn't even have ammo for it and was $350 in the ball park for this gun?

December 15, 2010, 08:37 PM
I wouldn't worry about it Elbert. I know I've seen Victory's with the V on the left of the lanyard, in fact, I thought it was on mine LOL !! But I just dug mine up,but it was on the right side along with the other numbers (WHEW!) . Nevertheless, I'm positive during my "Victory Model" researching I ran across photos of some with the V on the left side.
If everything else on your pistol checks out, I wouldn't worry about it. Heck, you may even have one that's unique, and even more collectible. ;)

Old Fuff
December 15, 2010, 11:25 PM
And is it unusual in my case to have the V on the left side of the lanyard?

I don't think so because many are known. Without any evidence to support the theory, I suspect thay moved the "V" to the left side of the lanyard loop after reaching 6-digit serial numbers, and were pressed for room.

In today's market, $350 is a very good buy, especially if the cylinder hasn't been altrered to .38 Special. It should have plain walnut stocks with all or part of the serial number on the inside of one or both panels. Even during a war, they took the time to individually fit a set of stocks to each frame.

December 16, 2010, 09:50 AM
Could be misguided but I believe some of the .38 S&W overruns were contracted and issued to Plant Guards during the war.
Quite a bit more were issued and used by U.S. troops in combat theatres, many times with troops attached to British or Commonwealth units.
Not all went to England.
Charles Pate touches on this in his book U.S. Handguns of World War ll
The Secondary Pistols and Revolvers.

Old Fuff
December 16, 2010, 10:34 AM
Could be misguided but I believe some of the .38 S&W overruns were contracted and issued to Plant Guards during the war.

During the war there wasn't any such thing as an overrun at Smith & Wesson.

Prior to our entering the war in Dec. 1941 a government agency - called the Defense Supply Corp. (DSC) - was set up for the purpose of (among other things) supplying the needs of domestic police departments and law enforcement agencies; as well a factories manufacturing war material with .38 revolvers. Other then the military services they were the only ones that were authorized to place orders with S&W and Colt. Allocating the limited supply of guns was assigned to the FBI who also set up specifications the guns were to meet (.38 Special/6-shot/4"barrel/blued or Parkerized finish) but the DSC obviously didn't stick to this.

December 16, 2010, 07:53 PM
Did I miss it in reading the posts? "V" was not applied until the millionth revolver. A "victory style"n with Sn# 999,999 or lower wouldn't have a V.

So I have been led to believe.

December 16, 2010, 09:08 PM
Nope. Serial number on mine is V119,xxx......well under a million. ;)
And here's one in the 200,000 range.....

Jim K
December 16, 2010, 09:40 PM
Waidman and MIL-DOT are both right. The British began getting .38 S&W caliber revolvers from S&W about 1938, but the number increased after S&W failed to deliver on a contract for a 9mm carbine and the British (who had put up advance money) agreed to take revolvers instead. The Victory model came about when serial numbers of the M&P approached a million and S&W's numbering machines only went to six digits. It was decided to just add a letter prefix, which would be put on all the guns with the true serial added later. The initial idea was to use "A" but someone suggested "V for Victory" and the Victory Model was born. Serial numbers went from 999999 to V1*, then to about V811119 at the end of the war. By that time, an "S", indicating the new type safety, had been added to the serial number and S&W kept that and dropped the "V" on postwar production.

So Waidmann is right; number 999999 in the orignal series would not have a "V"; but MIL-DOT has a gun in the "V" series, so he is right also.

*In spite of what has been written there was no 1000000 number; the whole reason for the Victory Model was that they couldn't go to seven digits.


December 16, 2010, 09:53 PM Thanks Jim, a most useful post. So I guess my pistol would have actually been the 1,119,000th to be produced ( or there 'bouts).;)

Jim K
December 17, 2010, 03:57 PM
Right. The serial number range began in the 19th century with the .38 Hand Ejector Model 1899, the first S&W .38 Special revolver, and continued through the Model 1902 and the Model 1905, all carrying the Military & Police name. The Victory Model was actually the .38 Hand Ejector, M&P model, Model of 1905, Fourth Change. Serial numbers had reached 836000 by 1941, including the British revolvers, to which S&W gave the name Model K-200.

The term "Victory Model" was never official and the guns are not called that in government correspondence, where they are called the Military & Police or M&P model.

Of course, S&W could have used an "A" prefix, or even a "1"; the use of the "V" was common at the time and "V for Victory" was seen everywhere, so it was a natural.


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