Identify my 38 special


February 8, 2011, 02:48 AM
I first joined this forum for some info about grizzly defence before a trip to Alaska. Now a few years down the track I'm very into rifle shooting (hunting). This forum has been a great place to read up about all different types of info.

However, I'm here with a different question. I'm wondering if someone can tell me what revolver this is. I got it when I was much younger - it's deactivated. I plan on restoring it a bit, then later when I get the paper work sorted changing the barrel and getting it shooting again. Can someone help with telling me the make and model?

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February 8, 2011, 03:13 AM
It has written on the side of barrel 38 LONG CTG VIGILANTE ESPECIAL and on the top what looks like HILARION GUENAGAY CA. So it looks like the barrel is a 38 long, but the cylinder is so long - 1.54". Could a 38 long barrel have been fitted to a 38 special frame?

February 8, 2011, 04:14 AM
Looks like a Spanish or maybe ( not sure on this second guess, but ) Mexican Copy of a Colt.

Horn Stocks are kinda cool...Bent in Trigger Bow from some sort of impact...and, if it says ".38 Long Ctg" on the Barrel, I would take that to mean .38 Long Colt, the predecessor of .38 special...and, I for one would not shoot any .38 Special in it.

.38 Long Colt was a less powerful Cartridge than the .38 Special, and, this is a very 'iffy' Revolver for Metalurgy.

I gather that those with experience and wisdom, adminish not to shoot these old, period 'copy' Revolvers at all, with anything, as their Metalurgy was often not up to the quality needed for safe use with Standard Velocity Loadings, and, may not hold up even with light or reduced Loadings.

The Cylinder in particular, can burst.

Might be alright with Black Powder loadings of .38 Long Colt, but, if it were me, I would not ask it to do more than that...or, actually, if it were me, I would not even ask that of it.

Cool looking, definitely...but, better as a 'Wall Hanger' for it's own sake, and, yours.

Love that 'Trade Mark' stamping..!

Jim Watson
February 8, 2011, 12:08 PM
It is a Spanish copy of a Colt revolver. Old Hilarion does not Google but somebody might be able to say something about the company.

It is NOT a .38 Special.
It is probably a 9mm Largo, the European equivalent of .38 Long Colt black powder, marked .38 for sale in North America.

The metal is soft as shown by the bent trigger guard.
I for one would not fool with it, if returned to shooting condition durability would be low and even safety would be doubtful.

How was it deactivated? You would not find changing the barrel to be simple, there is no place to buy a replacement for one thing.

What kind of paper work do you have to do to repair an old gun?

February 8, 2011, 12:27 PM
Actually, 9mm Largo is a rimless round more equivalent to the Colt .38 Automatic. It's considerably higher pressure than the blackpowder .38 Colt Long.
The .38 Largo is the Spanish equivalent of the blackpowder .38 Colt Long, and is closer in power to a 9mm Luger. The steel in most Spanish revolvers made prior to WWII is softer, and proofed to blackpowder standards, not modern smokeless powders. I'd leave this one as a decorator's item, instead of a shooter.

Jim Watson
February 8, 2011, 10:42 PM
OK, I thot they called the revolver round 9mm too, being right next door to France and all.
I really doubt that a BP revolver is anywhere close to a 9mm P, though.
The Long Colt does about 770 fps with a 150 grain bullet.

Ron James
February 8, 2011, 11:28 PM
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the revolver is not worth repairing. The frame is unhardened steel ( cast steel ) and the internal parts are not heat treated. Even if you replace the barrel and whatever it will quickly wear and break. There are no source of repair parts other than another like item ( parts gun ) and even then because of the intensive hand fitting the parts are not drop in.To try and put this gun back in service is tilting at windmills.

February 9, 2011, 06:28 PM
it would be a really cool paperweight or wall-hanger

February 10, 2011, 02:53 AM
Thanks guys. Looks like someone did the world a favour when they diactivated it...

Yep I'm happy to leave it as a wall hanger/paper weight. I'll just stick to rifles for the moment!

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