S&W CTG 38 History and Value??


December 20, 2011, 09:29 PM
I inherited a ".38 S&W CTG" with a 4" barrel from my father who many years ago served with the Seabees for almost 2.5 years during WWII in the Phillipines. The guns s/n is 89xxxx located on the base of the handle near the lanyard ring (also on the bottom of the barrel) which also includes the initial W.B. 8 p. Model markings are Y and 29 917 below that (both sets of number etched by the wing area) and the patents stamped are Feb 6, 06, Sept 14, 09 and Dec 29, 14. It's "United States Property."

The markings on the bullets that were stored with the gun since WWII include, .38 of course, MQ, 43 and II; ??

I would be appreciative if you would give me some idea of the history and mfg. period, what version it is, range of value. The handle is wood and the barrel is a darkish shiny in places metal. Please excuse my ignorance but my knowledge is very very lean other than reading some of your threads via google. THANKS!

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Jim Watson
December 20, 2011, 10:38 PM
Can you show close clear pictures?
There are some things that do not add up.

December 20, 2011, 11:52 PM
If you let me know what you are looking for, I can see if I can provide answers. I am new to this site and to guns in general, but intrigued. I am sure this gun was used in a combat setting for some time since pictures taken by father included a Philipino holding the head of a Japanese soldier that was just decapitated as well as an elephantitis victim due to the jungle environment.

The probable model markings by the cyclinder wing area are both 29 917. My vision or poor magnifier along with reading it upside down made me interpret the 17 as an LT. Sorry for the confusion.

Jim Watson
December 21, 2011, 12:32 AM
You illustrate a Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Military and Police, Model of 1905, Fourth Change. Barrel length looks more like 5 inch, which would fit the British or Commonwealth connexion.

Condition is good, don't mess with it beyond ordinary cleaning.

Those are not model markings, S&W did not assign model numbers until 1957. They are fitting numbers used to keep major parts together at the factory before a serial number is stamped. They are not tracked and have no significance after completion and sale.

It is unusual to find a .38 S&W being used by an American serviceman; the revolvers we had as secondary standards were .38 Specials. Mostly.
The .38 S&W (different cartridge from .38 Special) revolvers were normally supplied to British forces to share ammunition with their Enfields and Webleys.
Perhaps your Father swapped it from an ANZAC.

December 21, 2011, 01:52 AM
And ".38 S&W CTG" is the caliber, not a model.
Wing area?

December 21, 2011, 04:18 AM
Due to my greeness, I didn't include the barrel shroud in my barrel measurement. If I include the shroud (with the barrel extending through it), then the barrel is 5" in length. I thought I read somewhere that when the cylinder is pulled out, the wing area is one of the support areas for the cylinder. I need to study a bit and get this gun cleaned up. Any problems taking it in for a cleaning considering its lack of ownership since WWII?

December 21, 2011, 05:39 AM
If people had some general idea where you were located they could probably give you more relevent advice on "taking it in for cleaning". It's illegal to have a firearm in some countries.

Old Fuff
December 21, 2011, 10:27 AM
Well the informatiion you have been given so far has been accurate and helpful. However to get a more complete answer concerning its background will require paying a $50.00 fee and perhaps a several month wait. It could however be worth it when considering the story you have related.

You need to get it "lettered" by Smith & Wesson.

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.


If you clean it be very careful. Removing any of the original finish will reduce its value.

December 21, 2011, 11:12 AM
A friend of mine spoke of some sort of ultrasound cleaning and lubricating. Am I better off simply buying a kit at Cabelas and doing it myself? Did you see my bullet descriptions and do they fit in with the model you're describing my gun as? Any special bullets that need to be used with this gun such as you describe for guns from earlier years?

Any idea of value? Everything seems to work smoothly and without any locking up.

December 21, 2011, 02:06 PM
Never heard of a "wing" area on a revolver.
Never seen a serial on the bottom of the barrel.
Are you refering to the section of the frame that's exposed when you open the cylinder & it swings away from the frame on the crane?

On the ammunition, you'll need to find .38 S&W loads, NOT .38 S&W Specials.
It's commercially available, but not cheap.
What you have almost sounds military issue. Do those markings come off the cases or the box?

Ultrasonic cleaners can do a decent job, but you'd need to disassemble first. For best results you wouldn't just toss the assembled gun into one.
You might be farther ahead to pay a gunsmith to do an initial cleanup, mostly to get so many years' of accumulated gunk out & off it.
If you do, make very sure you tell him to ONLY clean it up. No finish removal, no restoration, no re-bluing.

F-111 John
December 21, 2011, 02:16 PM
Barrel length looks more like 5 inch, which would fit the British or Commonwealth connexion.
I'm fairly certain that if the revolver were of British or Commonwealth origin then there would be a proof mark for each chamber on the cylinder, and I do not see any proof marks.

December 21, 2011, 06:11 PM
Typical Victory Model Made for Great Britain 1939-1945.

Caliber is 38 S&W and not 38 Special.

BTW, Dpris, all S&W revolvers had the serial stamped on the underside of the barrel until around 1958 or so.

December 21, 2011, 06:34 PM
New to me. :)
Just dug out my old K-38 & by gum, you're right. Never noticed it on the older ones.

Can you educate me on the "wings", too? :)

December 21, 2011, 07:02 PM
The serial no. is located at the bottom of the grip and when the cylinder is pulled out, it is duplicated on the bottom of the barrel above where the extractor rod is situated. I just found another location being the side of the cylinder where the bullets are loaded in. This makes the third serial no. so far. The bullets, which my father kept with the gun, and as previously listed include, .38 obviously the caliber, MQ, 43 and II, and are located on the bottom of the casings. I am sure that he kept them with the gun since they were kept together with this gun (the only one we have) and he just kept them apart for safety's sake. Do know what the bullet casing markings mean other than the .38? Are these standard 38 caliber and not 38 specials if I have the nomenclature down correctly? What would you recommend for use today once I get this gun cleaned up. By the way, everything moves smoothly and appears almost pristine clean. I think my father took care of it carefully.

December 21, 2011, 07:26 PM
The headstamps on your brass don't sound commercial. If military issue the 43 could be the year they were made.
Do you have a box for them?

There have been a number of .38-caliber loads marketed for Colts and Smith & Wessons over the years.
If your gun is stamped .38 S&W then that's what you should shoot in it.
The .38 S&W is an older lower-powered round than the now-standard .38 S&W Special (or just .38 Special), and the two are not interchangeable.

Your gun should not accept a .38 Special, since the dimensions are different and the chambers won't fully seat a .38 Special round unless they've been modified.

If you want to shoot your gun. you'll need to do it with the .38 S&W caliber ammunition. Factory loads are not cheap.

Old Fuff
December 21, 2011, 08:37 PM
The serial number should appear at:

1. The bottom of the butt: (Be sure there is not also the letter "V" usually on the other side of the lanyard ring.

2. The bottom of the barrel, on the flat above the ejector rod. (No letter "V", but possibly a letter "B".

3. On the rear face of the cylinder.

4. On the inside of one or both grip panels.

An assembly number (apparently in this case, 29917) should be found on:

5. The inside of the yoke (The hinge part the cylinder swings out on).

6. On the frame, under the back of the barrel, in the cut-out for the yoke.

7. On the inside of the side plate.

To see 2, 3, 5, & 6 you have to unlatch the cylinder and swing it out.

To see 4 you have to remove the stocks/grips.

To see 7 you have to remove the sideplate (not recommended).

"WB" is the mark of Col. Waldemar Broberg, who was in charge of U.S. Army inspection of Smith & Wesson revolvers between July, 1941 to June, 1942. During his tour of duty he supervised the inspection of .38 Victory models in the serial number range running approximately from 800,000 to V 142,000.

The headstamp on the .38 S&W cartridges you have indicate that it is military, not commercial. It will take more research to identify the maker. In any case it is probable the revolver was made before 1943.

December 22, 2011, 12:18 AM
DPris, SaxonPig, Jim Watson, Old Fuff--thanks so much for all the info. and wisdom you've imparted so far. It is much appreciated!

Jim Watson
December 22, 2011, 12:48 AM
MQ, 43 and II headstamps (the rear of the cartrige with primer is the head) represent:
MQ - made at the ammunition plant in Footscray, Victoria, Australia. Which supports my theory that he got it from an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.)
43 - made in 1943, right in the heat of WW II.
II - Mk II cartridge, loaded with copper jacketed bullet instead of plain lead.

December 22, 2011, 01:31 AM
Where on earth did you find that? (And don't say Google. :) )

Jim Watson
December 22, 2011, 04:42 PM
But, but, but Denis, I really did Google it.
The MQ part, at least.

Footscray was MF early and MG late.
MQ was for Rocklea which is in Queensland near Brisbane while Footscray is in Victoria close to Melbourne.

Sorry, Seabea, I just got in a rush.

43 is clearly 1943 and there are a lot of references to Mk II FMJ taking over from the original lead bullet.

Driftwood Johnson
December 22, 2011, 05:43 PM

One more place to look for the Serial Number. On the underside of the extractor star. Push the ejector rod back as if extracting empty cartridges. Then peer at the underside of the extractor star. Serial Numbers appeared at four locations on pre-1957 Smith & Wesson revolvers.

Bottom of the butt

Underside of the barrel. In the case of an extractor shroud, inside the cavity where the ejector rod resides.

Rear of the Cylinder

Underside of the extractor star.

Matching Serial Numbers at these four locations indicate the gun left the factory with that barrel and cylinder. Lack of Serial Numbers at these locations can mean the gun has had a different cylinder and/or barrel installed.

Serial Numbers were usually penciled onto one of the grips. The pencil marks may or may not have faded away with time.

December 22, 2011, 08:15 PM
Need either new eyes or better magnifying glass or better flashlight or.......

1)Bottom of the butt-yes

2)Underside of the barrel.

3)In the case of an extractor shroud, inside the cavity where the ejector rod resides-I think this is what I probably incorrectly called "wings" (picked the term up from some google search- hinge area). In front of cyclinder when it's pulled out.

4)Rear of the Cylinder

Underside of the extractor star-no

Pencil marks on grips-no

Old Fuff
December 22, 2011, 08:55 PM
Why would the stocks be numbered on the back? Because even in wartime S&W would individually fit the grip panels to the frame, and then serial at least one of them so that when the revolver was finished the right stocks would get back on the right frame. If the ones now on your Victory .38-200 are a perfect fit they are probably original, the lack of a penciled number not withstanding. If the fit is uneven then they are likely period replacements.

December 22, 2011, 10:11 PM
The wood grips are a perfect fit and appear to perhaps never even been removed from the gun. However I can only verify that being the case from say, the 1950's when I was a mere youth. None of the serial nos. have a "V" in front of them to answer an earlier question; 89xxxx in all four places that I've found. The wood grip color is a dark mahogany color with the butt of the gun being very dark. I The grips are held on by 2 screws, one on each side. I can remove them to see what's underneath as long as you think it won't be harmful to the value of the gun and if there's a good reason to do so?

Old Fuff
December 23, 2011, 12:41 AM
The stocks/grips are held on by a single screw. You can unscrew it from the left side.

But there is no pervasive reason to remove the stocks at this time, the additional information we might gain might be interesting, but not all that important.

December 23, 2011, 02:23 AM
That's a wonderful old revolver your father passed down to you. Did he bring it home with him from WWII?

I agree you should keep the original ammo with the gun and don't shoot that ammo. Also, do you have any pictures of your Dad with that revolver especially during the war? That would make a good connection for the gun and your Dad.

You have a nice piece of history there especially since that revolver was your Dad's. That is special, congratulations...

December 23, 2011, 02:51 AM
You're a more energetic type than I am. :)

December 23, 2011, 03:12 AM
My father didn't speak too much about the details of the war. He came back with jungle rot and spent considerable time in a VA Hospital but eventually did fine. He also ran a casino in the Phillipines called "Sam's Casino;" a bit of a gambler I'm afraid. I have a lot of memorabilia (excuse the spelling) including Seabee pendants and other Navy/stopover items he picked up. I'll look for a picture of him in a uniform with the gun and let you know what I find but I doubt if I have any closeups. I'm still looking for an ammo box that he kept papers in but am not sure if it relates to the bullets. Thanks for the interest!

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