Tell me about S&W Victories modified from .38 S&W


December 27, 2012, 11:09 PM
I am wondering if there are any huge drawbacks or accuracy losses to these WW2 guns that were military-converted from .38 S&W to .38 Special. I am interested in getting a Victory, and I can get the converted ones for about half the price as the ones that were originally shipped in .38 Special.

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December 28, 2012, 09:05 AM
I call such guns butchered. If you want a 38 Special buy one. These reamed guns are bad news. The chambers are oversized for the 38 Special as are the bores. Accuracy may be OK but cases swell and can split making ejection difficult. Also, most often the barrels are also cut making the gun a total abomination.

I have several guns in 38 S&W (and you can still shoot the correct 38 S&W ammo in a reamed gun) but I load my own. If I had to relay on store bought ammo I would look for a 38 Special revolver.

December 28, 2012, 09:26 AM
IMO but a "Victory Revolver" in original condition or if you really want a .38 Special buy an older M&P. (pre model 10)
The M&P is an outstanding revolver and the older one have that same nostalgic look as the Victory model.

Here is a photo of my 1948 M&P:

December 28, 2012, 10:35 AM
Well, I specificaly want a Victory because I love the parkerized look and the grips. They're just different. I can find reamed Victories with full-length barrels. I know there's only .005 difference in bore diameter. This shouldn't be enough to affect accuracy, but I just want to know.

December 28, 2012, 10:59 AM
WW2 guns that were military-converted from .38 S&W to .38 SpecialThe military didn't convert any of them.

U.S. importers converted them following WWII when they brought them back into the country.
And in the process, butchered the chambers.

The 38/200 (.38 S&W) chambers measure .386" and the chamber throats measure .361".

.38 Special chambers measure .380" and the chamber throats measure .358".

Brass will expand in the oversize chamber remnants, and come out of the gun with a bulge where the old big chamber ends and the new smaller chamber starts.

Then too, the smallerr .38 Spl bullet will rattle through the throats, and not fit the bore.
Leading & less then normal accuracy will result.

If you want a .38 Spl Victory Model, then save your money for one.
If you want a good old .38 Special to shoot, get a good old M&P for about half what a screwed up K-200 British will cost.


December 28, 2012, 12:12 PM
....I know there's only .005 difference in bore diameter. This shouldn't be enough to affect accuracy, but I just want to know.

In the world of metal working and firearms bore to bullet fit .005 is way more than "only". It's the difference between a gun which prints holes in paper in a nice tight group to one which looks like a handful of gravel was tossed at the target.

I suspect that the reason these guns were chamber reamed to .38Spl was to fill the market demand for cheap CLOSE range defensive guns that were not intended to be shot a lot. Most certainly it was not a good idea even if it was doable.

But if you value the gun and wish to shoot it much then I'd suggest that you get into reloading and buy one in the original .38S&W chambering.

December 28, 2012, 12:33 PM

I found a Victory Model in .38 Special several years ago that because it had no U.S. Property or U.S. Navy markings on it (probably used by the Defense Supply Corporation for security guards at factories and other strategic wartime locations), could be had for a lot less money than if it had any martial markings. Still had the same parkerized finish and smooth walnut grips and was chambered in .38 Special. I think a gun like this would be way more preferable to one that had been rechambered from .38/200 to .38 Special.

December 28, 2012, 12:56 PM
Another thing to consider is that unless it is a late 1945 Victory or K-200, or was factory converted, they do not have the positive hammer block safety used in all later S&W revolvers.

A late war Victory or K-200 with a positive safety would have a VS serial number.

A converted one would have a small S stamped near the rear side-plate screw and a small S stamped by the the serial number on the butt.

Both Victory & K-200's were serial numbered concurrently.
V1 - V769000 have the old spring operated hammer block.
Only approxmately 40,000 of the 769,000 guns were converted to the new positive hammer block safety.

SV-769001 - SV-811832 have the positive hammer block safety.

The reason for the change was that a sailer was killed when he dropped a loaded Victory model on a steel deck and it fired, killing him.


December 28, 2012, 02:55 PM
Good to know. It's not a gun I plan to carry, though. Just something to shoot at the range.

Jim K
December 28, 2012, 05:26 PM
For many years I accepted the idea of cases swelling and splitting in those converted guns. Everyone just KNEW it had to be that way. Then I got one. The .38 Special brass didn't burst, the gun didn't blow up, and the cases didn't swell much more than in some revolvers made for the .38 Special. Further, I slugged some barrels and they ran (guess what?) .357-.358. Not .380, not .360, not .375.

Then I miked WWII British .380 Mk II bullets. Not .380, or .360. .358, the same as .38 Special bullets.

My belated conclusion; go ahead and shoot .38 Special in those converted guns.


December 28, 2012, 05:52 PM
Thanks, Jim K. That's what I thought, especially considering people frequently shoot .308-diameter bullets in a Mosin (.311-.312 "proper" size) with excellent accuracy, along with people shooting .380 bullets out of 9x18 guns (.357 versus .362). I figured 5 one-thousanths of an inch wasn't going to make a real difference.

Old Fuff
December 28, 2012, 07:05 PM
Like Jim I have found bore dimensions all over the map, so that doesn't worry me. But some of these revolver have badly messed up chambers, and when you fire-form a case it may not want to extract. If at all possible shoot at least 6 shots through it before you buy.

Jim K
December 28, 2012, 07:38 PM
The variations occurred mainly because those alterations were done by different companies. Most of those sold by Interarmco/Interarms were converted by Cogswell & Harrison, which was owned at the time by Sam Cummings. As might be expected, the work was first class and the guns were proved prior to export from the U.K. Others were converted in the U.S., with varying degrees of quality and of course no offical proof. My comments were directed at the average, but there were some with chip marks in the chambers, and those could very well present difficulties in extraction.


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