Super Mystery Revolver...


March 27, 2004, 11:09 PM
Help me identify this revolver.

Known facts:
It was retrieved off the body of a Japanese junior officer in the CBI theater in late WWII, in the Burma area.
Japanese army officers were responsible for providing their own sidearms.
It's an obvious knockoff of an I-frame Smith in .38 S&W.
The writing on the gun is not in Japanese.

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March 27, 2004, 11:36 PM
Easy, those are S&W's


March 27, 2004, 11:43 PM
There were Spanish and PI cottage industries that made close copies of S&W revolvers. Old cooking pots and cavalry spurs were used to make them. I wouldn't shoot one. Liege, Belgium was also full of quality gunmakers. They copied S&W closely but, that revolver looks crude comparatively. There were even Japanese gun manufacturing plants established in China to produce handguns. I vote for a homemade clone. Basque?

Jim March
March 27, 2004, 11:56 PM
I would tend towards an Asian origin, probably Phillipines.

Look at the trigger guard. Note how small the forefinger opening is. It was built for very small hands. Argues agains Spanish origins. (Compare also to Nambu and other Japanese handguns - again, set up for small fingers.)

March 28, 2004, 06:34 AM
Here's more:

Side of frame, showing "logo". Note "W", two diamonds, and Scimitar.

March 28, 2004, 06:36 AM
Left side of barrel:

March 28, 2004, 06:38 AM
Top of barrel.

Alphabet is unusual, and not one I'm familiar with. It's not Cyrillic or Japanese or Chinese...

March 28, 2004, 06:40 AM
Right side of barrel:

March 28, 2004, 06:49 AM
Gun and holster:

Jim March
March 28, 2004, 07:34 AM
What in the...?


You're right, it's not Cyrillic, but it does look "related" maybe one of the oddball "...stans" south of Russia or something?

Ain't from the Phillipines.

Some aspects of the design (logo, sword) look...I almost want to say "Arabic" but that's not right (characters definately aren't). The sword almost looks vaguely Tibetan/Nepalese/Indian. Burmese mebbe, or some other Southeast Asian source? The double-ring guard is a common Nepalese touch, see also the Himilayan Imports website under "swords" (ignoring the Japanese/Chinese patterns they're now doing).

The alphabet used will tell a LOT, probably.

March 28, 2004, 07:43 AM
I would wager that it is Chinese in origin. A lot of designs were copied and reproduced by small industries and blacksmiths in China.

March 28, 2004, 09:53 AM
Is it possible that the language is a variation on Arabic, perhaps an Indonesian dialect (or southern Phillippines)? It has that "feel" to me. That would also explain the "sword and stars" motif in the badge - typical Islamic imagery, particularly since the sword looks more like something produced from the mating of a cutlass and a scimitar - like the tulwar of the South-Central Pacific, perhaps?

March 28, 2004, 10:09 AM
"Note "W", two diamonds, and Scimitar."

Naah... that's the smiley face from the "Insane Clown Posse" logo:D

Seriously now- I think you got yourself a "Goatropistan cavebuilt original" there. Some of the lettering looks mildly Rusky, and the aforementioned logo looks "early 20th century Moslem" to me. SWAG triangulation used loosely and freely here, with no guarantee of accuracy offered.

Cool old gun, though. I have always like the old Latino copies of S&W hand ejectors. Some years back I crashed the bedroom door of an honest-to-God smack dealer, and yanked him outta bed by the hair as he was trying to reach under a matress. In that location was found a Spanish/South American copy of a S&W not unlike yours, loaded with green, corroded old .32 ACP ammo- the noses of which peeked out the end of the cylinder, when the gun was held muzzle-down by the grip.

I always wondered if the damn thing would have fired like that, if he had gotten ahold of it- but harbored no such concerns about my 1911.

You're getting to be a pretty hard-bit revolver nut, aren't you? Nice quality in a lady. Peggi is 'weak' for old Colt Army Specials and such.

March 28, 2004, 10:26 AM
Another SWAG - I can't get the right resolution to see the script clearly, but a couple of characters look like they could be a "block print" form of Devarangari, the common alphabet across most of northern India. The sword in the logo would fit the description of a tulwar, common to that region, and to Nepal. The entire region has blacksmiths capable of turning out a revolver like this.

March 28, 2004, 01:07 PM
I didn't know the Japs ever made it to Darra, in the currently popular Peswhar district. Notice the detail work like the filagre around the grip screws, better than S&W. This IS a beautiful unique piece of history, thank you for sharing!:)

Flying V
March 28, 2004, 01:27 PM
I'll guess Chinese blacksmith/workshop.
The barrel-top marking appears to be the same phrase repeated 4 times. It probably doesn't mean anything - just an imitation of the markings on Western guns, made by someone who knew neither the English language or the Roman alphabet. The logo may have been an attempt at imitating the S&W monogram logo.

Copies of various FN-Browning autopistols were commonly made in China in this period, with similarly miscopied markings.

March 28, 2004, 02:43 PM
An Indian-made firearm needn't have waited around for the Japs to find it. The good made by Indian and Nepali smiths get on the trade routes, and wind up who knows where. Since much of the economy is barter, it could have been traded anywhere in the region, and moved on. The "imitation language" theory works well, too. In the Hindu caste system, kamis, or blacksmiths, are untouchable, since they work with the products of the earth and their hands. Most are illiterate, even though they may speak several dialects. It almost looks as though the markings are made up from a collection of old stamps, but the uniform size doesn't follow that idea. These guys can do things with a small set of handmade chisels that are unbelievable, so who knows?

Jim March
March 28, 2004, 02:58 PM
I just noticed something: look at the checkering on the cylinder release latch in the first "detail pic" Tamara posted. *Definately* "hand tooled".

Hand-checkered wood grips are common enough even in modern shops...but not hand-checkering of machine parts.

Yup. It's a "blacksmith (or Kami) special" of some sort.

March 28, 2004, 03:11 PM
Yep, you nailed it - the thumbpiece was chased with a chisel. I also got a better look at the grip medallion, by putting nose-prints on the screen. The "sword" is a tulwar - look closely at the handle detail. Just my 2ยข worth, but this puts it in northern India.

Jim March
March 28, 2004, 03:21 PM
Tulwars are also found in Bengladesh, Nepal and Tibet. Probably what's now Pakistan too (was part of India same as Bengladesh, circa WW2 and a bit after).

Standing Wolf
March 28, 2004, 05:46 PM
I'd say it's a Kia.

March 28, 2004, 06:05 PM
A Kia? Geez, they have a humungous warranty. Wonder if it's still good?

March 28, 2004, 07:34 PM
Reckon how many gunsmithing hours went into the construction of that thang? Be interesting to see the guts with the sideplate popped off...

March 28, 2004, 07:43 PM
I'd bet it was made in Burma, and that the language is Myanmar.

Burma is/was a Muslim country, hence the imagery. The stampings look like a romanized version of Myanmar script.

March 28, 2004, 10:14 PM
The real question's it shoot?;)

That's a pretty cool find. I can only imagine what kind of history that gun has..If it could only speak.


March 28, 2004, 10:27 PM
As I'm sitting here looking at the markings on the receiver of a Siamese Mauser, I keep thinking the same thing. Burma/Myanmar. :)

If I can get the Mauser to sit still on my flatbed scanner, I'll upload an image. It's remarkably similar to what's on that revolver.

March 28, 2004, 11:46 PM
I wonder? The Chindits made homemade copies of British and other weapons. They have shown up from time to time. They made all sorts of things that they couldn't get past the Japanese. I have seen copies of several different SMGs and very good copies of Browning 1921/2s. That would put it in the CBI theatre.

Gary in Pennsylvania
March 29, 2004, 06:37 AM
that's the smiley face from the "Insane Clown Posse" logo

:D :D :D

March 29, 2004, 06:52 AM
1. Nepalese
2. Extraterrestrial
3. Something else


March 29, 2004, 11:41 PM
With the amount of text on the barrel, it is obviously a Southeast Asian copy of a Ruger!

March 30, 2004, 07:56 AM
With the amount of text on the barrel, it is obviously a Southeast Asian copy of a Ruger!

*snicker!* :D

My favorite theory thus far is that it's a product of a shadetree gunsmith on Mindanao, based on the following:

1) The Japanese had been there.
2) They have a tradition of homemade guns, and there was enough of an American presence on the island to explain why it was a copy of a Smith and not, say, a Webley.
3) They're Muslim, which would explain the scimitar.

An interesting possibility explaining the mystery alphabet is that it's just "Greeking" put there by an illiterate 'smith. "The gun I am copying has these indecipherable markings here, so I will put some indecipherable markings on mine in the same place."

This theory could get shot down in flames fast if I could identify the alphabet, though.

March 30, 2004, 08:12 AM
"This theory could get shot down in flames fast if I could identify the alphabet, though."

If someone here has access to a Professor of Foreign Languages in a Linguistics Dept of a University or College you might get an identification of the language. Find someone who specializes in Asian languages.

It's worth a shot. <GROAN>

March 31, 2004, 09:15 AM
Tamara, try and scroll down to serial numbers, foreign language. It's worth a shot just to see.

April 14, 2004, 10:55 AM
Back in the 60s, I remember reading with great interest about the guys in Pakistan/Afghanistan area filing firearms out of lumps of steel. They made some damn good repros with the tools and materials they had.

April 19, 2004, 02:37 AM
What year were these been picked up?

April 19, 2004, 03:16 AM
I looked at revolver4.jpg and it seems that the top of the barrel has 4 sets of repeat set of characters.

It looks like a badly execute roman characters roll-mark. The word looks like (with lots of imagination...):

JPEG is very hard to see, inspite of the quality of the picture... A picture in "raw" mode probably is easier to decipher.

This probably does not help... but it is sure fun to try to figure thing out.


April 19, 2004, 03:20 AM

If I can get the Mauser to sit still on my flatbed scanner, I'll upload an image. It's remarkably similar to what's on that revolver.

I would love to see these markings.


April 20, 2004, 12:57 PM
:o This takes me back to studying international marketing and the infamous Henshey Bars, etc. packaged exactly like their famous counterparts with just a misspelled name. ADove bar soap was another brand. Came from Philippine Is, or some Spanish speaking area. IIRC. :o

April 20, 2004, 01:02 PM
You know that piece looks like a conflation of S&W and Coltic features. The butt, for example looks a bit more Colt-like; whilst other features like the front sight and cylinder release appear S&Wic. Isn't regulation police a Colt model name? :eek: BTW, whoever did make it was a heckuva lot more adept with a file than I am. :o

Is that a part of your collection, Tams? :confused:

April 22, 2004, 01:33 PM
In my rummaging, I found the attached, which has a similairity to the one shown.


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