S&W 'Black Magic' Finish question.


December 13, 2013, 11:42 PM
Bought what appears to be an S&W K-200 (1940-ish 5 screw square butt 1905 variant) in .38 S&W.

This has the matte black finish found on similar guns intended for military service. Many of this model were sold or loaned to Great Britain during WWII.

I'm trying to determine if this is a refinish or original. The usual tell-tale signs of the new finish being all over everything including pins etc as well as on the trigger and hammer are not there. The hammer etc is natural as S&W would have shipped the thing.

All of the roll marks as well as the S&W logo on the side plate are incredibly crisp. No evidence of any buffing anywhere on the pistol.

One thing I noticed, and I do not know enough to answer this.

Would the cylinder bores have been coated in this process or would S&W have polished them to shiny bare metal?

Sorry no pics until I pay it off and bring it home.


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December 14, 2013, 09:41 AM
It most likely left the factory either matte blued or parkerized. The British often refinished guns in a hard glossy black lacquer. The name of it escapes me. Suncote? Something like that. But, that not definitive either. It could have been refinished by anyone, if it indeed was.

It's tough to guess if its been refinished without pictures. Sorry.

December 14, 2013, 07:34 PM
Black Magic was a S&W applied finish, starting around serial number 680,000. From a couple of threads on the S&W forum I gather it was a hot dip blue rather than a gas oven blue. With the increase in production for the war it appears S&W to have bought the use of a hot dip process called Black Magic manufactured by another firm. This would explain the normal carbonia blue & black magic finishes shipping together.


Extract from a post by Dewalt in one of the threads above:
Abstracted from the Carl Hellstrom notes regarding S&W revolver production during WWII:
"12/4/41- Finish changed from bright polish to Brush polish. All guns made during war effort after this had blue finish. Some were carbonia blued, but great majority had Black Magic Oxide Blue. Ser#s were about at 860,000. -- -- 4/10/42, Finish changed from brush polish blue to Sand Blast Blue. 1st shipment of .38 Special calibers with Sand Blast blue sent on Defense Supply Corp. orders this date. Ser#s at about 900,000. -- 5/1/42, 5/22/42 to 8/17/42 Some guns were Parkerized instead of Black Magic blue. These were all sandblasted. 2187 shipped between these dates to DSC orders. Navy did not get any Parkerized guns."

December 14, 2013, 07:50 PM
Whatever finish was used, it was applied after chambering, and any polishing that may have been done to the finished firearm.

So yes, the war-time production guns would have blue finished chambers.

My nearly unfired Victory Model does anyway.


December 14, 2013, 11:30 PM
Thank you RC. that is the answer I was looking for. This gun bears a serial in the range of 723xxx. No V or SV prefixes.

December 15, 2013, 05:02 PM
Bought what appears to be an S&W K-200 (1940-ish 5 screw square butt 1905 variant) in .38 S&W.SWEET!

Now, tell me it hasn't been converted to Spl.

December 15, 2013, 07:23 PM
That's the thing I hate about so many of them. Seems it was common after the war to ream the chambers to take .38 Spl.
I looked at one at the LGS that had been reamed and nickeled. Also had a Parker Hale front sight installed.
Too bad it was over polished prior to plating. You can barely make out half of Parker Hale.
Also too bad it was reamed to .38 Spl. Looked like it was done with a drill bit or a dull reamer.
The original chambers are nice and smooth, the lengthened portions are not.

December 15, 2013, 08:28 PM
That was the deal then.

The importers who were able to get them back from England decided to convert most all of them to .38 Special so they could advertise them as using easily available .38 Spl ammo.

There was no consideration given to future collectable value, because they were selling them for $17.95 re-chambered, and $15.95 still in .38/200 .38 S&W.

I think U.S. Victory model .38 specials were $19.95!!


December 16, 2013, 02:07 AM
Thankfully this one has not been molested. The bores are .38 S&W.

Agreed, it's a real shame to have done something silly like reboring these to .38 SPL.

December 22, 2013, 12:55 PM
@ Twmaster.
If you want to shoot .38 Specials, then just buy a .38 spl cylinder.
That is what I did for one of mine, and the original cylinder is un molested.
But I kept one gun as from the factory.

December 22, 2013, 01:28 PM
Nah, not wanting to shoot .38 SPL in this. I've got a model 10 and model 14 for that stuff. :D

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