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An odd S&W revolver

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by WardenWolf, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    So recently I acquired a slightly unusual Smith & Wesson M&P .38 Special revolver. This revolver, according to the info under the crane and serial, was made between 1954-1956. However, at some point, a previous owner had it Parkerized. It's almost impossible to tell the Parkerizing isn't original, except for some slight pitting on the backstrap that indicates the original finish had been eaten through and Parkerizing done over it. I like it, though. It gives it almost the exact appearance of a World War II Victory model, and I've ordered some Victory rounded grips to put on it to complete the look.

    Here's some pictures. The pictures were from the Gunbroker seller because I just have a crappy cellphone camera right now; I need to stop buying guns for a bit and buy myself a camera!


    It shoots well, and is quite pleasant with standard .38 Special. The trigger is incredible, both in single and double action. Smith & Wesson said to not use +P with it, though. I'm not too surprised; if you look closely it's effectively the exact same gun as the WW2 Victories, which were originally built for .38 S&W, a much lower-powered cartridge. Because of this, it's no shock that it really shouldn't be used with +P.

    Overall I'm very pleased with my purchase. It's an odd duck with the Parkerized finish, but that's a large part of why I like it. That grey finish is unique and low-glare, and the trigger is spectacular. Not bad for my first revolver, if I do say so myself.
  2. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    The grips aren't original, so replace them with whatever you like. A nice M&P shooter. Smith's of that era are known for nice actions.
  3. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    Do my eyes deceive me or does it have the extra wide "Target" trigger? That would be unusual in an M&P.
  4. nitesite

    nitesite Well-Known Member

    I, too, noticed the trigger. Adds a nice touch. And I am actually quite drawn to the refinish on it. That's a revolver I would be proud to own (and I've owned a lot).
  5. Missionary

    Missionary Well-Known Member

    Good morning
    Nice revolver to have and enjoy. Post WW2 and till about the mid 60's S&W and Colt produced some fine revolvers.
    Definately get some grips that will fill behind the trigger guard. Shootability will be much improved. Several companies made excellent "fillers" that are not collector items.
    Mike in Peru
  6. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    This is my non-Victory model as it lacks the ordnance markings and the V designation. More than likely it was one of those purchased by the Defense Supply Corporation for use by security guards at defense plants and strategic government locations.
  7. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator

    Nice find. Use and enjoy it in good health and prosperity.
  8. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Thanks for the comments. Yeah, it definitely has a wide trigger. I didn't realize it wasn't common, though. I assumed it was just one of their standard post-war changes. The trigger IS incredibly nice on it. Far better than some of the later Smiths I've used, such as my late grandfather's Model 10-5.

    Nitesite, the finish really drew me in, too. I just really love that grey Parkerized finish. That's a large part of why I was wanting a Victory, in addition to the grips. I thought the finish might have been original until I took possession of it and found the very slight pitting that proved it wasn't. They did such a good job it might well have been. It really improves the shootability by reducing glare, too.

    Bannockburn, nice. I purchased a set of grips like that for mine. I should have them shortly.
  9. KTXdm9

    KTXdm9 Well-Known Member

    Nice find! I really like the finish.
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The trigger is the target trigger; it is usually seen in combination with target sights and target hammer, but it could be ordered on any gun or purchased for gunsmith/owner installation.

  11. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    So I got my Victory grips, but the screw I've got is too long. Anyone got a resource where I can order S&W grip screws?

    Edit: Nevermind. Numrich had an original Victory grip screw. Ordered one.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  12. tipoc

    tipoc Well-Known Member

    The hammer is also non standard. The pic posted by Bannockburn shows the standard.

    Whoever owned this gun possibly shot it in police style matches of the time which featured a number of stages where single action shooting was a part of it. Either that or they just wanted a gun with the target trigger and upswept hammer.

  13. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    The more I learn about this, the more I think I really scored for $350.

    Tipoc, I think the hammer is standard. Comparing it to another post-war pre-Model 10, it's identical. It's just a little more refined than the wartime production.
  14. Ron James

    Ron James Well-Known Member

    JFWIW, The V-prefix was used on both the 38-200 and the .38 Special. The 38-200 was built on the same frame as the .38 Special and there is no difference in the frame strength.
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The hammer on Warden Wolf's revolver is correct and standard for the time period. The hammer on Bannockburn's Victory Model is correct and standard for its period. Even though Warden's revolver looks like a Victory Model, he is correct that it actually dates to the 1950's.

    FWIW, the "Victory Model" never existed except in serial numbers. Wartime production sent S&W's M&P revolver serial numbers toward seven digits, but their numbering machine could not handle more than six digits, so they decided to use a letter prefix. "A" was considered, but in the tenor of the times, someone suggested "V for Victory" and so "V" was used. All the frames had the "V" marking (and later the "S") put on before the serial numbering stage was reached.

  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Any older S&W revolver is a great find especially one that looks like that one. I agree, the finish is appealing.
  17. CajunBass

    CajunBass Well-Known Member

    Nice gun you got there. I'm not surprised that Smith & Wesson would tell you not to use P+ because they have no idea what you mean by P+. They want to be able to say "We told him not to" if you happen shove some stupid handload into it. The lawyers tell them to say that.

    I wouldn't shoot a lot of P+ in mine (from 1955) but that's only because I don't see any sense in paying more for ammo I'm going to use to punch a hole in a piece of paper, not because I'm worried that it might damage the gun some way. However you will never be wrong to not shoot P+.

    The victory models were originally built for 38 Special. Some were made in 38 S&W, but Smith & Wesson has been building K-frame 38 Specials since about 1900 or so.

    I like a Tylers T-grip with stock Magna grips on my Smith & Wessons, but since those aren't the right ones for that gun, I think I'd just get a set of Pachmyer, or Hogues for it.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
  18. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Finally got a camera, and got my Victory grips. So here is my "Post-war Victory":



    Apologies, but I haven't cleaned it since I shot it last.
  19. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking that it's pretty safe to say that this gun was re-parkerized not that long ago. The park'ed guns seem to develop shiney burnish marks pretty quickly. And your gun has a notable lack of such marks.

    If it was re-finished and it's a bit of a "mongrel" what with parts that are not original to the gun's pattern it could well explain the darn good price you got it for.

    None of this detracts from the fact that you got a good price on a great shooting gun. If the collectors turned their noses away then it's a great score for you!
  20. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    I know this much about the finish: it was done because the original bluing had been eaten through. There are some very tiny pit marks on the backstrap indicating rust. It's hard to say at what point in the gun's lifespan it was done. Obviously someone noticed the damage very early and had it refinished because the rest of the finish is perfectly smooth, with no signs of pitting. I don't believe it was shot much, if any, after being refinished due to a lack of turn line on the cylinder when I got it (I've since put 42 rounds through it, and there is a visible turn line).

    The rest of the gun, other than the grips, is original and correct for the period, 1954-1956. It's not a mongrel, just one that's been refinished in order to protect it. I think I got a steal for $350. I was wanting a Victory, but spotted this and wound up with something a lot nicer at a cheaper price.

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