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Thread: 38 S & W or ???

  1. #1
    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    38 S & W or ???

    Can some one help me out as I am confused as to what I have. I bought what I thought was a .38 special, police issue. However, after buying 2 boxes of shells for it, I looked at the barrel and it is stamped 38 S&W CTG, no special or spcl, nothing in-between. The previous owner said he never shot anything but .38 special rounds in it. All the serial numbers match, including the chamber. I dropped a 38 special round in it and it fits perfect. I looked it up on line, comparing both 38 S&W and 38 Special, it has characteristics of both, but not an exact match to any I found. It does not have the stamp in the cover on the side, but the cover on the side matches a 38 S&W, along with the strap ring on the bottom of the grip, which is wood, but has no round inlay at the top. The serial number is 670433. The barrel is marked Smith and Wesson, but nothing else has any stamp, other than made in USA. There is an odd ball number stamped in the side visible after opening the chamber, which I figure could be the police issue number. So my questions are:

    Is this really a 38 S&W or ??
    Is it safe to fire 38 special rounds in it as the fit perfect and the chamber closes?
    Year made or any history?
    Why does it not have the stamp in the side cover or grips like the others?
    Is this a poor copy of a real Smith?
    Anything else you can tell me would be appreciated......D..........

  2. #2
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is offline Senior Member
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    Pictures would help.
    From the markings you quote, it might even be a cheap Spanish copy of a S&W revolver. If that's correct, it may not be safe to shoot.
    S&W made lots of revolvers to fit each kind of cartridge, but never made any to fit both. It wouldn't've been safe.

    The .38 S&W cartridge is both shorter and larger in diameter than is the .38 Special. But if the pistol's cylinder is just barely long enough, and if it has been bored straight through rather than having been chambered for a specific cartridge, then .38 Special rounds will slide easily into the chambers of a .38 S&W cylinder. However, if you fire .38 Special cartridges in a bored-through .38 S&W chamber, you are just asking for a very destructive "KABOOM!" because the .38 Special is a more powerful round than is the .38 S&W.

    Pictures. We need pictures. Make sure to show all of the markings on the gun, including inside the space in the frame into which the cylinder's "crane" fits.

  3. #3
    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    Being I am new to the forum, how do you post pictures here? I read the forum directions, but I do not see the manage attachments button at the bottom they speak of. I see the button above but it is asking for a url, and I dont have a photo bucket account or anything like that.

  4. #4
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is offline Senior Member
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    Photobucket is free. Just find it and open an account.
    Upload your pictures to Photobucket, copy the pictures' "addresses," and post that information to your next post to this thread.

  5. #5
    sgms is offline Member
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    This is just a guess based on what you have given us. To me it sounds a bit like a .38 Military and Police Model of 1905. A number of the 4th change in that model had no markings on the side of the frame or the side plate. The barrels were marked S&W and .38 Special CTG, some times with one of the stamps on each side of the barrel but some had both markings on the left side. If it is a .38 M&P model 1905 4th model it would have been made some time 1940 -1942. If you can figure out how to post pictures hopefully we can answer your question better.

  6. #6
    rex
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    The number on the frame under the crane when you open the cylender is the model number.Now,if this has always been the case I'm not sure,so something real old may mean something different.Pics,need pics,we always want to see pics.

  7. #7
    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    Ok, got the photobucket thing done. Now, before I get hammered, I have not touched this weapon, it is exactly like I received it, no cleaning no nothing, so yes it looks bad. I did not want to refurbish it until I knew just what it was I have as that could take away the value of it. If you need more or better pictures, just ask and I will try to get what you want. I tried to get every angle and uploaded the high def shots, so they may be a little big if you try to open them. Again, thanks for your help and info!....D......

    URL: Pictures by dmandrewsfamily - Photobucket














  8. #8
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    It's old. Only the old ones have four sideplate screws, I think.
    I believe that it might be the .38 Hand Ejector M&P 2nd Model of 1902. The serial number on the frame (inside the crane cutout) is in the correct range. It was probably made in 1902.
    The cylinder is a later replacement, with a much newer serial number.

    This pistol was made to fire the .38 S&W cartridge. The .38 Special cartridge hadn't been invented yet.
    The newer cylinder may indeed be one made for .38 Special. It seems bored-through, rather than chambered, but I can't see for certain.

    If this gun has been fired with .38 Special cartridges, its previous owner has led a charmed life. The lowest-power .38 Special load, a 200-grain bullet at about 750fps, is 100fps faster than the highest-power .38 S&W load, and thus at higher pressure.
    The .38 Special cartridge is 0.379" in diameter, while the .38 S&W is 0.386" in diameter. The .38 S&W cartridge won't fit into a .38 Special chamber, but a .38 Special will easily slide into a .38 S&W chamber. However, the .38 Special is 1.55" long, while the .38 S&W is 1.20" long.
    Bullet diameter is also different. The .38 Special uses 0.357"-diameter bullets, while the .38 S&W uses 0.359" bullets. Thus, if the gun's barrel was made for .38 S&W, .38 Special bullets will be loose and fire inaccurately.

    When the new cylinder was added to the gun, it may have been rechambered from its more modern .38 Special to the older .38 S&W. This needs to be investigated by a competent gunsmith. If it has indeed been rechambered to .38 S&W, the .38 Special will fit, but will be dangerous. However, it will be safe using .38 S&W loads.

    It seems to have its original finish. If this is indeed true, do not repolish it. Clean the rust off with a coarse-linen, oily rag. If that doesn't work, try lightly-oiled, end-grain balsa wood. If all else fails, very carefully use oiled, 0000 (ultra-fine) steel wool, but only on the rust.
    The grips seem to be original. Clean them with an old toothbrush, and then rub-in a little boiled linseed oil using another old toothbrush.

  9. #9
    denner's Avatar
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    Have you checked with S&W or the S&W forum, should be able to add more info as well.
    Last edited by denner; 10-30-2012 at 08:39 PM.

  10. #10
    Philco is offline Member
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    You can use a number 2 pencil to remove the active rust from your gun. Rub the point of the pencil lead over the rusted areas vigorously and then wipe the area off with a soft cloth. You might want to use some light oil on the cloth to help with the clean up. It may take a couple of tries to get all the rust but the pencil lead won't scratch the metal surface but will remove the softer rust.

    As far as proper ammo for that gun, always err on the side of caution. The inscription says 38 S&W. Take it seriously even if a 38 spl. will fit into the chamber.

  11. #11
    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    The serial number on the chamber matches the number on the underside of the grip as well as the underside of the barrel, so all 3 serials match, which tells me that the chamber is original to the gun. One of the things that bothers me is that when a 38 special round is in the chamber, it looks right, the lead is in the smaller section of the chamber and is not far back from the end of the chamber so the bullet wont travel very far in the chamber. A shorter round would be more back in the chamber, more back than the smaller part, and would have to travel a good ways before reaching the end of the chamber and entering the barrel. Is that safe and normal?

    The only operational issue I have noted is that the lock pin that hold the chamber in place has a little slack to it. Would replacing that take away from the value? I havent cleaned it for the reasons listed above as I dont want to ruin it or take away from the over all collectability of it.

    I havent checked with S & W yet as they charge 50 buckcs for info, and that to me seems wrong as most other makers dont do that, and offer thier info for free. You mention the S & W forum, isn't that where I am, LOL...........D...........

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    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    Number 2 pencil lead, never herd of that before, but makes sense, might have to try that one. The only reason I questioned it is I did look on the barrel and seen the 38 S&W on it. The previous owner said it was a 38 special. I asked him about it and he states, even tonight, that he never shot anything but 38 specials in it, even so far as to state he shot some hand loaded "hot" loads out of it. And he said he shot it quite a bit as well. I did note that, and pointed out to him that the 38 special round was a little loose in the chamber which now I can see why, even though they are not much different, a few thousandths is a mile in a close tolerance environment...........D...........

  13. #13
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    If the cylinder's serial number is the same as that of the rest of the gun, then it's a Model 1905 Hand Ejector, made between 1905 and WW1.
    I believe that it's still a .38 S&W pistol, though.
    The final test, also to be administered by a competent gunsmith, would be to clean, "slug," and measure the inside diameter of its barrel, both groove and land. A groove diameter near 0.357" would indicate a .38 Special, and anything larger, say maybe 0.360", would indicate a .38 S&W.


    Philco; Thanks for the lead-pencil idea. I've never run into that before. I'll try it.

  14. #14
    denner's Avatar
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    "Your pistol sounds very much like a British Service Revolver, a model that was a precursor of the British Victory guns. You can call it a pre-Victory, The .38 S&W (not .38 Special) was the barrel stamp on guns that were chambered for the British .38/200 round, and the BSRs were in fact called the K-200 by the factory for short. Your gun was probably manufactured and shipped in February or March of 1941. The company was turning these out at a pretty good clip under a British contract, and it is fairly easy to interpolate ship dates.

    Most BSRs had five-inch barrels. Many of these guns (and the subsequent Victories) were released to the commercial market after WWII had concluded. Some were bored out to take .38 Special rounds and many had their barrels cut to two inches. If you still have the long barrel and cannot chamber .38 Special, you have an unmolested gun. That makes it a little more interesting as a historical specimen."

    I read this off the S&W forum(not this S&W forum) which has a plethora of information on pistols such as this one. That being said, I believe you have a 38 S&W bored out to 38 special as I do not believe you could chamber a non bored out 38 S&W chamber w/ a 38 special cartridge. Likewise I do not believe your gun is a 1905 Hand Ejector because as far as i can tell the 1905 was never chambered in 38 S&W and besides the Limeys really liked those large lanyard loops(a distinguishing feature of the V- Model).
    Last edited by denner; 10-31-2012 at 02:08 PM.

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    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    denner;
    1. Where did you get ".32 S&W"? Nobody had mentioned that round until you did.
    2. I doubt British government ownership, because I don't see a "broad arrow" stamp on the gun. However, the "Made In U.S.A." marking might indicate an intention to export.
    3. The idea that it was a .38 S&W pistol purposely bored-out to .38 Special seems to be correct. It's nice to know that it was a factory job, which indicates that it's safe to use.
    4. Whoops—I missed noticing the lanyard loop. You are probably more correct than I am. Maybe it's a Victory Model, after all.

  16. #16
    denner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    denner;
    1. Where did you get ".32 S&W"? Nobody had mentioned that round until you did.
    2. I doubt British government ownership, because I don't see a "broad arrow" stamp on the gun. However, the "Made In U.S.A." marking might indicate an intention to export.
    Sorry Steve I'll fix it, meant 38 S&W: This is the pistol I believe:
    Model 10 British .38/200 Caliber Service Revolver (1941-1944) K-Frame 38 S&W Military & Police rechambered in 38 special. Sidenote is that the pre-victory model may be worth more to collectors?
    The serial number should denote the date of manufacture and as far as I can tell it falls in the WWII period. The 38 S&W was designed for the British .38/200 round.

    Heres a little history which might clear things up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_%26_Wesson_Model_10
    Last edited by denner; 10-31-2012 at 03:46 AM.

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    sgms is offline Member
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    duplicate

  18. #18
    sgms is offline Member
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    I believe the S&W forum denner intended it the [url=http://www.smith_wessonforum.com]Smith & Wesson Forum a Smith and Wesson only forum.

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    D.Andrews is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    denner;
    1. Where did you get ".32 S&W"? Nobody had mentioned that round until you did.
    2. I doubt British government ownership, because I don't see a "broad arrow" stamp on the gun. However, the "Made In U.S.A." marking might indicate an intention to export.
    3. The idea that it was a .38 S&W pistol purposely bored-out to .38 Special seems to be correct. It's nice to know that it was a factory job, which indicates that it's safe to use.
    4. Whoops—I missed noticing the lanyard loop. You are probably more correct than I am. Maybe it's a Victory Model, after all.


    Now you have me even more curious. Why would you need to bore and rechamber it for the .38 special round when it is smaller in diameter, and the projectal is as well smaller? I can see where it would not be accurate at all however. I havent measured it yet or bought any 38 S&W rounds to try in it for fit as of yet. That will be in the near future.

    So what next guys?..........D..........

  20. #20
    denner's Avatar
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    D. Andrews, did you read what I posted above including the wikipedia link describing this gun? If you were to (read) more closely you should find your answers, or at least most of them in your quest for information. I found this information with not too much trouble from the S&W forum and my own limited research. Likewise, The S&W forum, not this S&W forum is the place to be regarding this particular at least 71 year old S&W pistol. As you stated you do not want to spend the $50.00 to get an authentication certificate, so the S&W forum is your next best option in my humble opinion. I posted above regarding a plethora of information and folks that know about these pistols from the S&W forum which instead in my opinion would a better option than being spoonfed from the post here, but you're on the right track. "Rechambering of .38-200 cylinders to .38 Special results in oversized chambers which may cause problems": from the wikipedia link I posted above. It should work as evidently the previous owner has shot 38 special from this gun with no ill effect and as you've stated the 38 special cartridge seems to chamber fine in this pistol, but take that w/ a grain of salt as "may" means "may" cause problems or it may not.
    Last edited by denner; 10-31-2012 at 10:30 PM.

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