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Old 03-20-2017, 09:30 PM
wcwarren wcwarren is offline
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Default Combat Masterpiece 38 special marked USMC Property

I have a Combat Masterpiece 38 Special marked USMC Property. My father had this gun in his collection for at least 30 years. I am in the process of getting a letter from Smith & Wesson on the gun. I know that it is rare for the Marines to marked their firearms. Does anyone on here have any information about it or what the value of it might be.
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Old 03-20-2017, 10:53 PM
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Well, how 'bout some non-information? It (a USMC variant) is NOT mentioned in the two books it should be---------if it's legitimate. (The books are SCSW 4, and History of Smith & Wesson.) At this point, amid myriad flashing red lights and waving red flags, methinks caution is the word of the day.

You've already noted some significant mitigating information----it's been in the family for 30+ years---so the flashing lights and waving flags are now yellow; and caution becomes intrigue---and any panic caused by the reds can be set aside while you wait for your letter.

If (IF) the letter treats with USMC heritage, it would seem we're all going to learn something----as we will if it doesn't.

As I sit and stare at the inscription, it was either stamped through the blue---or it's filled with paint. If it's stamped through the blue, it almost certainly is not factory (and no mention in the noted publications has already pretty much confirmed that). The apparent condition suggests it has seen little use/carry, and good care (neither common with military weapons---other than those of high ranking officers).

As to value, let's say $500-$700----without the inscription---less with it ---unless it becomes documented by the letter or other credible source. At that point, then poker's going up.

Let us know when the letter shows up----and what it has to say.

And now that I'm all but finished, I have a dim recollection of mention of a S&W distributor/dealer (and wife) with military AND Combat Masterpiece connection. If that dim recollection has merit, there will be those with less dim and more recollection who will likely pick up the ball and run with it.

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 03-20-2017, 11:03 PM
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Not saying it did not belong to the Corps at some point. Some armorer may have stamped it as such. I only know of two firearms stamped as property of the Corps. One is a Colt Model 1909 and some 40X Remington's, that were ordered by the Corps. Have seen lots of stuff marked with USMC to get people to buy it.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:20 PM
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What's the serial number? Maybe United States Maritime Commission ? Ed.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:05 AM
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Doesnt look right, unusual font as well. Also, the USMC stamped their Officer Model Victory's on the backstrap during this timeframe. Either a factory letter or Kwill will clear this up directly.....
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:57 AM
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Never say never. It's highly unlikely to be a factory stamp, but that doesn't mean anything for its authenticity. The Marine Corps is a large organization, and the fact that this isn't known as "official issue" doesn't mean some unit or facility didn't acquire some for whatever purpose and had their armorer stamp them. Could have been for some civilian contractors guarding a depot or something.

I think the Maritime Commission is an unlikely suspect since they never stamped any revolvers during the war (except some cases of Victorys and Commandos that are still subject to debate). Also, by the time this model became available, they were winding down business and handed their duties over to other agencies by 1950.

Really looking forward to the letter on this revolver.

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Old 03-21-2017, 01:36 AM
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If I had to venture a guess ( and only a guess) if it turned out to have a legit USMC connection, it would be that some unit shooting team or recreational range at a base procured the pistol and stamped it for easier identification. Back in the 50's &60's almost every base had a rod and gun club range with loaner guns and many units had unit competition pistol teams. I highly highly doubt this would have been any sort of combat issue weapon
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:07 AM
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A fine revolver, either way. As long as you're not counting on it for your retirement, you have a winner there.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:56 AM
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The marking looks cut w/a pantograph,,the type that uses a tiny high speed rotating cutting point. Not that dismisses or proves anything,,just a point of info. Cut thru the blue finish of course.
?--If the wording 'USMC Property' was instead 'Property USMC' make any difference in the thoughts about the validity of the marking?

Would a factory letter solve anything, seems like they;d be buying direct and not thru the local hardware outlet.

Nice clean gun at any rate!
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:31 AM
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I spent over 20 years in the Corps, handguns were just tools to me at the time. I did qualify with a 4 inch S&W once and a 4 inch Ruger once. Never paid attention to what models we were using. Some of our aircrews carried 4 inch S&W's (they had the option of carrying their own handguns, but some used issue handguns). In all that time I never saw a handgun marked USMC. This is not to say as I stated in a previous post that some armorer did not stamp or etch USMC Property into a gun. I have an H&R Model 65 that was used by the Corps as a trainer by the Corps. Some were sold on the civilian market. Mine is stamped USMC, however none of the ones owned by the Corps were marked USMC. Now did an armorer stamp mine or did some seller stamp it USMC to try to sucker someone into buying it? I do have a Remingtn 40X that is marked USMC PROPERTY, this was roll stamped at the factory. There were two contracts by the Corps for these target rifles, after they were filled the Corps was included in the DOD contracts for 40X's and these are just marked as U.S.

Back to the revolver in question, letter it. If it comes back as a government gun then it may be a gun owned by the Corps. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:12 AM
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I have logged 3 similar revolvers, all within the same serial number range, with the same markings. Of the 3, the only one I know of with a letter shows a shipment of 6 to Evaluators, LTD. in Quantico, VA. Many of you will recognize that outfit as the one run by BG Van Orden and his wife Flora. They had close ties to the USMC and sold lots of guns to them. I don't think this will letter as a factory marking. Perhaps Evaluators marked them. I suspect these guns were for the USMC shooting team and perhaps the Marine Corps armorer marked them. Whatever the case they are interesting guns and I hope Mr. Warren reports back what his letter shows when he gets it. Here is a picture of a similar gun (not mine).
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:37 AM
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Cool SMART GUYS!!

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I have logged 3 similar revolvers, all within the same serial number range, with the same markings. Of the 3, the only one I know of with a letter shows a shipment of 6 to Evaluators, LTD. in Quantico, VA. Many of you will recognize that outfit as the one run by BG Van Orden and his wife Flora. They had close ties to the USMC and sold lots of guns to them. I don't think this will letter as a factory marking. Perhaps Evaluators marked them. I suspect these guns were for the USMC shooting team and perhaps the Marine Corps armorer marked them. Whatever the case they are interesting guns and I hope Mr. Warren reports back what his letter shows when he gets it. Here is a picture of a similar gun (not mine).
This (above) is from one of the smart guys---no "dim recollections" for him. "Big bear" is another one of those smart guys----woke me up this morning with one of those clandestine messages----Evaluators Ltd.--Quantico, VA---husband and wife team-----he a retired Marine Corp. officer (General??)---she a friend/kin (??) to someone of weight at S&W. As the story goes, she had the inspiration for the Combat Masterpiece----and the Highway Patrolman.

So-----bottom line is your daddy's gun may very well be something with uncommon history------special---to us at least----never mind the outside world.

Ralph Tremaine

As an aside, S&W distributors are an important part of the company's history. I can't sit here and rattle off each and every one of the special ones, but Bekeart comes quickly to mind---as does Wolf & Klar---more recently Rex, and Herbie Harris. All of those can claim credit for the creation of what we regard as special guns----some a whole lot more special than others.

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Old 03-21-2017, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rct269 View Post
This (above) is from one of the smart guys---no "dim recollections" for him. "Big bear" is another one of those smart guys----woke me up this morning with one of those clandestine messages----Evaluators Ltd.--Quantico, VA---husband and wife team-----he a retired Marine Corp. officer (General??)---she a friend/kin (??) to someone of weight at S&W. As the story goes, she had the inspiration for the Combat Masterpiece----and the Highway Patrolman.

So-----bottom line is your daddy's gun may very well be something with uncommon history------special---to us at least----never mind the outside world.

Ralph Tremaine
Sorry that some of us have posted "dim recollections". Yes, some folks havve access to more information than the rest of do. So "dim recollections" of our experience is all we have to go by.

AJ Glaser
1stSgt. USMC(RET.)

I hope for the OP that is does turn out to be a piece owned by the Corps. Will increase it's value and desirability.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:13 AM
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Sorry that some of us have posted "dim recollections". Yes, some folks havve access to more information than the rest of do. So "dim recollections" of our experience is all we have to go by.

AJ Glaser
1stSgt. USMC(RET.)

I hope for the OP that is does turn out to be a piece owned by the Corps. Will increase it's value and desirability.
You have absolutely NOTHING to be sorry for!! I started the dim recollections this time. Dim recollections as well as the occasional mind boggling ignorance are a BIG part of what keeps this hive going. Somebody asks---somebody else answers---we all learn. That's the name of the game. And if it was otherwise, there would be nobody here---the sign on the door would read CLOSED DUE TO A LACK OF INTEREST.

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Old 03-21-2017, 11:52 AM
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Well, for whatever it's worth, to my untrained eyes, the placement of the stamp looks identical. I do believe the one is paint filled.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:56 AM
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Combat Masterpiece 38 special marked USMC Property
In case no one's mentioned it yet, welcome to the forum and thanks for showing us your revolver.

You've come to the right place to learn about all things Smith & Wesson.

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Old 03-21-2017, 12:12 PM
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Ralph has nailed it. I hope someday someone writes a definitive article on the Van Ordens & Evaluators Ltd. They are behind a number of very strange S&Ws that got modified after they left S&W, but are very real pieces of US Navy & Marine Corps history, starting with the Navy trials in 1953, which included an alloy frame Safety Hammerless ! Ed.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:16 PM
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You have absolutely NOTHING to be sorry for!! I started the dim recollections this time. Dim recollections as well as the occasional mind boggling ignorance are a BIG part of what keeps this hive going. Somebody asks---somebody else answers---we all learn. That's the name of the game. And if it was otherwise, there would be nobody here---the sign on the door would read CLOSED DUE TO A LACK OF INTEREST.

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Old 03-21-2017, 12:20 PM
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My last full year in the Corp(1964) was at the Landing Force Development Center,Quantico Va.My assignment there was test firing new shoulder fired weapons or reconfigured weapons in use.

A Stoner 63 assigned to me had all major parts marked USMC Property while variations of the AR I tested did not.

BTW,that Stoner 63 was the best darn shoulder fired weapon I had the privilege of firing out to 1000 yds.IMO and stated in my evaluation reports. It was head and shoulders above the Colt AR.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:25 PM
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My last full year in the Corp(1964) was at the Landing Force Development Center,Quantico Va.My assignment there was test firing new shoulder fired weapons or reconfigured weapons in use.

A Stoner 63 assigned to me had all major parts marked USMC Property while variations of the AR I tested did not.

BTW,that Stoner 63 was the best darn shoulder fired weapon I had the privilege of firing out to 1000 yds.IMO and stated in my evaluation reports. It was head and shoulders above the Colt AR.
Never saw a Stoner. What year?
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:30 PM
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Never saw a Stoner. What year?
That was in early 1964 that I started the tests.

I heard Force Recon used them for a while?
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:04 PM
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Back to the topic...I need to make a correction and add a couple of other pieces of information. The correction is that I'm not sure how many were in the shipment. I misread my own data which leads to the additional fact that the other guns I've seen had 6" barrels as opposed to the 4" barrel on Mr. Warren's gun. Also, I think a letter will show that these shipped in late 1952.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:45 PM
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That was in early 1964 that I started the tests.

I heard Force Recon used them for a while?
Never saw or heard of one while I was on active duty. Most of my career I was a wing wiper. However, did a tour with the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion as a member of a Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team (FAST) and saw some different weapons there, but nothing marked USMC.
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:15 PM
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All.
Nothing to add, but a picture. Remington 40-X as mentioned above. Bought from JG Sales, ARIZONA. They had several the day I was there.
Shoots good.
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:33 PM
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All.
Nothing to add, but a picture. Remington 40-X as mentioned above. Bought from JG Sales, ARIZONA. They had several the day I was there.
Shoots good.
Bill@Yuma
What were they asking for them? Usually several hundred more than a U.S. marked or a commercial model.
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:45 PM
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What were they asking for them? Usually several hundred more than a U.S. marked or a commercial model.
Sir.
It has been a while. Seems like 850 or 950. Did not matter at the time, I wanted one. I called them from work, they had several, I gave them a credit card number and asked them to put the two best of them on hold. I drove up there and picked this one of the two. Came with a good set of sights for 3 position shooting.
I put a 6 power Redfield scope on it and have shot a few paper targets, but mostly used it to hunt wild ARIZONA Desert Lizards. Poor lizards don't stand a chance if I see them.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:09 PM
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Sir.
It has been a while. Seems like 850 or 950. Did not matter at the time, I wanted one. I called them from work, they had several, I gave them a credit card number and asked them to put the two best of them on hold. I drove up there and picked this one of the two. Came with a good set of sights for 3 position shooting.
I put a 6 power Redfield scope on it and have shot a few paper targets, but mostly used it to hunt wild ARIZONA Desert Lizards. Poor lizards don't stand a chance if I see them.
Bill@Yuma

Bill, I tried to PM you, but you do not accept PM's. You got a good deal on your rifle. Please PM me with your email address to continue this. You got a good deal.

AJ
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:40 PM
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Sir.
It has been a while. Seems like 850 or 950. Did not matter at the time, I wanted one. I called them from work, they had several, I gave them a credit card number and asked them to put the two best of them on hold. I drove up there and picked this one of the two. Came with a good set of sights for 3 position shooting.
I put a 6 power Redfield scope on it and have shot a few paper targets, but mostly used it to hunt wild ARIZONA Desert Lizards. Poor lizards don't stand a chance if I see them.
Bill@Yuma
I have # 4352, bbl. date 6-58 so both our rifles were in the 1st batch. I got mine, hand picked by a worker friend of mine, in 2007, after the sales had been over for a while.He found the rifle in a locker of a former employee and emailed me and asked if I wanted it knowing I was a former Marine. I sent the forms in and the price was $822.95 shipped. Came with the original Olympic front and International rear Redfield sights. The rifle I received was about a 99%er. Just about mint. Most had crushed butt pads and heavily scratched bbls. It does not compete with my CMP 40XB at 100 yards. Nothing I have in my collection does. If my memory serves me correctly, only 2,687 were contracted to the USMC. I have had offers of well over $2,000 for my rifle, but it's not going anywhere soon. Semper Fi to all you Marines and thank you for your service to our country. Big Larry USMCR (60-68)

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Old 03-21-2017, 08:52 PM
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I have # 4352, bbl. date 6-58 so both our rifles were in the 1st batch. I got mine, hand picked by a worker friend of mine, in 2007, after the sales had been over for a while.He found the rifle in a locker of a former employee and emailed me and asked if I wanted it knowing I was a former Marine. I sent the forms in and the price was $822.95 shipped. Came with the original Olympic front and International rear Redfield sights. The rifle I received was about a 99%er. Just about mint. Most had crushed butt pads and heavily scratched bbls. It does not compete with my CMP 40XB at 100 yards. Nothing I have in my collection does. If my memory serves me correctly, only 2,687 were contracted to the USMC. I have had offers of well over $2,000 for my rifle, but it's not going anywhere soon. Semper Fi to all you Marines and thank you for your service to our country. Big Larry USMCR (60-68)

Big,

You got ripped off. The last CMP sales were a couple of years ago and the rifles cost $600. I bought three, kept one and sold the other two to Marines for the same price that I paid for them.

AJ
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:26 PM
wcwarren wcwarren is offline
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Thanks for all the information. I will post the results of the letter when I receive it.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:32 PM
gkitch gkitch is offline
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Flora Van Orden of Evaluators Limited special ordered the first 4" K-38s with special Baughman front sights and asked that they be named the Combat Masterpiece. As the most productive S&W dealer of the time, this was done. She loved her Lieutenants and FBI Agents and made sure they all bought Combat Masterpieces and Berns-martin holsters to keep them safe. At least, this is what I've heard.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:15 PM
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Thanks for all the information. I will post the results of the letter when I receive it.
Wish you luck.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:37 PM
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Did someone mention Evaluators Ltd. ?

Rick Nahas and I displayed three revolvers that belonged to Flora Van Orden as well as her floral carved Berns-Martin holster at the last SWCA symposium. That's the sign that they used and took with them when they traveled to NRA meetings and Camp Perry matches.
I've got some letters regarding the Van Orden's reported involvement in the development of the Combat Masterpiece. I'll dig them out.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:42 PM
kwill1911 kwill1911 is offline
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And there, Uncle Ed, is the pair of gentlemen who should write the article on Evaluators LTD.
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Old 03-22-2017, 09:03 PM
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And there, Uncle Ed, is the pair of gentlemen who should write the article on Evaluators LTD.
Sounds like a good idea.
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