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Old 06-14-2017, 03:05 PM
Comoloro Comoloro is offline
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Hello Friends,
I recently bought a S&W Victory. Here was the story I was told:
I'm in need of a history lesson and I hope you can help me. Was the barrel cut after its use by the British or was it cut by the Brits? The one side of the barrel says .38S&W. the other side, with proof marks says .38 spl. Can I shoot either? What's you're recommendation? Any help you could offer, or any part of the story I've been told that needs to be corrected would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!
I paid $310 for my gun. My serial number is : V 604350 how'd I do on the price?
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Smith and Wesson Victory-19122fda-2530-4032-9172-22bf5c032833-jpg   Smith and Wesson Victory-a23d0388-12ab-4999-858e-2fcb614cc262-jpg   Smith and Wesson Victory-0b9d2bb6-7105-491e-bf07-a8fb6d8f9477-jpg   Smith and Wesson Victory-5dcc9923-c6d7-4b22-9576-acf67b365e10-jpg   Smith and Wesson Victory-07f5a290-31da-41bc-ab54-1f5ce9b800b1-jpg  


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Old 06-14-2017, 04:44 PM
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First of, I have V604454, only 104 guns later than V604350, and it shipped to Hardford Depot for Lend-lease on Aug. 9, 1944. These usually went in sizable batches; yours might even have been in the same shipment.

Your gun was converted post-war in Britain, since it was proofed at Birmingham for the .38 Special, 1.15 case length. That's uncommon, and usually only seen on the Cogswell & Harrison London-proofed conversions, not on Birmingham-proofed guns.

You can safely shoot both calibers, although .38 Special cases may bulge a bit. If regular .38 S&W does not fit, the chamber may even have been sleeved, which happened to at least some of these. Overall, an uncommon conversion, and I wouldn't say you overpaid, although Victory collectors would pass due to the modifications.

PS: The resolution of the second photo isn't good enough to make out the silver medallion clearly, but it does not look like the S&W logo. If it shows an eagle, these are Sile aftermarket grips made (I think) in the Philippines.

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Old 06-14-2017, 05:00 PM
Comoloro Comoloro is offline
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What are the chances! That's a great story! Much appreciated! Is there any truth to the British cutting the barrel down so that the gun could be rechambered to .38spl? Would there ve any reasonable reason to cut the barrel down by the brits?
Also, Can you tell any more on why one gun would be shipped to Birmingham vs. another locale? Was this gun used in the military? What is the lend lease designation? A link would be great! I don't expect you to writes book in response! Thanks in advance! Your help is much appreciated.

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Old 06-14-2017, 05:23 PM
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"Is there any truth to the British cutting the barrel down so that the gun could be rechambered to .38spl?"

I am at a loss to see a relationship between barrel length and chamber dimensions.

"Would there ve [sic] any reasonable reason to cut the barrel down by the brits?"

For the same reasonable reason the cylinder was reamed to .38 Special--to make the weapon more marketable to postwar American buyers.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:41 PM
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My BSR was modified by Cogswell and Harrison. They cut the barrel down to 3.5". Yours looks even shorter. Mine handles the .38 specials well and does not allow the brass to bulge. It appears to be a good shooter.



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Old 06-14-2017, 06:27 PM
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Default Any way to tell who cut the barrel?

Thanks for your reply! Is there any way to tell who cut the barrel? I'm new to this gun and obviously, I don't know much about it. So, I'd like to think that the gun would have a little more "value" if it were cut down by a company rather than some guy in his garage. Any insight you could offer would be great. Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:19 PM
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Welcome to the Forum.

As stated, the conversion was done to make these British Victory models more desirable to the US market. Shorter barrels were also more in demand. Many of these conversions had their barrels cut to 2" and received nickel plating and fake stag grips.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comoloro View Post
What are the chances! That's a great story! Much appreciated! Is there any truth to the British cutting the barrel down so that the gun could be rechambered to .38spl? Would there ve any reasonable reason to cut the barrel down by the brits?
Also, Can you tell any more on why one gun would be shipped to Birmingham vs. another locale? Was this gun used in the military? What is the lend lease designation? A link would be great! I don't expect you to writes book in response! Thanks in advance! Your help is much appreciated.
As to the later part:

- Birmingham was the proof house that the gun went through on it's way out of British service. Guns had to be proofed for the civilian market.
- The gun was shipped to the Brits as part of the Lend-Lease agreement for defense use; whether or not it actually got used in defense of the realm is impossible to know without some sort of iron-clad statement from someone who was there and actually used it.

The fact that it was proofed as a Special would seem to indicate that the barrel was cut down in the U.K. Other than that I'm unaware of any way to tell who did the work, other than a guess that his name wasn't Bubba. Maybe Paddy?

These modified BSRs have very little collector value, it's basically worth what you'd be willing to pay for a vintage (converted) S&W .38.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Comoloro View Post
.....Is there any truth to the British cutting the barrel down so that the gun could be rechambered to .38spl? Would there ve any reasonable reason to cut the barrel down by the brits?
Also, Can you tell any more on why one gun would be shipped to Birmingham vs. another locale? Was this gun used in the military? What is the lend lease designation? ....
The Lend-lease gun were provided to Britain after they had run out of money and the US "loaned" them equipment for the war effort. These guns were issued to British and allied forces as supplementary handguns to the standard Enfield and Webley revolvers.

There were two main proofhouses in Britain, Birmingham and London. Since most of the British arms industry's mass production was located around the industrial centers near Birmingham, that one was more commonly used and appears on most surplussed British Service S&W's. The other proofhouse in London served the gunmakers there, and C & H (like Mike's gun above) is the only converter of S&W revolvers that always had its guns proofed there.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:45 PM
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At least for those war surplus BSRs converted in the USA, the work was probably done in many places, and surplus gun importers probably shopped around for machine job shops which would do it for the lowest price. Those done in England often had the converter's name engraved on the frame. As previously stated, as the converted BSRs are not in original condition, they are not collectible. I sometimes see them priced high at gun shows, but those dealers are simply trolling for suckers who don't know any better.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:53 PM
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Thanks to everybody who replied to my questions! I appreciate your time in educating me on my new gun. While it's not "collectible", I do like it nonetheless. I like the history of it, and the proof marks. The fact that this gun was used in the British service is pretty cool. I'd pay $300 to own a gun with this type of history. My momma always said, "You never see a Brink's truck following a hearse in the cemetery!" Ya can't take it with ya!
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:26 PM
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Regarding my modified BSR, I sent an email to Cogswell & Harrison about two months ago asking if they had any info regarding the revolver. They said that since they did the work for the Ministry of Defence they kept no records. The MOD had the records.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:28 PM
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Regarding my modified BSR, I sent an email to Cogswell & Harrison about two months ago asking if they had any info regarding the revolver. They said that since they did the work for the Ministry of Defence they kept no records. The MOD had the records.
That is an interesting piece of information.

Assuming they know what they were talking about (always a question mark sixty years or more after the events) and weren't just brushing you off, that would mean the British army had some purpose in mind for them that required a shorter barrel and a different caliber (the standard .38 continued to be the official British caliber until the adoption of the 9mm with the BHP starting in 1957). A rather peculiar concept that to my knowledge has not been mentioned before.
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Old 06-15-2017, 12:03 AM
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That is an interesting piece of information.

Assuming they know what they were talking about (always a question mark sixty years or more after the events) and weren't just brushing you off, that would mean the British army had some purpose in mind for them that required a shorter barrel and a different caliber (the standard .38 continued to be the official British caliber until the adoption of the 9mm with the BHP starting in 1957). A rather peculiar concept that to my knowledge has not been mentioned before.
I took them at their word. Here is the reply....

Hello Michael,
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately these conversions were done for the Ministry Of Defence so no records were kept by us. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind Regards,
Paul Owens.
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:29 AM
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I took them at their word. Here is the reply....

Hello Michael,
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately these conversions were done for the Ministry Of Defence so no records were kept by us. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind Regards,
Paul Owens.
I would give the good Mr. Owens the benefit of the doubt and assume he answered to the best of his knowledge, but a look at the chronology on the company history website reveals that Cogswell & Harrison changed hands a few times and then liquidated in 1982, after which not much seems to have occurred until the revival of the name and the production of their "first gun of the 21st century" in 2012. That makes one wonder how much institutional knowledge, if any, remains in the present-day incarnation of the company about things that happened soon after WW II.

Case in point, of course it's plain nonsense that the company would not have records of invoices for any work because it was done for the MOD. But it is indeed unlikely that after all the changes those records would be easily accessible, or for that matter that anyone could be bothered to start digging through old boxes of papers in some basement to satisfy an e-mail inquiry from the US .

I just paid 28 to get a copy of an invoice from Webley & Scott who billed the Ministry of Supply, London, 5 10s for a .38 Mk IV in 1941.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:02 AM
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As previously stated, as the converted BSRs are not in original condition, they are not collectible.
That may be true for "purist collectors" however there are folks that are fascinated by the various modifications that S&W's have gone through by various artisans. That could include Cogswell and Harrison all the way down to "bubba".

Modified guns could very well be a collection unto itself. After all, there are folks that collect Spanish or Belgian copies. The audience may be smaller but still could be considered collectible to someone.
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Old 06-15-2017, 10:07 AM
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Of course, anyone can collect anything. And indeed a chopped and bored Victory BSR could be a legitimate part of a Victory collector's inventory, just as an example of what happened to many surplus BSRs during the post-WWII period. But for a more mainstream Victory collector or a WWII weapons collector, a non-original specimen wouldn't hold much interest or value. Probably the only such Victory which would bring a handsome price would be Lee Harvey Oswald's, if it ever came on the market.
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