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Old 10-09-2017, 05:49 PM
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Default Is this a "Victory?"

I'm getting back into revolvers after a sojourn into pistols. I'd like to get a Victory as one of basics of a mini-collection.

Saw this on Gunbroker and wondering if it's really a Navy Victory? It looks like it's been refinished (which is okay for me as I'm not a "real" collector, I just like older guns)...and the serial number seems out of the range listed in the Standard Catalog.

What should I be looking for here? Price seems reasonable assuming it works as well as they claim. And even if it's not a real Victory, is $300 a decent price for this?

http://www.gunbroker.com/item/706780285
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Old 10-09-2017, 06:50 PM
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Technically, it is not a Victory. It is a pre-Victory which probably shipped in June 1942. I don't understand the "VS" part of the serial number given in the auction listing.

All Victories have a "V" SN prefix (V xxxxxx) and that began later in 1942 at SN V 1. But it is the same gun.

It appears authentic, as some .38 Special pre-Victories made under Navy orders have the "U. S. NAVY" topstrap stamping having SNs at least as early as 956xxx. That stamping was changed to "U. S. (or UNITED STATES) PROPERTY" for Navy shipments in the V 267xxx range. And a $300 price is very good.

Last edited by DWalt; 10-09-2017 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
Technically, it is not a Victory. It is a pre-Victory which probably shipped in June 1942. I don't understand the "VS" part of the serial number given in the auction listing.
And the "VS" is on the bottom of the grip. Interestingly enough, if you look at the photos, there's another "S" above the sideplate screw right above the right stock.

I've read or heard somewhere (this forum?) that the "S" stamp denotes revolvers made with the hammer block safety.

I actually just saw another one with that "S" stamped on it, and it's stamped above the sideplate screw as well.

But what do I know?
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:12 PM
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With the S stamp on the sideplate, it could well be one of those the Navy had converted to the improved hammer drop safety after the war. One would have to examine it to be certain.

Last edited by DWalt; 10-09-2017 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:15 PM
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Something is very flaky here.

Observations:
The serial number appears to be 988536.
On the cylinder, I think I can see a V in front of the number, but no S.
On the butt, the VS is in an extremely odd location vis a vis the digits of the serial number.
There is an S on the sideplate at the rear corner.
It has the U.S. Navy stamp on the top strap.
It has a knob on the extractor rod, often referred to as a "large knob."

Issues:
988536 without a V or an S, would be within the known range of Navy Contract guns (the only guns with the Navy Stamp).

But the V prefix serial sequence began in late April, 1942, and that sequence lasted until the end of the war. Only the later wartime revolvers (after about December, 1944) would have numbers over about 732xxx with an SV prefix. Moreover, the V part of SV started disappearing at about serial number S811120 and they were all gone by S813xxx. After that, only the S appears as a prefix to the serial number. SV988536 should not exist. Moreover, if it did exist, it certainly would not have a U.S. Navy stamp on the top strap.

The subject gun has the barrel shaped extractor rod knob, as noted above. At about serial number S874xxx these started being replaced with a rod having a knurled end, and they no longer had a knob at all. So the subject gun has a serial number about 114,000 too high to have this sort of extractor rod.

Another thing: SV is the way the late Victories were marked, NOT VS, and not at the end of the serial number in any case. It would be SV988536, not 988536VS. There is only one VS numbered gun that has been authenticated, and I am convinced it was a stamping error by someone at the factory.

Now, here is the crushing blow - S988536 is a verified revolver that shipped on March 16, 1948, to a sheriff's revolver club in California. This is documented.

Conclusion:
The revolver advertised as a genuine Navy Contract Victory Model in that ad (now sold) has been doctored and I would call it "faked up." At the very least, the serial number as advertised and shown in the pictures has been doctored and is not the way the gun was issued from the factory.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
With the S stamp on the sideplate, it could well be one of those the Navy had converted to the improved hammer drop safety after the war. One would have to examine it to be certain.
After I made my other post, I thought about it and wondered if maybe some guns were sent back to the factory or to an arsenal to have the hammer block safety installed, then were stamped to denote the work had been done.

Also, on the other one I looked at...from around 1945...the "S" in the "VS" part of the serial number is a totally different size from the "V".
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:27 PM
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Here is another possible scenario:

The gun was issued under the Navy Contract with serial number 988536. That part is entirely conceivable.

Then, sometime after about January, 1945, it went back to the Service Department to be upgraded with the new sliding hammer block safety. At that time, it got the new safety and a new sideplate that was properly machined for the hammer block and marked in the rear corner with the S designation. The fitter also added the VS on the butt, to indicate the modified lock works. When he did so, he put it in the only place it would fit - the wrong end of the serial number. Also, he failed to stamp the S on the cylinder, an easy mistake to make.

If this is the case, then what I see on the cylinder is not a V. The original number was simply 988536 (no prefix). Which makes it distinguishable from the S988536 gun I mentioned in my previous post.

It would be interesting to look under the stocks on the left side of the grip frame to see if there is a date code there.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:36 PM
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$300 is a steal. The 3rd edition of the SCS&W talks about the approx 40,000 revolvers sent back to S&W for the new design hammer block. "Revolvers returned and modified are found with a small "s" near the rear sideplate screw, as well as a "S" found on the butt along side the serial number."

in parans is from the SCS&W
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP@AK View Post
Something is very flaky here.

The subject gun has the barrel shaped extractor rod knob, as noted above. At about serial number S874xxx these started being replaced with a rod having a knurled end, and they no longer had a knob at all. So the subject gun has a serial number about 114,000 too high to have this sort of extractor rod.

Another thing: SV is the way the late Victories were marked, NOT VS, and not at the end of the serial number in any case. It would be SV988536, not 988536VS. There is only one VS numbered gun that has been authenticated, and I am convinced it was a stamping error by someone at the factory.
Here are a couple of shots of the other one I saw. I know nothing of Victory serial number ranges and production years and manufacturing dates, okay? I'm just throwing these shots into the mix to maybe provide additional talking points.

Do the extractor rod knobs look the same to you?

And as you see, the "SV" is in the proper place in relation to the serial number...not after the number as on the OP's gun.



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Old 10-09-2017, 07:48 PM
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Well, much for me buying it. Was gone not long after I posted here....LOL!!

I kinda knew it would go.....and I just bought a 15-3 Combat Masterpiece and wasn't really planning on buying another today.

Guess some enterprising reader here slipped right over and scooped it up. Wonder if he scored big or just bought a fake.

Well, good luck to him whatever.

And many thanks to the members here who have contributed to my learning about Victories.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog View Post
Do the extractor rod knobs look the same to you?
Yes. That is the rod/knob combination used from sometime in 1927 until about February, 1947 (ship date).

Quote:
And as you see, the "SV" is in the proper place in relation to the serial number...not after the number as on the OP's gun.
Yes. That is the normal placement.

Keep in mind that at that serial number, the gun was originally produced with the sliding hammer block safety. It is not a retrofit.

The gun in your pictures probably left the factory in about May, 1945, possibly June.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:00 PM
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Too bad. I think it was an authentic Navy pre-Victory and worth at least double the price posted. Maybe more, if it was actually one of the relatively few earlier revolvers later converted to use the improved drop safety.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:34 PM
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Too bad. I think it was an authentic Navy pre-Victory and worth at least double the price posted. Maybe more, if it was actually one of the relatively few earlier revolvers later converted to use the improved drop safety.
Too bad I didn’t see this earlier. I agree with DWalt’s assessment. This was without a doubt one of the 40.000 Navy guns shipped back for refurbishment in 1945. Quite a few of them are said to have been late-pre-V serialed guns.

And it appears in nice condition, although I don’t know whether freshening up the finish was part of the refurbishing.

What or rather who threw everybody off was the clown who decided to decorate the gun with an additional V on the butt and the cylinder. Looking at the style and placement, I’d bet that was someone at the factory during the refurbishment.
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Old 10-09-2017, 09:01 PM
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Keep in mind that at that serial number, the gun was originally produced with the sliding hammer block safety. It is not a retrofit.

The gun in your pictures probably left the factory in about May, 1945, possibly June.
I want to make sure I understand this...trying to learn about Victories.

I mentioned earlier that the other gun I looked at has the "S" stamp on the sideplate. Are you saying the "S" on the sideplate was a factory marking on newly manufactured Victories?
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:14 PM
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I want to make sure I understand this...trying to learn about Victories.

I mentioned earlier that the other gun I looked at has the "S" stamp on the sideplate. Are you saying the "S" on the sideplate was a factory marking on newly manufactured Victories?
As I understand it (from what JP@AK schooled me on a few weeks ago) they put that S on the sideplate to show they had converted the guns, then after all guns were made with that "fix" they used up the sideplates on post war "S" prefixes.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:40 PM
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As I understand it (from what JP@AK schooled me on a few weeks ago) they put that S on the sideplate to show they had converted the guns, then after all guns were made with that "fix" they used up the sideplates on post war "S" prefixes.
Not quite. The S on the sideplate was standard on all regular production guns produced with the new feature after approx. V769000. The retrofit contract didn‘t start until May 1945, several months later.

So Watchdog, yes, you‘ve got it perfectly correct, on guns newly manufactured with the hammer block the S is put there at birth.

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Old 10-09-2017, 11:07 PM
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At $300 plus shipping and transfer fees someone at the very least got a good shooter grade Smith at a decent price.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:21 PM
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Part of the purpose of putting the "S" on the sideplate is because there was special machining done to the inside to accommodate the new drop safety. Remember, at that time there were huge numbers of the earlier K-frames without the new drop safety, so there needed to be a simple method of distinguishing between the two non-interchangeable sideplate styles. And the "S" stamping was that method. That stamping did not last too long, but I can't say exactly when it was dropped.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:32 PM
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they put that S on the sideplate to show they had converted the guns, then after all guns were made with that "fix" they used up the sideplates on post war "S" prefixes.
The S was on the outside rear of the sideplate to indicate that sideplate had the additional machining necessary to accommodate the sliding hammer block. So at first it was put on all sideplates that had the proper machine work done on them, to distinguish them from sideplates in the bin that did not have the needed relief.

Therefore, the S appears on the sideplates for both new manufacture (starting in December, 1944) and on the retrofitted guns (starting a bit later). Eventually, all new guns had been converted to the new hammer block and old sideplates had been purged from the bench stock (or used up). At that point, the S in the corner of the sideplate was discontinued.

Let's briefly set out the history once again:
After reviewing the evidence and complaint from the Navy, S&W management decided to order a change in the internal safety mechanism. That was in September, 1944. By early December, S&W engineers had an approved new design. Management ordered production on the guns to incorporate the change, and sometime in mid or late December, the improved version started coming off the assembly line. Shipping of revolvers with the new hammer block began in early January, 1945. By mid or late spring, retrofitting on older guns started, and was accomplished alongside new production.

Edit: DWalt posted while I was still writing. His explanation complements mine.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:48 PM
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all regular production guns produced with the new feature after approx. V769000
That is the number normally used (see, for example, SCSW 4th, page 166). However, several guns with the improved hammer block and the SV prefix have turned up with lower serial numbers. The lowest one I have identified so far is SV732261. That one shipped to the Navy on June 29, 1945. In addition to that one, I have found them in the SV737xxx, SV762xxx and SV767xxx ranges. V numbers are mixed in with them. I have found no V numbers (without the S) above SV767962.
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:19 AM
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By mid or late spring, retrofitting on older guns started, and was accomplished alongside new production.
.....
As far as I've been able to determine, apart from the Navy contract mentioned above, no retrofitting of any older guns appears to have occurred. That is, after new-production guns started shipping with the S, guns still in stock for example because they hadn't passed initial inspection or some other reason were not retrofitted, but shipped without the new feature.

I looked into this because I've got one, V 626880. Based on serial extrapolation, it was made in summer 1944, but didn't ship until 6/6/45. I made a point of confirming this with Roy, as I suspected a typo on the letter. It shipped without being retrofitted. Since then, I've come across a few other late shippers like this without the S.

The only other reason could be that they only retrofitted military-shipped guns; mine is a DSC gun.

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That is the number normally used (see, for example, SCSW 4th, page 166). However, several guns with the improved hammer block and the SV prefix have turned up with lower serial numbers. The lowest one I have identified so far is SV732261. That one shipped to the Navy on June 29, 1945. In addition to that one, I have found them in the SV737xxx, SV762xxx and SV767xxx ranges. V numbers are mixed in with them. I have found no V numbers (without the S) above SV767962.
I don't have one, so have never inspected one closely. Is it possible to positively state that the early ones, like SV 732261, are original SV guns and not retrofits? If it could be the latter, that would pertain to my remarks above.

Last edited by Absalom; 10-10-2017 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:12 AM
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In pic #23 from GB, gun is pointing to right for SN to be right side up. In Watchdog’s pic, gun is pointing to left for SN to be legible. Any ideas why?


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Old 10-10-2017, 08:29 AM
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Absalom

When I wrote "older guns" I was referring to the Navy Contract revolvers. I don't know of any others that were retrofitted.

I believe SV732261 to have been new production. Consider when it shipped. What I suspect is that in December, 1944, there were some unused lower serial numbers and those frames were simply rolled into current production. That would account for the handful of SV serial numbers lower than the SV768xxx range.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:09 AM
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I love reading threads like this. I'll have to keep going over it, rereading it to try to get it all straight in my head. It's been a most interesting and informative thread.

On the collectibility scale...which Victory would be more preferred or more sought after? The earlier ones (usually the case) or the ones with the "S" stamps (on a sort of more esoteric level)?
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:20 AM
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Absalom

When I wrote "older guns" I was referring to the Navy Contract revolvers. I don't know of any others that were retrofitted.
.
Ah, I misunderstood. Considering that retrofitting was a chore, S&W likely saw no reason to do it unless someone paid them to do it, like the Navy’s 1945 contract. If they still shipped unmodified guns at later dates, they obviously were not haunted by the specter of lurking liability lawyers .
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:32 AM
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.....
On the collectibility scale...which Victory would be more preferred or more sought after? The earlier ones (usually the case) or the ones with the "S" stamps (on a sort of more esoteric level)?
I don’t believe that on the general market, like on Gunbroker, there is a deep enough knowledge of the V and SV issue to generally have a big impact on relative prices, compared to, say, condition and originality. Generally, on the Pre-Victorys and Victorys the latter seem to always be more important than relative age anyway, and a “low number” has little more than curiosity value (unless it’s V1 ), since they’re all from within a few years.

Among Victory collectors, all things being equal the SV should bring a premium simply on the basis of numbers; you’re looking at only several 10-thousand, versus a few 100-thousand V-prefix guns.
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