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Old 05-16-2018, 01:50 AM
Dr. Marneaus Dr. Marneaus is offline
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Default What am I looking at? 5 screw .38 S&W engraved with ribbed barrel

Iím having a hard time figuring this out. It came up locally and I donít know what the value could be.

- 5 screw
- .38 S&W CTG
- no model number
- Engraved allll over.
- Barrel has what appears to be an after market rib with sight base allowing for pinned sight.
- no serial number or markings on the bottom of the grip frame.


I am not sure what this is. Is it simply a customized pre-model 10 in .38 S&W? Like a Ďpre-model 11í so to speak? I donít think itís a K200 or Victory but it could be?

I thought initially it was a regulation police but itís a 6 shooter not 5.

I donít know what it is. Iím curious to know your thoughts on origins as well as value. Itís absolutely beautiful and while I have no real desire for a .38 S&W, itís just so damn pretty and classic.













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Old 05-16-2018, 02:40 AM
k22fan k22fan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Marneaus View Post
[...] - no serial number or markings on the bottom of the grip frame. [...] Iím curious to know your thoughts on [...] value.
Zero.

If you already have the misfortune of owning it then keep an eye out over your shoulder for the law while you strip it for parts and destroy the frame.
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:28 AM
moosedog moosedog is offline
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Further research needs to be done on this one. Are there any serial numbers on the cylinder or bottom of the barrel?
Although most manufacturers used them, serial numbers were not required until the 1968 Gun Control Act.
Is there anything stamped on the frame under the grips?

Last edited by moosedog; 05-16-2018 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:23 AM
2152hq 2152hq is offline
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It looks like many of the commonly upgraded Victory models done after WW2 in Germany for US Service personnel.
The bbl rib and front sight ramp is a commonly seen add-on. The engrving pattern is common to them as is the jeweled trigger and hammer. Many of those revolvers sported ivory grips, but stag and other mat'rl were also common.
I'd suspect the cylinder to be a replacement from since the gun was engraved since it is not engraved. But you never know what a customer may have wanted.

Silver line and figure inlay was a very common feature, gold work not as much but you do see them.
The guns were common and cheap after the War, as was the local German gunsmithing and engraving labor force, or what ws left of it.
Those tradespersons worked for nearly nothing,,sometimes just food, for their trade talent to stay alive at first.
The German civilian population was not allowed to own firearms especially handguns early on, so an industry popped up on the US bases to do this type of work.
One of the largest was Kurt Jaeger. He employed many engravers and gunsmiths, though the work was generally signed with his name on it.

Most of these guns ended up coming 'home' to the USA with the returning GI. They show up for sale here and there as the guns get put up for sale over time. Most any large gunshow will have at least one around if you look long enough.

As to the missing ser#.
It obviously had a ser# on the bottom of the butt when mfg'd. S&W always ser#'d their revolvers.
-Ser#'s were in fact required on firearms before the GCA68. At least since the FederalFirearms Act1938.
The two classes of firearms exempt from ser#'g by their mgf'r were cal22rf long guns, and any smooth bore shotgun (long gun).

These two classes were exempt from ser#'s though many mfg'rs chose to ser# some or all of their production of these anyway.

Centerfire caliber rifles & any handgun were required to be ser#d by their mfg'r right along.
The only thing the GCA68 did was add those last 2 previously exempt catagorys (cal22rf long guns and any shotguns) to the 'must be ser#d' catagory.
This makes the GCA68 responsible for 'all firearms being mf'd after '68 must be ser#'d.

A removed, altered, obliterated mfg'rs ser# is just that and addressed directly in the GCA68 and in all 50 states firearms regulations separately.
It's just plainly a violation to under take that operation or to possess or transfer a firearm with a ser# as such.

Options?

Last edited by 2152hq; 05-16-2018 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:15 AM
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Even if the butt SN has been removed, it will also be stamped in several other places, most notably on the bottom of the barrel and the rear face of the cylinder. Unfortunately, the only legally recognized SN location is somewhere on the frame and those other locations don't count. There is no simple way to make yours legal even though there are procedures for doing so in special circumstances. The greatest risk is in being arrested for some reason and having that revolver in your possession.

One thing you should do. Remove the grips and see if whoever did the work may have stamped the SN somewhere on the grip frame under the grips. If it is there you are OK.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:16 AM
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Was the serial number relocated under the grips?
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:22 AM
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There were a couple S&W 1917s in a recent online auction that had ATF-assigned replacement serial numbers. You can petition them to issue you one, then have a licensed gunsmith stamp it. Odds are good that they will accept that the SN was removed before doing so became illegal in 1968.
There is, however, a slight chance that they will confiscate and destroy it.
I would go that route first. If they decide to destroy it, they would still let you strip it and keep all the parts but the frame.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:52 AM
Dr. Marneaus Dr. Marneaus is offline
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I do not own this gun. It simply came up for sale locally and I found it intriguing.

I can inquire as to whether there is anything under the grip panels


Thanks for all the info. I was thinking it may be a modified Victory if some sort, but was unfamiliar with these being a somewhat common item after the war. That makes total sense.

Last edited by Dr. Marneaus; 05-16-2018 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:16 AM
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If you are going to inquire, ask the seller to give you the serial numbers under the barrel, on the cylinder face, on the inside of the yoke arm and behind the extractor star. These should all match and also match any serial number found on the frame. Even if they all match but there is no frame SN, the gun is not legal as stated before. And that would be too bad because it is a well done example of post WWII gun art, IMO.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:22 PM
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That it is. It's indeed unfortunate that someone removed the butt SN. As I said previously, there are procedures for getting authorization to have a BATFE-assigned SN stamped, but only under special circumstances. It is likely to involve a substantial investment in time and some bureaucratic hassle to get it done, with no assurance of success. Personally, I would not even try unless it was an exceedingly rare and desirable gun of the kind discussed below.

Several years ago one of Bonnie Parker's guns emerged and was going to auction. However, its SN had been ground off. From what I have read, BATFE was less than co-operative in allowing it to receive a new SN so it could be sold and it took considerable perseverance to make it happen. A story about it is here: ATF helps bring Bonnie and Clyde pistol to auction
However, other articles I have read indicate that the problems with the BATFE were somewhat more substantial than the story in the link suggests. PS - Frank Hamer was not a Texas Ranger of any rank at the time of the Bonnie and Clyde ambush despite what the article states.

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Old 05-16-2018, 03:30 PM
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Colts like the Detective Special in the previous post are a bit trickier than a S&W of the same vintage, since they have the full serial number stamped in only one place, in this case the crane/yoke cut-out. If that is gone, the serial is lost.

For the same reason, a lot of the old DA Army Colts which had the five- or six-digit serial only on the butt lost theirs when they were upgraded with the 1901 lanyard swivel at various ordnance depots, and were then just re-stamped with the assembly number which was the last four digits of the serial and all that was available from elsewhere on the gun. Some Colt collectors are still fretting about the legality of those.

If someone were stuck with a S&W like this one, as long as one can establish the correct serial conclusively from matching numbers in two or more other locations, one could always just re-stamp it on the butt and touch up the finish, and no one would be any wiser. Thatís just hypothetical musing, not a recommendation or legal advice, of course
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:42 PM
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I always wondered why those who intentionally wanted to "sanitize" a S&W revolver didn't remove every SN. Maybe they weren't aware of all the locations.
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
If someone were stuck with a S&W like this one, as long as one can establish the correct serial conclusively from matching numbers in two or more other locations, one could always just re-stamp it on the butt and touch up the finish, and no one would be any wiser. That’s just hypothetical musing, not a recommendation or legal advice, of course
I always wondered about that myself. Particularly if someone were to re-stamp the SN on the side of the grip, as gunsmiths so commonly did "back in the day".

I mean, theoretically, how would anyone be able to say when it was done - yesterday or 50 years ago?
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
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I always wondered why those who intentionally wanted to "sanitize" a S&W revolver didn't remove every SN. Maybe they weren't aware of all the locations.
I'm sure that is a factor.
Then again, since the frame SN is the only one that really "counts" in terms of positively identifying and/or tracing the gun, maybe they figured, why bother?
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
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....
Then again, since the frame SN is the only one that really "counts" in terms of positively identifying and/or tracing the gun, maybe they figured, why bother?
Although itís doubtful that a lot of ďbad guysĒ actually know that, considering how many dealers donít.

Given that a significant percentage of old guns in this country goes through pawn shops where the owner maintains a current FFL so they can do guns, but nobody is into guns for a living, S&W revolvers likely change hands on 4473ís based on their assembly number all the time; even in states where the law requires running the gun through NCIC during an FFL transfer, who would notice in any gun old enough to have a straight numeric serial?
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:25 PM
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It's not just pawn shops.. I have transferred several old S&W where the guy behind the counter had no clue. They always go for the yoke #, looking for the model # as well. A 22/32 HFT was the funniest one, the model # did not come up in the drop down box on the registration computer.. They learned a lot that day. LOL. A K38 was a model 10 on the registration form.. My first deer rifle which I still have is a 1944 BCD code K98. It has no serial number on the receiver... They used the serial number off the barrel. Lots of Waffenmats and other stamps, no serial # No import marks either. That one worries me a bit. I still have the Federal form copy for the early 70's just in case...
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