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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 04-23-2019, 12:49 PM
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Got the factory letter a couple days ago and it brought up a question for me. The letter says it was shipped military blue. As you can see in the picture there is not much of that left, more black paint than there is bluing. To me this looks like neglect to others it maybe called patina. How much harm would I do if I have it professionally refinished to match the original finish? I know some of you are collecting data on the 38/200 so I attached the letter for reading pleasure ;-)
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:57 PM
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I don't think having it refinished will increase the value since most collectors would rather have it be original even if it is in poor shape. If it were mine, I would have it refinished just because its been through a lot in its time. It could use a little TLC and I would probably never sell it anyway. Just pass it on to my kids or grand kids. I consider it a veteran worthy of honor.

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Old 04-23-2019, 01:01 PM
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To my untrained eye it appears to have been refinished at sometime it its life. SW emblem almost gone.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:23 PM
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Refinishing:
I have had two S&W Revolvers refinished this year (2019) by "Fords".
First class workmanship, but EXPENSIVE !
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:27 PM
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It is not necessarily a rare revolver, looks like it was used quite a bit. If you intend to keep it and shoot it, later leave to the kids, I think I would refinish it.
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:07 PM
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I have owned a couple of WWII British military weapons. I know that one was shipped blue and subsequently had the finish replaced with a black paint that was baked on. The other gun was British manufacture, and the black paint was original and done at the factory. From my research and letters exchanged with the Imperial War Museum, the early paint seems more like flat back automotive paint while the later coatings were baked on and hard as nails. FWIW. I left the finish on one alone and restored the other with black parkerizing.
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:27 PM
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I suggest that you leave it alone and enjoy it for what it is. Baring that you might have it refinished in matte black cerakote which would simulate the British finish and be the most reasonable cost.
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:28 PM
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The history letters are a bit inconsistent with finish descriptions; “military blue” is one I haven’t seen before.

With the April date, your gun falls into the transition time from “brush blue”, a matte blackish blue not quite as rough-looking as what followed, to the “sandblast Black Magic”, which ended up being the standard finish after a short experiment with actual trademark Parkerizing in May/June.

So it’s going to be difficult to replicate the “original” finish exactly. Neither is it going to be cost-effective.

On the other hand, there is not much collector value to degrade. So if the gun is mechanically in solid shape, the best way to proceed is likely to make it a project and do your own refinish with a parkerizing kit. It’s as close as you’ll get.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:17 PM
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With that one you have nothing to lose. I agree with Jimmyj and Absalom.
Looks like it's already seen the buffer. I envision Parkerized finish.
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Old 04-24-2019, 06:42 AM
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When I bought this the seller said it wouldn't shoot so I got it for $25. Took a bit of work like they always do and a 0.035" shim on the hammer block flag. My Dad and Uncle put two boxes of ammo through it and said it shoots good but prints high left. I'm not out make profit I repair these old guns because it relaxes me and keeps me busy. Something tells me I should blue it like the letter says, but at the same time I feel it the Brits would have sent it back black. I'll contact Ford's and see if they can do a black parkerize.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:36 PM
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Absalom suggested a parkerizing kit , and you have a flair for DIY. Seems like a good match.
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Old 04-25-2019, 05:09 PM
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Remember it is a 0.38 S&W and would have been zeroed for a 179 grain bullet at roughly 700 fps. I reload for a number of these and find that a 0.360 to 0.361 lead head weighing in at 190 grains does give POA at 10 metres. Dave_n
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_n View Post
Remember it is a 0.38 S&W and would have been zeroed for a 179 grain bullet at roughly 700 fps. I reload for a number of these and find that a 0.360 to 0.361 lead head weighing in at 190 grains does give POA at 10 metres. Dave_n
I figured it was a combination of modern ammo and the sights being worn down a little over the years.
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Old 04-26-2019, 08:05 PM
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Dan: The modern ammo is a 146 grain bullet at roughly 650 fps, so usually Model 11's or their earlier brothers will not give POA. Dave_n
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:56 PM
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Just curious. Did S&W really bother to fine tune the front sights on the BSR's? After all it was wartime production, it was really intended for close combat ranges anyway, and it sure looks to be the exact same height as my 5" 1902 M&P.
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Old 04-27-2019, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by gordonrick View Post
Just curious. Did S&W really bother to fine tune the front sights on the BSR's? After all it was wartime production, it was really intended for close combat ranges anyway, and it sure looks to be the exact same height as my 5" 1902 M&P.
I have no documentary support for my opinion, but I doubt it. No zeroing is likely to have taken place of individual guns.

And since the factory was still using the .38/200 terminology and, according to Roy Jinks, using the K-200 term in-house, it’s unlikely anybody bothered to account for the fact that by the time production began, the 200-grain lead had been at least “officially” replaced by the 179-grain jacketed bullet.

S&W did not worry about such niceties, and neither did the British; on the early-war-finish Webley Mk IV’s, the suitable bullet weight was stamped: 145 - 200 grains. Shoot anything in that range
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:01 AM
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I know when I was on active duty the accuracy of my M1911 and my M60 were my responsibility. If I couldn't get them sighted in properly I would report it to the armorer and he would look at it for physical problems. I doubt if S&W worried about it during production.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:40 PM
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The 179 grain metal clad bullet was in use from at least the beginning of 1940, though I do not think that the 146 grain came into general use until after the end of the war. None of my four Webley Mk IVs have the marking shown by Absalom though all were WWII middle year vintage, not post-war pistols. Nor did my Enfield No 2 Mk 1, 1* or 1**. Dave_n

PS I remember reading somewhere that the 146 grain loading was designed by S&W postwar for sale, as they could be fired safely in the S&W break top 38 S&W revolvers, which would not be the case with the Colt New Police 200 grain load (aka the UK's 38/200).
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
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.....None of my four Webley Mk IVs have the marking shown by Absalom though all were WWII middle year vintage, not post-war pistols. Nor did my Enfield No 2 Mk 1, 1* ...
The 145/200 marking on the Webley Mk IV was part of the early-war stamping pattern. Would it be correct to assume that your Webleys are serialed above the 60-thousands? This one letters as shipped to Weedon Ordnance Depot in November 1941.

In early 1942 the stampings were simplified. The two-line address on top became a one-line, the winged W&S logo on the barrel frame disappeared, so did the patent number and the triple Birmingham proofs on the left; the WAR FINISH moved from the right to the left frame.
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Old 04-29-2019, 11:22 AM
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I think the original bullet weight of the .38 S&W bullet was always 145-146 grains, from introduction in black powder days. Doesn't it date from 1880 or before? Western made 200 grain Super Police loads. My grandfather had some for a cheap US Revolver Co. sideline of Iver Johnson. This probably inspired the British designers when the Enfield .38 was adopted in 1929.

Enfield .38's came originally with two front sight blades, one for each of the two bullet weights.

The 178 grain (not 179 as has been posted here) was adopted in 1938 after Germany complained about the use of plain lead bullets. The war was yet to come but they were already complaining.

I doubt if any troops sent to France in 1939-40 had lead bullet ammo. The .455 MK VI ctg. was designed to use FMJ bullets, too. Its bullet weight remained at 265 grains.

Ammo issue was usually just 12 rounds per man, except in special units like Commandos and SAS or SOE forces. And they often used Colt .45 automatics, a move endorsed by Churchill, himself a fan of the Colt .45 auto. They also used Thompson SMG's after most Commonwealth forces were issued 9mm Sten guns.

I've read war memoirs by several British officers who complained about sparse allotments of revolver ammo. One went into action at El Alamein with just 9 rounds for his .38! He did kill an Italian with that, though.

In another case a member of Parliament (!) who was an officer attached to an armored brigade was short of .38 ammo. He bummed some from his general, who actually wore a sidearm of a different caliber, although he didn't say what.

I've seen photos of South African .38 ammo with 145 grain bullets, but it was made after that nation left the Commonwealth in 1960. I doubt if those lighter bullets were ever issued to UK forces. Does anyone know?

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Old 04-29-2019, 11:40 AM
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..
The 178 grain (not 179 as has been posted here) was adopted in 1938 after Germany complained about the use of plain lead bullets. The war was yet to come but they were already complaining.
The background is explained in one of the standard Webley reference books; I don’t recall which one. But the Germans actually had nothing directly to do with the revolver bullets. Their dispute with the British over “expanding bullets” goes back to before WW I, the Hague Convention, and the “dum-dum” bullets.

The British bullet swap was apparently prophylactic. It was observed that the lead 200gr bullets had a tendency to deform and take on nicks and gouges easily in the course of everyday handling. Knowing that a) the Germans were sensitive to the issue and b) likely to be the next enemy, the British military was concerned about exposing its soldiers, if captured, to war crimes accusations for carrying potentially illegal deforming ammo.

At least that’s the way I remember the story. I’ll have to find the reference. Feel free to correct me if anyone has better documentable details
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:56 PM
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Lets get back to the revolver and not the ammo. Mine # 943481 was shipped from the Hartford Ordnance Dept. but it was not a "Lend Lease" gun. It does not have the "US Property" stamp anywhere on it and was received as part of an order placed in 1940. I received an email from the curator at the Imperial War Museum who confirms this. The IWM also has three more 942036 has no "US Property" stamp but # 905413 and 967100 do have the stamp and were "Lend Lease". It would appear that all the K38/200's shipped from the same place and not in numerical order.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:00 PM
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Lets get back to the revolver and not the ammo. Mine # 943481 was shipped from the Hartford Ordnance Dept. but it was not a "Lend Lease" gun. It does not have the "US Property" stamp anywhere on it and was received as part of an order placed in 1940. I received an email from the curator at the Imperial War Museum who confirms this. The IWM also has three more 942036 has no "US Property" stamp but # 905413 and 967100 do have the stamp and were "Lend Lease". It would appear that all the K38/200's shipped from the same place and not in numerical order.
No disrespect to the Imperial War Museum, but since Roy’s history letter says that your gun shipped as part of the Lend-lease contract, I would accept that as more authoritative than some IWM curator’s e-mail, unless they have documentation.

They are generalists, and we definitely know more about S&W revolvers at least as far as the American end is concerned than they do. The supposed “order placed in 1940” is a case in point. The first large British revolver order was placed in mid-1940, with several more to follow throughout 1940 and 1941 until the start of Lend-lease shipments, but any original 1940 order would have been long filled by the time your gun was built in spring 1942.

US Army Ordnance (Hartford Ordnance) did not handle any pre-Lend-lease shipments of guns which the British purchased directly from S&W. The factory records as reflected in the letters show those as shipped either to the BPC in New York, or in some cases direct shipments, for example to South Africa or Canada.

Canadian direct purchase contracts were apparently still fulfilled into early 1942, so a gun with a serial from that time without the US PROPERTY could be one of those, if the stamp didn’t fall victim to a refinish.
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:09 PM
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I did not present that very well did I? I was just trying to share information that was provided to me. You are correct that Roy would have more accurate information than the IWM. I do not know where they get their information from. So 943481 is a Lend Lease gun that did not get the US Property stamp. I can see a few of them getting missed out of a 3000 gun shipment.
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