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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 03-21-2020, 05:54 PM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Interesting Story About  2" Round and Square Butt .38's Interesting Story About  2" Round and Square Butt .38's Interesting Story About  2" Round and Square Butt .38's Interesting Story About  2" Round and Square Butt .38's Interesting Story About  2" Round and Square Butt .38's  
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Default Interesting Story About 2" Round and Square Butt .38's

Here is a group of four round and square butt 2" .38's, that are casually related to each other.



Proceeding from left to right, the serial numbers are 694101, 694105, 694106, & V176757. The first three have been the subject of a couple of S&WCA Journal articles. The Victory 2" is the proof of the presumptions in those articles.

694101 & 694105 were both late-shipped, by about 6 years. The frames were serial numbered in the middle of 1940, around the time that 694106 was made and shipped. It went to the Boston PD, and was therefore exempt from a pre-WW2 ban on commercial sales of 2" round-butt .38's

694101 and 694105 were ordered by different dealers in the summer of 1940, and both dealers received letters from the factory, advising them that 2" round-butts were not available, but 2" square-butts were still available. After WW2 ended, both of these guns were shipped in the fall of 1946.

In the Journal articles, it was mentioned that, presumably, the reason for the late shipping was due to some unknown training at Ft Mason, San Francisco, CA, in preparation for the US entry into WW2. This training required 2" .38's, and this resulted in the ban of commercial shipment of these guns. (The butt configuration of the early 2" Ft Mason guns is not known.)

Its not clear whether it was the butt configuration, or the 2" barrels, that was causing the ban on commercial shipments of these .38's, in 1940.

The last gun in the picture, V176757, was shipped to Ft Mason, San Francisco, Ca in 1942, and is a 2" square-butt .38 . (At this point in time, the factory was only making square-butt frames.) It has all the military markings of that period. This gun confirms that Ft Mason did have a need for these gun; this particular shipment was for 200 2" .38's, presumably all square butt.

Regards, Mike Priwer

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Old 03-21-2020, 06:02 PM
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Very nice! But V176757 has square grips!
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by AirCommando View Post
Very nice! But V176757 has square grips!
I was going to ask about the same thing. I donít know that much, but I am not aware of any 2Ē Victory models, including the Ft. Mason-shipped guns, having round butts. And they all had swivels.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:11 PM
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You guys are right!

In 1993, I wrote an article for the Journal about 694105. It was ordered in the summer of 1940, and the factory response was that round-butt 2" .38's were book-ordered, which was taken to mean that they were all sold, and none were available, probably to commercial orders. Roy thought that they were being used at Ft Mason.

At some point, WWW2 demand for S&W revolvers forced the factory to drop the round-butt frames, and make square butt frames only. I presume that Ft Mason was still needing more 2" revolvers, and so they would have been with square butts.

I will correct my mistake!

Thanks for the careful reading, Mike
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:35 AM
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Mike,
In which issues were these articles and/or the letter from Roy? I don't remember reading them and would like to try to find them. I've tried to understand why so many 2" Victories were shipped to Ft. Mason without any luck so far.
Thanks,
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:15 PM
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Kevin

Two of the stories are in Vol 27 No 2 Autumn 1993. One is by me, starting on page 10. The other is by Roy, on page 26.

The third story is in Vol 53 No 2 Summer 2019, starting on page 15. The reference to Roy in on page 20, in the paragraph "Recent events relating to the late shipping".

Roy and I had several discussions about the late shipping possibly being related to some training at Ft Mason in 1940. (Possibly is the key word here.) I've not seen any documents confirming this.

To be clear, my articles were originally about problems in using serial numbers to estimate shipping dates. Subsequently, my interest changed to the confusion with serial number before and after WW2, and trying to clarify whether the commercial ban was about the round butt or the 2" barrel. Ultimately it led to the Norwegian AirForce in Canada. The appearance of V176757 convinced me that Ft Mason did have something going on that involved 2" .38 M&P's.

Regards, Mike

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Old 03-22-2020, 03:30 PM
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Thanks Mike. I think what Roy is alluding to in those comments is War Production Board Limitation Order L-60 which restricted the sale of virtually every handgun, rifle and shotgun to any commercial customer until the WPB determined if such guns might be needed for military or law enforcement use. So, the ban was not related to the 2" barrel length or the configuration of the butt.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:34 PM
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Absalom

The Ft Mason gun has a butt swivel, shown in the following picture.



Regards, Mike
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:58 PM
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Kevin

In researching this topic, Bill Cross commented that there were several other orders during the same time period, for S&W M&P's, of other barrel lengths, that were filled promptly. There was also, available, some 2" guns in nickel finish, and some with square butts. This is what led me to believe that the difficulty was probably with the round butt.

Regards, Mike
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Old 03-22-2020, 04:35 PM
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Maybe, but I'm betting that either a.) S&W got approval to make those shipments from the WPB, or b.) they "finessed" the requirements, e.g. nickel guns would not meet military requirements.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:52 PM
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Here is the letter that S&W sent back to Lou Eppinger, regarding their letter.



I think you are right, one way or another. Since this was a commercial order, they would have needed approval, one way or another. Perhaps they already knew that there was no problem, because there are no conditions on their offer to sell a nickel gun.

I appreciate your insights and comments.

Regards, Mike
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:19 PM
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Mike:

It might be worth considering another player here.

In mid-1940, there was no War Production Board, which was not established by order of the president until the following year. And S&W was not under any governmental restrictions or controls.

The factory was, however, under contract to the British Government to produce K-frame revolvers with square butts, which at times took up their entire production capacity for these.

This may have precluded the discretionary production of smaller quantities of round-butt frames for other customers.

Just a thought.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:45 PM
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Mike,

Thanks for posting that letter. And, FWIW, I think Absalom's theory makes a lot of sense. He is certainly right about the lack of U.S. government restrictions in 1940.
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