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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I rescued a Victory model today, serial V 717133 in 38 S&W. Are the markings on the barrel British or those of another British Commonwealth government?

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It has a proof mark, US Property and GHD as well. The LGS had it listed as a hand ejector and I don't think they knew what it was.
 

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I don't believe the British started releasing the Lend-Lease weapons for sale until 1952, and it went on for several years. They may or may not have used some of them up until that time, but most show little or no use.
 

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If it's British, it would be chambered for the .38 S&W (not .38 special) unless it was
reamed out after the war. Many were. Check the cylinder.
 

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Fitted with a 5" barrel, as well - the British standard for their revolvers.

These were released throughout the 1960's - along with most of the rest of what we'd filled their arms rooms with, including the little boxed Colt .32 Pocket Autos that were so prevalent in the ads of the time that one could buy consecutive serial numbers.
 

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During the '50s and '60s Interarmco (later Interarms) was buying up everything they could find in warehouses all over the world and importing them into the US. That also would have been before importer's name and address were required on all imported firearms. That S&W might have been brought in by Interarms.

I remember being at their retail store in Alexandria, VA with my dad back in the early '60s. You walked up to the second floor of the building and there was a tripod mounted water cooled machine gun looking at you as you entered the sales area. The whole waterfront area of their property was nothing but warehouses full of military weaponry from around the world. They were a big supplier of arms to the CIA for distribution most anywhere. There were amphibious aircraft clean of markings taking off from the Potomac River at night after loading up at Interarms.
 

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That is a nice British Service Revolver, and in contrast to the majority of ex-BSR's, it looks unmodified. Most were mutilated after importation in the late 1950s and early 1960s with nickel or blue finishes of dubious quality, shortened barrels frequently cutting off the front lug, and Franzite grips, and sold as cheap "snubbies". All-original guns like yours are quite difficult to find. Does it have matching grips (back of right panel)?

Standard .38 British (.767") proofs from London on a BSR are quite rare; almost all of those went through Birmingham. We usually find the London proof (arm with scimitar) on revolvers already modified in Britain and proofed there for .38 Special (1.15"); those conversions were mostly performed by Cogswell & Harrison of London, who then logically sent the guns to the proofhouse there.

Somewhere above the trigger guard should be a view mark (see example). That, if it's readable, should show what year the gun was proofed.

It's 38 S&W
My apologies if I should be offending your level of expertise and this is obvious to you ;), but over at the S&W forum we're always dealing with folks to whom it is not, so I'll add it anyways: 99% of the BSR's that were converted to .38 Special were not marked in any way and still say .38 S&W. You're likely experienced enough to be able to tell by judging the position of the shoulder inside the chambers, but otherwise the only way to be positive is to try to stick a live .38 Special round into a chamber. It should end up like picture 2 if it has not been converted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for that information Absalom! The gun has not been altered the chamber shoulders are visible and I also checked to make sure with a .38 special cartridge as you have shown. No offense taken as I am ignorant of BSR models. I bought this because of the price and thought it was cool. I have about 8 boxes of ammo to boot.

The original grips on the gun were replaced by some k frame target stocks. I found a set of originals on ebay today and will post a pic when they come in. The gun is in nice shape with number matching cylinder and barrel. No rust or pits, just a solid old gun. Do you collect these guns? I don't see any marks with a date. It has marks on cylinder frame and barrel. The lanyard swivel is missing also.
 

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What is the view mark from? Appears to be a Birmingham view mark from 1958...
Yep. And I realized it was pointless to suggest looking for a London view mark, as those didn't start until 1972, and Hootch's gun, in the absence of an importer mark, definitely came back before 1968.

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The original grips on the gun were replaced by some k frame target stocks. I found a set of originals on ebay today and will post a pic when they come in. The gun is in nice shape with number matching cylinder and barrel. No rust or pits, just a solid old gun. Do you collect these guns? I don't see any marks with a date. It has marks on cylinder frame and barrel. The lanyard swivel is missing also.
Collecting would be overstating it, but I have had an interest in WW II revolvers, US and British, for a while, and have accumulated a number of type specimen of the different variants, as well as a bit of knowledge (mostly where to look stuff up :)).

Your serial V717133 puts the gun into the November/December 1944 time frame, probably in one of the last batches of BSR's shipped to Hartford Ordnance Depot for Lend-lease distribution. All remaining orders for the British version were cancelled for lack of need in January 1945, and in the higher V700-thousands we find exclusively the .38 Special US version.

If you found the correct stocks, you should also get a lanyard swivel. Originals aren't hard to find on e-bay, Gunbroker, or from Numrich. As I said before, beat-up modified ex-BSR's are common and not worth much, but a nice largely untouched original has collector value and is nice to have. Mine shipped in August 1944, is, as JohnnyP already noted, post-war Birmingham-proofed, and even has the famous non-bulge "bulge", actually just a manufacturing defect not affecting the bore which however was reflected in wartime British documents.
 

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