20 March 2016


Did you know that .38 Special is a bottleneck cartridge?

No, not really.

.38 S&W on the left, fired .38 Special case in the center and an unfired .38 Special on the right.

How did this happen?

The gun that fired them started out life as a S&W Model 11 (although I don't think it was called a model 11 back then) chambered in .38 S&W. (Thanks Mr Watters)  Because .38 S&W was uncommon after WW2, quite a few were rechambered for .38 Special.

But the modifications didn't stop at the cylinder...

The barrel is reprofiled in addition to being shortened.  I think it was to eliminate the markings that would now read "H & WESSON".

Wait... shouldn't there be a logo here?

Are there any markings left?  Well, there's the serial number (of course).  "MADE IN USA" survived.

Under the barrel we have:

Under the frame there's:

Then there's the cylinder:

England apparently proofed each chamber individually since there's six crowns and "BNP" on it.

The serial number is 5761xx, no 'V' prefix.

It seems clear it's a Lend-Lease gun though.

I sometimes think that people tear into their guns without regards to the needs of future collectors!

Willard believes that this is a gunsmithing school project gun.  It could very well be.  At one time Model 10's (and 11's!) were so common and cheap that one could buy one just to mess around with without worrying too much about the loss of ruining one.

Guns in uncommon calibers that could be converted to more common calibers probably got more than their fair share of this kind of tinkering.

It's entirely possible that it started out as bad as The ElectrolySmith.


  1. Technically, the .38 S&W K-Frames were designated the Model 11.

    More than a few Victory Models were butchered in this fashion for mail-order dealers before the enactment of GCA68. The most infamous example was serial number V510210.

    1. Willard has a clone of that gun in his collection. And two others associated with presidential assassins. He's only like three guns from a complete set.

      Now wouldn't that be a unique display? Might get him a routine visit from the Secret Service whenever POTUS is in town.

  2. Dumb question -- with the expansion of the case, do you have problems extracting? I've had problems extracting .357 brass from pistols that have fired lots and lots of .38 special...

    1. Towards the end of the session the ejector rod needed a firm thump to knock the empties out, but not too bad.

  3. Back issues of Guns Magazine are available online for free once the issue hits its 50th birthday. You can find the old Seaport Trader advertisements featuring their butchered Victory Models starting in July 1959. The first ads have them in bright nickel, but by the April 1960 ad, they are also offering them in polished blue. Parkerized versions show up later in their October 1961 ad.

    1. Looking at those old magazines really shows how bad inflation has gotten!


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