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World War II sidearm. Which weapon springs to mind? 1911? Luger? These two pistols are arguably the most iconic pistols of that massive conflict. Revolvers? By the time the second half of the War to End All Wars rolled around, fighting six guns were relegated to historical footnotes. Living on only through the legends of John Wayne and Doc Holliday, right? Wrong. Smith & Wesson revolvers went to war. Smith & Wesson produced produced one gun less than 40,000 “Victory” revolvers for U.S. troops. And another 571,629 for the Commonwealth countries. I’m willing to bet that more than a few of our enemies back then would have told revolver naysayers that they were “dead wrong.” Although then as now, dead men tell no tales . . .

When I first received the Victory, I had no “real” knowledge of revolvers and no intention of ever carrying one. I was one of those guys who thought they were reserved for older guys who had failed to assimilate into the world of polymer and 15 round magazines. Why would you only want to have 6 rounds in your gun? It seemed like simple math to me.

History Lesson

At the beginning of the war S&W began producing their M&P revolver chambered in the British .38/200 cartridge for the Lend Lease Program, sending them off to the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They added a “V” for victory to the serial number; this iteration thus became known as the Victory model. As we entered the fray, Smith starting adding V’s to the popular .38 special chambered M&P and producing them for US forces. Victory model revolvers were standard issue for Naval and Marine aviators as well as guards back in the states at defense installations and factories supporting the war effort.

It was from one of these factories that a Victory found its way into my collection. Made in 1942, it started its life as a sidearm issued to a guard at the ACCO company, which made the snow chains for US Army wheeled vehicles as well as the chains that kept landing craft secure on US Navy ships.

A good friend of mine, Tine Close, was given the pistol by her father (via someone he knew at that company I assume) to protect her as she drove from Connecticut to San Antonio, TX. She was driving to be with her husband, Bill “Doc” Close who was training to fly C-47’s in support of the invasion of Normandy. Tine kept it for 65 yrs before she passed it on to me. She made me promise never to get rid of it and I can tell you without a doubt this gun will be passed on with that promise though many more generations.

First Impressions

The Victory model was definitely made for Military and Police applications. Parkerized finish was standard, with a lanyard ring, smooth walnut grips and US Ordnance markings.

The Victory’s finish is rough around the edges—not unexpectedly so for a revolver this old. The grips are worn, but in a good way: just a little scuffed, not perfect. I’m pretty much a sucker for any gun with wood grips so that aspect immediately drew me in. I also have a Parkerizing fetish. There’s something about that no-nonsense, no-frills, no-maintenance finish that gets me all hot under the collar.

Holding the Victory in my hand, it feels like something is missing in the front strap, like my hand isn’t quite filled. [ED: I say nothing.] It’s more of an annoyance; it doesn’t affect the weapon’s shootability. But a Tyler T-Grip is definitely on the cards. As for the working parts, the revolver’s trigger as smooth as a snifter of Laphroaig on a cold winter’s night. The gun’s double action glides the whole way through. Single action has a clean even break. No stacking or gritty take up like I expected from a gun with 70 years on her frame.

The sights leave a little to be desired—compared to modern three-dots. The Victory’s front sight is a half moon at the end of the barrel. In single action, you line up with a groove that passes through the top of the receiver. Center the front sight in the groove and you have a sight picture.

Unless you’re firing double action. With the hammer up, the Victory’s sight picture pretty much disappears. It takes a little guesswork to figure out exactly how the front sight, rear groove and top of the hammer line up. About the best that can be said about the system is that it’s probably more than adequate in a combat situation (i.e. you’ll never use it).

The Victory’s weight and balance makes an Olympic figure skater look like a klutz. On paper, no. We’re talking a revolver that weighs At ~34 oz unloaded with a 4” tapered pencil barrel. In the real world, the Victory points like an Irish setter on a pheasant hunt. It offers a smooth well-balanced straight-line, not too heavy at either end. It points naturally at whatever you intend to destroy. Smith knew what they were doing when they designed this pistol.

Off to the Range

I picked up some Winchester 148 grain wadcutters and took the Victory out on the town. She loads like any SA/DA revolver. Press the cylinder release forward, swing out the cylinder and load six rounds of fun into the cylinder. When done, you again release the cylinder; tilt the gun to the rear, press the cylinder rod down and the extractor will do the rest.

Shooting the Victory requires acclimation. As someone who is used to taking a high, thumbs up grip on an automatic, I felt as if I had nowhere to put them on a revolver. I spent five cylinders of ammo figuring out my grip and getting the hang of the aforementioned sight issue. Once we got to know each other, everything clicked. I put the Victory through her paces; slow fire in double and single action, committed pairs and rapid fire.

Rapid fire produced consistent 3” groups at 15 yards. That’s more than acceptable in a self-defense application. Controlled double action produced groups like the one above with six rounds at 15 yards. I tended to throw a flyer on the first round, but the follow up shots more than made up for the wayward trajectory.

Function was impeccable (though camera focus regrettable). No hiccups. Every round fired and was right on target. There were no light primer strikes to indicate the seventy-year-old springs were wearing out. The double action plodded along with unnerving dependability, showing no signs of losing the excellent trigger pull I experienced during dry firing.

The one disappointment: at some point during the day the original right grip panel had cracked. To avoid any future damage I removed them, put them in the safe and sent off for something a little more modern and sexy.


There Victory’s design hearkens to a bygone era, when gun designs were simple, straightforward and uncomplicated. The Victory revolver’s tapered barrel, square butt and simple finish speak to me. This was the gun Smith and Wesson was born to make. Which is why its spawn, the Model 10 is still being made today.

Truth be told, I went to the church of S&W a skeptic and returned a believer. I was so happy with the shooting results, so enamored with the Victory, that it’s now in my carry rotation. Nestled in a Bianchi pancake holster, the Smith & Wesson Victory conceals better than my 1911. With a full cylinder plus two speed strips I can carry more ammo than two full magazines worth of .45ACP. That’s right, I carry a crappy gun and an old ass revolver.

I know: the definition of an optimist is a man in a gun fight with a revolver and speed strips. It doesn’t matter. Victory depends as much on confidence as it does on technology.


Caliber: .38 special
Barrel Length: 4”
Overall Length: 8.875”
Weight: 34 oz
Action: DA/SA
Finish: Parkerized
Capacity: 6
Price: Varies depending on condition

RATINGS (out of five)

Style * * * * *
She’s got class and style that would make most modern revolvers green with envy.

Ergonomics * * *
Balance is damn near perfect, but the sights in double action leave a lot to be desired and it needs some girth in the front strap.

Reliability * * * *
Short of shooting +P through her, you’d be hard pressed to get a malfunction.

Customizable *
Only thing you can really change is the grips and remove the lanyard ring.

Overall Rating * * * *
Elegant, simple and accurate. It’s sure to be a reliable workhorse for many years to come.

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  1. Hallelujah! Another convert!

    I know I’ve said it before, but where an automatic pistol can be a fine “machine”, a well made revolver is a work of ART.

    Also, Smith & Wesson K Frame revolvers are sort of like fine wine in that they get better with age. If you want this one to be a shooter, you might look at getting either a Hogue Monogrip or a Pachmayr. Either one will fill your hand and provide for better control. Best of all, you can restore it to classic configuration with just a few turns of a screwdriver.

      • I just found your article on the Victory S&W .38. I was doing some research as I have had one for years. I have shot it a few times but most of the time it sits in a gun case protected but not used. I received mine some 20 plus years ago. It had checkered grips on it when I received it. Can one still find the original type grips anywhere? I love how the gun feels and shoots. I do not use it due to its age and not knowing if it broke if parts could be obtained to fix her. Trigger is a hard pull but very smooth. Thought of having the trigger worked to lighten it up but changed my mind. want her as I got her. Thanks for the article very good information on the firearm.

        • most parts are fairly easy to come by, numerich gun parts is an excellent place to start. I bought a replacement spring detent and a reproduction holster for my S&w 1917. Also a lot of the internal parts haven’t changed much on smith revolvers other than manufacturing techniques ( i.e. mim parts).

  2. These are one of my favorites. they were very popular when I was a kid. they shot well, were anvil dependable , and were fun . there were always plenty available that had been carried for years without amy real use, or had spent someones lifetime in a drawer. so they were cheapto buy and shoot. The best defensle load for these is probably the old FBI load, a 158gr lead hollow point. not a Jhp. great review.

  3. There is one drawback to .38 cal revolvers, sadly: Ammo cost. Back in the day when virtually every cop in the nation carried a .38 or .357 revolver, ammo was plentiful and cheap (for those not savvy, the guns are actually the same caliber, the .357 cartridge is just longer, so a .357 revolver can chamber a .38 round but the reverse is not true.)

    However, now that the cops have largely switched over to semi autos (though you do see the occasional revolver, usually on the hip of a cop approaching retirement) ammo is much less common and much more expensive. The cheapest I’ve seen in years was $15/box at a local gun shop, and $18-$20 is the norm at the big box stores.

    Also, much of the cheap 9mm, .223, .40 and .45 ammo that is available is made in bulk in Eastern Bloc ammo factories and sold at fire-sale prices here. As of yet, the likes of Wolf, Tula, et al have yet to start cranking out .38 or .357 and unless there is a renaissance of interest in wheelguns, they are unlikely to do so.

    Having said that, if you shoot a lot of .38, that could be a good reason to get into reloading as the cartridge is dirt cheap to reload and empty cases can be acquired for almost nothing.

  4. I purchased one of these from an ad in Gun Week for $25 prior to the GCA-68.
    It is the “Commonwealth” model in .38/200 (.38 S&W – NOT .38 Special). It shows some wear and is smooth as silk, and surprisingly accurate, despite crude sights. In researching this particular weapon, it was originally to be shipped to Australia (and has appropriate proof marks), but never made it there. Supposedly after Pearl Harbor it was rerouted to California where it was issued to civilian guards who were guarding dams and other civil projects.

    It is a lot of fun to shoot, and I have a stockpile of .38 S&W ammo for it, as well as some British .38/200. The .38/200 seems a lot hotter than the commercial .38 S&W ammo because there are a lot of antique guns chambered for the weaker .38 S&W.

    Several years ago I took one of my daughters to the gun club, and she fell in love with this weapon. While in high school she entered one of the Gun Club Saturday junior pistol matches, and did very well with it.

    Now that she is married and has a family of her own, I offered it to her, but her anti- husband (that is a story for another day) does not want her to have it.

    Today it sits in honor in the Browning ProSteel gun safe, and occasionally accompanies me to the gun club where it again demonstrates its capabilities.

    On duty I carry a Ruger 93 that has served me well for many years, and never had any failures of any kind; off duty I carry a Taurus 709 in a tuckable IWB holster. Even though it is now 70 years old, that old “Commonwealth” model could be carried today, and likely serve as well in 2011 as it did in 1941.

    Texas deputy, 2/3/11

  5. My first revolver … Had “CIVIL DEFENSE” Engraved on the left side of the frame … Hand loaded light with reversed HBWC … Then I got married … 🙁

    Got rid of her and am starting to renew my acquaintance with firearms …

  6. At a gun show in my foolish younger days, I passed by a table full of S&W Victory revolvers priced at $120 or thereabouts. I may be off by a few bucks (they may have been cheaper) but the tears in my eyes and my profound sense of stupidity may be clogging my memory. I played with them for a few minutes and walked away.

    They had jewel-like triggers and bright bores, but they were chambered in .38 S&W and I was looking for a practical defense gun at the time. This may explain, in part, my foolish decision not to buy one. The .38 S&W is not substantially less powerful than the standard-pressure .38 Special, but it is substantially less convenient to purchase.

    Just like the days of $60 Mosin-Nagants, $80 Swedish Mausers and $100 SKS carbines, I don’t think I’ll see a bargain like that again.

  7. I love older wheelguns and my Victory model is my all-time favorite. I shoot better with it than any of my other handguns as it just feels “right” in my hand. It is somewhat unique in that a previous owner stripped the parkerizing (except for the lanyard ring) and did a beautiful bluing job. I’ve never been a fan of semi-autos, can’t hold them properly with my smallish hand, and figure it shouldn’t take more than 5 or six rounds to solve a problem.

  8. I just love classic J, K, and N-Frame Smith and Wesson revolvers. I own three S&W
    K-Frames: a Model 15 .38 Special Combat Masterpiece 4″ barrel, a Model 19 .357 Combat Magnum with 4″ barrel, and also an S&W Model 66 “stainless” .357 Combat
    Magnum with 4″ barrel. And finally an S&W Model 28 Highway Patrolman .357 Magnum (N-Frame) with 6″ barrel. Both the Model 19 and 28 being 1960’s vintage have diamond walnut target grips. The Model 15 was imporved with Pachmayr combat rubber grips, while the Model 66-1 has the original Goncalo Alves target grips.
    So what can I say here! If limited to owning but one handgun only it would be my own
    S&W Model 66. An outstanding article titled: Smith and Wesson Military and Police
    Revolver, A Gun’s Autobiography” is an inspiring read indeed. Granted a six shot
    revolver doesn’t match a high capacity 9mm semi-automatic pistol for firepower. Yet,
    for many a .38 Special/.357 Magnum is more versatile, useful, and practical. Ex: A .38
    Special, especially the 148 grain lead target wadcutter: next to a .22 or .32, remains a
    dandy handgun for hunting small game: rabbit and squirrel. Or for dispatching varmints: raccoon, skunk, possum, etc. Not to mention being lethal on venomous snakes such as rattlers up close: CCI’s classic shot or “snake” load containing #9 shot
    encased inside a plastic tip capsule. For hiking, camping, fishing, picking wild berries
    in the woods, as a sidearm to supplement a high power rifle during deer and elk season,
    and for the outdoors the venerable .38 caliber revolver is hard to equal. For informal
    target shooting also. And naturally for self defense/house protection/homeland security the .38 Special defines cheap affordable life insurance and lethal protection.
    With a .38 or .357 inside the nightstand, dresser, or bureau drawer and a Bible and
    flashlight also in reach, the citizen can enjoy a sound peaceful sleep.

  9. Sorry, but I find this amusing in a pleasant way-someone who has been shooting for some time just discovering the S&W revolver, and finding out what a real handgun gun is. In a way, I hope there are few of his generation who discover and buy old revolvers, as I am sure they will drive the prices up even beyond their current ridiculous levels. Us retired old timers on fixed incomes are already struggling to put enough by to be able to affort our old revolver habits.

    Stick with tupperware, son.


  10. Great writeup for the old ‘Victory’ model. A truely under appreciated firearm. I remember passing these up in the 70’s – why spend $50 on ‘WWII surplus’ when a bright new shiny model 10 was only about $90. Then again, in those days, I sold a nice Ithaca 1911A1 for $60 – D’oh!

    The ‘Victory’ I have looks identical to your first picture. S&W tells me it was shipped to General Electric Co., Pittsfield, MA in February 1943. Haven’t shot it since . . . this morning – haha. It’s my ‘go-to-gun’ for the local Great Wars Pistol match. And for some bizzare reason, I bought some non+P self defense ammo for it – hmmm . . .

  11. Yes the K frame is a work of art design to be put to work, I know, I have am 38spl and the last Patent on it is 1914 and my uncle had back about ’38’ and it came to him for an outlaw in Oklahoma who had it for a number of years. Some day I hope to trace the weapon back to the date of Mfg and where it was sold first. the grips are checked and in great condition, I also have the holster that it was carried in from the first owner I think. The action is smoother and tighter than the new police pistols. As a personal defense weapon I can do some real damage out to 50 yards with it, knockdown power is a little light, but for a 38spl I don’t think the untrained gun handler is going to wait and see if he is going to take one or all six rounds.

  12. My father died in 2005. He always kept his Victory .38 in his top drawer for self defense. He was an Army Vet in WW2 serving in New Guinea. He was as tough as nails. My inheritance was the gun and a Japanese rising sun flag that he captured. I have newer, more expensive guns in my collection, but none more sentimental than this gun that looks exactly like the one in your first picture. Thanks for the great article.

  13. i’ve owned a “victory” model in .38 special, and presently own a “5 screw” model 10, and as far as i’m concerned the “victory” gives points to the model 10 only for finish, though i don’t really consider parkerising a drawback. both guns were well made, sound and dependable, and i plan to keep the model 10, along with my m1911a1 until i go toes up, when both guns will go to my daughter.

  14. I like the S&W model 14, the S&W classic revolver
    re-issue. The barrel is six inches and that makes it
    legal for Canada. It has all of the benefits of the older
    models and it is strong enough to shoot the
    + P ammunition.

  15. I own an early victory converted by Cogswell & Harrison LTD.London. Serial V770xx.Wb stamped on the butt with ordinance marking. The barrel is 3 1/2 inches, and is marked 38 S&w Ctg. The cylinder takes a 38 special. The barrel also has a ramped target style sight. Did Csgwell & Harricon convert this pistol to 38 special??

  16. Looks like I’m late to this party but I hope some people will read this. I have a S&W Special Model .38 Hand Ejector Military and Police Model of 1905, Fourth Change. This pistol was issued to Lt. James W. Newton in 1944 while he was training on the Norden bomb site. His statement reads he was issued this pistol by the U.S. Army Air Corps after it was modified by shortening the barrel to 3 inches and the swivel removed. The serial # is V670976 and was shipped to the Hartford Ordinance Depot, Springfield MA on Sept 11, 1944. Lt. Newcomb(retired as LTC Newcomb) states the pistol was shortened and swivel removed for weight reduction and for ease for entering the cramped space of the bombardier. Lt Newton flew bombing missions over Europe and Asia. His statement claims this pistol flew on all his bombing missions. Can anyone add any documentation to these facts? S&W states the modifications cannot be authenticated by S&W because they were done after market. Pictures-other pistols- anything


  17. Not a thing wrong with a “wheel gun” for aviators and others that need something close to the body that WILL NOT FAIL in a fight. I was a scout observer and sniper in D Co., 2/327th. 101st Airborne and we were required to carry both a sniper rifle (in my case an M21, and a secondary weapon as well. Many of our assigned chopper pilots carried Model 19 smith’s, and after having the privilege to hit the ranges with them a couple of times found myself liking it much more than a 1911. Always went bang with much more energy and authority. The Army forced me to have the M9 after the change came, but my model 19 always came with me as well.

  18. I have two (2) victory model S&W revolvers, I had them for about ten (10 ) years, they are beutiful,well made, smooth to shoot and handle. I don’t shoot them very much, mostly they are in my safe. They were made 1942- 1943, 38 special. I also have a Model 1917 revolver 45 acps beutiful, made about 1917, great shape , nice blue shinny color. I shoot 45 auto-rim or used the speed loaders with 45 acp. I reload for them, and used light loads, is best.

  19. Hey buddy where did you get the new grips ( Brand/Maker ) ,hows the front strap fitment ? I have the .38 s&w British version with the 5 inch barrel, it was then given to the Austian police, but remains in great shape ($400 but I needed it for my WWII collection) . Geat artical, thanks.

  20. Great article, answered a lot of my questions!! Just received my Dad’s S&W .38 Victory Model [s/n V270209] that he carried as a Navy fighter pilot in WWII. He flew missions over Guam, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima with most of his action coming between1944-945 from air craft carriers and island air bases. What a great pistol! He loves this gun and wanted me to have it. Still has the shoulder holster with the the raised US stamp on it. The cartridge holders are pretty must gone though. I’ll never trade or sell it, needs to stay in the family. He survived air combat, anti-aircraft fire, a typhoon, kamikazes, etc. Still kicking at 92, although he’s currently spending time in a rehab facility after a fall [can’t get him to slow down]. I have pictures of him on his carrier, in his flight gear with the revolver, with his squadron, etc. The .38 will be a great center piece in my den. Plus it is accurate when you get used to the sighting. The hammer doesn’t block the sight picture on the Navy model I have. Couldn’t believe how well it shoots and how balanced it is. I can hold steady on target and reacquire better with it than most semi-autos I’ve fired. The trigger is smooth as silk on double action. Single action, you have to keep your finger light or off until you’re ready to fight. The pull is very light, so it’s easy to squeeze off a round with out jerking the trigger. My uncle was a gunsmith when I was young, and I remember him working on Dad’s .38 to fix the firing pin. I think he also tuned the action. They took it out to the range and did some shooting. Pop was very pleased! Anyway, really enjoyed the article and insight on this fine weapon.

  21. I have a revolver very similar to yours. Mine is a S&W Victory model 6 shot .38 special with a snub nose. Unfortunately I’m having trouble identifying the year she was made…her serial number is V253xxx, any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.

  22. I own a model Victory that for some reason has been converted to a 22 magnum. It has proof markings on the barrel, frame, and on all 6 cylinder holes. BNP with the crown on top is the proof marks. Does anyone have any history on this revolver. Why was it converted and why the BNP proof.

  23. Last year I picked up a MINT S&W Victory Model .38 Special that after I sent a letter off to Smith & Wesson….found it was issued to a Military Factory in Texas…specifically the Cactus Ordinance Works…….I have searched the internet and found some information on the Facility….but have had no luck in obtaining Cloth Patches as would have been issued to the Guards that carried them……also have one question…..debating using it as a carry pistol…..have been told not to use +P ammo..?….is the consensus that that due to the age they cant handle the pressure..?…and if so….what hollow point ammuniton is suggested.?……Looking around i was lucky to find an Original Brown Leather Flap Holster…..I love the old pistol and am planning on carrying it hiking…..just would love some information on the “carry ammunition”………and appreciate anyone taking the time to answer…Best Regards…..Joe Fischer……in “Sunny-Tennessee”..

    • I would use the old FBI load, which is a 158 grain hollow point lead bullet, “not jacketed”. Another option would be a semi-wadcutter lead bullet.
      Personally I think these work better than any hollow point jacketed bullets since these loads are very slow, typically 700 to 900 ft./s

  24. Just got hold of a S/W Victory in 38S&W. Dad carried one as a RAAF Pilot Officer during latter part of WW2 and I guess his attachment started there. During ’56 when the Myxo virus wiped out the rabbit plagues in SW Queensland, the Dingoes ate ALL 5,000 of our calves, plus horses, cows bullocks etc and anything else they could get hold of. They had bred up living on the rabbits. Dad shot, poisoned and trapped almost full time to keep the numbers down. He shot 1,000 dogs from the window of the ute by chasing them in one year alone. Someone asked how many so he had this bit of cardboard on the dash with a pencil tied to it and kept a tally. When he got to 1,000, he bought a S&W .357.

  25. I Have a 38V great shape I Bought it at a pawn shop in 2006 when as I am a mobile vender and cash is always king and on me when closing time comes I always Felt very secured with its protection . I really didn’t mind its size or weight and six rounds is plenty no one can read minds to know what I’m packing anyhow.. Very loud if u miss anyone will think twice about hanging around.. lol


  27. Your conclusions were wonderfully scribed. As the owner of a post-war k-22 and a lover of thoughtful writing, I am now in the market for a victory model in .38 spl.

  28. In 1966 I purchased what they told me was a smith&wesson .38 “short” Navy groove sight revolver. After searching the internet I have not been able to pin down its history, and I do not want to pay $75 to have someone check it for me. It is hand ejector type of revolver. It’s serial number is V669318. The caliber is .38 smith&wesson. It is not, repeat not, a .38 special. The bullets are much smaller. The barrel length is five inches. It has a lanyard swivel on the butt. Does anyone have the history of this gun and its value?

    • The “V” prefix on the serial number indicates it is a victory model, Smith and Wesson made these for the British Commonwealth countries in .38 S&W/.38-200, value depends on too many factors to state a price, check out the bluebook of gun values.
      I just bought one that was issued to Australia recently, it is import marked in fine military condition for $310 which I felt was a pretty good price.

  29. I just put best one of the smith’&weeson 38 with serial number v16828 on the butt of it. My gun also has a number on the bottom of its wood handle. It’s got190 on it. If like to have information on what my value is on this gun. I’m also interested in selling this gun my number is 1-606-438-3097

  30. You guys seem to be the perfect people to ask.

    I’m doing some historical research on a weapons theft from Andrews AFB in 1960. The FBI report identifies the weapons only as .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolvers. Given the location and date I’m guessing that the actual weapons involved were Model 10 (.38 M&P Post-WWII).

    Does anyone know what the original government purchase price of these weapons would have been, or does anyone know how I could find out? The actual cost is critical to ascertaining whether the perpetrator of the crime should have been charged with a felony. I’m suspicious of lenient treatment but without documentation it’s only a suspicion. The threshold at that time was $100. I just don’t know if three weapons would have cost the government more or less than that amount.

    Assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  31. I was issued one when i was a naval aviator back in 1971. It accompanied me on many flights over North Vietnam. We had a choice to carry several different sidearms, but it didn’t matter to me, as I figured to never use it. I took the Victory Model because it was lightweight and fit my hand well. If i was shot down, what was I going to do, shoot it our with a platoon of NVA infantry? Fortunately, I never had to make that choice. A few years later, as a civilian, I spied one at a gun show, complete with US Navy marked on it, and a shoulder holster identical to the one I was issued. I bought it, and still have it today I have shot it many times at the range and in the woods. It is still at my bedside at night, in case of things that go bump in the night.

    • A wise move on your part. Too, bear in mind “Dial 911 and Die: The Shocking Truth
      About The Police Protection Myth”, available from Also, posted online
      at You Tube for viewing.

      Jim Farmer
      Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

  32. I loved your article…. very informational. I have one of these pistols and never knew much about the history of it until finding your information. My father gave this gun to me when I was a teenager. His thoughts at the time were ” If you ever have to pull it… shoot it ! Never just point it ” He taught me how to shoot it and I have for over 30 years ( not at anyone thankfully) Your article has sparked my curiosity as to the value of this gun. Where would be a good starting point ? I read someone had contacted Smith and Wesson, can you do that ?

    • Bluebook of gun values, you can look them up online, the victory models don’t go for a whole lot of money, unless they are in pristine condition $250-$450 for average condition. They top out at $750 for 98 to 100% condition. I just bought one in very good condition on line auction for $275.
      Smith and Wesson won’t value your revolver, they can only give you information as to the date made and maybe when and where it was shipped for a fee. Hope that helps.

      • Thank-you, that gives me a start. Mine is missing the lanyard ring ( didn’t know it had one or could have one) learned about that from reading other folks’ post from other sites. It is a Victory model, Stamped on the bottom (SN starts with the V) it was a Navy issue as it has it stamped on the barrel. After your response I went to S&W webpage and seen the form to get the letter of authenticity for the fee, but is it worth it to do that or just to more satisfy your curiosity

        • Betty, I would not waste the money on the letter personally, the victory models were made from 1942 to 1945, hundreds of thousands of them were made for the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, etc. for the lend lease program, and of course for the USA as there simply were not enough 1911’s to go around.
          Clean and oil it once in a while, and of course shoot it now and then, enjoy.
          There is some good info if you do an online search for the Smith & Wesson victory model, interesting stuff.

  33. I too have my Father’s S&W Victory in .38 Spl. that he carried in Saipan-Tinian and Guam as a 1st. Lt. in the USA Medical Corps. I have a letter of purchase for the weapon signed by a Major, USA in 1945 when Dad was discharged, and paid $33 for his Victory and took it home. It was in his top drawer for decades, in the US stamped shoulder holster, a box of .38 UMC ammo also military issue next to it. When he died in 2002 I became it’s owner. Like a dope I tossed his holster marked with his name and rank. Sometimes we all do stupid things !
    Like others I too have several semi-auto pistols, mostly 9mm. However, my wheel guns, SW-60, 19-4, Model 10, Ruger GP-100 and the Victory are my go to guns on Range days. The Victory is in pristine condition, bright bore, tight lock up. It’s accuracy at 12 yds surprised me from the first shot. There’s something about holding “his” gun, the same one he held as a 19 year old man 12, 000 miles from home in 1944-45. I will never sell it ! The review of this weapon on this page is 100% accurate. And yes a set of “Pachy” grips will improve accuracy on any J,K,L, N frame Smith.

    • Wow,! Too bad about the holster, anything like that will actually improve the value of these revolvers, especially with his letter of purchase, and original box of ammo. If possible I would try to get it back, if not I would try to find an original unmarked holster for it.
      I’ve done some pretty stupid things to concerning fire arms so you aren’t the only one.
      Also, I just can’t put Pachymar grips on an old revolver like this, to me it’s just wrong!
      Leave the Pachymars for the new stuff please?

      • I bought the leather reproduction shoulder holster for it several years ago from Cabela’s. It’s really well made complete with the US military raised stamp. It makes carrying the Victory a pleasure in cold weather under a heavy jacket. I’ve retained the original Walnut grips ! The lanyard loop is missing, there is no serial number on the butt. However, it’s on the barrel, cylinder, inside the grips and under the extractor, V271xxx. And of course the serial number is on the official USA bill of sale. I’ve read that the loop may have been removed to make the revolver easier to handle. Under the cylinder release (side) grip there is a small v stamped on the frame.

  34. i have a victory in .38s&w cal it does not function properly i am interested in selling this weapon i also have ammo for it

  35. Wow! What a history for these weapons. I just bought one from a police auction here in San Antonio (TX). I knew it was “special” just by viewing the posted pictures for the auction. I prefer my “wheel guns” and bought my first one, a S&W Model 10-5 w/2″ barrel in 1967 (still have it, in almost 100% condition). This new addition is as pictured in your original picture, is a 38 S&W Special ctg stamp and has serial #V716,XXX. Have you any information as to its possible production date and where it may have been originally sold? (No! It will never be for sale.)

  36. I carried one of these on seaman guard duty during WW2. We were issued five rounds and placed the hammer on the empty cylinder in case we dropped it, it wouldn’t go off.
    Bob Bissiri AMM3/c

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