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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an old revolver, inherited from my father-in-law. He said (a long time ago) that he bought it from a vet who served in the Pacific in WWII. There is no serial number on the butt of the grip and it appears that a lanyard hole may have been filled in? Number on the cylinder is 736527. Open the cylinder and you can see the number 69304. Finally, I took off the grips and on the frame is stamped B 0. The barrel length is 2 1/4 inches from the muzzle side of the cylinder to the end of the barrel. I wonder if the barrel was sawed off and the sight tab(?) (re)placed on there, because if you aim to the center of a clock face, the bullets hit closer to 2 and there doesn't seem to be any way to adjust the sight.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I did find some answers on a post from Nora entitled "S & W hand ejector 2 inch" from 9/30/19 in the 1945-present forum. Good information there. Pictures are spot on with mine, except the barrel and butt serial numbers have been removed. Based on her info and replies, my guess is my barrel has been shortened.

It does take 38 special ammunition.
 

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Reamed and chopped Victory, looks like. No S/N may get you some trouble with the ATF.
 
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Reamed and chopped Victory, looks like. No S/N may get you some trouble with the ATF.
If you get caught with it with no serial number you will be in deep doo doo.
 

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Serial numbers were not required until 1968; this gun precedes that and has a serial number on the cylinder
 

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Serial numbers were not required until 1968; this gun precedes that and has a serial number on the cylinder
It doesn't matter. It came with a serial number on the butt. To remove it is a felony no matter when it was made. The frame is the gun not the cylinder.
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! The serial puts the gun in the 1940-41 period which was when S&W was making a lot of .38 S&W M&Ps with 5" barrel for the British. After the war, these guns were surplussed and many were imported into the US where they underwent various modifications including chopping the barrel and extractor lug off and reaming the cylinder for .38 Special. Walter, your gun looks like all the other short barrel victories we see routinely. It doesn't shoot to point of aim (POA) because the front sight is too short for the barrel length. It needs to be about twice as high to bring POI to POA. Also, if you would take a picture of your cylinder chambers with lighting from behind so we can see the inside of the chambers, we can tell you if it was reamed for .38 Special.

Yes, by Federal law, the gun is illegal to own or transfer to another owner. We see this fairly frequently but rarely do we ever hear that it results in a problem for the owner. Unless the gun is used during a crime or gets confiscated as a carry gun during a traffic stop, it is likely to never pose a problem. I recently saw two Victory revolvers beautifully engraved by a famous German engraver sell at auction by a well known auction company. Both guns had the serials removed from the butt; however, the serials were present on the cylinders and under the barrels. They overtly marketed the guns as missing the serial number on the butt. I messaged a well known collectibles dealer who worked with this auction house about the guns missing the serial on the frame. His response to me was "it's only a problem when it becomes a problem." IOW, yep, it's illegal, but as long as you can get away with it...:rolleyes:
 

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It doesn't matter. It came with a serial number on the butt. To remove it is a felony no matter when it was made. The frame is the gun not the cylinder.
The thing is, if it was modified (and serial number removed) prior to 1968 - before it became illegal to remove it - then I'm not so sure it is an illegal gun. Any more than one that was built without a serial number before the 1968 law started requiring serial numbers would now be illegal. The GCA (Gun Control Act) of 1968 did not say that the NEW requirements under that law would apply to guns made prior to that time - and thereby make them illegal. You can't pass a law that makes something done prior to the new law retro-actively illegal.
 

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The NFA of 1934 made it illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number of a “firearm” as classified by the NFA. However, the NFA only applied to a specific class of weapons. Later on, the GCA made it illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number of a much broader classification of firearm, not just those subject to the NFA.

With regards to firearms which are not subject to the NFA, it would appear that it was not necessarily illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number before October 22, 1968. As previously mentioned, the manufacturers of non-NFA firearms held the power to choose whether or not to utilize serial numbers until 1968. Regardless of when it was done, the GCA made it illegal to merely possess a firearm if the serial number had been obliterated, removed or altered. What was legal to possess on October 21st of 1968 became illegal to possess the following day. StackPath.
 

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The NFA of 1934 made it illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number of a “firearm” as classified by the NFA. However, the NFA only applied to a specific class of weapons. Later on, the GCA made it illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number of a much broader classification of firearm, not just those subject to the NFA.

With regards to firearms which are not subject to the NFA, it would appear that it was not necessarily illegal to obliterate, remove or alter the serial number before October 22, 1968. As previously mentioned, the manufacturers of non-NFA firearms held the power to choose whether or not to utilize serial numbers until 1968. Regardless of when it was done, the GCA made it illegal to merely possess a firearm if the serial number had been obliterated, removed or altered. What was legal to possess on October 21st of 1968 became illegal to possess the following day. StackPath.
Your link provides a really good explanation of how a gun with a serial number that was removed prior to 1968 was made illegal by the law - without being a case of being an ex-post-facto law. I have never seen a satisfactory explanation of that one before. THANKS!
 
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I had a chance to bid on a Triple-lock that was incorrectly listed on Gunbroker and the price was very reasonable. The gun had been refinished and the serial number on the butt had been removed. I never bid on it and informed the seller that it was indeed a triple-lock making it more valuable than what was listed and also that without the serial number on the butt that I thought it was an illegal. Just to give him a complete heads up.
 

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Dicussions about this pop up regularly and keep going round and round. The law is clear: No matter the dates involved, if a gun ever had a frame serial number, messing with that makes it illegal. That’s what BATFE will officially tell you when asked.

What happens in real life is another story. Even lawyers don’t know. Because there is no case law. None. Zilch. Nada. Nobody in the legal history of the US seems to have ever been charged based solely on incidental alterations of a serial number, in the course of refinishing, or installing a lanyard loop, or modifying the butt, for example. If you dig, and I have, every case of an altered serial turns out to be part of a bigger crime, of which the gun was just a part.

Could it happen? Theoretically yes. Obviously, don’t buy potential trouble if you don’t have to. But if you end up with a gun like this, through inheritance for example, examine just how much you want to worry about stuff.
 

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I have seen where gun shops have used the assembly number from an old S&W revolver as the serial number, which was covered by the grips. Not because the serial number was missing, but out of ignorance
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! The serial puts the gun in the 1940-41 period which was when S&W was making a lot of .38 S&W M&Ps with 5" barrel for the British. After the war, these guns were surplussed and many were imported into the US where they underwent various modifications including chopping the barrel and extractor lug off and reaming the cylinder for .38 Special. Walter, your gun looks like all the other short barrel victories we see routinely. It doesn't shoot to point of aim (POA) because the front sight is too short for the barrel length. It needs to be about twice as high to bring POI to POA. Also, if you would take a picture of your cylinder chambers with lighting from behind so we can see the inside of the chambers, we can tell you if it was reamed for .38 Special.

Yes, by Federal law, the gun is illegal to own or transfer to another owner. We see this fairly frequently but rarely do we ever hear that it results in a problem for the owner. Unless the gun is used during a crime or gets confiscated as a carry gun during a traffic stop, it is likely to never pose a problem. I recently saw two Victory revolvers beautifully engraved by a famous German engraver sell at auction by a well known auction company. Both guns had the serials removed from the butt; however, the serials were present on the cylinders and under the barrels. They overtly marketed the guns as missing the serial number on the butt. I messaged a well known collectibles dealer who worked with this auction house about the guns missing the serial on the frame. His response to me was "it's only a problem when it becomes a problem." IOW, yep, it's illegal, but as long as you can get away with it...:rolleyes:
Reply from Walter W - here are pictures of the inside of the cylinder and the ammunition I've used.
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Well, the chambers don't appear to be reamed for .38 Special and the ammo is what it was originally designed to shoot. So, you should be set in that regard.
 
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