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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rookie to this shooting range. I inherited one of those nice .38's with the British crown imprint, but post-WWII it would seem. The barrel clearly has that ".38 S & W CTG" imprint. Should it not shoot .38S&W? I ask everyone here because I have found that .38S&W will NOT fit in the chamber; the rounds are too fat. But .38 Special rounds DO fit, and I'm pretty sure it's been fired. In fact, I think I've fired it, but don't recall for sure. What thoughts do you folks have about this? Why would it imply the need for .38S&W, but only shoot .38 Special?
 

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Could be a cylinder swap or the chambers sleeved or a surplus barrel swap. Besides photos, what are the serial numbers? Barrel, cylinder and butt only at this point. With Victory Models the possibilities are nearly endless.

A reamed cylinder accepts both rounds. Many of these became "Frankenguns".
 

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Cylinder may have been sleeved and re chambered for .38 Special. This was reportedly done to some of the Victory models when they went on the civilian market. Look under the barrel on the flat above the ejector rod. It may be marked similar to mine which has .38 Special 1.150" and underneath that 4 Tons per square (a symbol) ".
 

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I'm with Waidmann on this. The original frame for the Victory was the standard .38 Special Hand Ejector; S&W only reamed the cylinder for the shorter and fatter .38 S&W round (aka "short and weak", or .38/200) for the Lend Lease program. The cylinder from a regular Hand Ejector would fit and would be a fairly typical change for the US market. I have a Victory originally made in .38 Special, which was for domestic use, mostly. So the cylinder from my gun could fit the .38 S&W guns, and the swap made.

As he also alluded, the more common practice was to re-ream the cylinder a bit deeper for the longer and narrower .38 Special round. This left 2 ridges in the cylinder. The .38 Special brass would swell to fill the small cavity left for the shorter and fatter brass of the .38 S&W. Usually the brass would also split. But the barrel didn't much care if you shot standard 158 gr lead round nose ammo through it. Since your .38 S&W rounds will not fit, this was not done to your gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm learning from all your replies. I agree, a cylinder swap was probably made at some point. The simplest answer might be best. And yep, it's stamped "767" and "3 1/2 TONS" so Jonesy is probably on to something there as well. I'm going to TRY to upload useful pics, so here goes....
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Compare the serials on the back of the cylinder and the underside of the barrel to the one on the butt. Do they all match? Most likely the butt and barrel will. If the cylinder does not, a swap. If the cylinder also matches look for evidence of sleeves.

The piece was proven at Birmingham in 1955 or later as a .38 S&W (.38-200, .380 Mk II etc.). So, conversion was likely accomplished on this side of the water. The gun had the phosphate finish buffed off, then it was blued and then perhaps the swivel hole was plugged.
 

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I had a very similar issue with a BSR I bought on-line in 2017. It came with a cylinder that had been reamed for .38 special and a replacement barrel for .38 special. It didn't like the .38 specials rounds as the cylinder would lock up and the brass would split. When I fired .38SW's in it the cylinder was fine but the forcing cone was shaving lead off of the bullet. I decided to get a Victory, 5" 38SW barrel. I then had the barrel chromed to match the rest of the gun. So, notwithstanding the chrome finish, I have it back in its original condition; a .38SW with a five inch barrel. Shoots pretty good for all that it has been through.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Funny, but a brother-in-law was reminding me to check the cylinder at the same time youse guys were typing. Gun talk on a Friday evening; lovin' it. And nope, different 6-digit number. No sign of a number at all on the underside of the barrel. I detect a consensus forming regarding a swap.
 

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I suspect what you have is quality job done safely. If the gun was out of time you would have observed off center primer strikes, lead shaving and similar. Guy recently pronounced on a true Frankengun incorporating elements from the 20's to at least the 50's. I once owned a factory Frankengun dating to 1948. It is from a time when things happened.
 

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All this talk about the cylinder had me go back and check the Victory model I inherited from my father. Its been put away in a safe and I haven't shot it in years. As I mentioned earlier, this one shoots .38 Special and is marked accordingly on the barrel flat. I did double check the cylinder this morning and the serial number does match the one on the butt, also the chambers in the cylinder do not have that 2nd step, so my best guess is this one is sleeved.
 

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And I sure hope I don't get results like those shells of K22's. As noted above, I am somewhat sure I've fired this thing in the past without danger.
You must think like me. The round in the eight ring was my first shot after the mods. Head turned and eyes closed.
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