.38 S&W or .380 revolver

Sorry for the big ugly wheelgun in the picture, but is the little packet of canadian .380 made with the 178 grain jacketed bullet and are the case Boxer capped or Berdan?


Very nice pistol.
I had an Enfield in .380 and shot some of that ammo. I would have kept it if it was Boxer, so I would say it’s Berdan.

Canadian military small arms ammunition of the world wars produced at the government facilities ordinarily uses Berdan primers; that produced by the commercial firms (DC, DI) is Boxer primed. Jack

Its a lease/lend revolver made in the US and supplied to British troops (including Canadans) in WW2 The calibre was .38 S&W but used the British designation .380 Revolver.

If it is Canadian ammo, I might be mistaken. If I didn’t save the brass it was Berdan, so I must have had British rounds.

That revolver is a S&W Victory Model (K-frame) about like the more modern Model 10 (M&P). They were made during WWII in .38/200 (.38 S&W) for the UK, and also in .38 Special for US forces use. Many of the UK versions were imported into the US after WWII and had the cylinder chambers bored out to accept the longer .38 Special cartridge for civilian sale. Not a great idea, but it worked.

If not refinished, the one pictured appears to be in exceptional condition. Most were not originally blued but rather sandblasted and Parkerized. A few are seen with no lanyard swivel, or even a hole for one. Many, but not all, have a V-prefix to the serial number. No way would I call a V-Model in that condition ugly.

The rounds are Boxer primed.

There is a plate in Chamberlain and Taylerson’s British service revolver book depicting headstamps of .380 ammunition. There is no claim made by the authors that the stamps shown are all-inclusive, but they do show a specimen DC headstamp and none for Dominion Arsenal. DA certainly did produce .455 mk.II cartridges, but I wonder about .380 production. Jack

You are correct Jack, Dominion Arsenal (DAC) did not produce any .380.


Thanks for the replies. The revolver is an M&P or more precisely a K-200. There is a V before the serial number. It was dropped to the norwegian resistance probably during 1944. The finish is the original parkerizing, it has fired maybe 200 shots. It was a bit pricey but worth it I think, slightly under the european price for a new 6" 686 in standard configuration.
The little box of (unopened) DC .380 was given to me as a gift from the dealer.
Actually he had a cabinet full of boxes that would have made most ammo collectors mouth water…

The condition of the revolver is certainly remarkable for its age. Most that I have seen were quite tired in appearance, mainly due to holster wear rather than use. The British used webbing holsters not leather and they were quite abrasive, also loose, so the revolvers rubbed up against them inside the holster. But that one is a beauty.

Mausernut, your referring to the revolver as a K-200 threw me, as I had not seen that designation used before. In doing some research, I cannot find that the revolver was ever officially designated as K-200 by anyone, although that terminology seems to be in use among some collectors in reference to the S&W V-model made for the UK chambered for the .38/200. The S&W factory reportedly called this revolver the .38/200 British Service Revolver. Actually, I guess the .38/178 British Service Revolver would have been a more appropriate name as all these revolvers were manufactured after the lighter jacketed bullet .380 MkII round was adopted. I have no idea by what name the revolver was officially known within the WWII UK military structure, but I’m sure there are some past Soldiers of the King (or Queen) reading this who will know and impart that information.

Its British nomenclature was “Pistol, Smith & Wesson, No.2”


Well, I had to call it something… :-) The permit is a plastic card with alle the guns in that rifle club printed on it in tiny letters. The space allows for max. 20 letters so the official name would have been truncated. In the Standard catalog of Smith and Wesson (page 140, 3rd ed. 2006) It is named .38/200 British Service Revolver (Model K-200).

Thanks Tony. Was there a “Pistol, Smith & Wesson, No. 1” (or for that matter No. 3, No. 4, etc.)? I thought it might have been given a Mark designation, but I guess not.

The 200 is some sort of reference to the later version of the ammunition which had a 200 grain bullet and was a sort of an early +P although that description is a bit stretched. I don’t think the pistols, any pistols, were restricted to one type of ammo or another although Tony may know better.

[quote=“DennisK”]Thanks Tony. Was there a “Pistol, Smith & Wesson, No. 1” (or for that matter No. 3, No. 4, etc.)? I thought it might have been given a Mark designation, but I guess not.[/quote]Model of 1917 in .45 ACP?

[quote=“mausernut”][quote=“DennisK”]Thanks Tony. Was there a “Pistol, Smith & Wesson, No. 1” (or for that matter No. 3, No. 4, etc.)? I thought it might have been given a Mark designation, but I guess not.[/quote]Model of 1917 in .45 ACP?

Could be but it would have been in .455

There are many here far more knowledgeable about the British .38/200 cartridge than I. but I believe it came into existance shortly after WWI as a load using a 200 grain lead bullet, known as the .380 MkI. Sometime in the late 1930s, someone figured out that using a lead bullet might constitute a violation of the Hague Convention, so the bullet was changed to a nominal 178 grain FMJ style to ensure Hague Convention compliance. That round was designated as the MkII or MkIIz. I have read that during WWII, both MkI and MkII rounds were used, but those MkI ammunition stocks remaining were employed mainly for training, not combat.

Of course, the several versions of the .38 S&W cartridge as developed in the US in the 19th Century are essentially the same cartridge as the British .380, and are interchangeable with it, at least in 20th Century revolvers designed for smokeless powder. I think the only commercially-available (in the US) round at present is a 145-146 grain RN lead bullet load. It is loaded lightly in deference to the many old .38 S&W revolvers still in use which date back to the later 19th Century, and which were designed around the use of black powder. I have three antique revolvers chambered for the .38 S&W and shoot them a lot. Most retailers do not stock the .38 S&W, so I load my own. But it is still commercially loaded here. It’s one of my favorites.

It must be Remingtons product you are referring to. I have a almost full box to test the revolver with today.