Australian collectors only


#1

I am after military issue .38SW ammunition, preferrably in original boxes. Does anyone know if it is available in Australia?? I have plenty of black powder rounds but only one box of WW2 military issue (12 in box ).

Thanks


#2

If it was military would it not be designated as .380 in the British convention ?

More precisely perhaps .380/200?


#3

Packet Labels of Aussie-made .380 Revolver cartridges (Military) are identical to the ISAA Labels in British Use, and Nomenclature is identical.
Two factories made .380 cartridges, Footscray (both MF and sister factory MG) and MQ ( Rocklea (Brisbane) Queensland, this latter from 1942-44 only ( Plant then converted to aircraft assembly.).MQ also made .455, .303 and loaded 20mm ( cases made elsewhere).

MQ packets are rather common, compared with pre-war MF; when I was in Service, we trained with S&W Victory Revolvers, in .380 Cartridge, and the ammo was Postwar MF manufacture ( 1950s). Manufacture was undertaken on an “as needed” timing, and ceased by about the late 1950s ( I was “in” in 67-73).

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#4

Thanks Vince and DocAV,
You are correct. In my mind I associate the.38/200 with the Webley/Enfield revolvers. From info I have read, most of the Aussie issue revolvers were the civilian version with 6 inch barrels that were made up from the parts bins where Smith and Wesson stockpiled components during and after the depression so as to avoid laying off staff. These were issued prior to the Victory revolvers when the British establishment placed their first order. Smith and Wesson were able to supply a large number of revolvers quickly as a result of the stock piling. I have one of those in as new condition and as the barrels are stamped .38SW, thats what I call the ammunition. I am sure that the Aussie issue cartridge did not have the 200gn projectile so do not call our local product .38/200. I think the Victory name only came about when the US military ordered the revolver. ( in .38 Special) even tho the later .38/200 revolver deliveries were called Victory as well and generally had the shorter 4inch barrel.

If I am wrong please set me straight. I am fairly new to this.

Regards,


#5

Sportco - your information on the .38/200 Smith and Wesson Military & Polcie Models seems to be, in the main, accurate. I cannot comment on the theory that they were made up from stored parts, as I have not read that anywhere that I can recall, and the factory was capable of production levels annually equal to the number supplied to the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1945, most as a refund on the disastrous “9mm Light Rifle” deal, since S&W did not have the funds to refund in cash the amount paid for the rifles by the UK. Your information is certainly not impossible, though. I simply don’t know, myself.

The British supplied 8.000 of these revolvers to Australia, all with 5" barrels, not 6". However, when surplused out, our store received about 50 of the Australian-issued revolvers, and there were some 6" barreled guns among them as I recall. They were all blued and many had the commercial checkered grips with S&W Medallion. Some had smooth grips, in one case I recall completely a very crude, hand-made set, so I suspect the smooth ones were all replacements. One interesting thing was that in many of them, the hammer safety had been either cut off, to be inoperable, or was missing completely. We did not sell any of these guns until inspected and if needed, the safety feature replaced due to liability concerns. I seem to recall that it was not easy getting the correct part for them, and we had to go to several sources to get enough. They evidently gave trouble for the Australians for them to do this, as in December 1944, S&W started using a new design hammer-block safety in all guns shipped.

Two good sources for further reading on this contract and the Victory Models as well (you are correct - the Victory Model was .38 Special only, although all these military S&W M&Ps seem to be referred to, incorrectly, as the “Victory Model” by many U.S. users, including some collectors who should know better) are:

“America’s Right Arm, The Smith & Wesson Military and Police Revolver,” by John Henwood
"Smith and Wesson 1857-1945," by Robert J. Neal and Roy G. Jinks

There is an updated version of the Neal and Jinks book going past 1945 as well.

John Moss


#6

The “Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson” refer to both the .38/200 (K200) and the M&P .38 Special as the Victory Model, apparently because of their V (or SV) serial numbers.
One day I’ll buy one of those in original caliber: “.38 Short” (As it says on Fiocchi’s boxes) It’ll be a good companion to my 686. (smiley thing here)
Soren


#7

Thanks again John and mausernut,

My revolver apparently was airforce issue; it definitely has a 6"barrel with the SW chequered grips and medallion. It`s blued to a deep black colour, has no hammer safety and bears none of the US proof or military markings bar a small P on the base of the butt. Apparently they were not installed until after a US sailor accidently shot himself with a victory revolver. The V prefix to the serial number only appeared after the M&P revolver had reached the 1,000,000 serial number then the name change to Victory occured. Mine is in the 700,000 range; this dates from around 1940. Most of the info I have found comes from the Gunboards forum.

Regards,


#8

The hammer safety bar was installed, I am sure, on all of the guns at time of manufacture. It seems to be only in Australia that they took them out. In some cases, the bars were still in the gun but the tops were cut off (not broken - nice clean cuts). I can only believe that some conditions they encountered caused the bar to give problems. This opinion is based on the fact that later in the War, Smith & Wesson changed the bar somewhat. The opinion that they were factory installed originally is based on the fact that in the Australian guns examined, some had been removed but some had been shortened to deactivate them.

I could be wrong about both cases, of course. I have no documentation from Australia about this subject.

John Moss