Smith & Wesson Victory Model Revolver

Smith & Wesson Victory Model Revolver
Gun Collecting
By Peter Peter Suciu

Smith & Wesson Victory Model Revolver
Smith & Wesson Victory Model Revolver

Michigan –-( The Smith & Wesson Model 10 has been called the most successful handgun of all time, and the most popular center-fire revolver of the 20th Century. (See: The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms by Dean K. Boorman).

The Model 10 is a .38-caliber six-shot pistol that first went into production in 1899, known as the .38 Hand Ejector model. The Model 10 is a rugged design yet easy to mass produce. Over 6 million have been manufactured to date.

At the start of WWII, the United States was woefully unprepared for a second world wide conflict. The official handgun of the military at the time was the Colt .45-caliber M1911 and its variants. While this handgun has more stopping power than the Model 10, the M1911 was more difficult to produce so the military purchased over 250,000 Model 10’s. The Smith & Wesson .38’s produced between 1940 and 1945 had serial numbers with a V prefix and were designated as the Victory Model.

Navy and Marine aviators carried the Victory Model as a side arm. The lighter and more compact design made a good fit with for the tight spaces pilots and crew members found inside airplanes of the day. The U.S. Coast Guard used the Victory Model well into the 1990’s. The Victory Model was also used by security officers who guarded factories and defense installations throughout the United States during the war.

To supplement the need for .38’s, the military turned to Colt, and the Colt Commando was born. Like the Victory Model, the Commando was a conventional double action revolver with a parkerized finish and chambered for the .38 Special cartridge. Most had a 4” barrel length, but a few were produced with a 2” barrel and came to be known as Junior Commandos. Colt sold over 45,000 Commando’s before war’s end.

Collectors will find that identifying a Victory Model is simple. The serial number on the butt has a V prefix. The Victory Model serial numbers were a continuation of the numbers used on the S&W .38 revolvers made for the British government prior to the U.S.’s entry into WWII. The U.S. Victory Model was introduced at serial number V-40,000.

After serial number 769,000, the V prefix was changed to VS to indicate these revolvers were fitted with an improved hammer block to help prevent accidental discharges if the gun was dropped. This change was made after the death of a sailor from an accidental discharge of a Victory pistol dropped on the deck of a ship. By the time the war stopped, serial numbers had reached VS-850,000.

The Victory Model was finished in Parkerizing and had plain walnut grips, and a lanyard loop on the butt. Victory Model revolvers generally had their top-straps stamped with an ordnance flaming bomb insignia and several types of markings may be observed. The most commonly encountered are “United States Property”, “Property of the U.S. Navy” markings and “U.S. Property GHD”. Some have been reported with “USMC”, “USCG” and “Property of U.S. Navy” stamped on the side-plates.

A few Victory Model revolvers with 2” barrels were produced. Most of the short barrel Victory Model revolvers don’t have the typical martial markings with the exception of the flaming bomb stamped on the butt.

The S&W Victory Model wasn’t a frontline sidearm. The low velocity .38 special cartridge couldn’t compete with the kinetic energy produced from a standard .45. But it did fulfill its duty well as a sidearm for those who didn’t fight in the infantry frontlines. Any WWII firearms collection would be proud to have a Victory Model alongside the better known weapons of that era.

Peter Suciu is executive editor of, a website that tracks and monitors media bias against guns and our Second Amendment rights. Visit:

  • 7 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson Victory Model Revolver

    1. Trying to find out information on a 38 Smith and wesson Victory use made sir # v 646398
      it was in may father things when he passed away. Thank you for you help

    2. The Austrailian forces used the Victory model as a front line arm also. If you are interested read about the battles in and around Borneo that led the way for General Douglas McAuther.These were Aussy operations only. And the Victory Model stood the test against the Emperors forces in the 38 S&W cartridge not the 38 Special version…..

    3. I’ve owned my Victory model since the early 70’s. The serial # is V 422xxx. It has the lanyard ring ,plain wooden grips, and a small NAVY medallion affixed on top of the S&W emblem on the right side of the pistol. It’s chambered for .38 S&W and has a 5″ barrel. I wonder why it’s chambered for the .38 S&W , and not .38 special, if it was used by our Naval forces!! Steve

    4. “The S&W Victory Model wasn’t a frontline sidearm”

      It may not have been the preferred sidearm of US forces, but it was commonly used by the US Marine Corps as front line weapon.

      As well as being the preferred revolver of the Royal Army (UK) in .38/200

    5. I just love classic Smith and Wesson revolvers. Though I have never

      owned a Model 10 I do own three S&W K-Frame variants: a Model

      15 .38 Special Combat Masterpiece, a Model 19 .357 Combat

      Magnum, and a Model 66 "stainless" .357 Combat Magnum. All three

      have 4" barrel ( pinned) and counter-shrunk chambers

      (pre-1982). In addition I also own an N-Frame S&W Model 28 .357

      Highway Patrolman with 6" barrel. Thus I'm an adamant advocate

      of the venerable .38 caliber revolver for the average citizen. The .38

      Special defines self defense/house protection/homeland security and

      remains "cheap and affordable life insurance for honest working class people." In addition I likewise embrace the .38 Special 148

      grain lead target wadcutter load well as suited for small game: rabbit

      and squirrel, vermin: raccoon, skunk, and possum, and also for the

      chore of butchering livestock. CCI's classic .38 Special shot/snake

      load of No. 9 shot encased inside a plastic tip capsule is lethal on

      rattlesnakes up close and can shred a rattler's head.

      Naturally I consider the old .38 Special 158 grain lead round nose

      police loading as obsolete. Modern .38 Special defense ammo such

      as Winchester's Silvertip Hollowpoint, Federal's Hydar-Shok, and

      Remington's Golden Saber (in their +P loadings of 125 grain and

      129 grain, respectively) are superior and remain formidable! Next

      to a .22 a .38 Special remains a versatile, useful, and practical

      firearm. And a .38 caliber revolver is a comforting companion whether in a dresser drawer, night stand, or bureau drawer. Not

      to mention as a sidearm to carry while fishing, hiking, hunting,

      bird watching, picking wild berries or plums, back packing, or

      whatever outdoor activity is being pursued.

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