A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, November 02, 2007

On Old Converted Victories

I bought and have just received a .38 S&W caliber M&P that had the cylinder bored out to accept a .38 SPL. I was only told that it was a .38 SPL. When I got it, I saw the "V" in front of the serial number for a Victory model. I know .38 S&W bullets are 3/1000" bigger in diameter than .38 SPL. It can't seal as well. Is that 3/1000" enough to affect accuracy and velocity? Plus, the .38 S&W case is a bit wider than that of a .38 SPL. I've read that sometimes the narrower .38 SPL cases bulge and could be cranky to remove. It's a beautiful gun, all nickeled and reworked by Parker Hale in England a long time ago. It's Does anyone have any experience with this conversion? Will it work up to snuff? Should I return it? Am I worrying over nothing? If it works well, I'd keep it but there's the "no firing" "examination only" return period. The action is like glass, the bore is great and it's gorgeous overall. I knew it had been refinished and I just wanted a shooter and it only cost $225, which is cheap for a nice old S&W. It looks ten times better than it does in the picture. Thanks.

I find your revolver interesting. I find the front sight/rib on your revolver to be interesting, as well as it's history and conversion. I collect old S&W Military & Police revolvers. I want, at some time, to acquire a Parker Hale conversion, in nickel, for an acceptable price. You will note that I have not yet found such a revolver at a price acceptable to me. My acceptable price, around $150, might just be a tad low.........I say one thing, the market apparently says another.

True, your Victory Model has no collector's value, at least on the usual collector's market, and the .38 S&W to .38 Special conversions are sketchy at best. To oddball collector's like me though, it's an interesting revolver, and that's good enough.

The problem comes in pricing such a gun. To a common garden variety blue chasing firearms collector, your revolver has no value, and those guys are who the books are written for. As a result, you must know what the gun is worth to you. The reference books are worthless to you on pricing. It is good that your revolver is accurate and you are pleased with it. That is good enough.

If I were you, I would shop around for some genuine, period stag or jigged bone grips, screw them on, and enjoy the heck out of this revolver. In the end, any revolver is only worth what the seller and a buyer agree on.

More on this neat gun and some sage wisdom from Old Fuff and others here.

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Blogger JPG said...

Around 1963, Mongomery Ward's store in Fort Worth carried a lot of used and surplus firearms. One type was "Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers, converted by Cogswell & Harrison." I didn't know what this meant but I went and looked, liked what I saw, and paid the $39.95 price.

Mine was blue and had replacement wood stocks, with, IIRC, some sort of crown device on the medallion. The lanyard ring was still in place. The barrel had been cut to about 3-1/2 or 3-1/4 inches, and the front sight was mounted on a short ramp similar to the one illustrated. It was marked on the side with the Cogswell & Harrison conversion information and the address, London.

When I fired standard 158 gr. LRN Remington, the empty cases had a mild bottleneck appearence, where the .38 spl cases expanded to .38 S&W chamber dimensions on the rear two-thirds or so. The front of the chamber, which had been reamed to .38 spl size, was noticeably narrower. Perhaps one in 10 cases split when fired the first time.

In retrospect, I was getting far better accuracy than one would expect. I believe this was because the factory loads were swaged from soft lead, with a shallow hollow base, and these slugged out to fit the bore. This seems confirmed by the fact that some military 130 FMJ loads wouldn't group at all.

A few years later, I began handloading .38 spl. The overworked cases split frequently on the second firing. My loads with cast, flat based bullets weren't particularly accurate. Best results were with a mild charge of Unique powder and a hollow base wadcutter bullet.

All in all, the old revolver gave me good service. I finally traded it off.

10:15 AM  
Blogger GeorgeH said...

Try some 148gr mid range wadcutter factory loads. They are soft lead and hollow based, so should seal reasonably well. They are also low pressure. The cases may come out with a slight bottleneck indicating the cylinder was reamed out to .38 spl. length, or it is possible that the cylinder was replaced with a correct .38 spl. cylinder.

2:56 PM  

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