Smith And Wesson 38 Special Revolver Serial Numbers

Smith And Wesson Serial Number Search Site; Smith & Wesson Serial Number Lookup; Smith Wesson Serial Numbers Manufacture Date; This model represented a number of firsts for Smith & Wesson Company. It was first of the top-break automatic ejection revolvers. Also first Smith & Wesson in a large caliber (chambered for.44 S&W American cartridge as. I know this is being asked a lot, but i just inherited a 38 S&w Special CTG. Serial number is 381581. It's made of steel and has a 5' barrel. Any info would be appreciated.

Smith and Wesson serial number search Is there a website where I can find out the age of my used S&W revolver by serial number search? I know this exists for other brands (my Remington shotgun), but couldn't find anything like that for Smiths. The left sid eof the barrel states ' 38 S & W SPECIAL U.S. SERVICE CTG'S' The top of the barrel reads ' SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFILED MASS USA PAT'D APRIL 9, 89 MARCH 27, 94 MAY 21, 96 JULY 16, 95 AUG 4, 96 DEC 22, 96 OCT 4, 98 OCT 8, 01 DEC 17, 01' The only other marings on the gun are the five digit serial number on the butt of the gun and the S & W trade mark symbol near the hammer.

The Victory Model Smith and Wesson .38 Caliber Revolver

The revolvers of the U.S. armed forces have always been under appreciated by collectors, the good news is that makes them relatively inexpensive to acquire, but this is changing. At a recent trip to the 2003 Louisville gun show I noticed prices on Victory revolvers had increased noticeably. That being said you might want to consider adding a few Victory models to your USGI collection.

While the information I provide below can be helpful please see the list on the bottom of this page for reference material you should have if you are going to collect these historical pieces . The Victory model revolvers participated in various roles from guard duty to riding in a shoulder holster with fighter and bomber pilots. I have talked to many ex-military personnel that carried them as late as the 1980s, as you can see these pistols played a significant part of our history. To this day the Victory model is a very enjoyable shooting collectible, mainly due to its inexpensive cost, light recoil, and good accuracy.
Enjoy and happy collecting, Ty

The Victory model was so named for the 'V' prefix which was placed before the serial number and represented 'Victory' against the Axis powers in World War II.

Serial numbers for the .38 special Victory model began at about V1 in early 1942 and ran until VS811119 with a date of late August of 1945 (end of production). V1 to approximately V39,999 were predominately .38 S&W Caliber (I have observed revolvers in the 1-40000 range in .38 special caliber). Serial numbers are located on Inside right grip, frame butt, Cylinder, extractor star, and bottom of barrel. Crane and crane recess are also serial numbered to each other, but this is a different number then the revolvers serial number as is correct for Victory model revolvers.

Smith and wesson 38 special revolver serial numbers by year

The Victory Revolver was produced during World War II, it is a variation of the Military & Police Model of 1905, fourth change and had the following characteristics between 1942 and 1945:

Barrel: 2, 4, 5, or 6 inch. (4 inch common in .38 special, 5 inch common in 38/200 or .38 S&W)
Sights: Fixed
Finish: Early sandblast blue, sandblast mid-night black (appears grayish black). And finally a parkerized finish. Hammer and Trigger are case hardened.
GripsActivate psn card yourself. : Checkered walnut with medallion until early 1942, post February of 1942 they are smooth American Walnut with out medallions.

Ordnance acceptance marks:
The acceptance mark varies with the particulars of the order placed. With U.S. Navy orders you will find no acceptance marks on the original two contracts they placed. On later Navy revolvers, ordered through the Army they will be found with the more typical Army G.H.D. acceptance mark. Below you will find some of the common stamps with links to examples.

W.B. - The acceptance mark of Ordnance officer Waldemar Bromberg is located on the butt (to about serial number V145000). Just to the right of the acceptance mark (W.B.) is usually found an ordnance bomb and proof mark. The 'P' proof mark indicates this revolver has passed military proof testing. EXAMPLE – Click Here

G.H.D – From approximately 1942 to about May 1943 the acceptance mark of Ordnance officer Guy H. Drewry is found on the butt. From approximately V300000 to end of production G.H.D is found on the left top strap; EXAMPLE – Click Here

Property marks:
The most common property marks found on the Victory model are the UNITED STATES PROPERTY, US PROPERTY, and the US NAVY markings.

UNITED STATES PROPERTY – Found on left top strap to approximately V300000 and on the M&Ps pre Victory. Applied at the S&W factory. Example - Click Here

Smith And Wesson Serial Number Search Site

U.S. PROPERTY – The property mark was shortened to 'U.S. PROPERTY' at about serial number V300000. At this time the G.H.D acceptance mark was moved from the butt to the left top strap with the property mark. Applied at the S&W factory. EXAMPLE – Click Here

S&w Dates Of Manufacture By Serial Number

U.S. NAVY – Found on the revolvers left top strap as per the two Navy contracts. The Navy also applied a Property mark on the left side plate on some revolvers; these were filled in with red paint. This is not an S&W applied marking. EXAMPLE – Click Here and Here for the Navy applied mark.

Victory models have also been produced with out property marks, these revolvers were probably delivered by the U.S. Defense Supply Corporation (DSC) to defense contractors and public agencies that required them for guarding war sensitive materials.

Other common markings:
S -
Revolvers that have the 'S' marking on the right side plate as well as before the serial number on the butt have the improved hammer block installed. If the 'S' in the serial number on the butt appears to be machine applied this would indicate it was produced with improved hammer block, and that it was not added later or it would have been hand stamped. The improved hammer block was put into production after an accidental discharge killed a sailor during World War II. This improved hammer block is still utilized in today's commercial Smith and Wesson revolvers. EXAMPLE – Click Here

P – Proof marking. This can very depending on the contract. Navy marked pistols usually have none. But C.W. Pates books indicate that some delivered under an Army contract could be found with a P mark. Post the V400,000 serial number range they are located on the underside of the barrel, back of the cylinder and left side plate. The later appear to be Army Supply Program contract revolvers. EXAMPLE – Click Here

Serial Numbers:
Serial numbers are located on the inside right grip, frame butt, Cylinder, extractor star, and bottom of grip. Serial numbers should be matching on all revolvers. Crane and Crane recess are also serial numbered to each other, but this is a different number then the revolvers serial number and is correct for Victory model revolvers.
EXAMPLE – Click Here
Barrel EXAMPLE – Click Here
Cylinder EXAMPLE – Click Here
Extractor Start EXAMPLE – Click Here
Click Here

38/200 British Service Revolver (S&W Caliber)
- There were over 571,629 of these models produced between October 1941 and May 1945 for the British Common wealth countries. These countries include the Union of South Africa (21,347), Canada (45,328), and Australia (8,000). The remaining 384,100 shipped between 1941 and the end of World War II were supplied by the U.S. Army Ordnance through the lend lease program to Britain for distribution.

Victory model 38 Special – 352,000 shipped to the Army and Navy. Some of these were shipped to a commission responsible for supplying the civilian industries. They will usually have no property marks. Uses included guarding factories, ports, and federal/local government agencies.

Note: You can find all kinds of variations, with additional war and post war markings. These include rebuild markings, country ownership markings, unit markings, and much more. For a complete listing see the books referenced below.

Recommended reading:
US Handguns of WW II - The Secondary Pistols and Revolvers by Charles W. Pate
Americas Right Arm - The S&W Military and Police Revolver by John Henwood
Smith and Wesson 1857 - 1945 by Robert J. Neal and Roy G. Jinks

Smith & Wesson Model 686
A Smith & Wesson Model 686, with a 100 mm (4 in) barrel.
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used bySee Users
Production history
Produced1981–1999, 2012–present
Mass1.25 kg (2.8 lb)
Length305 mm (12.0 in)
Barrel length
  • 64 mm (2.5 in)
  • 76 mm (3 in)
  • 100 mm (4 in)
  • 150 mm (6 in)
  • 211.5 mm (8.325 in)
ActionDouble action and single action
Feed system6-round (686) or 7-round (686 Plus) cylinder

Smith And Wesson 38 Special Revolver Serial Numbers By Year

The Smith & Wesson Model 686 is a six- or seven-shot double-actionrevolver manufactured by Smith & Wesson and chambered for the .357 Magnumcartridge; it will also chamber and fire .38 Special cartridges. Smith & Wesson introduced the Model 686 in 1981. It is the stainless steel version of the Model 586, which featured a blued steel finish. They are available ported and unported with a choice of 6- or 7-round cylinders.[1]

The Model 686 is based on S&W's L (medium) revolver frame. During the 1980s, Smith & Wesson developed its L-Frame line of .357 Magnums: the Model 581, Model 586, Model 681 and Model 686. The Models 581 and 681 have fixed sights, whereas the 586 and 686 use adjustable sights.[2]

Variants of the 686[edit]

The 686 has been available with 64, 76, 102, 127, 152, and 211 mm (2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8.325 in) barrel lengths as standard models and other barrel lengths either by special order from S&W's Performance Center custom shop, or acquired from or built by after-market gunsmiths. The Performance Center made a limited number of Model 686s chambered for .38 Super cartridges for competitive shooters.[1]

The 686 features a 6-round cylinder. The 686P variant, marketed as the Model 686 Plus, has a 7-round cylinder. The 686PP variant, with PP designating PowerPort, has an integral compensator (also known as a muzzle brake).

The 686 has been made with pistol grips having a squared or rounded end (colloquially, 'square butt' or 'round butt'). The grips on the pistol can be changed, and multiple after-market options are available.

The Model 686 has an adjustable rear sight, and until 1992, the 152 and 211 mm (6 and 8.325 in) versions had the option of an adjustable front sight. They had Goncalo alveshardwood grips until 1994, when the grip was replaced by a rubber Hogue grip.[1]

Through the years, there have been several variations on the Model 686. The Model 686 Classic Hunter was introduced in 1988 and has a 150 mm (6 in) barrel and a non-fluted cylinder; the Model 686 Black Stainless was introduced in 1989 and has either a 100 or 150 mm (4 or 6 in) barrel with a black finish, with production limited to 5000; the Model 686 National Security Special was introduced in 1992 and has a 76 or 102 mm (3 or 4 in) barrel; the Model 686 Target Champion was introduced in 1992 and has a 150 mm (6 in) match-grade barrel, adjustable trigger stop, and walnut grips; the Model 686 Power Port was introduced in 1994 and has a ported 150 mm (6 in) barrel; the Model 686 Plus was introduced in 1996 and has a 64, 76, 102, or 152 mm (2.5, 3, 4, or 6 in) barrel, adjustable sights, 7-shot cylinder, and Hogue rubber grips. As with all current Smith & Wesson revolvers, the 686 Plus now has a key lock integral to the frame of the gun.[1]

1.30 kg
(45.8 oz)
6 rounds1988Unfluted cylinder
  • S&W 686-3 Midnight Black
  • 100 or 150 mm (4 or 6 in) barrel
1.19 kg
(42 oz)
6 rounds1989Black finish over stainless, 5000 produced
1.15 kg
(40.5 oz)
6 rounds1988
  • S&W 686
  • 100 mm (4 in) barrel
1.19 kg
(42 oz)
6 rounds1988
1.30 kg
(45.8 oz)
6 rounds1988
  • S&W 686
  • 211 mm (8.325 in) barrel
1.37 kg
(48.3 oz)
6 rounds1988
S&W 686 CS-1Un­knownMade for United States Customs Service
  • .357 Magnum /
  • .38 Special
1.17 kg
(41.2 oz)
6 rounds1992Black finish
1.19 kg
(42 oz)
6 rounds1992Black finish
  • S&W 686 Target Champion
  • 150 mm (6 in) match-grade barrel
1.31 kg
(46.2 oz)
6 rounds1992Full lug
1.30 kg
(46 oz)
6 rounds1994Ported
  • S&W 686P
  • 64 mm (2.5 in) barrel
1.16 kg
(41 oz)
7 rounds1996Lockable with key
1.20 kg
(42.3 oz)
7 rounds1996Lockable with key
  • S&W 686P
  • 150 mm (6 in) barrel
1.31 kg
(46.2 oz)
7 rounds1996Lockable with key
1.15 kg
(40.5 oz)
7 rounds2004Half-lug barrel, HiViz front sight
  • S&W 686 'The Presidents'
  • 150 mm (6 in) barrel
1.31 kg
(46.2 oz)
6 rounds2003Brushed gold finish with finger hardwood grips
1.31 kg
(46.2 oz)
6 roundsIntegral Compensator, lockable with key
  • S&W 686 Performance Center
  • 150 mm (6 in) barrel (weighted)
1.50 kg
(52.9 oz)
6 rounds2007Weighted barrel, Weaver/Picatinny rail on barrel, adjustable/removable weights, ball-bearing cylinder lock, forged Hhmmer and trigger, traditional old school pinned sSear, PC aluminum case or gun rug, lockable with key

Engineering and production changes[edit]

Photo of a Smith & Wesson 686 firing a .38 Special round, taken with an ultra high-speed flash (air-gap flash)
  • 686 (no dash), 1981 Introduction model
  • 686-1, 1986 radius stud package, floating hand
  • 686-2, 1987 changed hammer nose, bushing and associated parts
  • 686-3, 1988 new yoke retention system
  • 686-4, 1993 change rear sight leaf, drill and tap frame, change extractor, Hogue grips
  • 686-5, 1997 change frame design to eliminate cylinder stop stud, eliminate serrated tangs, MIM hammer and trigger, change internal lock.
  • 686-6, 2001 internal lock
  • 686-7, 2003 Performance Center .38 Super, 6-Shot unfluted cylinder, 4' barrel, Stainless Steel, 250 Made



  • France – Used by GIGN during amphibious operations.[3]
  • Norway – The 3'-barreled version with Goncalo alveshardwood-grip was used as a sidearm in the alien immigrant-branches of the Norwegian Police Service by individual plainclothes officers during the early 1990s.[citation needed]
  • United States – Used by U.S. Border Patrol.[citation needed] Used by legacy U.S. Customs Service.[citation needed] Used by the legacy U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service[citation needed] Used by U.S. Navy SEALs during waterborne missions.[4] Used by some smaller police departments and by individual officers in larger departments, especially in marine environments.[5]
  • Luxembourg – Used by the Luxembourg Grand Ducal Police as duty weapon from the 1980s through 2017 when it was replaced by the HK VP9.[6]
  • United States - Used by the Oso Grande 4x4 Posse as an approved weapon for posse members preferring a revolver. Some twenty revolvers were acquired in the early 2000's as issue/approved weapons.


In 1987, seven years after the release of the Model 686, there were reports of cylinder binding with some types of standard .357 Magnum ammunition for L-frame revolvers manufactured before August 1987. S&W put out a product warning and authorized a no-charge upgrade to make modifications to the revolver. All recalled and reworked guns were stamped with an M marking, signifying that they had been recalled and fixed; thus it is known as the M modification for all 686, 686-1, 586-1, and 586-2 revolvers.[7]


  1. ^ abcdSupica, Jim; Richard Nahas (2007). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (3 ed.). F+W Media, Inc. pp. 331–363. ISBN978-0-89689-293-4.
  2. ^Boorman, Dean K. (2002). The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. Globe Pequot. p. 119. ISBN978-1-58574-721-4.
  3. ^Jim Supica (2011). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson 3rd. Iola, wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 343. ISBN978-1-4402-2700-4.
  4. ^Chalker, Denny; Dockery, Kevin (2009). One Perfect Op. New York: Harper Collins. p. 104. ISBN978-0-06-175129-5.
  5. ^Sweeney, Patrick (2011). The Gun Digest Book of Smith & Wesson. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 104. ISBN978-1-4402-2714-1.
  6. ^'So sieht die neue Pistole der Police Grand-Ducale aus'. L'Essentiel. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^Product Warning, Popular Mechanics, January 1988, p. 11.

External links[edit]

Smith Wesson Ctg Serial Number

Retrieved from ''

Back in 1899, Smith & Wesson introduced the .38 Military & Police revolver, commonly called the .38 M&P. The revolver … Continued

Back in 1899, Smith & Wesson introduced the .38 Military & Police revolver, commonly called the .38 M&P. The revolver and cartridge were both new innovations of Smith & Wesson and immediately became one of the most-popular revolvers of the 20th century. Over six million have been manufactured, and they are still in production to this day.

The .38 M&P was not only the most popular revolver of the last century, it was also the foundation for what would later become the .357 Magnum revolver in 1935. In 1940 the revolver in its Victory Model configuration saved Smith & Wesson from bankruptcy.

The revolver and its cartridge, the venerable .38 Special, were designed to answer a need by the U.S. military for greater stopping power than the then-used .38 Long Colt. S&W set about designing a cartridge with a bullet that weighed 158 grains and had enough power to be 300 fps faster and deliver 100 foot pounds of energy more than the .38 Long Colt. The resulting cartridge, the .38 Special, is one of the most-popular revolver cartridges of all time.

Initial contracts from the U.S. Army and Navy for 3,000 or so new model .38 Specials were received in 1899 and 1900, and soon the revolver was on its way to iconic status. It was Smith & Wesson’s first revolver with a swing-out cylinder that had a cylinder release latch on the left side of the frame. The spent cartridges could be simultaneously ejected by pushing on the cylinder rod, allowing the shooter to reload quickly. The transition from blackpowder propellant to smokeless powder gave the new cartridge the much-needed stopping power that the military had hoped for. (It was not long, however, before the .38 Special would be considered “light,” and the need for greater “stopping power” continues to this day.)

Smith & Wesson Serial Numbers By Year

The revolver was manufactured in barrel length, from 2 to 6.5 inches, with both round and square-butt versions. It had fixed sights and was soon the most desired sidearm of police forces throughout the country. In addition to being purchased by our own Army and Navy, as well as by police departments across the nation, military and police units in no less than 30 other countries bought the revolver.

The .38 M&P underwent numerous mechanical changes over the years in an effort to upgrade the cylinder locking system. There were numerous hammer safety improvements as well.

In 1935, S&W introduced the .357 Magnum revolver, which was basically a .38 Special cartridge hopped up with more powder and fired from a stronger frame than the M&P’s standard K frame. (A revolver marked .357 Magnum will fire a .38 Special cartridge, but not vice-versa.)

By 1940, however, Smith & Wesson’s fortunes began to wane. The company was under serious financial hardship and close to folding. An advance of one million dollars from the British Purchasing Commission for a new sub-machine gun seemed to be the light at the end of the tunnel for Smith & Wesson. The resulting S&W Light Rifle in 9mm was a well-made and beautiful sub-machine gun that resembled the German MP-38. It had a unique ejection port for spent casings that fell straight down from the magazine well. It was a masterpiece of over engineering and pre-war craftsmanship, which doomed it before one shot could be fired. So well tuned was the mechanism that it failed to cycle when used with standard European 9mm ammunition. The British Military condemned the gun and asked for their money back as per the terms of the contract.

Smith & Wesson didn’t have the money to repay the British, and in an incident similar to one played out at the Robbins & Lawrence factory 90 years prior over the P-1853 Enfield rifle, it appeared that the British would assume control of Smith & Wesson and its assets.

At the last minute, Smith & Wesson offered to supply the British with enough revolvers to offset the one million dollars that was owed. Chambering the .38 M&P in the British .38/200 cartridge saved S&W, because this new revolver was not only popular with the British and Commonwealth forces, but when it was chambered back into .38 Special, it became a sidearm the U.S. military bought and used during World War II as well.

.38 Special Revolver 4 Inch Barrel

This military version was called the Victory Model, and the serial numbers all began with the letter V. (After a hammer safety upgrade, the serial numbers began with SV.) Over 500,000 were manufactured during the war. The Victory model was made with a parkerized finish and had smooth grips and a lanyard loop, as opposed to the bright blued or nickel finish and checkered grips its civilian predecessor sported.

The production saved the fortunes of Smith & Wesson and contributed to its initial post-war success, as police units in liberated Europe were keen to have a solid and practical revolver tested and proven in battle.

S&w Model 38 Airweight

In 1957, Smith & Wesson renamed the revolver the Model 10, a name that it bears to this day. It is still in production as part of Smith & Wesson’s Classics lineup and is offered at $739.

The revolver is still a steadfast sidearm for many police departments, and was used by U.S. military forces as recently as 1991 during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. And, of course, who can forget its iconic presence in over 100 films, from “King Kong” in 1933 to “The Bourne Legacy” in 2012?

38 Smith And Wesson Serial Number Lookup

The .38 M&P has an important place in the history of 20th century firearms development, which is why it intrigues collectors and shooters to this day.

Go here to see Smith & Wesson’s latest model in the modern M&P line of handguns, the Performance Center M&P Shield semiautomatic.


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