Welcome to TFB’s Wheelgun Wednesday, where we explore all sorts of revolvery goodness. This week we’ll take a look at the Lend-Lease Victory model from Smith & Wesson that I acquired from The Mosin Crate. The batch he was able to source came from Israel, which included models issued to the New Zealanders, however, I didn’t pony up the extra money for one so stamped. Let’s take a look at how my new-to-me Lend-Lease S&W Victory revolver fared through World War II and beyond, and take a peek at the oft-forgotten .38S&W cartridge.
WW2 Revolvers @ TFB
- Wheelgun Wednesday: A Lend Lease S&W Revolver With A Twist
- Wheelgun Wednesday: Concealed Carry Conversion Of An M1917
- Wheelgun Wednesday: Target Conversion Of A S&W M1917 Revolver
- Smith and Wesson’s “Victory” revolver
- Webley MK VI: Rule Britannia
LEND-LEASE S&W VICTORY REVOLVER: STEPPING BACK IN TIME
I’m a sucker for the old style of blued (or worn parkerization) metal and wood furniture. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a hard, weather-resistant coating on a modern semi-auto, but there’s just something about the old guns that have a character, and if each scratch and ding could talk, I’d be all ears. Between the missing “V” serial number prefix and the smooth grips, my sampling looks to be a pre-Victory designation.
The Lend-Lease revolvers from Smith & Wesson were a variation of the Military & Police model of 1905, fourth change, of which around 485,000 were made in several different barrel lengths from 1915-1942, but between all the variants since 1899, over 6 million were produced. The lent models were only chambered in .38 S&W, also known as .38 Colt New Police, or as the British designation, .380/200 since they used a 200-grain bullet. According to the Cartridges of the World book, the British found that the .380/200 load performed about the same as the .455 Webley and could be carried in lighter revolvers than its bigger counterpart.
LEND-LEASE S&W VICTORY REVOLVER: INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
Obviously, I liked my new revolver, otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought it, but there were a couple things that stuck out to me. Overall, I believe this Lend-Lease Victory was pretty well cared for and it was very clean and free of rust, however the first thing I noticed was that the cylinder was really hard to open, and to a lesser degree, to close it. After a closer look, I was able to fix that issue by tightening the ejector rod so that it wouldn’t jam against the lug under the barrel.
The next issue I noticed was the double-action trigger pull was horrendous. The double-action trigger pull begins normally as one might expect, but then halfway through there’s a heavy wall that stalls the pull, and then the remaining rearward travel is heavy enough to almost equate to an 1895 Nagant trigger pull, with the Nagant winning out for smoother overall travel. It’s not impossible, nor is it non-functional, just much heavier than it should be. I’ll live with it for the time being, but I’ll eventually dig into it to see what can be done (hopefully with a follow-up article).
Earlier, I’d mentioned some scratches and dings, the most notable of which is a ding to the left side of the recoil plate. Since it’s not detrimental to the function, I don’t mind and it only adds to the mystique of what this particular wheelgun of victory went through. The front sight is also ever so slightly bent to the right. Aside from its flaws, my Victory revolver has that cool, old-world look to it, feels at home in the hand, and the grip profile allows for a nice, high grip.
LEND-LEASE S&W VICTORY REVOLVER: RANGE TIME
I spent some time waiting and watching for panic prices to drop and supply return so I could feed my hungry S&W Victory revolver. When Shoot Center listed 50-round boxes of Prvi Partisan 145 grain .38S&W for pre-Covid prices on ammoseek.com, I jumped on it. They also had really reasonable and fast shipping as well, so I wanted to give an unbidden shout-out to them.
With double-action/single-action revolvers, I usually try to do most of my work in double action, but given the current state of that on my example of the Victory revolver, I stuck to mostly single action. I started off at the 25-yard line to see how she functioned. I didn’t know exactly what to expect for recoil other than that it’d be very manageable, and I was not disappointed. To bring the .38S&W cartridge into a modern perspective, I’d say that in the S&W Victory, it felt a bit like shooting a .38 Special out of my much heavier Ruger GP100, really tame. I wasn’t sure how accurate my 79-year-old revolver would be, but it wasn’t hard to keep my rounds on a half sheet of paper at 25 yards.
I saved the double-action (DA) for the seven-yard line, and even though I was pretty close to the target, I was really surprised how tight a group I managed with the severe DA trigger pull. I noticed that the hammer slightly obscures the sight picture in DA until the hammer moves rearward, but the S&W Victory points nicely and can be aimed by feel until the sights are completely visible.
About a quarter of the time, I observed that the primers were covered in soot, and upon closer inspection, it appears that the firing pin was puncturing the primer, but I didn’t notice any weaker recoil or difference in sound. The sooty substance was only located on the primer, so I think the firing pin was staying on the primer long enough for the gases to escape via the case mouth.
While this may not seem like a pristine example of a Lend-Lease S&W Victory revolver, it certainly has character and the marks to show it was in World War II in some capacity or another, and who knows what action (if any) it saw in Israel. Despite all its quirks and outdated ammunition, it still shoots and I had a blast with this piece of history.
If you own a Lend-Lease S&W Victory revolver, how did yours fare compared to this one? I’m open to suggestions on what to check in the firing mechanism, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.