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Rancho Roy

What The Heck Did I Just Buy? S&W Model 3?

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Hello, I hope I'm not hijacking this thread but I have two old S&W #2s in .38 S&W. One is in need of work and I've found a good gunsmith to fix the hammer/trigger for me. The other has rough finish but it locks up tight and would be a good shooter. I have bought a few hundred rounds of .38 S&W sold at a local gun dealer. It's smokeless and supposedly loaded to be lower powered. I've been told that it's safe to shoot in these older guns, but I've not taken the risk. Would it be best to pull the bullets on these and reload them with black powder?

 

I'm currently going to be pulling the bullets on some .32 S&W that I'll be reloading to shoot in my old S&W 1 1/2 breaktop pocket pistol. I've got a few hundred of the smokeless .32 S&W rounds to reload with BP.

 

Are these safe to shoot the smokeless rounds being made today or is it best to reload them with BP?

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Also, I'd like to contact S&W for getting these three guns lettered. How does one go about doing that and what would the cost be?

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No problem with "hijacking" we can all learn something.

 

Just curious, who said it was safe to shoot a smokeless round in a #2? If a S&W technician confirmed it, then I'd say it would be OK.

 

But I have a rule with most of my firearms. If it was designed for BP, then that's what I feed it. If it is pre 1900 and was designed for smokeless, I will feed it both BP and low pressure smokeless rounds.

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I have fired modern .38 S&W factory loads in some of my vintage revolvers in this caliber. Most notably in a Merwin & Hulbert spur trigger model.

 

You are correct when you say that factory ammo is downloaded in deference to these old guns. That being said, I no longer shoot factory ammo in these old guns. I've just come to believe that it is not worth the risk.

 

If I shoot smokeless in them at all, it will be a minumim load of TrailBoss behind either a 158 grain .360" bullet, or a 150 grain hollow base .358 bullet, which produces much less recoil than even black powder loading, and is almost as quiet as a .22.

 

To be honest, I was using this very light load in some modern pistols, and I got embarrased at how quiet they were. Accurate as all get out, but they gave me the very definition of "mouse fart." Plus, when I tried these very light loads in my New Model 3 in ".38-44" they didn't have enough of a charge to get out of the barrel! This made me rethink my loading for this cartridge.

 

I know have basically 3 loads for this cartridge.

 

1. Aforementioned .360" bullet backed by a max load of TrailBoss.

2. Aforementioned .358" hollow based bullet backed by a max load of TrailBoss, using nickel plated Winchester brass. For some reason, this brass has thicker walls than regular or even nicked brass by other manufacturers. If you put a .360" bullet in it, the case will bulge and not chamber. I have these smaller hollow base bullets on hand for use in .38 short and long Colt which depending on when made, can have overly large bores. I am too "cheap" to throw away that relative handful of his Winchester brass, so I will use it with this bullet until it wears out, and then this load will be retired.

3. After finding some older brass with balloon head cases, (All of which was factory loaded, some with black, some with smokless powder which I pulled and discarded) I have been experimenting with loads of black powder, and substitues, behind both of the above bullets. This gives off a much more satsifying "boom" than the smokeless loads, and it works well. Is remarkable accurate out of the New Model 3. I will eventually finalize these experiments, and this'll be my "go to" load in all of my vintage guns in this caliber.

 

I keep saying to myself that I will develop a heavier load for use in my Mark IV Webley and a couple WW2 era guns marked ".38-200" (Which is just a hopped up .38 S&W developed by the Brits) but I have never gotten around to doing so. At first I thought I'd do it by finding some brass headstamped .38 Colt NP, (Which is what Colt called the .38 S&W round) but everything I have found with this stamp is balloon head stuff, so that goes into the BP experiment bin.

 

These developed loads are much more "respectable" in the amount of noise they make. The TB loads are still quieter than the black, and still have less recoil, but I have simply decided to not use the smokeless in the oldest guns anymore. I think it might be safe to do so, but even if it is, I KNOW the BP is without having to wonder, so I just go that route now. (Never thought I would, but well, people change.) Will I ever go full black in all calibers/guns? Well, you never say never, but I tend to doubt it. I am gonna reserve the black for my more vintage things, and continue to go smokeless for non vintage stuff. It's just works for me that way.

But I do have to admit that if you are shooting smokeless, and then on the last stage you 3" Sherrif's model Colt suddenly had BP .44-40's in for the last stage of the day, people are shocked...

 

Good luck, and happy loading.

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This whole Trail Boss thing has me confused. I use it in all my Cowboy Action firearms of modern construction. Extremely accurate and very clean. But I've seen some pressure curves that cause me concern. Yes, it is lower pressure, but it spikes extremely fast. I wish I could remember which of the dozen or so shooting magazine I get where I saw the charts.

 

This pressure spike is all out of whack from what black powder produces.

 

I want to experiment more with Blackhorn 209 and Black MZ....Two powders that act like Black but do not have sulfur and contain Nitros so they are non-corrosive and much cleaner.

 

I'd also like to do more experimenting with Unique and 5744 for smokeless in these old firearms.

 

Wish I had a pressure monitoring system...... :)

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From Kirk D over on the Paco Kelly Levergun site:

 

This has been discussed in detail in the past. A search might find it. In general, smokeless powders like Blue Dot and 2400 give approximately the same pressure curve as black powder FOR THE SAME VELOCITY AS BLACK POWDER AND THE SAME BULLET AND BULLET WEIGHT. Smokeless powders with a faster burn rate like Unique, Trail Boss, Bullseye, etc. will give a higher, sharper pressure spike. Slower smokeless powders like IMR 4227, IMR 3031, RL-7, etc. will give a lower, rounder pressure spike. Sherman Bell had some good articles on this a few years ago in the Double Gun Journal. Others have posted pressure curve comparisons. Some examples are below:

 

 

45_70_pressures.jpg

45_70_pressure3.jpg

 

In the above data, he used a 410 grain bullet with IMR SR4759. To compare apples to apples, you should increase the peak pressure by 25% to compare with the 500 grain bullet. This will raise the peak pressures to be pretty much identical with FFg and still lower than FFFg, but higher than Fg. It will also reduce the 'rise' (the length of the curve).

Sherman Bell, in his comparisons (not shown here) used the same bullet but with different smokeless powders and black powder. What he showed is that slower smokeless powders (he used IMR 4198, IMR 3031 and RL-7) can give the same or higher velocity with lower pressure, including lower peak pressure (for the same case, same bullet and same velocity). Thus, the right kind of smokeless powder is actually easier on your old guns. You might think, therefore, that the slower the powder the better. Not so. If the pressure gets too low, it fails to expand the case to seal against the chamber walls, and two things happen. First, the outside of your cases get all sooty. Second, and worse, all the axial thrust is against your bolt face, which you don't want for toggle link actions like the Winchester Model 1873 and 1876. Thus, I use only a narrow range of smokeless powders in the 1873 and 1876 that runs in burn rate between 2400 and 5744, with 5744 being at the slower end of the range.

So my procedure is to first find a load using a powder in that burn rate range that will give me original black powder velocities. If the case is sooty, I keep the velocity the same, but go to a slightly faster powder, until the case eject clean. Then I know I have sufficient peak pressure to temporarily bond the cartridge case to the chamber walls during firing. For original old guns, I stay away from fast powders. For the same black powder velocity, they give way too high peak pressures. Take a look at the Trail Boss pressure curve above, for example. If you like to use Trail Boss or Unique or other real fast powders, you need to back down on your velocity accordingly, or back down on your bullet weight.

For some information on burn rates and relative quickness of different powders, check out http://www.chuckhawks.com/powder_burning_speed.htm and use IMR SR4759 as being equal to FFg for comparison purposes. Blue Dot is approximately equal to FFFg and 2400 a little closer to Fg. You should also know, from Sherman Bell's work, that IMR 3031 has an erratic burn rate. I find that 2400 has an even more erratic burn rate (gives high extreme spreads in velocity under certain conditions). I like to have quite a bit of air space when using 2400 to reduce extreme spread, and with IMR 3031 I use a filler to reduce air space, which reduces extreme spread.

In general, if you are going to use smokeless powders in old black powder guns, you need to stick with published loads that give velocities similar to black powder velocities. Do not hot rod your old black powder guns. Developing smokeless loads for black powder guns is for more advanced loaders who understand what the burn rates and relative quickness of various powders mean as far as pressures.

_________________
Kirk: An old geezer who loves the smell of freshly turned earth, Pheasants rising out of cornfields in the fall,
old cedar rail fences, wood smoke, a crackling fireplace on a snowy evening, pristine wilderness lakes, the scent of
cedars and a magnificent Whitetail buck framed in the semi-buckhorn sights of a 120-year old Winchester.

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And this from our own Driftwood Johnson:

 

Attached is a comparison of two pressure curves. This is a comparison of pressure in two 3 dram shotgun loads. Both loads accelerated a 1 1/8 ounce load of shot to 1200 fps. The Black Powder load consisted of 82 grains, which is how many grains there are in 3 drams. Sorry, the ballistic technician who gave me this did not specify what the Smokeless powder was. Probably a fast burning shotgun powder. But both loads accelerated the same shot charge to the same velocity.

Pressure units are PSI, time units are milli seconds. The thing to notice here is not just the fact that the pressure was higher with the Smokeless load in order to achieve the same velocity. The Smokeless pressure spike was much sharper and of much shorter duration than the BP pressure curve. The BP curve is gentler. It is not as high, and it is spread out more over time. That is the real story of why the older steel should not be subjected to modern Smokeless powder pressures. The short duration pressure spike can shock the weaker steel, leading to failure.

Kind of like towing a car with a rope. If you start slowly and accelerate slowly, everything will be fine. On the other hand if you pop the clutch and jerk the rope, the rope may break.

 

ttachmentid54481ampd1317103821-vi.jpg

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Just curious, who said it was safe to shoot a smokeless round in a #2? If a S&W technician confirmed it, then I'd say it would be OK.

Let's be sure what we are talking about here and not mix up our terms.

 

H.K. said the S&W technician told him it would be safe to fire Smokeless 38 S&W loads in his New Model #3. Not a #2. Let's be clear here. Frame sizes of the Top Break S&W revolvers were #1 1/2, #2, and #3. Top to bottom in this photo are my New Model Number Three; 38 Single Action, Second Model (#2); and 32 Single Action (#1 1/2).

 

 

NMNumberThree38SA2ndmdl32SA_zpscbe5de75.

 

 

 

Now let's look at cylinders. Left to right, #3, #2, #1 1/2. Note: the #3 is chambered for 44 Russian, the #2 is chambered for 38 S&W. If you put six 38 S&W, or 38-44 chambers into that #3 cylinder, you will have more metal surrounding each chamber.

 

NMNumberThree38SA2ndmdl32SACylindersalte

 

 

 

Now consider this. Most of these old guns were not made of steel, they were made of iron. Yes, iron. We can go around and around all night on this Black Powder vs Smokeless thing, I have heard it all a bazillion times, including seeing those pressure charts, there is nothing new there.

 

Bottom line for me is, none of my old Top Breaks get shot with Smokeless powder. None. Nada. Perhaps if I had a New Model #3 chambered for 38-44 I might shoot VERY light Smokeless loads in it, because of the more generous chamber walls. A #2 and Smokeless? Not in my guns.

 

Take a look at this. It is what is left of a Merwin Hulbert 44-40 cylinder that blew up with a heavy charge of Black Powder.

 

blownmerwinhulbertcylinder01_zpse057ebd4

 

 

No Smokeless in my antiques, thanks very much.

 

By the way, if you want to shoot something that is a bit less muss and fuss than real Black Powder, try American Pioneer Powder (APP). You can use conventional Smokeless bullets with it, you do not need bullets with special BP compatible lube.

 

 

************************

 

 

Regarding lettering a S&W. Here is a link to the form to fill out for a S&W letter. You can ask for up to 3 letters per form. Letters cost $50 each. Used to be $30 not too long ago, but the price went up a couple of years ago. Still a bargain compared to a Colt letter. Fill out the form and mail it in. Be patient, official S&W historian Roy Jinks works alone, and he is always busy as can be. Might take six weeks or longer to get a letter.

 

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_750001_750051_757825_-1_757814_757812_image

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Driftwood....not to pick it apart, but I believe he was refering to a Model #2

 

 

 

Hello, I hope I'm not hijacking this thread but I have two old S&W #2s in .38 S&W. One is in need of work and I've found a good gunsmith to fix the hammer/trigger for me. The other has rough finish but it locks up tight and would be a good shooter. I have bought a few hundred rounds of .38 S&W sold at a local gun dealer. It's smokeless and supposedly loaded to be lower powered. I've been told that it's safe to shoot in these older guns, but I've not taken the risk. Would it be best to pull the bullets on these and reload them with black powder?

 

By the way..........Thank you for taking time on many, many forums discussing this topic. It intrigues me! That fellow that suggests using nothing faster than 2400 is interesting.

 

Do you know where we can access the burn rate and time chart he is referring to? That thread is many years old and I'm not sure he would respond.

 

Thanks

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You asked "Just curious, who said it was safe to shoot a smokeless round in a #2? If a S&W technician confirmed it, then I'd say it would be OK."

 

H.K. is the only person I know who actually spoke to a technician at S&W about this, and he was talking about Number 3s.

 

The other quote simply says the gentleman has been told it is safe to shoot Smokeless in these older guns, but no reference is given. I have heard a bazillion times that modern loads are watered down to be safe to shoot in the old guns. A bazillion times, but I only know one shooter who as actually tried it.

 

Regarding that data, notice that it is rifle data, not revolvers. Rifles are naturally stronger than revolvers. They have heftier barrels and more steel surrounds the chamber than in any revolver. I don't hesitate to shoot mild Smokeless loads in my antique 44-40 rifles. I would not let them anywhere near an antique revolver.

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I don't even particularly like top break revolvers, but this has been an interesting read. Thanks to all of you for putting it up here for everyone to see.

 

 

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No problem with "hijacking" we can all learn something.

 

Just curious, who said it was safe to shoot a smokeless round in a #2? If a S&W technician confirmed it, then I'd say it would be OK.

 

But I have a rule with most of my firearms. If it was designed for BP, then that's what I feed it. If it is pre 1900 and was designed for smokeless, I will feed it both BP and low pressure smokeless rounds.

 

Various posters on the CASCity forum told me that it would be safe to use the new lower powered rounds in these guns because they are loaded down and should be safe in these old guns. I've also been told that is not safe and to only use BP in them. I've erred on the side of caution and have refrained from shooting them until I can confirm either way what to do. How did you get confirmation from S&W on your loads and what is safe to shoot in your guns?

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Let's be sure what we are talking about here and not mix up our terms.

 

H.K. said the S&W technician told him it would be safe to fire Smokeless 38 S&W loads in his New Model #3. Not a #2. Let's be clear here. Frame sizes of the Top Break S&W revolvers were #1 1/2, #2, and #3. Top to bottom in this photo are my New Model Number Three; 38 Single Action, Second Model (#2); and 32 Single Action (#1 1/2).

 

 

NMNumberThree38SA2ndmdl32SA_zpscbe5de75.

 

 

 

 

************************

 

 

Regarding lettering a S&W. Here is a link to the form to fill out for a S&W letter. You can ask for up to 3 letters per form. Letters cost $50 each. Used to be $30 not too long ago, but the price went up a couple of years ago. Still a bargain compared to a Colt letter. Fill out the form and mail it in. Be patient, official S&W historian Roy Jinks works alone, and he is always busy as can be. Might take six weeks or longer to get a letter.

 

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_750001_750051_757825_-1_757814_757812_image

 

The two S&W #2s I have are like the middle gun and both are chambered for S&W .38. The S&W #1 1/2 is like the bottom gun and chambered in .32 S&W. I've bought smokeless cartridges for both guns but so far have not tried them in the guns for fear of damaging the guns. I've bought the dies and makings for unloading the smokeless powder from the cartridges and reloading them with 3F Goex BP.

 

I've had a few posters on CAS City tell me that it's safe to use the downloaded smokeless rounds in these guns. I've also had just as many warn me from doing so. I've even had a couple of gunsmiths tell me it would be safe to shoot them with the smokeless rounds. Then again, I've had a few gunsmiths tell me never to try it. So I guess I need to contact S&W for the final answer. I also want to get my guns lettered so that I know what I have. One of my #2s is rough finish but locks up tight and functions very well. The other #2 has better finish and period pearl grips. It's in need of a gunsmith to fix the hammer/trigger so that it locks all the way back when cocked. I've found a good smith to work on it so that's in the works.

My #1 1/2 is in almost new condition. It has a couple small (pin size) blemishes on the back of the frame near the grips. Other than that the finish is probably 99% complete. The grips are perfect. The gun looks like it's never been fired. It's solid as can be and I would not wish to bring harm to it.

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I have a couple of top breaks, a SW model 2 in 38 SW, and a Iver Johnson in 32SW. Both made for BP. I have been using 777 in them, with no problem, but have read that 777 has a little more umph than BP. I wanted to use a sub because I dont have a BP loading dispenser, and I dont have BP lube bullets. What do yall think?

 

BTW, I have shot the 32 with nothing but a magnum primer. No powder at all.

 

I do enjoy collecting and shooting these old revolvers.

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My understanding was 777 was developed for inline muzzle loading rifles. It develops quite a bit more velocity and one of the ways it can do that is with more pressure.

 

I wouldn't use it in antique firearms.

 

There are many other Black Powder substitutes that can be used without undue stress to the firearm.

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The two S&W #2s I have are like the middle gun and both are chambered for S&W .38. The S&W #1 1/2 is like the bottom gun and chambered in .32 S&W. I've bought smokeless cartridges for both guns but so far have not tried them in the guns for fear of damaging the guns. I've bought the dies and makings for unloading the smokeless powder from the cartridges and reloading them with 3F Goex BP.

 

I've had a few posters on CAS City tell me that it's safe to use the downloaded smokeless rounds in these guns. I've also had just as many warn me from doing so. I've even had a couple of gunsmiths tell me it would be safe to shoot them with the smokeless rounds. Then again, I've had a few gunsmiths tell me never to try it. So I guess I need to contact S&W for the final answer. I also want to get my guns lettered so that I know what I have. One of my #2s is rough finish but locks up tight and functions very well. The other #2 has better finish and period pearl grips. It's in need of a gunsmith to fix the hammer/trigger so that it locks all the way back when cocked. I've found a good smith to work on it so that's in the works.

My #1 1/2 is in almost new condition. It has a couple small (pin size) blemishes on the back of the frame near the grips. Other than that the finish is probably 99% complete. The grips are perfect. The gun looks like it's never been fired. It's solid as can be and I would not wish to bring harm to it.

 

 

As I have already said, I have been through this Black Powder vs Smokeless debate a bazillion times, on CAS City, S&W Forum, and several other sites. I'll bet you a donut that most of the guys who say it is OK to shoot Smokeless in these old guns have never actually done so, most of them are just repeating popular wisdom about modern rounds like 38 S&W and 32 S&W being downloaded safely for the old guns.

 

With a Colt, it is easy. Colt factory warrantied the SAA for Smokeless Powder in 1900. Period. 1900. For a Colt made before 1900, you are shooting it at your own risk if you use Smokeless rounds in it. Sometime around 1904 or so Colt started stamping a VP in an inverted triangle on the front left side of the trigger guard. The VP stands for Verified Proof and that is how Colt designated that a pistol was proofed for Smokeless powder. Here is a Bisley Colt made in 1909 displaying the Verified Proof mark.

 

bisleyVerifiedProofwitharrow_zpsf634bbdc

 

 

 

When the Single Action Army first came out in 1873, the frame and cylinder were made of iron similar to modern Malleable Iron. Do not confuse Malleable Iron with Cast Iron or Pig Iron, both of which have imperfections cast into them making them brittle. Malleable Iron was a completely different metal, and it had been used in firearms for hundreds of years. Steel is really nothing more than iron with a small amount of carbon added, which makes it stronger. Steel had been known for hundreds of years, but it was difficult and expensive to make, and it was only available in very small quantities. It took the development of the Bessemer process, patented in 1856, before steel was available relatively inexpensively and in relatively large quantities. Even so, Colt and many other arms makers continued using iron for barrels, cylinders, and frames for many years. Around mid-1883 (SN 96,000) Colt started making frames and cylinders from low/medium carbon type steels. Around mid-1898 (SN 180,000) cylinders and frames started being made from medium carbon type steels. Later versions of these cylinders were better and more uniformly heat treated, and it is these cylinders that Colt felt comfortable factory warrantying for Smokeless powder in 1900. This information is pretty well documented in Jerry Kuhnhausen's Colt Single Action Revolvers Shop Manual.

 

If only it were so simple with Smith and Wesson. There is no documented history of what types of irons and steels they were using, and very little information about when they felt comfortable with their revolvers being shot with Smokeless powder. I will say, I can't imagine that Smith and Wesson had access to steels or processes that were any better than Colt was using just 30 miles south of them on the Connecticut River. You can call up Smith & Wesson, you can even talk to Roy Jinks, the official S&W historian. Nobody really knows when S&W was warrantying their revolvers for Smokeless powder. The best information regarding Smokeless ammunition in old revolvers that Roy has uncovered was printed in the S&W catalog of 1905/1906. Basically what it says is that since Smokeless powders were still very new, they did not feel confident recommending its use in their revolvers. It goes on to further say:

 

"Cartridges in which smokeless powder is used are made by leading manufacturers, and posses valuable qualities not found in black powder ammunition. They do excellent work in our revolvers, and while we do not guarantee our arms when smokeless powder is used, and strongly advise against reloaded smokeless ammunition, we have no desire to detract from its merits or discourage its use when properly handled."

 

In other words, they felt that in 1905 Smokeless was too new to be safely loaded by amateurs, and they would not go out on a limb and guarantee their revolvers with factory smokeless ammunition.

 

If you want to talk to a gunsmith, one who probably has more experience working on old Smiths than anyone, read what Dave Chicoine has to say in his book Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West. He specifically recommends against shooting Smokeless ammunition in:

 

"All original flint lock or percussion muzzle loading firearms.

 

All Colt manufactured cartridge and cartridge conversion revolvers which are based on the percussion frame, including the Model of 1872 Open-Top

 

All the Merwin Hulbert revolvers. These are especially fragile. We say especially because these designs all use a minimum of steel around the cartridge chambers and the fact that the steel used in these guns has been shown to be of a highly inferior quality.

 

All large frame, Model Number Three Smith and Wesson Top Break revolvers.

 

Any small or medium Smith and Wesson Top Break revolver made before about World War I."

 

He goes on to name some more, but you get the idea. Dave has seen too many old revolvers out of time and with too much endshake as a result of being shot with 'new factory assembled smokeless powder cartridges, or else carefully prepared hand-loaded ammunition that was loaded to a point below the levels of modern factory specifications by an experienced ammunition reloader. Ammunition which, for their limited knowledge on the subject, they believed should have been perfectly safe.

 

All of this is why I do not shoot ammuntion loaded with Smokeless powder in any of my antique Smiths, no matter what size they are. I recommend again, if you want to avoid Smokeless, and do not want to have to deal with special bullets with special BP compatible bullet lubes, try APP (American Pioneer Powder) in your cartridges.

 

http://www.americanpioneerpowder.com/

 

Regarding lettering your old smiths. Read the form. You need to know what model the gun is before you can have Roy give you any information. If you don't know, he might be able to tell you what models you have from good, detailed photographs. You could also post photos at the Smith and Wesson Forum, or you could even post photos here and I can probably tell you what you have.

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Just to add a little info on the smokeless vs black powder in Colt revolvers provided by Driftwood. His "cut off" of 1900 for the Single Action Army is 100% correct and should be kept in mind. But, it is not the case for EVERY revolver Colt ever made.

 

For example the Colt 1877, aka the Lightning, which was made up until 1909 was NEVER cleared for use with smokless. It was black powder only gun until they stopped making them,

 

Also, while the model 1892 .38 Long Colt DA revolver is indeed a black powder gun, the 1894 model was the first one that the Army declared to be safe for use with smokless.

 

I have read conflicting reports on the Colt 1878, which to me is basically a DA Peacemaker. I have heard the 1900 date, and I have heard "never certified for use with smokeless." So with this model, I just don't know.

 

And to get a little closer to the topic at hand here, see the thread http://sassnet.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=230060for some pics of my pistols in that caliber.

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OK. I'll work on posting pictures of my 3 S&Ws. I'd be proud to show them off.

 

I've been collecting the components to pull the bullets and load BP in the shells of my .32 and .38 S&W cartridges. One question though, you mention lubing them. If I pull the bullets and load in BP do I have to lube the bullets or just load them back in as they are? I've got the dies (carbide Lee dies in .38 S&W and .32 S&W). I'm going to be using a Lee hand press to flair the mouth of the case and then, after loading the right amount of BP, seat the bullet and crimp the case.

 

I'm familiar with BP as I shoot cap and flint rifles and pistols.

 

Sounds like I'm going to need to buy more Goex 3F.

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That's why I keep suggesting you try APP!

 

Generally speaking, you will find that shooting regular hard cast bullets lubed with modern lube does not mix very well with Black Powder. The fouling tends to create a hard fouling that quickly fouls the rifling and is difficult to remove. That's why it is generally advised to use a soft, gooey bullet lube such as SPG with Black Powder. You could also melt the hard lube out of your bullets and pan lube them with something more compatible with BP. There are several solutions. Do a search on Pan Lubing.

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Great thread! Does anyone know the case length of the 38-44? Thanks

I was wondering the same thing myself. Way back in the early posts on this thread , RoyB was contemplating trimming some 357 Maximum cases to kinda reproduce the original design. Seems like a good thought , but if the originals were same size as 38 S&W they might fit a little loose unless along expander plug was ran in as far as one could go. Interesting project , for sure.

By the way , this has been the best thread I.ve seen here in quite a while. Interesting and informative , plus great pictures.

Thanks to all , Rex :D

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Howdy Again

 

I looked up in Cartridges of the World and did not find any information about the old 38-44 cartridge. This much I can tell you. The standard length of the cylinders of the New Model Number Three was 1 7/16". The 38-44 extended the entire length of the cylinder, it did not poke out, and it left just about no space in front of it. So case length had to be somewhere around 1 7/16" + the thickness of the rim.

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Scan0020-vi.jpg

Scan0021-vi.jpg

Another fellow sent me this scan of the 38-44 cartridge dimensions.

 

The 38 Special cases I fired in the revolver fireformed to .384 and they are still slightly loose in the cylinder chambers. The 38 Special starts out at .379 so there isn't much expansion going on. About the same as fireforming an Ackley cartridge.

 

Here is the 357 Maximum for comparison

 

.357%20Remington%20Maximum5.gif

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Roy B , looks like the 357 Maximum brass will trim down to size length-wise without too much trouble. If my memory is correct on Max brass , it is a bit heavier near the head , more so than 357 Mag or 38 Special , to handle the pressures it was loaded to.

I kinda expected the original had a wadcutter bullet , being 146 grains , but the description says conical. Bullet seater stem must have fit inside case a little bit. Do you think a hollow-base wadcutter would work ??

I feel like I'm going to school following this thead.

YeeHaw , Rex

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I'm on a hunting trip and you are getting this message via a satellite uplink.....Extremely slow! I can't change the pictures from here.

 

I think Hollow Base Wad Cutters would be perfect. I'm having a mold made at .361 with a hollow base.

 

I'll section a 357 Maximum and let you know about brass thickness when I get back home in a couple of weeks.

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Hey guys I need some help identifying revolver it's a S&W 32 cal top break ser# 153xxx making it a 2nd model from 1902-1909 when I got the gun the timing was off so I fixed it and made some parts by hand and now it works great lock up is awesome but my question is I bought a box of 32 s&w 88 grains made by Remington at bass pro shop can I shoot these in my top break any help would be nice

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Hey guys I need some help identifying revolver it's a S&W 32 cal top break ser# 153xxx making it a 2nd model from 1902-1909 when I got the gun the timing was off so I fixed it and made some parts by hand and now it works great lock up is awesome but my question is I bought a box of 32 s&w 88 grains made by Remington at bass pro shop can I shoot these in my top break any help would be nice

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