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Revolvers in 38-40


Cool Hand Luke

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Howdy all. I was wondering what all revolvers are out there offered in 38-40. From the little research I've been able to do its all single action armies that i've found. Do people convert models to 38-40? Just think its a neat cowboy cartridge. 

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If you can find them Ruger made some Old Vaqueros in 38-40 and they included .40 S&W (I believe they were) cylinders also. They are pretty scarce and you are going to have to pay a premium price for them.

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S&W made N frames in .38-40 in some limited numbers called the Outdoorsman, if you want a DA revolver. And Colt made the New Service in it as well.

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I have four Jagers, two ASM's, and three Ruger Vaquero convertibles in .38-40/.40 S&W. Ruger also made Blackhawk convertibles in .38-40/10mm.

 

Pretty sure it's a current Uberti offering, and maybe Pietta too. Colt and USFA both did. AWA might have.

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i have a second gen colt SAA that was originally in 3840 , but it was [thinking factory] converted to 22lr somewhere after , always thought it would be fun to have an original 

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I have a pair of Ruger OM Vaquero's, a pair of USFAs and a pair of Smoke Wagons all in 38-40. Had a pair of Jagers but sold them on the SASS wire years ago.

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49 minutes ago, Cool Hand Luke said:

Howdy all. I was wondering what all revolvers are out there offered in 38-40. From the little research I've been able to do its all single action armies that i've found. Do people convert models to 38-40? Just think its a neat cowboy cartridge. 

That's right Luke, nothing but SAA style guns currently offered.  I've never seen any repro Remington or S&W in 38wcf.  And I haven't seen anyone converting pistols.  Because of the bore size, relines would be necessary on many other guns as well as re-chambering a cylinder.  There's a bit more choice in rifles.

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In the case of 38-40, you would need a .357/.38 cylinder to rebore (or smaller: 32-20 or .22).   Other calibers would be too big in front or rear or both.

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Thats what i was thinking. I have this dumb idea of having a 1851 richard mason converted from 38 special to 38-40. I recognize I'd need a barrel liner, but i also dont think there would be enough meat in the cylinder to do it.

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Welll, maybe??  I measured a '51 RM cylinder diameter, ~1.629.  The rear portion of a '60 RM cylinder (which can be chambered for .45) measures the same.  So it seems there would be room for the chamber.  Although I don't know if the bolt notches in the .38 cylinders are any deeper than the larger caliber cylinders.  That's where it would be iffy.  Springfield Slim reamed a .44 Spcl opentop to 44-40 with success, you might check with him for details.

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I have a pair of the Ruger Vacqueros in 38 40 with the extra 40 Smith cylinder.  I also have a pair of USFA in 38 40.

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I had Rugers with the convertible cylinders. Throats where undersized and had to go back to Ruger. Also the space between the case head was a bit tight. The rounds need a little extra shove to seat all the way. 
 

I had a pair Cimarron’s. No problems or issues at all. Sold that pair to finance one Colt.


Ordered a pair of Colt 38-40’s never looked back. Then my wife bought me a Nickel finished Colt SAA in 38-40 

I paid about $1000 for each Colt. Given what they are selling for today I would buy a pair of Cimarron’s or Ubertie’s. 

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4 minutes ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

For 38-40, you would have to start with an Opentop, which has a longer cylinder.

Oh true. I think for now these are just a pipe dream though. For now I'm just gonna focus on getting some 1851s in 38 spcl because i just love that octagonal barrel

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Yes, Howell makes a 5 shot .45 conversion cylinder, but it may not be legal with all five chambers loaded. The book reads:

 

Five-shot revolvers may load five rounds, but the hammer must rest on a dummy chamber or safety slot/pin in the cylinder to avoid the hammer resting on a live round/cap.

 

Pretty sure the Howell cylinder doesn't have a provision for that, but has another set of bolt stop cuts in the cylinder to lock it in between chambers instead.

I've never liked the idea of a conversion cylinder in an open top for two reasons - first, the wedge has to be pulled and the barrel assembly removed to reload, resulting in extra wear & tear every five shots, and unless the assembly is pulled off squarely, there's the risk of bending the arbor and/or alignment pins. Second, without a top strap, the wedge takes the full brunt of the bullet slamming into the forcing cone and down the barrel. Of course, the same thing happens with a round ball and black powder, but it's much worse with smokeless and a 50% heavier conical bullet with a much larger bearing surface. It doesn't take long, and you'll begin to notice some deformation around the wedge. (Arguments will ensue)

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What started me on 38-40's was I found a 1st gen SAA in 38-40 at a gun show at a good price. Excellent shape fr. 1915. A year later I ran across a used Cimmaron in 38-40. I antiqued it a little to match the Colt. Then I was on the hunt for a pair of Rugers I wanted a pair of 38-40's around 2007-8. I didn't want Ruger Blackhawks, I wanted Vaqueros, they didn't make any. Didn't want the OMV's in 38-40/40SW because they only came in SS,,,, don't really care for shiny guns. Didn't even check the Italian repos. Wanted Rugers. So I found a pair of OMV's in .357 and had them converted to 38-40.. The barrels went one way the cylinders another. The barrels were bored out and rifled, the cylinders were bored and chambered. I don't have all the info, but IIRC the guns were about 450.00 each. The reboring and rechambering was about 375.00/gun. so I guess each gun came to about 800.00. Now that was around 2007-8-9. I would imagine prices have changed. That's how I got mine.       

Isom                                      

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PS to above, about 2 yrs later I did buy a pair of late 3rd gen. Colts. Had them smoothed up and shot them for about 11 yrs. B/P only, never had a lick of trouble. I said I'd switch up between the Rugers and Colts. I started using the Colts and just kept on using them. Whenever I'd use the Rugers they felt awkward.

 YMMV

Isom

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Howdy

 

38-40 Colt Bisley from 1909. Almost no blue on it except in a few protected spots. Yes, the ejector rod handle is a little bit bent, ain't gonna try straightening it.

 

posWhShLj

 

 

 

 

38-40 Colt Bisely from 1907. Pretty sure it has not been refinished, however I don't know what the story is with the fire-blue screw heads.

 

pnlSkZw6j

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If Boomstick Arms is still in business they can convert Ruger 38s to 38-40.  Had a pair done about 4 years ago.  Cost including the revolver was $1,300 each.

 

For 38-40 like this brace of Colts - shoot them once per year.

 

colt 38_40.jpg

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In 38 w.c.f. (a.k.a. 38-40) we have:

Colt single action.

Colt New Service.

Colt 1878 double action revolver. 

Cimarron/Uberti revolvers, and also in their lever action rifles: model 1866, and 1873. 

Ruger made one in their single action, for a bit. It had two cylinders offered. One in .38 w.c.f., and one in 10 mm. 

Colt chambered their pump-action rifle, a.k.a. the Lightning, in .38 w.c.f.. 

Colt chambered their Bisley in .38 w.c.f..

U.S.F.A., when they were in business, offered their single action in .38 w.c.f.. 

Smith & Wesson made some limited runs, over the years.

Uberti makes one in their "low wall" single shot rifle, and I have seen some in the rolling block design, as well.  

 

The cartridge is a sleeper, and not many appreciate that caliber. Great for using blackpowder. It is my favorite.

It was the third most popular cartridge, in the 19th century, behind the .45 Colt, and the .44 w.c.f.. 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Cool Hand Luke said:

Yeah i really like the idea of the cartridge. Was debating getting into it since i could use it for classic cowboy, and its not as big as 45 colt or 44-40

 

 

It's my favorite cartridge and I only listed my single action revolvers and not all my rifles and carbines or my double action revolver. The .40 caliber works for classic Cowboy and for wild bunch rifle. And the bottle neck works well for black powder and substitutes. I shoot 140 gr in my revolvers and 180 gr in my long arms.

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On 1/21/2022 at 8:43 PM, Cowtown Scout, SASS #53540 L said:

I have a pair of Ruger OM Vaquero's, a pair of USFAs and a pair of Smoke Wagons all in 38-40. Had a pair of Jagers but sold them on the SASS wire years ago.

Ya, to me! July of 2014, according to my records. ;)

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26 minutes ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

Ya, to me! July of 2014, according to my records. ;)

 

I thought so but was not sure. Thanks for confirming.

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So as it turns out, after doing some reading, some people have taken the 1872 open tops in 44 special and rechambered them for 44-40, which would lead me to believe it should be possible to have the 1872 in 38 special to be rechambered for 38-40. Not sure what my obsession is with the open tops, guess i just want to be a little different than all the SAAs out there that people use haha.

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On 1/22/2022 at 1:43 PM, Cowtown Scout, SASS #53540 L said:

I have a pair of Ruger OM Vaquero's, a pair of USFAs and a pair of Smoke Wagons all in 38-40. Had a pair of Jagers but sold them on the SASS wire years ago.

..I'm jealous..sure we are not brothers :D

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I have a pair of Uberti in 38-40 and a Uberti Bisley with target sights and 8" barrel in 38-40. There is a fellow in Oregon that bored out and rifles barrels from one caliber to a larger one.....A 38special barrel to .401 for a 38-40 is easily doable. It's the cartridge length that will be the bugger.

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I bought a Pair of Uberti Cattlemen in .38 WCF last summer 5 1/2 inch barrels. 

They still list them as available Stock items .... Mine were some of the last ones with-out the Safety hammer  (fixed Pin )

 

Jabez Cowboy

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