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The Overlooked .38 S&W


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3 minutes ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

I just double checked. That is what Kuhnhausen says.

 

It is fascinating to see how many or few things were made back in the day.   A few years ago, I found a target SAA in .38 S&W at a place in Texas.  But they wanted over $10,000 for it, so I did not buy it.  :)

 

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On 3/28/2022 at 4:27 PM, BradyT88 said:

 The 9x19 is actually a tapered case and not a straight wall so it likely wouldn't fit into the cylinder of a 38 S&W, just like a 9x19 won't fit into the cylinder of a 357 mag unless you ream it out a little more (but that can cause the 357 mag cases to blow out near the base with hot loads).

 

I'm not sure what would stop you from putting the 38 S&W into a 9mm revolver, but hopefully there is a seat in the cylinder to stop the slightly longer 38 S&W case from seating into the cylinder all the way. 

 

Actually, 9x19 will drop in but so goes so far into the cylinder the firing pin would never make contact with the primer. and it gets stuck so you have to poke it out with a stick...

Edited by Boomstick Bruce
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i have a good number of revolvers chambered in 38S&W so im not inclined to overlook them much but i did learn some nifty new things about whats chambered for them in this thread and also about the 38MH cartridge , thanks ,

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4 hours ago, watab kid said:

i have a good number of revolvers chambered in 38S&W so im not inclined to overlook them much but i did learn some nifty new things about whats chambered for them in this thread and also about the 38MH cartridge , thanks ,

 

You're welcome.   One thing I like about threads like this, no matter who starts them, is that I often become aware of things that I did not know.   I firmly believe there's no such thing as a bad thread.  Something can be learned on almost any topic.

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What's the best way to determine whether an old revolver is .38 S&W, when no caliber markings are present? I've got an old H&R breaktop without any caliber markings on it, but which I was told was a .38 when I bought it years ago.

Edited by Possum Stu
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I'd say there's a 99% chance that it's a .38 S&W.   Easiest way to check is drop a cartridge into it.  If it fits, it's .38 S&W, if it doesn't, it's something else.  The S&W round has unique dimensions, and it'll only fit in a chamber sized for it.

On the other hand, a .38 Special will "fit" but it'll be too long.  So will a .38 Long Colt with the same problem.  .38 Short Colt will fit, but I'd not try to chamber one until the S&W round has been proven to NOT fit.  But as far as I know, H&R didn't chamber them for any .38 other than the S&W round.

Got a pic of the H&R gun?

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10 minutes ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

I'd say there's a 99% chance that it's a .38 S&W.   Easiest way to check is drop a cartridge into it.  If it fits, it's .38 S&W, if it doesn't, it's something else.  The S&W round has unique dimensions, and it'll only fit in a chamber sized for it.

On the other hand, a .38 Special will "fit" but it'll be too long.  So will a .38 Long Colt with the same problem.  .38 Short Colt will fit, but I'd not try to chamber one until the S&W round has been proven to NOT fit.  But as far as I know, H&R didn't chamber them for any .38 other than the S&W round.

Got a pic of the H&R gun?

 

 

Thank you! That helps. I'll have to find some .38 S&W rounds or snap caps to try it with. I'm assuming, given it's age, it would be blackpowder only, right?

 

Here's the gun:

 

photo_2022-03-30_18-37-26.jpg

photo_2022-03-30_18-37-30.jpg

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A lot of 38 S&W revolvers were "converted" to 38 Special.  Not too accurate due to the slightly larger barrel but they could still be effective as Lee Harvy Oswald discovered.

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2 minutes ago, Possum Stu said:

Here's the gun:

 

Only a fool is 100% sure of anything, but if that's NOT a .38 S&W, I'd be shocked.

As to if it is safe for use with smokeless powder, that's a valid question.   You can't go wrong using black powder, but many of these top breaks DID transition from the black to smokeless eras with the manufacturers modifying them to make them stronger.   If it was made before 1900, I'd say black only.  If it was made after 1900, I'd say smokeless MAYBE, but maybe not.   

One way to check is to take off the grips.  If it's got a coil spring under there, it's likely smokeless safe.    Driftwood is more knowledgeable on this than I am, and he knows other ways to check on some specific makes/models.   Hopefully he'll chime in.  Take anything I say with a cautious interpretation.   

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19 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

 

Only a fool is 100% sure of anything, but if that's NOT a .38 S&W, I'd be shocked.

As to if it is safe for use with smokeless powder, that's a valid question.   You can't go wrong using black powder, but many of these top breaks DID transition from the black to smokeless eras with the manufacturers modifying them to make them stronger.   If it was made before 1900, I'd say black only.  If it was made after 1900, I'd say smokeless MAYBE, but maybe not.   

One way to check is to take off the grips.  If it's got a coil spring under there, it's likely smokeless safe.    Driftwood is more knowledgeable on this than I am, and he knows other ways to check on some specific makes/models.   Hopefully he'll chime in.  Take anything I say with a cautious interpretation.   

 

I'll have to pull the grips tonight and take a look. I'll probably end up going with black powder regardless, because I've got a couple other old pocket pistols that I suspect are the same caliber, but which I know aren't smokeless capable.

 

I ordered some snap caps and will report back when I get a chance to try them.

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I only have a pair of 38S&W guns.... this S&W pocket pistol and a derringer.  I don't know much about the S&W, but it's developed a nice brown patina in the years I've had it...0 The derringer is a Great Western Arms with a plummed receiver and blued bbl.  I've ben told the GW were pretty faithful copies of the Remington derringers.

756564432_DSCN14101.thumb.JPG.4a37e2fd94458b2d78c6714618d53c58.JPG

Someone once told me which is correct... derringer to refer to a generic derringer, & Deringer to refer to that specific maker and his derringers... or is it vice versa?

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Some if the old Speer manuals show their 148 gr hbwc bullet seated out to about regular length The hollow base   358 bullet sealed well  and accuracy was as good as factory Missouri bullet has a S&W bullet  I never found it made much difference.    never saw much accuracy difference in shooting 355 9mm and 358 38 or 357 in the appropriate ruger blackhawk cylinders either 

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14 hours ago, Griff said:

The derringer is a Great Western Arms with a plummed receiver and blued bbl.  I've ben told the GW were pretty faithful copies of the Remington derringers.

756564432_DSCN14101.thumb.JPG.4a37e2fd94458b2d78c6714618d53c58.JPG

 


 Oooh!  I've been looking for one of those derringers for forever!  If ever you decide you want to part with it, please contact me!  I'd consider the Smith too...

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7 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

 Oooh!  I've been looking for one of those derringers for forever!  If ever you decide you want to part with it, please contact me!  I'd consider the Smith too...

Keep looking... forget you saw this one... it's promised back to the feller what gifted it to me! If... he survives that long! ;)

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7 minutes ago, Griff said:

Keep looking... forget you saw this one... it's promised back to the feller what gifted it to me! If... he survives that long! ;)

 

No problem.   The operative word in my query was "if" after all.

On the other hand, if you ever see ANOTHER one, let me know.  :)

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3 minutes ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

No problem.   The operative word in my query was "if" after all.

On the other hand, if you ever see ANOTHER one, let me know.  :)

This is only the second one I've ever seen... the other was in CA during my first EOT... 1986.  But, yes, if I see another, I'll try to remember!

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Well, it seems like nothing is going my way of late.

 

The Bisley arrived today.  It is a really nifty looking gun with a really tight lockup.  No finish to speak of, but no rust or pitting.  The barrel is clearly marked ".38 SW"

 

But, it is NOT a .38 S&W.   It's a .38 Special.   .38 S&W rounds will not chamber, and .38 Specials drop right in.   The step in the cylinder is clearly at .38 Special length.  And, the serial numbers all match.

My only guess is that in 1907, Colt used ".38 SW" as an abbreviation for ".38 S&W Special," the cartridge's official name. 

It's s nice pistol, but I have be honest and say that I am just not interested in a SASS type pistol in the .38 Special caliber.   So, I sent it back.   An unfortunate ending to a tale that started out with quite a bit of excitement.   That's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.   But I do have a line on a 1904 made SAA in .32-20 for less than I paid for this one I sent back.   So, who knows?

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sorry to hear this , i was rootin for you , i think your right about the markings being intended to be 38 S&W SPCL but i wonder why they would leave off the SPCL when the 38S&W was a well established cartridge ? 

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15 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

Well, it seems like nothing is going my way of late

 

Did the cylinder numbers match the gun?  Do you think the barrel might have been sleeved?

Only reason I'm asking is that this 1st Gen 38 Special made in 1900 is marked .38 Special.

 

817839494_ScreenShot04-02-22at06_44AM.thumb.PNG.9db5aac9a1ab011f237db8746362a9de.PNG

 

Edited by McCandless
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My guess is this revolver was made at the time
Colt was marking their 38 S&W guns  as  38 NP or .38 New Police  so that the marking 38 S&W would mean 38 S&W Special. The 38 Colt NP rounds were made for a long time and the only difference between them and .38 S&W was the 38 Colt NP had a flat point

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On 3/31/2022 at 3:42 PM, Griff said:

I only have a pair of 38S&W guns.... this S&W pocket pistol and a derringer.  I don't know much about the S&W, but it's developed a nice brown patina in the years I've had it...0 The derringer is a Great Western Arms with a plummed receiver and blued bbl.  I've ben told the GW were pretty faithful copies of the Remington derringers.

756564432_DSCN14101.thumb.JPG.4a37e2fd94458b2d78c6714618d53c58.JPG

Someone once told me which is correct... derringer to refer to a generic derringer, & Deringer to refer to that specific maker and his derringers... or is it vice versa?

I have one of those S&Ws. 4th model made in the mid-late 1890s. Belonged to my dad who got it in a pawn shop in the 1940s. Many were buffed and chromed then to make them appear newer than they were. It shouldn’t have been, had anyone known better, but it was shot with smokeless so cylinder end shake set in.  It’s a wall hanger now. BP only, if yours is safe to shoot. 

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13 hours ago, Wallaby Damned said:

I’ve got this ca1895 Colt DA Army & Navy that’s in 38 Colt (LC). It’s a fun one to shoot on occasion. 

9A2C450D-573C-4967-9A15-EACDAA305BB3.jpeg

that is a fun one , i have similar model , slightly younger , 

FWIT i would never shoot 38 spcl in a modified cylinder for one of the old pocket pistols , its like boreing out a 38spcl and sticking 357mags in it , i just dont see the need to push the pressure limits like that on old metallurgy 

 

i was digging thru the ammo boxes in the closet last night , pleased to find 38 long colt and short colt in a reasonable quantity and i found i have a whole bunch of 38s&w so i wont need to load that for a couple years 

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Have a Webley Mark IV .38 which is a .38 S&W.  It is regulated to shoot a .38 200 round.  Shooting commonly available something like 146 grain ammo it shoots pretty low.  I was able to find proper diameter 200 grain bullets to replicate the .38 200 round.  Once I have shot enough rounds to make it worth setting up my .38 S&W dies I will make some proper ammo for it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Snap caps arrived today, and they fit great. Unfortunately, it looks like this gun has a weak or broken trigger return spring, so I'll have to figure that out now.

 

IMG_3106.thumb.JPG.c56bef997316df0448a9280121a63983.JPGIMG_3105.thumb.JPG.d871cda8691524b4fda31e2cb22f9307.JPG

 

They also fit this Bulldog copy, which does have a functioning trigger return spring! 

 

 

DCB63407-967F-44A7-AA77-553D27F78647.jpeg

Edited by Possum Stu
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1 hour ago, Tennessee williams said:

Thank you sir. Was gonna put it in the safe but the new has already worn off for me.

If you decide to part with it, let me know. Looking forward to meeting you in person this week.

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Looking as the specs I still don’t understand how the Brits decided that 380-200 was equivalent to the .455 Webley. 
 

Seamus

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