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38 S&W Ammo???


El Sobrante Kid

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Hi All, I need to find some 38 S&W ammo. I may start reloading this caliber at some point, but for now I will buy factory ammo. Because of the cost of this ammo, I am less inclined to order a box from each manufacturer to see which works best. Since all/most Pocket Pistol/Derringer side matches are at short range, I am more concerned with clean reliable function than absolute accuracy.

 

I see modern ammo available from PPU (Privi), Magtech, Fiocchi, Remington, and Winchester. Any comments, good or bad, about some or all of these manufacturers? The gun is an Iver Johson Third Model (Third Variation) produced from 1918 to 1941 and in very good mechanical condition. It was made with stronger steel and beefier coil springs specifically to accommodate smokeless powder. Appreciate you thoughts, suggestions, and comments.

       Thank You Muchly,   The Kid

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American ammo is loaded to SAAMI specs.  In deference to the many old, poorly constructed .38 S&Ws in circulation American ammo is loaded light.  Winchester and Remington follow SAAMI specs.  Foreign manufacturers for the most part follow CIP.  Lots of .38 S&Ws were produced for WWI and WWII use.  These guns are generally stronger than many American and cheap European built .38 S&Ws.  The European and other manufacturers MAY load to higher pressures for the stronger guns.  I would stick with American ammo.

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As L.E.P has already stated .

You could blow up your gun with the wrong powered ammo .

Your best bet would be to buy a little bit of equipment and supplies and load your own ammo .

Rooster 

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I have experience with Remington and Winchester ammo in this caliber.  Since it has been relatively expensive for a long time, it was one of the first calibers I started reloading for.   Which has it's own set of challenges.   First, finding .360" bullets can be difficult, but they are out there.  I've not had to buy any for a long time.   I usually load a .360" 358 grain RN bullet with excellent results.  1.1 Grains of Trailboss, which may be impossible to find now.   I have also used a 150 grain RN Hollow Base .358" bullet.  This load got 1.2 grains of Trailboss as it didn't sit as deep in the case, and the hollow base expands to engage the rifling.   Early on, I also had a load that I don't recall how much Win 231 that "felt" idendical to the Remington factory load.   I mention all of this because there is something you need to know for if/when you start reloading, the nickel brass Winchester is apparently thicker walled than the Remington stuff.   You can see the case slightly bulging with the .360" bullets, and they won't chamber.  But they will with the .358" bullet.

So, with that in mind, I'd recommend the Remington ammo, if you can find it.

PPU ammo I have no experience with in this caliber, but in others, it seems to be more lightly loaded than other ammo makers.  But who knows if that carries over to .38 S&W.

 

I have no experience with any other manufacturers.

 

BUT, I do have experience with some vintage brass ammo/brass by various manufactures.  You'd be surprised what you can find at gun shows for a surprisingly reasonable price from time to time.  Even though some of this brass, usually with a .38 Colt NP (For New Police) headtamp, which is the same caliber, is cleary marked on the box as being smokeless, it has balloon head cases.    This brass I use exclusively either black powder reloads, or for "hotter" loads that approximate the .38/200 round that the Brits used in WWII in their revolvers.   In other words, ..38 S&W is a very addicting caliber with everything from vintage pocket pistols, main match pistols, and modern pistols that are far stronger than what the original load was ever meant to be.  You may find yourself creating a collection of guns so chambered.

Now if I could just get a main match rifle chambered for it.   Or a reproduction Volcanic.

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
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I've shot the PPU stuff and it shoots well in my Iver Johnson. As stated, both the Remington and Winchester are good stuff.

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I used to shoot a lot of Pocket Pistol when I first started. I bought my ammo from Steve at Load X. He makes a LOT of different cartridges. 95 gr bullet and appropriate for the original guns like we shoot. He’s a nice guy and would be glad to talk to you. The picture is from his current catalog. He will also reload your brass… 

 

NOTE: First column is gr, second is velocity, third is energy  did not realize I’d cut that part off  IMG_2910.thumb.jpeg.d74d3a054c6d725475473d4bf5438e6e.jpeg

 

Hugs!

Scarlett

Edited by Scarlett
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What Larsen said.

I would stick with Winchester or Remington if you can find it. I don't recall the last time Winchester or R-P made a run of that but I think it's been a while. That's one that they'll tool up, make whatever they expect to sell in a given time frame and when that run's finished they put it in the warehouse and change the machines over to some other caliber. These days rounds like 38S&W aren't a priority. but it's a caliber I see all the time. Yes, reloading is the way.

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Thank you for all the comments and suggestions, so far. I bought this specific model and variation because it is the strongest one that Iver Johnson made, and it is designed to work with smokeless powder. I have no intention of shooting hot loads or doing anything foolish enough that might reduce the number of fingers on either hand.

 

As far as reloading, I don't think I will shoot this gun enough to warrant the effort to find the components and set up the 550. I only shoot the local monthly match and we only have a Pocket Pistol side match two, maybe three times a year. I will offer to let other shooters use the gun if they don't have one of their own, but I'm guessing that if I buy 4 or 5 boxes of ammo (200/250 rounds), I will never run out. I'm still thinking on it.

 

The Remington ammo seems pretty available at this time. The cost is in the ballpark of 80+ cents/round. Sounds like a lot per round, but I will only be buying once. I shoot 44-40 in my main match guns and the cost for that factory ammo is crazy expensive. That I DO reload, LOL.   Thx!

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I enjoy collecting & shooting pocket pistols. I reload for them, .32SW, .38SW, 38 Colt. 
I use APP in all of them 

For the 48s I generally just use same 105 grn bullets as I use in my 357/38 Rugers. At the distances we shoot pocket pistols it really doesn’t matter! 
 

it’s kinda neat thinking about where these old pistols have been! 
 

 

IMG_6676.jpeg

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1 hour ago, El Sobrante Kid said:

As far as reloading, I don't think I will shoot this gun enough to warrant the effort to find the components and set up the 550. I only shoot the local monthly match and we only have a Pocket Pistol side match two, maybe three times a year. I will offer to let other shooters use the gun if they don't have one of their own, but I'm guessing that if I buy 4 or 5 boxes of ammo (200/250 rounds), I will never run out. I'm still thinking on it.

 

Good plan.

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