The .38 S&W is also too fat to chamber The Long Colt is the same size as the special just shorter.
I think the difference with the .22's is the carrier design. A lot of older .22's would chamber all three lengths with no problems. They redesigned most of them to only take LR sometime in the 60's if I'm not mistaken. I think the reason for that was because the carbon ring left by shorts wouldn't allow the longer cartridges to chamber. Some centerfires like the Winchester 94 were designed for rifle cartridges and the action itself is too long to reliably feed pistol length cartridges. Some do, most don't. You have to be particular how you work the actions.