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Old May 26, 2010, 05:55 PM   #1
perstare
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ammunition -- 38 s&w -- NOT 'SPECIAL' CONCLUDED.

Thank you all very much -- I have had several complete comprehensive replies to my question. I've learned a lot. You can consider this matter to be closed.

Mike B

As I understand it, the ammunition available for the 38 smith and wesson differs from the ammo available for 38 s&w SPECIAL.
I've been told that ammo for the NONspecial is harder to find and there are fewer choices when compared to the ammo available for the more-widely used 38 s&w special.
Who can clarify this?
My previous post on this forum (post 3008) is more specific as to the exact revolver that I am talking about.

Thank you.

Mike B

Last edited by perstare; May 26, 2010 at 08:39 PM. Reason: QUESTION ANSWERED.
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Old May 26, 2010, 05:57 PM   #2
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http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Brow...g=653***691***

This is about it... They are all on backorder though...
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Old May 26, 2010, 06:28 PM   #3
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.38 S&W is an older semi-obsolete cartridges that has not had a revolver chambered for it in decades. It differs from the .38 Special in diameter, length, pressure, and power and the two cartridges are in no way, shape, or form interchangeable.

.38 S&W has a much lower pressure ceiling than .38 Special does. Maximum SAAMI pressure for .38 S&W is 14,500 psi as opposed to 17,000 psi and 20,000 psi for .38 Special and .38 Special +P respectively. The .38 S&W has a significantly shorter case than the .38 Special being only .775" long as opposed to 1.15" long for the .38 Special. The S&W also uses a slightly larger-diameter .360-.361 bullet as opposed to the .357-.358 bullet of the Special. This also means that the S&W's cartridge case is slightly wider at .3855" neck diameter as opposed to .379 for the Special.

A common misconception is that the .38 S&W cartridge can be fired in a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver. This is untrue as the S&W's larger case diameter would prevent it from chambering in a revolver made for one of the other two cartridges unless they had unusually oversize chambers. Also, firing an oversize .361 bullet through a .358 bore would cause an increase in pressure.

Standard factory ballistics for the .38 S&W are a 145-146grn bullet (usually a lead round nose) at 685fps for 150 ft. lbs. of energy. In a strong, solid-frame revolver like a S&W I, J, or K frame, handloaders can often get a bit better ballistics, but in an older top-break revolver one should not push the cartridge as top-breaks aren't the strongest action type in the first place.
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Old May 26, 2010, 06:40 PM   #4
longranger
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.38 S&W brass is .384" dia and .38 Special brass is .377" .38 S&W shoots a .360-.361 dia bullet and .38 Special shoots a .358 dia. bullet.The .38 S&W can shoot a .358 dia. bullet with reasonably good accuracy. 148 gr.HBWC are a better choice as most run near the .360 dia and the hollow base seals gases better.
Mag Tech makes factory ammo for the .38 S&W as well as Remington and Winchester.Seems it has been bought up and factories are not making any at this time. WWW.a1ammo.com was the last place I saw any factory ammo.
.38 S&W has become a reloaders cartridge I was able to buy 500 pieces of new brass so it is still out there.
Missouri Bullet Co. now offers a .360 dia. 148 gr. bullet that is the proper bullet.
I had lots of trouble with reloading dies and it took RCBS to get a proper dimension.Some die makers think .38 Special is the same as .38 S&W,
reloading info. is not in the books any more.It is a worthwhile cartridge to reload and shoot.
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Old May 26, 2010, 06:42 PM   #5
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Good info, but semi-obsolete is putting it kindly. It's been obsolete in the US since the 38 Special was invented; that was over 100 years ago.

You could call a few gun shops or try Gunbroker: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Bro...S%26W&Cat=3018
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Old May 26, 2010, 07:21 PM   #6
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It is interesting to note that the 38 s&W was essentially S&W's competition to the 38 long colt. The British chose the 38 s&W the US chose the long colt. If it was not for the British and all the lend-lease revolvers made in the US the cartridge would have died decades earlier.

Even S&W knew this. The 38 S&W Special is an improvement of the Long Colt not the 38 S&W.
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Old May 26, 2010, 08:15 PM   #7
Webleymkv
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Originally posted by Laser Spot
Quote:
Good info, but semi-obsolete is putting it kindly. It's been obsolete in the US since the 38 Special was invented; that was over 100 years ago.
I don't consider a cartridge to be truly obsolete until all the major U.S. ammo manufacturers (Winchester, Remington, CCI/Speer, Hornady, Cor-Bon, and Federal) quit making ammo for it. Since its only guns that aren't currently produced rather than ammo, I view it as semi-obsolete

Originally posted by jhvaughan2
Quote:
The British chose the 38 s&W the US chose the long colt. If it was not for the British and all the lend-lease revolvers made in the US the cartridge would have died decades earlier.

Even S&W knew this. The 38 S&W Special is an improvement of the Long Colt not the 38 S&W.
Actually, the .38 S&W remained popular for decades after the introduction of the .38 Special. Until 1950, the smallest gun that S&W made in .38 Special was the K-Frame M&P and K-38 Combat Masterpiece (Pre-Models 10 and 15 respectively). It wasn't until the introduction of the J-Frame Chief Special (Pre-Model 36) in 1950 that S&W made a small-frame .38 Special. Prior to that, the only small .38 that S&W offered was the Terrier which built on the I frame and chambered for .38 S&W. Even after the Chief Special/M36 came out, S&W continued to offer the K-Frame M&P (Model 11) in .38 S&W until 1965 as well as both the Terrier (Model 32) and 38 Regulation Police (Model 33) in the same caliber until 1974 though later models were built on the J rather than I-Frame.

Also, the British adopted the .38/200 (.38 S&W loaded with either a 200grn or 178grn bullet) in 1932 with the Enfield No. 2 Mk.I revolver which replaced the older Webley Mk. VI revolver that chambered the .455 Webley Mk. II cartridge. This was a full 23 years after the United States abandoned the .38 Long Colt as the so-chambered Colt M1892 Army & Navy revolvers were beginning to be phased out in 1909 in favor of the Colt New Service revolver in .45 Long Colt (these were unsurprisingly designated as the Model 1909) which was in turn replaced by the Colt M1911 .45 ACP in (you guessed it) 1911.
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Old May 26, 2010, 09:23 PM   #8
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If you load .38 Spl into a .38 S&W revolver the bullets stick out so far you can't rotate the cylinder. I found a pile of .38 Spl shell casings at the range one day and every one was bulged and split along the full length. I surmised that someone had been shooting .38 Spl wadcutters (a short overall length) out of a .38 S&W. As far as I know both Winchester and Remington still make the ammo but in 145 and 146 gr loads only. They are a good bet for the handloader if you can find cases and the proper diameter bullets. The .38 S&W is an obsolete and mostly forgotten caliber.
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Old May 26, 2010, 09:38 PM   #9
LaserSpot
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Quote:
It wasn't until the introduction of the J-Frame Chief Special (Pre-Model 36) in 1950 that S&W made a small-frame .38 Special. Prior to that, the only small .38 that S&W offered was the Terrier which built on the I frame and chambered for .38 S&W.
Thanks, didn't know that.

Quote:
I don't consider a cartridge to be truly obsolete until all the major U.S. ammo manufacturers (Winchester, Remington, CCI/Speer, Hornady, Cor-Bon, and Federal) quit making ammo for it.
Do you think any U.S. manufacturers are still making 38 S&W? Magtech seems to be the only brand still available. Maybe one of them will make another batch in a few years when they catch up on back-ordered .380 ammo. I suppose floppy disks aren't truly obsolete since you can still buy them for your Pentium computer.
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Old May 26, 2010, 09:51 PM   #10
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I have a bag of new Starline .38 S&W brass, and a few pieces of .38 Special that I cut down to .38S&W length. I was planning to load 148 grain HBWC's for an old S&W I-frame revolver that I bought off Gunbroker, but the gun was a POS and I had to send it back.

Still looking for a turn-of-the-century top break to use as a concealed carry gun -- with style. But I've bought so many other guns lately it's not a high priority anymore until I build my gun money back up.

I'm pretty sure you can use 9mm Luger dies to reload .38 S&W. 9mm Makarov dies might be even better.
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Old May 26, 2010, 10:55 PM   #11
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Quote:
I don't consider a cartridge to be truly obsolete until all the major U.S. ammo manufacturers (Winchester, Remington, CCI/Speer, Hornady, Cor-Bon, and Federal) quit making ammo for it.
Do you think any U.S. manufacturers are still making 38 S&W? Magtech seems to be the only brand still available. Maybe one of them will make another batch in a few years when they catch up on back-ordered .380 ammo. I suppose floppy disks aren't truly obsolete since you can still buy them for your Pentium computer.
http://www.winchester.com/Products/h...es/X38SWP.aspx

http://www.remington.com/comparison.aspx

Both Winchester and Remington still make it. With the exception of very popular calibers like 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum, most ammo makers only produce ammunition in runs at certain times of the year. Prior to the great shortage of '08, even .380 auto was still made in runs. Just because something is backordered (as many calibers seem to be these days) does not mean it's completely obsolete.
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Old May 27, 2010, 12:25 AM   #12
Mike Irwin
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Smith & Wesson was still making, and selling, guns in .38 S&W into the 1970s.

H&R continued production of .38 S&W chambered guns into the late 1970s or possibly the early 1980s.

Within the past decade there has been at least one, albeit short-lived, derringer chambered in .38 S&W.

Thousands of .380-200 Webley and Enfield revolvers have been imported in to the country since the middle 1980s.


"Do you think any U.S. manufacturers are still making 38 S&W?"

Yes. Remington and Winchester BOTH still catalog the .38 S&W.

Hell, Winchester still catalogs the .32 S&W, and it's been out of active firearms production for a lot longer than the .38 S&W.

The .38 S&W is hardly obsolete.
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Old May 27, 2010, 09:38 AM   #13
longranger
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Quote:
They are a good bet for the handloader if you can find cases and the proper diameter bullets. The .38 S&W is an obsolete and mostly forgotten caliber.
Not quite, there are bullet companies that are making proper bullets for the .38S&W.Brass is still made by Win.Rem.Mag Tech and Starline.
It is curious to note that the military still uses .38 S&W brass for primer charges on a few models of their mortar launchers.The last batch I got was from Winchester with no headstamp.
The .38 S&W is anything but forgotton or obsolete.

Last edited by longranger; May 27, 2010 at 04:17 PM.
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Old May 27, 2010, 09:51 AM   #14
Ron Bernert
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I've got a S&W Regulation Police in .38 S&W. I have purchased both new and old ammo for it, and the ammo cost has exceeded the gun's purchase price. It's really a neat little gun, I've only shot it around 20-25 times but it's really a cool little piece. Nickel finish, pre-J frame, 5 shot with 3 sets of initials carved in the base of the grip... While the .38 S&W has not been completely abandoned, it is a very underpowered round with minimal stopping power. Very much worth it as a collector gun though..
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Old May 27, 2010, 10:12 AM   #15
breed
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i have a old box of 130 gr 38 short colt. that I've shot in one of my 38 s&w break tops with no noticeable ill effect. also ran some threw my J frame 357.
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Old May 27, 2010, 01:49 PM   #16
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I loaded some 38 S&Ws for my No. 2 Mk I years ago, with Speer HBWCs I got very good accuracy, recoil on a par with a 38 WC. More recently I have acquired a Colt Police Positive in 38 S&W. A rather archaic and certainly out of fashion cartridge but I wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of one.
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Old May 27, 2010, 02:31 PM   #17
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I think we have a few boxes at my store PM me if you the info. Its Fiocchi wad cutters.
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:16 PM   #18
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I've been loading 32 & 38 S&W cartridges for the last 8-9 months... I start my old guns out with round balls ( .315 for the 32 & .360 for the 38 ) & then move up to cast lead bullets for guns that can take them...

these are bullets I'm using right now for the 38 S&W...

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct...ber=2046424229

BTW... Midway has the picture messed up... that's not the 100 grain bullet at .359" they shouldn't build excessive chamber pressures with the often less than pristine barrel condition of the 100 year old guns I'm shooting... I'm just getting started with them, so can't offer up any great great groups yet though...
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:17 PM   #19
Mike Irwin
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.38 Short Colt?

That is obsolete.

Although oddly enough, it's making a bit of a comeback as people dust off the really old guns for CASS events.
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:23 PM   #20
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.38 S&W

One of my favorite cartridges to play with. Some years ago, I picked up a WW2 Webley Mk.IV chambered for the .38-200. Brass came from Starline and from one box of Remingtons that I purchased immediately after I received the pistol.
I have tried any number of bullets at .358", some of them shoot quite well given that they are undersized.
The best accuracy, as you might expect, comes with proper bullets at .362.
NEI Handtools makes and sells a mold (#176A) for a 200 grain bullet with the same profile as that designated by the British L.O.C.
Also worth looking at are the very fine brass moulds made by C.B.E. that will drop bullets at .362 - they are available in a variety of sizes - I have the one for 140 grain bullets. Unfortunately, the only place that I have found that sells that C.B.E. moulds is The Ammo Dump in New Zealand. (http://www.theammodump.com/)
A nice bullet for this cartridge and close to the right diameter is Lyman's 358430 which is a LRN at 195 grains.
Pete

.38 Short Colt - just picked up one of those oldies. Waiting now on the heeled bullets for it. As it turns out, .38 S&W brass will work just fine.
P
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:28 PM   #21
Magnum Wheel Man
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Hey... BOB... do you want to sell or trade those Star Line cases ??? I could use a few more... & just not gotten on their waiting list yet....
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Do you think any U.S. manufacturers are still making 38 S&W? Magtech seems to be the only brand still available. Maybe one of them will make another batch in a few years when they catch up on back-ordered .380 ammo. I suppose floppy disks aren't truly obsolete since you can still buy them for your Pentium computer.
Post number two showed us this...

http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Brow...g=653***691***

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Old May 27, 2010, 03:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
Hey... BOB... do you want to sell or trade those Star Line cases ??? I could use a few more... & just not gotten on their waiting list yet....
Nope. I fully intend to get a S&W 4th Model New Departure (I think that's what they are called) someday, and I'll need 'em.
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Old May 27, 2010, 03:47 PM   #24
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Old May 27, 2010, 07:55 PM   #25
finfanatic
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Allan's Armory has Webleys

Off the subject, but...

Allan's Armory has Webleys in .38 S&W for sale.

http://www.allans-armory.com/aaresult.php?PageId=44
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