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Old January 16, 2013, 07:46 PM   #1
schleeb
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Bullets won't fit in the cylinder

I'm sure there is someone here that has run into this. First a synopsis. I reload .38Special and .357 magnum for my Ruger GP-100, a Colt Police Special and a Henry repeating rifle.

When I load the .38 cal ammo, I find that it won't insert all the way into the cylinder on the Colt Police Special. It hangs out about a tenth of an inch and if you try to force it, it will take pliers to get it out. I can take the same round and it drops right in the cylinder of my GP-100. The rounds look fine... visually.

The only thing about the Colt Police Special is that it was made in 1929 and has maybe 100 rounds through it, so its basically new. But.. one shouldn't have to "break in" a cylinder on a revolver, should they?

Just a note to the curious regarding the Colt Police Special. My mom was at an estate sale in St. Paul, MN a few yrs. ago. It was my brother's neighbor and he was 93+ when he passed. The only thing Mom bought was an old 1920's console radio for $50. She took it home and was cleaning it up and found a rolled up dishtowel stuck back inside the radio. In it was this gun. She is deathly afraid of guns... so she asked me why someone would stash a gun inside a radio? I told her it was probably the murder weapon... That's all it took. She had it FFL shipped to me pronto :-) Took it to a gunsmith to have him check it out. He said it had never been fired... and was in mint condition. He just cleaned and oiled it and put 6 rounds through it all the while lamenting why something like that never happens to him... the serial number indicates it was built in Feb 1929. As it turns out the old guy was a surveyor for the railroad back in the 20's and 30's. He probably just carried it for protection when out surveying.
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Old January 16, 2013, 08:10 PM   #2
Mobuck
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Are you sure it's a 38 Special?
It could be 38 New Police (? aka 38 S&W).
Colt refused to put 38 S&W on the barrel as a caliber so they renamed the same cartridge 38 New Police.
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Old January 16, 2013, 09:03 PM   #3
hardworker
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When I had this problem it was because I was belling my case mouths out too much
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Old January 16, 2013, 10:02 PM   #4
GP100man
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It could also be over crimping , the case will bulgea little rite under the crimp & cause chambering problems .

1 other problem that may be happening is the front driving band is binding in the throats .

If ya don`t think that`s it color a case & bullet with a black sharpie then chamber it & look for witness marks when removed
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Old January 17, 2013, 04:32 AM   #5
Lost Sheep
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Thanks for asking our advice and welcome to the forum..

You could run a fired and sized case (before case mouth belling and, of course, without bullet or powder) into the chambers to see if a 38 Special case fits. Then bell the case mouth, load a round with a GENTLE crimp (just enough to remove the bell) and see if that fits. If you want to apply more crimp, do that and check the fit again.

Then if that did not confirm the chambering, I would go to a gun store, go in and ask the manager if I could bring in a gun and see what ammo fits in it. See if factory ammo fits. Of course, you are probably obliged to buy a box of whatever does fit, just out of politeness.

Congratulations on a wonderful find. (Of course, since it was unfired, it obviously was not used in a murder unless as a club. Your Mother can rest easy.)

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Old January 17, 2013, 05:09 PM   #6
rajbcpa
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What makes you think a local gun store is going to have this ammo made by several different makers? Most ammo shelves of my 4 LGS are now empty.
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Old January 17, 2013, 05:23 PM   #7
chiefr
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Bullet seated out too far?
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Old January 17, 2013, 05:33 PM   #8
schmellba99
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Mic the mouth of the cylinder and see what the factory dimensions for that particular revolver are. Odds are they are within spec and it's a problem with your ammo, but it won't hurt to double check.

If it is a .38 New Police (aka .38 S&W), a .38 Special won't fit - because a .38 S&W is a short cartridge. The .38 S&W is also a slightly different geometry round and is actually a hair bigger (won't fit into a .38 special chamber unfortunately).

I'd guess that you are belling your case mouth too much, possibly have some out of spec projectiles (not likely, but check them anyway) or are over crimping and putting a slight bulge in your brass just short of the crimp.

Oh, and I would love to run across a find like you did. This guy is jealous.
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Old January 17, 2013, 07:44 PM   #9
schleeb
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I use a Dillon Square Deal B for my reloading, BTW.

Some more info...

It says "Colt Police Special .38" on the barrel, so it's definitely a .38. Too bad there is no way to upload a picture.. I know the gunsmith I took it to said to never use +P ammo in it. He said it would probably handle it but there was no reason to take a chance on such a nice gun.

I used my dial caliper to measure some bullets.

I checked 3 different .38 special factory loads and one .357 load. The diameters just below the crimp are .377, .377, .376 and .376. My handload is .380 so there IS a few mils difference in my hand load. But why would it go ALMOST all the way in. It falls right in just like the other cartridges... then it just stops before getting all the way in... leaving about a 1/4" of the cartridge hanging out. Is the hole in the cylinder tapered or something? Of course all these cartridges just fall right in and out of my stainless Ruger GP-100, which has had thousands of rounds run through it.

I can't really measure for any bore taper with just a caliper, so that's out. The bore size of the cylinder hole on one end is quite a bit smaller than the other, for about a 1/4" from the muzzle end. It's .356" on the muzzle end and .380" on the inlet end, exactly the same on both guns.

I sorted thru 12 rounds that I just loaded a couple nights ago to test a new load. 11 of the 12 drop right in the Colt cylinder. This 12th round hangs out about 1/4" inch. You wouldn't even be able to force it in. I tried it in all 6 holes with the same result.

All 12 of these bullets were loaded in succession, all parameters were the same, just different brands of shell casing, but it's all brand name once or twice fired brass with LaserCast SWC lead bullets.

The only thing I can figure is that there must be some amount of taper in the cylinder hole and with my handload at .380" diameter it's just right on the edge of going in or not going in.

I guess I'll just sort out the "fat" cartridges and use them in my Ruger and my Henry Big Boy. Kind of a PITA but I'm getting tired of taking bullets apart.

Which is another story all together. I'd probably relay some of the things I've learned over the last few years but I don't want to look like a dumb ass... I undertook reloading with great care... read a LOT of material on reloading, read thru zillions of forum posts and still wound up doing some pretty dumb stuff.

I'm sort of regrouping now and intend to run things by the forum BEFORE I do them.
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Old January 17, 2013, 07:50 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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Quote:
It says "Colt Police Special .38"
I would bet serious money that it does not.
It might say Colt Police Positive Special or one of several other model designations, but neither Colt nor S&W ever called a revolver a Police Special.

It sounds like you might have a Police Positive Special .38 Colt Special and are just not producing compatible reloads. Have you tried factory loads?
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:11 PM   #11
schleeb
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You're right... I misread it. It says:

Official
COLT .38
Police

The text is staggered sort of like above.. which doesn't show up correctly when I post.

On the top of the barrel it says it was made in Hartford, CT USA.

and has 3 patent dates, Aug 5,1884, July 4, 1905 and Oct 5, 1926

There is no other writing except the serial number: 569819

Yes I've shot a box or so of factory .38 Specials thru it with no issues. Bullets drop right in.
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Last edited by schleeb; January 17, 2013 at 08:20 PM. Reason: add info
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:19 PM   #12
Jim Watson
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A 1931 vintage Offical Police that accepts some .38 Specials will accept the rest... if they are to spec.

I think you have a revolver with minimum chambers and are trying to feed it with maximum or oversize reloads.
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:21 PM   #13
chiefr
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Sounds like a 38 Long Colt ctg.
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:23 PM   #14
schleeb
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That's kind of what I'm thinking... just a couple mils too fat on the cartridge size. And the Ruger just has a looser tolerance or its been shot a lot more.

I'll have to figure out how to remedy it or just sort the fat ones out.
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