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Old October 7, 2011, 05:52 PM   #26
stevieboy
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This thread is giving me a headache because it is making something very simple seem to be very complicated.

The bottom line is this: I'm not aware that any of the major manufacturers of revolvers currently produce a ".38" that is chambered for anything other than .38 Special. I'm guessing here, but it's probably been five or six decades or more since Smith manufactured a handgun chambered in .38 S & W and I'm not certain that Ruger, Taurus, or Rossi ever made a gun chambered in that caliber.

I also think that nearly all of the currently manufactured ".38's" will handle .38+Ps but its pretty easy to check that out with the manufacturer of the particular gun.

So, if you have a new or recently manufactured handgun that's a ".38" Special you can confidently assume that it will handle .38 Special and it's reasonably likely that it will also handle .38 Special + P ammunition.

Furthermore, .38 S & W ammunition, as opposed to .38 Special is not that easy to find. I suspect that most stores that sell ammunition over the counter don't stock it, it's a specialty item. I've never seen it in WalMart, that's for sure.
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Old October 7, 2011, 06:03 PM   #27
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About the .38 S&W - .38 Colt New Police - .380-200:
Yes, dimensionally different than the other .38's (none of which are actually .38 caliber - didn't see that anyone mentioned that - some are .356. most are .357-.358). The .38 S&W is .361". It will not fit in many guns chambered for the .38 S&W Special.

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Old October 7, 2011, 10:31 PM   #28
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Buy a .357 next time, and shoot .38 spcls in it.

Now, ya'all can explain that one now. LOL.
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Old October 9, 2011, 10:28 AM   #29
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I chrono-ed some original 38/44 High Speed ammo this week.

This is real 1940’s vintage 38/44 ammo. It says “.38-44 S.&W. Special” 158 grn Lead bullet. The box says “r266” as the version of the load an it specifically says “specially adapted for the .38-44 Smith and Wesson Special”.


This is the 38/44 ammo that was chrono-ed.

6.5” 1198+ 1057- 141e 1121m 82s
5.0” 1131+ 1002- 129e 1079m 71s
4.0” 1069+ 739- 330e 1010m 103s (one bad round)

I had a bunch of misfires so I was barely able to get my 12 rounds for testing of each. That is why I was stuck with the one bad round on the 4”. I just ran out of decent ammo otherwise I would have voided the round and shot another one. So do I believe that original 38/44 ammo would have done about 1175 fps out of a 6.5” and 1150 fps out of a 5”? Yes. The degradation of the ammo in the last 70 years could explain my results running a bit slow compared to expectations. We are certainly not far outside the range of belief on the commercial of that vintage. Given the number of duds I had in the box, it would be quite believable that 1175 and 1150 are the targets.
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Old October 9, 2011, 10:28 PM   #30
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.38/200

Quote:
“.38-44 S.&W. Special”
Another S&W cartridge called "special". Yet different than the .38 S&W which is yet different than the .38 S&W Special.
Ya gotta laugh.
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Old October 10, 2011, 06:54 AM   #31
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The .38-44 cartridge WAS a .38 Special. Same case, same bullet, same dimensions, just loaded to higher pressure and velocity.

Same way a .38 Special +P or a +P+ are .38 Specials. Just more powerful versions.

The fun thing about cartridges is that the exact same cartridge can often have multiple valid names.
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Old October 10, 2011, 07:14 AM   #32
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Although it would be correct to say the .38 S&W is obsolete, they continued to make revolvers in that caliber even after WWII, probably into the 1970s, as did Colt. Colt had this habit of renaming cartridges, so there is a cartridge they called the .38 New Police as well as the .38 Colt Special. Some Ruger Security Sixes were also made in that chambering, presumably for sale in British Commonwealth countries. It was the British service cartridge until finally replaced by the 9mm.

I know I mention this every time the subject comes up but an old US Army manual I have refers to the cartridge as the .38 Regular, which I suppose is a very logical name.
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Old October 10, 2011, 11:16 AM   #33
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Just a tidbit of info - S&W made the Terrier revolver in .38 S&W up to 1974 IIRC.

I don't know how long after WWII, Webley & Scott and Enfield might have made .38 S&W revolvers.
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Old October 10, 2011, 11:55 AM   #34
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Webley made firearms, including revolvers, up until 1979 when firearms production ceased. Seems like only yesterday.
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Old October 10, 2011, 12:47 PM   #35
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obsolete

Quote:
Although it would be correct to say the .38 S&W is obsolete,
In the sense of new guns, yes. Ammo, though, is still available from Remington, Fiocchi, Magtech and Winchester. All are bullets in the 142 - 146 grain range.

About the .38/44 being a more robust loading of the .38 Special.....I didn't know that. Learned something, I did. I was thinking along the lines of the .38-40 or the .357/44 Bain & Davis.
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Old October 10, 2011, 01:16 PM   #36
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FWIW I've read that the .38-44 loading has also been sold under the trademark name ".38 Special Hi-Speed".
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Old October 11, 2011, 06:17 AM   #37
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The .38-44 loading was sold under a number of different names over the years.

BUT... I don't believe that the HI SPEED cartridges were .38-44s.

The "HI-SPEED" cartridges by Remington used lighter bullets, and were intended primarily to be metal penetrating bullets under their HI-WAY MASTER line of cartridges.

The HI-SPEED .38s I'm familiar with used a 110-gr. bullet and I THINK were for use in any .38 Special.

Remington clearly marked their boxes of .38-44 ammo with very large letters and numbers.

Remington also offered HI-WAY MASTER metal piercing bullets in .38 Super and .45 ACP.

Peters and Winchester also offered high velocity loads in .38 Special, again with lighter bullets, as well as metal piercing varieties.
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Old October 11, 2011, 06:32 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin
In fact, it's possible to fire the .38 Super in a .357 Mag. revolver.
In that case it seems you could also fire the .38 Super in a standard .38 spl. I would think the cylinder length would accept the super. Now from a pressure standpoint maybe not??
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Old October 11, 2011, 07:31 AM   #39
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The .38 Super operates in the same pressure range with the same weight bullets as the .357 Magnum.

Dropping one into a handgun chambered for .38 Special is NOT advisable.
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Old October 11, 2011, 07:47 AM   #40
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Quote:
Dropping one into a handgun chambered for .38 Special is NOT advisable.
OK, thanks.
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Old October 11, 2011, 10:35 AM   #41
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The marketing term "Hi-Speed" was applied to other cartridges as well. The .44-40, for instance, was at one time produced in such a loading and was (I assume) intended to rifles. I don't have any reference material at hand, so I'm not sure if the .38-40 and .32-20 were also produced in a hi-speed loading or not. This is all pre-war stuff, of course.

Along the same lines, Colt listed the .38-44 among the cartridges that could be used in their Police Positive Special revolver but S&W did not list it for the K-frame M&P revolver in the pre-war days. The large frame .38 revolvers from S&W were the .38-44 Heavy Duty and Outdoorsman.
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Old October 11, 2011, 10:58 AM   #42
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And to think this whole thread started because of some numbskull salesman at the ammo counter.
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Old October 11, 2011, 10:59 AM   #43
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"I don't have any reference material at hand, so I'm not sure if the .38-40 and .32-20 were also produced in a hi-speed loading or not."

.32-20

.38-40

.44-40

.45-70

Possibly other Winchester black powder cartridges that made the transition to smokeless, as well.

The loadings were discontinued because, the same as today, idiots wouldn't read the warnings on the box and were loading them into Model 1873 rifles or early Model 1873 Colt revolvers.

The rifles tended to lose their side plates, and the revolvers tended to either stretch the hell out of the frame, or crack the cylinder.

HERE we go! A vintage Winchester .32-20 box with the warnings clearly printed in red!

Winchester High Velocity .32-20

Cartridges so manufactured by Winchester (Note that the factory term was High Velocity, Hi-Speed was a Remington mark) were headstamped WHV
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Old October 11, 2011, 01:36 PM   #44
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Well, now, the .45-70 is a new one for high speed, although I recall one writer in an old Gun Digest from about 50 years ago commenting on how there's weren't as many loads around for the .45-70 like there used to be. But judging from the listings in old publications like the Gun Digest, there was hardly any variety to begin with among the different calibers. That may not be such a bad thing at that. The .38 Special did come in two or three different loads, including a "metal piercing" round, as mentioned already, but there didn't seem to be much of a selection of bullets like there is now.
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Old October 11, 2011, 02:22 PM   #45
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Here you go.

An example of a pretty rare box of Winchester High Velocity .45-70s.




It didn't have the explicit warning that later boxes like the .32-20 I showed above had.

I have in my personal collection a .45-70 shell headstamped indicating that it is part of this line up. I can't remember the exact head stamp specifics right now, but it's definitely one of the cartridges adapted specifically for the 1886 Winchester and not for use in earlier guns like the Trapdoor.
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Old October 11, 2011, 03:36 PM   #46
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Good photo. It makes it sound like essentially the same as a 300-grain .45-70 you can buy today. I notice it says "low pressure" and "adapted" but does that mean they shouldn't be used in Springfield single shots? Just asking; I don't have one anymore. I also notice it says not to reload them. And are they jacketed bullets?
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Old October 11, 2011, 05:19 PM   #47
Mike Irwin
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Hum...

You know, that box may predate the introduction of the higher pressure rounds. The high velocity may mean the lighter bullet.

I'm not 100% sure when Winchester was using that box design, but I think it was prior to about 1905.

I'm going to have to do a little more digging.

And, I would think that they would be lead bullets. Jacketed bullets were really just being introduced, and were primarily being used for the new smokeless powder cartridges. Jacketed bullets started to back fill into the old black powder cartridges later, I think.

As for the reloading statement, I think that was a pretty common position held by many of the manufacturers at this time. They wanted to sell loaded ammunition, not components.
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Old December 27, 2012, 02:17 AM   #48
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I hate to necromance an old thread, but I do have one question which may or may not matter when it comes to newer handguns...if the barrel of a handgun is roll marked S&W .38 CAL, is the manufacturer stating in another way that the handgun is chambered for the 38 Special round?
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Old December 27, 2012, 03:47 AM   #49
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Quote:
if the barrel of a handgun is roll marked S&W .38 CAL, is the manufacturer stating in another way that the handgun is chambered for the 38 Special round?
How old is the gun? Unless it's pretty new, I would expect it to be .38 S&W and not .38 Special.
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Old December 27, 2012, 04:30 AM   #50
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Some .38 S&W revolvers sold to the British (actually given to the British in leu of repayment of funds advanced to S&W for development of an S&W SMG the British had contracted for but which was a failure and not acceptable) used .38 Special barrels but a .38 S&W cylinder.
The revolvers had been manufactured as .38 Specials in large runs for expected police contracts that never materialized due to severe budget cuts by most police departments in the late thirties.
To meet the British military's needs they pulled these pistols out of storage and replaced the cylinders with .38 S&W cylinders so the British .380/200 cartridge could be used. By then the British .380 revolver cartridge had been reconfigured for use with a 170 grain jacketed bullet.

It was found that the tighter bore of the .38 Special barrel gave better accuracy with the British cartridge than the slightly larger diameter bore of the Webley and Enfield revolvers.
I expect this was because the newer lighter jacketed bullet did not bump up as well as the heavier lead bullets had done.

Anyway this is why some .380/200 S&W revolvers have barrels marked as .38 Special. Also if rechambered for the .38 Special these would have the proper barrel marking for that cartridge but would produce fired cases with the distinctive bulging of the case near the base.
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