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Old December 26, 2007, 03:00 AM   #1
Sgt.Fathead
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H&R .38 Top Break

My father-in-law, who has very kindly and trustingly given me several older guns over the last two years, gave me an old H&R .38 Top Break Model for Christmas this year that had belonged to his father. The gun was fired a few times a year up until three years ago. It was kept wrapped in a lightly oiled rag, unloaded, in a Hills Brothers coffee can up on a cellar rafter! It was apparently my wife's grandfather's daily coat pocket carry piece on the farm years ago and later went with him when he drove a bus in retirement.

It came with three boxes of very old lead cast .38 Specials. Will modern .38 rounds damage this piece? I'd love to fire it if only a little!
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Old December 26, 2007, 07:38 AM   #2
Hawg
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That should be chambered for .38 S&W not .38 spcl. Check the barrel markings. Assuming good shape it should be safe to fire with modern ammo.
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Old December 26, 2007, 10:07 PM   #3
100W_Warlock
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+1 for what Hawg just said.

Get some Black Hills Cowboy 38 s&W and try in it first. Its lightly loaded and easy to work with.
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Old December 27, 2007, 08:54 AM   #4
DVC9
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Agreed, That should be a 38 S&W.
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Old December 27, 2007, 04:51 PM   #5
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I brought both the gun and the ammo to a bowling pin shoot at my club to show a couple of the older fellas and they all three agreed with your assessment guys! It was also suggested and rightly so, after speaking with my father-in-law, that the ammo was for another gun. He has no idea where his dad's other gun went but the .38 SP were likely for it. I am going to keep the top break cleaned and oiled in the safe and wait for Spring to get it out and have a go with the .38 S&W rounds.

Many, many thanks.
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Old December 27, 2007, 07:39 PM   #6
elrod
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You won't trot down to ol' Wally-World and get .38 S&W. Cheapest source (that I found) is Sportsman Guide @ app. $17.50/50. I also understand ammo is not gettin' any cheaper!
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Old December 28, 2007, 02:26 PM   #7
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Benefits of Membership

Among my fellows at the gun club, there are several older guys who are older gun enthusiasts. One such gent has made available to me a box of said .38 S&W which he will trade for me doing work his back is no longer willing to do.

Ammo is going to drop no time soon; buy cheap, stack deep. Our, wife's and mine, method to it is, shoot a box, buy two. We are really stockpiling now!
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Old December 28, 2007, 09:05 PM   #8
twilkin458
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Sgt. Fathead, I've got a matching piece to your H&R top-break 38 S&W inherited from my grandfather; probably same use as a "shop" gun, as he was a jeweler in western P.A. from 1916 to 1950. Mine has a great exerior, but the bore is pitted, so probably wouldn't make a good shooter. I'd be a bit afraid to even attempt it unless a gunsmith looked it over first. I'll try to post a picture tomorrow. They are tiny little guns for sure!
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Old December 28, 2007, 09:17 PM   #9
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H&R top break .38 S&W pix from Wikipedia:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 180px-H%26R_Top_Break.jpg (4.3 KB, 735 views)

Last edited by twilkin458; December 28, 2007 at 09:18 PM. Reason: typo
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Old December 29, 2007, 02:52 AM   #10
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That is approximately it though the grip is brown and the barrel a tad bit shorter. The bore is in excellent condition as are the top latch, hinge and extractor. The cylinder and chambers are also in fine shape! I may well not fire this little gem and keep it as an heirloom.
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Old January 2, 2008, 09:22 PM   #11
twilkin458
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I checked mine and had forgotten it was a .32 S&W; sorry for the false alarm.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...brightness.jpg
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Old January 18, 2010, 11:50 AM   #12
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Mine was carried by Dad in the Manhatten Project so it has some history behind it. I'm thinking of cleaning it up and firing it for the first time in 55+ years.




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Old January 18, 2010, 12:03 PM   #13
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been shooting mine quite a bit lately... both 32 S&W & 38 S&W

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=392794
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Old January 18, 2010, 08:27 PM   #14
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I hope your H&R is more accurate than mine...LOL! I have an old Premier .32 SW top break H&R (nickel plated) that I used to carry and plink with as a kid, and I couldn't ever hit anything further than ten yards out. And the little 88 grain RN pills, Remingtons if I remember, well, I doubt I got 600 FPS with them, my BB gun seemed to shoot faster. Hell, I could see those little bullets going down range. Those old H&R's were for close range self defense work. I still have that little gun someplace. I always wished it was a .38 SW caliber instead of just a .32. It looks like the one pictured above, same grips, but has an exposed hammer, so I can shoot it single action. Have fun with yours!!!!!

I remember one afternoon, I was 12 or so, out in the woods with another juvenile delinquint and we found an old abandoned tractor, rusted out, half buried. The hard rubber gas pedal was exposed from the dirt, and I drew my .32 revolver and took aim, at about 20 feet away, as my friend had said I couldn't hit it. I fired, single action, and the bullet struck the pedal, and bounced straight back at us, landing at out feet! I picked it up, and burned my fingers in short order. Hot lead is hot, real hot! Anyhow, don't shoot at hard objects with guns, bow or slingshots, or you could get hurt.

Last edited by shurshot; January 18, 2010 at 08:59 PM.
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Old January 20, 2010, 01:51 PM   #15
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don't shoot that old ammo or throw away the boxes, they are collectors items. cool pistol by the way.
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Old January 22, 2010, 12:13 AM   #16
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To all of you who intend to shoot your old top breaks: Do a little research first and find out if your guns were intended to be used with smokeless powder. There are plenty of resources that list serial numbers and years of manufacture.
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