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Old January 31, 2009, 09:57 PM   #1
DoRnbush
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.38 Super Auto in a .38 Spl +P revolver?

I just recently attended a gunshow and in the heat of things picked up two boxes of .38 Super Auto rounds instead of .38 Special +P. I have two S&W revolvers, a new 642 .38 Spl +P and a really old .357 snub-nose that belonged to my father which I shoot .38 Spl out of all the time. I know that I cannot use .38 Super Auto in a standard .38 Special but can I use it in my current +P rated revolvers? Or am I just stupid for asking if I can shoot semi-auto rounds out of a revolver?

Thanks for the insight.
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Old January 31, 2009, 10:12 PM   #2
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It's a pretty bad idea. Given the pressure that .38 Super runs at, a .357 Magnum revolver can handle the pressure but a revolver rated for .38 Spl or even .38 Spl +P isn't meant for those pressures. Also, it's a rimless round that's going to want to slide deep in the chamber and won't reliably fire in any case. If/when you do get it to fire, the bullet is smaller than expected in any .38/.357 revolver, so accuracy will likely be really bad and the cases will likely split as they don't fit properly.

Given that the .38 Super ammo was likely more expensive than what you meant to find, you might have luck swapping them with someone who needs them. Problem is that it's not what you'd call a common caliber, so finding someone who needs them won't be easy.

You aren't stupid for asking-- but it would be pretty stupid to do it without asking and damage yourself or one of your firearms.

But there is really nothing you'll gain from shooting them, other than a loud "bang" if you are able to detonate 'em.
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Old January 31, 2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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post an add in the classifieds to swap for ammo you can use.
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Old January 31, 2009, 10:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Also, it's a rimless round that's going to want to slide deep in the chamber and won't reliably fire in any case.
Actually, the .38 Super is a semi-rimmed case just like the .32 ACP so given a revolver with tight enough chambers it could feasibly headspace correctly. However, due to it's smallish rim, extraction problems would be likely. Given the higher pressures and incorrect bullet and case diameters it's still a very bad idea to try to shoot it in a .38 +P revolver.
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Old January 31, 2009, 10:36 PM   #5
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It shouldn't chamber in a .38 Special or a .357 magnum -- the case is too fat. However (this is scary) it might chamber just fine in an old top-break .38 S&W Hopefully it would only go in .775" and stop.
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Old January 31, 2009, 10:38 PM   #6
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NOOOOOOO!!!!!


NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

and

NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
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Old January 31, 2009, 11:32 PM   #7
Bill DeShivs
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.38 Super will chamber, and extract in .38 Special/.357 revolvers.
You shouldn't shoot it in them though!
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Old February 1, 2009, 10:32 AM   #8
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Your gun has the name of cartridge stamped into it somewhere. Use that cartridge as a general rule. If you are an expert, then you may know better. If you're asking about it on the Internet, you're not an expert. If you're taking the advice of anonymous people on the Internet, well...
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Old February 1, 2009, 12:43 PM   #9
Sevens
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I love the comments about taking advice from anonymous people on the internet...

What is the purpose of these forums?

Which is better, soliciting advice from good, normal people who've spent many years in the hobby and lifestyle, and taking all of those opinions and hoping to learn from it and make a decision-- or simply do something with no thought whatsoever?

It's not like some random goof has just asked us if it's okay to drink gasoline and light his farts here. People are basically good. Take in all the opinions, sort them out and try to apply some of it to your situation. That's a helluva lot different than picking out one post from an armchair internet ninja who might suggest he go out and do something that's obviously stupid or illegal or both.

Sheesh. Over the years I've learned a heap of invaluable info on firearms, reloading, concealed carry, motorcycles, home repair and a hundred other topics. All from reading and asking questions of normal GOOD people on the internet.
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Old February 1, 2009, 12:51 PM   #10
Mike Irwin
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I've shot .38 Super out of a .357 before. Worked just fine, but the rims very readily slip under the extractor star, tying things up.

Nominal base diameter on a .38 Super is .383, which is a bit larger than the listed nominal base diameter on a .357.

But I had no problems dropping them into the chambers on my Model 19.


That said...


I agree that it's really not a great idea to try it, especially not in a .38.
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Old February 1, 2009, 09:31 PM   #11
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While we're on the subject, can I shoot .410 slugs in my .45-70?

I can't believe that this post made it as far as it did without a resounding NO.
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Old February 1, 2009, 10:23 PM   #12
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OK my old loading manual says that the case is 5 thousandths fatter than a 38 or 357. So might be a snug fit. Also the loads are listing pressures like around 30,000 CUP, plus or minus, far in excess of +P 38. Not far in excess of 357 though. But the bullets are supposed to be .356 diameter which is not that much smaller than the 357 bullets, but might yield fair or poor accuracy in the magnum. If it is expensive ammo, it would be sort of a waste to use it in the improper gun and perhaps yield poor results or stuck cases etc. I like the idea of trading it off to someone. You could fire some in the magnum revolver just to give us a report of how well or unwell it worked, but then a partial box of the ammo is gonna be worth little as trading goods, for your trouble.
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Old February 2, 2009, 03:30 PM   #13
Daryl
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Just because it has ".38" in the name, it doesn't mean you can shoot it in any revolver that says ".38".

It's a different case, and the bullet is actually a tiny bit smaller. The bullet isn't a problem, but the case is.

Don't do it.

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Old February 2, 2009, 03:32 PM   #14
Mike Irwin
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"You could fire some in the magnum revolver just to give us a report of how well or unwell it worked"

I've already reported that. It worked just fine. Extraction was an issue because of the miniscule rim.

Accuracy was just fine. .001 difference in bullet diameter is nothing.
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Old February 2, 2009, 03:59 PM   #15
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One of my favorite gun-store quotes; when a customer asked for .38 Super and the employee put a box of .38 Special on the counter, the customer asked if that was the correct ammo? The employee responded, "This will work in all .38s, that's why they call it 'Special'."
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Old February 2, 2009, 04:01 PM   #16
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Ouch.

Now I have a headache.
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Old February 2, 2009, 04:07 PM   #17
Tom2
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Well what I meant was if he was gonna go ahead and do it, I wanted to hear what happens(morbid curiosity?). Otherwise I did not say he ought to do it. I would not.
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Old February 2, 2009, 04:20 PM   #18
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I'd trade ya', but I'm running a little low on specials myself.
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Old February 2, 2009, 07:27 PM   #19
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winchester 38+p+ is rated at 23,500 C.U.P. which is approx a 30% overload for 38 spl. If 38 super is 30,000 I would say it is a big no no.
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Old April 25, 2009, 07:23 AM   #20
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I thought I knew...

I am somewhat relieved and frustrated at the same time, relieved that I found this forum with a good group of knowledgeable folks, and frustrated that I have shot a half box of .38 Super through my new GP-161! I purchased the ammo from / at the same place (gun and ammo laying on the counter) nobody saying a word.
I'm not "new" to the gun world but had no idea there was a difference between "Super" and "Special", especially considering the Remmington box clearly states "50 centerfire pistol and revolver cartridges". Admittedly I never gave the word "pistol" in that statement enough thought.
They were a little snug (2 cylinder holes were sized perfectly) and didn't eject as my other revolver does. It being a new gun, and some fitting I thought perhaps something wrong with the cylinder...and now I know better!
As far as accuracy, brother look out cause it wasn't bad.
Anyway sorry for the long post and thanks to all for the insight!!!
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Old April 25, 2009, 09:47 AM   #21
lmccrock
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There is (was?) an 8-shot S&W revolver in 38 Super, expected to be loaded with the Super rounds in moon clips.

So, with ammo prices as they are, if you have a couple boxes 38 super ammo around, may as well buy a new gun to go with the ammo.

Lee
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Old April 25, 2009, 10:17 AM   #22
harry carey
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dimensions vary greatly on S&W revs. M19 is large chambered. old S&W guns are large dimensioned. I know . there is a reason I have 38 cast bullets in 356, 357, 358, 359, and unsized 359 or 360 at the seam. commercial molds are smaller than hand molds. I buy unsized comm. bullets .359 at seam .3585 away from seam, graphite dipped for old guns, this is why I have sold almost all of the old guns. I will be resizing already sized bullets soon for a S&W 547 9mm rev. I am loading wadcutters in it. 356 is the best bullet dimension, 355 throats. 357 bullets are difficult to load but not impossible.
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Old April 25, 2009, 04:05 PM   #23
sandbag
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Don't

I would say don't shoot it in a .38+p revolver.
You "could"safely shoot it in a .357,but the round wasn't designed for that revolver,and while no "kaboom"would result,other problems could occur.
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Old April 25, 2009, 09:04 PM   #24
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I've done it as well.

Shot factory loaded Super .38 from two or three revolvers, both .357 Magnum and .38 Special - one M36 Smith, to be precise.

They shot pretty much normally, as I recall; nor did I have much problem with extraction. (But then, I'm one of those 'muzzle up, pump and shake' types.)

Having said all that, it's probably not the best idea for routine use. More one of those 'having a really bad day' solutions.

Also, I'm in the Long Beach, CA area and I have a couple boxes of factory (Remington, I think) .38 Special +p ammo I would be happy to trade, provided neither of us will go to jail in the process.
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Old April 25, 2009, 09:57 PM   #25
Radagast
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This thread got me interested, so I checked. .38 Super is a very tight fit in the chambers of my model 66 - they have to be pushed in, and the extractor does work. I'll stick to shooting the correct rounds however.
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