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Old March 27, 2014, 10:51 AM   #1
SaxonPig
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Just to stir up trouble...

On the strength of the D frame Colt, here's an ad from the early 1950s in which Colt states the D frame can handle the 38/44 load. This is way, way more powerful than current "P+." I believe they were not lying, and the gun would not come apart shooting this ammo, but I probably wouldn't shoot thousands of 38/44s through a D frame as it would take a pounding after a while.

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Old March 27, 2014, 11:03 AM   #2
Hal
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LOL!
You go first, I'll watch from over there some place
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Old March 27, 2014, 04:54 PM   #3
redhawk45
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Parts, service, and finding gunsmiths who were familiar with Colt guns back then was not a problem like it is today. Colt could provide any repair, even frames. Not so today which may be the real factor in not shooting the more powerful loads.
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Old March 27, 2014, 08:50 PM   #4
Bob Wright
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Yes, the Colt Police Positive Special can handle .38-44 Special ammunition. Probably better than the shooter can. And, probably not for extended heavy duty use.

But remember, at that time, S&W K-framed revolvers were rated for .38 Special standard loads only.

Colt sort of digging in the spurs there.

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Old March 27, 2014, 09:23 PM   #5
GaryED50
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I thought the 38/44 was the precursor to the 38 special?

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Old March 27, 2014, 09:51 PM   #6
old bear
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I thought the 38/44 was the precursor to the 38 special?
Gary, it's the other way around.
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Old March 27, 2014, 11:09 PM   #7
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Gary, it's the other way around.
Ooops I had it backwards sorry bout that

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Old March 28, 2014, 06:15 AM   #8
Hal
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I thought the 38/44 was the precursor to the 38 special?
Nope - wasn't the other way around either.

The .38/44 was a jacked .38spl that Remington put out a little bit before the ,357 Mag came along.
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Old March 28, 2014, 08:20 AM   #9
Bob Wright
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Aha! the .38-44 Smith & Wesson was an old blackpowder round for target use in the No. 3 Target Model S&W. It had the bullet seated entirely within the case, the case being full length of the cylinder.

The .38-44 Special was the +P (more or less) round of the day.

Both got their -44 suffix as being intended for use in .44 framed revolvers.

Incidentally, not all .38-44 Special rounds were jacketed. Lead bullets were used, as were metal capped/lead bearing bullets. The latter has a lead nose cap, but lead bearing surfaces. There were a few metal piercing rounds also, as I recall.

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Old March 28, 2014, 08:44 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
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Nice ad.

My PPS is in .32-20.

I love how they list all of the cartridges that can be fired in the .38, including the Short and Long Colts, which were either still in production or not long out of production.
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Old March 28, 2014, 08:48 AM   #11
Hal
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Incidentally, not all .38-44 Special rounds were jacketed
Jacked Bob, as in jacked up not jacketed. .

Also - the ad in the OP does say .38/44 S&W Special.
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Old March 28, 2014, 09:01 AM   #12
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I've got a couple of other things I want to get first, but at some point I plan on picking up a Police Positive Special. Good to know that it will handle some +P with no immediate harm if I wanted to use it for serious purposes.

I load my Colt Agent, which I do carry, with +Ps but practice with standard pressure. I figure it will shoot a cylinder full without problems and if I need it for defensive purposes, I've got bigger things to worry about than wearing out the gun. For the uninitiated, the Agent has a better trigger than a SW J-frame could ever dream of having and is a six shooter. It is a lightweight version of the Detective Special, more or less.
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Old March 28, 2014, 09:16 AM   #13
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My D frames have digested many a thing without choking

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Old March 28, 2014, 10:28 AM   #14
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All concerns about using current +P is based on a fallacy. People THINK it's a hot load. It's not. It is loaded well below maximum allowable pressure. That's why I laugh every time the subject comes up and folks say "I avoid a steady diet" or "+P is OK for occasional use."

Repeating, it is loaded BELOW maximum allowable pressure. So why limit it's use at all? I don't get it. Frankly, I find mainstream +P to be a mild target load. Cases do not expand and seal the chamber which is sure sign of low pressure. The empties fall from the cylinder simply by pointing the muzzle up. Absolutely no signs of any excessive pressure. Indeed, signs of very low pressure.

Yet the myth continues and some guys defend it tooth and nail.

Oh well...
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Old March 28, 2014, 11:00 AM   #15
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Most .38 Special +P I have encountered, which is not a great deal, is loaded to a higher velocity than standard, and my handloads pretty well duplicate, or exceed those velocities. And, using the same bullet weight, higher velocity translates into more recoil generated.

The cylinder is going to safely contain the pressure. The damaging effects come from recoil. Recoil stresses the frame, especially in the top strap, and does batter internal parts more.

While I have never had problems with .38 Specials, which get less use in my battery, I have stretched the top strap of a .357 Magnum, stretched to the point the rear of the cylinder bound against the top strap.

Do what you want to with your guns, but exceeding manufacturer's recommendations is never a good idea.

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Old March 28, 2014, 11:17 AM   #16
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1. The old .38-44 has no real connection to the .38-44 of the 1930's. The old .38-44 is an elongated .38 S&W (case length c. 1.48", longer than the .357), so is larger in diameter than the .38 Special.

2. The .38 Special +P runs a maximum average pressure of 18,500, vs a MAP of 17,000 for the .38 Special, so it is, at least on paper, a bit "hotter". But I can guarantee that many of us loaded the .38 Special a lot hotter than that, getting close to .357 velocities in guns like the Colt OM and the S&W .38-44 Heavy Duty. I at least, never blew up any guns, but don't know how close I might have come. My old HD is in the safe, though, and I still have all my assorted appendages.

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Old March 28, 2014, 11:34 AM   #17
Hal
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I at least, never blew up any guns, but don't know how close I might have come
Fellow TFL member Clark has.
Or at least he's made every (un)reasonable effort to do so!

He's been doing that for a good 13 or 14 years that I know of now.

What's surprised me is how much effort he has to put into getting a gun to actually come apart - even the cheap junk top breaks.

His posts are interesting reading.
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Old March 28, 2014, 12:02 PM   #18
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it is loaded BELOW maximum allowable pressure. So why limit it's use at all? I don't get it.
If you think max allowable pressure is when you have to beat the empties out of the cylinder, then yes, the .38SPL+p is very mild.

Limiting the use of +p in some guns isn't a matter of what is "safe", what the gun will take before blowing up, or anything close to that.

Its about general use, and a huge range of possible guns that the ammo can be fired from.

Any properly built .38 Special that actually is damaged by a couple of cylinders of +p is a fluke.

However, some guns will wear at an accelerated rate given a steady diet of +p loads. How many will it take? no body can know. SO they recommend limited use.
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Old March 28, 2014, 12:12 PM   #19
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The original S&W Chiefs Specials were advertised as safe with ALL the then current 38SPL cartridges. I have shot thousands of 38/44 handloads though J-frame pistols with no problems whatsoever. ALL K-frame 38's with the model number in the frame are perfectly safe with any 38+P factory loadings available.
I have NO doubt the Colt mentioned in the start of this thread is perfectly fine for useage of ALL the ammunition noted in that Colt advertisement.
FOR SOME REASON most of you young squirts think that those guns of yore were made outta old beer cans. THEY WERE NOT , and their modern equivelents are not either. Matter of fact they are a DAMN site tougher than you think and I used to get paid to blow 'em up just to see how far they would go. EVERYTHING I noted here pertains to revolvers and to NOTHING else. Autoloaders sometimes act they were made a damnsite cheaper. Truth be told they are !!!
And so it goes...
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Old March 28, 2014, 12:43 PM   #20
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Bob- you are comparing standard loads to +P and assuming +P is hot. No, standard loads are incredibly underpowered. Of course +P will look hot compared to them. Go by the SAAMI specs, and +P is very mild mannered. Standard loads are positively anemic. All American made 38 Special revolvers are made for 21,500 PSI ammo. Current +P is loaded no higher than 20,000. How is using it exceeding manufacturer's recommendations?

Oh, right. S&W now says not to use +P in guns not stamped for it. That's a hoot. Guess where that advice came from? Hint: pin stripe suits and briefcases. It's called extreme CYA.

But I do want to know how you are stretching frames that badly. Never heard of that happening before.

Like I said, the never ending argument.

Wil- thanks for your input. I read Elmer Keith write about shooting 38/44s in an Airweight Chief (alloy frame) back in 1955. He said recoil was intense and coming from him that is a meaningful comment.
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Old March 28, 2014, 12:48 PM   #21
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If I was to use those 38/44 loads it would be in a Offical Police, not the PP.

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Old March 29, 2014, 02:47 AM   #22
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Repeating, it is loaded BELOW maximum allowable pressure. So why limit it's use at all? I don't get it. Frankly, I find mainstream +P to be a mild target load. Cases do not expand and seal the chamber which is sure sign of low pressure. The empties fall from the cylinder simply by pointing the muzzle up. Absolutely no signs of any excessive pressure. Indeed, signs of very low pressure.
Because shooting a continuous diet of ammunition loaded right up to the ragged edge of allowable pressure, while not likely to cause a catastrophic failure, will dramatically shorten the life of a gun. You're not likely to blow up a vintage Colt D-Frame or S&W J-Frame by shooting +P ammo, or even .38/44 ammo, but you're going to have problems like timing issues and excessive endshake a lot sooner than if you'd limited the use of such ammunition.

Now, if you want to shoot maximum loads in your guns all the time, that's fine. They're your guns and nobody but you has to pay the gunsmith when you beat them up. That being said, for someone who wishes to pass their guns on to their children and grandchildren, it would be wise to be a bit more conservative about what ammunition is shot in vintage guns.
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Old March 29, 2014, 06:20 AM   #23
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I can say with absolute certainty that +Ps ( and not that many of them) are no good for an alloy J frame Smith like a Model 37.
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Old March 29, 2014, 07:31 AM   #24
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I will reiterate what I said last time this came up...

A guy I know shot a US Navy marked Victory model to uselessness with a steady diet of +P ammunition. It was solid before, and by the time he was done the endshake was so bad that it was failing to fire a significant portion of the time.
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Old March 29, 2014, 04:22 PM   #25
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MIke, how many rounds did it take? Hundreds, thousands? Less? Seems the only way this issue is ever going to get put to bed is for someone do perform a documented test using an old S&W and test it to failure! (I like mine to much to volunteer! If I ever pick up another one, though, I'd probably be willing to sacrifice it in the name of science)
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