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Old November 29, 2011, 06:14 AM   #1
markofkane
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Can you shoot a S&W 38 in a 38 Special gun?

I have a box of Winchester S&W 38's. It was bought probably several years ago. (the price back then was about $11 for 100 cartridges) It does not say "special". I just want to make sure that it's safe to shoot in a S&W 38 special revolver. I am assuming that the 38 special cartridge is longer, and these are shorter, but should be safe to use. Am I right?
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Old November 29, 2011, 06:55 AM   #2
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They`ll be safe but mite not hit where ya aim !

Be sure they got enuff umphh to exit the muzzle also

There hard to find in some places ,someone may make ya a trade.
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Old November 29, 2011, 07:01 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
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Chances are they simply won't fit in the .38 Special cylinder.

The .38 S&W uses a fatter case and a slightly larger bullet than the .38 Special.

If your chambers are sloppy, or if the cases are undersized, and you can fit them into your gun, yes, you can shoot them.

You may get leading from the larger bullet, but the .38 S&W operates at significantly less pressure than the .38 Special.
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Old November 29, 2011, 07:16 AM   #4
markofkane
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Thanks!!
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Old November 29, 2011, 07:19 AM   #5
MLeake
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With all of $11 into the ammo, I wouldn't think the hassle of removing leading, or a squibbed round, would be worth it.

I'd either sell the ammo, or find an old S&W or Iver Johnson revolver in .38S&W...
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Old November 29, 2011, 10:26 AM   #6
carguychris
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Quote:
The .38 S&W uses a fatter case and a slightly larger bullet than the .38 Special... If... you can fit them into your gun, yes, you can shoot them.
+1, however here's my take on it whenever this topic comes up.

.38S&W uses a 0.361"-caliber bullet, whereas .38Spl uses a 0.357"-caliber bullet. Although .38S&W is technically oversize, the 0.004" difference is very small.

Most commercial .38S&W is loaded with RN bullets made of very soft lead similar to that often used for .22LR. These bullets are generally safe to fire through a 0.357"-caliber barrel because the soft lead readily "snugs down" to fit through the undersize bore. Although this causes a slight pressure spike, the cartridge operates at such low pressure that it's unlikely to damage any quality modern firearm; .38S&W is only loaded about as hot as a .38Spl "mouse phart" wadcutter. (In fact, S&W reportedly built most of their postwar swing-out cylinder .38S&W revolvers with 0.357"-caliber barrels to simplify parts inventories.)

THAT SAID...

Vintage British military ammo and a few vintage commercial loads used FMJ bullets. I would NOT recommend firing these bullets through a 0.357"-caliber gun because the copper jackets are harder than lead and may cause squibs. If you insist on doing it, watch and listen VERY carefully to verify that each bullet has actually gone downrange!
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Old November 29, 2011, 10:59 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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"Most commercial .38S&W is loaded with RN bullets made of very soft lead..."

Hence my comment about bore leading.



"Vintage British military ammo and a few vintage commercial loads used FMJ bullets."

These cartridges (if they can be found anymore, the surplus has largely dried up) should NOT be fired through old American breaktop revolvers.

The barrel steels on these guns are a lot softer and the hard jacketed bullet will generally wash out the rifling in a few hundred rounds, especially the ones made during the black powder era.
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Old November 29, 2011, 11:13 PM   #8
jhvaughan2
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Generally 38 S&W is harder to come by than special. Find someone who wants it and trade them for 38 special. I'll do it if you happen to be in the Atlanta Area.
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Old November 29, 2011, 11:37 PM   #9
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While I never tried actually firing it, Remington .38 S&W (purchased for my Webley Mk. IV) ammunition chambers just fine in all my .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers (S&W Models 36 no-dash, 66-2, and 28-2). I've heard that many Colt revolvers in .38 S&W had groove diameters of .358", so I can't help but wonder if the Remington ammo doesn't use .358" bullets with a hollow base to obturate to larger bores. Fired cases that have been resized with my Lee dies and brand new Starline cases, however, won't chamber in anything I own but my Webley.
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Old November 30, 2011, 07:02 AM   #10
madcratebuilder
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Quote:
I have a box of Winchester S&W 38's.
You should make this an opportunity to find a nice old .38S&W hand ejector.
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Old November 30, 2011, 07:36 AM   #11
darkgael
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diameter

Case head diameters:
.38 S&W = 0.3865"
.38 S&W Special = 0.3790".
Depending on your cylinder.....75 thousandths might be too much.
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Old November 30, 2011, 07:49 AM   #12
markofkane
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I live in IL, so too far away for trade, lol. I may get lucky and find an old 38 that can shoot these rounds.
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Old November 30, 2011, 08:46 AM   #13
Chettt
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Yeah that's God telling you to get another revolver.
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Old November 30, 2011, 09:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
While I never tried actually firing it, Remington .38 S&W (purchased for my Webley Mk. IV) ammunition chambers just fine in all my .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers . . .
Same here. I have exactly 17 revolvers in .38/.357 and one (an S&W Terrier) in .38 S&W, which is why I had a couple boxes of Remington .38 S&W ammo on the shelf. It chambered just fine in all 17 of them. I haven't tried actually firing it either, but I suspect it would work fine.
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Old November 30, 2011, 03:51 PM   #15
darkgael
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OK

Quote:
75 thousandths might be too much.
Quote:
I have exactly 17 revolvers in .38/.357 and one (an S&W Terrier) in .38 S&W, which is why I had a couple boxes of Remington .38 S&W ammo on the shelf. It chambered just fine in all 17 of them.
And then maybe 75 thou doesn't matter.
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Old November 30, 2011, 05:50 PM   #16
SIGSHR
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You could probably fire 38 S&W out of an S&W British model originally chambered in 38 S&W and reamed out for 38 Special.
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