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Old December 29, 2011, 10:36 AM   #1
docbruce
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Value and ammunition for S&W special CTG

I would like to know the value of a S &W .38 Special CTG Serial # K 437XX. It is in good to excellent condition. Also, is a 180 grain lead round nose sufficient for self defense stopping power? (used in the .38 revolver)

Last edited by docbruce; December 29, 2011 at 10:48 AM.
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Old December 29, 2011, 10:48 AM   #2
carguychris
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Quote:
I would like to know the value of a S &W .38 Special CTG Serial # 437XX.
More info is needed to answer this question.

Is the gun 6-shot or 5-shot? Is the frame aluminum alloy or steel? (A magnet is helpful to determine this.) Is the rear sight adjustable?

If 5-shot, is the hammer spurred, shrouded, or concealed?

Post-1957 guns will have a model number inside the yoke cut, i.e. the part of the frame that is exposed when the cylinder is opened. You should see something like "MOD 10-5", which means the gun is a Model 10 "dash five", i.e. 5th engineering revision.

Also, did you find the 437XX number on the butt or inside the yoke cut? S&Ws often have meaningless assembly numbers inside the yoke cut; the serial number will be on the butt. You may have to remove the grips or stocks to view it. Older-production guns will have the serial number repeated on the cylinder face and under the barrel above the ejector rod (assuming the cylinder and barrel are original).
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Old December 29, 2011, 12:38 PM   #3
Dave Anderson
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Quote:
S &W .38 Special CTG Serial # K 437XX.
It appears as though the original post was edited to add the K prefix at the same time carguychris was sending his post. It is an important bit of information that narrows down the search considerably.

The K prefix was introduced after WW II and was used by S&W on K-frame revolvers with adjustable sights. K 437XX dates to 1948. In caliber .38 Special it would be the model then called the K-38 Masterpiece with 6" barrel. The Combat Masterpiece (most often found with 4" barrel) also used the K prefix but did not go into production until late 1949.

For value you might search the gunsamerica, gunsinternational, and gunbroker sites. I've seen them advertised recently at prices from between $400 - $1,000.

Quote:
is a 180 grain lead round nose sufficient for self defense stopping power? (used in the .38 revolver)
Lead round nose bullets do one thing well, they align easily with the chambers while reloading with speedloaders, enhancing reloading speed and consistency. For self defense they would be about my last choice, most any other bullet configuration would be better.
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Old December 29, 2011, 04:18 PM   #4
docbruce
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Thanks for S&W ;answers

I believe the I.D. is correct. It has a 6" barrel and is 6-shot. The serial number is on the bottom of the hand grip. 1948 is about right for when it was purchased.

Thanks.
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Old December 29, 2011, 05:02 PM   #5
357 Python
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Since your revolver seems to have been made prior to 1957 I would shoot standard pressure ammo in it. I'm not sure if it would be safe to shoot +P loads in it. When in doubt err on the side of caution. I do know that those made after 1957 are fine with +P ammo. To be absolutely sure give S&W a call after the first of the year and talk to them. With the serial number they will give you the year it was made and if asked they will say yea or nea to the use of +P ammo.
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Old December 29, 2011, 05:10 PM   #6
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I wouldn't recommend a 180gr bullet for your .38 Special. The round is a bit heavy, and there's a chance of over-penetrations due to its slowness. As a rule, round-nose lead bullets are not good man stoppers.

For self-defense purposes, you should consider a 158gr SWC, at standard pressure. Your revolver is not rated for .38 Special +P ammunition. +P should only be used in S&W revolvers that have a model number stamped in the crane cut. Model numbers were assigned at about mid-year 1957.

There are those who will say that +P ammunition shouldn't harm an all-steel revolver. However, S&W changed their heat treating of K frames in the 1950's, and the guidelines should be followed.
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:39 AM   #7
Walklightly
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I wouldn't recommend a 180gr bullet for your .38 Special. The round is a bit heavy, and there's a chance of over-penetrations due to its slowness.
Why would slowness make over penetrations?
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Old January 3, 2012, 04:27 PM   #8
Walklightly
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Why would slowness make over penetrations?
Well!?
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Old January 3, 2012, 04:35 PM   #9
oneounceload
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38's were generally set up to fire the standard 158gr bullet very accurately. I would (and do) use that bullet weight for HD/SD
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Old January 3, 2012, 04:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Why would slowness make over penetrations?
Well!?
I think his theory is that the slower, heavy bullet would not use up energy in expanding , and therefor penetrate more. Like a FMJ bullet. As a lighter, faster bullet would use up a lot of energy by expanding, and also then have a larger frontal area which would be further resisted in passing through whatever it hits. Probably a theory that can only be proven with ballistic gel testing. It may have already been done somewhere.
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Old January 3, 2012, 06:08 PM   #11
pendennis
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Walklightly wrote:

Quote:
Why would slowness make over penetrations?
Large round-nose bullets at low velocities tend to over penetrate, because they don't have sufficient velocity to expand when they hit the target; in this case, the human body. The design of the round nose and low velocity combine to create a kind of paradox. Unless the bullet hits fairly solid mass (bones are the best example), they tend to keep moving; following the path of least resistence, until they exit.

Humans are good, soft tissue targets. Soft tissue targets are best stopped with expanding bullets - hollow points in hand guns, soft points and hollow points at high velocity (rifle bullets).

Heavy-skinned targets, e.g. bears, rhinos, elephants, all go down faster with bullets moving at medium velocities but have tough round noses to penetrate deeply.

One only needs to go back to the war of 1861-1865, to see the results of big, soft bullets and slow speed.
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Old January 4, 2012, 04:12 AM   #12
Walklightly
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To many dynamics

The expansion thing makes sense, or there for lack of expansion. The person I asked never replied.

I just wanted him to back up his own statement, but you did it for him.

Thanks
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Old January 4, 2012, 06:52 AM   #13
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"The person I asked never replied."

Uhm... Yeah, he did.
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Old January 4, 2012, 07:36 AM   #14
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So you wanted to see his work, even though he gave a correct answer? Is this chem lab?

Seriously, there are tons of existing threads detailing the relationships between bullet type, weight, and velocity vs penetration and expansion. TFL search, and for that matter Google, are your friends...
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Old January 5, 2012, 02:57 PM   #15
Walklightly
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Yep!
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