The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old March 7, 2013, 09:00 AM   #1
andywren
Junior Member
 
Join Date: March 6, 2013
Posts: 4
S&W Break Top 38, Black powder cartridges?

S&W Break Top 38, Black powder cartridges?
I need some help. I have my Grandfather's revolver. It is a S&W 38, five shot break top revolver. The last Pat. date is April 9, 1885 and the serial number is 438845. The cylinder is 1 3/16 inches long and the barrel is 4". The barrel is stamped 38 S&W CTG 1.

Does anyone know what black powder amo I should have for it and where to purchase it?

Thanks
andywren is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 12:26 PM   #2
10851Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 20, 2009
Location: High Desert Mountains CA.
Posts: 410
Hello,

Your pistol is chambered for .38 S&W. The difference between .38 S&W and .38 Spl is length of the case and the charge.

.38 S&W is a black powder cartridge. As I recall, you can also shoot .38 Short Colt in this pistol.

Your pistol sounds like a 'third model' double action, of which about 216,300 were made between 1895-1909. The serial number range stretched from 322,701 to 539,000.

Sounds like you have a nice pistol there...

Last edited by 10851Man; March 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM.
10851Man is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 01:10 PM   #3
BirchOrr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 25, 2012
Location: Eaton Rapids, MI
Posts: 348
Pictures please?

Need to see this beauty!



Birch
__________________
Black Powder: Not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
BirchOrr is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 06:24 PM   #4
Newton24b
Junior member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2009
Posts: 974
all it can use is .38 smith and wesson cartridges. low powered smokeless ammo can be found online, but its EXPENSIVE. Black powder cartridges can be found, but are EXPENSIVE.

reloading for it is alright except.

the metal is old. the springs are not the best in the world. do you really want to shoot something that may require you to spend a few hundred dollars to purchase an identical gun to get a single replacement part you break the first time you shoot it?
Newton24b is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 06:45 PM   #5
Bishop Creek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2011
Posts: 219
I have an old 1890s Iver Johnson that shoots .38 S&W. I reload but sometimes order loaded black powder cartridges from Buffalo Arms:

http://www.buffaloarms.com/38_Smith_....aspx?CAT=4442
Bishop Creek is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 07:56 PM   #6
TomADC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 14, 2009
Posts: 554
I'm surprised there isn't any load data for it using Trail Boss.
__________________
US Navy Retired,NRA Life Member,SASS member, Time magazine's Person of the Year 2006!
TomADC is offline  
Old March 7, 2013, 11:53 PM   #7
Newton24b
Junior member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2009
Posts: 974
hodgdon has given out very generic loading advice for trailboss. contact them for it. however, it is a standard feeling world wide that a black powder dated frame should not be used with any kind of smokeless.
Newton24b is offline  
Old March 8, 2013, 12:05 AM   #8
44 Dave
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 24, 2013
Posts: 111
Got some 38 S&W last summer to shoot old Colt, yes EXPENSIVE and was told they are "seasonal", they only run a batch once in a while. With the amo. shortage, wonder when the next season may come.
44 Dave is offline  
Old March 8, 2013, 12:30 AM   #9
McShooty
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 4, 2012
Location: Northern Missouri
Posts: 338
Midway lists 10X Cowboy ammo in .38 S&W. I am not sure that is a black powder load but it would be light and would probably work in an old S&W, but of course, it is out of stock with no back order. Find a friend with .38 S&W dies, then get some Pyrodex "P" or some FFFg black powder and some soft bullets. Bullets for .38 Sp will work, and MagTech sells 146 gr bullets for the .38 S&W.
McShooty is offline  
Old March 8, 2013, 10:12 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,982
"our pistol is chambered for .38 S&W. The difference between .38 S&W and .38 Spl is length of the case and the charge."

No, there are more differences than that.

The .38 S&W also has a case that is larger in diameter (it may or may not chamber in a .38 Special handgun, depending on how loose the chambers are), and bullet diameter, which is .361+- in the .38 S&W.

The .38 S&W was a one-off cartridge. It was a new development and it was never developed any farther.

The .38 Special was derived from the .38 Short and Long Colt cartridges.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old March 8, 2013, 10:47 AM   #11
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 11,072
S&W smith David Chicoine recommends not shooting smokeless in guns earlier than the 1907-1909 era. Sorry, I don't have the book with me to see what model yours is.

That said, .38 S&W is not now loaded any hotter now than it ever was and a few will not blow up an antique. At least they haven't mine.

The 1880s .38s are very handy little guns, the then equivalent of a Chief's Special. They are a lot more packable than a big old horse killing .45.
Jim Watson is online now  
Old March 8, 2013, 11:14 AM   #12
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,982
The problem is that black powder and smokeless powder have very different pressure curves, and the pressure curve generated by smokeless powder can lead to GREATLY increase wear and tear on guns that were often made of soft iron.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old March 9, 2013, 12:52 PM   #13
andywren
Junior Member
 
Join Date: March 6, 2013
Posts: 4
S&W Break Top 38, Black powder cartridges

Thanks to all who replied,
The information is a great help! I don't plan to shoot this revolver, just wanted amo in case of EMERGENCY. Here are pics of gun which was handed down to me, grandfather to father, to son.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg S&W38#1.JPG (208.4 KB, 43 views)
File Type: jpg S&W38#2.JPG (220.6 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg S&W38#3.JPG (205.8 KB, 27 views)
andywren is offline  
Old March 11, 2013, 11:34 AM   #14
10851Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 20, 2009
Location: High Desert Mountains CA.
Posts: 410
I have an original 1862 production 1860 Colt Army and frequently shoot it.
10851Man is offline  
Old March 13, 2013, 11:27 AM   #15
Noz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 25, 2009
Posts: 643
Just a note: The 38 S&W case can be used as the base case to make a 9mm Federal cartridge. 9mm Federal is a rimmed 9mm cartridge that was developed to shoot in a revolver. Did not fly, was not accepted by the shooting public. Some guns are still around but no ammunition.
If you have one and want to shoot it I can tell you the steps to take.
Noz is offline  
Old March 13, 2013, 02:28 PM   #16
McShooty
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 4, 2012
Location: Northern Missouri
Posts: 338
I go with Mr. Irwin on the question of black vs smokeless powder in old guns. If you load your own and don't mind cleaning a little, you can have a lot of fun without using smokeless.

One thing, though. I would like to see some report of results for long-term use of Trail Boss in the oldies, like the .38 shown here.

I have used 1.4-1.6 gr Trail boss in the .32 S&W with bullets from round ball to the 88 gr sold by MagTech. Results have been good, and no problems. This with a Model 1-1/2 single action and a double action, top break, 4th issue. This is not a long-term report, however.
McShooty is offline  
Old March 13, 2013, 10:54 PM   #17
radom
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 21, 2000
Posts: 1,296
Not a fan of trail boss in old guns at all due to the sharp pressure spike with the stuff. There are a lot of other powders out there that have a slower presure curve and even less than BP. Never have used the stuff but looking at lab presure curves all I can say is ouch.
radom is offline  
Old March 14, 2013, 07:07 AM   #18
Magnum Wheel Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2006
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 8,246
I reload 1000's of rounds of both 32 & 38 S&W for my top breaks... Trailboss is my most used powder... I have 3 load levels for both 32 & 38 S&W...

these are my 38's... ( a couple bigger bores mixed in on the bottom ) all of these guns have been fired with Trailboss... & yes, the pressure curve "can" be higher, but the powder is safe with lower charge loadings, than most any other powder... so if I want a "hotter" loading, I use other powders, but if I want a lower power loading, like I have a revolver check out load that uses a fraction of a grain of Trailboss, & a soft lead round ball ( much less powder than I'd feel safe with any other powder )... this load is safe in any gun that times out ok...

__________________
In life you either make dust or eat dust...

Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; March 14, 2013 at 07:28 AM.
Magnum Wheel Man is offline  
Old March 16, 2013, 11:03 AM   #19
TomADC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 14, 2009
Posts: 554
I only have two neither are S&W the top one is a Forehand in 38 and the bottom is a Iver Johnson in 32.

__________________
US Navy Retired,NRA Life Member,SASS member, Time magazine's Person of the Year 2006!
TomADC is offline  
Old March 18, 2013, 07:08 PM   #20
10851Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 20, 2009
Location: High Desert Mountains CA.
Posts: 410
Neat!
10851Man is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11268 seconds with 10 queries