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Hard Ball
October 1, 2002, 04:21 PM
When was the .38 Special Smith&Wesson cartridge introduced?
The first revolver that could have been chambered for it was the .38 Hand Ejector introduced in 1899 and produced from 1899 to 1902. Some books imply that the .38 Special cartridge was offered in 1899. Others say it was introduced sometime after 1899 but before 1902. Still others say it was not intoduced until sometime after 1902.
Also, since it was a blackpowder cartridge, does any one know the weight of the powder charge in the original .38 Special cartridges?:confused:

James K
October 1, 2002, 06:33 PM
From U.S. Cartridges and Their Handguns, by Charles Suydam (one of the real cartridge experts).

Quote

First chambered in the First Model Hand Ejector of 1899, the .38 Smith & Wesson Special cartridge was first made by UMC early in 1899; cartridges were sent to Smith & Wesson for trial in May of that year. Original loads were of 18 grains of black powder, with an overall cartridge length of 1.570". In June, 1899, the powder charge was changed to 21.5 grains; bullet weight was presumably the 158 grain still used. The first smokeless powder loadings were made in September, 1899, probably 3.6 grains of Bullseye. In 1908 the overall length wa reduced to 1.560"; when the present nominal length of 1.550" was adopted is not known.

Unquote.

The revolvers made for the military were marked "S&W .38 MIL.". Civilian guns were marked .38 S&W SPECIAL &/U.S. SERVICE CTG'S". The U.S. service cartridge was, of course, the cartridge we know as the .38 Long Colt.

The same cartridge was loaded as the .38 Colt Special starting in 1906; the only difference was that the "Colt" round had a flat point bullet which some considered as greatly increasing the "stopping power".

HTH

Jim

C.R.Sam
October 1, 2002, 11:37 PM
The revolvers made for the military were marked "S&W .38 MIL.". Civilian guns were marked .38 S&W SPECIAL &/U.S. SERVICE CTG'S". The U.S. service cartridge was, of course, the cartridge we know as the .38 Long Colt.

Clarification...guns chambered for the .38 Special may also use the .38 Long Colt BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

The .38 Special case is approx 0.13" longer than the .38 Long Colt.

Sam

Waitone
October 2, 2002, 10:11 AM
Edited to remove really stupid question.

James K
October 2, 2002, 11:16 PM
Hi, Sam,

IIRC, the military guns were marked that way because the ammunition the military had was the old .38, but the gun chambers were actually the same as for the civilian model and would accept the .38 Special as well.

Jim

BigG
October 3, 2002, 08:12 AM
...U.S. Cartridges and Their Handguns, by Charles Suydam (one of the real cartridge experts).

So, Jim, I take it "Cartridges of the World" (Barnes) is not the definitive source?

Is the book you cite still available or only on used book market?

I'd like to get a copy.

Mike Irwin
October 3, 2002, 10:49 AM
Barnes is a good general source of information, but by no means is he definitive.

People like Suydam, Fred Datig, Dave Andrews, Jean Huon, etc., have all written exceptional books on cartridge history and development.

Unfortunatly, there's one great truism about books on cartridges. They tend to be expensive. VERY expensive.

10 years ago I made a short list of about a dozen books that I wanted for my cartridge library. Factoring in shipping, I was close to $700.

Chuck Dye
October 3, 2002, 11:52 AM
BigG,

Go to http://www.addall.com, a great book metasearcher, and run the used book search (no hits in new books.) You will find copies for from $35 to $75. Run the search on the author's name and you will also find his book on rimfire cartridges.

Hard Ball
October 4, 2002, 01:31 PM
I have one of the S&W 1899 Model government contract revolvers. Its cylinder will accept .38 Special caertridges.

James K
October 4, 2002, 02:54 PM
Hi, BigG,

Since you addressed me directly, I will have to say I agree with Mike. COTW is pretty good, but has some errors. It is a good general source, but Datig's books and some others are much better. The best on U.S. military is the two volume set "History of United States Military Small Arms Ammunition (1880-1939 and 1940-1945)" by Hackley, Woodin, and Scranton. The basic sources were Frankford Arsenal records, covering the ammuntion FA itself made. But FA was also the contracting office for all the government ammunition contracts for the period, so those records were available also.

A neat figure to impress your buddies: From late 1941 to late 1945, Frankford turned out 1.8 million rounds of .30 caliber ammunition. Per day.

Jim

Mike Irwin
October 5, 2002, 12:18 AM
Ah Geez.

How could I forget Bill Woodin?

Nice guy. I've spoken with him a number of times.