View Full Version : Mr. Watson/Mr. Keenan???

May 25, 2008, 05:08 AM
I could use some good SAFE information before I mess something up.

I have 2 old .38 S&W top break pistols that I'd like to go shoot. The both seem tight enough and seem to lock up in time.

One is a S&W and the other is a F&W that has a patent date of 1901 on it.

From looking at them, and from the dates, I'm guessing they were both made during, or right at the end of the black powder era.

With that in mind is, and assuming I am correct in that they are sound, is currently loaded .38 S&W ammunition loaded to the same pressurers as the old black powder loads?

I have a couple of boxes oe 20 to 30 year old Rem. and Win. .38 S&W that I got a while back and I'd like to shoot a little of it through the old top breaks.

Is this generally safe??

James K
May 25, 2008, 04:38 PM
Some folks get the blue willies and have screaming fits every time someone mentions firing modern ammunition in the old guns, but the ammo makers are not stupid and don't like being sued. So they keep their modern ammo for calibers like .38 S&W and .32 S&W within the pressure range of the black powder loads the guns were made for. I have shot both S&W and F&W revolvers with modern loads with no problems.

BUT, that assumes the guns were well made and are in good shape. A lot of the old ones have cylinders that are half rusted through, are loose and in general should not be fired at all.

(Just FYI, I was at the range yesterday and fired my Deringer revolver with smokeless ammo (.32 rimfire). It shot pretty well, though the trigger pull was horrible and the sights near impossible to see.)


May 25, 2008, 05:02 PM
Thank you for the reply.

I did a good bit of looking on the web and found conflicting answers. Even went so far as to look up the posted pressures for the .38 S&W ( Around 14,000 I think? ) which seemed rather low so I figured it was safe.

And it does make VERY good sense that the ammo makers would er on the side of caution due to the older arms out there.

Still when we went to the range today I left the old one home no matter how bad I wanted to try it. Next time it goes with me.

A interesting thing I found while I was looking around, and sadly I did not save the link so I can't post it, is that the Chinese Governement is issuing a new revolver ( With a safety of all things. ) chambered in .38 S&W.

If I got the gist of the story right they figured the round was powerful enough for general police work yet not powerful enough, should it fall into the wrong hands, to be used effectively against even the most primative body armor.

Makes me wonder two things. Will modern Chinese made ammunition, ammunition loaded to somewhat higher pressures and therefor dangerious in our old guns, start showing up on the market?

Second thing is, how scared is the Chinese governement of their own people?

May 25, 2008, 05:04 PM

Found this........................