I'm trying to figure out if my revolver is rated for .38 SPL +P, hope the serial helps figure that...
Any model-numbered .38 can safely fire +P according to an advisory in the current S&W revolver owner's manual. M10s can handle it just fine and I fire +P in my 10-5 all the time.
The only caveats are:
1) If you own one of the rare early Airweights with an aluminum-alloy cylinder, most books on the subject advise that these guns should not be fired at all
, much less with +P ammo. The cylinders are simply too weak.
2) Some 'Net enthusiasts claim that older J-frames (such as non +P stamped M36s) will "shoot loose" if subjected to a steady diet of +P loads, but I'm not sure if this has ever really been factually verified. IMHO a steady diet of +P loads through a steel J-frame will probably wear out the owner before the gun.
3) There have been reports of Airweights suffering from cracked frames due to this treatment, although someone on the S&W forum tried to put this to the test by firing over 1,000 +P rounds through an M12... and the gun made it through without failure. Go here: