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Old June 24, 2011, 11:08 PM   #1
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Join Date: February 10, 2009
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rechambering a revolver

heres the thing that bugs me

i have seen online loads for cast lead that use a .360-.362 diameter lead bullet in 380 acp

i have seen far too many load data that say use .358 or .359 diameter lead bullet in a 38 sw.
i see lead data for 38 special that uses a .359 diameter bullet.

so please tell me why a gunsmith would say "its impossible to shoot 38 sw in a 38 special barrel"
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Old June 24, 2011, 11:12 PM   #2
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It's not impossible to shoot it if you can get it to chamber. The 38 S&W case dimension is larger than max 38 Special dimensions. But just because you can get it in there doesn't mean it's a good idea to pull the trigger. Besides, 38 Special ammo is cheaper tham 38 S&W ammo.
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Old June 24, 2011, 11:47 PM   #3
T. O'Heir
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Hi. The .38 S&W uses a .360" jacketed bullet and a .361" cast. Neither of which are easy to find.
The .380 ACP uses a .355" bullet and a .356" cast, but never a .360" bullet. The .38 Special uses a .357" jacketed bullet and a .358" cast bullet.
Like Scorch says, the .38 S&W is 7 thou larger in diameter than the .38 Special.
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Old June 25, 2011, 08:26 PM   #4
James K
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I think a statement like "it is impossible to shoot a .38 S&W in a .38 Special" is based on the diameter of the case, not the diameter of the bullet. Even then, the statement is not true. I once checked and about half of my .38 Special revolvers would accept .38 S&W cartridges. The reason is that the cartridge and chamber tolerances of the two rounds overlap.

As to the bullets and barrel diameter, the usual statements are simply not valid any more, if they ever were. I just miked a bullet pulled from a Winchester .38 S&W round, bought a year or so ago. It mikes .356". Yes, folks, that is .356", not .360" or .361" or .365" or .380".

Further, I once slugged the barrels of an S&W Victory Model .38 S&W, a Webley Mk IV, and an Enfield Revolver No.2. Guess what? .357"-.358". (Did S&W actually make barrels for the .38 S&W or just mark them that way to match the chambering?)

My conclusion is that the cartridge case diameter in many cases doesn't matter, and that the supposed bullet difference just doesn't matter at all.

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