The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Revolver Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 22, 2021, 09:24 PM   #1
chupps
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 6, 2005
Posts: 364
.38 S&W short cartridge question

A friend just bought some .38 S&W short cartridges, confusing them with .38 special. Now he wants to use this as an excuse to buy a handgun chambered for them. My advice was sell that ammo even at a loss.

Can you even find newer handgun chambered for a .38 short?

Any thoughts?
chupps is offline  
Old November 22, 2021, 09:57 PM   #2
SHR970
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2011
Posts: 1,405
Your friend is screwed, blued, and tattooed. 38 S&W is an old obsolete incompatible round that won't chamber in a 38 special unless that special has an especially loose chmaber.
SHR970 is offline  
Old November 22, 2021, 10:17 PM   #3
4V50 Gary
Staff
 
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 21,252
Used to be able to buy ammunition for it but since the panic, I haven't seen anything on the shelves here. We have hoarders in my area who buy everything in sight.
__________________
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
4V50 Gary is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 01:53 AM   #4
ZEBRARANGER
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 6, 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 613
No newer Revolvers made for the 38 S&W cartridge that I'm aware of, it originally came about over 145 years ago. There were revolvers made for that cartridge by Colt, Iver Johnson, and Smith & Wesson, I believe as late as the 1960's.

So your friend can either buy one of those (for instance Colt Police Positive) that was chambered for the 38 S&W if he wanted, or he could sell the ammo. There is still demand for the 38 S&W cartridge by people who have older revolvers in their collections. Before Covid hit, it was being manufactured again by a couple of manufacturers because of that demand. But like other cartridges, its become hard to find again.

I have an almost 140 year old Smith & Wesson 3rd Model Double Action that my Dad passed down to me a couple of years before he died, It was made in 1886 and chambered in 38 S&W. Its a top break revolver, and because of the latching mechanism, that latching mechanism is its known weakness.

Fortunately it hasn't been a problem with this one, and I dont shoot it either. But my Dad use to shoot it and I shot it with him a couple of different times over the years. It's been in the family and passed down from generation to generation, and it has endured the test of time.

Because they made so many of them, its not worth a whole lot. But the value of it to me goes deeper than monetary. Here's a pic of the 3rd Model Double Action. I also collect Morgan silver dollars of the same time period, so I included a few of them as props in the photo.
ZEBRARANGER is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 05:32 AM   #5
TruthTellers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 22, 2016
Posts: 3,702
I'll have to go back and look in the book, but I believe H&R made .38 S&W topbreaks until the 1980s. IDK if I'd buy one tho, I don't see what .38 S&W does that .32 S&W Long doesn't.

If your friend really, really wants to shoot that ammo, they could get a .38 Special shotgun adapter and ream out the chamber so the .38 S&W will fit.
__________________
"We always think there's gonna be more time... then it runs out."
TruthTellers is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 07:27 AM   #6
micromontenegro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 28, 2010
Posts: 596
Somebody has to say it: there's no such a thing as .38 S&W short. It's called .38 S&W, period. And it's a fun cartridge for the reloader.
micromontenegro is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 07:47 AM   #7
mcb66
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 1, 2013
Posts: 111
Your best luck it to find an old S&W lend lease or Victory model. A lot of these were .38 S&W and are very well made. Used to be common but prices keep climbing and they are getting harder to find. Plus a bunch were reamed for 38 special. You would want to avoid that.
mcb66 is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 08:24 AM   #8
Rob228
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 29, 2010
Location: Hampstead NC
Posts: 1,191
There was a Sedgley glove gun on gun broker going for about $7500, said it was chambered in 38 S&W
Rob228 is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 09:47 AM   #9
zplinker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2011
Location: way out here
Posts: 250
Never shot one, but reloaded for 2 or 3 at one time. Still have a few of those rounds left. One, a top break, was so loose, that a mid range 38 S&W load would cause it to pop open. I should find someone who needs those dies, as they sure aren't worn out!
zplinker is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 10:48 AM   #10
Pumpkin
Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Posts: 83
Isn't the bullet dia. .366?
Pumpkin is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 11:07 AM   #11
105kw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 30, 2017
Location: Columbia Basin Washington
Posts: 288
Bullet is supposed to be .360, but .358 has worked well in my S&W Revolvers.
You might look for a Regulation Police S&W. 5 shot, 4in bbl. Really fun guns.
I got my load data from a number 8, Speer manual.
105kw is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 01:33 PM   #12
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 24,305
Its the .38 Smith & Wesson. Period. Not "short" or "long" or "Special", just .38 S&W. It was developed on its own, not from the existing .38 Long or Short rounds. The case body is larger in diameter. It should not fit in .38 Special chambers, BUT tolerances in guns and ammunition mean that sometimes, it does.

The .38 S&W was adopted by Great Britain as their service revolver round after WWI, replacing the .455 Webley. The British originally loaded it with a 200gr bullet and called it the .38/200 or the .380 revolver. Later they changed the load to a lighter bullet. This round was the primary service round during WWII (the older .455s also served but were not the primary pistol) until England went to the 9mm Parabellum after WWII.

Most often seen today in either British milsurp revolvers or older US made top breaks, there were also scads of S&W solid frame revolvers made for England during WWII, in .38 S&W, many of which made it back to the US civilian market after the war.

Quote:
I don't see what .38 S&W does that .32 S&W Long doesn't
fires larger, heavier bullets than the .32, and is the proper cartridge for literally millions of Enfields, Webleys, S&Ws, Iver Johnsons, H&Rs and many other makers guns in .38 S&W.

Quote:
Can you even find newer handgun chambered for a .38 short?
I doubt it. Nothing new made in .38 Short or .38 Long for a long time. .38 S&W is neither of those. And nothing new in .38S&W for some time now, either.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 03:30 PM   #13
reddog81
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 2014
Location: Iowa
Posts: 1,450
Depends on your definition of newer...

They were common through about WW2 and made in very limited quantities for a while after that.

You can still find guns in good condition with a little looking. Gunbroker has the common Smitha and Wesson Victory models going for around $300 to $500 depending on condition and Colt Police Positives for a bit more.

You used to be able to find antique S&W break tops in the $100 to $200 range about 10 years ago. The guns were an outdated design but the fit and finish on those old guns was actually really good. Mechanically they didn't stand up to abuse very well so an in person inspection was a good idea.
reddog81 is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 04:16 PM   #14
darkgael
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2006
Location: Homes in Brooklyn, NY and in Pennsylvania.
Posts: 5,389
Gunbroker also lists a number of WW2 Webley mk.iv revolvers as well as Enfield no.2 mk.1….all .38 S&W.
__________________
“Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games.” Ernest Hemingway ...
NRA Life Member
darkgael is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 05:17 PM   #15
44caliberkid
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 15, 2017
Location: Iowa
Posts: 662
I have a very nice Smith & Wesson Victory model in 38 S&W, and a Smith 1 1/2 single action, breaktop. I had a lot of 38 S&W ammunition, because for years, it seemed every junk box from an auction had a box or two in it. Some of it was still black powder load, but most is high speed, Lubaloy, smokeless powder, which I couldn’t shoot in my Smith 1 1/2. So I bought the Victory model, which is a model 10 frame.
Privi and Fiocci makes new 38 S&W ammunition.
44caliberkid is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 05:38 PM   #16
SIGSHR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 13, 2005
Posts: 4,613
The Enfield No. 2 Mk 1 and the Webley Mark IV are chambered in 38 S&W-or 38/200 if you prefer. In my reloading days I found an HBWC over 2.7 grains of Bullseye in 38 S&W made for pleasant shooting.
SIGSHR is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 07:40 PM   #17
chupps
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 6, 2005
Posts: 364
Found this on Gunbroker. Looks like it will work for him. Any thoughts?

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/915392199
chupps is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 08:05 PM   #18
105kw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 30, 2017
Location: Columbia Basin Washington
Posts: 288
The last Colt Police Positives in .38 S&W (.38 Colt New Police) were built after WW2. 1947 or so.
S&W didn't discontinue the Terrier, later Model 32, and the Regulation Police, Model 33 until the 70s
Both are really good Revolvers most people overlook.
Ammo is a problem, but it is easy to reload for.
105kw is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 09:25 PM   #19
bedbugbilly
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 19, 2009
Posts: 3,228
There are older revolvers out there that are chambered in 38 S & W that aren't that hard to find. Can't speak as to available commercial ammo - but dies and brass can be found if he wants to reload. For a 38/357 - you use a .358 mold. For a 38 S & W you use a .360 mold. NOE and others make molds that will work. Nothing special about reloading 38 S & W - just as ezy pesy as 38 special.
__________________
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
bedbugbilly is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 11:11 PM   #20
Drm50
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 10, 2014
Posts: 1,054
38S&W revolvers by H&R and IJ are not hard to find. 38S&W is more expensive that 38sp and is harder to come by. I’m sure you could deal it off at a show against 38sp at boot in your favor. Last I saw was $42 at Cabelas.
Drm50 is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 11:32 PM   #21
Driftwood Johnson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2014
Location: Land of the Pilgrims
Posts: 1,989
Howdy

As has been stated, there is no such thing as 38 S&W Short, although some folks call it that. Clearly, Fiocchi did not get the memo.






Here is a 38 S&W on the left and a 38 Special on the right. As has been stated, bullet diameter for 38 S&W is officially .360, but I have had success loading the cartridge with some .359 diameter bullets. Also, the case is slightly larger in diameter than 38 Special, so if chambers are in spec a 38 S&W cartridge should not chamber in a 38 Special revolver.






Smith and Wesson developed the 38 S&W cartridge in 1876 for their 38 Single Action, 1st Model, also known as the Baby Russian.






This 38 Double Action, chambered for 38 S&W, shipped in 1898.






These 38 Double Action Perfected models shipped between 1912 and 1917.






The I frame was slightly smaller than the K frame. When chambered for a 38, the cylinder was not large enough for six chambers. The five shot 38 Regulation Police at the top of this photo shipped in 1924. The six shot 32 Regulation Police below it shipped in 1925.






Yes, Smith and Wesson shipped over 500,000 K frame Victory models chambered for the 38 S&W cartridge to England between 1940 and 1945. These were made for a slightly more powerful version of the 38 S&W cartridge, using a 200 grain bullet. Many of these were rechambered for 38 Special when they returned to the US, but they are poor conversions because the rear of the chambers will have the larger diameter chambers for the 38 S&W cartridge while the lengthened part of the chambers will be slightly narrower for 38 Special brass. The wider section at the rear of the chambers often causes 38 Special brass to split.
Driftwood Johnson is offline  
Old November 23, 2021, 11:37 PM   #22
Bill DeShivs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 7, 2006
Posts: 10,695
Having a box of ammunition is absolutely a good reason to buy a gun!
__________________
Bill DeShivs, Master Cutler
www.billdeshivs.com
Bill DeShivs is offline  
Old November 24, 2021, 01:22 PM   #23
natman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 24, 2008
Posts: 2,460
Quote:
Originally Posted by chupps View Post
Found this on Gunbroker. Looks like it will work for him. Any thoughts?

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/915392199
You know you're dealing with gun fans when the way to deal with a orphan box of ammo is to buy a $700 gun to shoot it.
__________________
Time Travelers' Wisdom:
Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow.
If At Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again.
natman is offline  
Old November 24, 2021, 02:10 PM   #24
Pumpkin
Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Posts: 83
Those top break Smith's are little dolls. Beautiful old revolvers!
Pumpkin is offline  
Old November 24, 2021, 11:59 PM   #25
BillM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 20, 2009
Location: Amity Oregon
Posts: 746
I've got a early 70's S&W model 32 and a late 50's Webley MkIV that take
38 S&W. Fun little guns---and it's an easy cartridge to reload.
BillM is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

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 06:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.07250 seconds with 11 queries