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Old January 14, 2007, 09:10 PM   #1
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38 s&w

I was wondering if there are any manufacturers making 38 S&W bulletts, or would I have to cast my own? Plus what needs to be done to the gun to shoot reloads. I read that something has to be done to the barrell, can't remember what though.

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Old January 14, 2007, 09:57 PM   #2
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If you find somebody who sells the bullets, let me know. I have searched to no avail.
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Old January 14, 2007, 11:12 PM   #3
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Maybe I'm out of touch about this.

My Speer reloading manual shows the .38 S&W using the same projectiles as the .38 Special -- lead bullets sized .358" and jacketed bullets sized to .357".
Test firing was done in an S&W Model 33 with a 4" barrel.

Speer cautions that due to the low powder volume, jacketed bullets heavier than 125gr are not recommended. If you use the 148gr bevel-base wadcutter, it needs to be seated with the top grease groove exposed instead of flush (or nearly flush) with the case mouth.
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
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Old January 14, 2007, 11:31 PM   #4
Daniel BOON
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my speer book says the same; I like hard cast bullets. try midwayusa.
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Old January 15, 2007, 04:45 PM   #5
Mike Irwin
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While the same bullets are show in reloading manuals, the cartridge specifications for the .38 S&W call for a .361 dia. bullet.

Not much of a difference, but it can be enough to cause poor shooting, especially with hard cast bullets.

In .38 S&W I've had my best success with rather soft bullets that will upset to take the rifling better.
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Old January 15, 2007, 07:55 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. I'm going to call midway and see what they say. Any other info would be great
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Old January 15, 2007, 09:04 PM   #7
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Speer factory bullets seem to be softer than most although I have never verified it. As stated earlier the .38S&W uses a .361 diameter bullet instead of the .357-.358 sizes that a .38 special uses.

As for the barrel you are probably thinking about slugging it to find the correct size. Since you are buying bullets and not casting your own you won't have to worry about it since they will be undersized to start with.
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Old January 15, 2007, 10:17 PM   #8
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What bullet size? .38 S &W

48th Edition of Lyman manual shows all loads for .360" bullet. Third ed. of the Lyman Pistol and Revolver Handbook shows all loads for .359" bullet.

.357" bullets keyhole out of my .38 S & W with 6" barrel. I've not tried .358"

Currently I have some .359" sized SWC a friend made up for me, wheelweight stock. At 600+ feet per second, estimated, they don't shoot too well. I am going to try some lighter loads with Win231 tomorrow. I think that velocity needs to be pretty low to get this old gun of mine on target.

I shot some new Win ammo in it with 146 gr RN and they shot well at 20 ft. No keyholing and I put 25 rounds into an 8" circle, most of them inside 6", plenty good to irritate a perp.
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Old January 16, 2007, 01:12 AM   #9
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"....357" bullets keyhole..." Slug the bore. Hammer a cast .357 bullet through the barrel and measure it with a micrometer. The nominal bore diameter is .360" but yours may be a bit bigger.
"...done to the gun to shoot reloads..." Nothing. You just need to find the right bullet. The Brits used a 200 grain lead bullet, but you'll have trouble finding them. Slug your barrel too. Most .38 S&W firearms should be ok with a .358 cast bullet though.
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Old January 16, 2007, 01:06 PM   #10
Trapper L
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Beartooth Bullets shows to have .360 bullets in the heavy weights. Here's a link. Might give them a call.

Scroll down the side bar, click on 38/357 bullets, look at the heavier bullets and the diameter has a drop down menu and lists .360 as available.
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Old January 16, 2007, 03:40 PM   #11
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A little more data. I slugged my bore and it is .359"

I have also found a great load to shoot with the .359" SWC I mentioned above that were made for me by a friend.

The bullets weight 146 gr; I use 2.2 gr Win 231 and a Win Small Pistol Primer. The bullet is seated to the cannulure and then roll crimped.

I just shot a dozen of these this morning at 7 yds and they worked just great--nice round holes in the target; no evidence of keyholing at all. The recooil feels about like the Winchester factory load with this bullet in RN style.

These are really fun revolvers if you can find the components. As suggested above though, if slug the barrel of your gun you can get a wide range of bore diameters.

I was even told in another forum that a bunch of these guns that went to Great Britain in WWII came back in the 40s and S&W rechambered them for .38 Special. So it is wise to be very cautious if you are handed one of these--figure out what it is before running with it!

EDITED: Beartooth is better than TrapperL indicated--they make a wide range of diameters in a variety of weights, including a really nice looking 160 gr. bullet. I'm going to buy some of those in .359" They also have it in .360"

Last edited by benedict1; January 16, 2007 at 03:47 PM. Reason: More data re: Beartooth Bullets
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Old January 18, 2007, 01:17 AM   #12
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Benny Dee...

Thar should bee lots of cast bullet makers in So,Cal or Western NV. Just tell them what yer doing & they will brew you up 38s in .359.

The kowboyies action shooten crowd might know som-thin bout 38 S&W.

Keep the preasure low if you have an old gun. Have fun.
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Old January 18, 2007, 06:48 PM   #13
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Get a mould for the 200 grain roundnose, and size it to .361, then you can duplicate the old British .38-200 service load.
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