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Old March 6, 2013, 11:31 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: March 6, 2013
Posts: 4
S&W Break Top 38, Black powder cartridges?

I need some help. I have my Grandfather's revolver. It is a S&W 38, five shot break top revolver. The last Pat. date is April 9, 1885 and the serial number is 438845. The cylinder is 1 3/16 inches long and the barrel is 4". The barrel is stamped 38 S&W CTG 1.

Does anyone know what black powder amo I should have for it and where to purchase it?

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Old March 7, 2013, 12:00 AM   #2
Race Bannon
Join Date: February 26, 2005
Location: Seattle
Posts: 19
.38 S&W is still produced and can be found online. Even with the current ammo shortage, you should still be able to find .38 S&W. However, I've read many times that even low powered smokeless rounds are too much for 19th century guns. I don't think that anybody sells black powder .38 S&W rounds. I have looked myself recently and had no luck. Try posting this in the black powder section. If anyone would know where to find some, they would. Also, if you take up reloading, you could always make some yourself.
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Old March 7, 2013, 01:48 PM   #3
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,160
Makers of modern .32 S&W and .38 S&W ammo are well aware that it can and will be fired in black powder era guns and keep pressures to the same level as BP ammunition. I have fired many smokeless powder loads in those old guns with no problems. Still, I would recommend that the old-timers not be fed a steady diet of modern ammo; a few shots should be OK, but 500 rounds on a weekend - no.

Edited to add: There are some old guns whose cylinders are so thin, worn, or rusted that they should not be fired, period. With anything. So use a little judgement. A well made S&W in good condition will be OK; a no-name with cylinder walls the thickness of tissue paper - use it as a paperweight.

Jim K
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Old March 8, 2013, 08:12 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: November 7, 2004
Location: Mid-Michigan
Posts: 439
I load my own BP ammo for my Great Grandmother's Iver Johnson and for my 1895 Nagant revolver.

Both are a riot to shoot with real BP loads.

There are a bunch of tutorials out there on how to load BP cartridges.
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Old March 8, 2013, 11:12 AM   #5
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,177
Andy, please don't post the same question in multiple forums.

It dilutes discussion.

I'm closing this one as the version you posted in Black Powder has more responses.
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
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