Source for .38S&W - .380/200 - .380 Webley


December 20, 2004, 12:06 PM
So, I found out that my roommates home defense is a Webley Mark IV in .38 S&W... and i figure I'd lend a hand and such, as I typically keep *my* home defense weapons locked and/or in places obvious and easy to get to for me but not others.

Anyhow, i found the current loadings, the 145gr dum-dums from Winchester and Remington. Any ballistic info on these? Google failed me. But, that's not what I'm here to ask...

Does anyone know a manufacturer of a better load in this caliber? 145gr LRN doesn't seem a manstopper to be, nor does the original 200gr LRN. It seem to me something like a 150gr wadcutter would be great, or a truncated cone in soft lead, just something that's likely to go "splat" on contact rather than ease a nice narrow hole through someone.

Ideas, other than making my own .360/.361 bullets and reloading, since I don't own any reloading supplies? :D

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December 20, 2004, 01:50 PM
I doubt you will find anyone else making many defense loads for this rather feeble cartridge these days. As far as accuracy went, I always got perfectly acceptable results from ordinary 158gn .358 RNL bullets

December 20, 2004, 01:53 PM
Well, I'm not looking for a "defensive" load per se, just something that'll make a little better use of 650fps and a .359 diameter than a round nose bullet.

hehehe, it's not even my pistol and it's turned into a pet discussion/project :) I suppose I'll just tell her to aim for the head.

December 20, 2004, 01:56 PM
I guess one might try a wadcutter with the hollow end first.

December 20, 2004, 02:53 PM
I wonder where the CG versus CP of a spinning bullet needs to be to remain stable... (thread drift)

December 20, 2004, 04:48 PM
I'm afraid that, since you're not a reloader, you're pretty much SOL. You MIGHT luck-out and run across some old surplus .380/200 rounds somewhere, but they'd still be 60-odd years old and expensive due to their relative rarity.

Old West Scrounger does a lot of business in newly manufactured ammunition in obsolete calibers. They might have something.

The .38 S&W was quite a popular caliber for 'pocket' revolvers once upon a time. Most of them were similar in design to the S&W top-breaks. Since many of the surviving examples are of extreme age and sometimes questionable metallurgy, it's unlikely that any commercial ammunition exceeding SAAMI pressure specs will ever be made.

As you noted, the nominal bullet diameter for this cartridge is 0.361". IME with both an old Webley and a Lend-Lease "Victory" model S&W accuracy with any 0.358" bullet is poor. Swaged HBWCs will work, but they have to be seated so far out of the case to get any usable powder capacity they are easily deformed. Factory loads worked better, but I had to use a lot of Kentucky elevation to hit with the fixed sights due to their being regulated for the 200 gr. Brit military round. My best accuracy was with the old Lyman #358311 cast RN and 3.3 grs. of Unique. The bullet came out of my mold at 0.362" and weighed an average of 163 gr. as-cast. While it wasn't dead-on for POI, it was a good deal closer than factory ammo.

December 20, 2004, 05:23 PM
I have a .38 S&W British Service Revolver (a WWII lend lease S&W "Military and Police" in .38/200 with a 5" barrel). For a while I was shooting Winchester and Remington LRN for about $15 a box. However, I was getting dismal accuracy. Then I came across Miwall 158gr. LRN Reloads at Outdoor Marksman. It's very accurate and cheap(relatively) but kind of dirty and gritty.

This Magtec may be better ammo for about the same price range. I haven't tried it yet:

Probably doesn't help you with the stopping power problem, but maybe with cheaper ammo, your friend will get more practice and be able to put the shots where they will do the most damage.

December 20, 2004, 05:32 PM
I currently shoot 2 38S&W revolvers designed for the 38-200 and have also found the 145 grain winchester loadings to be anemic and do not hit anywhere neat point of aim.

I also could not find a source for .361-.363 lead bullets. The only other option would be casting your own.

One person told me to load .357 cowboy action 158 grain bullets upside down.

I'm not sure that would be any better than the factory ammo.

December 20, 2004, 05:55 PM
hijacking the thread somewhat, the following notice appeared in the NRA Journal, Vol. XLIX, No.1 (Spring 1970)

From: The Director, Inspectorate of Armaments.

Cartridges. S.A. Ball. Revolver .380" Mark 2z

It should be noted that whilst the dimensions of cartridges of the above description are similar to those known commercially either as .38" S&W or as .38" Smith & Wesson Revolver and that they will chamber and fire in commercially made weapons their use in other than Service No.2 Revolvers is not recommended unless the weapons in which they are to be fired have been submitted to Special Definitive Proof in which event they will bear a marking in excess of "3½ tons" customarily found on weapons proved for .38" S.& W. Not only is the pressure generated by the Service .380" Mk 2z cartridge some 50% greater than that of the .38" S & W round but, because the bore size of the Service No.2 Revolver is greater than that found in pistols chambered for .38" S&W a considerable loss of velocity and accuracy may arise from its use in commercially produced weapons.

Jeff Timm
December 20, 2004, 07:00 PM
The original 200 grain lead bullet load, if you can find it, was regarded as a "man-stopper" in it's day. Switching to a jacket bullet ruined the revolver. The Germans claimed the lead bullets were illegal under the Law of Land Warfare, because their Lugers used jacketed bullets and the French and British revolvers used lead projectiles.

Who notes they made the same arguement against US Army/ Marines shotguns. :fire:

December 20, 2004, 07:11 PM
Yeah, Jeff, but guess who won that argument? :D

(Hint: whose surplus weapons are most readily available in the USA?)

Jim K
December 20, 2004, 08:37 PM
The name "38/200" was given to the British round when loaded with the 200 grain lead heel type bullet. In fact, the WWII .380 Mk 2 cartridge was loaded with a 174 gr. jacketed bullet with a slight hollow base. The measured bullet diameter of specimens is (ready for this?) - .357". Yes, it surprised me, too.

So, if S&W made those revolvers with American .38 S&W bore dimensions they were actually too large for the bullets the Brits were using.

Has anyone actually slugged the bore of an S&W M&P made for the British? I wonder if there really was any difference in the barrel dimensions between those and the .38 Special guns. Or was the only difference in the chambers?


Lone Star
December 20, 2004, 08:57 PM

Roy Jinks (the Smith & Wesson historian) checked the old S&W files for me several years ago when I wrote an article on these guns for, "Gun Week".

I probably shouldn't quote him here without asking, but I can tell you that the .38 S&W/.38/200 bores were slightly larger than the specs for .38 Special.

I read a very thorough article on this in, "Target Gun", a UK handgun magazine printed shortly before that nation suffered the horrible handgun ban of 1997. Even in the UK, WW II .38 ammo was already considered collectible.
I sure wouldn't rely on old surplus ammo for defense today.

If one can't handload, a different gun seems in order. Of course, at very close range, the factory 145 grain bullet may well work okay. And, few burglars want to be shot with anything, so the threat value of the gun might prove adequate.

I'd tell her that a .38 Special would be a better investment, but don't be heavy-handed about it. Women often resent being "told" things. You know her best, of course.

Lone Star

December 20, 2004, 09:16 PM
"I'd tell her that a .38 Special would be a better investment"

Well, a free Webley Mk IV is hard to beat, especially when it came with a box of ammo. I doubt she'd see differently... I just want to make sure she can practice and still get ammunition, which it's obvious she can.

Besides, for practice she's got a roommate willing to hand her whatever pistol he's not shooting at the time at the range. I like to share :) Lets me see what kind of muzzle flash I'm getting when *i'm* shooting... :D

December 21, 2004, 04:53 PM
I found a source for .38-200 British ammo, if anyone is interested:

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