.357 work on a .38?


December 20, 2006, 04:09 PM
I used to own a Smith and Wesson Model 10-6 in .38 special. Loved the gun, it was inherited from my grandfather, who'd never fired it. Very accurate.

My question is would it be safe to have this weapon taken to a gunsmith for use with .357? I know the pressures are different, but I used to have a buddy that swore up and down he had the same gun and had it bored out to fire 357.

Anyway are there certain heavier barrel Smith & Wesson 38.'s that can be smithed to do this? If this seems like a silly question, bear with me.

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Jim March
December 20, 2006, 04:25 PM
NO. This is more or less a DO NOT DO on any gun, ever.

There are VERY rare exceptions. Ruger has on occasion produced 38Spl guns on 357 platforms such as the GP100, for shipment to countries where "Magnum ammo" is banned or for security/police contracts specifying 38Spl. Since Ruger does the same heat-treat regardless of caliber, reaming the cylinder bores to 357 length is safe.

But S&W does NOT DO THE SAME HEAT TREAT between their 38Spl and 357 guns. Even though the Model 10 is on the "K" size frame and S&W also makes 357 "K" guns (Model 19, 66, etc.) a 38Spl S&W must never be "upgraded" to 357.

December 20, 2006, 04:42 PM
Right you are Jim!

December 20, 2006, 04:47 PM
Like Jim Marsh said! No! It does seem like I remember reading about a few smiths that bored out some of the earlier Ruger .38 SP101s to .357 but may be wrong. Those kind of things are not for me.

December 20, 2006, 04:53 PM
stick to the 38's.......................

December 20, 2006, 05:02 PM
Before 1957 S&W used model names instead of numbers. The revolver that was known as the M&P became the model 10. The model 13, known as the M&P Magnum is essentially the same gun as a model 10, but in 357 Mag with the requisite improved metallurgy for the hotter round. A model 13 would be the safe way to do what you want, and it's an excuse for buying a new gun :evil: .

Old Fuff
December 20, 2006, 07:41 PM
There are some brain-dead folks around that have rechambered .38 Special revolvers to .357 Magnum, and then come too grief. Then too, the .38 cylinder is shorter, and some .357 loads are to long to fit.

The model 10-6 is a great revolver, but isn't a great Magnum revolver. :uhoh: :eek:

Jim March
December 20, 2006, 08:10 PM
The Ruger SP101 is a very odd exception to the rules.

It was first built as a 38. Ruger soon realized it was tough enough for the 357, however the early-model cylinders were too short for any bullet weight 357 beyond 125gr.

So the first SP101 357s were marked "125gr or less".

38Spls of that era can be re-chambered to 357, but will end up with the same bullet weight limitation.

Later 357 Ruger SP101s had a cylinder long enough for up to 200gr slugs. BUT some of these were also shipped as 38s for use by security/police contracts, overseas use, same as the GP100s. If those later 38s are re-chambered to 357 you get a full-tilt 357.

Now. If your 38 SP101 is the early short-cylinder model, it may be rare enough to be worth some money as-is. And opinions vary regarding the safety of converting these - most opine that they'll be as strong as the early-model short-cylinder 357s, others suspect Ruger beefed up the lockwork some. I don't know for sure.

If you have a 38spl SP101, compare cylinder length to a new SP101 that isn't marked with a bullet weight limit. If they're the same, a re-chamber job is safe and is unlikely to affect value unless the gun is marked as issued to some unusual agency that might affect value.

Note: I am not a collector by nature and should not be relied on for advice on gun values from a collector's point of view. Collecting Rugers is very specialized due to their mostly common-as-fleas nature, but there are some rare ones.

AND AGAIN: these are odd situations found with Rugers and practically no other makes of gun. DO NOT try and extrapolate this data to other manufacturers or even other Ruger models unless you KNOW what you're doing.

December 20, 2006, 08:17 PM
rugers revolvers are built like a rock, my next handgun will be a Ruger sp101,
.....and I think it would be easier to just buy a 357, instead of messing with the 38 that was handed down to you...

Old Fuff
December 20, 2006, 08:30 PM
... others suspect Ruger beefed up the lockwork some. I don't know for sure.

There would be no need to beef up any lockwork, but they undoubtedly changed the alloy and heat-treating specifications for the cylinder.

Neither Colt nor Smith & Wesson used the same alloy and heat treatment to make cylinders for both .38 Specials and .357 Magnums. The only possible exception would be where an normally .357 model was chambered in .38 Special for a special run, and even that is questionable.

December 20, 2006, 08:31 PM
I don't see how a Model 10 could hold the longer cylinder needed to chamber .357s. There are plenty of K-frame .357s out there, which is the same thing without the suicidal remodeling.

Old Fuff
December 20, 2006, 08:36 PM
It could be, and has been done by shortning the back end of the barrel to match the cylinder length.

There are plenty of K-frame .357s out there, which is the same thing without the suicidal remodeling.

Absolutely true.

December 21, 2006, 01:24 AM
I sure appreciate you guys putting that rumor to bed. I've been thinking about buying an S&W 619 anyway. Now all I have to do is see if I can get one thats not stainless. :)

December 21, 2006, 01:51 AM
That'd be hard to find.. the 619 only comes in stainless. I suppose you could have it refinished, but why would you go that expense and trouble when there are so many easily found blued k-frame M19s around at low prices.

December 21, 2006, 02:04 AM
When I was in Alaska in the early 50's I owned a .38/.44 S&W Highway Patrol model. Don't know the model no. Could it have been safely rebored for .357 ?

December 21, 2006, 02:29 AM
RCouch: hey , what an interesting question !
I assume considering that you say it was highway patrol model, that you're referring to the 38/44 Hand Ejector model. ( I read in an old post that there was also a break top model built on the New Model 3. ) Very interesting chambering though. The gun you mention was designed to chamber and fire especially hot and I believe slightly differently designed .38 loads intended for police work. It was these same loads which later became the modern .357. Heres a quote from an old post from THR member Mike Irwin from back in 2003.
Traditional ballistics for the.38/44 HD round was a 158-gr. bullet nominally at roughly 1400 fps. At the upper end that's almost 700 ft. lbs. of energy
Assuming that this information is true, and I can't personally confirm or deny it without some additional research, it seems feasible that the 38/44 could have been safely re-bored to suit some modern .357 magnum loads, but may not have been able to handle the strain of some of the bigger and badder 158grain loads. Actually though, those numbers quoted seem awfully high to me.

UPDATE: Ok, after slightly more research , it would seem that those numbers quoted are high indeed. A more realistic spec on the 38/44 load would be a 150 to 158 grain bullet moving at an average velocity between 1100 and 1200 fps depending on the maker. Averaged, that clocks in at around 450+ foot pounds, which would be a very low end 357 magnum round. Given the new info , I take it back .. it probably would not be a good idea.

Jim March
December 21, 2006, 05:20 AM
When S&W shipped the first 357s on the N-frame, they said quite clearly that the heat-treat process on the cylinder and frame was unlike any prior S&W. I would assume that would include the 38/44.

Could you get away with it for a while? Probably. Almost certainly you wouldn't "grenade" it 'cept with some sort of really radical load. But it would wear faster, and given the value of most 38/44s the concept would have to be speculation only thank God.

Old Fuff
December 21, 2006, 09:27 AM
The Smith & Wesson No. 3 New Model Russian top break was normally chambered to fire the .44 Russian cartridge loaded with black powder. It was manufactured from 1878 to 1912, although all of the frames were made before 1898.

A special target version was chambered in .38-44 S&W, which was intended to be used for bullseye target work, and was not the .38-44 cartridge that was based on the .38 Special made later for the Heavy Duty Hand Ejector revolver. The earlier .38-44 cartridge was not hot loaded for police work, but rather down loaded for target shooting. Under no circumstances should one attempt to shoot a modern .38-44 round in any top-break revolver.

Neither the .38-44 Heavy Duty, nor the .38-44 Outdoorsman target version were intended to be used with .357 Magnum level loads, and again under no circumstances should one be rechambered to .357 Magnum.

The Smith & Wesson Highway Patrolman (model 28) was originally manufactured as a .357 Magnum. Use of Magnum cartridges is O.K. It is not however, the .38-44 Heavy Duty revolver - easily identified by its fixed sights.

To repeat again. IF YOU WANT A .357 MAGNUM, BUY A .357 MAGNUM!

December 21, 2006, 09:40 AM
There are a FEW documented M10's out there that were factory chambered in 357 magnum, IIRC they were overruns for a foreign contract.

They were made with magnum components, but stamped M10 instead of M13 for some reason.

Sorry for the drift, just a little trivia.....

December 21, 2006, 03:56 PM
A number of years ago I purchased two Ruger .38 Speed-Six revolvers for almost nothing. I had both of them reamed for .357 by a wonderful gunsmith who was a stickler for tolerances. I shot one and put the other in storage. The one I shoot is extraordinarily accurate. In fact, you can drop a 125 JHP bullet into each chamber and each chamber will catch it. I've seen many revolvers where the bullet will just drop right on through. (While performing this test, it's important not to push it on through if you intend to check other chambers, otherwise, you'll resize the bullet and make it smaller.)

Years ago, there was a sharp NRA techie whose name was C.E. Harris. He carried around unloaded bullets so he could check the tolerances on any .357 he might buy. He'd go through several stocked guns until he found one that had perfect specs, and then he'd buy it. On his hunting revolvers, he'd mark the chambers that hadn't passed his drop through test and he wouldn't use those on long shots.

A magazine writer years ago wrote that there was no special heat treatment used on Smith .38 revolvers and that .357 conversions could be done. I never believed this for a moment. Smith & Wesson has never been as consistent in its heat treatment as Ruger has been. I wouldn't trust such a conversion.

Jim March
December 21, 2006, 05:03 PM
The Speed-Six is another Ruger 357 that was sometimes shipped as a 38. So this conversion is safe.

The only other case like this that I know of are some Freedom Arms '97 frames made with six-shot 38Spl "match grade" chambers.

Vern Humphrey
December 21, 2006, 05:38 PM
There are many reasons for not re-chambering a .38 Special to .357. one of them is not because you will blow the gun up, but that you will wear it out quickly and ruin it. Continued firing of full charge .357s in a gun designed for .38 Specials will result in end-shake, going out of time, and parts breakage.

Don't ruin this fine gun -- instead, think what it will cost you to fix it after it's battered beyond reason, save up that money and buy a new .357.

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