.38 S&w


October 27, 2007, 01:17 PM
Today I picked up a S&W .38 Safety Hammerless (New Departure) at a yard sale at a fair price. When I got home and started looking for ammo on the 'net, none was to be found. There is a gun show in Montgomery next weekend, and I'll try there, but does anyone have an internet source on the ammo? I don't reload, so that's out. Ya'll (that's what we say down here) please don't tell me I've bought another trotline weight! :banghead:

Also, what does the phrase "New Departure" refer to????? :confused:

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October 27, 2007, 01:32 PM
"New Departure" is a reference to the safety hammerless being a departure from what was the common production at the time. New techniques were used and modifications continued through several models.

October 27, 2007, 01:56 PM


Pretty expensive.

If only it was .32 S&W Long, you could get some of these:


October 27, 2007, 02:33 PM
sportsmans guide had some magtech a while back,pretty cheap too.

October 27, 2007, 02:40 PM
Thank you, VirgilCaine, for the links to the ammo. And it is expensive. I had not, before today, owned a top-break hammerless revolver. If I get another, it will be in .32. Thanks again.

October 27, 2007, 03:04 PM
You might want to try Graf & Sons, I think its:


They did have .38 S&W from Magtech that seemed reasonable.

October 27, 2007, 03:43 PM
That's much better! I can stand $15-16 per box better than $27-28. Graf had some PCI for $15.50, SG had Magtech for $16.60. I have an account with SG, so I ordered from them. Thanks, guys, you saved me a bunch of searching with no promise of success. :D

October 27, 2007, 04:13 PM
PM Sent elrod

Cocked & Locked
October 27, 2007, 04:48 PM
fun shooter!

Ammo is out there, but it's not available at Wally World in white boxes...


Old Fuff
October 27, 2007, 06:59 PM
The .38 Safety Hammerless was made from 1887 to 1940 or '41. Before you shoot it post the serial number (use xx on the last 2 numbers) to determine the approximate date it was made. You may want to stick to black powder.

S&W made a .32 version on a smaller frame, but it shoots the .32 S&W, not the more popular .32 S&W Long. The .32 S&W is as hard to find as the .38 S&W, and nearly as expensive.

Both Harrington & Richardson and Iver Johnson made inclosed-hammer top-break revolvers chambered in .32 S&W Long, but considering they're general quality I wouldn't recommend them as shooters. They (probably) won't blow up, but accuracy isn't exactly target level.

October 27, 2007, 08:34 PM
I have a .32 Safety Hammerless S & W, ammo is NOT cheap.
it's a fun shooter though, I don't know why some people say they are not accurate, with paractice, all firearms can be made accurate.
shoot at a human size steel target at about 50 yards and watch the bullet
arch into the target.

October 27, 2007, 08:35 PM
Thanks, Will5A1, that will go into my folder of online ammo sources.

Old Fuff
October 27, 2007, 10:17 PM
Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless revolvers are an exception to the usual rule concerning accuracy. Both were made in barrel lengths running from 2 to 6 inches (That right! a little .32 with a 6" barrel :)). A few custom-ordered .38's had 1 1/2" barrels. :eek:

The other brands frequently have non-concentric chambers and barrels, and shave the bullet on one side. I've seen them go sideways through a target at 10 feet.

October 27, 2007, 10:36 PM
CheaperThanDirt has Magtech (http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/practice_bgg.htm) too but at the slightly higher price of $17.30. ($16.44 Club Price)

October 28, 2007, 12:20 AM
Old Fuff, the one I got today is s/n 235xxx. According to my references, it is a fifth model, estimated mfg.1930-35. Do my figures jive with yours?

October 28, 2007, 12:32 AM
Elrod, if you're not shy of using reloads, (they be good ones of moderate velocity) I can fix you up with a hundred or so. Have to go check on how much I do have

Don't have any guns for that caliber, so they aren't going to be used.

Would like to trade for some 200 grain Fed swc .44 special ammo if ya got any.

Understand the ammo can be shipped by Fedex without the Hazmat crapola fee.

Can do some pictures if you want to see those cartridges.


October 28, 2007, 12:42 AM
What is the barrel length on your revolver?
What is the finish?
Would you mind telling us how much you paid?
Do you have any photos you can share?

UPS will ship ammo without any extra charges over the normal shipping fees.

October 28, 2007, 12:42 AM
A late aunt of mine owned a .38 S&W (not .38 Special) long before I was born. She took it to "the big, bad city" when she moved to an urban area for employment. As far as I know she never fired the gun. Whenever I read about this cartridge, I think about her.

Our other contributors are correct about the cost for this ammo, no doubt due to the law of supply and demand.


October 28, 2007, 12:48 AM
Have you tried Midway?

October 28, 2007, 12:56 AM
Midway's prices for .38 S&W ammo are higher than all the others listed above.

October 28, 2007, 10:31 AM
44and45, no, I am not adverse to shooting reloads. Let me fire the gun some to determine if I'm going to keep it or sell it. BTW, I do not have any .44 brass (or guns).

ArchAngelCD It is 4" blued gun, about 50-60% condition. And no, I don't mind telling you I paid $150 for it. As to pics, I will try to get some sent after church when I have some time to work on it. (If that sounds like a cop out, I lived almost 60 years before I even owned a computer, let alone tried to post pictures.) :confused:

This same guy has a M57 with an 8 3/8" bbl., blue, about 90-95% that I lusted for, still may go get it. I'll post on it if I do buy it.:D

Old Fuff
October 28, 2007, 05:20 PM

The terminal serial number in 1940 was 261,493, but by then they were assembling revolvers using previously made parts. Even so, they still had parts, as I recently bought a semi-finished barrel that was in new condition.

During the 1920's and early 30's they pushed that little gun with more pages in their catalog then was alocated to N-frame hand ejectors on occasion. I think that #235,xxx could be a bit earlier, say mid-1920's to early 1930's.

The only one who can say for sure is Roy Jinks at Smith & Wesson. Since you seem to have got a great deal on the gun maybe you should pay the $30.00 search fee and get it lettered.

In any case with that high of a serial number it should be safe to shoot using current commercial ammunition - or equal handloads.

By the way, S&W advertised that the action and mainspring were designed so that the trigger pull would ease slightly just before the hammer released. This would allow the shooter to align the sights and make an accurate shot. They also had a reputation for breaking firing pins if excessively dry-fired without snap-caps in the chambers. I believe they are available from Brownells. (www.brownells.com).

October 28, 2007, 07:17 PM
That a very good price on a solid piece of revolver history. You might want to get that letter Old Fuff mentioned. Even if you decide to sell the revolver of you will make that $30 back and probably a lot more. People tend to pay more for a revolver with "papers" to prove it's vintage and for the added history the letter supplies.

October 30, 2007, 11:23 AM
MidwayUsa has ammo for the S&W 38. Just received their flyer yesterday and was glancing thru the ammo section. Don't recall the exact price for a box and flyer got tossed after I cleaned a pistol on it and it oily/dirty.

keyboard commando
October 30, 2007, 11:46 AM
elrod, Keep in mind if you run into any .38 Colt New Police ammo,it is one in the same.Only difference other than the name, is Colt named ammo is loaded with a flat point bullet.:scrutiny:

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