Why does a .38 Spl have such a long round and little powder?


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dgray64
November 26, 2007, 12:53 PM
I loaded my first .38s yesterday. I have been loading 9mm, 380, .40 S&W and .45. All of these take lots of Unique powder. The 9mm takes 5.4 grs for a 115gr round. This fills the case and actually compresses some under the round. The .38 on the other hand takes 4.4 gr of Unique for 158 gr bullet. There is a lot of empty space in the case. Curious!

Dave :confused:

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BigG
November 26, 2007, 01:03 PM
The cartridge dates from c. 1899 and was during the transition from black powder to smokeless powder. There were many old BP guns chambered for 38 Colt with bored thru cylinders that would take anything that would fit. The 38 Special was made long enough that it wouldn't chamber in most of those.

Mark whiz
November 26, 2007, 01:03 PM
The .38Spcl case is still a "throwback" to the black powder days of yor. The case was originally designed for black powder loads which would occupy a much greater space than current smokeless powders.


BigG beat me to the draw!! Ha!

rcmodel
November 26, 2007, 01:04 PM
Started out in 1899.

It was also made longer then the older black-powder .38 S&W so it couldn't be chambered in the weaker old guns. Kind of the same reason the .357 Mag and .44 Mag are longer then the .38 Spl. and .44 Spl.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

Steve Koski
November 26, 2007, 01:04 PM
Because it's older than your grandpa.

Jim Watson
November 26, 2007, 01:48 PM
The .38 Special came out in 1899, loaded with black powder. It was special because it had 21 grains of powder and a 158 grain bullet instead of the .38 Government/.38 Long Colt with 18 grains powder and a 150 grain bullet. So it is longer to hold more powder. It will chamber in a "bored through" .38 L.C. So will a .357 Magnum but that doesn't mean you should shoot them.

It has nothing to do with .38 S&W.

GaryL
November 26, 2007, 01:54 PM
Cause it's old? :neener:

I think this one has been answered.

dgray64
November 26, 2007, 03:30 PM
Thanks. That makes a lot of sense!

Dave :neener:

The Bushmaster
November 26, 2007, 06:03 PM
Because it was designed for black powder? I'm too young to remember. Or was that I can't remember because I'm too old? Never mind...I forget. Was this question answered?...Oh...O K...

jfh
November 26, 2007, 07:24 PM
the cartridge came out in 1899, and was originally designed for BP?

Jim H.

Steve Koski
November 26, 2007, 07:58 PM
Did anyone say that it's a freakin' old cartridge?

ArchAngelCD
November 26, 2007, 10:22 PM
Why do 10 people say the same exact thing after the question has been answered many times over?

strat81
November 26, 2007, 10:46 PM
Why do 10 people say the same exact thing after the question has been answered many times over?
Sometimes it's good to have reinforcement.

I like Koski's answer the most.

But anyway, to answer the OP's question, the 38 Special dates back to 1899... ;)

The Bushmaster
November 27, 2007, 12:09 AM
I appologize dgray64...It seems that everyone is a bit bored today...But...Did we answer your question adequately? We get graded poorly if we didn't...

jfh
November 27, 2007, 12:38 AM
"Why do 10 people say the same exact thing...."

Thank you for being the straight man, ArchAngelCD. At least one person said it tongue in cheek--but I like The Bushmaster's response the best.

Crazy4nitro
November 27, 2007, 02:33 AM
.38Spcl is one of My Fav. Rounds
Bullseye fills VERY little of the case.

'Nitro

jfh
November 27, 2007, 02:47 AM
Well, just don't use 100-yr-old Bullseye in an original 38 Special case....

Jim H.

Clark
November 27, 2007, 10:26 AM
Cartridges of the World shows the 38sp being introduced in 1902 to be better than the shorter old black powder cartridge, the 1887 38 Colt Long.

Smokeless powder was invented in 1888, and quickly caused the phasing out of black powder.

Double based powder since 1889.

There is a batch of Unique powder from 1899 that is periodically ceremoniously shot.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_8_47/ai_76558924


What does it all mean?
The 38 sp has to be long enough, so it won't fit any old black powder 38 Colt Long revolvers.
They may say it was long for safety, but IMHO they wanted to sell new revolvers.
Have you ever tried to blow up a black powder revolver with smokeless powder?
I have. It is not easy. I have not tested any that would blow up with 38 sp pressures.

Jim Watson
November 27, 2007, 11:32 AM
I don't take CotW as Gospel.

Blue Book - not a primary reference, either - says the S&W Military and Police came out in 1899 and that commercial models were marked ".38 S&W Special and U.S. Service Ctgs."

Sharpe said that if your .38 Long will accept .38 Specials, to load Special brass with Long data.

Stebbins was of the opnion that .38 Special black and smokeless loads came out together. But Greener still showed black powder loads in 1909.

rcmodel
November 27, 2007, 02:57 PM
CTW is wrong. Again!
There are a lot of errors in Cartridges of the World.

The "3rd. Book of S&W" bible clearly says the .38 Special was introduced by S&W in 1899, in the new Model of 1899 Army-Navy revolver. (1st. model M&P)

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

The Bushmaster
November 27, 2007, 04:47 PM
Kind of a "Trivial Pursuit" question without too much importants or bearing on the over 100 year old .38 Special. But you go get'em tiger..Aah..rcmodel...

shc1
November 27, 2007, 07:25 PM
Because it's older than your grandpa.

Ummm no it's not...:p

bcp
November 27, 2007, 08:18 PM
'Cause if it was shorter or longer it wouldn't be a 38 Special, would it?

;)

Bruce

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