Smith and Wesson 1905


April 8, 2010, 08:21 AM
Hello, I am thinking of buying a 1905 S&W in the ser. no. range 21xxxx. Its in 38 special and a shooter. Is it safe to shoot any factory 38 special ammo in it as long as its not Plus P 38 special? thanks,Tom

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Old Fuff
April 8, 2010, 10:13 AM
The serial number indicates that it's a 1905, 3rd Chg. These were made within a serial number range running from 146,900 to 241,703, starting in about 1909 and ending during 1915,

Heat treated cylinders didn't come along until serial number 316,648 during the early 1920's, and the revolver is likely close to a 100 years old.

You can still shoot it if it's is in good mechanical condition, but I would be very careful what I fed it. Probably the best choice would be the kind of lightly-loaded ammunition made for Cowboy Action Shooting games with a 158-grain lead bullet.

April 8, 2010, 11:32 AM
What about 148 gr "match ammunition"? Would this be significantly worse than cowboy 158's? I have and shoot a similar Smith.

Old Fuff
April 8, 2010, 12:04 PM
The 148-grain mid-range wadcutter would also be fine. I suggested the "cowboy load" (158-grain bullet @ 650 - 750 FPS) because that's want the fixed sights were regulated to.

Bottom line is that you need a light-to-modest load that shoots point of aim to point of impact. Also a slower burning powder that spreads the pressure curve more toward the barrel and less in the chamber is also a good idea.

April 8, 2010, 01:39 PM

No +P

And, stay with pure Lead Bullets, no 'jacketed' or 'Hardball'...

Any standard loading 'SAMMI' compliant .38 Special Rounds of usual 'Round Nose Lead', or, lesser power mid-range Wadcutter types will be fine.

My own favorite Loading for S&W 'M&P's of that period or earlier, is as full house as will fit of 3f BP ( being about 20 Grains ), thin home-made Grease-Wafer between Powder and Bullet, and, 158 Grain RNL or pure Lead Hollow-Point Bullet.

This will give better than 'SAMMI' Velocities, and it entirely safe and easy on the Arm.

April 9, 2010, 05:39 AM
If I use ammo below 800 fps and 158 grain or less would it be OK? thanks,Tom

Old Fuff
April 9, 2010, 09:47 AM
Presuming it doesn't have any undiagnosed problems, yes. Do keep in mind that it is probably apporaching its 100th birthday.

Some powders develop pressure faster. Not more, but quicker, and this can put more strain on the chamber. With a more modern gun it doesn't matter, but with older ones it can. The loads we have suggested should be O.K., but use reasonable care.

April 9, 2010, 01:56 PM

Your Barrel length will be the arbitor of Velocity for any given Loading.

If yours is a 6 inch Barrel, you can be well into the mid 900 FPS with 158 RNL and 3f BP ( which was the original 1898-1899 Loading for .38 Special anyway, though the early Baloon-Head Cases held a tiny bit - like 1 Grain - more Powder than the now-a-days Solid-Head Cases do ).

5 inch Barrel, probably well into the 8s with BP...

4 inch Barrel, well into the 7s with BP...

'Trailboss' might be a good propellent also for Plinking rounds which will not strain things.

April 10, 2010, 09:11 AM
I want to point out too, that if the gun is blue, the above all still applies.

If the gun is nickel, however, you risk losing a chunk or two of the nickel plating as the cylinder expands during firing. Not a big loss if its a tatty gun, but if it has a nice finish, you may want to not fire it.

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