Who does good Revolver conversions from .38 Special to 9mm P-'08?


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Oyeboten
December 18, 2010, 11:14 PM
I did some 'googles' on this matter some Months ago, and the several places I called who offer these kinds of conversions left me feeling a whole lotta non-plussed.


I would like to find an intelligent Gunsmith who is capable of showing some deference to an intentional project of converting an erstwhile .38 Special Revolver, to .38 Autocolt, for the use of full Moon Clips.


The ones offering the 9mm conversions on the internet whom I talked to could not spell 'Autocolt' let alone comprehend what I was talking about.


All in all, I just need the rear of the Cylinder machined for accepting the Moon Clips, same as one would do for a 9 mm P-'08 conversion, and, the Cylinder Bores can be left be, and there will only be a little teeny bit of 'jump' is all for the Bullets to do, unlike the large 'jump' one is left with when converting to the 9 mm.


Thanks!

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Old Fuff
December 18, 2010, 11:45 PM
Before you get started find a source of moon-clips that will work with the .38 Colt Auto or .38 Super (same thing so far as the case is concerned). Unlike ourselves, with decades of experience, young (and therefore inexperienced) gunsmiths may not have encountered ammunition used in pistols that say: Automatic Colt / Calibre .38 Rimless Smokeless, but wake up if you mention Colt Super .38 Automatic.

The available clips may dictate what revolver(s) you can use, and in any case I'm not sure any are made for the semi-rimmed .38 case, and those offered for 9mm Luger / Parabellum may not work either. Also, keep in mind that .38 Special revolvers are made to headspace on revolver cases with a .060" thick rim, where the Colt Automatic cases are semi-rimmed, and such as it is, the rim is only .050".

Oyeboten
December 19, 2010, 01:35 AM
Hi Old Fuff,


Thank you for the mentions and encouragement.


I have long wished that S & W would have offered a K-Frame or "M&P" Revolver, chambering the .38 Autocolt Cartridge, and, that they would have done so by say, 1902 or so, when they ought to have.

Of course, as it was, the idea probably rubbed them the wrong way, even as offering any other erstwhile Colt chambering did ( in those days, anyway ).

Finally, after years of fruitless intermittent brooding ( which includes how I would feel bad asking a Model 1902 or even early Model 1905 S & W 'M&P' to routinely manage more or less the usually attributed 26,000 PSI or so of the .38 ACP Cartridge, ) it dawned on me, that a Colt 'Army Special' probably would not mind one bit. And, it is only a very slightly larger Revolver all tolled.

Plus, it is a Colt, and, poetically a perfect vehicle for a proprietary Colt Cartridge of the time.

So, my election then for the idea, will be an 'Army Special' of something around the early-enough 1900s, or 'teens, so as to be not too far in time from the prior introduction of the Colt .38 Auto Cartridge.

I have been brooding on where to obtain Moon Clips which would have the right schedule for how the Cartidges need to align with the Cylinder Bores.

I will have to do some reasearch on this, and or, review what model Speed Loaders happen to be offered for that Revolver, to see what other Revolvers they also work for, or, as may be.

I imagine the Colt 'Python' is the same Cylinder - in effect - as the 'Army Special'...so, if anyone offers Moon Clips for a 9mm or .38 Super conversion of the Colt 'Python', those Moon Clips may indeed be just right for my ambition.


I am imagining that the generous heft of the Colt 'Army Special' Cylinder Walls, will oblige the .38 ACP without incident.


If I am wrong, well...I will find out I suppose.

I will only be using Lead Bullets, and Loading my own to normal recommended values, so, no Hardball or Jacketed.


But, there is definitely a lot more 'meat' there, in the Cylinder Walls of the Colt 'Army Special', than there is on the S & W 'M&P' Revolvers, that's for sure.

David E
December 19, 2010, 02:21 AM
S&W made an L frame chambered for .38 Super with moonclips. They also made/make one on the N frame that holds 8 rds with a moonclip.

Tom Kilhoffer at www.moonclips.com can do the work for you.

http://www.moonclips.com/content/example-machine-cylinder.htm There is more to it than just machining it to accept full moon clips and the cost reflects that.

Oyeboten
December 19, 2010, 02:47 AM
Hi David E,



Thank you!


I will call him on Monday then.


His Website does not mention that he does Colt Revolvers, and I do not know if the Cylinder Bore scedule would be the same from a Colt 'Army Special', to, say, an L Frame or N Frame S & W Chambering .357 originally, in order for him to supply appropriate Moon Clips.


But, it'll be fun to talk with him and find out.

WC145
December 19, 2010, 09:45 AM
Speak to Mark Hartshorne at Pinnacle High Performance - www.pinnacle-guns.com - I don't know if he'll do the conversion on a Colt .38 but it's worth a call. He did the work on my S&W 360J and a number of other guns for guys over on the S&W forum.

CraigC
December 19, 2010, 09:58 AM
I really don't think I'd push my luck with the Army Special, nor do I think a reputable gunsmith would tackle such an operation on the old Colt. Why not just get a contemporary revolver cut for moonclips for use with .38Spl???

Jim Watson
December 19, 2010, 10:05 AM
Here is a .38 Super revolver for sale. http://www.gunsamerica.com/998229214/Guns/Pistols/Smith-Wesson-Revolvers/Performance-Center/Smith_Wesson_686P_38_SUPER_Performance_Center_Revolver.htm
another
http://www.gunsamerica.com/983414879/Guns/Pistols/Smith-Wesson-Revolvers/Performance-Center/S_W_Performance_Center_686_7_38_Super.htm

The price is not excessive considering the $250 cost of having a .357 revolver rechambered and cut for clips.

I doubt that the "cylinder bore schedule" of a Colt Army Special is close enough to any Smith & Wesson to use available clips. I see that Pinnacle will cut a Colt Trooper or Python to take .38 Special or .357 Magnum with clips, but don't know if a .357 clip would hold a .38 Auto securely enough for easy loading.

I would not convert an Army Special or Official Police even if there were clips available.
As you say, the old .38 Auto was a 26,000 psi round and .38 Super is 35,000.
If you beat up one of the old guns with heavier loads than .38 Special, the parts and knowhow to fix it are scarce. If you just must have a Colt, look for a .357 Trooper.

Old Fuff
December 19, 2010, 11:07 AM
The Army Special was introduced in 1908, and continued until 1927 when they changed the name (but not the gun) to Official Police. Under the new name it continued on until the model was discontinued in 1969 and replaced with an entirely new revolver that still retained the name, Official Police Mk. III. It in turn was discontinued in 1972 - or thereabouts.

I believe that 6-shot/S&W L-frame speedloaders will work with these revolvers, but I haven't tried it. Such speed loaders are of course designed to be used with .38 Special/.357 Magnum cartridges.

Concerning using an Army Special for the conversion you propose - I wouldn't. If someone else was to load it with .38 Super cartridges I'd expect the possibility of getting an expanded chamber and ruined cylinder. At least go to a late production Official Police, or better yet a Official Police Mk. III.

That said, I suspect that anyone doing these kinds of modifications is probably set up to work on Smith & Wesson's, with the possible exception of the Colt Python. Also because of the depth of the extractor groove, a clip made to hold rimmed .38 Special or .357 Magnum cartridges probably wouldn't do well with the .38 Colt Automatic.

RSVP2RIP
December 19, 2010, 11:45 AM
I can't find if it mentions on the moonclips website if you can still use the gun without clips if it is a rimmed cartridge like the 357. Would this be a problem because there is not enough material supporting the web of the case?

Jim Watson
December 19, 2010, 12:19 PM
A .357 cut for clips will normally retain some of the original rear face of the cylinder so you can shoot loose ammunition.
Pinnacle warns that the guns rechambered for autopistol cartridges 9mm P, 9x23, .38 Super will tend to stick empties if shot with Specials or Magnums in the larger chamber. Best to scrounge an extra cylinder if you want a lot of convertibility.

Oyeboten
December 19, 2010, 03:55 PM
Hi CraigC,



You'd asked -


I really don't think I'd push my luck with the Army Special, nor do I think a reputable gunsmith would tackle such an operation on the old Colt. Why not just get a contemporary revolver cut for moonclips for use with .38Spl???


Because my premis, and interest, and reason for my interest is - and always had been - in having a Revolver roughly contemporary to the introduction of the .38 ACP Cartridge, or made within a couple decades of it, anyway, since, in my opinion, it is something which ought to have existed "then"...and, something I have long thought would be very appealing.


I have no interest in converting any present day revolvers to a 111 year old Cartridge.

And, for me, personally, .38 Special in Moon Clips is not interesting, even though it probably should be.

Converting a present roughly day Revolver to .38 Super, definitely has appeal to me, if it is the right Revolver, but, the .38 Autocolt conversion is the original dream or fantasy, or possible realization I am after, and what I am focusing on at the moment.

It is something I would have wanted to own at the time, and, had I been around, I would have sought out an able Smith to do the modifications, or, done them myself if possible.

BCRider
December 19, 2010, 04:48 PM
To me the whole magic behind using moon clips is to make it super easy to more or less just toss in a clip full of cartridges and have them find their way home. From the reading I've done I gather that the shorter and stubbier the cartridges the easier this occurs. On the other hand I've read that .38Spl in moonclips gets so cockeyed that it's tougher to reload than using even a semi decent speed loader.

And given the peak chamber pressures I suspect you'd want to go with a .357 gun. Or to get a .357 cylinder with the known better mettalurgy and shorten it down to fit into a .38Spl frame. Otherwise you may risk blowing up the cylinder from the high 9mm pressures.

Oyeboten
December 19, 2010, 05:16 PM
Hi BCRider,



Well...

'SAAMI' for .38 Special is like 17,000 PSI.


+P, around 18 to 19,000


.38 ACP, 26,000

9mm P-'o8, 35,000


9mm Luger +P, like 38,500


.38 Auto is more or less at a half way point, pressure wise, between .38 Special, and many 9mm Luger/P-'08 Cartridges.


No question that a .357 Magum would be an ideal Candidate for converting to any of the higher pressure similar diamater Cartridges, given they, and .357 are about on par pressure wise.

CraigC
December 19, 2010, 05:31 PM
So do you actually want it "chambered" in .38Super, or just clearanced to use moonclips with .38Super cartridges? If what you want is a .38Super chamber, with proper .38Super bolre dimensions, it's gonna entail a new cylinder and rebored barrel. The oldest revolvers I know of, available anywhere close to that time were the S&W .38-44's. I don't know of any way to procure a cylinder for an N-frame that could be rechambered to .38Super. Although it could be accomplished with a more modern K-frame.

Oyeboten
December 19, 2010, 05:36 PM
Hi BCRider,


My entire interest is predicated upon the idea of wanting a period revolver, chambering the .38 ACP Cartridge, such as could have been offered at least by the close of WWI, if not even earlier.


'SAAMI' for .38 ACP, is 26,000 PSI.

For 9mm Luger, 35,000 PSI, or, about the same as .357 Magnum if memory serve.

For 9mm Luger +P, 38,500 PSI.

For .38 Special, 18,000 PSI, or nudging 20 for +P.


Quite a few people have converted erstwhile .38 Special Revolvers, such as S&W Model 10s, to 9mm Luger, without incident, so far as I have heard or read.

The Cylinder of a Model 10 'S & W' is about 3/32nds or so smaller than that of a Colt Army Special, where the latter has Cylinder Walls about 2/3rds thicker.


The 9mm Luger Cartridge makes greatly more pressure than is occasioned with the Cartridge I have in mind.


If all I wanted was just any kind of Revolver to shoot 9 MM, there is plenty to choose from or have converted.

I do not want just any kind of revolver.


No one seems to understasnd my entire premis here with this, nor my entire reason.

Both of which, are to have what Colt or S & W could have done, by say, 1919, or earlier, had they elected to do it.

And, in my opinion, had they elected to do it, the Market would have rewarded them with more than enough sales to have justified it.

The .38 ACP, and, the 9mm Luger Cartridges both were held in great esteem by not only the general gamut of Americans, but, by people the World over.


The totally anticlimatic, lackluster offerings which finally did dribble out almost a Century late, have not uimpressed me as anything more or better than how absurd and halting things become when left to insular papershuffling idiots in suits who have no sense of inventiveness, innovation or style, and are so 'conservative' in all the wrong ways, as to ring like a Lead Bell whenever they do decide anything.

They should be embarassed, taking a Century of timid hand wringing, to do what anyone with any sense would have done, at least, by 1919 or 1920.

Oye...


Lol...

So, the Romace of this, for me, is the 'reason', and it requires a Revolver of the correct time period.

Old Fuff
December 19, 2010, 11:36 PM
No one seems to understasnd my entire premis here with this, nor my entire reason.

Both of which, are to have what Colt or S & W could have done, by say, 1919, or earlier, had they elected to do it.

I don't think that either Colt or Smith & Wesson were interested in continuing the 1/2 moon clip concept beyond the Model 1917 each made, but only because of wartime demands by the Army.

However, after Colt introduced the .38 Super cartridge and pistol, S&W did build a prototype revolver made on the 1917 N-frame platform. During the Second World War an additional prototype - also made on the 1917 platform - was chambered in .30 U.S. M1 Carbine. Neither were put into production.

On their part, Colt may have chambered a handful of Single Action Army revolvers in .38 Super, as moon clips of any kind were unnecessary. Beyond this they had no interest in using pistol cartridges in revolvers.

goon
December 20, 2010, 12:02 AM
OK, correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't the .38 ACP the same casing that became the .38 Super except loaded to a lower pressure?
Next, wasn't the Super originally headspaced on the case rim and only later changed to headspace on the mouth?
Because if those things are true, why would you need moon-clips?

And what gun are you thinking of trying to convert? I'm thinking if it's something like a K-frame Smith there have to be some .357 cylinders around somewhere that could be reamed.
Interesting idea at the least.

WC145
December 20, 2010, 12:33 AM
OK, correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't the .38 ACP the same casing that became the .38 Super except loaded to a lower pressure? Yes

Next, wasn't the Super originally headspaced on the case rim and only later changed to headspace on the mouth? Yes

Because if those things are true, why would you need moon-clips? For positive extraction in a revolver since it is a "semi-rimmed" case

Dr.Rob
December 20, 2010, 01:19 AM
I can't imagine a gunsmith who would think of doing this to a pre-war revolver.

The cartridge was obsolete by the time the 38 super came out, and .38 Super would fit in a revolver covered to .38ACP, I'd fully expect someone (maybe not you) to turn that 1920's vintage reworked Colt or Smith revolver into a hand grenade.

The reason this wasn't done 'back then' is that the revolvers of the day weren't up for that kind of pressure.

Sure a modern piece can be built to handle a 9mm +p, but I doubt very seriously you'd see a smith risk his reputation, house and jail time over converting a turn of the century Smith or Colt into a 9mm.

Smith and Wesson had to heat treat their revolvers to handle the then new 38/44 heavy duty load (designed to compete with Colt's 38 Super). The heaviest Colt revolvers like the New Service could handle these loads, and while Colt swore their Official Police could handle them, few people liked the 'small frame' guns shooting those hot loads. In that short time span autos were still sort of 'new', and the idea of chambering an auto cartridge into a revolver was well, not unheard of, but a strange idea.

Colt and SW were making 45 ACP revolvers only because the army couldn't get 45 autos built fast enough for WW1. Which leads me to:

The very oddball and very British Webly-Fosberry Automatic Revolver which WAS chambered in .38 ACP and used moon clips that held 8 cartridges.

If you can find one in .38 ACP it may only set you back 20 grand or so. They just didn't make many in the 3 years they were in production. 38ACP was not a 'standard' British issue ammunition and this alone doomed the Webly to private purchase by wealthy officers. Far more were made in .455 Webly Auto, which was used in in a Navy contract automatic.

Oyeboten
December 20, 2010, 02:11 AM
Checked a few things on my Coffee Break -


A Factory .38 ACP Cartridge, will not fit into the Cylinder Chambers of my 1922 Colt 'Army Special'...it only goes in barely 1/8th of an inch worth of the Case.

I tried the Cartridge in my S & W Model `10-6, and, it went in almost 3/4 of an inch, but, that left a healthy 1/4 inch to go.

The Model 10 would extract it, even though it was not in all the way.


The only Factory .38 Special Cartridges I have on hand, measure as being .374 at the Rim and for the ares the Bullet lay, inside the Case.


The .38 ACP Cartidges I have on hand, measure .380 at that area.


I had read of people shooting .38 ACP in otherwise normal .38 Special Revolvers, prior to WWI and in the '20s, with no tales of woe or catastrophe, so, I have to assume their Revolvers had some generous Cylinder Chamber diamaters.


The Cylinder of my 1922 Colt 'Army Special' is about 3/32nds larger than that of a K Frame S & W. Cylinder walls, are much thicker.

I have no idea how, Metalurgically, the two would differ.


But, to my mind, there is no reason as far as Metalurgy, that Colt or S & W could not have offered mid frame revolvers chambering the .38 ACP Cartridge, right from the get go, let alone, by say, 1919.

If it had required a slightly different Alloy and or Heat Treatment in addition, from what the usual had been, that would not have been much of a hardship...they had entirely excellent Metalurgists a Hundred and Ten years ago, and, many items required all through Commerce and the Manufacturing Trades required quite particular Alloys of Steel and or Heat Treatment for their applications.

I do not believe their reason was because they were incapabale.

I believe it was lack of imagination to see the obvious Market which would have existed, in the US and abroad, on the part of Colt, and, a haughty pride and distain by S & W to chamber anything in a Colt Cartridge unless Uncle Sam ordered them to do so.


I am confident, that well made, reliable 'Brand Name' Revolvers, chambering the 9 mm Luger, and, or, the .38 ACP Cartridges would have found wide popularity and acclaim prior to WWI, and all the more so, once it got going...and thereafter.


Once the M1917 Colts and S&Ws showed the elegence of using even the half Moon Clips the Military insisted on for easy carry in pouches, the concept ought to have been obvious to anyone, and, would have appealed to anyone admring it, if applied to mid Frame Revolvers.


Anyway...this has been fun to think about...and, still thinking...


Thanks everyone for your input!

CraigC
December 20, 2010, 03:10 AM
I do not believe their reason was because they were incapabale.
Doesn't really matter why. While they may be larger than a model 10, it's the strength that is in question. Even the early Colt SAA's chambered in .357Mag were not properly heat treated and suffered premature wear and that is 20yrs later than your Army Special could've been born. As well as a larger diameter cylinder. Ever heard the phrase, "you can't get there from here"? I understand that the .38ACP is slightly larger in diameter than the .38Spl, nominally, but I'm not so sure that there is enough meat there for the ACP reamer (which will mosty likely have to be ordered $$$) to clean up properly.

Now, bear in mind that with proper application of funds in the right direction, anything can be accomplished. I'm sure Bowen could build you a custom cylinder and make a later model Trooper look just like a turn of the century Army Special but do you really want to spend five thousand dollars on this project and wait two to three years for it to be completed?

Oyeboten
December 20, 2010, 04:43 AM
Hi CraigC,


You'd asked -


So do you actually want it "chambered" in .38Super, or just clearanced to use moonclips with .38Super cartridges?



I do not want to have a conversion done for .38 super.

I want a Conversion done for .38 Autocolt/ .38 ACP.


The Cartridges are identical in every way, but for their Loading/power/pressure.



The .38 ACP is a less powerful lower pressure Cartridge, than the .38 Super is, even though they are identical in every other way dimensionsally.


If what you want is a .38Super chamber, with proper .38Super bolre dimensions, it's gonna entail a new cylinder and rebored barrel.

My Cylinder Bores would likely have to be minutely enlarged to oblige the .38 ACP Cartridge.

The Barrel would be fine as is.


I intend to do my own Re-Loading, and, to shoot Lead Bullets, of .357 or .358 Diameter...which I used to do anyway in my '38 ACP Automatic.

I do not plan on shooting Hardball, or, Jacketed Bullets.


The .38 ACP Catridge, is about .004 of an Inch larger in diameter, apparently, than the .38 Special Cartridge, so, the Cylinder Bores of the Candidate revolver ( not obtained yet ) would likely need to be reamed to an approriate diameter for the Cartridges to both chamber, and, release/extract well in their Moon Clips.



The oldest revolvers I know of, available anywhere close to that time were the S&W .38-44's. I don't know of any way to procure a cylinder for an N-frame that could be rechambered to .38Super. Although it could be accomplished with a more modern K-frame.


Oh, yes, I see what you mean.

But, any .38-44 could be slightly modified to chamber and fire .38 Super, in Moon Clips. It would be very easy, or, as easy as any other common S & BW Conversion for rimless Cartridges.


The Bullet would have a little jump is all, as it would in any had-been .38 Special Cylinder Bore, as, the .38 Super ( or it's dimensionally identical older Brother, the .38 ACP ) Cartridge Case is a little shorter than the .38 Special Cartridge Case.




I do not want anm N Frame though for this, it would be too large...too disproportionate to the poiwer of the Cartridge.


.38 ACP was like one step above what we now would regard as .38 + P.

It is no Barn Burner, but, it is a very nice, moderately powerful, and very flat shooting Cartridge.

Originally it was loaded to be 130 Grain, Copper Patch ( FMJ ) Bullet, and, 1250 FPS.

It was very soon down-loaded to 130 Grain, Copper Patch or Lead, and, 1050 FPS.


Quite close to 9 MM Lugar in general power or ft lbs, but, 10,000 to 12,000 lbs less pressure...and a longer Cartridge.


.38 Super - 'SAAMI' - 35,000 PSI

.38 ACP - 'SAAMI' - 26,000 PSI

.38 Special - 'SAAMI' - 17 - 18,000 PSI


I think the strain would be too unkind for an early K-Frame.


Probably, a Model 10 would handle it alright, even if it does exceed it's rating.

A Model 13 would be very comfortable with .38 ACP, but, is too new a Revolver for the idea to any longer make any sense.


An early, pre war .357 Magnum, would do perfectly fine with it, but, then, it would be more appropropriate to convert it, to .38 Super, in every way, so, that leaves that out.


All I am left with, is, a Colt Army Special, as far as I can figure, for a 'period correct enough' Candidate, for conversion to the Colt .38 ACP Cartridge, using full Moon Clips.


The Colt 'New Service' is too large for the power of the Cartridge.


And, everything else, too small to take it without worry of rupture!

Oyeboten
December 20, 2010, 05:14 AM
Hi CraigC,


You'd asked -


Doesn't really matter why. While they may be larger than a model 10, it's the strength that is in question.


Yes, I understand the strength of the Cylinder is crucial.


If say, Colt used the same Alloy for the Cylinders of the Police Positive Special, as they did for the Army Special, the latter having greatly thicker Walls to the Cylinder Bores...I would have to suspect the latter ( Army Special ) Cylinder, would be that much ( however 'that much' is, ) stronger.

Thus, it may just be strong enough for .38 ACP...or, it might not be.

I do not know, and, so far, no one else does, either.



Even the early Colt SAA's chambered in .357Mag were not properly heat treated and suffered premature wear and that is 20yrs later than your Army Special could've been born. As well as a larger diameter cylinder. Ever heard
phrase, "you can't get there from here"? I understand that the .38ACP is slightly larger in diameter than the .38Spl, nominally, but I'm not so sure that there is enough meat there for the ACP reamer (which will mosty likely have to be ordered $$$) to clean up properly.


The Reamer one would use for .38 ACP, is the same reamer one would use for .38 Super.


They are the same Cartridge, if different Loadings.


.357 Magnum is around 35,000 PSI. being about the same as .38 Super.


.38 ACP, 26,000 PSI


Pretty big difference, pressure wise.

Bear in mind that with proper application of funds in the right direction, anything can be accomplished. I'm sure Bowen could build you a custom cylinder and make a later model Trooper look just like a turn of the century Army Special but do you really want to spend five thousand dollars on this project and wait two to three years for it to be completed?


There is no reason a conversion done to a Colt 'Army Special' should or would cost any more, than one done on any garden variety S&W.


Lots of places advertise converting to 9mm or .38 Super, for like a hundred bucks, some charge more, some want to sell you all sorts of junk to go along with it...and, they do S&W and Ruger and so on.

I was looking for someone who does 'Colts'.


There is nothing intrinsically more difficult or needing to be more expensive, to put a Colt Cylinder on a Lathe, and turn down a little of it on one end, or to do so on a Milling Machine, than it would be to do it for any other brand of Revolver Cylinder.


I just wanted to find a place who does Colts, and, who is familiar and able to do the work, since they are used to doing it...and, to see what they might say about it.


Many thousands of mundane, modern revolvers, are routinely re-fitted to oblige 9mm and .38 Super Cartridges with Moon Clips.


They 'get there from here' for about what an average dinner-date would cost.

I see nothing whatever in my prospective project, which would require or justify extremes of expense, for merely having the same simple process done, as is done all the time on other revolvers.


If there is a final decision that the Army Special Cylinder is not strong enough for .38 ACP, then, I will accept the verdict, and, not do it, having had fun, regardless, in thinking and seeking knowledge about the idea of the conversion.


Best wishes!

Jim Watson
December 20, 2010, 10:50 AM
I get a little discouraged whenever somebody says "I ought to be able to get a "B" for the price of an "A"."

Why don't you call up some real gunsmiths and ask if they will work on a Colt?

CraigC
December 20, 2010, 12:50 PM
I love it when somebody asks a question and then argues with the answer. If you're so convinced the Army Special will work, go for it.

The problem is not finding someone to work on Colt's. The problem is usable parts and platforms. If I thought that anybody would rechamber an Army Special to .38Super, it would be relatively easy to procure one in .32-20 to rechamber and rebore. That is a basic caliber conversion. The problem is that NOBODY will rechamber an Army Special to .38Super. Doesn't matter that you would use .38ACP, if it accepts .38Super cartridges, it has to be strong enough or said `smith is setting himself up for a lawsuit. Army Specials are simply not strong enough. I've seen that stated in print and heard it directly from custom gunsmiths. Nobody will even suggest using heavier .32-20 loads in them, even with their heavy chamber walls.

Like I also said, I do not think that the reamer will clean up a .38Spl chamber. Maybe it will, I doubt it. So the logistical problem you have is finding a cylinder of sufficient strength and small enough existing chambers to be rechambered. A K-frame would be easy because they have been made in .22LR. This is a piece of cake because we already know they are routinely rechambered to .327Federal, which runs at 45,000psi.

That is why the Colt will cost more, unless a .22LR Trooper cylinder could be fitted to another model, it will have to be scratch-built.

eldon519
December 20, 2010, 01:35 PM
I would not take the metallurgical concerns for granted. Great strides were still being made in the first half of the 1900s, and improvement continues today. Keep in mind that Liberty Ships were failing (or breaking clean in half a la the Schenectady) during WWII due to the lack of understand and application of ductile-brittle transistion temperatures and fracture toughness (now considered very basic knowledge). While probably not applicable to your Colt, this is just an example that such concerns are very real. It would be a mistake to assume that the understanding of metallurgy at that time is anywhere near what it is today, and as someone who works along side metallurgists (I am not one), I can tell you that even today there is a healthy dose of art as well as science in fabrication.

goon
December 20, 2010, 01:38 PM
Exactly how small is the rim on the .38 ACP/Super casing though? Smaller than the .45 Colt rim? Because that's a small rim that still works OK in DA revolvers (most of the time). Just saying - not second guessing you all, but will the moon-clips truly be necessary?

At the same time though, I gotta wonder...
If you've got a .38 Special revolver you already have access to all kinds of brass and reloading components. Ammo is not a concern.
Why risk an old gun and trade those advantages away and pay a gunsmith a presumably substantial fee when you already have it so good?

CraigC
December 20, 2010, 01:45 PM
I would not take the metallurgical concerns for granted.
I agree and we must remember that the Army Special was only chambered in rather anemic, low pressure cartridges like .32-20, .38 and .41Colt.

CraigC
December 20, 2010, 02:22 PM
Double post, that was weird.

Jim Watson
December 20, 2010, 03:01 PM
If my reloading gear and most of my guns were not in storage while my house is being rebuilt, I would run some experiments. But they are so fire the thread back up in about six months and I will try some things.

I still think it a bad idea unless you pay to have a .357, Trooper, or Python cylinder fitted to get better steel.

eldon519
December 20, 2010, 03:23 PM
Exactly how small is the rim on the .38 ACP/Super casing though? Smaller than the .45 Colt rim? Because that's a small rim that still works OK in DA revolvers (most of the time). Just saying - not second guessing you all, but will the moon-clips truly be necessary?


The .45 Colt rim is around 0.016". The .38 ACP is around 0.011".

goon
December 20, 2010, 08:30 PM
Roger that. In that case, moon clips it is.

Oyeboten
December 21, 2010, 02:41 PM
Well...my interest was to explore the idea.

I have not been 'convinced' of anything, I have been interested to explore the idea, and, find out more about the details concerning it's possibility.


There is no need for anyone to be getting hostile or huffy about it.


It is an idea I began brooding about decades ago, and, which I have returned to now and then.


I abandonded the possibility of electing a period K-Frame, and, was considering the Colt Army Special because it is larger, and, has especially thicker Cylinder Walls.


I understand the casual opinion is running onto how the Cylinder Walls, though thick, might not be strong enough.

Of course...they might not be...and, I had said so myself at the get go.


Or, they may be ( strong enough ).


If by trying to clearify what I had said in occasions of others seeming to have interpolated or mis-understood, if my wording had somehow made it seem as if I was "convinced" the Cylinder would hold the .38 ACP pressures with impunity, then again, what I was saying had been badly mis-read.


I have never said it would.


Nor can anyone here positively say it would not hold.


It is simply unknown...and, so far, most of those who have had somehting to say, feel it would not hold safely, while ( on another forum ) some have said they expect it might hold just fine.



Meanwhile, my original, question, was for leads allowing me to communicate with a Gunsmith who does Cartridge Conversions on Colts.


The question was never one of any head strong refusal to listen to reason, or any refusal to evaluate reason.


I am sorry that some people seem to have got so excited and snarky in this context.


Possibly, they have trouble remembering what the context is - and the context, to remind those who are or who have become confused - is that of exploring a question, not a "conviction".

Jim K
December 21, 2010, 07:04 PM
FWIW, Browning used the .32 S&W and .38 S&W in his original experiments. When he ran into the inevitable problems of feeding rimmed cases from a magazine, he kept turning the rims down until he got something that would work to support the case and still feed. That is why we ended up with .32 ACP and .38 ACP cartridges with a small rim. Later, one Georg Luger came up with the idea of supporting the case on its mouth; JMB took notice and his two late cartridges, the .380 ACP and the .45 ACP, are rimless.

The undesireable result is that old .32 S&W caliber revolvers will fire the .32 ACP and many old .38 S&W caliber revolvers will fire the .38 Super; neither is recommended.

Jim

Dr.Rob
December 21, 2010, 07:28 PM
The safest solution is to build a revolver that COULD handle 38 Super, but back off the load to shoot 38 ACP.

VA27
December 21, 2010, 10:42 PM
1. Buy a Colt Python.

2. Send it, along with a cubic yard of US dollars to Hamilton Bowen and ask him to make it look like an Army Special and chamber it for 38ACP with moon or half-moon clips.

I say this because I've seen pix of an S&W I-frame that he made to look like a 1917 and chambered it in 25ACP and made half-moon clips to go with it.

Problem solved.

eldon519
December 22, 2010, 11:04 AM
Just to look at it from an engineering standpoint, the increase in operating pressure from 17,000psi to 26,500psi will impart a 56% increase in stress in your cylinder walls. It also seems you're going to have to remove some material with a reamer which will further thin the walls by about 0.005" judging by cartridge dimensions. I am not sure what cylinder wall you have to start with, but based on some informal calculations I did looking at the Ruger .44 magnum-.45 Colt debate, I'd say that this is significant, probably putting your increased stress well into the mid 60 percentile range. Keep in mind that guns such as the Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum (what most consider a pretty strong gun) have been tested to destruction at about 100% increase. I'd say you'll almost certainly be beyond the endurance limit of the steel in your cylinder which means it's a matter of time (or rather round count) before it fails catastrophically with standard pressure ammunition.

Fatigue is a logarithmic relationship which can be very helpful or very dangerous (I'd say dangerous in this situation given the significant unknowns). This means the changes come in orders of magnitude. For example, making up a point of reference to demonstrate how this works, let's say with load X in your converted gun, it will last 10,000 rounds before blowing up catastrophically (fatigue failure is brittle, not plastic). Increase the pressure say 5%, now it might last 1,000 rounds, not the 9,500 some might expect. Increase it 5% more, now it's 100 rounds. I'm making up this slope, (5% for an order of magnitude) but otherwise, this is how a logarithmic relationship works. The question would be, where are you in that relationship? A pre-war gun reamed out and overpressured? Do you start at 10,000 rounds? Maybe 100? Maybe 1? These are the dangerous variables for this type project. I doubt it would survive a SAAMI proof load if it were tested which would be over 100% increase in pressure over the intended design pressure, BEFORE it was reamed out. Keep in mind that the natural .38 ACP load exceeds the .38 Special proof load pressure, again before it was reamed and further weakened.

So please if you proceed, be exceedingly careful. You may honestly want to consult a professional engineer or actual metallurgist before continuing. I have an engineering degree, but this is outside of my work, industry experience and real knowledge base, so please don't act on anything I have told you. I am also not an actual professional engineer (a legally protected title), and thus not capable of giving you actual design advice. I hope you do not regard this post as huffy or impolite, only an expression of concern for the safety of this project.

Oyeboten
December 23, 2010, 02:06 AM
Hi eldon519,


What nice mentions, thank you.


I have had thoughts along thoise lines, respecting the idea of how Materials may behave in conditions over time, and or, where, they are being stressed, or over-stressed.


It would be very difficult if to obtain cogent or germain Metalurgical predictions of an Army Special Cylinder under the peramiters of the anticipated 26,000 PSE loadings, as far as anyone being able to calculate on a chemical-metalurgic sectional basis, what could be expected of it, since there is no real way to know what the Alloy was, nor, what the Heat Treatment was, if any, of the Alloy which was used.

Having an analysis done to determine the percentages of elements upon which a prospective description of the Alloy could be attempted, would likely be fairly expensive, and, inconclusive anyway, as far as it being a bssis of anticipation for the engineering related behavior of the materials under the conditions which would be occuring.


Of course, if a 'Python' Cylinder would just jump right in...I would be temped to think about it...though the .357 Chambering would leave a longer 'jump' for the .38 ACP Bullet to have to do.


Here is an image ( borrowed from a Gunbroker Listing ) showing an Army
Special Cylinder, from the rear -


http://inlinethumb40.webshots.com/48103/2125861220067835264S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2125861220067835264QTyZtK)


The Army Special in general, was intended for .41 Colt Cartridge, and, was overbuilt for occasions of it being chambered for the .38 Special Cartridge.


Part of my interest in it for this possible project, is that if the same Alloy were used in it's Cylinder, as was used in the greatly thinner walled and smaller diameter Cylinder of the 'Police Positive Special' ( in .38 Special ) then one could expect the Cylinder of the Army Special to be however much stronger, than the Cylinder of a Police Positive Special, in instances of their boith chambering the .38 Special Cartridge.


Hence, whatever .38 Special "Proof Loads' ( and, do we know what those were then? 1.5, or, 2 times the normal pressure? ) were, is only slightly relevent, since the Cylinder was overbuilt for the loading in the first place by vitrue of it's thicker Walls.


18,000 PSI x 2, would be 36,000 PSI, which is .38 Super Territory, or, .357 Magnum Territory.

1.5 x 18,000 PSI, is, as you relay, just a little over that of the .38 ACP, with it's attributed 'SAAMI' of 26,000 PSI.


So, one-and-a-half times the pressure of .38 Special, in a Cylinder whose perimter Walls, at their thinnest point, are likely twice the section/thickness of the smaller Frame Revolvers, chambering .38 Special...all else Alloy wise, being equal.

To me, if naively, this seems like a kind of 'grey' area then....like a 'Maybe might handle it, not-sure, maybe no' sort of area...it is 'grey' seeming to me, in that way.



Wherein, in the Army Special, the larger Cylinder Bores which would accompany a .41 Colt Chambering, and, which had obliged the .41 Colt Cartridge Proof Load, would be, well, "thinner" than they are in the .38 Special chambering, whatever the Proof Loads were for the .41 Colt Cartridge were.


Some thoughts anyway...far as that goes...

Oyeboten
December 23, 2010, 02:18 AM
Hi VA27,


Ye'd said -


1. Buy a Colt Python.

2. Send it, along with a cubic yard of US dollars to Hamilton Bowen and ask him to make it look like an Army Special and chamber it for 38ACP with moon or half-moon clips.

I say this because I've seen pix of an S&W I-frame that he made to look like a 1917 and chambered it in 25ACP and made half-moon clips to go with it.

Problem solved.



That is actually a very creative idea.


If I were to have a candidate PYTHON to do it with, I would go right to the .38 Super then.


Possibly there is no way to do what I had wanted, or, not as simply and purely, as I had wanted.


No matter how it all ends up, it has been fun to think about, and, useful to my education in general, to have discussed.


I had read somewhere, that Elmer Keith used to use 5 Grains of 'UNIQUE' under various 200 + Grain Bullets, in various of the Colt DA Mid Frame .41 Colt Revolvers...but, I have not tried to calculate what pressures one would expect from that.

goon
December 23, 2010, 04:53 AM
You happen to know the operating pressure of the .41 Colt though? It started as a BP round, but the .38 Special began from the beginning as a smokeless round developed from the older .38 rounds. So I'm just wondering if the .41 ran at a lower pressure.
Bear in mind, I really have no metallurgy knowledge at all and only about enough with the Colt Army Special, Police Positive, etc to be able to know that I was looking at one of them if I happen on to it at a gun show. So basically, I'm just slinging out any concerns I'd have off the top of my head.

Also, weren't there Army models made in .38 Long Colt? I know that some of them, in spite of their age and wearing the Colt logo, are practically worthless on the used market (but I am unsure of the exact model designation). I don't know if the frame could handle being converted to .38 ACP, but if you could get the gun for around $100 anyhow, then have it rebarreled and new cylinder made, it might work out to be cost effective for what you're thinking of.

Old Fuff
December 23, 2010, 09:18 AM
Colt's model 1892 New Model Army/Navy was made in .41 Colt and .38 Long Colt, but it should not play any part in this discussion. The Army Special was offered in .32-20, .38 Special and .41 Colt.

I will again point out that the revolver called the Army Special was manufactured from 1908 to about 1969, but after 1927 the name was changed to Official Police because the military services, having adopted a .45 pistol in 1911 were no longer interested in .38 revolvers.

During the middle/later 1930's Colt rated the Official Police as being able to use the S&W .38-44 cartridge. Winchester offered it in two versions, one with a 150 grain bullet @ 1175 FPS out of a 5" barrel. At the time the .38 Colt Automatic came with a 130 grain bullet @ 1070 FPS out of a 4 1/2" barrel. The .38 Colt Super Automatic used the same bullet, but the velocity was uped to 1300 FPS out of a 5" barrel.

Looking at the numbers, one might conclude that the .38 Super was a little warm for use in the revolver, but the older and less powerful .38 Colt Automatic shouldn't cause any problems.

Personally I'm not interested in this particular conversion because I don't like bothering with clips, and the performance numbers of the .38 Colt Automatic can be duplicated by any compentent handloader in a Plus-P .38 Special case. However others that feel differently should forget about the pre-1927 Army Special and go to the identical Official Police where Colt used updated materials in its construction.

Concerning the question of earlier use of the .38 Colt Automatic cartridge (and later the .38 Colt Super) - prior to 1917 the necessary clips hadn't been invented yet. During the 1920's S&W conducted experiments using their N-frame as a platform, but didn't move it into production. On a special order basis Colt made a handful of Single Action Army revolvers (that didn't need clips) in .38 Super, but never offered it as a cataloged option. Clearly, at a time when the Great Depression was on and they needed all the business they could get, neither company found any serious interest.

CraigC
December 23, 2010, 10:15 AM
It will be very difficult to find any authorityon the subject who will agree with Colt's recommending .38-44 loads in the Police Positive. Let us not forget that people didn't really shoot much back then. So I'm sure their statements cannot be construed as a free pass to put several thousand .38-44 level loads through one.

CraigC
December 23, 2010, 10:38 AM
Jim Stroh's message board is down but you can email David Clements or call Hamilton Bowen.

http://www.clementscustomguns.com/

http://www.bowenclassicarms.com

Old Fuff
December 23, 2010, 10:59 AM
It will be very difficult to find any authorityon the subject who will agree with Colt's recommending .38-44 loads in the Police Positive. Let us not forget that people didn't really shoot much back then. So I'm sure their statements cannot be construed as a free pass to put several thousand .38-44 level loads through one.

I would agree, but the revolver being discussed was the Official Police, not the Police Positive, or more correctly the Police Positive Special.

Oyeboten
December 23, 2010, 07:27 PM
Thanks for those mentions Old Fuff!


Of course, my idea, originally, and still, is to have something Colt could have made 80 or 90 years ago, using a Revolver of that time, thus being a Romatnic notion and integrity in essence, with it's practicality happening to be just fine and very appealing to me, also.


I'd forgotten about the Colt claim and and or their published Advertisments at the time, regarding the use of the .38-44 Cartridge in the Mid Frame Colts - or, in the Official Police, anyway, specifically - inj the 1930s.


Indeed, those Cartridges would likely have exceeded the pressures of the .38 ACP Cartridge by quite a bit, if not by mnore than quite-a-bit, and were as you relay, much more powerful. Those were .357 Magnum Territory, or, .38 Super Territory.


Granted, as you remind, anyone familar and comptetent, can re-Load .38 Special to whatever power their Revolver can tolerate, but, of course, that is not my motive or reason.


I always admired and liked the .38 ACP Cartridge, and, always loved and admired old Colts, and, I really like full Moon clips...so...


To have all of these in one package, is such a nice thought, as well as that I have long felt that Colt ought to have offered this arrangement for various sizes of their Revolvers, soon as the Moon Clip idea had been prooved.


Thanks also for the clearifications on the succession of names, regarding the Army Special, and, the Official Police.



Do you think the Metalurgy was in fact any different in the latter, from the former?


If so, I will take that to heart, even though the latter of course came out right about the same time as the .38 Super, which kind of puts things into a new and different era then, far as my .38 ACP Romance goes...

Oyeboten
December 23, 2010, 07:34 PM
Thanks Craig C!


My Coffee Break draws to a close, then, back-to-work for me.

I think after the Christmas harries have passed, I will make some of these Calls.



Thanks everyone for your input and ideas and creativity on this!


I have realy enjoyed this discussion, and, having some conversation and wisdom and earnest concern as well, offered to me toward evaluating my idea and possible project.

Jim Watson
December 23, 2010, 08:04 PM
I looked around on H. Bowen's website.
He altered a Ruger Redhawk to look like a 1917. It was still obviously a Ruger but the tapered round barrel, hogwallow fixed sight, and lanyard loop was strictly WW I era. What Ruger would have made on the 1917 contract alongside Colt and Smith if they had been in business at the time.
So he could certainly make a Python or Trooper look like an Army Special if you didn't mind throwing money at the job.
(I saw somewhere a picture of an Anaconda remodeled to look like a New Service, although apparently not by Bowen.)

For some weird reason, he made it in caliber .50 AE.
Moon clips for the caliber and frame size would have to be specially made. Not a big item on a job of that size, but for something less elaborate it will be a big percentage of the project cost. Unless you get lucky and an L Smith clip fits a Colt cylinder. I know you can somewhat interchange Python and 686 speedloaders but clips don't have much slop.

Old Fuff
December 23, 2010, 10:30 PM
Do you think the Metalurgy was in fact any different in the latter, from the former? (Army Special vs. Official Police).

Unquestionably, especially those Official Police revolvers made between 1950 and 1969. Both Smith & Wesson and Colt's used the latest in high-carbon steel alloys as time passed.

Oyeboten
December 24, 2010, 01:39 AM
Hi Old Fuff, all...


As far as the idea central to my interest...I could abide a later Cylinder, in an earlier Frame.


But, I could not abide a later Gun...or, trying to make a later Gun look like an earlier one.

Oyeboten
December 24, 2010, 02:17 AM
Just did some looking...


The earlier models of the Colt 'Trooper', and, the Colt 'Lawman', appear to be about identical in looks to the Army Special, but for their Sights having been changed to a differsnt style, and, or being adjustable also.


So that is interesting, far as that goes, and, either would be able to oblige .38 Super without any strain, I am sure.


Both are way too new for the .38 ACP Cartridge to make any sense though, of course.


And, with either of these Models, I could change the front Sight to be like what the previous Colts had enjoyed...leaving the rear Sight alone, and, that would be only a very minor undertaking to do...as far as having a .38 Super Revolver.

Oyeboten
December 24, 2010, 06:33 AM
If say... I had a Cylinder...from a late 'Official Police', with what we must conceed to be it's stronger Metalurgy, and, if it fit the 'Army Special...or would accept the Ejecter Rod and Star of the Army Special, which of course holds the Ratchet portion, I could live with that...with having that Cylinder modified for .38 ACP.


And all in all, that would be a pretty elegant solution...

What do you think Old Fuff?


Is ther a chance that a 'late' production 'Official Police' Cylinder with or without it's Ratchet, would fit, or could be fitted without much trouble, to an 'Army Special'?

Old Fuff
December 24, 2010, 10:25 AM
I have a feeling that this project could end up being so costly that it required a "Obama bailout." :eek:

Anyway, keep in mind that these revolvers were not something made with drop-in parts, and in particular the hand and ratchet were individually fitted on each revolver.

In terms of appearence the Official Police didn't change from that of the Army Special, during the 1930's through mid 1950's except that Colt went to checkered walnut stocks in place of the black hard-rubber ones (although they can be interchanged) and the sights were changed from a "U" notch at the back to a square one, while the front blade was slightly thickened. However internal and material changes were incorporated over time.

I haven't ever tried to fit an Official Police cylinder in a Army Special, although in one case a barrel exchange didn't pose any problems. Without really knowing I'll say that a 1930's to 1950's Official Police cylinder could be fitted, but I would expect that the process could (would?) be expensive because of the hand labor involved. Without question, an Official Police Mk. III cylinder will not work.

Oyeboten
December 24, 2010, 01:58 PM
Hi Old Fuff,




If the Ejector Rod and Star would interchange from the early era Cylinder to a later era Cylinder...then, that might be a help, if it were the Ratchet geometry which had changed.

If the location of the Cylinder indicing notch or cut were to have been re-located in it's location on the periphery of the Cylinder, of course that would be a deal breaker, but, I doubt they moved that part's location in the Frame.

Though they might have changed it's width or depth or somehting I suppose...which would then require some attentions.



But, yes...I was thinking a newer era Cylinder, going onto an older era Army Special, would have to be 'fitted' to some degree anyway, rather than being a drop-in.


But, depending on what that entails, it might not be a hardship.


I understand that usually, it is some minute aspect of the length and end geometry of the Hand, to the configuration of any particular Cylinder Ratchet, which on Colts, tends to require the Hand Fitting if replacing a Cylinder.

Hence, my curiousity, as to whether the Star and Ratchet and ejector Rod sub-assembly, could be or would interchange...thus possibly allowing a new era Cylinder to be in effect, a drop in...or, to need only some very small amount of re-fitting, if for some reason the central locating aspect of the Cylinder was to permit the Ejector Rod/Ratchet aspect to be right on, or, if it ended up possibly a few seconds or arc off or something.


If so, and, if then the only difference between the Cylinders proper, would be their Alloy or Heat Treatment, with the newer era Cylinder of course being stronger...I would be able to make that change, without feeling I have violated either the Revolver itself, or, the integrity and or Romance of the underlieing notion animating the motive for the project.


Personaly, I like the older narrow "U" channel of the rear Sight, and, the thin front Blade, half round, of the Front Sight...and that is about all I have every shot to any extent anyway.

It would detract from the mood and presence and sense of the Revolver, if these were, if the Revolver on the whole was, of a later era...even 'if' the side profile could be adjusted to come close or to represent pretty well, the look of the earlier ones.


Next Antique Arms Show ( ie: the old 'Saraha Gun Show', even if now at the Riviera ) which is coming up soon, I will see if I can find, and have some conversations with various people who are heavy into later era Colts, and, find from them recomendaitons for Gunsmiths they rely on, to whom I can appeal for possible Parts, and or obscure details of parts continuity through the variuous series or brachiations to which the Army Special, in effect, had been subject.


Orphan Cylinders occur both at Gun Shows of course, as well as on Gunbroker or other internet Auction sites, and or in the junk Boxes of Gunsmiths, and, are not usually very expensive unless minty and or for high dollar Revolver types or both.


But, since Colt did not Serial Number their Cylinders in these latter eras, or even in the earlier eras, however would one identify one, in a box of parts on a table, at a Gunshow or other, if, the Cylinder itself appears identical from the Army Special of the early 1900s,on to and through several of it's permutations up into the 1970s?

One could guess by the kind of Blue I suppose, somewhat...but...


Oye!


Thanks so much Old Fuff for your taking the time to discuss this with me, and, for your indulgence and good will that goes along with it.

It is much appreciated.

Old Fuff
December 24, 2010, 08:12 PM
If the Ejector Rod and Star would interchange from the early era Cylinder to a later era Cylinder...then, that might be a help, if it were the Ratchet geometry which had changed.

Maybe... maybe not. The ratchet and star screw on the end of the extractor rod, and then the rod is staked inside the hole for the cylinder latch pin. You can see this if you swing out the cylinder on your Army Special and look. But the star started out life as a disk, and was in place when the charge holes for the chambers were drilled and then reamed. After that it was star shaped and individually fitted to the chambers in that particular cylinder. Look at the underside of the star and you may find a partial serial number matching the gun.

How do you tell the age? obviously it is difficult, but early Army Special's were chacoal blued between 1908 and 1920. Thereafter they were gas oven blued until 1941. After World War Two until 1969 they were hot salt tank blued using a system set up during the war by the DuLite Corp. I trust you will find all of this information to be totally useless unless you can identify the various blues. Hopefully someone at the gun show can help you with this by showing different Colt handguns still in mint condition - it's the way I learned before I knew everything. :rolleyes:

Jim Watson
December 24, 2010, 08:14 PM
Agreed, you would likely do better by having a complete cylinder assembly installed instead of trying to swap extractors around.

Old Fuff
December 24, 2010, 08:22 PM
The best way to be sure, would be to buy a complete revolver - perhaps in good mechanical condition but with a worn finish. I often do this because it reduces the cost while having no affect on how well it shoots.

By now you should have noticed that I am a world class expert when it come to helping other folks spend their money... :evil: :D

Jim Watson
December 24, 2010, 09:35 PM
As said earlier, by the OP at that...

"SAAMI' for .38 Special is like 17,000 PSI.

+P, around 18 to 19,000

.38 ACP, 26,000"


I looked to see that .38 Special +P proof pressure is 25000 - 27500.
That means you are proposing to operate routinely at or near proof pressure, a 30% overload from what the gun is built for, no matter what the vintage.

An anti-gun campaign of the old Senator Dodd's gun control program set out to show how dangerous handguns were. They had H.P. White Laboratories shoot one example of each tested make and model with factory loads and the occasional proof load. Most of those held up OK. The other example they pounded with a steady diet of proof loads. None of those guns lasted very long.

Y'all be careful now, you hear?

Oyeboten
December 25, 2010, 03:56 AM
Hi Jim Watson,


Oh quite so...but, none the less, the 'Official Police' into which the 'Army Special' had transitioned ( in name only, far as looks and visible details go, but in Metalurgy also apparently ) was advertised in it's day as obliging the .38-44 Heavy Duty Cartridge verson of the .38 Special, which we have every reason to believe was close to if not into .357 Magnum territory, which being around 35,000 PSI.


So, far as that goes, I feel quite comfortable contemplating the use of a latter 1930s 'Official Police' Cylinder, which also ought to be identical; in every way but for some final fitting, to that of the Army Special...or, who knows, m-a-y-b-e I will just elect to acquire a latter 1930s Official Police, which still had the Half-Round front Sight, and a quite pleasant kind of Blue, and, just convert that, since probably doing so, would be about the simplest of all possible methods to arrive at what I wanted, even IF the Revolver is a decade or two later than I had originally intended.

Oyeboten
December 25, 2010, 04:04 AM
Hi Old Fuff,


Ye'd mentioned -


The best way to be sure, would be to buy a complete revolver - perhaps in good mechanical condition but with a worn finish. I often do this because it reduces the cost while having no affect on how well it shoots.

By now you should have noticed that I am a world class expert when it come to helping other folks spend their money...



I am in fact considering to do just that, if in what is now a different way -


Being, to just set out for a latter 1930s 'Official Police', and, have it 'converted' to the .38 ACP Cartridge.


If these were advertised in their day as managing the .38-44 HD Cartridge version of .38 Special, a few dozen rounds-a-year or so of 'SAAMI'-friendly or even downloaded a little for plinking ( Lead Bullet too! no Jacketed, no Hardball ) .38 ACP would be a lot less of a strain than that.



Well, if all goes well with this, I do not see it needing to cost a great deal...some, yes, of course, but not a fortune.


Convert the Cylinder - I dunno, a couple two three four hundred dollars?

Lord knows, it can be hardly more than a little worse, than converting an S & W Cylinder, assuming one has the indiceing schedule for the Milling Machine or however it the Gunsmith normally does it...if, allbeit, there is some difference from the S & W in removing the Ejector Rod and Star components on a Colt, as you had regarded in an earlier post.


Moon Clips - remains to be determined, but, if anyone offers them for .38 Super converted 'Pythons', then, those would fit mine perfectly, and I am "done" then, so...just gotta find that source, ( if they exist! - and it seems like they would, no? ) and, talk with them.


If I intend to load .357 diameter Bullets into once-fired .38 ACP Cases ( of which I have thousands ), re-sized to oblige them, the Cylinder Bores probably ought to be reamed with this in mind.

Old Fuff
December 25, 2010, 09:11 AM
Moonclips are a major speedbump in this project, and I wouldn't spend a penny on anything else until that issue is resolved. Yes, moonclips that fit a Python and hold .38 Super cartridges would be an answer, but I don't know of any such thing.

When making inquires, say .38 Super, not .38 ACP. Very few people today know what the latter is. Since you are going to make handloads (hopefully downloaded) use .38 Super components.

eldon519
December 25, 2010, 06:09 PM
I know almost nothing about the guns we are talking about, or what their strengths and weaknesses are, but I would point out that the increased stress will also be felt by the frame, possibly leading to excessive cylinder gap or end shake. Some guns have a tendency to exhibit frame stretching. If this particular model were prone to that malady, a cylinder swap might not be enough. I do not know if this is a strong point or a weak point on these Colts. As Jim Watson reiterated, the .38 ACP operates at 53% higher pressure than the .38 Special and is equivalent to a proof load. Again, I don't know much about these old Colts, maybe the frame strength is not a concern. It doesn't seem to be the typical weak link in the chain with the thriving market for gunsmiths to do custom 5-shot conversions.

It also seems to be past the point, but for the sake of conversation while I was still in the office, I did do some quick calcs and based on some rough estimations of the cylinder wall thickness from that picture you supplied and what I am guessing the neighborhood of the .41 Colt max pressure to be, I believe the .38 Special would be roughly equal to it in terms of cylinder wall hoop stress and case head thrust.

Oyeboten
December 25, 2010, 09:01 PM
Hi Old Fuff,


Indeed...untill the Moon Clip issue is resolved, I will not have anything done.


I would have thought that Pythons, converted to .38 Super, would have been a natural and sought after thing.

I am surprised it appears to be so obscure or unheard of.


It would certainly make a lot more sense to me, Pythons, Troopers et al of the .357 Colt offerings, than that other makes would be so popularly adapted to a proprietary COLT Cartridge.


I have several thousands of once or twice or thrice fired .38 ACP Brass, and, a few hundred NOS unprimed, in the Boxes unfired as well.

No need for me to have any .38 Super Cases here to offer pause for their Head Stamps...Lol...

Oyeboten
December 25, 2010, 09:08 PM
Hi eldon519,


Good thoughts, good mentions.


I have brooded on the Frame Stretch matter, and, decided it is not going to worry me.


If I end up shooting half-a-box a Year of full 'SAAMI" Loadings with this, I will be surprised.

What is most probable, is that I will load to 3/4rths or so of the 'SAAMI' for fun and plinking...and, have a few Boxes of Full House ones clearly marked, just to put a few of those down Range now and then, or, to have in the Cylinder if I happen to have the Revolver with me when Travelling or Hiking or whatever.


This is not going to be shot a great deal, and, if I get into any Practical Pistol Club events or other, this will not be my Candidate for huge amounts of Shooting, so...

Old Fuff
December 26, 2010, 10:55 AM
Oyeboten:

While I'm not trying to push you into anything, visit the link listed below and study the photograph in the opening post. Compare it to your Army Special (they should look about the same), and notice the color (pale blue) of Colt's gas-oven blue process. While the gun was made during World War Two, it was assembled using late 1930's/1940 parts. This, and later production is what you should be looking at for as platform, not the Army Special.



http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=562594

CraigC
December 26, 2010, 03:15 PM
I have brooded on the Frame Stretch matter, and, decided it is not going to worry me.

If I end up shooting half-a-box a Year of full 'SAAMI" Loadings with this, I will be surprised.
That is really irrelevant. Because any reputable gunsmith won't be doing this conversion if it wouldn't be safe for a steady diet of .38Super loads. Understandably, having had four custom revolvers built, I know that gunsmiths are very protective of their livelihood. I will be very surprised if any reputable gunsmith will tackle this conversion on the Army Special.

Oyeboten
December 26, 2010, 04:07 PM
Hi Old Fuff,



Oh yes, I have leaned over, or stepped on over, into the 'Official Police' realm anyway...given their presumed stronger Metalurgy, and, that aside from their Stocks ( which are interchangeable or as one pleases ), and kind of Blue, they are identical to the 'Army Special'.


This then would mean also of course ( if I can get the Cylinder 'converted' ) that the Rervolver gets to retain it's original Cylinder...alleviating the need for any tedious or expensive 'fitting' of a Cylinder from a different or newer Revolver.

Oyeboten
December 26, 2010, 04:20 PM
Hi CraigC,


You'd mentioned -


That is really irrelevant. Because any reputable gunsmith won't be doing this conversion if it wouldn't be safe for a steady diet of .38Super loads.


Maybe.


Or it could be argued that since it would also accept the 9mm Luger Cartridge, that it should be refused.



I could send the Frame off to Mr. Turnbull or other, and, have him cut the additional Characteres to show the Calibre, to that of ".38 ACP" so at least the Barrel Nominclature would be an affirmation of it's intended Cartridge.



Understandably, having had four custom revolvers built, I know that gunsmiths are very protective of their livelihood. I will be very surprised if any reputable gunsmith will tackle this conversion on the Army Special. .



Well, I thought I had made it fairly clear by now, that I was willing to compromise, and, to elect a later 1930s or very early 1940s 'Official Police' Revolver, instead of intending to have the 'Army Special'.



Nor do I quite see the reasoning of anyone insisting to presusme, that any Chambering of .38 ACP MUST only occur in an Arm suitable for a steady diet of .38 Super, just because the latter would also fit.

.38 Super will also fit into any early 1900s Pistol which was intended to chamber 38 ACP...as well as that .38 Super will fit into anything chambering the 9mm Largo and a few other older Cartridges.


Would a Gunsmith refuse to replace a Spring, or to do a repair of whatever sort, to a .38 ACP Pistol, or to a 9mm Largo or 9mm Browning Long or even other old Cartridge of about the same dimensions, on the grounds that someone, someday, in confusion or indifference, or impetuousity, might fire .38 Super in it?


Will he or she also refuse adamently to do anything for an 1880s Cartridge Breech Loading Shotgun, because, someone other than the Customer, MIGHT someday insert Smokeless Cartridges in to it and fire them?

Zsnark
December 26, 2010, 04:30 PM
Some years back, USAF did some experimentation using 9mm in their existing stack of S&W M&P 10s. I forget how they managed the ejection but believe they'd worked up a successful solution. Reason for this effort, I believe, was the stocks of .38s while they were converting to M9s. The review I read of this conversion produced groups of 10 inches as opposed to 3 inches with regular .38spl. Correct me if my fading memory is inaccurate. Bore size of the M&P is .357 or maybe .358. 9mm and all it's auto cousins is .354.

While, I believe this is an interesting technical discussion. Why is this conversion to 9mm, .38ACP, .38Super, 9mmX21, or 9mmX23, or whatever a desirable conversion. Puzzled Al.

Happy Holidays to all.

AAW

CraigC
December 26, 2010, 06:19 PM
Would a Gunsmith refuse to replace a Spring, or to do a repair of whatever sort, to a .38 ACP Pistol, or to a 9mm Largo or 9mm Browning Long or even other old Cartridge of about the same dimensions, on the grounds that someone, someday, in confusion or indifference, or impetuousity, might fire .38 Super in it?
No, but a gunsmith won't convert one to .38ACP, which can also accept .38Super, if he does not believe it to be strong enough for the Super.

Zsnark
December 26, 2010, 08:00 PM
Besides the USAF efforts to use up their pile of S&W M&P revolvers. My dim remembrance recalls the Israelis building and/or contracting to have built Model 10s in 9mm which did utilize half moon clips. Might be worth investigation to anyone who wants to do this kind of experiment.

It still puzzles me why anyone would want to step back though time and retrofit a wheelgun to shoot rimless or semi-rimmed ammo which is designed for an autoloader.

Frankly, while I appreciate fine revolvers, I believe the whole idea is obsolete and don't understand why we (the Americans) clung to the configuration through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s for police use. Glock and HK, among others, were moving forward. Just an opinion, please don't feel slighted if you are a revolver lover.

I haved owned a enjoyed shooting wheelguns, but if necessary, I'd want a high capacity semiauto anytime.

AAW

Holidays! Yeah, do it!

Jim Watson
December 26, 2010, 09:32 PM
Good news, Colt's typically had somewhat smaller bores than Smiths and there should be little adverse affect on accuracy shooting .38 Auto in a .38 Special barrel.

Bad news, I agree that a reputable gunsmith is unlikely to set up a Special to shoot the higher pressure Auto round, especially considering that it would chamber the much higher pressure Super with no further change.

There have been some very stout looking .38-44 Heavy Duty Smiths beat up by rechambering to .357 Magnum.

CraigC
December 26, 2010, 10:24 PM
Even converting older New Services to .357Mag sounds risky to me. As large as they are, they would easily be safe for the .44Mag if constructed out of modern materials but that turn of the century steel and heat treating (or lack thereof) is highly suspect.

Old Fuff
December 26, 2010, 10:41 PM
When Colt introduced the .357 Magnum chambering in their New Service/Shooting Master line of revolvers some changes were made, including the elimination of the fouling cup in the front/bottom of the top strap. In addition the cylinders were made out of a special alloy steel and double-heat treated in a manner similar to that done by S&W.

It may be noted that when Charles Askins talked the Border Patrol into adopting the New Service in 1939 or '40, it was in .38 Special, not .357 Magnum.

Smith & Wesson strongly objected to the practice of rechambering .38 Heavy Duty or Outdoorsman revolvers to use the magnum round - pointing out yet again the substantial difference in the steel used in both cylinders.

goon
December 26, 2010, 11:07 PM
Old Fuff - your knowledge of old revolvers is rather impressive.

Oyeboten
December 26, 2010, 11:18 PM
Hi Zsnark,


You'd asked -

Some years back, USAF did some experimentation using 9mm in their existing stack of S&W M&P 10s. I forget how they managed the ejection but believe they'd worked up a successful solution. Reason for this effort, I believe, was the stocks of .38s while they were converting to M9s. The review I read of this conversion produced groups of 10 inches as opposed to 3 inches with regular .38spl. Correct me if my fading memory is inaccurate. Bore size of the M&P is .357 or maybe .358. 9mm and all it's auto cousins is .354.

While, I believe this is an interesting technical discussion. Why is this conversion to 9mm, .38ACP, .38Super, 9mmX21, or 9mmX23, or whatever a desirable conversion. Puzzled Al.

Happy Holidays to all.

AAW



My original idea was in wishing to have a Revolver which could have been made, and, in my opinion, should have been made, as soon as the Moon CXlip was shown to be practical for rimless or Semi-rimmed Cartridges in a Revolver.

Thus, by say 1919 or so, where, Colr ot S & W or both, ought to have offered mid frame Revolvers chambering what at the time, were the World Famous and very well thought of .38 ACP Cartridge, and, certainyl, the 9mm P-'o8 Cartridge as well.


Being a homne grown American Boy, my own sense of the Romance with all this is for the .38 ACP Cartridge, in a Revolver as close in time to when it would have been done, if it had been done, at the time.


The discussion has wandered around that idea - ie: converting ( initially, a Colt 'Army Special', then, electing instead, to consider ) a late 1930s or very early 1940s Colt 'Official Police' Revolver to accept .38 ACP with full Moon Clips.


That is the topic.

Oyeboten
December 26, 2010, 11:26 PM
The question of Accuracy obtained in shooting usual anymore of 'Full Copper Patch' ( Full Metal Jacket ) .38 ACP Cartridges presumes a naive complaiscency or indifference to Bore diameter on the part of the Shooter.

I intend to shoot only Lead Bullets, and, to avoid any Jacketed or Hardball in my re-Loading for it. And or also, to elect .357 Bullets, of Lead, to re-load into once fired Cases which I have a zillion of already, and or to re-size Cases to accept .357 Lead Bullets, and, to have the Cylinder Bores made to accept the .38 ACP Cartridge without undue tighness, so this would be possible.

An appropriate hardness/softness for the Bullet, should allow it to behave no differently than if it were a .38 special to begin with.

When I was re-Loading for my .38 Automatic Colt Pistol, I always used .357 148 Grain Semi Wad Cutters anyway, and, they were happy to chamber perfectly and to squeeze down and to be very accurate when fired in the tighter bore, and, I recall no troubles from the Cartridge Cases in obliging them.

Old Fuff
December 27, 2010, 12:10 AM
Old Fuff - your knowledge of old revolvers is rather impressive.

I don't know that it's impressive, but one time what I knew landed me an... well... interesting job in the firearms industry, and I was able to earn while researching what I loved. Also got to meet a lot of famous people while I was at it, and they generously shared what they knew - which was considerable. It was to say the least a "friendly business" and I just go lucky.

DPris
December 27, 2010, 02:01 AM
Oye,
Where are you really from?
Kinda hard to follow your linguistic style at times. :)

As far as Colt "shoulda" offered revolvers and clips in .38 Auto goes, there was no real interest or market for such a revolver.
Speedloading, along with copious amounts of shooting, and most of the rest of "modern" combat or defensive handgunnery techniques & thought, didn't come along until many years later. Half moons were strictly a wartime expediency to get more sidearms into the field and in the same caliber as the Colt .45 ACP pistols to simplify logistics, supply & inventory. The clips were not regarded as an improvement for the Model 1917 revolvers, or any others, until relatively recent times.

The .38 ACP also wasn't much of a ballistic improvement over existing revolver calibers & cartridges.
The .38 Super changed that, but with higher pressures, as others have already noticed.
Denis

Zsnark
December 27, 2010, 02:51 AM
:fire::confused:Hi Gunners,

:confused:Who am I responding to? Or, am I not in this confusing loop of questions and answers at all.

:)I like my Python, but if called to action, being on the verge of 70 years; an unlikely occurrence, I'd strap on my CZ-85. :fire:It would be loaded with the hottest, most effective stuff available. But I would have a shoulder mounted piece which was capable of throwing lots of metal. I don't have the option of full "rock n roll" since I live in the Republic of **********stan. So, I'd do the best I could.

:cuss:Incidentally, these are not the "Golden Years"; old age sucks!:cuss:

:cool:Happy New Year, Shootists!

AAW

Old Fuff
December 27, 2010, 09:38 AM
I don't think that Oyeboten expects to be "called to action," and undoubtedly the Old Fuff would be the last to go... :D

What's under discussion is a "what if" that in Oyeboten's mind has evolved into a fun project. Practical? Maybe, or maybe not. But in any case he's not looking at it in the context of being a current-day weapon. On any number of occasions the Old Fuff has found himself in a doing much the same.

If one wants to be practical, go buy a Glock... or a SIG... or a Beretta (whatever), but frankly I don't find them to be any fun... :cool:

CraigC
December 27, 2010, 11:08 AM
Then the real question is, can a .38Spl cylinder be rechambered to .38Super. I don't think it can but I could be wrong.

Can a .22LR cylinder be procured, rechambered and fitted to the desired platform and will it be strong enough. This I do not know, nor do I see anyone here with this information. So until a proper gunsmith is queried, there really ain't much point in discussing it further.

Does Grant Cunningham do caliber conversions?

The other question is, how much do you want to spend on this project? I would expect this to cost at least several hundred dollars and take at least six months.

I suggest contacting Jim Stroh and/or Hamilton Bowen. Clements has built a five-shot .44Spl King Cobra but currently only does conversions on Rugers and S&W's.

Jim Watson
December 31, 2010, 04:29 PM
I had a friend run an experiment.
Load S&W 686 moon clips, attempt to insert in Python.
No go.
True, these were .357 clips and rounds, but that tells me the bolt circle for Colt and Smith chambers are significantly different. That means that a .38 Auto conversion on an Army Special (or any other ".41 frame" Colt) will require custom clips. That will not be done for the price of a dinner date.

Oyeboten
January 3, 2011, 03:44 AM
Found out something interesting -


Apparently, in the early 1930s, the F. B. I. went to using Colt 'Police Positive' Revolvers, chambering the ".38-44" Heavy Duty ( proto .357 Magnum ) Cartridges, and, this was their official endorsement for their Agents.


No mentions are to be found of any regrets...but, I am still searching...

Oyeboten
January 3, 2011, 03:46 AM
Hi Jim Watson,


Indeed, I have not expected any of the S & W Cylinders to be the same schedule as those of the Colt ".41 Frame" series, even if I have kept an open mind on secretly hoping the L Frame S & W might be, or might be maybe close, but, dunno yet.


Surely there is someone, somewhere, who converts Pythons?


I am amazed that no one yet knows of anyone who does.

Jim Watson
January 3, 2011, 09:59 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it, but how many real gunsmiths have you talked to?

All I can reasonably do is look on www sites and see what is regularly cataloged. If you want something special you are going to have to dig for it. And cutting up Colts is very special. A friend and I campaigned Pythons in IDPA and were thought eccentric for it, there are apparently very few people really shooting them any more, they seem limited to oohs and ahs on the internet.

Old Fuff
January 3, 2011, 10:28 AM
As I've previously pointed out, this proposed conversion won't fly without some sort of clips. Why doesn't someone make them? Put bluntly, it's because the Colt company dropped out of the hand ejector revolver market years ago. The Official Police / Army Special that is apparently the prefered platform here became history in 1969.

In addition the principal interest in moon-clip revolvers using any cartridge is based in competitors that use revolvers in combat games. The only Colt revolver that might tweek their interest is the now discontinued Python, and gunsmiths that specialize in making conversions seem to have zero interest in Colt's because they're potential customers have the same attitude.

I personally like these older Colt's because the ones in good condition (or can be returned to good condition) are fine, highly accurate, shooters. But they don't have much to offer when it comes to cartridge/caliber conversions.

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