38 s&w lemon squeezer?


January 22, 2011, 11:46 PM
a-38 s&w
b-3 1/4 inches
c-round black plastic? finely checkered
d-5 shot
g-no mod no.

gun is chrome and has a couple of very fine specks gone. pat dates on barrel are 1883, 88, 89. serial no. on cylinder is same as on gun butt. and it is top break down. i think my dad bought this gun in the 20's or 30's for a nightwatchman to tote. the gun is, i think, in excellent condition and the action is very tight. what and where can i find some "safe" ammo for the gun. i was told i can't shoot the modern ammo in it. and what would be a ball park figure for the value of the gun and no, i can't post pictures.

thanks for any info.

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January 23, 2011, 04:42 AM
"...gun is chrome..." Hi. It's far more likely to be nickel plated. There were all kinds of top break revolvers made. Some good, some ok, some junk.
Any maker's name on it? That and the condition determine the value.
Have a look here. http://www.google.ca/images?hl=en&biw=1003&bih=617&q=.38+s%26w&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=SPU7TYPtHILGlQf519HOBg&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=10&ved=0CFwQsAQwCQ
The .38 S&W is a pretty tame cartridge. Dates from 1876 as a BP cartridge, but current ammo won't hurt it if the revolver is tight and in good condition. Any currently loaded ammo will do. Not .38 Special, of course. Won't fit properly in the cylinders anyway.

January 23, 2011, 05:00 AM
My dad has a gun like that. 10 years ago, he paid $180 for it. I thought it was too much, but in all honesty it likely has nearly doubled in price for collectors.

January 23, 2011, 08:40 AM
sunray, it has handle grips exactly like the first one under the bullet on page two. but doesn't have the protrusion just above the cyclinder. it has the s&w trademark stamp between the grip and the screw just before the cylinder. and has the s&w stamp on the grips. and on page 5 on the first line on the right is a picture of 5 guns. it looks like the right hand two. pinned sight? there is a pin holding the front blade sight on the gun i have. and you are probably right about it being nickle plated. i know nothing about pistols. the gun is extremly tight. i doubt it has been shot but very few times. can you point me to a box of shells that will be safe to shoot in it? catalog? website where i can order a box? i've looked and can't or haven't found anything but .38 special shells.
thanks for all replies.

January 23, 2011, 11:16 AM
olduckhunter: You have a .38 Safety Hammerless 4th Model manufactured between 1898 & 1907. Serial range was 116003 to 220000, so 1905 to 1907 seems likely.

S&W didn't start advertising these guns as being safe to shoot with smokeless powder until the 5th model in 1908/1909. The problem with loading modern factory smokeless cartridges in this gun is that althought the smokeless rounds are loaded to the same maximum pressure as the black powder rounds, the blackpowder took longer to reach its pressure peak. Smokeless pressures spike quickly and this may put additional stress on the steel.

Ideally you should handload some blackpowder or a blackpowder substitute such as Goex.
You can still buy Winchester .38 S&W cartridges but they are often hard to come by.
Old Western Scrounger are an online seller who stock .38 S&W, I dion't know if they do a black powder round.

Edit: .38 S&W ammo

January 23, 2011, 11:29 AM
thank you for the info rad. are you saying then that on the website posted those rounds, if i can find them, would be safe to shoot in the gun? i don't want to do anything to harm the gun or me. and i don't reload. i used to reload shotgun shells but that's all.

January 23, 2011, 12:02 PM
There is no guarantee that the factory rounds at midway will be safe to shoot through your gun as they are all smokeless. They are as safe as the factory can make them, but there is still the slow vs fast pressure spike problem and they will all be fast.
Old Western Scrounger cater to the cowboy/SASS crowd and to people with obsolete cartridges. http://www.ows-ammo.com/store/ I don't know if they do black powder substitutes or black powder, give them a call or email to find out.

Beyond that I guess your best bet is to see if there is a SASS group near you. Someone may be willing to reload a few for you in blackpowder.

January 23, 2011, 01:23 PM
thanks rad for the info. i had thought about contacting someone that reloaded or might reload some for me.

January 23, 2011, 03:17 PM
i may have found some of the ammo below. is that safe for the gun? i won't be shooting it but very little anyway. just to say i did shoot it before i leave this earth. 650 ft per sec may not even penatrate a tin can.

.38 S&W 96gr RN 650 $30.00 $295.00 N/A N/A $19.50 $190.00

Gaucho Gringo
January 23, 2011, 08:22 PM
Try this place http://www.gadcustomcartridges.com/ They don't list a .38 S&W black powder load but they say they will load custom. I have no personal experience with them, but have read good things about them in the forums. Also 650 fps has sent many a man to his grave.

January 24, 2011, 03:02 AM
No idea wether its safe in your particular gun, obviously the pressures of a 96 grain round at 650 fps will be less than those of a 146 grain round at the same speed, but wether it is safe in your gun I can't say.
I'm recovering from a broken back caused by taking a punt that a short breach of standard safety precautions on a building site would be OK in the interest of speed. I'm off work for at least three months as a result. So I'm not going to recommend anyone take a chance where safety is concerned.

January 24, 2011, 08:33 AM
i understand completely rad. think nothing about that and i'm sorry to hear you got hurt and hope you have a full recovery.

and thanks gaucho for the website. i've just about come to the conclusion that having someone reload some for me is about the only answer. that place in calif has a 5 box min order and that would be over 150.00. i don't need to shoot the gun that bad.

January 24, 2011, 08:48 AM
sorry about your injury rad.. get well soon buddy

January 24, 2011, 10:49 PM
No problem guys.
I had an attack of the stupids and I'm suffering the consequences. *shrug*. I'm up and walking, as I was temporarily paraplegic when I hit the ground I have to say I got off lightly.

January 25, 2011, 05:45 AM
i hope you'll will bear with me with all these questions. as i've said, i know nothing about this gun or pistols even though i've hunted all my life with long guns. i've found s&w short shells i think. what does the "short" mean? will the shoot in the gun? short colt? and should i just either shoot the black powder shells or forget it all together and put the gun up for my sons to have when i'm gone?

January 25, 2011, 06:08 AM
Hi oldduckhunter,

I can tell you what I did -

I have a fourth Model S&W DA Hammer Type, same era as yours ( circa 1906 in my case)

I just looked around at Gunshows, and, on 'Gunbroker', and, got a few boxes of older 1930s-1940s-1950s Ammunition for it.

I never fired it much, maybe 20 - 30 rounds all tolled, when I got it, and, nothing since.

My Revolver is mechanically very good, snug, low use...slightly decayed finish.

I have not worried about harming it with those old Shells.

We can be cterain, that anyone shooting these from say, ther 1920s on, if buying off the Shelf Ammunition, was of course shooting Smokeless Loadings, as, the old Black Powder Shels pretty well went by the wayside by the mid 1920s.

How much this may have strained any particular Revolver, who knows.

Eventually, I intend to re-Load my own, using Black Powder.

Anyway, here's what mine looks like, image taken at the Range, the first time I fired it -

http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/43230/2871542640067835264S600x600Q85.jpg (http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/2871542640067835264LtHDYS)

Six rounds fairly fast Double Action one Hand, six rounds ditto, two Hand...at Ten Paces.

These are such tiny Revolvers! Lol...

We never know the prior Shooting History of any old Guns we may get, as far as how strained they may be form prior use, or prior use with too powerful of Cartridges. So, in my mind, I just accept that the Revolver could break or have a problem if it is going to be used.

Probably it will not, but, it c-o-u-l-d.

But, in my case, and, yours also probably, the Revolver is not going to be shot much, just a little, once in a while just for fun.

Old Fuff
January 25, 2011, 12:25 PM
The problem with shooting very old (and sometimes not so old) ammunition is that you usually don’t know under what kind of circumstances or environment it was stored. Extreme heat in particular can cause some kinds of nitrocellulose-based smokeless powder to decompose after which it may detonate rather then burn.

Or it may fizzle and leave a bullet stuck in the bore, which isn’t good at any time, and can be particularly bad if you’re in the middle of a “fairly fast” double action string.

While it’s unlikely to cause anything catastrophic, if the bullet lubricant has dried out a soft lead bullet may leave you with a leading problem – especially if the bore is a bit rough or pitted.

I would suggest that it’s better to use modern components, with whatever powder and load is appropriate for the particular firearm given its age and condition.

Elderly ammunition should be saved for cartridge collectors.

January 25, 2011, 09:21 PM
.38 Short Colt is a different cartridge similar in length and velocity to the .38 S&W, the .38 S&W won the war for commercial acceptance, the .38 Short Colt was discontinued and Colt chambered the .38 S&W round as the Colt New Police. Obviously they weren't going to put .38 S&W on the side of their guns.
Colt did have some commercial success by stretching the .38 short colt and calling it the .38 long colt, which was the standard US service pistol cartridge at the time of the annexation of the Phillipines.
S&W had even better success by stretching the long colt cartridge and calling it the .38 S&W Special. Then they stretched it again and called it the .357 magnum.
This was possible because they were all straight walled cartridges, so adding a tenth of an inch allowed extra powder capacity while ensuring the new cartridge would not chamber in older guns. BTW this is not a hard and fast rule, some older guns designed for black powder shorter cases can chamber the high pressure smokeless powder longer cases. If in doubt, don't.

The .38 S&W is a different case all together, it is a tapered case with the base of the case being wider than the base of the .38 S&W Special and it is designed for a bullet that is .360 diameter, compared to .358 for the .38 S&W Special.

Because the .38 S&W and the .38 S&W Special both have .38 S&W in their designation the .38 S&W is sometimes refered to as .38 S&W short. It isn't as it is not interchangeable with the .38 Special. If you find a box of ammo marked .38 S&W Short I would be wary as there is technically no such animal.

My take on it is get some black powder handloads and shoot those. Even if it turns out safe to shoot with smokeless you will wear the gun out faster than if you shoot it with blackpowder or Goex loads. Once it is broken or out of time, consider it dead as new spare parts are not available and gunsmiths who are willing to work on them are not common. They also have a reputation for being hard to work on, so the labour cost may be more than the gun is worth.

I'm not knocking them, I think they are very cool guns, but if you want to shoot one you need to be aware of its drawbacks.

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