S&W 38 ammo assist


September 16, 2011, 12:32 AM
my S&W .38 says : 38 S&W CTG : on barrel. .38 special does no fit all the way in cylinder it is about 1/8" too long. I have some old .38 s&w bullets that fit in cylinder but seem too short. This gun has a 5 screw frame and shows 3 dates on barrel ending with Dec,29,14. Other dates are earlier. I have looked at many web sites but can't find an answer. number behind yoke starts with 1 and is 5 digits. serial # is on square of butt, starts with 7 and is 6 digits with no letters. Thank you in advance for your help

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7.62 Nato
September 16, 2011, 12:34 AM
The cartridge is .38 S&W, not .38 S&W Special which would be longer.

September 16, 2011, 05:33 AM
A serial number in the 7xxxxx range is almost certainly a 1940 manufactured .38/200 British Service revolver supplied under commerical contract to Great Britain during the early days of World War II. Britains service Cartridge at the time was a 200 grain lead bullet loaded into a .38 S&W case and known as the .380 revolver cartridge.
The .38/200 BSR (also known unofficially as the K200) was the based on the .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change, a gun designed for the .38 Special cartridge. The boring of the chambers was all that was changed to suit the .38 S&W cartridge, along with the stamping on the barrel. The dates on the barrel match the 4th design change to the Model of 1905 (hence the name).
The numbers under the yoke are assembly numbers, used to track parts in the factory. They were not recorded and have no meaning after the gun was completed.
The square butt was the norm during that period, with very few round butt guns made.

Basically you have a .38 S&W, not a .38 Special, but a strong one compared to the top break revolvers it was normally chambered in.

September 16, 2011, 08:31 AM
If your gun hasn't been butchered up it should look something like this:


S&W sold a couple million of these to Great Britain during WW II in 38 S&W caliber. As you have discovered, the 38 Special doesn't work in these guns. The 38 S&W is not a good choice for the shooter who doesn't reload his own ammo as factory ammo is scarce and pricey.

September 16, 2011, 03:35 PM
Sorry I can't manage the attachment

September 16, 2011, 03:54 PM
BTW, Starline carries .38 S&W brass. Lee sells the dies.

September 16, 2011, 08:39 PM
Bullets are somewhat larger in diameter as are the cases. I think one of my old manuals shows loads with bullets that are .361.
Not much of a cartridge with a bullet loafing along at about 650 fps but I still don't want to be hit with it.
I've loaded up a few with unsized 357446 lyman bullets and a smigeon of bullseye for my old Smith lemon squeezer.

September 16, 2011, 09:37 PM
You can find .359 or .360 bullets on the web: Penn Bullets makes several weights, and per the above, Lee dies.

Since your revolver is the same as any M&P produced during the same time period, you can load to 38 Spl speeds and pressures.....i.e., you can produce a handload with more zip than with a lemon squeezer.

Jim K
September 16, 2011, 09:46 PM
Saxon Pig's gun has post-WWII Magna stocks, not the smooth walnut with no top part that were used on the contract M&P. That gun is what is sometimes called the "Pre-Victory Model". The only difference is that when S&W approached 999,999, they had to adopt a new serial number range since their numbering machine only went to six digits. So they stuck a V in front ("V for Victory" was a common slogan at the time), went from 999999 to V1 and the Victory Model was born.


September 17, 2011, 07:55 AM
I said "something like this" and not "exactly like this." I have the military stocks for this revolver but I find them ugly and uncomfortable to shoot and I shoot my guns.

PS: I have loaded a 125 JHP to 975 FPS clocked from my 2" Terrier in 38 S&W. That's 50 FPS more than the much feared and ballyhooed +P 38 Special load which actually clocks around 875 from my 2" revolvers (and THIS is what has everybody all afraid to shoot in their guns?).

September 17, 2011, 11:18 AM
I knew .38 special was not the cartridge, it is the length of the cylinder that has me concerned. I have an early pistol that uses .38 S&W and the cylinder is much closer to the length of the cartridge. The cylinder on this gun is much longer maybe .38 colt long length. I don't have any .38 cl to check it with so I don't know if it would fit. My gun does look like the picture SaxonPig showed so if you shoot .38 s&w in it and the cylinder is near the length of .38 colt that would confirm to me the info on the barrel. THANKS AGAIN

Deaf Smith
September 17, 2011, 12:08 PM
The .38 S&W cartridges look like these:


And the .38 S&W Special rounds look like these:



Jim Watson
September 17, 2011, 12:08 PM
"Conform to the info on the barrel."
Good idea. The correct ammunition is .38 Smith & Wesson.
.38 Special is not right.
.38 Long Colt is not right.
.38 Short Colt is not right.

The reason the cylinder is longer than necessary for .38 S&W is because Smith & Wesson brought the Military & Police out for .38 Special in the first place about 1899. Early in WW II, the British were hurting for weapons, and S&W owed them a lot for the money they had taken for the floperoo Smith and Wesson Light Rifle. It was a simple matter for Smith & Wesson to change the barrel and chamber dimensions to accept the .38-200 British service ammunition, which was pretty much just the .38 S&W Super Police load.
It would NOT have been a simple matter to tool up for a whole new gun with shorter cylinder optimized for .38 S&W. The bullet "jump" through the long cylinder throat is of absolutely no significance in a service weapon (and not much in a target pistol; consider the .38 midrange wadcutter in a .357 Magnum, which usually shoots very well.)

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