+P Rounds in a Colt .38 special Police issue


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chucklpetty
September 14, 2012, 03:36 PM
I have a police issue 38 Special that was used in the 70s and 80s. I keep it for my wife as a home defense weapon. I do not have the owner's manual. I have some regular hollow point rounds for it, but I was wondering if it would handle + P rounds. It is somewhat of an heirloom so I don't want to do anything that could possibly damage the gun.

If it can, what would be the best rounds for a 38 Special?

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Reloadron
September 14, 2012, 04:07 PM
While you do not give the exact Colt model I would not use +P rounds in the revolver, especially if it is a light frame revolver.

Just My Take
Ron

rcmodel
September 14, 2012, 04:11 PM
+1

An Officers Model or Official Police is one thing.

A small frame Cobra or Detective Special is quite another.

rc

Certaindeaf
September 14, 2012, 04:25 PM
Use some mid-range wadcutters.

chucklpetty
September 14, 2012, 05:10 PM
It's a heavy frame. I believe it's an official police. I'll check when I get home.

Arkansas Paul
September 14, 2012, 05:16 PM
I wouldn't try it.
You said it was for HD. It's not like an intruder is going to be able to tell the difference between a standard loading and +P across the width of your bedroom.

SaxonPig
September 14, 2012, 05:34 PM
Oh, for the love of God...

+P is a mild target load. Look at the factory specifications.

Check this out:


Ad from the 1950s stating the Police Positive Special (small frame) can handle the 38/44 load. The 38/44 (158@1140) makes the +P (125@925) look like the total wimp that it is.


http://www.fototime.com/7D21D801F3EF6FD/standard.jpg

silversport
September 14, 2012, 05:43 PM
Diamondback...no steady diet of +P...Python...use all you like...Trooper (357) use all you like...Trooper (38) no steady diet of +P...Detective Special, Commando, Cobra...no steady diet of +P...

Bill

ColtPythonElite
September 14, 2012, 05:59 PM
You can aslo safely shoot + P in the aluminum guns..Agent, Cobra...Colt recommended a trip back for a checkup after a certain number of rounds.

PRM
September 14, 2012, 07:42 PM
deleted

SaxonPig
September 14, 2012, 08:22 PM
Again, +P is a mild target load. Not for use in a Trooper? I am laughing out loud at that one.

+P marketing will be studied by future generations as the best example of unfounded hype causing mass hysteria.

Here's a S&W ad from the 1930s for the Military & Police Model stating it can handle the 38/44 load (agai, it makes the +P look like the total wimp that it is).


http://www.fototime.com/AADF9E38D2D5D16/standard.jpg

MMCSRET
September 14, 2012, 08:25 PM
The add that Saxonpig posted is a "D" frame, read the add, the 38-44 is permitted. That round is 20%+ more than todays anemic 38 Special +P. My Detective Special, "D" frame came with notice that +P can be used, with no restrictions. The Official Police was built on the "41" frame, they were heat treated for heavy use from the time the were introduced in 1927. My 1952 OP is a lawn forcement trade in, I have put several thousand +P rounds thru it, fine gun, thrives on a 170 gr. +P.

ColtPythonElite
September 14, 2012, 08:30 PM
Post 1972 D frame manuals say can you shoot + P in them with some limitations on some models..To say D frames are not + P rated is incorrect.

Guillermo
September 14, 2012, 09:09 PM
Again, +P is a mild target load. Not for use in a Trooper? I am laughing out loud at that one.

Me too!!! :)


Here's a S&W ad from the 1930s for the Military & Police Model stating it can handle the 38/44 load (again, it makes the +P look like the total wimp that it is).

absolutely

every time one of these threads come up it makes me think how effective the marketing weenies were at selling us regular pressure ammo and calling it "powerful"


(SAAMI changed the pressures in 1972 and emasculated the .38. What had been regular pressure ammo became "+P" and the legend was born.)

silversport
September 14, 2012, 09:13 PM
Colt used to have in their manual that post 1972 frames should be checked at 1000 rounds for alloy frame and 3000 rounds for steel framed D frames...not plus P rated for pre 1972...of course the writers of manuals tend to be conservative...perhaps that is where the difference comes in...

My Diamondback snub, Cobra snub and Python have moved on...I'll defer to those here who have more experience...

Bill

Old Fuff
September 14, 2012, 10:25 PM
Concerning the use of .38-44 High Speed" ammunition in smaller Colt's and Smith & Wesson K-frame revolvers.

Smith & Wesson introduced the .38-44 variant of the .38 Special cartridge in 1930 as an alternative to Colt's increasingly popular .38 Super pistol, the cartridge of which could penetrate barrier material the standard .38 Special load couldn't. Smith & Wesson's matching revolver was called the .38-44 Heavy Duty, and consisted of their N-frame .44 Military revolver chambered in .38 Special. Smith & Wesson Company Historian noted:

This new ammunition was not recommended for use in medium-frame revolvers, since it was felt the new high-velocity cartridge could damage the lighter-weight frames.

History of Smith & Wesson, by Roy G. Jinks. pp. 209

Colt responded by advertising their New Service, Shooting Master and Single Action Army (all large frame revolvers) models could also handle the hotter load.

By the middle/latter 1930's the Great Depression had seriously reduced orders at both companies, and both were in desperate financial condition. After running some tests, the management at Colt concluded that the pressures generated in .38-44 loads could indeed have a negative affect on the timing, and could streach a frame, on D-frame (Police Positive Special, Detective Special) revolvers; but they would not blow the gun up, and it was unlikely that anyone could stand the recoil long enough to do serious damage. Lesser damage they could fix at the factory, and in the unlikely event that something worse happened they'd replace the gun. Thus by advertising that ALL of they're .38 Special revolvers could handle the .38-44 cartridge they'd pick up enough additional sales to more then compensate for any risks.

This put the ball in Smith's & Wesson's court. They did some experimenting too, and concluded that they're recently introduced 2" snubby version of the K-frame Military & Police could last for awhile because most of the slow-burning powder use in the .38-44 would burn outside of the muzzle on the short barrel. So they came out with an advertisement centered around the snubby, saying that it to could be used with the hot load, while being pretty sure very few would.

This went on until 1941, when the United States entered World War Two, and after the war both companies were in much better shape financially. Neither were suffering for orders, and both dropped any mention of using the Hi-Speed loading in they're lighter framed revolvers.

The term "Plus-P" can cover a lot of advertising hype, but some of it still has hair on its chest. The Old Fuff will agree that Plus-P .38 Special ammunition won't hurt Colt hand-ejector revolvers built on the .41 Official Police platform, and probably won't do more then put a smaller D-frame out of time, sooner rather then later. But if it does the revolver's owner may find that (depending on its age) getting parts and qualified repairmen is between difficult and impossible, and seldom inexpensive. :uhoh:

Guillermo
September 14, 2012, 10:56 PM
Old Fuff

True or false?

The "regular pressure" ammunition is the same pressure as the "+P" after 1972 SAAMI changes?

Jaymo
September 14, 2012, 11:30 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Special

Scroll down to "Performance".
I think this will answer your question, Guillermo.

In other words, yes. SAAMI emasculated the .38 Special standard pressure loads in 1972.

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 12:05 AM
In other words, yes. SAAMI emasculated the .38 Special standard pressure loads in 1972.

I know that...but my buddy Old Fuff always dances around the question like Jay Carney.

:neener:


What his (and other's) position is that when he walked into the hardware store and plopped down his $73.25 for a K-38, the ammo they bought with it was too powerful for the gun.

DPris
September 15, 2012, 12:08 AM
I'd hold back some on the Colt with both volume and pressures.
Colt is losing the ability to service their older models that use the Python-style action, and once the parts are used up if you wear your Colt out, it'll be difficult to repair it.
Denis

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 12:29 AM
I'd hold back some on the Colt with both volume and pressures

again, since "+P" 38 special is about the same as the "regular" ammo used to be, today's "regular" pressure ammo is definitely "holding back".

DPris
September 15, 2012, 12:37 AM
Guil,
I'm saying the Colt will not be repairable much longer, and suggesting taking it easy. Not shooting it much and staying with lower pressures.
I'm not getting into the +P is or isn't argument.
Denis

ColtPythonElite
September 15, 2012, 12:43 AM
I'm gonna shoot mine forget holding back on anything. If I bust it and can't repair it, I will replace it.

DPris
September 15, 2012, 12:53 AM
Chuck may not feel the same about his family heirloom.
Denis

Certaindeaf
September 15, 2012, 01:26 AM
9mm +P+ these days is like the old standard loads. And don't tell me that's the reason sammy only had one eye.

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 01:44 AM
9mm +P+ these days is like the old standard loads

please correct me if I am wrong...but is not today's 9mm "+P" about equal to regular pre-72 European loads, which are traditionally hotter than US?

ArchAngelCD
September 15, 2012, 01:51 AM
If it can, what would be the best rounds for a 38 Special?
Lucky for all of us Federal has re-released their very effective 125gr standard pressure Nyclad .38 Special ammo. It's a time tested round that works well for SD in a .38 Special. My old Chief's Special just loves the stuff. Federal P38MA (http://www.federalpremium.com/products/details/handgun.aspx?id=828)

ArchAngelCD
September 15, 2012, 01:54 AM
please correct me if I am wrong...but is not today's 9mm "+P" about equal to regular pre-72 European loads, which are traditionally hotter than US?
European ammo conformed to CIP standards, not SAAMI standards. Yes, CIP pressure limits are generally higher than SAAMI pressure limits.

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 01:59 AM
but is not today's "+P" 9mm about the same as European 9mm?

Steve C
September 15, 2012, 02:20 AM
I use .38 +P loads in all my steel frame Colts. Don't own an alloy frame Colt but if I did I would stick to standard pressure in the Cobra or Agent for 90% of my shooting and carry +P JHP's or LSWCHP's for a defense situation. A few +P's shouldn't ruin a gun, even the older aluminum alloy frames. I'd stay away from the +P+ loadings with any D frame.

The heavy J frame guns like the Official Police will stand up to heavy .38's, Troopers and Pythons are chambered for the .357 mag so .38's are at much less pressure in all their loadings.

SaxonPig
September 15, 2012, 08:15 AM
Steve, again, you are basing your decisions on false info. You think +P is a warm load. +P is a mild target load. You limit the use of mild target ammo in your guns?

j1
September 15, 2012, 08:28 AM
A simple phone call to Colt would end your need to know anything.:)

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 10:29 AM
A simple phone call to Colt would end your need to know anything

absolutely not

That would be almost as bad as calling Smith and Wesson.

They have a script and will not deviate from it.

Carl N. Brown
September 15, 2012, 10:45 AM
They have a lawyer-writ script tailored to the lowest common denominator of revolvers still in circulation and in shootable condition and factory chambered for .38 Special after X years of unknown care and maintenance. Makes me glad I bought a .357 to shoot .38 Special.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 11:29 AM
I know that...but my buddy Old Fuff always dances around the question like Jay Carney.

Not really. The term "Plus-P" has been abused to the point that nobody is really sure they know what it means. The only way to know (more or less) is to run your pet load through a chronograph to determine how it stands up to published specifications. Anyone that has ever done this knows that a lot of ammunition doesn't, but the devil-in-the-details is that some of it does, and even more so. There are also some firms and custom loaders (I'll mention Buffalo Bore) that make ammunition that aren’t exactly wimpy.

It is also true that in the 1970's SAAMI changed from using barrel mounted disk-crusher gages to electronic strain gauges that produced much more accurate results, and what some see as a downgrade was more of a case of making some adjustments.

On occasion the Old Fuff wonders why, when they're so many revolvers available that are rated to use Plus-P ammunition by the manufacturer, so many people insist on using it in older revolvers where there may be some risk, and repairs if necessary can be difficult and expensive. He also wonders how someone can make a blanket statement that contrary to the gun manufacturer’s position, it's always O.K. to shoot Plus-P ammunition in older guns - regardless of condition or age - when all Plus-P ammunition, from all makers isn't created equal. I would point out that any manufacturer’s warrantee today seldom, if ever - covers these older guns.

Does anyone even suspect that between the beginning of the 20th century and the 1990's when manufacturers starting making revolvers certified as "safe to use with Plus-P ammunition" there were no changes in material and heat-treating specifications? Am I supposed to believe that older steel and aluminum alloys were more pressure resistant then those used today?

Now frankly, I don't give a hoot what anyone chooses to shoot in their guns. When you get right down to it it's their business not mine. But if someone asks what my opinion is I give it; and it's based on an awful lot of experience.

Somewhere along the line readers have to decide who and what they believe, and that's also their business. What ever they decide I won't lose any sleep.

grendelbane
September 15, 2012, 11:52 AM
I am not old enough to remember "back in the day", but I am old enough to remember having talked to people who were that old.

Most people "back in the day" didn't expect guns to last forever. Guns today are made of stouter stuff than they were back then. "They don't make 'em like they used to" doesn't really apply to handguns. Yes, they were prettier back then, but they are tougher today. Heat treating and better alloys have made handguns quite a bit more durable.

When Colt and S&W said their revolvers would fire the .38-44 cartridge, they meant that it was safe to do so, not that they would hold up well to a long term diet. My Official Police is not comfortable for me to shoot with most +p .38s, so I know I wouldn't shoot very many .38-44s through one. If I walked through a time warp and ended up in 1935, I would have to get a Gov't model, simply because all of the old time revolvers are uncomfortable for me to shoot with any kind of load that actually recoils.

Anyway, people weren't expected to shoot very much back then. Now, they love to shoot, and expect everything to hold together for many thousand rounds. The old Colts and Smiths, while great guns, no longer have factory support and parts available.

I think they deserve an honorable semi-retirement. If you want to shoot +ps, buy a more recent production gun.

Now, if I were reduced to owning nothing but my old Official Police, I would disregard my own advice, and load it with +ps. It would still give good service. Hopefully, I can afford to keep both it and a modern day gun going, however.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 12:10 PM
You think +P is a warm load. +P is a mild target load. You limit the use of mild target ammo in your guns?

If this is the case, what are you supposed to use when you mean business? :uhoh:

PRM
September 15, 2012, 12:20 PM
Quote:
A simple phone call to Colt would end your need to know anything
absolutely not

That would be almost as bad as calling Smith and Wesson.

They have a script and will not deviate from it.

Maybe so... Do they weigh in on the side of caution. I am almost sure they do. But, putting my money on what the company says VS what I read on the internet. Now, that's an interesting concept.:uhoh:

Shoot what you like - I'll stick to what has worked for me for the last 35+ years. This topic has been beat to death http://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/Beating_A_Dead_Horse_by_livius.gif?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=464724&part=2 and just like all the other times it has been brought up, there is no agreement amongst all forum members. I look at this one, the same way I do the 45 VS 9mm threads.

powell&hyde
September 15, 2012, 12:46 PM
I grabbed 2 Lyman books and went to the 38 Special loads and my 2002 Lyman book has the (+P) indicators. Compare the loads from 1967 & 2002!

Edit: added the 1980 Hornady 38 Special loads, note the (+P) listings.

SaxonPig
September 15, 2012, 01:12 PM
Old Fuff- I load my own. I use a 125 JHP at 1150FPS. If loading your own isn't an option, there are some specialty ammo makers who load 38 Specials to near full potential. Or find some old S&W ammo like they used to sell back in the 1970s.

How about that 125 JHP at 1380 FPS? Or the 158 at 1140? Now do you see why +P (125@925) is a gallery load?




http://www.fototime.com/EC966D93B302CBB/standard.jpg

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 01:41 PM
Old Fuff,

Please tell us the statistics on the loads which you recommend as the maximum that one is safe to use in an older revolver. (say a 1962 K38)

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 01:44 PM
putting my money on what the company says VS what I read on the internet

that is your right

But I can tell you that SaxonPig will tell you the truth.
That is not the case with S&W.


They refused to answer the simplest of questions...including whether their ammo from the 60s is safe to shoot in their guns.

It is pathetic

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 01:52 PM
Yes guys, but exactly how did they get those numbers, and did the ammunition's performance actually match what those numbers are? If so, what pressure were they running and how was that pressure measured?

Same questions regarding handloading data.

If you duplicate the performance, and measure the pressure using current strain gage technolegy what kind of numbers might you get?

there are some specialty ammo makers who load 38 Specials to near full potential.

Indeed there are. But I believe all of them recommend (for obvious reasons) that their Plus-P ammunition should be used in revolvers that are certified by the manufacturer to be O.K. for Plus-P.

I once had a conversation with an engineer from one of those "specialty ammo makers" concering which of the small-frame .357 Magnum revolvers would he recommend for use with his company's high-performance ammunition, and he said, "Ruger's SP-101, period."

Jim Watson
September 15, 2012, 01:55 PM
It doesn't have to be either-or.

I don't shoot +P, +P+, .38-44 HV, boutique loader "full potential", or Skeeter/Elmer reloads in anything ALL THE TIME. I have shot enough heavy loads even in my Airweights that I know where they hit and how they feel, then load the gun with them to repel boarders. I shoot a few every once in a while for refamiliarization, maybe annually. My Airweights might have shot a hundred each, total, over a good many years.

My practice, recreation, and match .38s are 158 gr standard speed or 148 gr MR wadcutters.

I figure my guns will last at least as long as I do on that regimen.

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 01:58 PM
Old FUff,

What weight and velocity are you suggesting that the OP stay within?

grendelbane
September 15, 2012, 02:15 PM
Apparently, I bought the wrong model chronograph. Mine doesn't have a readout for pressure, just one for velocity.

It would be nice to have one that measured pressure also, but pressure and velocity are two different things.

My OP, with its 4" barrel, shows higher velocity than anything else I have tried, including several 6" guns. Does it do this with higher pressure? Maybe, but I don't know. I do know that the bore is smaller than most .38/.357s.

Would a load that is border line in most guns be over pressure in my OP? I don't know, but I suspect it might.

I think my old guns will stay in semi-retirement. Perhaps it is not necessary, but I have new guns that are better suited for high volume shooting with higher pressure ammunition. If they break down, at least they are easily repaired.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 02:28 PM
Please tell us the statistics on the loads which you recommend as the maximum that one is safe to use in an older revolver. (say a 1962 K38)

You can safely fire the original .38/.44 Hi Speed :what:

In other words it's unlikely the revolver will blow up. But after awhile you'll likely wish you haden't. :uhoh:

If you have an even older pre-1919 Military & Police model you'll wish you haden't even sooner.

If you stay around 850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a K-38 Masterpiece will out live you.

Why would anyone want to run high-end ammunition (as regular fodder) through a 1962 era .38 Special when they could buy a similar revolver (model 19) chambered in .357 Magnum?

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 02:33 PM
What weight and velocity are you suggesting that the OP stay within?

Ask me that when I know exactly what model Colt he has, and in what year it was made.

silversport
September 15, 2012, 02:33 PM
It doesn't have to be either-or.

I don't shoot +P, +P+, .38-44 HV, boutique loader "full potential", or Skeeter/Elmer reloads in anything ALL THE TIME. I have shot enough heavy loads even in my Airweights that I know where they hit and how they feel, then load the gun with them to repel boarders. I shoot a few every once in a while for refamiliarization, maybe annually. My Airweights might have shot a hundred each, total, over a good many years.

My practice, recreation, and match .38s are 158 gr standard speed or 148 gr MR wadcutters.

I figure my guns will last at least as long as I do on that regimen.
I'm with you Jim Watson...but I don't think this argument is about that any more...

Bill

Certaindeaf
September 15, 2012, 02:39 PM
Don't those Buffalo Bore regular .38 158's go like 1200 out of a 4? Maybe it's their +p's. I'm glad they sell them as not everyone reloads and'll spend like a buck or two per shot. It's good to know what your gat will take though.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2012, 02:44 PM
Don't those Buffalo Bore regular .38 158's go like 1200 out of a 4? Maybe it's their +p's. I'm glad they sell them as not everyone reloads and'll spend like a buck or two per shot. It's good to know what your gat will take though.

That's the point I've been trying to make. It depends on what your "gat" is, and when it was made.

If you don't believe me, ask them. I already have.

Jaymo
September 15, 2012, 03:00 PM
Buy a Ruger GP100, SP101, Blackhawk, Smith 686, or Colt Trooper Mk3, or King Cobra.
Problem solved.

Certaindeaf
September 15, 2012, 03:00 PM
^Fuff
I hear you, Sir. I reload and take my own responsibility/do my own research. knock on wood and all like that

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 03:03 PM
Ask me that when I know exactly what model Colt he has, and in what year it was made

Colt Police Positive Special

Certaindeaf
September 15, 2012, 03:06 PM
^
That was a good year.

PRM
September 15, 2012, 04:32 PM
Out of this one

roaddog28
September 15, 2012, 05:00 PM
If you stay around 850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a K-38 Masterpiece will out live you.


I agree with that statement. Then answer this question for me. If a S&W K-38 will handle the above round then why can't the Colt Police Positive made in the 1970s handle the same round? The Colt is all steel, same size frame and the heat treatment should be better than old K-38. Right?
And todays so called 158 gr +P rounds are running in the neighborhood of 850 to 900 FPS.
I don't reload but I use the Remington LSWCHP 158gr +P round in my 1954 S&W M&P pre-10. This round runs at about 850 FPS. This is my self defense round and I do put about four boxes a year through this revolver.
I have to agree with Saxon Pig. +P 38 special ammo is marketing hype from ammo makers.
Regards,
Howard

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 06:36 PM
try again

Colt Police Positive Special 1955

jimbo555
September 15, 2012, 06:49 PM
I shoot remington 158lhp+p's in my 1939 police positive special often. They shoot to point of aim and recoil is mild. My colt still locks up tighter than anything new at the gun store!

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 07:11 PM
My colt still locks up tighter than anything new at the gun store!

yep

A- the lockwork works different than anything at the gun store

B- it is better than any new revolver at the gun store

SaxonPig
September 15, 2012, 09:05 PM
I don't claim to be an expert at ballistics. I know what I see, and what I read from trusted sources. My experience tells me current +P is weak and anemic. When I shoot it, the cases do not expand and seal the chambers. This results in blow-by making the cases dirty with powder residue. All the reloading books say this is a sign of low pressure. It's low pressure... and this is the so-called +P ammo doing it. When I tip the barrel the cases simply fall from the cylinder. Again, the pressure is so low the cases are not expanding.

As for the velocity claims on the S&W ammo from years past, they were likely from pressure barrels and real guns don't duplicate the numbers. But are you suggesting that the claimed 1380 is really 925? You think they would lie that much? Chronographs were around, they would get called out on such a lie but pronto.

I don't think it takes an engineering degree to recognize that a 125@925 load is simply not powerful. It exhibits low pressure characteristic when fired. I don't care what the lawyers at S&W say, any S&W revolver ever made in 38 Special will handle current +P (which is actually less powerful than standard loads used to be) without excessive wear or damage.

Anyone who feels otherwise is free to do as he pleases. I spent several years researching the matter and twice as long arguing about it. I have made up my mind based on observation and research. Do what you all want. I'm done.

rcmodel
September 15, 2012, 09:08 PM
Oh heck SaxonPig!
Don't give up yet!!

Somebody else will ask the same question within 48 hours I betcha!! :D

rc

Guillermo
September 15, 2012, 09:09 PM
I don't think it takes an engineering degree to recognize that a 125@925 load is simply not powerful.

It exhibits low pressure characteristic when fired.

Neither of these are debatable



I spent several years researching the matter

and documenting your results

Old Fuff
September 16, 2012, 10:47 AM
I don't care what the lawyers at S&W say, any S&W revolver ever made in 38 Special will handle current +P (which is actually less powerful than standard loads used to be) without excessive wear or damage.

I presume this includes those Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers made between 1899 and 1919 that had low-carbon steel cylinders that weren't heat treated; as well as early alloy (aluminum) framed models. What might happen if someone who had one of these took up steady shooting with Buffalo Bore ammunition? (They by the way, wouldn't recommend it.)

MMCSRET
September 16, 2012, 10:50 AM
The same questions asked over and over just makes it all funner and funner as it all just gits gooder and gooder!!!!!!

Checkman
September 16, 2012, 11:34 AM
Wow.

My two cents.

I carry Remington 158 grain +P Lead Hollow Points in my S&W Model 49 Bodyguard. The so-called "FBI Load".

When I am at the range target shooting my .38 revolvers I use the classic 158 grain lead round nose 38 Special load. It's accurate, easy on the revolvers (several of my revolvers are now over 50 years old) and fun to shoot. I also have stockpiled that load over the years so I have a lot of it. Why does an enjoyable range session have to consist of so much fire and fury?

I have a few hundred of the old Winchester 38 Special +P+ 110 grain semi-jacketed hollow point rounds as well. The so-called "Treasury Load". I also have a few boxes of the old Federal 147 grain +P+ jacketed hollow points. When I shoot those rounds (which isn't very often) I restrict them to my .357 magnums and my S&W 5" Heavy Duty. why? Well why not be conservative. Yes the 38 Special revolvers could probably handle the loads, but what the heck is the point?

My two primary "real-world" handguns are a Glock 19 and a Glock 26. I load those with the Federal HST +P 124 grain jacketed hollow point. I'm not worried about pressure, overpressure, underpressure or anything else with the Glocks. Why do people have to make everything so complicated?

roaddog28
September 16, 2012, 11:35 AM
Well Old Fuff I would have to disagree with your statement. S&W began heat treating their cylinders in the 1920s. When the first M&P hand ejector came out in 1899 with the 38 special the round they reported using was a 158 gr running at 870 fps. Now this was black powder but it appears evident that the early M&P 38 specials could handle want is called todays "+P" round. I would imagine the early colts would handle the round too. This is where I agree with Saxon Pig. The 38 special is a low power round. In most cases the current +P rounds are only running in the 18,000 psi range or lower. As long as the revolver is in good shape I would say any Colt or S&W from the 1940s can handle todays +P round. Maybe exception would be Buffalo Bores +P round.
The ammo companies are making money selling consumers so called "high pressure ammo called +P". This is nonsense because the +P is less than 20% higher in most cases compared to standard pressure rounds.
The choice comes down to the person. I chose to shoot rounds running at 850 to 900 fps with weights in the 125 to 158. I like the 158 gr the best. My revolver is a very used S&W M&P 38 special made in 1954. I don't worry about excessive wear or bulged cylinders. I have never experienced it with this revolver. I am 62 years old and been shooting the 38 special in non model number M&Ps since 1968. If memory serves me correct the old LRN 158 gr I used was running at 800 fps or above.
The link I provided below is a good history of the early M&P hand ejector. I see no reason a Colt Police Positive special could not perform as well as the M&P.
Regards,
Howard
http://www.gunblast.com/Cumpston_SW-MP.htm




































The link below I feel does a good job of explaining the history of the handejector.

Old Fuff
September 16, 2012, 12:44 PM
Well you can disagree with me if you want to... :D

But you will also have to disagree with two very respected Smith & Wesson researchers - Robert J. Neal and Roy G Jinks, who before retiring was Smith & Wesson's company historian.

In their book, Smith & Wesson, 1857-1945 they say:

.38 Hand Ejector, Military & Police Model 1905 Fourth Change.
Cylinders were heat treated beginning in 1919 at serial number 316,648.

Their source for this came from a notebook kept at the factory by an engineer in which he logged various changes and other data of interest between 1919 and about 1951. He noted the following:

May 7, 1919 Order to treat all .32 Hand Ejector Winchester cylinders by J.H. Wesson.

Shortly after the same was done with .38 Special cylinders at the above noted serial number.

Jim Supica and Richard Nahas (Also well recognized authorities) in their book Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson say concerning the .38 Military & Police; 1905 Hand Ejector:

... heat treated cylinders begain at serial number 316648.

I could go on, there is more...

When the first M&P hand ejector came out in 1899 with the 38 special the round they reported using was a 158 gr running at 870 fps. Now this was black powder but it appears evident that the early M&P 38 specials could handle want is called todays "+P" round.

As you correctly note, "Now this was with black powder" and also out of a 6 1/2" barrel. Black powder is a much slower burning propellent then smokeless and while the pressure may (or may not) be higher, spreads it over a much flatter curve, Thus a smokeless charge, that is burning faster, causes higher stress in the chamber. Now as you noted, some Plus-P ammunition is on the wimpy side, and "plus only in name" However the problem is, not all Plus-P ammunition meets this description! Consider the previously mentioned Buffalo Bore products, even you say.

Maybe exception would be Buffalo Bores +P round.

Darn right!, which is the reason I'm careful in what I say.

Ya' can't say on one hand, "Any Smith and Wesson chambered in .38 Special," and then, "Maybe exception would be Buffalo Bores +P round."

Guillermo
September 16, 2012, 02:23 PM
*note...to anyone reading, please know that I have the utmost respect for Old Fuff and in no way mean any disrespect*

Fuffster

You know perfectly well that Saxon was talking about heat treated revolvers. Not black powder, not top-break, not pre-hardened cylinders.

On this issue you dance like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Your position SEEMS to be that the regular ammunition sold in the 40's, 50's and 60's was too hot for the revolvers of that period. PLEASE answer this assertion.

Not only is their no evidence that the .38 spl revolvers of that period suffering from this, but you always refuse to answer specific questions concerning how much you think that a revolver from that period should be subjected to.

Saxon has loads of information on the subject and you have to admit that he is a smart guy with a ton of research on the subject. (I know you guys butt heads concerning Fitz conversions, but you can agree that he has worked hard on the .38 special round and its capability as well as the fact that he is a smart guy. And he has shot 10.000s of what you call "hot rounds" out of his guns.)

You know I will carry your range bag and shag your brass if you shoot a bottom-feeding brass-chucker but your vague statements on this subject are frustrating.

yes "850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a K-38 Masterpiece will out live you"...but that is a cop out. Using just primers and it will outlive you too.

What do you think is the most powerful round that is reasonable to shoot out of that K-38?

Saxon calls 850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a "gallery load". I agree.

Come on Fuffster...get specific!!!

roaddog28
September 16, 2012, 06:56 PM
*note...to anyone reading, please know that I have the utmost respect for Old Fuff and in no way mean any disrespect*

Fuffster

You know perfectly well that Saxon was talking about heat treated revolvers. Not black powder, not top-break, not pre-hardened cylinders.

On this issue you dance like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Your position SEEMS to be that the regular ammunition sold in the 40's, 50's and 60's was too hot for the revolvers of that period. PLEASE answer this assertion.

Not only is their no evidence that the .38 spl revolvers of that period suffering from this, but you always refuse to answer specific questions concerning how much you think that a revolver from that period should be subjected to.

Saxon has loads of information on the subject and you have to admit that he is a smart guy with a ton of research on the subject. (I know you guys butt heads concerning Fitz conversions, but you can agree that he has worked hard on the .38 special round and its capability as well as the fact that he is a smart guy. And he has shot 10.000s of what you call "hot rounds" out of his guns.)

You know I will carry your range bag and shag your brass if you shoot a bottom-feeding brass-chucker but your vague statements on this subject are frustrating.

yes "850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a K-38 Masterpiece will out live you"...but that is a cop out. Using just primers and it will outlive you too.

What do you think is the most powerful round that is reasonable to shoot out of that K-38?

Saxon calls 850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a "gallery load". I agree.

Come on Fuffster...get specific!!!
I would have to agree. This round is not a hot load. Any steel S&W or Colt revolver in 38 special in good condition made from 1940 and up can handle this round. It is a "galley load". And I have a old revolver that has seen a lot of this round and it is doing fine.

Howard

Deaf Smith
September 16, 2012, 07:43 PM
Just use Buffalo Bore .38s.

Their non +p gets a 158gr LSWHP at 850 fps FROM A 2 INCH SNUB! Their 'hot' load gets the same 158 at 1000 fps from a 2 inch snub (real good for those S&W 2 inch M10s and steel Colt DS guns.)

For my Colt Cobra 2 inch I'd use the non +P stuff at 850 fps.

Deaf

SaxonPig
September 16, 2012, 09:16 PM
I am thinking of mainstream +P from Remington, Winchester, etc and not the specialty makers like Buffalo Bore. I don't know for sure where BBs come in at pressure, I know where the Rems and Wins do.

I would include any S&W revolver made in the smokeless powder age even those not tempered. Any S&W 38 revolver made for use with smokeless powder ammo was designed for 21,000PSI. At 18,000 +P is not going to stress a gun made for 21,000. Seems like simple logic to me.

Old Fuff
September 16, 2012, 09:41 PM
Any S&W 38 revolver made for use with smokeless powder ammo was designed for 21,000PSI.

Would you please enlighten me as to where you found that bit of information?

Old Fuff
September 16, 2012, 10:14 PM
Saxon calls 850 FPS with a 158-grain lead bullet a "gallery load". I agree.

You may call it a gallery load, but those are the specifications the revolver was designed around and law enforcement officers carried and used for several generations. If you want to hot-rod it go ahead, but why do so in older revolvers when the model 19/66 is available in .357 Magnum? Then you can use some real barn-burners.

If you want, and hand load, you can duplicate the old .38-44 Heavy Duty load (158 grain bullet @ 1175 FPS out of a 5" barrel). Clearly this isn't a gallery load and it's Saxon Pig approved for use in any S&W .38 Special K-frame ever made. What more could you ask? :uhoh:

I'll give you a hint though. When the "gallery load" won't do I upgrade to .44 Special, and on very, very few occasions when I had doubts there was Mr. Browning's big .45 pistol, and in extreme cases there was the .44 Magnum. Any of the forementioned cartridges will run ANY .38 Special Plus-P into the ground.

On this issue you dance like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Not really, I'm just not saying what you want to hear.

Guillermo
September 16, 2012, 10:37 PM
Your position SEEMS to be that the regular ammunition sold in the 40's, 50's and 60's was too hot for the revolvers of that period. PLEASE answer this assertion.

Not only is their no evidence that the .38 spl revolvers of that period suffering from this, but you always refuse to answer specific questions concerning how much you think that a revolver from that period should be subjected to.

Fuffster,

While you are at the plate...take a swing at this.

Radagast
September 16, 2012, 10:37 PM
I'll chuck in my two cents.
I sprang the crane on a Model 60 (J Magnum frame) fitted with a custom 4 inch barrel and no locking lug. It took 5 rounds of Winchester 110 grain +P. Based on this experience I am of the opinion that use of PlusP or jacketed ammo should be avoided in any gun lacking a locking lug, including the first model Hand Ejector and any WWII surplus with cut down barrels.

In the 180 pages of the S&W ID thread there have been several guns from the period 1915 through to the 1920s that had replacement barrels, none from later times. This suggests that until the late 1920s barrel steel was probably not up to scratch.
All of the cases of bulged cylinders I've read of seem to be from the same time period.
Based on the above I don't recommend use of .38 Special +P or jacketed ammo in guns from that period.

I know we go round and round on this every six to eight weeks, but it does keep the new members informed by having it on the front page. So I recommend Old Fuff, RCModel, SaxonPig & Guillermo continue to butt their heads together at periodic intervals. :)

Guillermo
September 16, 2012, 11:00 PM
I know we go round and round on this every six to eight weeks, but it does keep the new members informed by having it on the front page.

giggling


I recommend Old Fuff, RCModel, SaxonPig & Guillermo continue to butt their heads together at periodic intervals.

Laughing out loud!!!

JB357MAG
September 17, 2012, 10:30 PM
Great thread, I have a question about this in another thread.

In a few weeks I will be getting an Interarms/Rossi Stainless
steel, all steel .38 spl 2" snubbie from 1979/1980 era.

Its not rated for +p but the round I want to use is the Remington
Golden Saber .38 spl +p Jhp 125 grain 975fps out of a 4" barrel.

Ive seen regular .38 spl's with higher fps data, and the above posted
data backs this up.

I would think this round would be ok in this gun.

Also gun is in great shape with only about 100 rounds threw it.

What do ya think?

Jimmy

ColtPythonElite
September 17, 2012, 10:33 PM
I'd shoot 'em out of a Rossi with even less worries. In the event it busted, the replacement won't be as much as a Colt.

Old Fuff
September 18, 2012, 12:38 AM
Its not rated for +p but the round I want to use is the Remington
Golden Saber .38 spl +p Jhp 125 grain 975fps out of a 4" barrel.

I suspect the gun will stand up - at least for awhile. But your wrist, hand and fingers may want to sit down with you and have a talk about all this. :uhoh:

SaxonPig
September 18, 2012, 08:48 AM
Oh yes, that world-shaking +P will just cripple your arm. The ERs are full of shooters who have shattered wrist bones from shooting that stuff. The checkering of the stocks is still visible on my palm from shooting it 3 years ago.

Puuulease....

Guillermo
September 18, 2012, 09:04 AM
Quote:
Your position SEEMS to be that the regular ammunition sold in the 40's, 50's and 60's was too hot for the revolvers of that period. PLEASE answer this assertion.
Quote:
Not only is their no evidence that the .38 spl revolvers of that period suffering from this, but you always refuse to answer specific questions concerning how much you think that a revolver from that period should be subjected to.
Fuffster,

While you are at the plate...take a swing at this.

Tapping foot, thinking of dancing analogies

j1
September 18, 2012, 09:54 AM
I called Smith and Wesson concerning the use of plus p ammo in my Chiefs special and got a short simple answer reccomending against the frequent use of it but the fact that it is fine if used occasionally. Their answer suits my needs admirably.:)

Radagast
September 18, 2012, 09:54 AM
This is 9mm vs .45 for old guys! :)

Guillermo
September 18, 2012, 10:00 AM
This is 9mm vs .45 for old guys!

watch it you young whippersnapper!!!

show some respect.

Did anyone see where I left my teeth?

Certaindeaf
September 18, 2012, 10:00 AM
^
For sure. I had me a glass of milk before bed last night. Gotta take care of them wristbones!

Arkansas Paul
September 18, 2012, 11:07 AM
This is 9mm vs .45 for old guys!


:neener:

SaxonPig
September 18, 2012, 04:36 PM
j1- S&W also says no reloads.

Guillermo
September 18, 2012, 08:50 PM
Saxon

You have asserted that postwar S&W 38 special revolvers are made to handle 21,000PSI

Where did you glean that information.

(perhaps Old Fuff will be inspired to explain how all of these guns survived shooting the "regular pressure" ammo but will not survive the same ammo now that it is relabeled since
he has been asked THREE times)

Deaf Smith
September 18, 2012, 11:04 PM
I am thinking of mainstream +P from Remington, Winchester, etc and not the specialty makers like Buffalo Bore. I don't know for sure where BBs come in at pressure, I know where the Rems and Wins do.

I would include any S&W revolver made in the smokeless powder age even those not tempered. Any S&W 38 revolver made for use with smokeless powder ammo was designed for 21,000PSI. At 18,000 +P is not going to stress a gun made for 21,000. Seems like simple logic to me.
Buffalo Bore GUARANTEES it will work in any .38 Spl. revolver, aluminum or not, +P rated or not.

That's just for the 158gr load at 850 from a 2 inch bbl.

Deaf

SaxonPig
September 19, 2012, 08:39 AM
I said I didn't know the specs on BB ammo, not any sort of criticism.

Some specialty ammo companies sell loads that look heavy but are claimed to be non-+P. Not sure what standard they are using.

G- The original smokeless 38 Special standard was 21,000 PSI. The 1899 M&P was made for this ammo. Every 38 Special made since 1899 was built with the 21,000 load in mind. Then in the 1970s they started reducing the loads on advice of counsel.

There is nothing that I or anyone else can say to change people's minds when they are convinced. In 1899 the 38 Special was intended to be a 21,000 cartridge and the guns were made to shoot it so it seems obvious to me that an 18,000 load (+P) is a pipsqueak in comparison. But many refuse to believe that. Fine. Everybody is free to think and do as they please.

Guillermo
September 19, 2012, 09:00 AM
The 1899 M&P was made for this ammo

So the guns made prior to 1930 by S&W, which did not have hardened cylinders, were made to handle 21,000 PSI?

Where do I reference this?

Old Fuff
September 19, 2012, 10:25 AM
The original smokeless 38 Special standard was 21,000 PSI. The 1899 M&P was made for this ammo.

When the mechanical design was compleated, D.B. Wesson discussed the merits of this gun with his son Joseph. The revolver was originally designed to fire the .38 United States Service cartridge (.38 Long Colt) but the cartridge had developed a reputation for lack of power. D. B. Wesson suggested the cartridge case be lengthened to allow the powder charge to be increased from 18 grains of black powder to 21 1/2 grains. The bullet weight was changed from 150 grains to 158 grains, this new cartridge was called the .38 S&W Special, and factory literature showed the impoved cartridge had a penetration of eight and one-half pine boards, each seven-eights thick, a penetration two inches greater then that of the U.S. Service load.

History of Smith & Wesson; Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition, by Roy G. Jinks. pp 159-160

Question: What method did Smith & Wesson, as well as others, use to determine cartridge pressure during the last years of the 19th century?

Guillermo
September 19, 2012, 10:43 AM
Question: What method did Smith & Wesson, as well as others, use to determine cartridge pressure during the last years of the 19th century?

It doesn't matter.

Since the round could be duplicated in modern times, the pressure could be measured with modern equipment.

I am sure that Saxon will tell us where he gleaned this information.

He is always open with his sources.

(Still waiting for you, Old Fuff, to explain how a 1950 ammo was unsafe to use in 1950 guns and yet they had no problems with the unsafe ammo)

Quoheleth
September 19, 2012, 10:57 AM
I just hung up the phone with Colt Manufacturing, asking about use of +P in my 1968 manufacture (978,000 SN range) Detective Special.

Without missing a beat, the gentleman said "absolutely no." His rationale: prior to 1972 they did not pressure test any of the guns. I mentioned that today's +P load is considerably lighter than the old pre-'72 SAAMI load and wondered why it would be a problem. His answers were that yes, many customers do run +P ammo with seemingly no problem. However, should there be a problem with the gun, it will be very expensive to fix and will probably necessiate a trip back to them for a full rebuild job.

In the end he said, "It's your choice, but I will tell you not to do it."

As a personal note, "can" and "should," while sometimes in agreement with each other, often times are not. Can a DS handle +P? Probably. Should it be done? Not per Colt's recommendation.

Q

Guillermo
September 19, 2012, 01:14 PM
Not per Colt's recommendation

Colt, like Smith&Wesson, say that using the regular ammunition from 1965 should not be used in a gun that was manufactured in 1965.

And so many people act as though they are an authority

(shaking head)

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