Anybody shooting their 38 S&Ws?


December 14, 2012, 02:55 PM
Not the 38 Special, the older 38 S&W? I found a source for factory ammo at $18 a box but I load my own using .358" lead bullets. Even played with some 125 JHPs in the Terrier getting them up to 975 FPS from the 2" barrel (putting the shine on the wimpy +P in the process- +P goes under 900 in my snubbies).

This Victory Model was used by a German PD after the war. Town was in Saxony meaning it was carried by a... wait for it... Saxon pig. Sorry, had to say it.

Same year as me...

Got this at a local show for $100. Way too much fun. But it should say 1943, not 1843.

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Old Fuff
December 14, 2012, 04:20 PM
Occasionally, and in particular an old Colt Police Positive. Colt called the cartridge the .38 Colt New Police or the .38 Colt Police Positive, but both are in all-important respects identical to the .38 S&W.

What makes the Colt different then other revolvers chambered in .38 S&W is that the barrel and chamber throats were made to .38 Special specifications. This means that if you hand load the round you can use standard .358 diameter bullets rather then the usually called for .361 size. The only requirement is to switch a .358 neck-sizing plug into your .38 S&W loading die.

So all of those 110 to 200 grain high performance bullets that some are so hung up on can find a new home.

Colt's Police Positive (not to be confused with the larger Police Positive Special) are generally not in demand, and can be found at less then reasonable prices. Barrel lengths run 4, 5 and 6 inches as a rule, and the cylinder holds 6, not 5 cartridges.

After World War Two Colt dropped the Police Positive, and offered the Police Positive Special in .38 S&W/Colt New Police. They were not especially in demand and are seldom found. However if you do find one at a reasonable price jump on it.

In both revolvers most D-frame/.38 Special speed loaders work fine.

December 14, 2012, 04:48 PM
I too have an Albion Motors 'Enfield' No2 Mk1 just like yours in the last pic, OP...

I load 158gr lead @.358" over 2gr Red Dot for a very accurate round...

4v50 Gary
December 14, 2012, 04:56 PM
I've shot mine years ago. The grips were way too small for me to shoot accurately with it.

December 14, 2012, 05:03 PM
I have a merwin & hulbert .38 small frame revolver,
I also have an lgs with .38 S&W rounds on hand.
I've thought briefly about putting the two together, but then I check the lockup on the M&H
nahhhhh, don't think so, lol

December 14, 2012, 06:40 PM
About 2 weeks ago for kicks. A S&W Safety Hammerless, performed flawlessly but the Fiocci I was shooting was pretty wimpy.

December 14, 2012, 09:11 PM
I shoot mine. Lots of fun.

I traded this one. It just didn't fit me.

December 14, 2012, 09:14 PM
not me...but I am REALLY happy that the old girls are still being used.

Keep up the good work.

After all, if a gun is not shot, it is no longer a gun.

December 14, 2012, 10:21 PM
LOL... My Perfected Model Smith was made in 1914. I've owned and carried it since 1982. The Bisley is a custom built "parts gun." Oh well - I got a pre-ban ivory stocked Colt for a fraction of what an original in that condition would have brought.

December 14, 2012, 10:25 PM

December 14, 2012, 11:05 PM
I have an M&H that I've shoots its .38 S&W's just fine.

Old Fuff
December 14, 2012, 11:19 PM

Me thinks what you have is a 38/32 Terrier (pre-model 32).

It was likely built on the Improved I frame with a coil mainspring. Earlier pre-war ones had a flat mainspring. Cylinder length = 1.250". Post-war production had a positive hammer block, where pre-war guns didn't. Post a serial number and maybe we can sort things out.

Cocked & Locked
December 15, 2012, 12:10 AM
upon occasion

December 15, 2012, 01:36 AM
I'm loading 38 S&W ammo with a .360" H&G #512 170gr bullet. (sorry for the poor pictures) I also sometimes load some 38/200 rounds with a Lyman #358430 just because I want to. That bullet is also .360" and while both shoot well I really like the 170gr bullet best. The 200gr bullets seat too deep in such a small case while the 170gr bullets have a short base below the crimp groove even though they were not specifically designed for the .38 S&W.

Here are the 170gr bullets:

Here are the 200gr bullets:

December 15, 2012, 03:01 AM
That should be an I Frame .38/.32 Terrier or Pre-Model 32, Not a pre-Model 36.

Edit: Should have read the whole thread Old Fuff beat me to it.

December 15, 2012, 10:12 AM
I have a Regulation Police from the mid 20's and a Regulation Police from 1953; "I" frame and "Improved I" frame respectively. I cast .362 dia. bullets from Ideal molds of designs originally for the cartridge. I size them to .361 and load to factory duplication pressures/velocities and have a great time with the beautiful little revolvers. Truly; they don't build 'em like that no more!!!!!!

December 15, 2012, 01:07 PM
I have several, a Victory like pictured that I shoot the most. Also a newer j-frame 2" Terrier and a Model 31? I believe 4" j-frame that I have shot a bit too.
I like these bullets and find they shoot very well in all I have tried.
I use Trail Boss powder as I find it works great for light loads of lead in every caliber I try it in.
It just does not seem to smoke at all ?
It must not get as hot or something, I know it is mostly just the lube, but it is annoying at the indoor range I shoot at.

Missouri Bullets

38 S&W

.361 Diameter

145 Grain RN
Brinell 12
For .38 S&W

Price per box of 500
Price: $33.00

Jim in S.A.
December 15, 2012, 03:35 PM
I shoot this S&W Regulation Police purely for the fun of it from time to time:

Deaf Smith
December 15, 2012, 07:27 PM
Not really. Wish I had the time to shoot my Webely pocket model and S&W .38 bankers special.


December 16, 2012, 01:33 AM
I shoot an old Webley now and then just for some amusement. The gun is quite roughly done. It's marked "wartime finish." Still it has some character and functions fine. I bought some factory ammo to harvest brass and the thing would hardly hit paper at 10 paces. When I pulled one round down, I found the "factory" had loaded 0.355" bullets. That's right, 9mm. Bought some 0.360" slugs from Matt's bullets and it does much better.

F-111 John
December 16, 2012, 07:25 AM
Where did you find .38 S&W for $18 a box? That's .38 spl prices around here, with .38 S&W, when you can find it, north of $28 a box.

I have an Enfield Number 2 Mark 1** that I don't shoot as often as I'd like to.

evan price
December 17, 2012, 06:52 AM
In the top flopper, yes, from time to time, but then I also shoot 32 S&W and 32 S&W Longs too.

Dain Bramage
December 17, 2012, 03:58 PM
Is it typical to reload .38 S&W without a crimp? The factory Winchester loads appear to have a crimp, although it is difficult to be sure from the photo.

December 18, 2012, 01:08 PM
I crimp my cast bullets for both of my revolvers chambered in 38 S&W. The bullets I cast from 4 different Ideal molds designed for the 38 S&W all have a crimp groove and crimping in the groove makes for a cartridge of the original design outside length specifications. A light crimp is all that I use, it makes an attractive, effective cartridge.

December 18, 2012, 03:22 PM
I am the current "care taker" of my father in-laws Colt Police Positive .38 S&W. I've found factory ammo for it on two different occasions and both occasions a 50 round box went for well over $40. I bought one box to have the brass to reload, then months later I found that I could get brass and bullets from Midaway! Since then we've shot the gun on many occasions and is a jump back in history. This gun originally belonged to my Father in-laws father who carried it back in the 50's and 60's when he was a security guard for a parking lot company here in Seattle. He told me that he bought it used from a shop and paid $20 for the gun, leather holster, and 50 rounds of ammo. My father in-law has no connection with guns so that is why I am the "care taker" ;)

Dain Bramage
December 18, 2012, 05:38 PM
Thanks, MMCSRET. I was wondering because neither of the two reload pictures posted here appear to show a crimp.

December 18, 2012, 06:07 PM
My grandfather was a poor immigrant from Sweden to the Alaskan Gold rush, where he bought and Iver Johnson break top hammerless 38sw.
Inspired by our family heirloom worth $35, my brother and I started collecting 38sw pistols starting in 1963.
When the action stretched on a break top from shooting 38 Super +P loads, I complained to my father that I had used too much pressure.
My father was high powered chief engineer with 150 engineers and draftsmen under him. He has ~ 36 gun related patents.
My father yelled at me ~~ Pressure has nothing to do with it directly. It is friction of the bullet in the barrel and recoil acceleration on 1/2 the mass of the barrel.~~
It took me a while to get my more average engineer brain around that statement, but I think I have got it now.
So now in break tops [so the latch pin capture hole in sheet metal will not stretch into an oblong shape] I shoot 1 gr Bullseye and a soft lead bullet or maybe 2 gr Unique.
But in Colt revolver with the post 1907 Police positive lock up system, I am shooting the equivalent of 9mm+P handloads in 38 S&W.
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.
1) Colt 38 S&W Police Positive 38 made in 1911 20.5 ounces 4" barrel
a) 4.5 gr Unique 115 Win JHP, obnoxious recoil, tiny pierce in primer
b) 6.4 gr Power Pistol 115 gr JHP WIN 1.299" recoil painful

December 18, 2012, 10:44 PM
I don't have anything in .38S&W and have no intention of branching out into yet ANOTHER new direction. But I thank all of you for this glimpse into a new area of the shooting hobby. The guns with the long standing personal family stories behind them are especially great to read.

S&W revolvers I know well as I have a bunch of K frame guns which I love. But feeding those and the other CAS guns that eat .357Mag/.38Spl along with my other loading duties is enough work for now. I've got OTHER hobbies that scream for my attention too! ! ! !

December 19, 2012, 04:32 AM
I once was told you could use 9x19mm (9mm luger) dies to reload .38 S&W, just using a .38S&W shell holder. Any truth in that ?

December 19, 2012, 09:01 AM
I reload for this round using a .38spl shell holder and decapping die, with a 9x19 bell die and a 9x19 seating/crimping die to finish up. I also use .355-.356 bullets most of the time (I have them on hand already for 9x19) and the accuracy from my 2" I.J breaktop is really very good. Ive been using Pyrodex RS for a propellant, but I can only get about 6gr of it into the case with a 125gr bullet, and thats a pretty sorry load for anything beyond punching holes in paper at close range.

I would like to get a hold of some FFFg and proper 146-200gr bullets to make some semblance of a decent load for the thing...

Forgot to mention, you can also make shotshells for your .38S&W using .38spl (or .357mag brass if your cylinder is long enough). You just need to neck the brass down to fit into the throats of your cylinder. I use my 9x19 seating die with the plug backed all the way out. You just put as little lube on the casing and run it up into the die as high as it will go.

December 19, 2012, 10:51 AM
I once was told you could use 9x19mm (9mm luger) dies to reload .38 S&W, just using a .38S&W shell holder. Any truth in that ?

I never have tried it, but the 9mm is a tapered case. Doesn't seem like a good match to me. Have a look at the case drawings and compare. I'll do the same for my own curiosity.

Deaf Smith
December 19, 2012, 07:24 PM
Interesting fact.

9mm Makarov bullet diameter is .363 and .38 S&W is .361.

Bet if you found some surplus 9mm Mak slugs or XTP Mak slugs you could make some interesting loads.

Oh right, I have 300 XTP Mak JHP slugs and a good number of Chinese Mak rounds that are corroded (and thus can pull the bullets.)

Well maybe I'll try a few!


Old Fuff
December 19, 2012, 08:44 PM
Be sure you check the bore of your revolver(s) first. Colt's for example have a .356" groove diameter, and World War Two Smith & Wessons can run all over the map. Jacketed bullets don't "squeeze" like lead.

Mauser lover
December 19, 2012, 11:31 PM
Unfortunately, no...
Hopefully will be sleeving (I think that is how you spell it, computer doesn't like it...) it to .22 LR soon, so I can get the gun running again. Should be a fun project...

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