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357 mag shooting the 38 spec

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by theboyscout, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. theboyscout

    theboyscout Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2012
    Deltona FL
    I have read and understand that the 357 mag. can shoot 38 special, but I am wondering if:

    The 357 mag can shoot any of the other 38. Other than the special?

    ? .38 cal, .38 ACP, .38 Super, .38 S&W, .38 Long Colt, 38. +P, and the .38 Special ?
  2. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Northern Virginia
    In your list, only the 38 special and +P version of the 38 special can be used in a 357 mag.

    The 38 super and 38 acp are rimless cartridges for semi-autos that can't be used in a revolver without moon clips. Also, they use slightly smaller diameter bullets, .355 vs .357 IIRC. The 38 long and 38 S&W use slightly larger bullets, .361 vs .357. The case sizes would be correspondlingly too small or large in diameter.

    I'm going from memory with the various bullet diameters but they should be close.

  3. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2005
    http://www.ohioccw.org/ Ohio's best CCW resour
    Nope. 357 can shoot 38 special and the +P 38 spl. The rest are not going to fit or have no rim.
  4. 45_auto

    45_auto Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    Southern Louisiana
    Nope. Every 38 Special or 357 I've ever seen will also shoot 38 Short Colt and 38 Long Colt. They're fairly common in some competitions:

  5. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
    YOU'RE WRONG HERE !!! The 38ACP and the 38SUPER are rimmed cartridges that'll shoot in the 357MAG along with the 38SPL, 38LONG etc.
  6. firesky101

    firesky101 Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2011
    Yes some .357 mags will chamber and fire .38 acp/super, but I also have some that do not. the case taper is different.
  7. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    SouthEastern FL
    I was under the impression that .38SPL revolvers would indeed chamber and fire the "other" .38s, specifically the .38 Long Colt and the .38 S&W. Though I never tried it, I took it to mean that a .357 Magnum revolver, by way of being able to "double as" a .38SPL, could also fire those.

    I know about the limitations regarding rimless rounds. I've also never heard of the .38ACP.
  8. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    38 ACP and 38 Super are dimensionally the same case and are considered semi-rimmed. 38 Super should not be used in a 38 ACP handgun. 38 ACP/38 Super are generally chambered in semi-auto handguns. The 38 Super was originally used in M1911s and Thompson sub-machine guns.

    38 Special may chamber in a 38 Super gun except for the rim but they are not designed for such. The 38 AMU (Army Marksmanship Unit) is a rimless version of the 38 Special and was developed for bullseye target shooters to use in their M1911s. 38 AMU, 38 Special, and 38 Super are not interchangeable by design.

    357 Magnum should not chamber in any 38 Special revolver but unfortunately, some 38 Special revolvers' chambers are long enough to accept 357 Magnum rounds. 357 magnum rounds should never be fired in a 38 Special revolver.

    38 S&W and 38 Colt interchangeability with other 38 rounds is absent from my memory at present but without appropriate information, i would not automatically use them in other firearms chambered for other cartridges.

    Unfortunately, firearm makers do not do us any favors with their cartridge nomenclature. It is best to not interchange cartridges at all unless you know for sure.
  9. jhvaughan2

    jhvaughan2 Well-Known Member

    Jun 29, 2009
    Given no modification.
    38 S&W is too "wide" to fit into 38 special
    38 colt is fine.

    Most do not realize the .38 S&W Special was an improvement of the .38 long colt (officially the .38 Government) NOT the .38 S&W. Early S&W M&P's are marked for both .38 S&W Special and .38 Government.

    But the key question is "why". Everything else is much more expensive and nothing more flexible than the .38 special.

    With modifications you can have your .357 shoot 9mm with moon clips.
  10. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2005
    North Central Ohio
    Maybe the op is just "wondering" for the sake of getting information. I know I do that a lot. Some call it wandering. :eek:
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    The naming of the .38S&W Special was to separate it from it's parent the .38 Long Colt cartridge. Neither company wanted to use the other companies name on their gun...that is why many folks don't even no that "S&W" is part of the .38Spl's name. It is a lot like folks forget the "S&W" is part of the .40 name

    As noted above, it makes loading and ejecting from revolvers more reliable and faster
  12. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Deep in the Ozarks
    The .38 Colt was "stretched" when it transitioned from heeled bullets to inside lubricated bullets, and was called the .38 Long Colt (the original round, of course, was then called the .38 Short Colt.) Around 1898, Smith and Wesson stretched the .38 Long Colt to create the .38 Special. Around 1935, Smith and Wesson stretched the .38 Special to create the .357 Magnum.

    Any cartridge in this series (and the .38 Special +P) can be fired in a .357 Magnum.

    In a completely parallel scenario, the .44 Smith and Wesson was stretched when it transitioned to inside lubricated bullets -- and was called the .44 Russian, because it was done under contract to Imperial Russia. The .44 Russian was stretched in the 1890s to become the .44 Special, which was stretched again in the 1950s to become the .44 Magnum. Any cartridge in this series can be shot in a .44 Magnum revolver.
  13. danang

    danang Active Member

    Nov 25, 2005
    Extensive firing of the shorter cases in the .357 cylinder can and does cause some erosion ahead of the case mouth. Whether that interferes with using the longer case in that weapon is dependent upon the severity of the erosion. I have an old S&W 66-2 that was a police turn-in. There is quite visible erosion in the cylinder area where the mouth of the practice .38 Specials were fired over the years. It, however does not interfere with ejection of fired .357 cases.
  14. aka108

    aka108 Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2006
    Tallahassee, FL
    The 357 revolver will handle 38spec and 38+P spec. Aside from these I would not experiment or screw around using anything else.
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Early catalog listings for the .357 Magnum gave the usable loads.
    S&W said
    .357 S&W Magnum
    .38/44 S&W Special (the 1100 fps +P++ load)
    .38 S&W Special Hi-Velocity (another brand name for .38-44)
    .38 S&W Special (standard 158 gr)
    .38 S&W Special Super Police (200 gr)
    .38 S&W Special Mid-Range (148 gr wadcutter)

    Colt, strangely enough, did not list the various .38s as subloads in their magnum guns.
    But they really covered the available products for the .38 Special:
    ".38 Short Colt
    .38 Long Colt
    .38 Colt Special
    .38 Colt Special High Speed
    .38 S&W Special High Speed and .38-44
    .38 S&W Special
    cartridges in ..38 caliber model."

    A .38 Colt Special differs from a .38 S&W Special only by being loaded with a flatpointed bullet instead of roundnose. This was long before the day of the hollowpoint pistol bullet and the semiwadcutter was seen only in .357 Magnum among factory loads.

    The .38 ACP/Super and .38 S&W are nominally larger in case diameter than .38 Special or .357 Magnum and whether you can get away with shooting them in your .357 magnum revolver depends on tolerance overlap. A maximum .357 chamber will take a minimum .38 Auto or S&W cartridge.
    Be advised that the old .38 ACP runs at slightly more than .38 Special +P pressures and the .38 Super is right up there in magnum country. Do not put them in your old or airweight Specials unless the zombies are really bad and you have no other ammunition.
  16. Japle

    Japle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2005
    I and a lot of other wheelgunners shoot .38 Short Colt loads in our .357s. It's a handloading proposition, but very easy to load, especially if you also load 9mm. Just size with a .38 Spl/.357 die and use the 9mm expander, seater and taper crimp die as-is.

    It's a very efficient cartridge. I use a Berry's 125 HP and 3.4 gr of TiteGroup. Light recoil and accurate.

  17. Checkman

    Checkman member

    Sep 23, 2003
    Just stick with .38 Spl as well as the +P and the +P+ .38 Special loads and you'll be fine.
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    It is not correct to say that the .44 S&W American was stretched to become the .44 Russian. The .44 American used a heel type bullet and a smaller diameter case than the .44 Russian, which used an internally lubricated bullet. Unless there has been some made recently, .44 American is a collector cartridge today, completely unobtainable in shooting qnantities.


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