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.38-40 WCF -vs- .40 S&W and 10mm

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Tommy Gunn, Jul 9, 2003.

  1. Tommy Gunn

    Tommy Gunn Member

    Mar 15, 2003
    The Windy City
    The .38 WCF actually has a .401 diameter bullet. The original 40grs of blackpowder sent a 180gr cast bullet about 975 fps out of a Colt SAA revolver, a match for the .40 S&W.

    I am wondering what velocity one can get out of a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .38-40 WCF and how it will match against the 10mm round.
  2. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member

    Jun 13, 2003
    38-40 cases are on the thin side. Most people advise against loading it hot (case life suffers). In a modern revolver, you might be able to work up a load like the old Winchester high velocity rifle only round. I'm sure you can get decent numbers out of the old 38-40, but accurate loads are a ?. Chamber measurements are the most varied of the WCF rounds. I have had good luck with the 38-40, but some people I know have had to get custom dies and bullet moulds. I don't know chambers the Ruger's are using, but I would hope they are a good match for modern dies.

    If I were to get a ruger 38-40 i would look for one with a 40 S&W cylinder.

  3. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    I dunno.

    I reamed the .40 cylinder in my Vaquero so it would take 10mm.

    Winchester still loads .38-40; with a 180gr JSP bullet, they claim 1160fps from a rifle. I haven't chronographed any in my Vaquero, but subjectively it's a lot less zippy than factory 10mm ammo fired out of the same gun, especially Cor-Bon or Georgia Arms.
  4. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Below the Manson-Nixon line in Virginia...
    Caselife absolutely stinks, but I know two people who have gone well over 10mm velocities with a .38-40 and 180-gr. bullets in a Blackhawk using slow burning powders.

    The .38-40 has more case capacity, which helps keep pressures under control, I guess.
  5. BigG

    BigG Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Never Owned One, But...

    Elmer Keith wrote the 38/40 was the least useful of the SAA ca'tridges, for the reasons others have already stated. Weird bottleneck shape/ thin brass/ need to be full length resized = brass life virtually nil. Elmer continually raved about two calibers in the cowboy guns prior to the 44 Magnum: 44 Special and 45 Colt. I would go with one a those if I were in the market.

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