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38 smith & wesson to 38 special

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by ccsniper, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. ccsniper

    ccsniper member

    I was at a pawn shop this morning and found an old Smith Victory model with british marks on it. I could not find a Caliber listed on it any where but most British victories were in 38 smith. The gun had been cut to 2 1/2" barrel and chromed. Needed some serious TLC but was only 150 bucks. The only thing keeping me from buying it is the cost of 38 smith and wesson. Is it possible to put a 38 special cylinder on the gun? Just a thought. The gun has no collecter value because it has been Bubba'd.
  2. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    Yes, if you can find one and know how to fit it.

    Or you could just get it, buy a lee loader for $40 (or die set if you already reload) and shoot cast bullets for pennies per round once you have a couple hundred pieces of brass. Starline brass is $18/100 or $83/500 through Midway.

    Get set up for casting and supply yourself with lead from the local tire store, you could be shooting that thing for little more than a .22.

    MMCSRET Well-Known Member

    A great many of those were rechambered to 38 Special back in the 50's and 60's, many not well done and it was inadvisable on any scale. Look closely, if it has been modified in the ways you say it may have been rechambered also. I'd pass, there are a lot of very good S&W 38 Special revolvers for sale around the country.
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    When they shortened the barrel they also cut of the lug where the cylinder's center pin is supposed to lock. Therefore the cylinder assembly is only locked at the back, rather then at the back and in front of the ejector rod - as it should be.

    At the time the revolver was made (1941 - 45) cylinders were individually fit to each revolver, and then as now were not considered to be interchangeable between guns.

    By the time you buy the necessary parts (plus labor) to make the revolver right you will likely have spent more then it would cost to buy a similar revolver in .38 Special. A cylinder and barrel, with associated parts, would likely come to at least $100 alone!
  5. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    The big issue is that the bore size for .38S&W is a few thou bigger than with .38Spl. So you may not achieve a good bore seal with the bullets. Jacketed in particular. So likely accuracy will be off. So even if you could find a cylinder and it did match the bore to chamber alignment for each hole I wouldn't go with such a plan.
  6. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    38 S&W = .360" bore
    38 S&W Special = .357" bore

    A lot of old Victories had their cylinders bored out to take longer 38 Specials. Due to the oversize bore, most of them had lousy accuracy and leading problems. But they went bang.

    Considering it's already a bubba-job belly gun, you could have a gunsmith cut the cylinders for 38 special. But is it worth the effort?
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I wouldn't touch it, whether re-chambered or not.

    An unmodified Victory Model is a very nice gun. :)
  8. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    run...don't walk
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    As MMCSRET says, a lot of the British surplus revolvers that were mutilated by sawing off the barrel and nickel or bumper chrome plated were also reamed out to accept .38 Specials. You could try and see what fit.

    I think the whole thing is a Bad Idea. My only use for one of those things would be if I inherited it from Uncle Ferd who bought it about 1955. It would be a memento, not expecting great shooting.
  10. VancMike

    VancMike Well-Known Member

    As EP notes above, the biggest impediment to fitting a 38 Spl cylinder to a 38 S&W is the difference in caliber: 38 Special shoots bullets of .357" diameter; the 38 S&W shoots bullets of .361". Essentially, that means the smaller-diameter 38 Special bullets sort of rattle down the 38 S&W barrel, with consequent inaccuracy.

    A friend of mine tried shooting 38 Spl cartridges in a Victory S&W: besides keyholes and shotgun-pattern groups, he ended up with "reverse bottle-neck" brass.

    That's why all those 38 S&W revolver conversions won't shoot worth spit.

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