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.38-9mm conversion

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by mljdeckard, Nov 30, 2012.

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  1. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    A friend of mine has a S&W Airweight, that is frankly, painful to shoot. I don't mind it, I cranked through as box of .38s as fast as I could mostly for fun, but it recoiled more than my 1911. My wife shot three rounds and she was done.

    I told him he can have the cylinder scalloped to load it with 9mms in moon clips, it would make it easier and cheaper to shoot, and still be an entirely effective defensive carry gun. If he does that conversion, can he ever shoot .38s in it again? Does anyone sell a converted cylinder than can be switched back and forth?
     
  2. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    How about loading some lighter .38 specials? 148 grain wadcutter/target loads, for example?
     
  3. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    I suggested that to him as well, we were also shooting some .38 Supers through it.
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    9mm will recoil just as hard if not harder then .38 Spl.

    Especially lighter .38 Spl loads like 148 WC or 125 Cowboy loads.

    In a 3/4 pound gun:
    .38 Spl 148 grain @ 750 FPS = 6.39 ft/lb free recoil - 23.43 FPS velocity of recoiling gun.
    9mm 115 grain @ 1,200 FPS = 10.55 ft/lb free recoil - 30.1 FPS velocity of recoiling gun.

    The 125 grain cowboy load would kick even less.

    BTW: You do realize the ..38 Super is loaded to higher pressure then the .357 Magnum or the 9mm don't you??
    About 2 1/2 times more pressure then the .38 Special.

    rc
     
  5. Carne Frio

    Carne Frio Member

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    Converting to 9mm is possible. It will, however
    increase the recoil. I have a few J frame Smiths.
    The model 940 kicks just like a 38spl+p, shot
    in a model 60.

    I don't know about swapping back and forth of
    cylinders.
     
  6. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    :uhoh:
     
  7. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Member

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    .38 Super? Are you sure they weren't .357 Magnum? I didn't know you could fire .38 Super in a .38/.357 revolver.
     
  8. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    That just isn't right.

    If softy 38 specials are too much, the only real cure may be a new gun. I mean you could light load some, but factory 38 specials are on the low end already.
     
  9. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Try .38 Colts (long or short), or 148 grain wadcutters.
     
  10. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Dunno about that... Factory 158s can be plenty painful in the airweights.
     
  11. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    Maybe try some new grips. I was firing 9mm +P+ in my very light Kahr CM9. Not unduly brutal, but very sharp.
     
  12. walnut1704

    walnut1704 Member

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    Maybe the Taurus .380 revolver...
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    There is a huge difference in felt recoil between any fixed-breech firearms such as the S&W Airweight the OP ask about.
    And any locked-breech semi-auto pistol, of any size or weight.

    The locked breech semi-auto soaks up most of the sharp stinging slap of a revolver, no matter how light it is.

    rc
     
  14. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    This is true. Lightweight .357 revolvers are pretty stout. I've just never thought .38Specials felt very bad, even the light ones.
     
  15. Kymasabe

    Kymasabe Member

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    Check out MagTech ammo, they make a .38 special short. It's available thru Sportsmans Guide. Item # 85435, only has 130 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy.
    Is a VERY light round, great for new shooters. I taught both my daughters to shoot with it when they were 10. Your wife will have NO problems shooting that light round. Very little recoil, not loud at all, subsonic, easy on the shooter. It's a blast to shoot. Buy a few boxes.
     
  16. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    9mm's in an Airweight are harsh. I have a 940 cylinder that fits in both my 642 and my 60-4, in the 60-4 it is a sweetheart, in the 642, which is just like the mythical 942 that S&W made 2 of, 9mm is harsh. Not brutal but the recoil is short and abrupt. Just reaming a 38 cylinder to 9mm will make it a problem shooting 38s in it. The base of a 9mm is large enough diameter that 38 specials will probably split 2/3s of the time.
     
  17. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    .38 Super will not function in an unmodified .38 Special revolver.
    A light .38 Special load will have less recoil than any 9mm Luger, .38 Super or .357 Magnum loading, out of a gun of the same size and weight.
    If the gun in question has to much recoil with cowboy or match grade . Special ammo, the solution is either a heavier gun, a smaller cartridge, such as .327 Magnum, .32 H&R or a heavier larger gun in .38 Special. Or both a smaller cartridge in a heavier gun.
     
  18. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    I have a 360J that has been converted/rechambered to 9mm by Pinnacle, 9mm do not recoil any less than .38spls. Not much more, IMO, but definitely not any less. Also, once the work is done, as Brian said, .38 cases will bulge and split and ignition can be iffy because the primers aren't centered since the chambers are now tapered.

    S&W made some J frames in .32 H&R mag, that might be an option since you can shoot .32 longs as well, not much recoil there. Don't rule out J frame .22s and .22 mags, either. They're not cannons but they're fun to shoot and are way better than rocks and sticks for self defense. My wife is quite recoil shy and she carries a 317 8 shot snubby and she loves it, it's lightweight, plenty accurate, and she actually enjoys shooting it.
     
  19. AFDavis11

    AFDavis11 Member

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    I'm guessing you meant .38 +P loads, and not 38 super. You should be able to put on a better grip and find a lighter kicking bullet easily.
     
  20. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    I have a Ruger Blackhawk convertible in .357.38/9mm, I have not put the 9mm cylinder in for several years, but I still remember the first time I ran 9mm through it. Wow, it was surprising. Probably right in the middle between .357Mag and .38Special in terms of felt recoil. (so yes comparing to a semiauto is a bit silly) but the Blackhawk is obviously not a light gun.
     
  21. bikemutt
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    bikemutt Member

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    Of all my ARs the 9mm has by far the most felt recoil, much more so than 5.56, .300 AAC and 6.8 SPC. And it's the heaviest upper of the bunch.

    9mm just feels like it releases all it's energy very quickly resulting in more of a snap. I guess I wouldn't imagine it mitigating felt recoil compared to .38 special on any comparable platform.
     
  22. AJumbo

    AJumbo Member

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    I'm unfamiliar with the S&W 9MM wheelguns, so educate me, please- can they safely chamber and fire .380 ammunition?

    My girlfriend has a Taurus 85 that she hates to shoot, so I had my dad load up some 110gr. powderpuff loads so she could practice without pain. She loads it with 125 gr. Gold Dots otherwise. I have convinced her that if she has to light those, they'll make her uncomfortable for a few minutes, but the bad guy will hurt for a lot longer.
     
  23. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    No, the case is too small for the chamber (same issue as trying to shoot .38spls from a rechambered gun) and they won't properly fit in the moonclips. The only .380 revolver option is the Taurus that came out last year.
     
  24. TarDevil

    TarDevil Member

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    I don't think he'll like that one any better. I think it's quite harsher than light .38 loads.
     
  25. PedalBiker

    PedalBiker Member

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    I bought some Rainer bullets and loaded them with Trail Boss for my wife. I think they're supposed to generate 600fps or so. Rainers are less likely to get stuck in the bore because they are much softer than hard jacketed bullets and the Trail Boss is a bulky powder that is more reliable in light loads than other powders that would leave the case quite empty.
     
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