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.38 in Iver Johnson

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Grayrock, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    Buddy asked me to look for ammo for an Iver Johnson revolver in .38. With a little research I see there is .38 S&W ammo and .38 S&W "SHORT" ammo. Are these the same? If not, in what were the I-J revolvers chambered? And what is the difference between the 2?
     
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    There is no such thing as .38 S&W Short because there is no .38 S&W Long.
    .38 S&W is the only correct term.
     
  3. Monac

    Monac Member

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    What Jim Watson said. 19th century ammunition nomenclature is a minefield. (38 S&W was put on the market in the 1870's.) And we are living with the results of 100+ years of mistakes and confusion. Fortunately, places like this website can be a quick way to get things straight.

    For example, in the United States, we almost never say ".38 inch" in describing 38 S&W. We would call it "38 caliber". I have no idea how that got started, but apparently at some time caliber had come to mean 1/100 of an inch in the context of ammunition. It is still in general use today, although people have forgotten it is a unit of measurement (maybe). But the true bullet diameter of almost every so called 38 caliber cartridge is actually a trifle under .36 inch. That is why 357 Magnum, which does not fit the caliber system, is called that - it is named after its true bullet diameter. 38 S&W, by the way, is usually said to have a true bullet diameter of .359 inch, but when you are talking about 1/1000 of an inch, things can easily vary.

    I started to explain why some people think there is such a thing as "38 S&W Short", but then I realized that would take forever and cause more confusion than it cleared up. Let's just say, as Jim Watson did, that there is no such thing and never has been.

    PS - in a post below, mcb says "38 S&W proper bullet diameter is actual .361 by most sources." Wikipedia agrees with him ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_S%26W ). It is amazing to me how many things I learned wrong, or misremember now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Back when a lot of those top breaks were still in use, it was somewhat common for customers to ask for ".38 Regular" ammunition as opposed to .38 Special. And the storekeeper would sell you five or six to load the gun with, or ten or a dozen to have a reload if you were flush.

    It is not that there is no system of caliber nomenclature, it is that there are several and you just have to learn which you are looking at. Assuming the advertising agency hasn't messed with the numbers.
     
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  5. mcb

    mcb Member

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    38 S&W proper bullet diameter is actual .361 by most sources.

    38 S&W Short is akin to 45 Long Colt. There was never a 38 S&W Long and there was never a 45 Short Colt. (there was a 38 Short Colt and Long Colt).

    38S&W has acquired a plethora of names over the years. some more popular than others. 38 S&W Short, 9x20mmR, 38/200, .380 revolver, 38 Colt New Police, and probably a few other I have forgotten. Some of these name referred to specific loading but all used the same case.

    Cartridge naming is all over the place as far as how the number relates and how accurately it relates to an actual cartridge dimension. Sometime it is the bore diameter, sometime the land diameter, sometimes some other dimension, sometime no real dimension on the cartridge at all (ie 327 Federal Magnum). In the end it is just a name.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  6. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    ..38 S&W In Iver Johnson. I actually fired it ONCE. Webley .38 S&W. War Finish, built like the proverbial tank. C&R's.jpg IMG_1489.JPG
     
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  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Oh, yeah, you get companies adding new product.
    Magtech .38 Special Short.
    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1657511908/

    Unfortunately, I don't find anything to say case length vs .38 Short or Long Colt.
    Maybe they didn't want to get caught up in the historical stuff with outside lubricated heel bullets vs inside lubed.
     
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  8. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Thanks for pointing this new product out, Jim Watson. It is a startling thing for any ammo maker to produce. It sounds like a joke that someone took seriously, like "Get me a left handed screwdriver". This is going to cause so much confusion, and so many convoluted explanations, if it is produced in significant quantity. But now every ammo collector needs one round, or one box.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  9. jar

    jar Member

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    Fortunately things are much simpler and clearer when it comes to 9mm.

    A 9mm is a 9mm unless it it 9mm Corto or 9mm Kruz or 9mm Makarov or 9mm Browning or 9mm Browning Largo or ...
     
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  10. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    That's pretty funny, the .38 Spl. was a longer .38 so it could theoretically be called the .38 longer.

    So now the new designation of that cartridge could be the .38 longer short.
     
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  11. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Just to put it succinctly, 38 S&W is a different cartridge than the 38 Special and the two are not compatible. Often .38 Special is named .38 S&W Special contributing to the confusion.

    .38 S&W was an early black powder cartridge that made it through the smokeless transition but there were no follow on cartridges that were based on the .38 S&W cartridge. The .38 S&W Special was a new/later (also black powder) cartridge that had case and projectile dimensions new and different than the old .38 S&W Cartridge. The .38 S&W Special was the parent of the .357 Magnum cartridge that followed and the designers of the .357 Magnum made the .38 Special case 1/4" longer so it would not fit into a firearm designed to fire .38 special.

    This is common knowledge for people here and probably the OP (at least now). But so many people have this question and often Google it. So I thought I would put it in very basic terms.

    .38 S&W and .38 S&W Special are different cartridges and are not interchangeable or compatible. A firearm designed for one should not be fired with ammunition designed for the other. Even if the cartridge appears to fit. Some may argue it can be done, but if we follow the manufacturers instructions and only fire ammunition designed for the firearm, they should never be interchanged.
     
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  12. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    If you friends gun breaks open at the top, it is chambered for .38S&W as there were no top-break IJ .38 Specials.

    If it has a solid frame it could be either, we would need to see pics of the gun and any markings to tell for certain.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
  13. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Like the 9mmR Federal, IMHO this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    My favorite other name for .38S&W is the Indian police cartridge based on the British service cartridge based on the American commercial cartridge - .380/200 Rimmed.

    To the best of my knowledge, there was never a .380/200 Rimless...
     
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  14. Monac

    Monac Member

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    It depends how hot they loaded it, IMO. On the other hand, really mild loads that cause stuck bullets in long-barreled 38 Special revolvers will be trouble too.

    I like that "Rimmed" name too. I think Ruger marked this on some Service Sixes they made for India. Those must be the most over-built 38 S&W revolvers ever!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2021
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  15. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I'd love to have one, though. Currently I have a Webley Mk.VI, S&W "Victory", Colt Royal Hong Kong Police Positive, a US Revolver (I-J subsidiary) break top, and an I-J Cadet. For a good close quarters, subsonic thumper against small to medium hostile beasties and all manner of targets at 25 yards or under, the .38S&W is a really good round. Naysayers need not bother responding. ;)
     
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  16. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Rimmed? I thought the veddy veddy propah term was "flanged."
     
  17. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Oh, yes, it was a very good round in a variety of ways. That is why, as I understand it, the 38 Special target wadcutter load was designed to duplicate its ballistics. I hope I am right about that; the number of things I have "known" for decades that I am now finding out are wrong is remarkable.
     
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  18. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    Wow- so much good and interesting info here. I appreciate all you guys.
     
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  19. tark

    tark Member

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    or a 9mm Steyr or a 9mm Bayard or a 9X21 or a 9X23 or a 9X25 Mauser... That latter was the best of all the 9mm rounds. 128gr @ 1362.. in a C-96.., in 1904. And BTW, anyone who thinks a C-96 can't handle tokarev ammo, the 9X25 Mauser was loaded to 37,700 PSI.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2021
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  20. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    Gun in hand now. It's late. I work early. Will try to put up some pictures tomorrow
     
  21. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    What a great statement!! So true.

    The 38 S&W round was developed in 1876 for the S&W 38 Single Action Top Break revolver, often known as the Baby Russian.

    pm2PF3Y1j.jpg




    38 Special was developed in 1899 for their 38 Military and Police 1st Model, also known as the Model of 1899 Army Navy Revolver. Yes, I know Cartridges of the World says 1902, that is incorrect.

    pndLBGSEj.jpg




    Since Smith and Wesson developed the 38 Special Cartridge, they have always marked their 38 Special revolvers 38 S&W Special. It is the same cartridge as the garden variety 38 Special, S&W just wants to make sure everybody knows who invented the cartridge.

    pm3gzvlwj.jpg




    The same with 44 Special.

    pn9ybqyYj.jpg




    On the left in this photo is a 38 S&W cartridge, on the right is a 38 Special. Yes, nominal bullet diameter for 38 S&W is .360, as opposed to .357 for 38 Special, but I have had success loading 38 S&W with .359 diameter bullets.

    pmCrmrL2j.jpg




    A couple of old boxes of 38 S&W.

    po0rzuOcj.jpg




    Yes, the official name is 38 S&W, but I have also seen them labeled 38 S&W Short. Again, it is the same cartridge.

    pmIo0YBXj.jpg




    An old Iver Johnson Hammerless, chambered for 38 & W.

    pm9kfXgWj.jpg
     
  22. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    .38 S&W was a common chambering for Iver Johnson revolvers.
    Personally, I have never seen .38 S&W advertised or boxed as anything other than .38 S&W.
    That doesn't mean that people haven't called .38 S&W ".38 S&W Short" because some people do call .38 Special ".38 S&W Special".

    The MagTech so-called .38 Special Short looks to me like .38 Short Colt, which is compatible with .38 Long Colt and .38 Special chambers.
    I wish Mag Tech had not called that ".38 Special Short" because there is enough confusion already.
    .38 Short Colt and .38 S&W look similar, but .38 S&W has a slightly thicker case body, case rim and bullet diameter.
    I briefly reloaded for an old .38 S&W black powder revolver and bought proper .38 S&W brass; the .38 S&W brass was definitely too wide to fit neither of my .38 Special revolvers nor my .357 magnum revolver.
     
  23. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Magtech loads both 38 Short Colt (the modern version using a non-heeled-in bullet that they call 38 Special Short for some reason) and they also load 38 S&W.
     
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  24. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    No markings anywhere on the revolver as to caliber. Barrel diameter means it is a .38. Some finish left. Everything seems to function. Concerned about a small flat spot on the muzzle. Front sight bent. Intentionally? Or did someone drop the gun? IMG_20210908_203836393.jpg IMG_20210908_203624652.jpg IMG_20210908_205609363.jpg IMG_20210908_204109830.jpg
     
  25. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Maybe you did not notice this:

    pocEWHg9j.jpg




    Yes, the rounds are 38 S&W, they fit just fine into a couple of my 38 S&W revolvers. Fiocchi just decided to call them 38 S&W SHORT.




    Just like this. The official name of the cartridge is 45 Colt. Fiocchi decided to label them 45 Long Colt.

    pmeNSHELj.jpg




    Regarding 38 Special and 38 S&W Special, I already explained that. Smith and Wesson invented the cartridge, so they always mark their revolvers 38 S&W Special.

    pm5SxwHPj.jpg




    Colt on the other hand, did not want to give any credit to S&W, so their barrels were simply marked 38 Special.

    po04aWyCj.jpg
     
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