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.38 in Iver Johnson

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

  1. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    But in the day, there WAS .38 Colt Special ammunition, with the deadly flat pointed bullet, worth a whopping 5% on the Hatcher Stopping Power scale.

    There was a certain segment of the population that routinely referred to .38 S&W as ".38 Regular" to distinguish it from .38 Special.

    Trivia: There was also .32 and .380 SAP ammunition. Same as .32 and .380 ACP but marketed by and for Savage.
     
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  2. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    The 38 Special was developed from the 38 Long Colt-longer case, more powder-after the latter was found wanting in the Moro Rebellion. IIRC Colt marketed the 38 S&W as the 38 Colt New Police with a flat nosed bullet.
     
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  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Left to right in this photo the cartridges are 32-20, 38 Long Colt, 38 Long Colt, 38 Special, and 38-40.

    pnqJnGhGj.jpg




    Left to right in this photo the cartridges are 38 S&W, 38 Long Colt, 38 Special, and 357 Magnum.

    poeSMct6j.jpg




    According to Roy Jinks in his book History of Smith and Wesson, the 38 Military and Police 1st Model was originally designed to fire the .38 United States Service Cartridge (38 Long Colt). Daniel Wesson had a discussion with his son Joseph about the 38 Long Colt's lack of power. Daniel suggested lengthening the cartridge so the powder charge could be increased from 18 grains of Black Powder to 21 1/2 grains of Black Powder. The new cartridge was called 38 S&W Special. Yes, the 38 Special was originally loaded with Black Powder. When produced the new revolver could fire either the shorter 38 Long Colt cartridge or the new 38 Special cartridge.




    This is a scan of a reprint of a page from the 1900 Smith and Wesson catalog, showing the cartridges the new revolver was chambered for. Either 38 Special or 32-20 (32 Winchester, aka 38 Winchester Center Fire, aka 38 WCF). Notice the powder charges and penetration for each cartridge.

    pnv9Wcsuj.jpg
     
  4. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    That flat spot in the barrel concerns me. I am leery of shooting it.
     
  5. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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    I lived across the Bridgeport Remington plant when I was very young. Cool place
     
  6. velocette

    velocette Member

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    And now to add confusion to the mess, I have a Colt Police Positive revolver, made in 1918 marked on the barrel "Colt Police Positive .38"
    The barrel slugs at 0.355" out to out NOT groove diameter. End of the cylinder also measures 0.355"
    In the Firearms Research section of this site I have a discussion on .38 S&W bullet sizes that may be interesting.
    ( https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/38-s-w-colt-new-police-information-needed.894510/#post-12061932 )
     
    Gordon likes this.
  7. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Sounds like it might be a .38 Long Colt (Short Colt was a heeled bullet of .375" diameter in 1918). For what it's worth, the .38 Short Colt case is the parent to the .38 Long Colt and .38 Special but both of them were designed as inside lubricated bullets with a nominal .357" diameter.
     
  8. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Colt made Colt Police Positives both in 38 S&W and 38 Special. Have you cast the cylinder and measured the depth of the chambers? Will it chamber a 38 Special? The cylinder and frame will be slightly longer on the 38 Special version (32-20 also) but I do not have those dimensions handy.
     
  9. velocette

    velocette Member

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    Geodude & mcb,
    The revolver is definitely S&W .38. The .38 S&W ammo I have just barely chambers in the short cylinder. .358" .38 spl bullets will not pass through the end of the cylinder and .38 spl brass goes in only about 3/4" Colt would never mark their revolvers with an S&W caliber even if it was the same. And oh do I wish it was in .32/20.
     
  10. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    The cylinder of a Colt Police Positive Special will be about 1.570 in length. I have a couple in hand right now. Cylinder lengths can vary a few thousandths, but not much more than that.

    The way the caliber was called out on the gun varied over time. Here are a couple.

    pnPJyu9Sj.jpg


    pmYnLUjIj.jpg




    This one is a 32-20 Police Positive Special

    pmmJ3NB6j.jpg




    I just slugged one of my Police Positive Specials. I was a bit surprised that the groove diameter is kind of tight for 38 Special, about .355.

    I would have no problem firing modern 38 Special ammo with .357 bullets through them, as long as they are in good shape.
     
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  11. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    @DriftwoodJohnson said "Yes, the 38 Special was originally loaded with Black Powder. When produced the new revolver could fire either the shorter 38 Long Colt cartridge or the new 38 Special cartridge."

    Back in the '80's a new recruit insisted he wanted to train with his police officer grandfather's old .38Spl. revolver. Don't recall if it was a Colt or S&W.

    A cylinder wall blew out and the top strap curled up from a +P round, thankfully, no one was hurt.
     
  12. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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    I wish I knew how to load bp rounds! I shoot it once and it reminded me of 4th of July
     
  13. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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  14. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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  15. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Read the whole post. It is all there.

    I only keep Schuetzen FFg around these days. I have used other powders in the past, but Schuetzen burns a little bit cleaner and costs about the same as Goex, so I stopped using Goex years ago.

    I used to use FFFg in pistol rounds and FFg in 12 gauge shotgun. These days its easier to just keep one granulation around, so use FFg in everything. 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, 44 Russian, 38-40, and 45-70.

    I have never loaded 38 Special with Black Powder but a friend of mine does, and I suspect he uses Schuetzen FFg also, because we buy our powder together.

    It's all there. How much to compress the powder, how to figure out how much, how to prepare a revolver for Black Powder, everything.
     
  17. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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    thanks again!
     
  18. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    HEY! I started this thread. How about MY question about the flat spot on the barrel? :p
     
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  19. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

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    I just checked it out and it sure looks like it took a good hard drop. If you use calipers and measure across perpendicular to the dent and then measure from the dent to the opposite point on the barrel it will tell you how much it got squished but to the naked eye it’s hard to tell if it will affect anything. Obviously your bullet being squeezed on the way out isn’t going to help accuracy.

    As for your front sight, it could either be listing one direction from a hard fall, or it could have been set that way intentionally to match point of impact. It’s hard to say without firing the gun to see where the shots fall relative to where those sights are currently pointing.

    If you decide your muzzle is too squished for your liking, it’s not hard to DIY a barrel chop if you’re handy with a hand saw and files/sandpaper. Might also want to have something on hand to chamfer or recess the muzzle face a bit. I can tell you from experience the steel these barrels are made from is very soft and easy to work with.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    Its really hard to see the flat spot on your barrel. If it were mine and I was concerned about a spot on the muzzle I would just use my RCBS case mouth reaming tool and recut the crown a little. I have used this tool to hand cut several crowns and its not hard to do. Since you have damage in that area I would guess the front sight got bent at the same time. Just use lineman pliers and bend it back straight.

    What does the inside of the bore look like? Any pitting? Its common on those old guns like that.
     
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  21. Grayrock

    Grayrock Member

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    No pitting in the bore. It actually looks alright. I was tempted to just bend the sight, but then I thought maybe it was intentionally canted for zeroing. However, I am uncertain of the safety of shooting it. I will mic it. How much deviation is "too much"?
     
  22. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Member

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    I can’t see how a little dent at the muzzle would lead to an over pressure situation. If the latch for the barrel/cylinder locks up tight and it times okay I’d just shoot it and see what happens. Not that this is the right approach, but I’d do it. Perhaps with black powder loads?
     
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  23. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

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    Maybe there is someone who’s enough of an expert to say for sure, but I feel confident I’m not that person. Pressure spikes are a big problem when you’re talking about a break open gun with inherently less strong of a frame, and especially one that is nearly or maybe a little more than 100 years old. Maybe a .010 constriction would be fine and not even effect accuracy. Maybe .003 will stretch the latch. I wish I could say for sure.
     
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Sorry, but I just can't tell from your photo how much of a 'flat spot' there is at the muzzle. Suggest measuring as Revolving Garbage posted.

    Regarding the bent front sight, it is hardly enough to matter. Be very careful trying to straighten it. That front sight is forged in place on the barrel. If you try to bend it back it might just snap off.

    Been there, done that.
     
  25. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

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    Driftwood,

    I never thought I would see the day I would say something like this but I think what you said about the front sight is not exactly true. At least on every Iver Johnson I’ve ever examined closely, the front sight is actually a separate half moon shaped piece with a little bit of a key or flange on the bottom, and is pressed and probably soldered into place generally. I’ve never seen a front sight that was actually integral to the barrel on this type of Iver Johnson.

    That said, bending on it will dislodge it from its staking/solder without much effort so if you choose to attempt to bend it from where it is, use caution.
     
    GeoDudeFlorida likes this.
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