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38 S&W ammo in a Ruger .38/.357

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by willymc, Sep 6, 2013.

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  1. willymc

    willymc Member

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    I have an acquaintance who asked me to pick up some ammo for him, if I got a chance. He has a Ruger .38/.357. I don't know what model. He asked me to pick up some .38 special and if I couldn't find that, some .38 S&W ammo. I told him I didn't think the 38 S&W cartridge was compatible with his gun. He said the original paperwork for his gun said .38 special, .38 S&W, and .357 magnum. From what I've seen online, it may be possible but not recommended. What say you?
     
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    YOU are correct, usually 38 S&W ammo will not fit in a .38 Special. They are wider than the Specials with a bullet of .360" or .361" instead of .357"/.358".

    He must have read the information incorrectly. If not i would love to see a scan of that paperwork.
     
  3. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Not to mention that it would be a HELLUVA long jump from the mouth of the casing to the chamber throat. Highly likely that the bullet would be flying unsupported for some distance. Between that and being oversize I can't see much good coming from using these rounds in the gun.

    I'm also thinking that if the chambers are actually large enough to accept the slightly fatter S&W cases that it's going to be a very sloppy fit for the Specials or Magnums.
     
  4. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    38 S&W will not fit in his chamber, too big as previously mentioned.

    There is ammo all over the place (except the wally worlds here) so finding 38 or 357 should not be too hard
     
  5. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I did some reloading for an old Forehand and Wadsworth .38 S&W revolver and had proper .38 S&W cases. They are too fat for a .38 Spl/.357 chamber.

    On the other hand, I had a small batch of .38S&W cartridges factory loaded that evidently used short .38 Colt casings and would fit my Ruger. Accuracy was not bad.
     
  6. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    BTW .38 S&W Special (as it is sometimes called) was developed from the .38 Long Colt and not from the .38 S&W.
     
  7. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    I have tried this in several of my .38 specials and they chamber just fine (they are a tight fit, but go right in). All are s & w revolvers.
     
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The tolerances overlap slightly. I have a couple of .38 Special/.357 revolvers that will accept SOME .38 S&W ammo. I have one revolver which will take a Remington .38 S&W cartridge in three chambers but not in the other three!

    Jim
     
  9. willymc

    willymc Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I think I have enough info for him.
     
  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I think that just might be the missing piece of the puzzle. Your friend saw .38 S&W Special and focused on the .38 S&W part. (especially if it were written .38 S&W Spl)
     
  11. willymc

    willymc Member

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    I think that may well be the case. I emailed him and am waiting for a reply. Thanks again!
     
  12. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Smith and Wesson developed the 38 Special cartridge, so they always marked their version of the caliber on their guns. Not all the other manufacturers did the same.

    38SWSpecialCartridge.jpg

    Specifications wise, either 38 Special or 38 S&W Special, it is the same cartridge.
     
  13. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    But the .38 S&W is a different animal altogether...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_S&W
     
  14. PRM

    PRM Member

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    So right, they are a different animal (.38 S&W and .38 Special). But, the Remington factory loads are a little different from the norm, or maybe some of the newer S&Ws are. I shoot the .38 S&Ws in a 1914 Perfected Model. One sweet gun!!! The Remington .38 S&Ws will drop in my S&W Model 60-9 (.357) with no problems. However, they will not drop all the way in on my S&W Model 649 (lack about 1/10 of an inch).

    Although, I have no doubt, and see no reason why they would not shoot in the Model 60-9, at the cost difference between the two rounds, the .38 Special is more available and a no-brainer as far as cost. I also have a personal philosophy against shooting a round in a particular gun that it was not designed for.
     
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    As a rule of thumb, Smith & Wesson .38 Special chambers are more likely to accept .38 S&W cartridges, although in theory they shouldn't. Apparently the company's specifications allow larger "special" chambers. Colt on the other hand used .38 Colt New Police (same as .38 S&W) chamber diameters that were more on the tight side. I have yet to find a Colt .38 Special chamber that would take a .38 S&W cartridge, but I haven't looked too hard.

    I have no idea about Ruger, as I never tried to load one with .38 S&W rounds, and it's unlikely I ever will.

    Some who reload might be interested to know that Colt revolvers, chambered to use the .38 S&W/.38 Colt New Police cartridge can use .358 dia. bullets, rather then the usually called for .361 size. Colt used the same barrel and chamber throat diameters used in .38 Special revolvers.
     
  16. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    I have an e-copy of the Lyman #44 Manual that calls for bullets from .354"-.360" when loading .38 S&W...

    The current factory loadings from Rem and Win both have a sort of 'heeled cup' bullet that 'slugs up' when fired...I assume this is due to the varied bore dimensions used over the years...Pretty sure the last time I measured a Rem, it was right at .356" and dead soft...

    I load 158gr .358" TCBB over 2gr of Red Dot for my Albion Motors Enfield No2 Mk1 in .380/200, and it is very accurate...
     
  17. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I'm loading a 170gr and 200gr LRNFP bullet in .38 S&W brass with W231 for the same revolver with good results. Shooting a 38/200 round is fun from a revolver designed to shoot that round. (yes, yes I know the military round was changed to a 170gr FMJ bullet for war time use)
     
  18. barnetmill

    barnetmill Member

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    If a US factory ,38 S&W (Not a bristish 38/200 load) round will chamber in a sound .38 spl revolver of modern construction, likely all will be well. American factory loads are quite anemic in power due to the presence of many very old, questionable due to being poorly made breakopen revolvers. Your are looking at .360+" bullets versus .356" being sized down as they enter a .356 barrel. I would only do this in a life or death scenario when i needed to fire a . 38 spl gun in SD or die. In a .357 heavy frame revolver there is likely no concern at all with this practice other than maybe getting a stuck bullet in the barrel due to very old ammunition that has deteriorated.
     
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The smaller diameter bullets would match Colt's .354" to .356" barrel groove and .358" chamber throats. The larger would be correct for most other revolvers chambered in .38 S&W/.38 Colt New Police.

    Given the moderate powder charge loaded in .38 S&W ammunition it's unlikely that any safety issues would arise when they were fired in a .38 Special revolver (provided they would chamber of course), but short of a dire emergency the practice would seem to be less then smart. One cannot help but ask; "Why?"
     
  20. smkummer

    smkummer Member

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    If anyone wants to trade some 38 S&W brass (or 38 Colt NP) for almost any other caliber of pistol brass and even some rifle brass, I am interested. I went to a big gun show last weekend and didn't find any empties. I have a Colt bankers special that I am loading for.
     
  21. Twmaster

    Twmaster Member

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    Midway has new primed Remington 38 S&W brass on clearance right now. I just picked up a 100 count box to load up for my little 33-1.
     
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