Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

.38 Specials will damage .357 cylinders?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Bart Noir, May 30, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Messages:
    887
    Location:
    Mossy part of Washington
    From John Farnam: http://www.defense-training.com/quips/15May06.html

    Text is (more or less):

    "15May06
    On 357Mg revolvers, from a student:

    "John; I have been shooting a Colt Python 357Mg revolver I recently picked up, used, but in nice condition. Unfortunately, the extractor rod cannot push spent casings out without a good deal of pounding. Casings (Winchester white-box 357Mg) keep sticking in chambers. I love the pistol, but lack the confidence that I will be able to fire more than six rounds!
    Do you know what is causing this dilemma?"

    My Reply:

    The problem with your Python is probably the same one endemic to all 357Mg revolvers which have had a lot of 38Spl rounds fired through them.

    A revolver chambered for the 357 Magnum cartridge will also chamber and fire the shorter 38 Special cartridge. The same is true for 44 Magnum and 44 Special cartridges. This is claimed by many to be a great advantage of the 357 Magnum revolver since 38 Special ammunition is less expensive than 357 Magnum ammunition. However, there are some problems with this practice. Hot gases associated with bullet launch eventually cause spalling on the walls of the chamber. The chamber will gradually be ringed with tiny spall marks where the bullet comes off the 38 Special case. When the longer 357 Magnums are then fired in the same chambers, the brass will expand into the spall ring, making rapid case extraction difficult and eventually impossible, as you noted. What all this means is that shooting a lot of 38 Specials in a 357 Magnum revolver will eventually ruin the weapon for 357 Magnum rounds. As a solution to the problem you can do one of two things:

    (1) Simply dedicate the weapon to 38 Special and do not bother with 357 Magnum rounds at all. (2) Shoot only 357 Magnum rounds in it, both for practice and for duty, forsaking 38Spl ammunition altogether. This solution only applies, of course, to new guns

    With your revolver as it is, solution (1) will make the most sense.
    /John "

    So, fellow wheelgunners, do you agree with Farnam?

    Bart Noir
     
  2. Majic

    Majic Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2003
    Messages:
    5,370
    Location:
    Virginia
    He is as full of it as a Christmas turkey. If that was the case then why does the throats stay smooth? Why isn't the front of the cylinders scored? Why isn't the forcing cones eroded? The hot gases just don't hit the chamber. Since he says this is a problem with the .38 spl then shouldn't it be a greater problem with the hotter magnums?
    What could happen is if the chambers are not cleaned then moisture can accumulate under the fouling in the chamber which causes the metal to erode. When the chambers are finally cleaned you can find that it is pitted.
     
  3. TX1911fan

    TX1911fan Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Messages:
    2,013
    I noticed this problem in my J frame, so I decided to shoot only 38 special in the J frame, and bought a GP 100 for .357.
     
  4. Freddymac

    Freddymac Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    285
    I have a 6" Python...

    I know what you mean about the cases sticking. If you look in the cylinders, there will probably be a little ring. Clean the cylinders really well and your problem will go away. What happens is that repeated firing of 38’s in a 357, especially one a tight as a python, will build up this rind of powder residue, copper, lead or what have you, and when the case is fired and expands a little, the cartridges wedge them selves in the cylinder. This happens with 38’s because their case is shorter than the case of a 357, thus the bullet once fired is in the cylinder longer. Sounds far fetched, I know, but I have heard this from multiple sources, and it seems to work.
     
  5. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Messages:
    768
    Location:
    IL
    I know that the top straps of revolvers get flame cut do to the hot gases coming out the cylinder to forcing cone gap. However, have yet to see it in the cylinder. Keep in mind that the flame cutting is due to repetitive shooting and the gas being concentrated in one area. The heat will build up and then some metal lost will take place. However, the erosion only goes so far and then stops. This loss stoppage, maybe due to the distance and the fact that the temper has changed in the metal to make it harder. Much like a surface hardening or annealing process.

    If you could repetitively shoot all 6 rounds in the same chamber without cooling, you would see the erosion. I have .357's that I shoot .38's in and have not seen it. I do agree that the dirt/soot will gum up and cause a hard install on a 357. I have had no problem fixing it by cleaning the gun. Keep the gun clean and don't shoot Plus Plus loads and the gun and you will be happy...

    Disclaimer.... "Not a gunsmith; nor, do I play one on TV":rolleyes:
     
  6. Buzz

    Buzz Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    NW Georgia
    After more than 10k rounds of .38 Special though my GP100, I am still waiting for it to not feed .357 Magnum ammo properly...

    I don't even know at this point how many rounds have gone down the pipe of that gun. I stopped counting around 10k.

    :D
     
  7. bakert

    bakert Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,668
    I have two .357s, a model 66 Taurus and a model 66 S&W. They've each had many thousands of .38 Sp rds through them and the cylinders are fine. If firing both during a range session, a brush through the chambers a few times before firing the .357s gets the soot and any powder granules out that possibly could cause the .357 rd to hang a bit. Clean them with solvent after shooting like you normally would. I read one time that when Jeff Cooper was editor of one of the gun mags he called people that fussed about this, "nitpickers"!!:p
     
  8. georgeduz

    georgeduz Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    287
    Location:
    peoples republic of nj
  9. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    Messages:
    936
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Hooey. Clean the chambers properly and it's no problem.
     
  10. Ron James

    Ron James Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    2,336
    Location:
    Arizona
    I'm now down to one .357, a very old and nice Model 19. I've fire both .38 Special and .357 thur it with out cleaning and have never had a problem. Perhaps if you fired several hunred rounds of .38 Special with out cleaning, .357 might be tight chambering, but as was stated, clean the chambers and problem gos a way
     
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    25,086
    Location:
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    I shoot mostly .38 wadcutters in my .357s. I think they're loaded to probably 12-15K CUP or something. How is that going to cause any damage in the cylinder when a .357 magnum doesn't???? Pure horse pucky. :D Yeah, i've heard about fouling causing sticky cases in .357, but I clean my guns after every range session. I have yet to see this happen in one of my revolvers.

    The flame cutting of the top strap is with .357 ammo, high pressure stuff. I think that's what pretty much killed the .357 Maximum. It was really bad about the flame cutting, more pressure, more gasses. You won't find a flame cutting problem in any .38 loaded to standard or +P levels, not enough pressure to cause such. And, even at .357 Maximum pressures, I've never heard of a chamber errosion problem.
     
  12. pete f

    pete f Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    1,793
    go buy a good stainless chamber brush. soak the cylinder in solvent for a half hour then scrub, repeat till the .357 rounds drop right in)

    IF this were true, you would only get difficulty extracting fire rounds, not unfired.

    I have a model 13 that has shot nearly 21K rounds, there is no ring in the chambers.
     
  13. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    11,109
    I've always found that if you clean the gun, it will reliably eject both types of ammo. Now, if you don't clean it, yes, the longer magnums will stick. But I have yet to note hard ejections with magnums if you do what you're supposed to be doing anyway, which is clean the darned chambers.

    Mike
     
  14. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Messages:
    887
    Location:
    Mossy part of Washington
    A lively thread, so far.

    Coronach, what does that Latin translate into?

    Bart Noir
     
  15. ARTiger

    ARTiger Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    803
    Bull feces. I've fired thousands of .38 special rounds through .357 magnum guns by at least 6 different manufacturers. Just doesn't happen unless you simply don't clean your cylinder after shooting a ton of .38's then start shooting .357's. Even then, after a few cylinders of .357 have been fired, any sticking usually self corrects in my experience.
     
  16. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    11,109
    Very roughly, "peace through superior firepower." Since "firepower" has no direct equivalent in latin, it actually states "peace through better arms." I think. I did not do the translation.

    Mike ;)
     
  17. Stainz

    Stainz Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Messages:
    3,117
    Location:
    Pinson, AL
    The shorter case in a longer chamber can be a 'real' problem, particularly with the higher velocity round employing very fast powder. My first 'example' was my 7.5" .454 SRH... repeated .45 Colt use was fine - just brush with a proper sized bronze chamber brush, slightly larger OD and length than a bore brush, wetted with Hoppes #9, etc, and let some time elapse before you rewet and brush again... then swipe clean. Always allow time for any solvent to work. I often used a drill motor to power said bronze brush, running it in and out of the chamber... with proper respect for the Hoppes, etc that flies about. I believe that the mop I coated with Flitz and polished those SRH chambers with early in it's life helped future cleanings.

    Actually, this is the scenario that cost me my treasured 629MG earlier this year. I had shot 200-250 .44 Russians & Specials, all 240gr LSWC's, in a day at the range. I just needed to 'ping' the steel plate at 100yd another time or two. I loaded, with some difficulty, a cylinderfull of 300gr LSWC .44 Magnums, with 6.2gr of fast Titegroup powder. I had shot hundreds of these rounds - from the round non-f.g. Ahrends-gripped 629MG. They made ~880fps - pretty decent big bullet round. I hit the plate with the third and fourth round. The fifth round burst the cylinder and topstrap. S&W tested the remnants - the metal was fine. It had burst on that round, they thought, by a pressure spike... as if by an obstruction. My contention, which they agreed with, was that the crimp wouldn't open enough to easily - and quickly - release the large bullet. The build-up of lead ahead of the mouth step literally hides said step in the errant chamber's remnants. It is present in the other chambers to a lessor extent.

    Yes, I shoot only my reloads. I tried a double charge... the long bullet used wouldn't seat all of the way with anything over 12.0gr of Titegroup... a 12.4gr double load was impossible. I am convinced that the buildup was the cause... I am totally responsible... and I knew better! It just makes good sense... clean the chambers before using the longer cased rounds. A better scenario, shoot the longer cased rounds first during a day at the range - then the short cased ones. Yeah, I know... typical diatribe from a retired teacher... do as I say, not as I do... or did!

    Stainz
     
  18. molonlabe

    molonlabe Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    Messages:
    873
    Location:
    Mountaineer country WV
    Dido with my Dan Wesson. (full as a christmas turkey....I like that)
     
  19. BigG

    BigG Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    7,081
    Location:
    Dixieland
    38 target loads are notoriously dirty. Mr. Dirt is not your friend. All it needs is a good cleaning with a bronze brush and it will be good to go.
     
  20. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2005
    Messages:
    1,231
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I've seen this. I traded for a filthy Smith and Wesson Model 27 that had seen nothing but .38 Special ammo. The previous owner admitted that he was (very) lax about cleaning it but oiled the outside after every time he used it. It was never holstered and the outside looked very nice.

    The inside was a different story. There was a nasty ring of crud inside each chamber that I was (finally) able to brush out. However the chambers all had a ring of pitting that made ejection of the magnum rounds near-impossible.

    Fortunately, I was able to untrade it.
     
  21. HankB

    HankB Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    5,226
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Farnham is wrong on this one.

    The chambers may be dirty (already addressed) or pitted due to corrosion, a product of neglect, but low pressure .38 Specials are not going to damage a .357 revolver unless SO many are fired the revolver is completely worn out anyway.

    Also, the difference in case length is just over 1/8" . . . just how much would the THINNEST part of the LAST 1/8" of a .357 case have to expand in order to need "a good deal of pounding" to extract?

    One more thought . . . the Python was purchased used. It's possible that somewhere along the line, an overly courageous handloader fired loads that were a little bit TOO hot, and bulged the chambers a bit. This would cause future extractions problems, and might be a reason the revolver was sold.
     
  22. riverdog

    riverdog Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,826
    I had the same problem with a used S&W Mod 28. I didn't shoot any .38 Spl through the revolver, only .357 Mag 158 gr at 1150. But the cases from these relatively mild rounds soldered themselves to the chamber wall and I had to wait for the cylinder to cool before extracting. Under close examination I could see a lead buildup in a couple cylinders. I cleaned the chambers thoroughly with a Kroil and a bore brush. That fixed it.
     
  23. Dr_2_B

    Dr_2_B Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    midwest
    I think I'll still use my .38's in mine.
     
  24. bigger jon

    bigger jon Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2006
    Messages:
    152
    Location:
    pinon hills ca
    ????????????

    i have seen the cylinders that look like they were not finished, (with rings cut into the side walls? this will cause a full house mag to stick. but ive only seen that a couple times and both times it was a ruger blackhawk, next time you clean it look for them? also is your ejector rod straight? if its bent that can also be a reason for the gun not wanting to let them go, good luck and if you never figger it out ill take it cheep,ha ha, big,
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    18,513
    Location:
    Deep in the Ozarks
    Spalling is caused by shock waves passing through the metal and is associated with detonations, not with propellents.

    To quote someone else, "He's full of it."
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page