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.38S&W in .38Spc revolver

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Bubba613, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    I had always thought that .38S&W was not compatible with .38Spc, being different bullet sizes.
    A recent article in America's First Freedom mentioned that you could shoot the S&W out of a Spc.
    In my shop I tried putting the S&W into Spc revolvers. They fit just fine in the new Smith 442 but would not go into a Taurus .357. (Note, I did not actually shoot them).
    What's going on here? Is Smith oversizing the chambers of the Spc, or is Remington undersizing the bullet width of their S&W? Or is there something else I've missed here?
     
  2. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

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    Something not right there. They shouldn't fit in a 38 special or 357 magnum cylinder. Just before I typed this, I tried a 38 S&W in about a dozen rugers. No go. And they shouldn't, they have different case diameters.
     
  3. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    There are a few 38 specials that will chamber a 38 S&W. I have 2 that will and 4 that won't. It doesn't hurt any thing to shoot them sort of like 38 Special in 357. We are talking LOW pressure here.
     
  4. mgregg85

    mgregg85 Member

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    Yeah you can shoot the S&W out of the special but why? The price difference alone should discourage anyone.
     
  5. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    If the cylinder is bored to the max tolerances, yes the 38 S&W will fit and fire, if the revolver is bored out to minimum tolerances then the the 38 S&W will not fit unless you use a hammer, not recommended. As a rule the .38 S&W is not considered compatible with 38 Special revolver. I have one revolver that the 38 S&W will fit, none of the others will accept it.:)
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Same here, but I shoot it in my two .38 S&W's, not my Specials.
     
  7. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    The .38 S&W has a slightly tapered case ranging from .3855" at the mouth to .3865" just in front of the rim. The .38 spl and .357 magnum case is straight walled with a diameter of .3790". There is a .0065" to .0075" greater diameter of the .38 S&W case. Depending upon the tolerances of the gun manufacturers cylinder bore, the S&W may or may not fit into a Special revolver.
     
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Originally the .38 Special was a lengthened .38 Long Colt, which at the time (1899) was the U.S. Military service cartridge. Therefor you should be able to chamber .38 Short Colt, and .38 Long Colt in a .38 Special ( and for that matter, .357 Magnum) chamber.

    The .38 S&W dates back to 1876, and was chambered in Smith & Wesson's first .38 top-break revolver. It is larger in diameter then the .38 rounds mentioned above, and should not fit in a .38 Long Colt or .38 Special chamber. Obviously "should not" isn't always true.

    There are some .38-200 Military & Police/Victory models floating around that were originally chambered in .38 S&W. Some of them have been rechambered to .38 Special. If you happen on one it's a good thing to avoid.
     
  9. hoptob

    hoptob Member

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    Old Fuff,

    Thought .38-200 was British designation of .38 S&W (due to 200 gr. bullet they originally used in Webley Mk III). Is there a difference between the two calibers?

    Mike
     
  10. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    If 38S&W fits in your 38spl/357mag revolver, then how loose is the 38/357 case? 38S&W is larger diameter than 38spl/357mag. I have a dozen 38/357's and 38S&W does not fit any of them. I do have two Smiths in 38S&W and and tried an assortment of ammo.

    38/357 is a .379 case diameter with a .440 rim

    38S&W is .3855 at the neck and .3865 at he mouth with a .440 rim. It's .0065-.0075 larger in diameter.

    If 38S&W fit my 38spl/357 I would look into fixing it.
     
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    No there isn't, and you are right. The only reason I brought it up is that there are a fair number of Smith & Wesson M&P Hand Ejectors and Victory Models (both the same except for finish and stocks) that were chambered in .38 S&W under the .38-200 designation; that have been rechambered to .38 Special to make them more attractive to U.S. buyers. All of this came about during the mid-1950's when the British dumped them on the surplus market.

    These will chamber .38 Special cartridges, but it's a bad idea because the case is not supported at the back where the .38 S&W chamber was. You have sort of a bottleneck sort of thing. So if you have an opportunity to buy one don't. On the other hand if the chambers haven't been altered and the revolver is as it was made in the first place, they are good shooters if you handload the cartridge, and they're collector's value has been going up if they are in excellent or better condition.

    A .38 S&W cartridge should not go into a correctly chambered .38 Special. If one does I would hesitate to shoot .38 Special cartridges in it, especially the high performance kind.
     
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Some years ago, I dogmatically stated to the gun store hangers on that a .38 S&W would not even chamber in a .38 Special. The dealer pulled out a new S&W M36 and some .38 S&W cartridges, loaded the gun, closed the cylinder, showed it to us, and unloaded it to go back on the shelf. Just depends on how new their chamber reamers were when they turned out any given gun, I expect.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Looked at an older (pre-war) Colt blueprint with bore and chamber dimensions. Found the following for chamber diameters.

    .38 S&W (Colt New Police) .3865" - .3875".
    .38 Special .379" - .3805"

    Obviously the minimum .38 S&W dimension (.3865) is more then the maximum .38 Special dimension (.3805"), so a .38 Special chamber would have to be at least .006" oversized (or .003" to the side) to meet the minimum .38 S&W chamber specification.

    So long as sloppy work is acceptable (who looks at blueprints anyway) I can see how a .38 Special chamber that was oversized on the high side could chamber a .38 S&W cartridge. Obviously this is possible, but that doesn't make it right. :(
     
  14. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

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    Just miked some factory rounds, results back Old Fuffs chamber dimensions.

    Factory Hornady 38 special mics out at .375-.376.

    Old factory Remington 38 S&W(has the Dupont oval and clean bore priming graphics) mics out .382-.383.

    That's a big difference folks. Glad I don't have any with over sized/sloppy cylinders. I imagine that plays hell with case life.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I hope that's .38 S&W (or Colt New Police) and not .38 Special... :eek: :confused:

    I'm sure the Colt blueprint is correct, and I suspect that they had an inspector going around with a go/no go plug gauge checking cylinders as they came off the machine. I wouldn't be surprised if the machine operator had a similar plug gauge to.

    But now the new CNC machines turn out perfect parts, so inspection isn't necessary, and besides - floor inspectors cost money you know. :banghead:
     
  16. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    I just micked a new Starline 38 S&W case, unloaded and unsized: .483 @ the base. Will fit in my S&W M10 but not in my Colt O.P. or my P.P.S. The M10 is a 10-6.
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Interesting...

    Do you have any fired .38 Special brass that was shot in the Smith & Wesson that you could measure?
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    SAAMI specs overlap. They give the chambers a +.004" tolerance and the cartridges a -.006" tolerance. So a minimum .38 S&W round will fit a maximum .38 Special chamber. Seen it done.

    Empirically, the one batch of WW .38 S&W I have will not chamber in any .38 or .357 I own.
     
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Without doubt. But it isn't supposed to... :scrutiny:

    Using your tolerance, a .3805" 38 Special chamber can go up to .3845" and still be in spec. But MMCSRET says his S&W Model 10-6 will chamber a .38 S&W case measured to be .483"(?). I suspect that should be .383", and if so a .38 S&W cartridge would go into a sloppy .3845" chamber. But I wouldn't want to shoot a .373" - .379" .38 Special cartridge in a .3845" chamber.

    What works is not necessarily what's right.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  20. revolverforums

    revolverforums Member

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    I wouldn't want to shoot any 38 S&W in a 38 special or 357 but I have a box and tried them in a half dozen 38's and 357's and they fit snug but they do fit.
     
  21. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    From Old Fuff:
    I remember seeing them advertised.

    I think Lee Harvey Oswald used one to kill Officer Tippitt in Dallas. The investigators were unable to match the bullets to the gun (bore diameter issue, perhaps?) but they did conclusively identify the discarded cases at the scene to Oswald's gun.
     
  22. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    You are correct: it is .383, Dyslexic, rented fingers, you know!!!!
     
  23. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    You're right. LIFE magazine photographed it along with the remaining unfired cartridges (obviously .38 Special) and it was in one of their issues,
     
  24. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

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    Right you are. Sorry, I should have been more clear in my post. The remington cartridges I micd were 38 S&W.
     
  25. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    For reasons I don't know, at least some Remington cartridges tend to be on the small side in case diameter. Their .38 S&W will often chamber in .38 Special/.357 revolvers.

    This could be due to cost cutting by using the reamers a bit longer than normal, or a deliberate attempt to eventually make the ammo the same diameter.

    Jim
     
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