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Oh .38, you so silly!

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Michael Tinker Pearce, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Three .38s, three different calibers. From left to right:

    .38 Special (.357)
    .38 Webley Long (.375)
    .38 S&W (.361)
    OFlUiKn.jpg
     
  2. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    And none of them are actually 38!
     
  3. Orcon

    Orcon Member

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    Hmmm...stuff a... stuff a 235 grain Speer in it.
     
  4. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Oh, I think the .375 is close enough if you round up a few thousandths... :D
     
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  5. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    Too bad you didn't have a 38-40 to add to the picture...(.401")...the "40" in the designation refers to the original load of 40 grains of BP

    G0519-HANDLOADING-2.jpg

    The parent cartridge is the .44-40
     
  6. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I've always wondered on the history behind ".38" being used for so many widely varying bore diameters. Something to do with cartridge evolution from a heeled bullet that actually was nominally .38 bore? Turn of the century marketing gimmick?
     
  7. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Where's 38 Super !! :D
     
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  8. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I don't use a decimal on 38, because it is not an actual measurement like the .357 Magnum is.
     
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  9. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Do you do the same with the .44...?
     
  10. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Same thing, if I think about it.
     
  11. film495

    film495 Member

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    wasn't the .38 special called that because it was the military replacement of .38 long colt? was the long colt actually .38? so maybe called that basically for marketing purposes.
     
  12. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    Yes I think that's correct. The heel bullet transitioned to a larger outside diameter (and compatible with the barrel groove diameter) more closely corresponding to an actual .38" measurement. When the entire bullet diameter was reduced to the same diameter as the heel portion, it was still called ".38" when in fact it was actually closer to being a .36. ".36 Special" doesn't have the same pizzazz. Or at least something like that :)
     
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Yeah, the 38 Special and 38 S&W should both be called .36 cal. (.358" & .361" )
     
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  14. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Believe it was called that by the diameter of the case dimensions. 38’s are .379. As mentioned the bullet was the same diameter but heeled to fit inside the case, just as. 22 rim-fires still are.
     
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  15. mcb

    mcb Member

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    This might be of interest to the thread. I did not create the image but found in on Reddit a few years ago. Unfortunately the original thread has disappeared so I cannot give proper credit.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  16. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Double tap, sorry about that.
     
  17. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Not sure why percussion revolvers were called a .36 when they were around a .375 bore- possibly because a .38 muzzle-loader used a patched .36 ball? But yeah, the original .38's (Webley and Colt) Used heel-base bullets, and the .38 S&W used the same diameter case with a bullet seated inside, so it was around a .361 bore. I have no explanation for .38-40.
     
  18. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Perhaps the distance from bottom to bottom of the grooves in the rifling.

    Early revolver and rifles rounds were caliber first blackpowder charge, in grains contained, in case second.
     
  19. film495

    film495 Member

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    from the wikipedia

    Despite its name, the caliber of the .38 Special cartridge is actually .357 inches (36 caliber/9.07 mm), with the ".38" referring to the approximate diameter of the loaded brass case. This came about because the original .38-caliber cartridge, the .38 Short Colt, was designed for use in converted .36-caliber cap-and-ball Navy revolvers, which had cylindrical firing chambers of approximately 0.374-inch (9.5 mm) diameter, requiring heeled bullets, the exposed portion of which was the same diameter as the cartridge case.
     
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  20. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    My understanding is that black powder cartridge naming conventions are for the diameter of the brass case. By the time the 357Mag came along the naming convention had changed to the bore diameter that we use today.
     
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  21. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    On this topic I was reloading .38 Short Colt just yesterday...
    1wDP81k.jpg
    The projectiles are Buffalo Bullets 125gr. .375 outside-lubed RNL, made for percussion revolvers. Converted to a heel-base over 10gr. of FFFg they work quite well
     
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