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+P 38 on older Colts?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by FerFAL, Apr 23, 2007.

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  1. FerFAL

    FerFAL Member

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    Some say you shouldn’t use +P on guns that are not specifically rated “+P” while some old timers say that the older 38 loads had similar pressures to today’s +P, the difference being that such a rating didn’t exist in those days.
    My question is, is it safe to shoot +P 38 in old ( but well kept) Colt Detectives and Colt Police Positives ( D frames both, right?)
    I know it will accelerate wear , but do I risk blowing up the gun?
    I’d just shoot a few rounds of +P to get the feel of it, and leave it loaded with +P for defense, but otherwise I’d use regular 38 for practice.
    Opinions please, thanks guys.

    FerFAL
     
  2. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    I keep the +Ps out of older guns. I don't think it would hurt most of them used once in a while but why bother? You really don't get a lot more out of a +P round (extra 100 fps maybe) and they produce more recoil and a heck of a lot of muzzle blast. My attitude is if I need more than a 38 I'll use a 357, more than that I'll go to a 44, etc.

    There were heavy loaded 38s made with almost 357 velocities prior to iuntroduction of the 357 (1935?). These loads were made up to the late 60s early 70s if I recall. They were to be used in heavy framed (usually a 44 special size frame) 38 revolvers. I think S&W used to call theirs the 38-44 Outdoorsman. This ammo was marked on the box saying it was loaded to highre pressures and not to use in guns not designed for it (D frame Colts weren't)

    Just my opinion.
     
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Generally speaking, I agree with Griz22.

    A +P .38 Special round won't blow up a D-frame Colt, even one with a aluminum frame. But continual use of some of the hotter +P stuff will loosen the gun up, and eventually may streatch the frame. Qualified gunsmiths who can work on these guns are getting fewer by the year, and parts are going too and when available are increasingly expensive.

    The larger Official Police revolvers were built on a .41 frame, and I doubt that using +P ammunition would affect them.

    At the present time my pet Detective Special is loaded with 158-grain semi-wadcutter cowboy loads. I seldom feel under gunned, but if that is the case my Taurus snubby offers 5 rounds of .44 Special. Then ultimately there is the Colt Light Weight .45 Commander. None of them are loaded with anything that says "+P" on it.
     
  4. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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  5. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Yup. Talk to Buffbore.

    For the FIRST time in years we've got standard pressure 38spl that will perform in 2" barrels and not wear out the guns the way +P can.

    And it's professionally pressure-tested. BuffBore's rep for stable, quality ammo that delivers as advertised is excellent.

    Of these three, the 150 is the non-expanding, big flat-nosed "wallop" option. Also alleged to be very accurate and that might very well be the case in your gun.

    The 125 will have the least felt recoil. That to me is it's biggest benefit - it's the "granny gun" option which certainly has it's place.

    The 158 though is what I think is best among these three. It will expand. It'll punch deep. We know a LOT about how this sort of slug behaves; this round is identical to the Remington 158+P as far as effect-in-target (terminal ballistics). But despite the same speed, it runs at lower peak pressure, has a copper base-plate ("gas check") to reduce barrel leading and has low-night-flash powder.

    It's expensive, but, "if you care enough to send the very best..."
     
  6. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    I though Colt said 3000 rounds of plus P in steel frames and 1000 rounds in alloy before they should be checked out. Modern Colt revolvers are stronger than most people think I feel. I have heard of issues with Python durability though.
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Back when Colt was developing the aluminum-framed revolver that became the Cobra, they experimented by building a prototype chambered in .357 Magnum. Now in those days the .357 was still a real Magnum, and they put some 3000 rounds of it through the little revolver before their shooters cried, "Uncle!"

    The gun was examined, and nothing was found that would be considered to be out-of-specification. Clearly, it held up better then the folks running the test.

    On the other hand, some years ago a local cop brought me his badly (and I do mean BADLY) out of time and well losened Detective Special. It seems that he had some so-called gunsmith open up the chambers so that he could use the Magnum round. I have no idea how many .357's he fired, but the gun went back to Colt, and they said it was beyond repair.

    I have always considered it to be advisable to use the ammunition specified by the gun's manufacturer. I have never seen one that had blown up because of use with +P or even +P+ rounds, but I have seen a fair number that needed to be completely rebuilt or even scrapped because of the effects of excessive pounding. Most of these belonged to law enforcement agencies - or at least had belonged to one - who could trade them in for new ones, with the taxpayer picking up the bill. Private owners don't have that option, so any repairs or replacement comes out of their pocket.

    I have known individuals that felt they couldn't possibly survive any shooting incident unless thay had the most powerful possible cartridge in whatever they were carrying, and were more then willing to replace the gun when it got pounded in to submission. Being the tightwad that I am, I didn't follow that path... ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2007
  8. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    Dfariswheel hopefully chimes in. I had an late production Agent, didn't shoot it too much but it did start to go out of time.
     
  9. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    No, it won't blow up the gun. Possibly, with really extensive use, the cylinder indexing (timing) and lockup could loosen up over time - a lot of time.
    Used like that, it should last for many years.
     
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