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+P Rounds in a Colt .38 special Police issue

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by chucklpetty, Sep 14, 2012.

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  1. chucklpetty

    chucklpetty Member

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    I have a police issue 38 Special that was used in the 70s and 80s. I keep it for my wife as a home defense weapon. I do not have the owner's manual. I have some regular hollow point rounds for it, but I was wondering if it would handle + P rounds. It is somewhat of an heirloom so I don't want to do anything that could possibly damage the gun.

    If it can, what would be the best rounds for a 38 Special?
     
  2. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Member

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    While you do not give the exact Colt model I would not use +P rounds in the revolver, especially if it is a light frame revolver.

    Just My Take
    Ron
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1

    An Officers Model or Official Police is one thing.

    A small frame Cobra or Detective Special is quite another.

    rc
     
  4. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    Use some mid-range wadcutters.
     
  5. chucklpetty

    chucklpetty Member

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    It's a heavy frame. I believe it's an official police. I'll check when I get home.
     
  6. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I wouldn't try it.
    You said it was for HD. It's not like an intruder is going to be able to tell the difference between a standard loading and +P across the width of your bedroom.
     
  7. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Oh, for the love of God...

    +P is a mild target load. Look at the factory specifications.

    Check this out:


    Ad from the 1950s stating the Police Positive Special (small frame) can handle the 38/44 load. The 38/44 (158@1140) makes the +P (125@925) look like the total wimp that it is.


    standard.jpg
     
  8. silversport

    silversport Member

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    Diamondback...no steady diet of +P...Python...use all you like...Trooper (357) use all you like...Trooper (38) no steady diet of +P...Detective Special, Commando, Cobra...no steady diet of +P...

    Bill
     
  9. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    You can aslo safely shoot + P in the aluminum guns..Agent, Cobra...Colt recommended a trip back for a checkup after a certain number of rounds.
     
  10. PRM

    PRM Member

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    deleted
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
  11. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Again, +P is a mild target load. Not for use in a Trooper? I am laughing out loud at that one.

    +P marketing will be studied by future generations as the best example of unfounded hype causing mass hysteria.

    Here's a S&W ad from the 1930s for the Military & Police Model stating it can handle the 38/44 load (agai, it makes the +P look like the total wimp that it is).


    standard.jpg
     
  12. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    The add that Saxonpig posted is a "D" frame, read the add, the 38-44 is permitted. That round is 20%+ more than todays anemic 38 Special +P. My Detective Special, "D" frame came with notice that +P can be used, with no restrictions. The Official Police was built on the "41" frame, they were heat treated for heavy use from the time the were introduced in 1927. My 1952 OP is a lawn forcement trade in, I have put several thousand +P rounds thru it, fine gun, thrives on a 170 gr. +P.
     
  13. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Post 1972 D frame manuals say can you shoot + P in them with some limitations on some models..To say D frames are not + P rated is incorrect.
     
  14. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Me too!!! :)


    absolutely

    every time one of these threads come up it makes me think how effective the marketing weenies were at selling us regular pressure ammo and calling it "powerful"


    (SAAMI changed the pressures in 1972 and emasculated the .38. What had been regular pressure ammo became "+P" and the legend was born.)
     
  15. silversport

    silversport Member

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    Colt used to have in their manual that post 1972 frames should be checked at 1000 rounds for alloy frame and 3000 rounds for steel framed D frames...not plus P rated for pre 1972...of course the writers of manuals tend to be conservative...perhaps that is where the difference comes in...

    My Diamondback snub, Cobra snub and Python have moved on...I'll defer to those here who have more experience...

    Bill
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Concerning the use of .38-44 High Speed" ammunition in smaller Colt's and Smith & Wesson K-frame revolvers.

    Smith & Wesson introduced the .38-44 variant of the .38 Special cartridge in 1930 as an alternative to Colt's increasingly popular .38 Super pistol, the cartridge of which could penetrate barrier material the standard .38 Special load couldn't. Smith & Wesson's matching revolver was called the .38-44 Heavy Duty, and consisted of their N-frame .44 Military revolver chambered in .38 Special. Smith & Wesson Company Historian noted:

    Colt responded by advertising their New Service, Shooting Master and Single Action Army (all large frame revolvers) models could also handle the hotter load.

    By the middle/latter 1930's the Great Depression had seriously reduced orders at both companies, and both were in desperate financial condition. After running some tests, the management at Colt concluded that the pressures generated in .38-44 loads could indeed have a negative affect on the timing, and could streach a frame, on D-frame (Police Positive Special, Detective Special) revolvers; but they would not blow the gun up, and it was unlikely that anyone could stand the recoil long enough to do serious damage. Lesser damage they could fix at the factory, and in the unlikely event that something worse happened they'd replace the gun. Thus by advertising that ALL of they're .38 Special revolvers could handle the .38-44 cartridge they'd pick up enough additional sales to more then compensate for any risks.

    This put the ball in Smith's & Wesson's court. They did some experimenting too, and concluded that they're recently introduced 2" snubby version of the K-frame Military & Police could last for awhile because most of the slow-burning powder use in the .38-44 would burn outside of the muzzle on the short barrel. So they came out with an advertisement centered around the snubby, saying that it to could be used with the hot load, while being pretty sure very few would.

    This went on until 1941, when the United States entered World War Two, and after the war both companies were in much better shape financially. Neither were suffering for orders, and both dropped any mention of using the Hi-Speed loading in they're lighter framed revolvers.

    The term "Plus-P" can cover a lot of advertising hype, but some of it still has hair on its chest. The Old Fuff will agree that Plus-P .38 Special ammunition won't hurt Colt hand-ejector revolvers built on the .41 Official Police platform, and probably won't do more then put a smaller D-frame out of time, sooner rather then later. But if it does the revolver's owner may find that (depending on its age) getting parts and qualified repairmen is between difficult and impossible, and seldom inexpensive. :uhoh:
     
  17. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Old Fuff

    True or false?

    The "regular pressure" ammunition is the same pressure as the "+P" after 1972 SAAMI changes?
     
  18. Jaymo

    Jaymo Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Special

    Scroll down to "Performance".
    I think this will answer your question, Guillermo.

    In other words, yes. SAAMI emasculated the .38 Special standard pressure loads in 1972.
     
  19. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    I know that...but my buddy Old Fuff always dances around the question like Jay Carney.

    :neener:


    What his (and other's) position is that when he walked into the hardware store and plopped down his $73.25 for a K-38, the ammo they bought with it was too powerful for the gun.
     
  20. DPris

    DPris Member

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    I'd hold back some on the Colt with both volume and pressures.
    Colt is losing the ability to service their older models that use the Python-style action, and once the parts are used up if you wear your Colt out, it'll be difficult to repair it.
    Denis
     
  21. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    again, since "+P" 38 special is about the same as the "regular" ammo used to be, today's "regular" pressure ammo is definitely "holding back".
     
  22. DPris

    DPris Member

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    Guil,
    I'm saying the Colt will not be repairable much longer, and suggesting taking it easy. Not shooting it much and staying with lower pressures.
    I'm not getting into the +P is or isn't argument.
    Denis
     
  23. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I'm gonna shoot mine forget holding back on anything. If I bust it and can't repair it, I will replace it.
     
  24. DPris

    DPris Member

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    Chuck may not feel the same about his family heirloom.
    Denis
     
  25. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    9mm +P+ these days is like the old standard loads. And don't tell me that's the reason sammy only had one eye.
     
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