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S&W M&P .38 Spl

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Mr. Mosin, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    I just zoomed in on the barrel...does that say .38 Winchester? If so, that is interesting as, IIRC, there were only a handful (less than 100?) of .38 Winchester S&W revolvers produced. At one point Winchester produced a few revolver prototypes to go with their proprietary cartridge, but none were ever sold. Strangely, S&W made some on special order.
     
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  2. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Think I'll play my skills as a fast talker, and try to talk my buddy into parting with it for $100.
     
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  3. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I think it says 32 Winchester. That was an alternate name for .32-20 WInchester, which was also known as 32 WCF (for Winchester Center Fire.).
     
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  4. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    I figured as much. Got excited for a moment though.
     
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  5. JONWILL

    JONWILL Member

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    Several places have used Smith and Wesson Model 10's for around $300. Some more some lower. Police Dept trades. I would rather get one of those.

    In the condition it is in I wouldn't give over $200 maybe less. It isn't cheap to fix revolvers. The parts aren't drop in, like a Glock
     
  6. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Hmmm....

    Now things are getting strange.

    Yes, 38 Winchester means 38-40. However, the 38-40 cartridge was not a true 38, the bullet diameter was .401. It was a 38 in name only. If that is a 38-40 barrel, the bullet is going to slide down the barrel without ever engaging the rifling.

    Yes, 32 Winchester means 32-20, however a barrel for 32-20 would be quite a barrel obstruction for a 38 caliber bullet.

    According to The Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson, which is what I go by for most of this stuff, the 38 M&P 1st Model (Model of 1899) was only chambered for 38 Special and 38 Long Colt. This was the first revolver chambered for the 38 Special cartridge. Most of them were marked '38 S&W Special CTG & U.S. Service CTG' on the barrel. The 38 Service Cartridge was the old 38 Long Colt, which had proved ineffective in the Philippine Insurrection. Apparently some were chambered only for the 38 Service Cartridge (38 Long Colt). A 38 Special would be too long for that chamber. Interestingly enough, mine has no caliber marking on it, however a 38 Special slides nicely into the chambers. So does a 38 Long Colt.

    In this photo, left to right, the cartridges are 32-20, 38 Long Colt, 38 Long Colt, 38 Special, and 38-40. The box of cartridges is an old box of Remington UMC 38 Long Colt. The 38 Special is just a longer version of the 38 Long Colt, with a bit more powder inside. Both were originally Black Powder cartridges, with the case stuffed full of Black Powder. I don't remember off hand now, how much powder was in each of them, but clearly the 38 Special had more powder capacity than the old 38 Long Colt (US Service Cartridge). if you look closely you will see the 38-40 on the far right clearly has a larger diameter bullet than the two 38s. Nominally .401 in diameter. Why it was called 38-40 is a subject for another discussion. So clearly, a barrel the correct size for a 32 Winchester (32-20) would be much too small for a 38, and a barrel for a 38-40 would be much too large for a 38.

    32-20%2038%20Long%20Colt%2038%20Long%20Colt%2038%20Special%2038-40_zpsrpk7mceg.jpg




    Here is the front sight of my 1899. This front sight was typical of all the 38 Military and Police revolvers. This is not what the front sight on Todd's barrel looks like. I suspect the barrel has been cut down and a new front sight brazed on. Like most M&P revolvers, the front sight on my 1899 is an integral part of the barrel, formed when the barrel blank was whacked by the hammer forge at S&W.

    Front%20Sight_zpsneifxguc.jpg




    This is the underside of the barrel of my 1899. As I said, no underlug for the front of the extractor rod. There is however a slightly raised 'rib', integral with the barrel. The bottom face of this part is concave. This rib serves no practical purpose, it does not protect the extractor rod at all. Frankly, I don't know why S&W included it. The Serial Number of the revolver is stamped on this surface, you can see where I photo shopped it out. This is a very early 1899, the SN is only three digits.

    Under%20Side%20Of%20Barrel_zpsnvwtinel.jpg




    So, I am intrigued by Todd's barrel. I think I can see a hint of the raised rib on his barrel just behind the knurled end of the extractor rod.

    Like this.

    Barrel%20Uner%20Rib_zps884cesux.jpg



    But I can't imagine why it would be marked either 32 Winchester or 38 Winchester. The configuration of the underside of the barrel looks correct for the Model 1899, but the caliber marking would be all wrong.
     
  7. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Deleted by author.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  8. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    The front sight on the revolver in Todd’s photo looks like one from a Colts SAA. And it sits back from the muzzle more than a S&W sight does.

    Kevin
     
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  9. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    No, it's a .32 but the condition of the gun combined with my lack of photographic skills does in fact leave it open to interpretation as .38.


    Todd.
     
  10. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    I had a whole thread asking about this pistol of mine after it came to me but I can't seem to find it anywhere and now this discussion here has made me even more curious about the cartridge so I think I'll start a new one once again.
    Perhaps I inadvertently deleted the post where I was asking about the exact, specific nomenclature of this pistol.


    Todd..
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  11. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Member

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    I think a S&W M&P of that vintage and description should make a good shooter.


    I would use +P sparingly, if at all. For carry only.
    But that's just me; YMMV.
     
  12. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what the correct charge of black powder for .38-40 WCF was back when it was new? Was it 40 grains, or 38 grains?

    Or would this question be better asked in a new thread?
     
  13. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Rather than starting a new thread, which would belong in either the Black Powder section, because 38-40 was originally a Black Powder cartridge, or in the rifle section because it was originally a rifle cartridge, I will simply answer you here.

    38-40 followed the naming convention for many Black Powder cartridges, such as 45-70, 38-55, and 44-40 to name just a few, the first number representing the caliber, and the second number representing the charge in grains of Black Powder. Why is 38-40 actually a 40 caliber cartridge? Why wasn't it named 40-40, nobody really knows. Except perhaps Oliver Winchester, and he is long gone.

    And thereby hangs a tale.


    .....................................................


    Left to right in this photo the cartridges are 44 Henry Rimfire, 44-40, 38-40, and 32-20. The three on the right are also known as 44 WCF, 38 WCF, and 44 WCF. WCF stood for Winchester Center Fire, or Winchester Central Fire.

    44%20Henry%2044-40%2038-40%2032-20%2001_zpse27n7dwx.jpg




    Let's jump into the Way Back Machine for a minute. Oliver Winchester, a shirt manufacturer from New Haven Connecticut, had taken over the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1857. Volcanic had been started by an enterprising pair of firearms designers named Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. Mssrs Smith and Wesson had developed a repeating rifle and handgun based on the earlier works of Jennings and Hunt. These firearms had a tubular magazine under the barrel and were operated by rotating a lever forward and back to chamber a new round and cock the hammer for the next shot. The problem with the Volcanic design was the cartridge, known as the Rocket Ball, was under powered. The round consisted of nothing more than a hollow bullet filled with gunpowder with a primer stuck on the rear. Powder capacity was simply not enough to develop enough energy to do much more than punch holes in paper.

    Winchester was an entrepreneur who saw that repeating firearms were the future of firearm design. So he paid off Smith and Wesson, which included buying all the patents, and they went on to start a new company for producing revolvers. One of the employees at the Volcanic plant was Benjamin Tyler Henry, a brilliant gun designer. Winchester put Henry in charge as plant superintendent, and charged him with coming up with a better rifle than the Volcanic. The first thing Henry did was design a new cartridge. This cartridge was a 44 caliber, copper cased, rimfire cartridge, containing 26 grains of Black Powder and a 216 grain bullet. The cartridge all the way on the left in the photo above is a 44 Henry RImfire. Once Henry had perfected his cartridge, he designed a new rifle to fire it. Much bigger than the Volcanic, because the cartridge was much bigger, the Henry rifle had a 24" barrel and a bronze (sometimes mistakenly called brass) frame. The barrel and magazine were machined out of one solid bar of iron, making the rifle very heavy. The new rifle was patented in Henry's name, although Winchester actually held the patent rights. Patented in 1860, Henry rifle production began in 1862.

    Here is a photo of my Uberti replica 'Iron Frame' Henry. Notice the lack of a forend,

    Henry07_zps6828738f.jpg




    One of the things about Black Powder cartridges is one can get a rough idea of their relative power just by seeing how big they are. Unlike modern Smokeless powder cartridges, there is no air space in a Black Powder cartridge. It is completely filled with powder.

    In 1866, after a bitter disagreement with Henry, Winchester renamed the company after himself. Henry was out, and the first 'Winchester' rifle was the model 1866. This one used the newly patented King's loading gate. The 1866 model retained the bronze frame and still fired the old 44 Henry Rimfire cartridge.

    Although 26 grains of powder was much more than the old Rocket Ball ammo carried, it still was not a very powerful cartridge. So in 1873 Winchester came out with a new model and a new cartridge. This was a centerfire cartridge with a brass case. It carried a 200 grain bullet and it contained 40 grains of powder. Although the old Henry cartridge had a straight case, the new round had a very slight taper below the bullet. Experience had shown the engineers at Winchester that a slight taper allows a cartridge to feed more reliably than a straight case. It is obvious in the first photo how much more powder the new cartridge contained than the old Henry round. The new rifle had an iron frame rather than the old bronze frame because the cartridge was more powerful.The cartridge was known as the 44 WCF. Other companies such as Marlin started calling it the 44-40 because they did not want to stamp WCF (Winchester) on their barrels.

    Now, it is interesting to note that the 44-40 is not a true 44 caliber. Bullet diameter was actually .427. The old Henry round carried a heeled bullet. A heeled bullet had a 'heel' at the rear that was the same diameter as the inside of the case. The heel slipped inside the case, while the main bullet diameter was the same as the outside of the case. Examine a modern 22 rimfire if you thought you have never seen a heeled bullet before. The new 44-40 round had a modern style bullet, all one diameter, that slid inside the cartridge case. Thus the smaller diameter.

    Anyway, early 44-40 rifle groove diameters varied all over the place, but .427 was the standard. Why was it not called 43-40 instead of 44-40? My guess is because 44 was already a well established number from Cap & Ball days as well as Henry days. This was not the only example of a bullet not being the diameter 'advertised' by the name. The S&W 44 Russian round, as well as its descendants the 44 Special and 44 Magnum have .429 groove diameters. We all know that a 38 Special uses a .357 diameter bullet. The changeover from earlier cartridges with heeled bullets to inside lubricated bullets is largely responsible for this. Indeed, 45 Colt is relatively unusual in that it is a true 45, with .451 groove diameter.

    It is also interesting to note that in CAS we call cartridges like this 'pistol caliber' cartridges. Even though 44-40 started out as a rifle cartridge, it was about the same overall length as the 45 Colt cartridge, and Colt first chambered their Single Action Army revolver for 44-40 in 1878. 44-40 was the second most popular chambering for the SAA, behind 45 Colt.

    In 1879 Winchester introduced a new chambering for the Model 1873. The thought was to boost sales by offering an alternative to the 44 caliber cartridge. The 38 WCF cartridge was actually nothing more than the 44 WCF necked down to 40 caliber. Bullet diameter was .401, bullet weight was 180 grains, powder capacity was still 40 grains. The photo above shows how the 44-40 has a very slight taper, while the 38-40 has a more severe taper. Interestingly enough, sales of 38-40 Model 1873s never reached the numbers that the 44-40 rifles did. Customers seemed to prefer the slightly heavier cartridge. In 1884 Colt chambered the SAA for 38-40. It was the 3rd most popular chambering for the SAA, behind 45 Colt and 44-40.

    Why was the new cartridge not called 40-40? Nobody knows. Nothing authoritative has been written, at least I have never seen anything authoritative written about it. I have seen speculation that old Oliver thought 38-40 rolled off the tongue better than 40-40. But nobody knows.

    This Model 1873 WInchester was made in 1887, the Bisley Colt was made in 1909. Both are chambered for 38-40.

    Winchester%20Model%201873%20and%20Colt%20Bisley%2038-40_zpsw6n8hxtv.jpg




    While I'm on the subject, one more thing. Numbers such as 40 grains of Black Powder get tossed around very easily. The fact is, since Black Powder cartridges require all the air to be removed and the powder compressed, it is easy to stuff a few more grains in just by compressing the powder a bit more. Black Powder is not as energetic as Smokeless and a couple of more grains does not make much difference. The next photo shows two pieces of 45 Colt brass that I sectioned. The one on the left is an old Balloon Head case, the one on the right is a modern Solid Head Case. Notice how much more powder capacity there is in the Balloon Head case. The same would be true with old Balloon Head 44-40 cases vs modern Solid Head cases. Somewhere I have a photo of both but this photo was handy. So while the factory could stuff 40 grains of Black Powder into the old Balloon Head cases, I only get about 35 grains of FFg into my 44-40 rounds with modern Starline brass. I don't load 38-40 very often, but my reloading notebook says I am putting about the same amount into them. Could I stuff 40 grains into modern cases? Absolutely. I would just need to compress the powder more. But there is really no point, 35 grains of FFg does all I need it to do.

    rem-umc%20balloon%20head%20winchester%20solid%20head_zpsaiubqcxe.jpg



    What about 32-20? Winchester chambered the 1873 model for 32-20 (32WCF) in 1882. Sales of the 32-20 were better than the 38-40 model.

    566,487 Winchester Model 1873 rifles were chambered for 44-40.
    109,558 were chambered for 32-20.
    only 24,826 were chambered for 38-40.
    19,738 were chambered for 22 short.

    Colt chambered the SAA for 32-20 in 1884. The fourth most popular chambering for the SAA behind 45 Colt, 44-40, and 38-40.

    One more thing. John Wayne's favorite revolver was a Colt SAA chambered for 38-40. He often carried it in his movies.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  14. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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  15. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Thanks, Driftwood! I tried Googling for answer about 38-40 before asking here, but I found nothing useful. After seeing your answer, I have no idea why I bothered. :)
     
  16. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    I know what you mean.
    @Driftwood Johnson is a virtual "Google" of revolver history.
    I hope he continues to grace us with his knowledge and beautiful revolver photos for a very long time.
     
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  17. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Except that S&W did make the First Model Hand Ejector in .32 Winchester (.32-20).
    5311 guns 1899-1902.
    Of which Todd has one.
    Looks like the barrel was sawn off and a sight soldered on.

    SCSW is laid out caliber order, the .32-20s are listed separately from the .38s.
    Page 130 of 3rd edition.

    Smiths in .38 WCF are dead rare, 74 No 3 New Model single action top break, 276 First Model Double Action top break, a "few special order" New Century "Triple Lock."
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  18. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Right you are!

    Thanks for pointing that out. I was only looking at the 38s.
     
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  19. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    I don't think mine is .32-20 as that is a longer, necked cartridge.
    I believe these are .32 Winchester SL (self loading) though not the longer 1.88 inch length.
    This is a nearly straight/barely tapered chamber.
    So, neither the; "Winchester Special" .32-20 nor the .32-40 nor even the .32 S&W Rifle.

    Todd.
    32WSLusAuction.jpg IMG_1145.JPG
     
  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    No.
    .32 Winchester IS .32-20. The neck is barely perceptible.
    .32 Winchester/.32 WCF/.32-20 is not at all related to .32 Winchester Special or .32 Winchester Self Loading.
    A gun made not later than 1902 could hardly have been made for a cartridge introduced in 1905 anyhow.
     
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  21. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Pretty certain no one ever made a revolver in .32 WSL (just like it sounds, for Self-Loading guns, aka autos) or (the very confusingly named) 32 Special. Your revolver is certainly .32-20.
    20191019_003208.jpg
    Like mine.:D Gotta say, I am a big fan of this gun/cartridge, exceptionally accurate!
    Jim is correct, the taper is barely noticeable. Looking down the cylinder holes, one cannot really detect it by eye. In fact, my buddy, shooting mine for the first time, loaded the gun, fired, and only after ejecting noticed something strange about the brass. He thought there was something wrong with the gun until I explained they were supposed to be like that!
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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  22. Monac

    Monac Member

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    32 Winchester Self Loading?! Dang, that's rare stuff. It was made for Winchester's first semi-auto centerfire rifle, the Model 1905. The 1905 was also available in 35 Winchester Self Loading. Both cartridges were so powerless that hunters who tried to use them made a stink about it, and Winchester had to rush out the Model 1907 to replace the 1905. The 1907 came in .351 and .401 Winchester Self Loader*.
    The .401 was good enough for deer, if the deer wasn't too far away. Prison guards and cops liked the .351 better than hunters, from what I've read.

    BTW, 32 Winchester Special has nothing to do with either .32-20 or 32 WSL. It is pretty much 30-30 necked out to take an larger diameter bullet.

    But if I recall correctly (which is sort of a long shot in itself), Winchester used the 32 Self Loading as the basis for developing the 30 Carbine cartridge. Wikipedia seems to agree with me about that.

    *Apparently I am wrong about this. Wikipedia says the 1907 was made for .351 WSL only, and the .401 version was the Model 1910. Live and learn.
     
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  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The .401 was advertised as powerful as a .30-40 Krag. But only at short ranges before its low sectional density slowed it down.

    Yes, the .30 Carbine was derived from the .32 WSL.
    Earlier, and less enduringly, the .351 was the basis for the .345 Burton Light Machine Rifle and the French 8mm Ribeyrolle.

    The .401 was shortened to fit a revolver as the .401 Eimer.
     
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  24. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    It is absolutely NOT a .32-20.
    I have the pistol with the original cylinder or at least correctly serialized cylinder.

    .32-20 absolutely will NOT f
    You were on the right track but had merely skipped over the Winchester 1903 which used the .32SL

    Todd.
     
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  25. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    Subtle? No doubt.
    I actually thought it was marking from someone shooting a shorter .32 in there as when a .38 special is shot in a magnum chamber. Had to look REEEEEEEEEEEL close to see it is to mimick the shoulder.

    Todd.
    IMG_1148.JPG
     
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