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Smith 36 snubbie

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by DLam, Jun 23, 2015.

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  1. DLam

    DLam Member

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    I recently picked up a nice model 36 for carry situations. I have carried the 637 airweight in the past, which is rated for +P loads. Would discharge of +P rounds in the model 36 that is not rated for it damage the pistol? My gut feeling is that discharge of the +P in the 36 only in an unlikely defensive situation would not harm the firearm. I have no interest in using the hotter load at the range or in training... only if my life is threatened.

    Opinions please?
     
  2. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    I would say go for it , most people know SAAMI changed the pressures for the .38 round back in the 70s so now plus p rounds are very similar to the old standard .38s of the day when the model 36 was probably made.
     
  3. palmetto99

    palmetto99 Member

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    I agree with Barry about the SAAMI ratings. Let me add this too, there isn't much advantage to use +p rounds in the 1-7/8" j-frame barrel. There isn't enough barrel length to get the best performance. That said, nothing like a j-frame. Switched back to a model 60 for Summer.
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    If it has the model number inside the frame yoke cut, it is safe with +P.

    My opinion is, every Chiefs Special made since they came out in 1950 are safe with today's anemic, neutered +P loads though.

    rc
     
  5. DLam

    DLam Member

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    Yep. Its a no dash.
     
  6. Haywood

    Haywood Member

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    I had TONS of Snubs not rated for +P. I shot enough +P to find point of aim for carry and never had a problem. Charter Rossi Taurus and Smith.
     
  7. Radagast
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    Radagast Contributing Member

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    S&W use 1957 as a convenient cut off point, as that is when the stamping of model numbers began. Realistically any late '30s steel frame fun will be fine. By using the model number as the cut off they save answering questions about DOB. The Chiefs Special is a post war gun.
     
  8. wrdwrght

    wrdwrght Member

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    I think it's only after the 36-7, which I just acquired, that S&W explicitly sanctioned +P.

    FWIW, I have assumed that any post-WW2 gun not rated for +P can fire such a round without blowing up, but will wear faster if given a steady diet.

    Didn't know about the SAAMI weakening. In any case, I agree that +P is wasted in a snub (like .357 Magnum in a 3-inch woods gun).
     
  9. Radagast
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    Radagast Contributing Member

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    Alloy frame post war guns were subject to frame stretching / excessive end shake when fired with +p. IIRC one gun writer mentioned 400 rounds before needing a trip to the factory. That may have been with early1970s ammo prior to the SAAMI downgrade. So for a couple of decades the mantra was train with standard pressure ammo then shoot 5 rounds of +p for familiarization,then carry +p.
    I wouldn't use +p in an Airweight that wasn't marked for it. There are plenty of new guns, so why wear out an old one?
     
  10. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    Good thing is the model 36 is an all steel gun. I doubt even if he was shooting plus p non stop would it accelerate wear. As stated previously with saami having reduced the loading of both plus and non plus .38 rounds I see no reason to believe that today's plus p in a STEEL frame revolver will knock it out of service faster than normal. Now if he was whipping up some old .38-44 loads then he might have a problem.
     
  11. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    I have tried to find when and by how much SAAMI reduced pressure limits for .38 special, to no avail. I know that in recent years SAAMI actually raised the limits for .38 special plus P to 20,000 psi from the previous 18,500 psi. That's a fairly substantial increase and is represented by the popular Speer 135 grain short barrel load. Are you guys saying it was once higher than 20,000 psi for plus P or that the standard pressure was once either 18,500 psi or even 20,000 psi? A lot of statements have been thrown about on the Internet for years now and I have yet to find corroborating citations or other evidence to back up the statements. It is frustrating at best when one is trying to learn new and accurate information. Most of us know that Plus P will NOT blow up an old J-frame. The question is how much plus P will damage and/or eventually ruin and old J-frame, especially an old air weight. This has been a frustrating dialogue for years with way more strongly stated opinions than documented information.

    Hearsay is not evidence.
     
  12. Radagast
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    Radagast Contributing Member

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    I have a vague recollection that the SAAMI reduction was around 1973.
    The European CIP standard for .38 special translates as roughly 21750 PSI.
     
  13. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    This is such an interesting and oft-recurring subject,I am very surprised some writer has not written an article on it historically documenting the history of SAAMI and the .38 Special cartridge, especially as it relates to J-frame revolvers, particularly air wright J-frame revolvers. Based on Internet forum threads over a number of years, many people would welcome a definitive treatment of the subject. If it has been written, I am surprised it has never been cited to my knowledge.
     
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    50 years ago, standard pressure .38 Spl drove a 158 grain lead bullet at 855 FPS.

    Todays standard pressure load does 755.
    +P supposedly makes 890 FPS.

    Or +P = 35 FPS more then standard pressure 50 years ago!
    Wow!

    Years ago, Shooting Times & Dick Metcalfe, one of it's famous writers, did a 5,000 round +P torture test on two Airweight S&W J-Frames.

    After each 500 rounds everything on the guns was measured & recorded.

    At the end of the test, neither gun showed the slightest change in dimensions after firing 2,500 +P rounds each.

    Certainly no "frame stretch", and in fact, both guns were shooting smaller machine rest groups then they did at the beginning of the testing.

    The only measurable change to either gun was the triggers got lighter & smoother.

    I am of the opinion that a limited diet of any +P ammo on the market will not hurt the gun. Todays +P is little more then standard pressure ammo of days gone by.


    Anyhow, the .38 Special J-Frame is a very strong gun, more-so then many give it credit for.

    First, there is no thin section of forcing cone protruding through the frame to crack like on the K-Frame Magnums.

    Second, it has a 5-shot cylinder, which is stronger then a 6-shot cylinder because it moves the bolt cut's between the chambers, not directly over them.

    I measured two 70's era S&W's, a Model 36 Chief's Special, and a Model 19 Combat Magnum.

    The Model 36 measures .050" chamber wall thickness, against the Model 19's .076".
    Oh oh!
    Right?

    BUT, the 19's bolt cuts are directly above the thinnest part of the chambers, and are .040" deep.
    That is the weakest link in the chain!

    That leaves .036" chamber wall thickness on the 6-shot K-Frame .357 vis .050" on the 5-shot J-Frame .38 Spl.
    All Right!!!

    rc
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  15. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    Rcmodel, you make a compelling argument. I do remember the Metcalf article though a bit hazily. Your argument would be even stronger if we were sure that the 885 fps was measured from a four inch vented test barrel as is the 755 fps today and not a six or seven inch test barrel. Sellier and Bellot USA lists their standard pressure 158 grain LRN 38 Special at a rather eye-popping 997 fps until you read that it is measured from a seven and one-half inch barrel.

    Their 158 grain SP and FMJ standard pressure are both listed at 889 fps from the same seven and one-half inch barrel.

    A four inch vented test barrel would give dramatically lower readings.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  16. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    My wife carries a S&W 36, practices with target loads, carries Speer Gold Dots.

    And she's never wrong.
     
  17. Hometeached1

    Hometeached1 Member

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  18. ArkieVol

    ArkieVol Member

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    I agree.

    In Chapter ! of Elmer Keith's book "Sixguns" published in 1961 he reviews the Chief"s Special (later M36) and the Centennial (later M40) and advises he fired 500 rounds in each gun using 38/44 high speed ammo which is FAR above +P pressures. After visual inspection and careful measurements he found "no ill effects" in the cylinders or barrels of either gun.
     
  19. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    Again, not taking a hard line on the subject, but that link is just a reprint of the oft-repeated arguments of Saxon Pig which tend to be at the heart of all these plus P discussions. He makes some good observations but also introduces some red herrings. For example, the questions about plus P are hardly ever about K-frames, or N-frames, or .357 revolvers. They are usually about older J-frames and most often about alloy-framed airweights. He also throws some numbers about that are not in sync with other sources. Current upper limit for plus p is not 21,500 psi to my knowledge, but 20,000. It was 18,500 psi for years until recently. The max for standard pressure is and has been 17,000 psi to the best of my knowledge. His number may be correct, but as is his tendency, he cites no sources, ever other than his memory and experience, which is an unknown to this reader. The whole discussion has become a circular argument with people now quoting people who quote the same source - Saxon Pig. Seriously, I want to be convinced but after several years of reading the same arguments citing the same sources over and over, i have yet to read anything more convincing than personal opinion. And personal opinion, we each have in abundance.
     
  20. goon

    goon Member

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    Also, there are some non +P carry loads available.
    IIRC, Buffalo Bore loads a 158 grain LSWC-HP and so does Remington. If you're worried, you might try one of them. Some are pricey, but you don't have to shoot a hundred of them every week - that's the beauty of a revolver.
     
  21. DammitBoy

    DammitBoy Member

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    This thread has gone far enough without pics...
     

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  22. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    Yes it has...here's another pic. :)

    409335121.jpg
     
  23. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

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    I like those grips, C&L.
     
  24. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    Thanks!....Herrett's Shooting Ace grips...but I imagine you knew that. :)
     
  25. Spec ops Grunt

    Spec ops Grunt Member

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    So does this apply to the Model 12 or should you avoid +P in that
     
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