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Smith and Wesson .38 Cal Short

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by dhess, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. dhess

    dhess New Member

    Nov 1, 2009
    My father was a deputy for many years and carried as a second handgun a Smith and Wesson .38 Cal Short 5 rd. Revolver with a 2 inch barrel. On the side of the barrel it has .38 S.&W. CTG. Now all the loads I have are hand loads, so I have little knowledge what commercial type of round I should get for this.
    The hand load round I do have measures right at 1 inch in length and another measures 1 1/16 inches in length. The cylinder will not accept a .38 Special round. Before I go out and buy something I would like to know it will fit and fire in this gun, since most ammo cannot be returned. I have checked all around in town and there is nothing that fits this gun. I have been told I will have to get it on the internet.
    Am I looking at a round such as a .38 S&W? Or .38 Short Colt? Or what? I am at a loss.
    This is a great revolver for carrying as a concealed weapon but I need to get some ammo for it for practice and for defense.
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    The cartridge you need is simply called the .38 S&W, not .38 S&W Short. Any dealer worth being in business can special order them, as they are available - but they are a bit on the expensive side for plinking or such. You can solve that problem by handloading your own. Be aware that they use a .360" dia. bullet, rather then the more common .358" dia. ones used in the .38 Special. However you can use 148-grain hollow base wadcutters sized to .358" as the hollow base bullet will expand and seal in the bore.

    If you go to this forum's search feature (green bar at top of page, to the right) and use the key term .38 S&W, you will find many past threads on the .38 S&W cartridge with background and reloading information.
  3. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Cartridge info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_S&W

    Old Western Scrounger stock it:

    They also have the heavy bullet British service load:

    Assuming your fathers gun has a swing out cylinder then it should be a .38/32 Terrier, later known as the model 32. This was a .38 S&W 5 shot revolver built on the small '.32 caliber' I frame and later as the model 32 on the slightly larger J frame. Two inch pinned, barrel, round butt, in blued or nickel finish with fixed sights.
    Post the serial number with the last three digits replaced with xxx for privacy and one of us will be able to give you an idea as to the year it was manufactured.
  4. gyvel

    gyvel Member

    Sep 18, 2009
    Northern AZ
    If your revolver is an older S&W top break, I would strongly advise against firing ANY British military loads in it. The pressures would be too high as the British version of the .38 S&W (known as the .380/200) were intended for much stouter revolvers than an S&W top break. If your revolver is a solid frame, however, that is a different story.

    FYI, .38 S&W is also known as the Colt .38 New Police.
  5. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Senior Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    San Antonio de Bejar
    38 S&W Brass is available on the internet but is a little pricey. You can't use 38 special reloading dies, so you need to find some 38 S&W dies, Lyman has them.

    Standard SP primers and normal powder.

    Midway sells the 158gr RN bullets from Magtech that has a hollow base design that works well in the 38 S&W pistol, however, I cast some 146gr RN's that were standard factory loads for this round.
  6. arcticap

    arcticap Senior Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Central Connecticut

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