The 38/44 ??

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by savagelover, Sep 30, 2022.

  1. savagelover

    savagelover Member

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    Why was it called the 38/44?? I know it was a38 revolver,but where did the 44 part figure in??
     
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  2. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    Cause it was on the N Frame (.44 caliber frame)
     
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  3. david58

    david58 Member

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  4. NuclearMeltdown

    NuclearMeltdown Member

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    Those are the coolest-looking revolvers. I've never even seen one for sale around here but I'd jump on one at the right price.

    I had a Model 28 to scratch that itch for a while. The 38/44s have a different vibe to them though!
     
  5. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    Also called 38 Hi-Vel/High Velocity. The +P and +P+ of the day.
     
  6. savagelover

    savagelover Member

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    Ok.thanks for the replies. Wonder if my sw 686 would handle those loads. 357. L frame.
     
  7. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    My grail gun came home several weeks ago. A 1955 S&W .38/44 Outdoorsman (adjustable sights). Worth the wait.

    1B294284-25ED-4265-B98D-7751F83925C7.jpeg
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Without getting into history and ballistics, there is no .38 Special load that a .357 Magnum gun cannot handle.
     
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  9. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Oh ya, easily.

    A .38/44 HD is one of my grail guns as well. Ive only ever seen ONE in the flesh and it was big $$$ even 7-8 years ago.
    I did see an Outdoorsman recently- but it was rather rough and still priced like a minty M27. :(
     
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  10. mcb

    mcb Member

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    38/44 and 38 Super and a few other similar cartridge shenanigans by the firearms industry in the 20's and 30's almost got firearm and ammo manufacture more heavily regulated by the federal government than it is currently. 38/44 loaded in some light weight small frame 38 special is dangerous. 38 Super loaded in an old 38 ACP is also dangerous and the shooting public had little information to make correct decision on which ammo for which gun. This is a big reason SAAMI came to prominence as we moved towards WWII as the industries regulating body. Had the industry not pulled together under SAAMI as the collection point for more deliberate and agreed upon specifications for ammo and cartridge design across the industry the US government was going to step in an do it for them. Imagine that.
     
  11. savagelover

    savagelover Member

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    Would these loads be safe to try in my Rossi 92. Sounds interesting,might be a good accurate load with the 358/156 with a gas check. Appreciate all the above information..
     
  12. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    image.jpg
    Just use published data with traditional slow powders like 2400 and you will get a close safe load that takes advantage of the extra barrel length.
     
  13. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    If it will feed properly, yes. .38/44 pressures are comparable to or less than the .357 magnum, your Rossi is a .357 magnum rifle :thumbup:.

    Stay safe.
     
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  14. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    The ‘92s can be picky eaters. You might get better feeding with .357 cases.
     
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  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Actually .38-44 loads are well over 40,000psi. So any .357 should be able to handle them but don't think you're running at less pressure.

    I've also heard a lot of folks say that these loads were dangers because .38 brass is weaker. Hogwash! I tested the theory with el cheapo Winchester .38 brass and gave up after 22 loadings using Keith's 2400 data.

    I've had two of these guns, always wanted a nice 4" HD. First was a really nice 6.5" that I ended up trading for a Mundenized 629. Later came a well worn and awfully refinished 4" that was too bad to fix.
     
  16. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    It seems that you were testing longevity, not strength.
     
  17. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    And correct me if I am wrong but Keith did indeed use the 358156 crimped in the lower crimp groove in order to make space for the extra charges. In essence he just made .357 Magnum loads in .38 brass. No need for that today though. But the man had a pair for sure.
     
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  18. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    I have two 38-44 Heavy Duty revolvers.

    DSC00104.JPG

    This 5" is the old long action version of the S&W N-frame. Don't know if the letter will be legible but S&W says it shipped from the factory in 1938 to El Paso, Texas.


    DSC00070.JPG

    This 4" Heavy Duty is from about 1952-3 and has the more modern short action. As you can see it shows a lot of holster wear but mechanically it is quite sound. The DA trigger pull is factory original heavy but smooth and a joy to shoot. It came with the incorrect smooth target stocks, which I've replaced with period correct diamond checkered Magna stocks and a grip adapter. Unfortunately I haven't taken a picture of it with the proper handles.

    I load 11.5g of 2400 behind a 158g bullet to duplicate the original ballistic performance which S&W claimed was a 158g projectile at 1125 fps. The only factory ammunition I know of that duplicates the original 38-44 is Buffalo Bore's Heavy 38 Special +P 158g SWCHP-GC. Their solid bullet Outdoorsman version should be the same but I haven't fired it. The SWCHP-GC is my everyday carry load and I have more experience with that one.

    Dave
     
  19. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Could you please direct me to the source of this information? Thanks.

    Never mind. I found it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2022
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    As has been stated, when S&W developed the high velocity 38 Special load, they chambered it in a large N frame revolver. This size was chosen because the cylinder was large and would have more steel between the chambers than the cylinder of a K frame revolver. S&W did not feel the steel available at the time was strong enough for the pressure developed by the the high velocity 38 Special rounds in a K frame cylinder.

    The N frame had been developed for the 44 Hand Ejector, 1st Model (the Triple Lock) in 1907. So the logical choice to name the new revolvers was 38, for 38 caliber, and 44, for the N frame usually associated with 44 caliber revolvers.

    There were two versions of the 38/44 revolvers. The 38/44 Heavy Duty model with fixed sights was introduced in 1930. This 38/44 Heavy Duty shipped in 1931.

    polRVbMxj.jpg




    The 38/44 Outdoorsman with adjustable sights was introduced in 1931. This 38/44 Outdoorsman shipped in 1933.

    pl6pBgcQj.jpg




    This photo of a 38/44 Heavy Duty cylinder illustrates how much steel surrounded each chamber.

    pmAFJxGAj.jpg





    In 1935 Smith and Wesson, aware that a shooter might chamber one of the high velocity rounds in a conventional 38 Special revolver, lengthened the case by about 1/8", creating the 357 Magnum cartridge. A new revolver, simply called The 357 Magnum was created at that time for the new 357 Magnum round. This led to the Registered Magnums, which had a production number stamped on the frame and they were registered at the factory to the owners. In 1957, when S&W changed over to a model number system, The 357 Magnum revolver became the Model 27.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2022
  21. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    How can you have one without the other?
     
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  22. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    You test strength by assessing at what pressure it fails. Counting the times something can be reloaded is just counting the times something can be reloaded, not a strength test.

    Also, the source I found for the 40,000 psi number (actually 42,000 psi) said that was what Elmer Keith's handloads were, but it does not say that was the pressure of the 38/44 factory ammo.

    https://americanhandgunner.com/handguns/the-3844-heavy-duty/
     
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  23. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

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    If you go way back you can find loads using 2400 (now considered a mag powder) for the 38 spl. My reading suggests that the 38-44 was the pre-model 27. An N frame for a hot 38 before the model 27 was produced. Of course the case capacity was limited so a longer heavier case was needed. Just my interpretation of why a 38-44 existed. I'm not Elmer Keith nor do I care to be. ;)

    http://www.nzha.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Lyman44.pdf

    I recently purchased a model 28 to see what all the fuss was about. Yeah, 357 needs an N frame, not doubt about it. A K frame model 19 isn't the ideal platform.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2022
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  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Phil Sharpe printed loads for both .38 and .357 that would curl your hair.
    But he favored lighter bullets than Keith, loading a 146 gr cast HP to amazing velocities.
     
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  25. Outlaw75

    Outlaw75 Member

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    I can't find any data on the .38 Special-HV round, how close was it velocity-wise to the .357 Magnum?
     
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