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Who does good Revolver conversions from .38 Special to 9mm P-'08?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Oyeboten, Dec 18, 2010.

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  1. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    I did some 'googles' on this matter some Months ago, and the several places I called who offer these kinds of conversions left me feeling a whole lotta non-plussed.


    I would like to find an intelligent Gunsmith who is capable of showing some deference to an intentional project of converting an erstwhile .38 Special Revolver, to .38 Autocolt, for the use of full Moon Clips.


    The ones offering the 9mm conversions on the internet whom I talked to could not spell 'Autocolt' let alone comprehend what I was talking about.


    All in all, I just need the rear of the Cylinder machined for accepting the Moon Clips, same as one would do for a 9 mm P-'08 conversion, and, the Cylinder Bores can be left be, and there will only be a little teeny bit of 'jump' is all for the Bullets to do, unlike the large 'jump' one is left with when converting to the 9 mm.


    Thanks!
     
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Before you get started find a source of moon-clips that will work with the .38 Colt Auto or .38 Super (same thing so far as the case is concerned). Unlike ourselves, with decades of experience, young (and therefore inexperienced) gunsmiths may not have encountered ammunition used in pistols that say: Automatic Colt / Calibre .38 Rimless Smokeless, but wake up if you mention Colt Super .38 Automatic.

    The available clips may dictate what revolver(s) you can use, and in any case I'm not sure any are made for the semi-rimmed .38 case, and those offered for 9mm Luger / Parabellum may not work either. Also, keep in mind that .38 Special revolvers are made to headspace on revolver cases with a .060" thick rim, where the Colt Automatic cases are semi-rimmed, and such as it is, the rim is only .050".
     
  3. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi Old Fuff,


    Thank you for the mentions and encouragement.


    I have long wished that S & W would have offered a K-Frame or "M&P" Revolver, chambering the .38 Autocolt Cartridge, and, that they would have done so by say, 1902 or so, when they ought to have.

    Of course, as it was, the idea probably rubbed them the wrong way, even as offering any other erstwhile Colt chambering did ( in those days, anyway ).

    Finally, after years of fruitless intermittent brooding ( which includes how I would feel bad asking a Model 1902 or even early Model 1905 S & W 'M&P' to routinely manage more or less the usually attributed 26,000 PSI or so of the .38 ACP Cartridge, ) it dawned on me, that a Colt 'Army Special' probably would not mind one bit. And, it is only a very slightly larger Revolver all tolled.

    Plus, it is a Colt, and, poetically a perfect vehicle for a proprietary Colt Cartridge of the time.

    So, my election then for the idea, will be an 'Army Special' of something around the early-enough 1900s, or 'teens, so as to be not too far in time from the prior introduction of the Colt .38 Auto Cartridge.

    I have been brooding on where to obtain Moon Clips which would have the right schedule for how the Cartidges need to align with the Cylinder Bores.

    I will have to do some reasearch on this, and or, review what model Speed Loaders happen to be offered for that Revolver, to see what other Revolvers they also work for, or, as may be.

    I imagine the Colt 'Python' is the same Cylinder - in effect - as the 'Army Special'...so, if anyone offers Moon Clips for a 9mm or .38 Super conversion of the Colt 'Python', those Moon Clips may indeed be just right for my ambition.


    I am imagining that the generous heft of the Colt 'Army Special' Cylinder Walls, will oblige the .38 ACP without incident.


    If I am wrong, well...I will find out I suppose.

    I will only be using Lead Bullets, and Loading my own to normal recommended values, so, no Hardball or Jacketed.


    But, there is definitely a lot more 'meat' there, in the Cylinder Walls of the Colt 'Army Special', than there is on the S & W 'M&P' Revolvers, that's for sure.
     
  4. David E

    David E Member

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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  5. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi David E,



    Thank you!


    I will call him on Monday then.


    His Website does not mention that he does Colt Revolvers, and I do not know if the Cylinder Bore scedule would be the same from a Colt 'Army Special', to, say, an L Frame or N Frame S & W Chambering .357 originally, in order for him to supply appropriate Moon Clips.


    But, it'll be fun to talk with him and find out.
     
  6. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    Speak to Mark Hartshorne at Pinnacle High Performance - www.pinnacle-guns.com - I don't know if he'll do the conversion on a Colt .38 but it's worth a call. He did the work on my S&W 360J and a number of other guns for guys over on the S&W forum.
     
  7. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    I really don't think I'd push my luck with the Army Special, nor do I think a reputable gunsmith would tackle such an operation on the old Colt. Why not just get a contemporary revolver cut for moonclips for use with .38Spl???
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Here is a .38 Super revolver for sale. http://www.gunsamerica.com/99822921...686P_38_SUPER_Performance_Center_Revolver.htm
    another
    http://www.gunsamerica.com/98341487...ter/S_W_Performance_Center_686_7_38_Super.htm

    The price is not excessive considering the $250 cost of having a .357 revolver rechambered and cut for clips.

    I doubt that the "cylinder bore schedule" of a Colt Army Special is close enough to any Smith & Wesson to use available clips. I see that Pinnacle will cut a Colt Trooper or Python to take .38 Special or .357 Magnum with clips, but don't know if a .357 clip would hold a .38 Auto securely enough for easy loading.

    I would not convert an Army Special or Official Police even if there were clips available.
    As you say, the old .38 Auto was a 26,000 psi round and .38 Super is 35,000.
    If you beat up one of the old guns with heavier loads than .38 Special, the parts and knowhow to fix it are scarce. If you just must have a Colt, look for a .357 Trooper.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The Army Special was introduced in 1908, and continued until 1927 when they changed the name (but not the gun) to Official Police. Under the new name it continued on until the model was discontinued in 1969 and replaced with an entirely new revolver that still retained the name, Official Police Mk. III. It in turn was discontinued in 1972 - or thereabouts.

    I believe that 6-shot/S&W L-frame speedloaders will work with these revolvers, but I haven't tried it. Such speed loaders are of course designed to be used with .38 Special/.357 Magnum cartridges.

    Concerning using an Army Special for the conversion you propose - I wouldn't. If someone else was to load it with .38 Super cartridges I'd expect the possibility of getting an expanded chamber and ruined cylinder. At least go to a late production Official Police, or better yet a Official Police Mk. III.

    That said, I suspect that anyone doing these kinds of modifications is probably set up to work on Smith & Wesson's, with the possible exception of the Colt Python. Also because of the depth of the extractor groove, a clip made to hold rimmed .38 Special or .357 Magnum cartridges probably wouldn't do well with the .38 Colt Automatic.
     
  10. RSVP2RIP

    RSVP2RIP Member

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    I can't find if it mentions on the moonclips website if you can still use the gun without clips if it is a rimmed cartridge like the 357. Would this be a problem because there is not enough material supporting the web of the case?
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    A .357 cut for clips will normally retain some of the original rear face of the cylinder so you can shoot loose ammunition.
    Pinnacle warns that the guns rechambered for autopistol cartridges 9mm P, 9x23, .38 Super will tend to stick empties if shot with Specials or Magnums in the larger chamber. Best to scrounge an extra cylinder if you want a lot of convertibility.
     
  12. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi CraigC,



    You'd asked -



    Because my premis, and interest, and reason for my interest is - and always had been - in having a Revolver roughly contemporary to the introduction of the .38 ACP Cartridge, or made within a couple decades of it, anyway, since, in my opinion, it is something which ought to have existed "then"...and, something I have long thought would be very appealing.


    I have no interest in converting any present day revolvers to a 111 year old Cartridge.

    And, for me, personally, .38 Special in Moon Clips is not interesting, even though it probably should be.

    Converting a present roughly day Revolver to .38 Super, definitely has appeal to me, if it is the right Revolver, but, the .38 Autocolt conversion is the original dream or fantasy, or possible realization I am after, and what I am focusing on at the moment.

    It is something I would have wanted to own at the time, and, had I been around, I would have sought out an able Smith to do the modifications, or, done them myself if possible.
     
  13. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    To me the whole magic behind using moon clips is to make it super easy to more or less just toss in a clip full of cartridges and have them find their way home. From the reading I've done I gather that the shorter and stubbier the cartridges the easier this occurs. On the other hand I've read that .38Spl in moonclips gets so cockeyed that it's tougher to reload than using even a semi decent speed loader.

    And given the peak chamber pressures I suspect you'd want to go with a .357 gun. Or to get a .357 cylinder with the known better mettalurgy and shorten it down to fit into a .38Spl frame. Otherwise you may risk blowing up the cylinder from the high 9mm pressures.
     
  14. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi BCRider,



    Well...

    'SAAMI' for .38 Special is like 17,000 PSI.


    +P, around 18 to 19,000


    .38 ACP, 26,000

    9mm P-'o8, 35,000


    9mm Luger +P, like 38,500


    .38 Auto is more or less at a half way point, pressure wise, between .38 Special, and many 9mm Luger/P-'08 Cartridges.


    No question that a .357 Magum would be an ideal Candidate for converting to any of the higher pressure similar diamater Cartridges, given they, and .357 are about on par pressure wise.
     
  15. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    So do you actually want it "chambered" in .38Super, or just clearanced to use moonclips with .38Super cartridges? If what you want is a .38Super chamber, with proper .38Super bolre dimensions, it's gonna entail a new cylinder and rebored barrel. The oldest revolvers I know of, available anywhere close to that time were the S&W .38-44's. I don't know of any way to procure a cylinder for an N-frame that could be rechambered to .38Super. Although it could be accomplished with a more modern K-frame.
     
  16. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi BCRider,


    My entire interest is predicated upon the idea of wanting a period revolver, chambering the .38 ACP Cartridge, such as could have been offered at least by the close of WWI, if not even earlier.


    'SAAMI' for .38 ACP, is 26,000 PSI.

    For 9mm Luger, 35,000 PSI, or, about the same as .357 Magnum if memory serve.

    For 9mm Luger +P, 38,500 PSI.

    For .38 Special, 18,000 PSI, or nudging 20 for +P.


    Quite a few people have converted erstwhile .38 Special Revolvers, such as S&W Model 10s, to 9mm Luger, without incident, so far as I have heard or read.

    The Cylinder of a Model 10 'S & W' is about 3/32nds or so smaller than that of a Colt Army Special, where the latter has Cylinder Walls about 2/3rds thicker.


    The 9mm Luger Cartridge makes greatly more pressure than is occasioned with the Cartridge I have in mind.


    If all I wanted was just any kind of Revolver to shoot 9 MM, there is plenty to choose from or have converted.

    I do not want just any kind of revolver.


    No one seems to understasnd my entire premis here with this, nor my entire reason.

    Both of which, are to have what Colt or S & W could have done, by say, 1919, or earlier, had they elected to do it.

    And, in my opinion, had they elected to do it, the Market would have rewarded them with more than enough sales to have justified it.

    The .38 ACP, and, the 9mm Luger Cartridges both were held in great esteem by not only the general gamut of Americans, but, by people the World over.


    The totally anticlimatic, lackluster offerings which finally did dribble out almost a Century late, have not uimpressed me as anything more or better than how absurd and halting things become when left to insular papershuffling idiots in suits who have no sense of inventiveness, innovation or style, and are so 'conservative' in all the wrong ways, as to ring like a Lead Bell whenever they do decide anything.

    They should be embarassed, taking a Century of timid hand wringing, to do what anyone with any sense would have done, at least, by 1919 or 1920.

    Oye...


    Lol...

    So, the Romace of this, for me, is the 'reason', and it requires a Revolver of the correct time period.
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I don't think that either Colt or Smith & Wesson were interested in continuing the 1/2 moon clip concept beyond the Model 1917 each made, but only because of wartime demands by the Army.

    However, after Colt introduced the .38 Super cartridge and pistol, S&W did build a prototype revolver made on the 1917 N-frame platform. During the Second World War an additional prototype - also made on the 1917 platform - was chambered in .30 U.S. M1 Carbine. Neither were put into production.

    On their part, Colt may have chambered a handful of Single Action Army revolvers in .38 Super, as moon clips of any kind were unnecessary. Beyond this they had no interest in using pistol cartridges in revolvers.
     
  18. goon

    goon Member

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    OK, correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't the .38 ACP the same casing that became the .38 Super except loaded to a lower pressure?
    Next, wasn't the Super originally headspaced on the case rim and only later changed to headspace on the mouth?
    Because if those things are true, why would you need moon-clips?

    And what gun are you thinking of trying to convert? I'm thinking if it's something like a K-frame Smith there have to be some .357 cylinders around somewhere that could be reamed.
    Interesting idea at the least.
     
  19. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    OK, correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't the .38 ACP the same casing that became the .38 Super except loaded to a lower pressure? Yes

    Next, wasn't the Super originally headspaced on the case rim and only later changed to headspace on the mouth? Yes

    Because if those things are true, why would you need moon-clips? For positive extraction in a revolver since it is a "semi-rimmed" case
     
  20. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I can't imagine a gunsmith who would think of doing this to a pre-war revolver.

    The cartridge was obsolete by the time the 38 super came out, and .38 Super would fit in a revolver covered to .38ACP, I'd fully expect someone (maybe not you) to turn that 1920's vintage reworked Colt or Smith revolver into a hand grenade.

    The reason this wasn't done 'back then' is that the revolvers of the day weren't up for that kind of pressure.

    Sure a modern piece can be built to handle a 9mm +p, but I doubt very seriously you'd see a smith risk his reputation, house and jail time over converting a turn of the century Smith or Colt into a 9mm.

    Smith and Wesson had to heat treat their revolvers to handle the then new 38/44 heavy duty load (designed to compete with Colt's 38 Super). The heaviest Colt revolvers like the New Service could handle these loads, and while Colt swore their Official Police could handle them, few people liked the 'small frame' guns shooting those hot loads. In that short time span autos were still sort of 'new', and the idea of chambering an auto cartridge into a revolver was well, not unheard of, but a strange idea.

    Colt and SW were making 45 ACP revolvers only because the army couldn't get 45 autos built fast enough for WW1. Which leads me to:

    The very oddball and very British Webly-Fosberry Automatic Revolver which WAS chambered in .38 ACP and used moon clips that held 8 cartridges.

    If you can find one in .38 ACP it may only set you back 20 grand or so. They just didn't make many in the 3 years they were in production. 38ACP was not a 'standard' British issue ammunition and this alone doomed the Webly to private purchase by wealthy officers. Far more were made in .455 Webly Auto, which was used in in a Navy contract automatic.
     
  21. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Checked a few things on my Coffee Break -


    A Factory .38 ACP Cartridge, will not fit into the Cylinder Chambers of my 1922 Colt 'Army Special'...it only goes in barely 1/8th of an inch worth of the Case.

    I tried the Cartridge in my S & W Model `10-6, and, it went in almost 3/4 of an inch, but, that left a healthy 1/4 inch to go.

    The Model 10 would extract it, even though it was not in all the way.


    The only Factory .38 Special Cartridges I have on hand, measure as being .374 at the Rim and for the ares the Bullet lay, inside the Case.


    The .38 ACP Cartidges I have on hand, measure .380 at that area.


    I had read of people shooting .38 ACP in otherwise normal .38 Special Revolvers, prior to WWI and in the '20s, with no tales of woe or catastrophe, so, I have to assume their Revolvers had some generous Cylinder Chamber diamaters.


    The Cylinder of my 1922 Colt 'Army Special' is about 3/32nds larger than that of a K Frame S & W. Cylinder walls, are much thicker.

    I have no idea how, Metalurgically, the two would differ.


    But, to my mind, there is no reason as far as Metalurgy, that Colt or S & W could not have offered mid frame revolvers chambering the .38 ACP Cartridge, right from the get go, let alone, by say, 1919.

    If it had required a slightly different Alloy and or Heat Treatment in addition, from what the usual had been, that would not have been much of a hardship...they had entirely excellent Metalurgists a Hundred and Ten years ago, and, many items required all through Commerce and the Manufacturing Trades required quite particular Alloys of Steel and or Heat Treatment for their applications.

    I do not believe their reason was because they were incapabale.

    I believe it was lack of imagination to see the obvious Market which would have existed, in the US and abroad, on the part of Colt, and, a haughty pride and distain by S & W to chamber anything in a Colt Cartridge unless Uncle Sam ordered them to do so.


    I am confident, that well made, reliable 'Brand Name' Revolvers, chambering the 9 mm Luger, and, or, the .38 ACP Cartridges would have found wide popularity and acclaim prior to WWI, and all the more so, once it got going...and thereafter.


    Once the M1917 Colts and S&Ws showed the elegence of using even the half Moon Clips the Military insisted on for easy carry in pouches, the concept ought to have been obvious to anyone, and, would have appealed to anyone admring it, if applied to mid Frame Revolvers.


    Anyway...this has been fun to think about...and, still thinking...


    Thanks everyone for your input!
     
  22. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Doesn't really matter why. While they may be larger than a model 10, it's the strength that is in question. Even the early Colt SAA's chambered in .357Mag were not properly heat treated and suffered premature wear and that is 20yrs later than your Army Special could've been born. As well as a larger diameter cylinder. Ever heard the phrase, "you can't get there from here"? I understand that the .38ACP is slightly larger in diameter than the .38Spl, nominally, but I'm not so sure that there is enough meat there for the ACP reamer (which will mosty likely have to be ordered $$$) to clean up properly.

    Now, bear in mind that with proper application of funds in the right direction, anything can be accomplished. I'm sure Bowen could build you a custom cylinder and make a later model Trooper look just like a turn of the century Army Special but do you really want to spend five thousand dollars on this project and wait two to three years for it to be completed?
     
  23. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi CraigC,


    You'd asked -




    I do not want to have a conversion done for .38 super.

    I want a Conversion done for .38 Autocolt/ .38 ACP.


    The Cartridges are identical in every way, but for their Loading/power/pressure.



    The .38 ACP is a less powerful lower pressure Cartridge, than the .38 Super is, even though they are identical in every other way dimensionsally.


    My Cylinder Bores would likely have to be minutely enlarged to oblige the .38 ACP Cartridge.

    The Barrel would be fine as is.


    I intend to do my own Re-Loading, and, to shoot Lead Bullets, of .357 or .358 Diameter...which I used to do anyway in my '38 ACP Automatic.

    I do not plan on shooting Hardball, or, Jacketed Bullets.


    The .38 ACP Catridge, is about .004 of an Inch larger in diameter, apparently, than the .38 Special Cartridge, so, the Cylinder Bores of the Candidate revolver ( not obtained yet ) would likely need to be reamed to an approriate diameter for the Cartridges to both chamber, and, release/extract well in their Moon Clips.



    Oh, yes, I see what you mean.

    But, any .38-44 could be slightly modified to chamber and fire .38 Super, in Moon Clips. It would be very easy, or, as easy as any other common S & BW Conversion for rimless Cartridges.


    The Bullet would have a little jump is all, as it would in any had-been .38 Special Cylinder Bore, as, the .38 Super ( or it's dimensionally identical older Brother, the .38 ACP ) Cartridge Case is a little shorter than the .38 Special Cartridge Case.




    I do not want anm N Frame though for this, it would be too large...too disproportionate to the poiwer of the Cartridge.


    .38 ACP was like one step above what we now would regard as .38 + P.

    It is no Barn Burner, but, it is a very nice, moderately powerful, and very flat shooting Cartridge.

    Originally it was loaded to be 130 Grain, Copper Patch ( FMJ ) Bullet, and, 1250 FPS.

    It was very soon down-loaded to 130 Grain, Copper Patch or Lead, and, 1050 FPS.


    Quite close to 9 MM Lugar in general power or ft lbs, but, 10,000 to 12,000 lbs less pressure...and a longer Cartridge.


    .38 Super - 'SAAMI' - 35,000 PSI

    .38 ACP - 'SAAMI' - 26,000 PSI

    .38 Special - 'SAAMI' - 17 - 18,000 PSI


    I think the strain would be too unkind for an early K-Frame.


    Probably, a Model 10 would handle it alright, even if it does exceed it's rating.

    A Model 13 would be very comfortable with .38 ACP, but, is too new a Revolver for the idea to any longer make any sense.


    An early, pre war .357 Magnum, would do perfectly fine with it, but, then, it would be more appropropriate to convert it, to .38 Super, in every way, so, that leaves that out.


    All I am left with, is, a Colt Army Special, as far as I can figure, for a 'period correct enough' Candidate, for conversion to the Colt .38 ACP Cartridge, using full Moon Clips.


    The Colt 'New Service' is too large for the power of the Cartridge.


    And, everything else, too small to take it without worry of rupture!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  24. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi CraigC,


    You'd asked -



    Yes, I understand the strength of the Cylinder is crucial.


    If say, Colt used the same Alloy for the Cylinders of the Police Positive Special, as they did for the Army Special, the latter having greatly thicker Walls to the Cylinder Bores...I would have to suspect the latter ( Army Special ) Cylinder, would be that much ( however 'that much' is, ) stronger.

    Thus, it may just be strong enough for .38 ACP...or, it might not be.

    I do not know, and, so far, no one else does, either.



    The Reamer one would use for .38 ACP, is the same reamer one would use for .38 Super.


    They are the same Cartridge, if different Loadings.


    .357 Magnum is around 35,000 PSI. being about the same as .38 Super.


    .38 ACP, 26,000 PSI


    Pretty big difference, pressure wise.


    There is no reason a conversion done to a Colt 'Army Special' should or would cost any more, than one done on any garden variety S&W.


    Lots of places advertise converting to 9mm or .38 Super, for like a hundred bucks, some charge more, some want to sell you all sorts of junk to go along with it...and, they do S&W and Ruger and so on.

    I was looking for someone who does 'Colts'.


    There is nothing intrinsically more difficult or needing to be more expensive, to put a Colt Cylinder on a Lathe, and turn down a little of it on one end, or to do so on a Milling Machine, than it would be to do it for any other brand of Revolver Cylinder.


    I just wanted to find a place who does Colts, and, who is familiar and able to do the work, since they are used to doing it...and, to see what they might say about it.


    Many thousands of mundane, modern revolvers, are routinely re-fitted to oblige 9mm and .38 Super Cartridges with Moon Clips.


    They 'get there from here' for about what an average dinner-date would cost.

    I see nothing whatever in my prospective project, which would require or justify extremes of expense, for merely having the same simple process done, as is done all the time on other revolvers.


    If there is a final decision that the Army Special Cylinder is not strong enough for .38 ACP, then, I will accept the verdict, and, not do it, having had fun, regardless, in thinking and seeking knowledge about the idea of the conversion.


    Best wishes!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  25. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I get a little discouraged whenever somebody says "I ought to be able to get a "B" for the price of an "A"."

    Why don't you call up some real gunsmiths and ask if they will work on a Colt?
     
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