Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why does a .38 Spl have such a long round and little powder?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by dgray64, Nov 26, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. dgray64

    dgray64 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    142
    I loaded my first .38s yesterday. I have been loading 9mm, 380, .40 S&W and .45. All of these take lots of Unique powder. The 9mm takes 5.4 grs for a 115gr round. This fills the case and actually compresses some under the round. The .38 on the other hand takes 4.4 gr of Unique for 158 gr bullet. There is a lot of empty space in the case. Curious!

    Dave :confused:
     
  2. BigG

    BigG Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    7,081
    Location:
    Dixieland
    The cartridge dates from c. 1899 and was during the transition from black powder to smokeless powder. There were many old BP guns chambered for 38 Colt with bored thru cylinders that would take anything that would fit. The 38 Special was made long enough that it wouldn't chamber in most of those.
     
  3. Mark whiz

    Mark whiz Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Messages:
    789
    Location:
    Wabash, IN
    The .38Spcl case is still a "throwback" to the black powder days of yor. The case was originally designed for black powder loads which would occupy a much greater space than current smokeless powders.


    BigG beat me to the draw!! Ha!
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,082
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    Started out in 1899.

    It was also made longer then the older black-powder .38 S&W so it couldn't be chambered in the weaker old guns. Kind of the same reason the .357 Mag and .44 Mag are longer then the .38 Spl. and .44 Spl.

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  5. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Messages:
    429
    Location:
    Utah
    Because it's older than your grandpa.
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    22,836
    The .38 Special came out in 1899, loaded with black powder. It was special because it had 21 grains of powder and a 158 grain bullet instead of the .38 Government/.38 Long Colt with 18 grains powder and a 150 grain bullet. So it is longer to hold more powder. It will chamber in a "bored through" .38 L.C. So will a .357 Magnum but that doesn't mean you should shoot them.

    It has nothing to do with .38 S&W.
     
  7. GaryL

    GaryL Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    1,181
    Location:
    MN
    Cause it's old? :neener:

    I think this one has been answered.
     
  8. dgray64

    dgray64 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    142
    Thanks. That makes a lot of sense!

    Dave :neener:
     
  9. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    7,872
    Location:
    Ava, Missouri
    Because it was designed for black powder? I'm too young to remember. Or was that I can't remember because I'm too old? Never mind...I forget. Was this question answered?...Oh...O K...
     
  10. jfh

    jfh Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,872
    Location:
    Maple Plain, MN
    Did anyone mention that

    the cartridge came out in 1899, and was originally designed for BP?

    Jim H.
     
  11. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Messages:
    429
    Location:
    Utah
    Did anyone say that it's a freakin' old cartridge?
     
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    Messages:
    22,673
    Location:
    Northeast PA, USA
    Why do 10 people say the same exact thing after the question has been answered many times over?
     
  13. strat81

    strat81 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Sometimes it's good to have reinforcement.

    I like Koski's answer the most.

    But anyway, to answer the OP's question, the 38 Special dates back to 1899... ;)
     
  14. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    7,872
    Location:
    Ava, Missouri
    I appologize dgray64...It seems that everyone is a bit bored today...But...Did we answer your question adequately? We get graded poorly if we didn't...
     
  15. jfh

    jfh Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,872
    Location:
    Maple Plain, MN
    "Why do 10 people say the same exact thing...."

    Thank you for being the straight man, ArchAngelCD. At least one person said it tongue in cheek--but I like The Bushmaster's response the best.
     
  16. Crazy4nitro

    Crazy4nitro Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    Louisville KY
    .38Spcl is one of My Fav. Rounds
    Bullseye fills VERY little of the case.

    'Nitro
     
  17. jfh

    jfh Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,872
    Location:
    Maple Plain, MN
    Well, just don't use 100-yr-old Bullseye in an original 38 Special case....

    Jim H.
     
  18. Clark

    Clark Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    4,403
    Location:
    Where I5 meets the rain forest
    Cartridges of the World shows the 38sp being introduced in 1902 to be better than the shorter old black powder cartridge, the 1887 38 Colt Long.

    Smokeless powder was invented in 1888, and quickly caused the phasing out of black powder.

    Double based powder since 1889.

    There is a batch of Unique powder from 1899 that is periodically ceremoniously shot.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_8_47/ai_76558924


    What does it all mean?
    The 38 sp has to be long enough, so it won't fit any old black powder 38 Colt Long revolvers.
    They may say it was long for safety, but IMHO they wanted to sell new revolvers.
    Have you ever tried to blow up a black powder revolver with smokeless powder?
    I have. It is not easy. I have not tested any that would blow up with 38 sp pressures.
     
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    22,836
    I don't take CotW as Gospel.

    Blue Book - not a primary reference, either - says the S&W Military and Police came out in 1899 and that commercial models were marked ".38 S&W Special and U.S. Service Ctgs."

    Sharpe said that if your .38 Long will accept .38 Specials, to load Special brass with Long data.

    Stebbins was of the opnion that .38 Special black and smokeless loads came out together. But Greener still showed black powder loads in 1909.
     
  20. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,082
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    CTW is wrong. Again!
    There are a lot of errors in Cartridges of the World.

    The "3rd. Book of S&W" bible clearly says the .38 Special was introduced by S&W in 1899, in the new Model of 1899 Army-Navy revolver. (1st. model M&P)

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  21. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    7,872
    Location:
    Ava, Missouri
    Kind of a "Trivial Pursuit" question without too much importants or bearing on the over 100 year old .38 Special. But you go get'em tiger..Aah..rcmodel...
     
  22. shc1

    shc1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    197
    Because it's older than your grandpa.

    Ummm no it's not...:p
     
  23. bcp

    bcp Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2006
    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    SW WA
    'Cause if it was shorter or longer it wouldn't be a 38 Special, would it?

    ;)

    Bruce
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page