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  #1  
Old 03-16-2011, 10:37 PM
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Default Using +P Ammo in model 36

I have an all steel model 36 (38 Special) with a 2 inch barrel.
According to Smith and Wesson this gun was made in 1982.
So far I have not used +P ammo. What do you all think about me using +P ammo in this gun?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:01 PM
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No problem to the gun. Will hurt Your hand and your wallet before the gun feels it.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:03 PM
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Check the factory manual. Use of +P generally accelerates wear and may provide both more recoil and a different point of impact than you feel comfortable with.

Where you put the bullet is far more important than what the weight, diameter or velocity of the bullet. [Have I done it, yeah. Do I still do it? No.]
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:47 PM
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Should not be a problem I have a older model 37 that I have shot over 1200 rounds of 38 +P+ thru, along with uncounted rounds of +P and standard velocity. It is still going strong.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:55 PM
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Model 36 was not designed for +P ammo
S&W will not authorize use of +P ammo
in your gun
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:01 AM
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As I recall any model marked steel frame Model 36 is OK for occasional +P ammo.
Why anyone would feed an old and tiny J frame a steady diet of high Velocity +P ammo...Well...I would not understand?

I agree with the majority...
You should not use a steady diet of +P ammo as it will accelerate the deterioration of your handgun,
Rather,
Use low Velocity ammo for occasional target practice but carry the Hottest +P ammo you can find in the gun for self defense....
I promise you the paper target will never know the difference....

Cheers!

Last edited by Engine49guy; 03-17-2011 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:53 AM
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A model 36 made in '82 is a modern revolver and a few boxes of +P won't wear it out quickly but like driving your car at 100 mph occasionally it puts more strain on the mechanisms parts than using standard pressure ammo.

Personally if it was to be used as a carry self defense pistol I would buy one box of +P carry ammo that's made by one of the 4 major manufacturers with a good expanding JHP and test fire 5 of them to make sure I can hit the kill zone of a silhouette at 20 yds. If they hit where I aimed that would be all the +P I would shoot for practice. When I carry the gun I would load the +P along with 2 speed loaders for the ride. Revolvers are inherently reliable to unlike a semi auto there's no need to test a bunch of rounds to make sure they feed and extract reliably if 5 work you can expect the next f 5 to work just as good.

If they're needed for SD then they'd get used but I don't stress any small frame pistol I like or want to work reliably by shooting +P just to punch paper. Maybe once or twice a year I'd shoot another 5 rounds of +P just to remind myself what they're like.

Practice would be done with standard velocity reloads or factory ammo if you are not a hand loader. At the ranges handguns are shot I find little difference in point of aim vs point of impact between standard velocity and +P. An inch high or low at 25 yards may make a lot of difference when scoring targets but in a SD situation at the typical 5 to 10 yds it will make no difference at all.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:52 AM
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I have a 1975 vintage M36 and when I carry it I load it with standard pressure Federal Nyclad ammo. It's not because I'm worried about harming the revolver, that ammo just shoots so well in that revolver.

I agree a few rounds now and then of +P ammo will do no harm to any post WWII all steel S&W revolver. The ammo shot in those revolvers back then was "hotter" than the stuff being marketed today as +P ammo.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S&WREV123 View Post
I have an all steel model 36 (38 Special) with a 2 inch barrel.
According to Smith and Wesson this gun was made in 1982.
So far I have not used +P ammo. What do you all think about me using +P ammo in this gun?
I believe that the weapon manufacturer states not to use +P ammo for a reason. For me personally I choose to heed that advise. I use the following two standard pressure loadings...........
Federal® Premium® Personal Defense® 125gr Nyclad® HP
Buffalo Bore® Std Press 158gr LSWHPGC

Both products will serve you well.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:13 AM
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Saint Elmer held forth on the strength of the J-frame .38s, and I concur. I've owned several, and would never be troubled by shooting an unlimited amount of .38+P ammo through the steel frames.

My last Model 36 no-dash, I didn't shoot much that wasn't +P through it. Hundreds and hundreds of rounds of it - and stuff well beyond SAAMI's +P standard as well. Gun didn't bat an eye. A neighbor who needed a carry gun talked me out of that one, but it was still going strong and still tight as a drum.

I have a customized 36-1 that might be my favorite pistol ever (don't ask me why - I have no idea, really) that essentially does not get shot with anything below what's presently rated as +P rounds. Steel-framed gun, offset bolt notches, short forcing cone protrusion into the cylinder window - the only thing that could get hurt by a 20,000 PSI round would seem to be the hand of a less-than-rugged shooter.

Don't rely on what we say, though. Contact S&W with the serial number if you want the official story. You should do whatever makes you comfortable after you research the issue, though - perhaps all the Model 36s that I've shot/owned have been exceptionally strong ones.

Last edited by Erich; 03-17-2011 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:46 PM
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Thank you one and all for your responses.

Here is a picture

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Old 03-17-2011, 02:50 PM
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The gun will take more "+P" than will your hand. Often, folks seem to forget that Smith recommended the OLD steel J-frames for .38-44 HD loads, which were FAR hotter than modern +P. Will hotter ammo accelerate wear? Of course. Will it break your gun with a few rounds? Of course not. Just be sensible, instead of yielding either to internet hand-wringing or boasting.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:28 PM
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Any steel framed J Frame .38 Special revolver with its offset cylinder stop notches is safe for use with ANY .38 Special +P loads on the market. My "weak sister" Model 64 is a K Frame six shooter with the stop notches directly over the chambers and is significantly weaker than any J Frame Model 36. In spite of this, my 64 will handle any +P+ ammo on the market. The +P designation is definitely overrated.

Dave Sinko
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:32 PM
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I asked the same question when I bought my model 36. I carry Federal Personal Defense 110 gr hydrashocks in my 36, It's a standard pressure round but delivers about the same muzzle energy as a +P round. According to MidwayUSA around 244 ft/lbs (probably less for snubbies). That is equal to a lot of +P loads. Which tells me that this round is pretty hot. For practice a shoot the standard 130gr MCs or lower pressure rounds, like a wadcutter or even cowboy loads.
I like my Chief's Special. I use it as a primary carry in warm weather with a 380 as a back up.

Last edited by Will Carry; 03-17-2011 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:40 PM
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Funny thing - the Smith and Wesson web site next to the Model 36 says the exact same thing the barrel on my M36 says:

".38 S&W Special +P"

Etched in steel. That's good enough for me.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:57 PM
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Mine doesn't say +P. It was made in 1977. However, they are made the same way now as in 1977. I don't think they case harden the trigger and hammer any more. If a Taurus M85 can handle +P then a Smith and Wesson model 36 can too, it's just that I like the standard pressure rounds. The difference in stopping power are no that significant in a snubby, but I understand wanting the most power you can get.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 38-44HD45 View Post
Often, folks seem to forget that Smith recommended the OLD steel J-frames for .38-44 HD loads, which were FAR hotter than modern +P.
I wonder when that was, because here is an old add for a K frame that doesn't even recommend using the 38-44 ammo. To eliminate any confusion, the "Super Police" load mentioned in the ad is the old and slow 200 grain bullet, not the 38-44 load.


Last edited by stiab; 03-17-2011 at 06:10 PM. Reason: spellling
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  #18  
Old 03-17-2011, 06:22 PM
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This is just my opinion. So take it for whatever it is worth.

It seems there are three schools of thought on this issue:

1) No problem
2) No way
3) Why bother?

Admittedly, I fall into the third school of thought. As already posted, there are non +P rated self defense loads that have proven quite well. I can't see any reason to shoot +P loads through anything that doesn't have +P engraved on the barrel.

However, if you feel you must carry +P, then just get a second revolver. There are quite a few "cosmeticly challenged" Model 36's available for a resonable price when compared to the price of a case of +P .38spl ammo. Just pick one up and shoot +P through it to your heart's content. You will also have the benefit of doing your own, hands-on testing of the durability of a J-frame using +P ammo.

If the twenty or so rounds of +P that you fire each year through your carry Model 36 are going to hurt it, then you really don't want to be carrying that for your self defense handgun.

Any how, that's just my $0.02.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:50 PM
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I carry the BB 158 grain +p load in all my j-frames, three 36s and a Model 60. It is too expensive to shoot a whole lot of it, but I made sure all of them shot to point of aim, and I refresh the ammo by shooting what's in the gun and replacing it once a year. I don't really believe the "major" manufacturers' +p ammo would loosen a steel-frame Chiefs with thousands of rounds. It ain't really much--probably really about standard pressure. The BB stuff is pretty hot feeling, but it really feels better in my j-frames than in my K-frame guns.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:18 PM
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I am of the "Why bother?" mind. At the range I can justify employing my M36 I see no advantage in +P ammo. It's a great little pistol but not easy to master, even with standard ammo.
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:15 AM
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Quote:
Funny thing - the Smith and Wesson web site next to the Model 36 says the exact same thing the barrel on my M36 says:

".38 S&W Special +P"

Etched in steel. That's good enough for me.
In August 1996 S&W released the M36-9 which was built on the J magnum frame and 1.6" cylinder, not the slightly smaller J frame. That's when they added the +P designation to the barrel.

BTW, the M36 was discontinued I think in 2006 in favor of the M36 Classic. There is no regular production M36 being made by S&W, only the M36 Classic. I think they did the same with the Model 10 last year too.
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WyoStillhunter View Post
I am of the "Why bother?" mind. At the range I can justify employing my M36 I see no advantage in +P ammo. It's a great little pistol but not easy to master, even with standard ammo.
At 12 feet, which is what I consider close to maximum self-defense range with a 36, I see a tremendous advantage in a 158 grain soft lead bullet with a huge hp cavity at 1000fps over a 125 grain hp at 850 fps, which might or might not expand. In my experience, with just a little practice and familiarization, the 36/60/37, etc. snubbies aren't that hard to shoot well at those ranges. I might be all wet, but I think the Buffalo Bore ammo has changed the .38 special snub nose into a very viable self defense handgun. I don't think my Model 60 with the BB 158 grain +p ammo is nearly as hard to control as my Model 19s are with "full-house" .357 ammo.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:45 AM
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I am in the why bother catagory, you make the head or neck shot and they are likely to drop right there, heart they will be alive a short time, any where else and it could take a little while.. I am not sure that in most cases its gonna matter much weather its a +P or not.. But I could be wrong, but I was always in the shot placement camp
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:07 AM
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This post saved me some money. I was going to retire my 60-2 NY-1 for a J frame that could handle +P. Think I'll just keep it now.
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:17 PM
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I've fired hundreds of .38 +Ps in my old Models 37 Airweight and 3in 36-1 without a catastrophic cylinder failure , or even any measurable frame stretching or gap increase.

I've seen threads on other sites where people asked if .38 +Ps were safe to use in K , L and N-frame .357 magnums, and were told NO!
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stiab View Post
I wonder when that was, because here is an old add for a K frame that doesn't even recommend using the 38-44 ammo. To eliminate any confusion, the "Super Police" load mentioned in the ad is the old and slow 200 grain bullet, not the 38-44 load.
I'll have to get over on our private forum and rip a copy of the ad. Be back later.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:13 PM
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The K Frame in that ad is an old M&P .38 Special and NOT a .357 Magnum. Given the older steel and the fact that the cylinder stop notches are directly over the chambers, heavy .38/44 loads are not advised in this revolver and they just might destroy it. In fact, .38/44 type handloads are way too much for my Model 64, which is an updated version of the M&P with better steel. But the modern J Frame is very tough and as previously stated can handle the .38/44 and also the heaviest .38 Special loads.

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Old 03-18-2011, 03:52 PM
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for whatever it's worth...S&W has stated many times...+p is fine in any model marked model...which is 1957 and newer...
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:12 PM
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Let's see if this old K-frame ad attaches properly.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
The K Frame in that ad is an old M&P .38 Special and NOT a .357 Magnum.
Yes, it was clear from the post and ad that it was not a .357 Magnum.

Quote:
the older steel and the fact that the cylinder stop notches are directly over the chambers, heavy .38/44 loads are not advised in this revolver and they just might destroy it.
That statement seems to conflict with the ad Erich posted, which shows the 38-44 OK for a K frame older than the one in the ad I posted.

I love these old ads and continue to learn a lot from them. I have saved the ones Erich posted, and also look forward to seeing the ones with 38-44 listed OK for the J frames.

Last edited by stiab; 03-18-2011 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:50 PM
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Well it's been a while, so I'm going to step out on a limb and say it is doubtful that anyone can post an ad showing that S&W OK'ed .38-44 ammo in J frames, as previously posted. If I have read the 'book' correctly, J frames were not introduced until 1950, and that is the exact date of the K frame ad I posted above which did not list .38-44 as being OK in that bigger frame.

Let me know if I'm wrong, always looking for more S&W ads, thanks!
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich View Post
Let's see if this old K-frame ad attaches properly.
A 158 gr bullet at 1100+ fps is going right nice.
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
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Let's see if this old K-frame ad attaches properly.
Okay, stiab, and all others, if you can see this, here is one Erich posted as to K-frames, which, by all the accounts of those of us who matter, are not quite as strong as Js. I keep +P+ loads in my Ks. Erich found the ad for which I was looking, and if Chuck is listening here, he might be able to post some more for us. Yes, not only were 38-44s recommended for Ks, but also for Js, and for Colt Ds, whom many view as less strong than either Smith Ks or Js. The Nervous Nellie hand-wringing as to modern "+P" in ANY steel J or K Smith, or D-Colt, really needs to come to an end. It is internet nonsense. Like the "bobbing a hammer causes misfires" myth, it is just that, a myth, and it is growing tiresome. Flame if you want, but I'll shoot +P ammo, and even hotter, in steel Js, Ks, and Colt Ds, and if I blow up my gun or myself, Erich and all my other friends and family are hereby instructed to post here on every sub-forum that I was horribly, horribly, fatally wrong. I expect to live to the age of 99, and be shot by a jealous husband.
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 38-44HD45 View Post
Erich found the ad for which I was looking
I thought you were looking for the ad where S&W OK'ed .38-44 use in a J frame, not a K frame? You had earlier stated S&W approved their use in J frames, then went to look for an ad, so that's what I assumed.

Don't get me wrong, I shoot lots of +P in my old J frames, and some +P+, and even .38 Super in my .357 mags. But I was wanting to see the documentation behind your comment "Smith recommended the OLD steel J-frames for .38-44 HD loads."

Last edited by stiab; 03-21-2011 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:04 AM
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The ".38-44 though J-frames" info that I have comes from Saint Elmer - I don't recall whether I've seen an ad saying that such was okey-doke. That said, my personal experience (as I mentioned above) has me shooting almost exclusively +P rounds through my steel-framed Js.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich View Post
The ".38-44 though J-frames" info that I have comes from Saint Elmer
Erich, I know your references were to the testing Elmer Keith did, and not anything directly from S&W. It seems strange to me that S&W would approve of .38-44 in J frames since by the time they were introduced (1950) the .38-44 was a already a dinosaur, because of the .357 Magnum. The quote above I was referring to was made by 38-44HD45, and I was just hoping to see an old ad or something from the factory to confirm what he said. Guess I'm out of luck in that regard.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:21 PM
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Who knows what might still be posted?! You know, ammo makers appear to have continued producing ".38-44" ammo well into the '60s. A friend (who might be on this forum) sent me a fresh box of Peters' loading of this ammo from (IIRC) '69.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:48 PM
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Could be, maybe something will show up. I have a bunch of old ads and introductory info saved, including now the one you just posted. In another thread on a similar subject, somebody smarter than me posted an idea that sounded very reasonable. This is not a direct quote, but it went something like this: 'The reason S&W quit advertising that .38-44 was OK in the K frames probably had to do with marketing. They had rather sell someone a new .357 magnum than have them produce near magnum performance in their existing .38 Specials'. That seemed to make sense to me.
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:19 PM
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I’m on the side of the fence that thinks a 158 grain bullet at standard pressure is good enough for me. What I would like to see info on is what specifically changed to make the J get the marking for +P. What internally is different than the non +P marked guns? Are they heat treated differently? Did they upgrade the blend of the steel? So if someone says old guns no but new guns yes, then what is the justification?
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:35 PM
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Hey, Amigos, let me say only a few more words, with no guarantees, no special promises, the utmost reservations, and with absolute promises that if you do not follow the letter and law of the latest edition of every handloading manual extant, you will definitely blow off all your bodily appendages, please listen to this: Handloading is not a hobby for those who do not get it. We have benefited for many years from the experimentation of our ancestors who have been kind enough to blow up a few guns without hurting us or, mostly, themselves. The knowledge base from which we now progress is the result of decades of experimentation by men who took risks, and not all those risks paid off. Do you want to risk your high-dollar handgun with an off-the-chart load? Up to you.

At the same time, don't be silly on the front end of the chart. Chuck, who has a much better library of old advertisements than do I, is currently looking up old S&W ads for Js and Ks which will approve and promote 38-44 loads. I'll post such links when Chuck gets them to me. Meantime, why bother? The 342Ti that rides my ankle most of the time is happy with wadcutters, and I'm not sure it matters whether they run at 700 fps. or 875 fps. from its 1 7 /8" tube.

Last edited by 38-44HD45; 03-21-2011 at 05:16 PM.
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  #41  
Old 03-21-2011, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 38-44HD45 View Post
Hey, Amigos, let me say only a few more words, with no guarantees, no special promises, the utmost reservations, and with absolute promises that if you do not follow the letter and law of the latest edition of every handloading manual extant, you will definitely blow off all your bodily appendages, please listen to this: Handloading is not a hobby for those who do not get it. We have benefited for many years from the experimentation of our ancestors who have been kind enough to blow up a few guns without hurting us or, mostly, themselves. The knowledge base from which we now progress is the result of decades of experimentation by men who took risks, and not all those risks paid off. Do you want to risk your high-dollar handgun with an off-the-chart load? Up to you.

At the same time, don't be silly on the front end of the chart. Chuck, who has a much better library of old advertisements than do I, is currently looking up old S&W ads for Js and Ks which will approve and promote 38-44 loads. I'll post such links when Chuck gets them to me. Meantime, why bother? The 342Ti that rides my ankle most of the time is happy with wadcutters, and I'm not sure it matters whether they run at 700 fps. or 875 fps. from its 1 /8" tube.
You meant a 1⅞" barrel didn't you?
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  #42  
Old 03-21-2011, 05:17 PM
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Red face

Yes, David, I did. Good eye, and for me, D'OH!!
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Maximumbob54 View Post
I’m on the side of the fence that thinks a 158 grain bullet at standard pressure is good enough for me. What I would like to see info on is what specifically changed to make the J get the marking for +P. What internally is different than the non +P marked guns? Are they heat treated differently? Did they upgrade the blend of the steel? So if someone says old guns no but new guns yes, then what is the justification?

I don't see that there is a justification at all because +P ammunition is a "tempest in a teapot" in my view. Ammunition makers simply aren't going to churn out a product that is patently unsafe. I've shot perhaps a total of a box of 158 grain +P ammunition in a Chief's Special that shipped from the factory in March of 1952 and that is what it is loaded with if I carry it. I'm not about to unnecessarily fire +P by the crate full through it but do see +P as a non-issue with steel-framed .38 Special Smith & Wesson revolvers.

In fact I'm going to drop that handy little Chief's into my jeans pocket right now in order to walk down and pick up my wife from her office. If y'all ever see a mushroom cloud arising from the northwestern part of the middle of Texas than you'll know that I was wrong and +P really is the nuclear nightmare that the internet seems to think it is.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:48 PM
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Anything that Bryan McGilvray has to say about .38 Specials is worth noting.
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:27 PM
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Hah! Noting perhaps, Erich.

Adhering to? Maybe not so much.







Went into the local gun shop recently to inquire about a part. While idling at the counter as the gunsmith was looking in bins and drawers for the part, I spied the corpse of a sad little Model 60 lying on a bench behind the counter. Asked permission to see it and asked if he knew the story behind the ruined revolver.

The gunsmith said that its owner claimed that it had been fired with factory +P+ ammunition and that was all the 'smith knew about its tale of woe. Didn't know what brand of ammunition or the bullet weight that was involved in the event.

The camera was in my shooting gear in the pickup so I asked if I could take a couple of photos.

This revolver grenaded badly. I'm reluctant to believe the Model 60's owner's story without documentation. This looks like a gross overload to me. I've never seen a J-Frame so busted.

The thing is (and this has been discussed on the Forum in the past) I've not yet seen documented proof that any factory +P ammunition caused a catastrophic failure in any steel-framed Smith & Wesson revolver .38 Special no matter it's age or size.

Any horror stories I've ever read about +P and damaged steel revolvers has been anecdotal in nature.

"Somebody heard that the uncle of their best bud blew up a Model...Bubba's brother-in-law's mechanic's mother was injured when... Gun Exploding Forum had a thread running...Down at the gun shop the counter help claimed that he saw..."

I'd have to pin down the facts to become a true believer in the detonating wonders, or even the battering wear of +P ammunition.

Handloads? Now that is a whole different breed of cat. I love handloading but one is on his own with regards to "performance loading."
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Old 03-22-2011, 02:52 AM
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I was told many years ago by a gun shop owner that he knew of a few
early md 60s that were damaged by Super Vel factory loads. He
insisted that the stainless used in the 60 was softer and less tough
and durable than the carbon steel of the 36. He claimed that S&W
stainless revolvers would shoot loose faster than carbon steel models.
He claimed that he had proven the difference in hardness by using
a file on the inside edge of the grip frames several times. I was also
told by a retired cop friend that back in the days when they all used
revolvers that the S&W 66 would loosen up much faster than the 19
with the same amount of firing. Don't know. I have a 60-7 and two
37-2s. I plan to stick to standard pressure in the 37s and no more
than +P in the 60. Can't believe that higher pressure loads would
compensate for poor shot placement at close range.
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Old 03-22-2011, 01:12 PM
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but much of the standard "non +P" ammo out there is loaded with bullets that are so soft and/or to such a low velocity that proper shot placement might not be good enough; if heavy clothing or an arm gets in the way of your otherwise perfectly placed shot your bullet just might run out of steam before it can get the job done. Sure, the old standard swaged 158 gr. LRN has killed a lot of people, but it has also gotten a lot of people killed by failing to penetrate adequately.

Some factory loaded 158 gr. JHP has done less than 700 FPS in my 2" Model 64. That's downright pathetic, and there's no excuse for it. I can safely exceed that by 200 FPS in my "weak sister" 64, and by an even wider margin in my Model 60. And it's interesting to note that my 9mm (J Frame) Model 940 can exceed the ballistics of most if not all of the factory loaded "high performance" .38 Special factory loads on the market. And the 9mm can do it with considerably less case capacity than the .38 Special, with the same 2" barrel.

Much factory loaded .38 Special ammo leaves a lot to be desired, including the +P. It's too bad that the +P designation still creates so many misconceptions.

Dave Sinko
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Old 03-22-2011, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but much of the standard "non +P" ammo out there is loaded with bullets that are so soft and/or to such a low velocity that proper shot placement might not be good enough; if heavy clothing or an arm gets in the way of your otherwise perfectly placed shot your bullet just might run out of steam before it can get the job done. Sure, the old standard swaged 158 gr. LRN has killed a lot of people, but it has also gotten a lot of people killed by failing to penetrate adequately.

Some factory loaded 158 gr. JHP has done less than 700 FPS in my 2" Model 64. That's downright pathetic, and there's no excuse for it. I can safely exceed that by 200 FPS in my "weak sister" 64, and by an even wider margin in my Model 60. And it's interesting to note that my 9mm (J Frame) Model 940 can exceed the ballistics of most if not all of the factory loaded "high performance" .38 Special factory loads on the market. And the 9mm can do it with considerably less case capacity than the .38 Special, with the same 2" barrel.

Much factory loaded .38 Special ammo leaves a lot to be desired, including the +P. It's too bad that the +P designation still creates so many misconceptions.

Dave Sinko
After owning a chronograph for many years I agree with what
you say Dave, especially about the poor quality of factory
loaded 38 sp ammo, along with other calibers. I should have
been more specific. I really meant standard and +P pressure
hand loads. I also have a high regard for the 9mm but i'm
not ready to pay the going prices for J-frame 9s.
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Old 03-22-2011, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
The gunsmith said that its owner claimed that it had been fired with factory +P+ ammunition and that was all the 'smith knew about its tale of woe.
I know that's his story, but I doubt it very seriously. I suspect that was his cover for a double charged reload. I bought my first M60 in 1970, and fired untold numbers of Treasury loads and Super Vels in it, and it is still going strong today.
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Old 03-22-2011, 06:44 PM
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A long time ago I was given a little reloading kit and before I really understood how to measure gunpowder, I loaded that .38 case about as full as it would go and still seat the bullet. I put those rounds in a little .36, went to the backyard and pulled the trigger. Man, did my ears ring. It may have bulged the cylinder a little, but I'm not even sure about that. It might have already been that way. That little gun and I spent a lot of time together and I used plenty of +P and +P+ in it, mostly because that was what the department provided.

At the range my first action was to draw the revolver and discharge the five loads I had been carrying, then go to practice ammo and finish the workout. Drawing and firing just as if I was in harm's way was sometimes a real eye-opener and very humbling. At the end of the session I'd fire another cylinder of duty loads, clean it and load it again before doing on duty.

That ensured I always had fresh ammunition in the wheel and I knew the point of aim. For what it's worth.....
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