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Old 03-02-2012, 09:44 PM
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Default Older 38 Special Data

I was looking at a 1976 Winchester catalog and noted the standard velocity for a 158 grain was faster than the loads today. Also,the +P ammo is much faster than +P today. It is almost like 38+P ammo today is loaded down as are the standard velocity on todays factory ammo.Can someone explain this? Thanks, Byron
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:53 PM
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Corporate bum-covering Must be PC, y'know.
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:20 PM
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It isn't so much that factory ammunition was loaded to higher velocity "back in the day" as it is that many shooters now own chronographs or have a friend with one. Knowing this most manufacturers today advertise the true velocity you can expect to see from a reasonable barrel length instead of an inflated number that sounds good as they used to.

A good example is Winchester 158 gr LRN with the "Lubaloy" bullet. I still have several boxes of the ammunition my department issued when this was the "standard" police load. Listed velocity on the box is 855 FPS. It actually was chronographed from three revolvers:

1948 6" K-38, 733 FPS

6" Highway Patrolman, 770 FPS

1957 6 1/2" Outdorsman, 819 FPS

I'll have to shoot some in a 4" and 2" someday to see what they do!!!!!!!



Same story with 200 gr. W-W "Super Police". Advertised velocity 730 FPS. Here is how it chronographed:

1918 5" M&P, 635 FPS and 621 FPS in two trials

6" 10-4, 684 FPS. This was a newer lot, still W-W.

Now, if you were the manufacturer today, would you rather publish the actual velocity a shooter will see when he chronographs your ammunition so the shooter is happy, or advertise a higher velocity and have your customer customer upset when he chronographs your ammunition and it really does 100-200 FPS slower than advertised?

Actually, today it is somewhat unusual to find ammunition with a published velocity, at least on the box!
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:22 PM
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where's saxonpig?
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:47 PM
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Alk8944 is right on the money. The image below was taken from the 1972 Guns Annual. Note the test barrel lengths and remember they where likely unvented pressure test barrels and not real revolvers or semi auto's. No real difference to today's ammo when one subtracts the expected velocity gain from longer barrel and no cylinder gap except the term +P wasn't in use. Higher performance ammo was called Police loads or Hi-speed which was the equivalent to today's +P.

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Old 03-04-2012, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve C View Post
Alk8944 is right on the money. The image below was taken from the 1972 Guns Annual. Note the test barrel lengths and remember they where likely unvented pressure test barrels and not real revolvers or semi auto's. No real difference to today's ammo when one subtracts the expected velocity gain from longer barrel and no cylinder gap except the term +P wasn't in use. Higher performance ammo was called Police loads or Hi-speed which was the equivalent to today's +P.

Nope: .38 Hi-Speed used to mean the hotter .38-44 ammo. A 150 grain bullet at some 1150 FPS. It was meant only for heavy-frame .38's and use in .357's. The then-Sales Manager at S&W told me that it wouldn't blow up a current Model 10, but that if much was shot, the gun would loosen up far sooner than with standard ammo.

We didn't discuss using it in older M&P revolvers, but I wouldn't do that, except in an emergency where it was the only ammo there. It might well damage those older guns. Before the 1930's, the ammo wasn't known and the guns weren't heat-treated for it.

However, modern ammo is checked from a four-inch barrel with a gap like that on a revolver. Older pressure test barrels were longer and non-vented, so they gave higher velocities.


S&W has stated that ONLY steel frame guns new enough (1957-) with the model number stamped in the frame are regarded as suitable for Plus P use. Modern ones with alloys ike titanium are another matter.

Of the M-60, the factory advised me that the M-60-4 and later are warrantied for Plus P. But all M-60's were made after the mid 1960's of modern steels and some have fired quite a bit of Plus P in them.

Saxon Pig and gun scribe Mike Venturino have shot a lot of ammo in M&P's made in the 1940's with no problems. But I think it's wise to follow S&W's advice.

All Ruger .38's and.357's are safe with Plus P ammo. They didn't arrive until modern heat-treatnig and steels were in use.

Colt advises having small frame guns checked by the factory after 1,000 rounds of Plus P if alloy-framed, and after 3,000 rounds if steel. These mean like the Cobra and the Det. Spcl. and Police Positive Special. The Official Police and the SAA are presumably so large that it isn't an issue.

I don't know about other brands. Almost certain that Manhurhin is safe with Plus P. Most are sold in .357, anyway.
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Old 03-04-2012, 10:39 PM
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I very much appreciate the information given.It makes more sense now. Byron
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:59 PM
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Not to dispute all of the info relayed in this thread... it is ALSO true that the .38 special was gelded. While factory ammo didn't always perform to advertised specs in days of yore..........some of it did. Nothing current is loaded to those specs except "boutique" ammo like Buffalo Bore.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:06 AM
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This thread may be of interest to many here as well. How about taking a step back in time with some vintage black powder ammo, scroll down to post#5 Original .38 Special black powder round? - Shooters Forum
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:07 AM
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I've got all the early 1970s Guns & Ammo Annuals. Memorized that handgun velocity page when I was a teenager.

I've actually obtained some of those velocities over a chronongraph using guns with similar length barrels and factory loads. It wasn't long after those G&A Annual charts were published that the "4-inch vented test barrel" quotations became de rigueur and those quoted velocities were known for being artificially low.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:34 AM
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Too many people want to sue everyone even though they did something stupid and too many lawyers protecting against that.
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:35 PM
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When Super Vel came out, what effect did it have on K and J frames made prior and up to that point.What did continued use do to them?
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:24 AM
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And back in the days when men were men, fifth post down:

Original .38 Special black powder round? - Shooters Forum
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:43 AM
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As some of you already know, I am a big Buffalo Bore fan and I have found that it is the ONLY ammo on the market today that ACTUALLY does what the advertisements say it will do! Tim Sundles (the owner of BB) actually tests and posts his BB ammo out of real world guns, NOT 8" test barrels like a lot of the ammo Companies do (which by the way I find meaningless). I think ALL ammo manufacturers should advertise actual velocities out of actual real word guns (and NOT test barrels).

I also do believe that the Big 3 ammo manufacturers have slowed down ammo velocities over the years (product liability issues) for cartridges that are capable of being shot in very old guns (ie: .45 Colt, .38 Spl. .45 - 70 rifle, .38 - 55 rifle). Another great case for reloading!

Chief38
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