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Old 04-28-2012, 11:51 PM
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Default .38 Special +P in K Frame Revolvers

I usually wouldn't double post, but this got virtually no response in 1896-1961 revolvers. If it doesn't here I will assume most are more interested in the perpetuation of myths than a serious examination of the truth.


Please read this entirely before making any remarks. The OP is always entitled to this courtesy, something all too often forgotten it seems.

This isn't a question, but, rather, an observation and reference to some documentary evidence about a common topic. This is not merely my opinion.

The question is often raised "Can I shoot +P in my........?" Here are a couple of things to consider if you have been one of the many to condemn the practice for 1950-1960s K-Frames. From "Smith & Wesson Hand Guns" by Roy C McHenry and Walter F. Roper. This is dated from this comment found on the same page, "At the present writing (1944)....." From page 125 of the 1958 (C) Stackpole edition:

"The corporation produced it's round butt .38 Military & Police Model with a two-inch barrel in 1938. It had not been claimed hitherto that the .38/44 cartridge was suitable for the K Model .38, but a circular describing the two-inch barrel variety stated that it would handle the heavier cartridge safely. This being so, it should do equally well in the later K Model .38 Specials with heat-treated cylinders, although it would have an unpleasant recoil with either length of barrel."

And, from the "Gun Digest" 1st Edition, coincidentally also 1944. From page 121:

""COLT DETECTIVE SPECIAL REVOLVER" From the list of acceptable ammunition; ".38 Colt Special High Speed, .38 S. & W. Special High Speed and .38-44 S. & W. Special cartridges." Does anyone seriously believe the D Frame Colt is stronger than a K Frame S&W???????

Please note that from context the remark "the later K Model .38 Specials with heat-treated cylinders," would appear to mean "after heat-treating began" rather than after 1938 or 1944!

Be aware, nothing in this post is intended to be a recommendation, but to give those who always post predictions of the dire consequences to follow if a shooter were to dare to shoot the "Dreaded .38 Special +P" ammunition in any revolver manufactured before 1957 (model numbers) or some vacuous date when S&W supposedly "Certified" revolvers for +P, whenever that may have been. The .38-44 operates at pressures far in excess of +P, ca. 25,000 CUP compared to 18,500 PSIG for .38 +P. In spite of different measurement methods there is still a great gulf between these cartridges. Will shooting the +P or .38-44 level loads cause more wear to the revolver than standard pressure loads? Absolutely! But shooting them at all causes more wear than leaving them in the safe! If you have a "shooter" then shoot it, and have repairs done as necessary. If it is a "Safe Queen" then leave it in the safe, put tie-wraps on it and leave it alone if all you are concerned with is future value rather than current utility!

I would ask that any members who collect S&W "Paper", who may have a copy of the circular referenced in McHenry & Roper be kind enough to post same.
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Last edited by Alk8944; 04-28-2012 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:01 AM
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I've shot +P ammunition, mostly of the 158 grain lead SWC version, through a variety of K-Frame revolvers including a deliberate test last summer when a 1904 vintage M&P was used to fire 5 cylinders-full of 158 grain lead +P ammunition.

The same ammunition has been tested in a 1966 Colt Detective Special and is carried in same revolver. Other Colt revolvers that have been used with +P ammunition include a 1953 Official Police, a 1944 Commando, and a 1913 Army Special. All handled the +P 158 grain SWC-HP loads fine.

It's just not the revolver-destroying demon that so many find so concerning.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:10 AM
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Years ago I put several hundred rounds of Super Vel 110 grain +P loads through a Model 15 and it held up okay. I'm sure that it was a little harder on the gun than standard velocity ammo and feel that it was warmer than today's +P loads. The revolver and I both survived it with no noticeable problems.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:49 AM
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Nice post,and good research,sir. I've had no problem with "+P" in several older revolvers in years past. Thanks for posting the info.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:46 PM
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I've had this "saved to favorites" for quite a while... Shooting with Hobie ... because it's the best article on the +P subject that I have read.

Probably the reason for sparce response in the '96 -'61 forum was the oft' posting of the topic.

New members and those who do not use the search feature ask the "can I shoot +pees in my N frame" question with regularity and will continue to do so.

You post is well written and thought out, and entirely correct.

GF
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GF View Post
New members and those who do not use the search feature ask the "can I shoot +pees in my N frame" question with regularity and will continue to do so.
That's all very fine if you are fortunate enough to own an N-frame .38 Special, but what if all you have is an N-frame .357 Magnum?
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:14 PM
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".... but what if all you have is an N-frame .357 Magnum? "

Are you asking if it's safe to shoot 38 spl +P's in a 357 magnum !?!





GF
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
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".... but what if all you have is an N-frame .357 Magnum? "

Are you asking if it's safe to shoot 38 spl +P's in a 357 magnum !?!





GF
Of course. Why? Can you think of a stupider question?
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:38 AM
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It's my opinion today's so-called +P ammo is no stouter than the stuff that was made back when the older K frames were new. I have a 1948 M&P that I shot several cylinders of the Remington FBI Load through with no ill effects whatsoever.

You can do as you wish with your revolver and I will do what I see fit with mine. I won't shoot 100's of +P loads in my older revolver but I will keep it loaded with the FBI load for HD...
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:18 AM
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Of course. Why? Can you think of a stupider question?
Sure, lots of 'em.

Well... lets just go with the first question. The +P in a 357 one.

The article I referenced authored by Saxon Pig (of this and many other forums) states; "I saw many inquiries about K frame S&Ws using +P and I found it odd that anyone would worry about using factory +P ammo in such a gun. Then I started seeing postings from owners of .357 Magnum revolvers asking if +P .38 Special ammo would harm their guns. One forum member was concerned that +Ps would damage his Model 28 S&W.

Come again? I donít know what caused such a mystique to surround +P ammo to make people with N frame Magnums think itís too much for their guns, but it strikes me as overblown all out of proportion. "

This article I referenced in post # 5 is well worth your time and effort for a full read.

( I once asked that it be made a "sticky" at the top of a forum page, but to no avail.)

GF
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:24 PM
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We're really on the same page here, GF, except that my style of "humor" is probably not your cup of tea. Actually, maybe nobody laughed at it. If that's the case, then it was, more or less by definition, not funny. Nevertheless, a concern about +P or, for that matter, even the undefined +P+ in an N-frame revolver, does not make much sense, as Saxon Pig points out. Even if one disagrees with some of his arguments, the conclusion seems to me to be inescapable. And that's in a Heavy Duty or an Outdoorsman. In a 27, 28 or 520, the concern should not be dealt with seriously, so I don't.

P.S. BTW, a true 27, 28 or 520 has a model number, so even S&W would consider +P ok.

Last edited by Model520Fan; 04-30-2012 at 12:30 PM. Reason: P.S.
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