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Old 02-26-2013, 03:03 PM
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Default .38 S&W and .38 Special

I should know this but I wanted some of the experts to chime in. I have a handful of .38 SW rounds and I'm curious if I can shoot them (safely) in any of my .38 special revolvers? Looks like the .38 SW are a little shorter and I'm curious what effect this would have???
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:49 PM
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Even though it's shorter (and not as powerful), the 38 S&W is larger in diameter (.3855") than the 38 Special/.357 Mag (.379").

If you get one to fit into one of your 38 Specials, you just may have discovered you might own a 38 S&W......
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:40 PM
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Due to the slightly fatter case 38S&W normally will not chamber in a 38 Special. Occasionally a chamber will be loose enough to accept it and since it's a lower pressure round it's not likely to hurt anything but it's never really a good idea to use the wrong ammo in a gun. It would be wiser to just try and find someone who needs the 38S&W ammo and buy the correct ammo for your gun
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desi2358 View Post
It would be wiser to just try and find someone who needs the 38S&W ammo and buy the correct ammo for your gun
Ooh. I have a better idea. Why don't you buy a 38 S&W revolver to shoot it in?
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:27 PM
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My Speer #9 manual shows both using a .358 lead bullets and .357 jacketed. The case diameter for the .38 S&W is shown as .380" where the .38 Special is .379".

The .38 S&W "may" fit into a .38 Special chamber that's not tightly sized, and being a lower-powered round would be safe to shoot--similar to shooting the .38 Spec in a .357 Mag firearm.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:37 PM
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This comes up quite often with the majority absolutely certain that you cannot fire .38 S&W in a .38 Special. It all depends on which side of tolerance the .38 S&W you have is.

The last I tried this I had 12 revolvers in .38 Spl. and .357 Magnum (all S&W!). The .38 S&W ammunition I had on hand would chamber in 7 of the 12 or 58%. Do not say it will not work, it will quite often. If it will chamber in your gun it is absolutely safe, if it won't then the question is moot.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
The last I tried this I had 12 revolvers in .38 Spl. and .357 Magnum (all S&W!). The .38 S&W ammunition I had on hand would chamber in 7 of the 12 or 58%. Do not say it will not work, it will quite often. If it will chamber in your gun it is absolutely safe, if it won't then the question is moot.
Much the same experience here. I have 20 revolvers chambered in .38 Special or .357, mostly S&W, with a few Colts, and my Remington factory .38 S&W loads chambered in all of the dozen or so that I tried them in.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:32 AM
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The chambering question can get even stranger. I have an old Victory that three chambers will chamber and fire 38 S&W and three will not. I'm not sure if this is the resilt of loose wartime tolerances or over agressive cleaning.
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:08 PM
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Thanks to all... time to do a little experimentations (as George Bush would say...)
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:43 PM
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You should only fire the ammo for which the gun is marked and rated in any particular gun. Do not fire .38 S&W ammo in a gun marked for .38 S&W Special ammo.
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:35 PM
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Many years ago, some of the WW2 S&W Victory models chambered for the British .38/200 round (.38S&W essentially) were brought back to our shores. Some importers had the cylinders bored out to accept .38 Spl and marketed them as Spls. Fired .38 Spl rounds would over-expand slightly, but the gun was safe enough with 158 gr service loads. No +Ps back then. This type of gun was used to kill Officer J.D. Tippitt after the JFK assassination.
You probably don't have one of these, but FYI.
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:52 PM
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Just yesterday I found a Victory model at my local pawn shop. I thought it was a nice shooter relic in decent shape so I bought it. I brought it home and started learning about it only to realize the 5' barrel is marked 38 S&W. It will chamber 38 Special rounds but I have decided to only shoot 38 S&W in it. With luck SGAmmo has some in stock for a decent price so I picked up 4 boxes. The gun has no markings on it to show it was converted and has no Commonwealth proof marks that I can see.
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Old 03-02-2013, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alde View Post
It will chamber 38 Special rounds but I have decided to only shoot 38 S&W in it. With luck SGAmmo has some in stock for a decent price so I picked up 4 boxes. The gun has no markings on it to show it was converted and has no Commonwealth proof marks that I can see.
Do the serial numbers on the cylinder and butt match? Years ago I bought a 38 S&W marked British Victory specifically looking for a 38 S&W for some load testing. When I got it home I discovered someone had swapped out the 38 S&W cylinder with a 38 Special cylinder.
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