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  #1  
Old 02-08-2011, 02:20 PM
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Default S&W 38

Can a S&W 38 be shot in a 38 special?

How effective a round is it?

Is it as accurate?

Can S&W 38 be found, and is it reasonable priced?

Does it have more/less recoil as a 32 magnum?

I have really bad hands, 38 special is too hot.
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  #2  
Old 02-08-2011, 02:33 PM
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.38 S&W is just a little larger in diameter than the .38 Spl. Although it has considerably less pressure it would be dangerous to try and shoot in a .38 Spl. Look for a Model 33 or the earlier Regulation Police Model. I got mine for $300 and it's a joy to shoot. Ammo is somewhat expensive.
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:58 PM
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This is going to sound like Point and Counterpoint but,

Whether 38 S&W will work in your 38 Special chambered revolver depends on the individual revolver and in some instances the brand of ammo. I have some S&W made revolvers chambered in 38 Special that will accept 38 S&W and some that will not. I have one Victory that 38 S&W will chamber properly in 3 of the 6 charge holes. Go figure.

Recent production Remington 38 S&W ammo seems to be of smaller case dimensions than the Winchester I've bought. Don't know why but it is.

If your 38 Special chambered revolver will properly chamber 38 S&W you should experience no increased risk firing them, in my opinion and experience. The forcing cone will easily swage down the slightly oversize lead projectiles. 38 S&W is not easy to find and will probably be a mail-order proposition. If your mail ordering the ammo why not try 38 Special 148gn wad cutters first. They should have very little recoil.

What is your revolver?
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:51 PM
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What Walnutred said! Odds are better than even that .38 S&W can be shot in a revolver chambered for either .38 Special or .357 Magnum.

It is not, in any way, dangerous to do so!

I wouldn't buy any .38 S&W just to try this, though, there simply is no logical reason to do so unless you have a few rounds you just want shoot up.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
What Walnutred said! Odds are better than even that .38 S&W can be shot in a revolver chambered for either .38 Special or .357 Magnum.

It is not, in any way, dangerous to do so!

I wouldn't buy any .38 S&W just to try this, though, there simply is no logical reason to do so unless you have a few rounds you just want shoot up.
I am trying to find a caliber to shoot that is more powerful than a 32magnum, I was hoping a 38 S&W would fill that void.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:15 AM
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You should not notice the difference between a 38 Special firing the 148gn wadcutter target load and a 38 S&W firing factory ammo. While you can MAYBE shoot 38 S&W in your 38 Special revolver you CAN shoot 38 Special target loads in your 38 Special revolver. Bullet weight and velocity are almost identical and in may peoples opinion the wadcutter is a better self defence bullet profile than the round nose typically found on 38 S&W.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:45 AM
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There are certainly differences in the chamber and bore dimensions of revolvers, even those made by the same company.

SAAMI specifications for the .38 S&W cartridge include a larger case diameter, shorter length than .38 Special, and differences in the rim. The .38 S&W is a transitional cartridge, first offered in black powder loadings for the hinged-frame top-break revolvers. Modern ammunition loaded with smokeless powder is intentionally kept at modest pressures in deference to the limited strength of many .38 S&W revolvers.

During the Lend-Lease years leading up to US involvement in WW2 Smith & Wesson made many thousands of the "Victory" model, essentially the Military & Police model revolver. Most of those went to British Commonwealth nations and were chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge (British designation is .38-200, using a 200-grain round-nose lead bullet).

During the 1960's or so quite a few of those revolvers were re-imported to the US, and many were rechambered for .38 Special ammunition. Quite a few reports of ruptured cases were noted, due to the larger diameter of the chambers, intended for the shorter and larger diameter .38 S&W cartridge, then reamed out to accept the longer .38 Special cartridge. Accuracy was also "iffy" with many, usually credited to a larger bore diameter commonly used for .38 S&W (around .360" if I remember correctly).

There is no real advantage to shooting .38 S&W cartridges in a .38 Special revolver, even when the revolver in question will accept these rounds. .38 S&W ammunition is produced in much smaller quantities than .38 Special for the US market, so it is typically priced much higher than .38 Special ammunition. Also, revolvers chambered for .38 S&W (other than collectable specimens) generally have much lower resale values than comparable .38 Special examples of the same type, due to US consumer preferences.

Although the .38 Special was originally developed by Smith & Wesson, the case was actually a lengthened version of the .38 Long Colt cartridge then in use by the US Army. It is interesting that S&W chose this course, rather than starting with their own proprietary .38 S&W case dimensions and lengthening that round.

.38 Special ammunition is available in a great variety of forms, suitable for anything from paper-punching to serious self-defense use. I think the US shooter would be far better served by a good .38 Special revolver than a .38 S&W for just about any purpose.

Best regards.

Last edited by LoboGunLeather; 02-09-2011 at 08:48 AM.
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  #8  
Old 02-09-2011, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
There are certainly differences in the chamber and bore dimensions of revolvers, even those made by the same company.

SAAMI specifications for the .38 S&W cartridge include a larger case diameter, shorter length than .38 Special, and differences in the rim. The .38 S&W is a transitional cartridge, first offered in black powder loadings for the hinged-frame top-break revolvers. Modern ammunition loaded with smokeless powder is intentionally kept at modest pressures in deference to the limited strength of many .38 S&W revolvers.

During the Lend-Lease years leading up to US involvement in WW2 Smith & Wesson made many thousands of the "Victory" model, essentially the Military & Police model revolver. Most of those went to British Commonwealth nations and were chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge (British designation is .38-200, using a 200-grain round-nose lead bullet).

During the 1960's or so quite a few of those revolvers were re-imported to the US, and many were rechambered for .38 Special ammunition. Quite a few reports of ruptured cases were noted, due to the larger diameter of the chambers, intended for the shorter and larger diameter .38 S&W cartridge, then reamed out to accept the longer .38 Special cartridge. Accuracy was also "iffy" with many, usually credited to a larger bore diameter commonly used for .38 S&W (around .360" if I remember correctly).

There is no real advantage to shooting .38 S&W cartridges in a .38 Special revolver, even when the revolver in question will accept these rounds. .38 S&W ammunition is produced in much smaller quantities than .38 Special for the US market, so it is typically priced much higher than .38 Special ammunition. Also, revolvers chambered for .38 S&W (other than collectable specimens) generally have much lower resale values than comparable .38 Special examples of the same type, due to US consumer preferences.

Although the .38 Special was originally developed by Smith & Wesson, the case was actually a lengthened version of the .38 Long Colt cartridge then in use by the US Army. It is interesting that S&W chose this course, rather than starting with their own proprietary .38 S&W case dimensions and lengthening that round.

.38 Special ammunition is available in a great variety of forms, suitable for anything from paper-punching to serious self-defense use. I think the US shooter would be far better served by a good .38 Special revolver than a .38 S&W for just about any purpose.

Best regards.
Thank you, very much. You have given me a lot of information that I need. If I were to get a 4' 38 special revolver (like a model 10) and shoot wad-cutters, would the recoil be much less than a model 36 with 38 special leadnose bullets? That snubbie almost broke my hand. My arthritis really limits me.
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Old 02-09-2011, 01:48 PM
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There should be less felt recoil from a Model 10 than a Model 36 with identical ammo simply because of the grater mass of the Model 10. However if you already have a M36 what grips were you using? It's possible that with rubber grips and target type ammo your M36 would be manageable.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walnutred View Post
There should be less felt recoil from a Model 10 than a Model 36 with identical ammo simply because of the grater mass of the Model 10. However if you already have a M36 what grips were you using? It's possible that with rubber grips and target type ammo your M36 would be manageable.
+1. The recoil of a weapon is in direct proportion to the weight of the weapon, assuming the same ammunition type is used in each.

Perceived recoil can be influenced significantly by the size, shape, and material of the grips used. Smaller grip size, especially combined with a hard grip material, usually results in more "felt" recoil. Larger grip size, wider surfaces impacting against the hand, and softer grip material can make a big difference in "felt" recoil.

A 4" Model 10 revolver shooting wadcutter target loads is a pretty mild combination for most folks. Add a set of Pachmayr Signature soft-rubber grips and it gets even better.

One of my long-time companions has been a Model 37 Airweight Chief Special. I used the factory Magna grips and a Tyler T-grip for many years, but have more recently gone to a boot-style grip. I use only standard velocity ammunition in this piece, and even with that a 50-round session at the range always reminds me of what I am compromising when using a small lightweight revolver.

One of my hunting revolvers is a 6.5" Model 29 .44 magnum, fitted with Pachmayr grips. I am careful in what I feed that beast, too!

Best regards.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:43 PM
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I would estimate the .38 special with wadcutters to be about on par with the .32 magnum with "performance ammo."

Maybe a little less, actually.

Kind of depends on how you judge handgun "stopping power."

I think you will find a 4" Model 10 with 158-grain lead-bullet ammo to be VASTLY more shootable than those snubbie guns that feel like somebody is pounding your thumb-joint with a ball-peen hammer.

This is probably the most "shootable" defensive rig I've ever had.
Six shots. Make 'em count.





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  #12  
Old 02-10-2011, 04:49 PM
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.38 S&W will NOT chamber in a .38 Special revolver......I have tried, trust me. If .38 S&W does fit in the chamber of a .38 Special revolver, than you have oversized chambers.

If you want a decent .38 S&W revolver, the Victory revolvers chambered for British 38/200 (same dimensions as .38 S&W) are priced much lower on the market than the somewhat rarer .38 Special variants.

.38 S&W ammo made by Fiocchi, Remington and Magtech is underloaded and weak, made that way so no one blows up an old break-top pocket revolver and sues them. I would not rely on these for any kind of defense. I have had rounds of MagTech .38 S&W bounce off of a 1/4" thick polymer target backer I use to stick my targets on........I was shooting my Victory the one day and heard an object hit the wood of the outbuilding 40 feet behind me, and realized the .38 S&W slugs were bouncing off the target backer and flying over my head.......I immediately stopped shooting.....I get more penetration into wood from my .36 repro percussion blackpowder revolvers with light 20 gr. target loads of Pyrodex and a round ball, than I got from .38 S&W factory ammo.

Old Western Scrounger makes 38/200 ammo that is a little more powerful.

I personally do not see the use of trying to play around with expensive obsolete or oddball rounds like .32 H&R Magnum or .38 S&W when there are PLENTY of great used S&W K and L frames out there chambered in good old .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Like was already said, .38 Special hollow base wadcutters probably have as light a recoil as any .38 S&W anyway, I have fired both .32 H&R Magnum (fired some today) .38 S&W and .38 Special HBWC, and some of the .38 Special wadcutter rounds were lighter than the .38 S&W's. In particular the UltraMax .38 Special wadcutters felt like gallery rounds, hardly even felt any recoil.

Last edited by stantheman86; 02-10-2011 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:51 PM
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I once had a nifty little Hand Ejector 1 7/8" I frame .38 S&W that was cosmetically challenged and made a real nice little pocket gun. On the opposite end of the spectrum I had a 1905 5th change? Canadian 6" in .38-200. I want them back!!
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:23 PM
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Can a S&W 38 be shot in a 38 special?

To me shooting a .38 SW in a .38 Special would be ill advised. The .38SW is a little wider (.360-.361). However, the current Remington .38SW LRN 148gr measures .358 suggesting a fit. I still would not take this course.

How effective a round is it?

Depends on your application. .38SW has been described as accurate and light recoil and low report for target use. Having shot .38SW in a vintage Webley, the Remington load was very "light". So light that I would be hesitant to use this factory load for personal defence. As mentioned above, factory loads are prepared with older .38SW pistols in mind. When the cartridge was popular there were many, many manufacturers and models available with materials and quality in wide variation.

Is it as accurate?
.38SWs have been described as accurate. My Webley .38 4 inch produced a 3 inch group at 7 meters with factory load. I'll be reloading, with the correct size dies and materials and will expect improved results.

Can S&W 38 be found, and is it reasonable priced?
Depends on your budget figure $100-$500. Check the auction sites like Gunbroker. Don't scrimp.

Does it have more/less recoil as a 32 magnum?
Unknown, I've never fired a .32 magnum.

I have really bad hands, 38 special is too hot.
Consider reloading your .38 special or purchase custom loads that are "loaded down".
If your hands are infirmed, why not trade your .38 in for a .22 or .22 Magnum for target work. If personal defense is an issue look for a .22 that resembles a larger relative. (e.g. Stoeger or Erma luger in .22), many Smith and Wesson large calibers have .22 cousins.

Hope it helps.
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