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Old 04-04-2018, 04:21 PM
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Default 38 Special realistic pressure ratings

So, what's the deal with 38 special vs. 357 mag chamber pressures? How come modern 38 special revolvers are rated (or are they??) for much lower pressure when a gun of the same vintage, with the same exact same frame size, and a cylinder of the same exact diameter and chamber-to-chamber web thickness for a .357 Mag is rated for much more pressure?

FYI: SAMMI max average pressures are 20,000 for 38 special +P, and 35,000 for 357 Magnum.

If I have a modern +P rated (made in the past 40 years or so) .38 special revolver like a S&W model 15, I cannot see why it shouldn't be safe to use 38 special cartridges loaded to 357 mag pressures - just like a S&W model 19.

What's up with that?

Last edited by crstrode; 04-04-2018 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 04-04-2018, 04:58 PM
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It is very simple, the 38 cases are not designed for .357 chamber pressures.

The same applies to .38 revolvers and cylinder design.

I have a .357 Ruger Vaquero and the cylinder and barrel are much thicker than normal. And a .38 revolver would have a smaller diameter cylinder and thinner cylinder walls.

The reason I say this is I have been reloading for over 47 years and mistakes can happen. And a few months ago I had a double charge of 231 in a practice load for my Ruger Vaquero. I was very lucky the .357 Vaquero had a heavy duty cylinder designed around the .45 Colt. I had to pound this case out of the cylinder and it took a good deal of effort.

Bottom line, if you want to hot rod a .38 Special then buy a .357 that is designed for higher pressures. And not pound the heck out of a revolver designed for lower pressures.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:06 PM
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There may certainly be a difference in the type of steel or its heat treatment, even if the Model 15 and Model 19 cylinders are otherwise dimensionally identical except for chamber depth. Not being privy to S&W's production process, I do not know. I just render unto Special what is Special's and to Magnum what is Magnum's



Your gun, you can make your choices and take your own chances. Just let me know when you are on the firing line.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crstrode View Post

FYI: SAMMI max average pressures are 20,000 for 38 special +P, and 35,000 for 357 Magnum.

If I have a modern +P rated (made in the past 40 years or so) .38 special revolver like a S&W model 15, I cannot see why it shouldn't be safe to use 38 special cartridges loaded to 357 mag pressures - just like a S&W model 19.

What's up with that?
Think about your last two paragraphs?

Are 38 special brass the same size as a 357?

So if you load a smaller size case or any container with the pressures of a larger brass or container what happens?

You can load a 38 special cartridge to around 10% LESS than a max 357 Mag to make up for the difference in case size. Not saying you should.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bigedp51 View Post
It is very simple, the 38 cases are not designed for .357 chamber pressures.

The same applies to .38 revolvers and cylinder design.

I have a .357 Ruger Vaquero and the cylinder and barrel are much thicker than normal. And a .38 revolver would have a smaller diameter cylinder and thinner cylinder walls.

The reason I say this is I have been reloading for over 47 years and mistakes can happen. And a few months ago I had a double charge of 231 in a practice load for my Ruger Vaquero. I was very lucky the .357 Vaquero had a heavy duty cylinder designed around the .45 Colt. I had to pound this case out of the cylinder and it took a good deal of effort.

Bottom line, if you want to hot rod a .38 Special then buy a .357 that is designed for higher pressures. And not pound the heck out of a revolver designed for lower pressures.
What is your source for the difference in case design? According to Starline, the two are equal in all aspects save for length.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:36 PM
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Well ok lets say u can load ur 38 brass to the same pressure.
Do you have a way to measure that ? 38 cases are smaller. All published data for 38 will be to the lower pressure.
So what is ur plan ? Load it till it blows up then back off a bit in the next gun ?
You have NO WAY of loading 35k psi loads in a 38 case unless u have a pressure test barrel, strain gauge or something else I dont know about.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:49 PM
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All this is my speculation, observation, take a look and make your own informed decisions.

In the day most US police departments used .38 Specials, brass was given away or nearly so. Folks loaded .357 loads in .38 brass EVERYDAY because many bulletmakers provided two crimp grooves one for .38 brass, one for .357 brass. So the argument that brass can't handle it is empirically disprovable.

Professionals like Jerry Musilec load competition rounds in new modern .38 Short Colt brass BECAUSE it's short and easy to clear REALKY REALLY FAST. I bet Jerry values his digits as much as you or I.

If you take a walk over to Ruger & Company, they offer thier SP-100 in .38+p, 9mm and .357. SAAMI set pressure for .38+p at 20k (before the +p designation 20k was the .38 S&W Special rating rendering "can my 1957 Chiefs handle +p ammo" moot) 9 and .357 are 35k. Look at the SP-100, it's the same gun. The bores are cut different for the slightly different dimention rounds. Just like in the day PDs had 640s dimentioned for .38 special instead of .357.

On the other hand, we have the LCR. The .38 LCR is NOT the same gun as the .357/9mn (which IS). The .38 (and .22s) have an aluminum frame whereas the .357, 9mm, .327 have Stainless Steel frames. The cylinders are SS so I doubt the .38 would suffer a catastrophic failure, but I am sure repeated .357 pressure would shorten it's life. How much, well that is the $64,000 question.

The USAF had S&W and Colt build all aluminum 'survival' snubby. It was acknoleged they would have a very limited service life. That was an acceptable trade in an aircrew SD weapon.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d View Post
Well ok lets say u can load ur 38 brass to the same pressure.
Do you have a way to measure that ? 38 cases are smaller. All published data for 38 will be to the lower pressure.
So what is ur plan ? Load it till it blows up then back off a bit in the next gun ?
You have NO WAY of loading 35k psi loads in a 38 case unless u have a pressure test barrel, strain gauge or something else I dont know about.
Using a lead bullet with two crimp grooves, and using .357 load data, you will get EXACTLY the pressure of the same bullet in a .357 case crimped into the outer groove. That loaded round WILL fit my model 10s or 64s.

That is how Elmer and associates created the .357.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d View Post
Well ok lets say u can load ur 38 brass to the same pressure.
Do you have a way to measure that ? 38 cases are smaller. All published data for 38 will be to the lower pressure.
So what is ur plan ? Load it till it blows up then back off a bit in the next gun ?
You have NO WAY of loading 35k psi loads in a 38 case unless u have a pressure test barrel, strain gauge or something else I dont know about.
Well, as a matter of fact, I do have actual test data for loading 38 specials. The project involved measuring free space in the case with 148 grain DEWC hard cast seated at various depths. The test data maxed out at a charge of 6 grains of compressed unique with the face of the bullet below the end of the case. If I recall correctly, the pressure under those conditions was in the vicinity of 60,000 psi.


WOW!

I wouldn't put that in my pipe and smoke it :-)

A more rational load was 5.1 grains of unique, un compressed loaded flush. This one yielded about 32,000 psi. Now, I'm scratching all over my office for that article and the data in it . . .
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:42 PM
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Powder burn rates and pressure are known to be non-linear. Thus, playing with 357 levels of powder in a 38 case is kinda like playing with fire. Speaking to the kids, here.
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:55 PM
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I'd have to guess the steel or the heat treatment done to the steel. Just because they look the same doesn't mean they are the same.

The cases are the same other than the length. You can load a .38 Special to the same OAL as a .357 and you'll get the exact same pressure in each round.

There are some 38 Special Ruger GP100's where it is generally assumed the cylinders are exactly the same other than the chambering. I would not make this assumption with any S&W.
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomkinsSP View Post
All this is my speculation, observation, take a look and make your own informed decisions.

In the day most US police departments used .38 Specials, brass was given away or nearly so. Folks loaded .357 loads in .38 brass EVERYDAY because many bulletmakers provided two crimp grooves one for .38 brass, one for .357 brass. So the argument that brass can't handle it is empirically disprovable.

Professionals like Jerry Musilec load competition rounds in new modern .38 Short Colt brass BECAUSE it's short and easy to clear REALKY REALLY FAST. I bet Jerry values his digits as much as you or I.

If you take a walk over to Ruger & Company, they offer thier SP-100 in .38+p, 9mm and .357. SAAMI set pressure for .38+p at 20k (before the +p designation 20k was the .38 S&W Special rating rendering "can my 1957 Chiefs handle +p ammo" moot) 9 and .357 are 35k. Look at the SP-100, it's the same gun. The bores are cut different for the slightly different dimention rounds. Just like in the day PDs had 640s dimentioned for .38 special instead of .357.

On the other hand, we have the LCR. The .38 LCR is NOT the same gun as the .357/9mn (which IS). The .38 (and .22s) have an aluminum frame whereas the .357, 9mm, .327 have Stainless Steel frames. The cylinders are SS so I doubt the .38 would suffer a catastrophic failure, but I am sure repeated .357 pressure would shorten it's life. How much, well that is the $64,000 question.

The USAF had S&W and Colt build all aluminum 'survival' snubby. It was acknoleged they would have a very limited service life. That was an acceptable trade in an aircrew SD weapon.
Thanks for the insights. It appears that you are one of the few that actually "gets it".
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:01 PM
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I load up Unique behind 158's in 38 cases at about 1100 fps to shoot in 38/44. This is a bit of a stout load, but it ain't 357 level. Different animal.
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
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Thanks for the insights. It appears that you are one of the few that actually "gets it".

Get what?

What exactly is your question?
The engineers of all the revolvers are wrong?

You did not answer my first post

Are 357 mag and 38 special brass the same size? Yes, the brass is the same other than length,

So does a 357 fit in a 38 special? No, so the cylinders must be different.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:12 PM
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Get what?

What exactly is your question?
The engineers of all the revolvers are wrong?

You did not answer my first post

Are 357 mag and 38 special brass the same size? Yes, the brass is the same other than length,

So does a 357 fit in a 38 special? No, so the cylinders must be different.
If (as in the case of the .357 vs. .38 M640) a manufacturer simply cuts the chambers 1/10 inch shorter so Politicos can feel safer because thier Police must use .38 Spl in thier M640. Well, intelegent folk can handload 11.5 grains of 2400 under a lead bullet with both .38 and .357 grooves. Crimp the bullet in the inside (.38) groove, then chamber the round in thier .38 only M640 and fire it. I have one of each and make my loads in .38 brass so it is interchangeable.

No large manufacturer like S&W is going to "down" engineer a small production run item, it would cost money and what exactly would it accomplish.

Note I am not saying a M10 is a M13 or a M64 is a M65. But look at the GP-100, what would Ruger and Company save by having two or three different parts or production standards for .38, 9mm, .357?

It makes more sense to have all the same parts except for the actual bores. So if the cylinder is the same material with the same heat treatment, and the effective volume of the case under the bullet is the same, and the brass is the same other than length, everything works just fine.

Not so with the LCR. The .38 came first. To handle the increased pressure of 9mm/.357 the aluminum frame was replaced by a stainless steel one. Will it catostophically fail, I would not think so, will it crack, strrrretch, become unreliable, that is my guess.

Modern brass such as from Starline is made to handle 9mm/.357 pressure, even if its .38 Short Colt brass. Its cost effective (and an advertising point). I load 148 grain LHBWC for .38 S&W, I just make sure I load them 'out' so I have the same volume underneath as the 145 LRN standard for the caliber. Looks silly, works beautifully.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:20 PM
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Default The cases are exactly the same......

Except for that little bit of length added to keep it from chambering in a .38. Nobody says that a magnum load in a .38 special would blow the gun right up, but it will not last under that duress. Even model 19's aren't made to take continuous magnum loads.

I use .38 cases for my .38s from bunny poots to as much as .38 +P goes.

In my .357 cases however, I load everything from bunny poot 38 loads to full bore magnum. One reason I do this is because I don't like taking range time to clean the crud rings out of my cylinder of my .357 after shooting .38 special cases in it.

You don't want to load .38 cases to magnum pressures because it may end up in a .38 special gun and be over
stressed.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:23 PM
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...Professionals like Jerry Musilec load competition rounds in new modern .38 Short Colt brass BECAUSE it's short and easy to clear REALLY REALLY FAST. I bet Jerry values his digits as much as you or I...
PS: for those who like published loads, there are TONS of published loads for .357 loads in .38 Short Colt brass to shoot out of a .357. Its listed under 9 Luger/Para. Same length and weight bullet same OAL equals same useful volume.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:34 PM
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And then Smith and Wesson made the N frame revolvers in .357 that were made Ford Truck Tough.

And their might be reloaders that remember what Skeeter Skelton and Bill Jordan told us about hot loads in a K frame Smith.

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Old 04-04-2018, 08:58 PM
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You can load whatever you want in your own firearms, hot, mild or child mild. Just don't go to a public range and endanger other people with your hot load just to prove a point. I would not shoot with you or want my friends to either.
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:18 PM
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To keep all shooters and family members safe.............

I always load a 38 Special to 38 Special Spec's ...........

If I want more than 38 +P power, I move to the 357 case.
It is that simple.

Some can do it but..................
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:21 PM
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I've always had the understanding that basically during its early development stages, they were using 38 special cases but lengthened the cases 1/8" to prevent chambering the hot new round into revolvers designed for 38 special to keep the revolvers from blowing up from the additional pressure. The new revolver designed to accept the new cartridge was the "Registered Magnum" or model 27, which came out in 1935.


As far as loading 38 special or 357 magnum, which I reload both. Stick to published info found in reloading books and you'll be fine.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:52 PM
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Way back in time quite a few intrepid shooters and reloaders worked up some wickedly powerful loads in .38 Special cases, mostly for use in heavy duty revolvers like the S&W .38-44 series, Colt New Service, Single Action Army, etc. Inevitably, more than a few folks tried using such loads in any handgun that would accept the cartridge, with predictable results (such as grievous bodily injury, etc).

Despite many warnings and published articles people tried using high-pressure factory loads such as the .38-44, .38 Hi-Speed, and others in guns other than those approved for such ammo, with predictable results (such as grievous bodily injury, etc).

About 1935 the new .357 Magnum cartridge was introduced, along with heavy, large-framed revolvers manufactured with special steel alloys and heat treatment processes so as to allow greatly increased chamber pressures. The .357 magnum cases were intentionally made to be about 1/8" longer in order to prevent Bubba, Joe Bob, and the boys from chambering those cartridges in .38 Special revolvers. That didn't stop the predictable results (such as grievous bodily injury, etc); in fact, there was quite a little cottage industry involving chambering reamers to convert .38 Special revolvers to .357 Magnum revolvers, with predictable results (such as grievous bodily injury, etc).

Thankfully, we now have a veritable army of liability lawyers to represent the interests of those who have been foolish enough to believe that they know more than any of the engineers engaged in the manufacture of firearms (or automobiles, or kitchen appliances, etc). It's all so much better now that anyone can do anything, then turn the case over to the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe for a contingency fee lawsuit to correct any idiot's stupid acts by awarding large judgements against those who manufacture products that Bubba and Joe Bob can play with to their little hearts' content.

People keep saying there is no cure for stupid, but I think that removing all the warning labels might be a good start.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:00 PM
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Quote:
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...You don't want to load .38 cases to magnum pressures because it may end up in a .38 special gun and be over
stressed.
If you load a .38 Spl case to .38 Spl OAL, you have .38 Spl useful volume (space for powder and air under the bullet). Loaded to .38 Spl data, they develop .38 Spl pressures.

Load a .38 Spl case to .357 OAL, using a bullet with both .38 and .357 grooves, and crimping in the rearward groove is EXACTLY THE SAME as loading a .357 case to .357 OAL. The useful volume is the same, whatever recepie is used pressure will be the same.

The overall length of the .357 OAL round will be longer than the OAL of the .38 Spl round.

Of course if you load a .357 recepie in a .38 case using .38 Spl OAL your pressure will be higher. Too high? Depends on whether it's 13 grains of 2400 or 3.2 grains of Bullseye.

I box my reloads and mark the date rolled, bullet make, charge and powder along with relevant notes such as ".357 load in SC case", "for snubby", "N feame", etc. I roll .357 ammo for a 18" carbine and a 2.125" J, not really all that interchangeable.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:08 PM
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...People keep saying there is no cure for stupid, but I think that removing all the warning labels might be a good start.
How else will the Lactose intolerant know there is milk in cheese. Or those with nut allergies know that Peanut Brittle is dangerous? That you should wear a seatbelt, goggles or a hard hat? Not stick your fingers in a moving fan?

Its not as if these dangers are apparent.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:53 PM
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The question is why. Just popped over to midway to compare the price of 38 special and 357 brass. 357 Starline brass is a whopping 20 cents more per hundred.
Sure they possibility of using the wrong round in the wrong gun is slight in your case, but why risk your gun and hand for less than a penny per round.
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:20 AM
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The theorists question why the .38 Special shouldn't be loaded to the same pressure level as the .357 magnum. Is that what this thread is about? Sort of hard to tell. I assume this all has to do with handloading since it's in the reloading section of the forum. Again, kind of hard to tell for sure.

Rather than bringing things like metallurgy into a discussion where few, if any, have a working knowledge of the subject, why not look at all this from a simple, safe, and practical perspective?

Might be best to use published recommended load data from reputable sources for particular cartridge / firearm combinations rather than attempt to see how much abuse a gun can withstand.

I fail to see the point of this thread, if there is one.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:39 AM
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Well, seems to me the OP's question is a reasonable one... if two revolvers are identical in all respects except for chambering - say an S&W Model 15 and an S&W Model 19 - why couldn't/shouldn't a handloader be able to load both to the same pressure levels?

And the answer is that they are not the same. They are both K-frames, but the metallurgy of the Model 15 is different from a Model 19.

Back in the day - during the 1930's when the .357 Magnum was being developed, for instance - that difference was mostly limited to differing heat treatments. Today, manufacturers are as likely to spec entirely different steels.

Metallurgy matters. And as that has improved over time we're afforded things some of us never could have imagined back in the day... like J-frame .357 chamberings, or L-frame .44 Magnums.

The bottom line is that the caliber roll-stamped on that barrel is more than just marketing. Load your rounds accordingly...
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Old 04-05-2018, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Regaj View Post
Well, seems to me the OP's question is a reasonable one... if two revolvers are identical in all respects except for chambering - say an S&W Model 15 and an S&W Model 19 - why couldn't/shouldn't a handloader be able to load both to the same pressure levels?

And the answer is that they are not the same. They are both K-frames, but the metallurgy of the Model 15 is different from a Model 19.
As someone who has been part of the Automotive Supply chain for well over 30 years I have to say that I would be absolutely SHOCKED if this statement were true. Because I can assure you that if two parts are visually identical they will be mixed together at some point in the manufacturing history. Meaning at some point material intended for a model 19 will use material for a model 15. With the Liability issues involved the ONLY way to insure that a model 15 cylinder bored for a 357 Magnum by mistake and installed in a model 19 doesn't blow up is to insure that every single model 15 frame and cylinder are identical in the Mechanical Properties and Heat Treatment. If S&W were to attempt to keep two different grades at some point we would have seen a recall for model 19's with the wrong cylinder material or heat treat. Because I can assure you that people on the production line would make this kind of mistake. Heck, I've seen pictures of model 15 cylinders posted on this forum that were bored for 357 Magnum, so it's pretty obvious that this has happened. I also expect that there are folks who have purchased model 19's and found they wouldn't chamber a 357 Magnum, something that could easily be corrected under warranty.

Now, for K-38's made prior to the introduction of the Combat magnum, I would expect that those did indeed use a "lower grade" steel and heat treat. They may have also tried using a dual material approach during the early production of the pre-15 and 19 but I would expect that one or two incidents where parts got mixed taught S&W very early that this just isn't a "safe" approach and that the difference in cost between the two grades was either nothing at all or very minimal. End result is that any responsible manufacture would only use the higher grade material for both model lines.
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
The theorists question why the .38 Special shouldn't be loaded to the same pressure level as the .357 magnum. Is that what this thread is about? Sort of hard to tell. I assume this all has to do with handloading since it's in the reloading section of the forum. Again, kind of hard to tell for sure.

Rather than bringing things like metallurgy into a discussion where few, if any, have a working knowledge of the subject, why not look at all this from a simple, safe, and practical perspective?

Might be best to use published recommended load data from reputable sources for particular cartridge / firearm combinations rather than attempt to see how much abuse a gun can withstand.

I fail to see the point of this thread, if there is one.
I don't either.


If it about reloading the OP can do as he wished. Test it out himslef.
Perhaps get some 357 mag load data (by all means use a really fast powder so it will fit in the case, load it up, use a FMJ bullet for good neck tension and pressure build up, then go shoot it in his gun and get back to us.

Here is a article from Brian Pierce. I disagree with parts of it. (Like 38 +P brass is somehow different) but hey he is the expert magazine writer.)

So knock yourself out!
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by crstrode View Post
So, what's the deal with 38 special vs. 357 mag chamber pressures? How come modern 38 special revolvers are rated (or are they??) for much lower pressure when a gun of the same vintage, with the same exact same frame size, and a cylinder of the same exact diameter and chamber-to-chamber web thickness for a .357 Mag is rated for much more pressure?

FYI: SAMMI max average pressures are 20,000 for 38 special +P, and 35,000 for 357 Magnum.

If I have a modern +P rated (made in the past 40 years or so) .38 special revolver like a S&W model 15, I cannot see why it shouldn't be safe to use 38 special cartridges loaded to 357 mag pressures - just like a S&W model 19.

What's up with that?
I expect that S&W applies a different heat treatment to 38 Special and 357 Magnum cylinders and/or frames. I certainly would not try to turn a firearm chambered in 38 Special into a 357 Magnum nor would I try to hotrod reload 38 Special brass to 357 Magnum pressure levels. Guns are expensive, life is short, doctor/hospital visits are expensive, no need in trying to prove just how short life can be nor how expensive firearms or doctor/hospital visits can get.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:06 AM
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While I personally do NOT believe S&W did anything different with heat treatment or metallurgy from a magnum to a special, (see model 10-6 .357 Magnum restamped model 13) I still think the OP is asking this question:
Can one load hot .38 special ammo to .357 magnum pressures and velocities? Sure they can. Skelton did this for years before he could get his mitts on magnum ammo.
Should one use this is non-.357 magnum revolvers? Up to them. I wouldn't do it in a model 12, but I would and have absolutely done it in heavy barreled model 10s.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:29 AM
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Heck I am gonna load all my 40 SW to 10MM pressure data now. What the heck, the barrels must be the same right?
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
As someone who has been part of the Automotive Supply chain for well over 30 years I have to say that I would be absolutely SHOCKED if this statement were true. Because I can assure you that if two parts are visually identical they will be mixed together at some point in the manufacturing history. Meaning at some point material intended for a model 19 will use material for a model 15. With the Liability issues involved the ONLY way to insure that a model 15 cylinder bored for a 357 Magnum by mistake and installed in a model 19 doesn't blow up is to insure that every single model 15 frame and cylinder are identical in the Mechanical Properties and Heat Treatment. If S&W were to attempt to keep two different grades at some point we would have seen a recall for model 19's with the wrong cylinder material or heat treat. Because I can assure you that people on the production line would make this kind of mistake. Heck, I've seen pictures of model 15 cylinders posted on this forum that were bored for 357 Magnum, so it's pretty obvious that this has happened. I also expect that there are folks who have purchased model 19's and found they wouldn't chamber a 357 Magnum, something that could easily be corrected under warranty.

Now, for K-38's made prior to the introduction of the Combat magnum, I would expect that those did indeed use a "lower grade" steel and heat treat. They may have also tried using a dual material approach during the early production of the pre-15 and 19 but I would expect that one or two incidents where parts got mixed taught S&W very early that this just isn't a "safe" approach and that the difference in cost between the two grades was either nothing at all or very minimal. End result is that any responsible manufacture would only use the higher grade material for both model lines.
Except a model 15 has a shorter cylinder than a model 19, and the two wont interchange...
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
As someone who has been part of the Automotive Supply chain for well over 30 years I have to say that I would be absolutely SHOCKED if this statement were true. Because I can assure you that if two parts are visually identical they will be mixed together at some point in the manufacturing history. Meaning at some point material intended for a model 19 will use material for a model 15. With the Liability issues involved the ONLY way to insure that a model 15 cylinder bored for a 357 Magnum by mistake and installed in a model 19 doesn't blow up is to insure that every single model 15 frame and cylinder are identical in the Mechanical Properties and Heat Treatment. If S&W were to attempt to keep two different grades at some point we would have seen a recall for model 19's with the wrong cylinder material or heat treat. Because I can assure you that people on the production line would make this kind of mistake. Heck, I've seen pictures of model 15 cylinders posted on this forum that were bored for 357 Magnum, so it's pretty obvious that this has happened. I also expect that there are folks who have purchased model 19's and found they wouldn't chamber a 357 Magnum, something that could easily be corrected under warranty.

Now, for K-38's made prior to the introduction of the Combat magnum, I would expect that those did indeed use a "lower grade" steel and heat treat. They may have also tried using a dual material approach during the early production of the pre-15 and 19 but I would expect that one or two incidents where parts got mixed taught S&W very early that this just isn't a "safe" approach and that the difference in cost between the two grades was either nothing at all or very minimal. End result is that any responsible manufacture would only use the higher grade material for both model lines.
Murphy dog beat me to it in terms of the dimensional differences between the 15 and 19....but you raise some good points that are also not as valid as they initially appear.

The fact is that firearms manufacturers produce their various different but similar models in different production runs. Part of that is a tooling issue, but a larger part of that is the issue you describe where it would be too easy to pick up and then install an incorrect, but visually similar or identical part on a firearm.

Now, to be fair the company involved may weigh the pros of standardizing with a particular steel and heat treatment for all models, versus the con of increased cost per part, but that's separate from how they manage a production line where people can and will make mistakes.
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:44 AM
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I have a number of .38s and .357s. I keep .38 loads in .38 brass and I keep .357 loads in .357 brass.

No matter how well I label stuff there would always be too much risk of a .357 load in .38 brass finding it's way into an older, weaker .38 revolver.

-----

Now...if I had just one .38 revolver and it happened to be a Ruger Police Service Six, a revolver designed for a steady diet of full power .357 Magnum loads, that was ordered by a police department in .38 Special, then I might consider using loads that produced .357 pressures in it.

That is after all what many of those departments actually did in order to get near .357 Magnum performance without the potential bad press of issuing .357s to their officers in the political climate of the day.

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Old 04-05-2018, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Regaj View Post

metallurgy of the Model 15 is different from a Model 19.


Do you have a reference/source for this statement, or is it a guess?

Scooter123's theory regarding metallurgy between models makes a lot of sense. Of course, it is widely recognized that metallurgy has likely changed over time, however we are talking about revolvers of similar vintage made recently.
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:37 PM
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Do you have a reference/source for this statement, or is it a guess?

Scooter123's theory regarding metallurgy between models makes a lot of sense. Of course, it is widely recognized that metallurgy has likely changed over time, however we are talking about revolvers of similar vintage made recently.
The only way to get a definitive answer is going to be shoot a number .38's and .357's with loads right at the peak pressure for .357 until they are no longer serviceable and record the round count on each one. Unfortunately I've never heard of such an experiment.
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:41 PM
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Do you have a reference/source for this statement, or is it a guess?
Sure. Quoting from page 180-182 of Roy Jinks' History of Smith & Wesson...

"The line of K Magnums began at Camp Perry, Ohio. In the summer of 1954, Mr. Hellstrom asked the prominent U. S. Border Patrol shooter, Bill Jordan, what he considered to be an ideal law enforcement officer's handgun. Bill Jordan stated that in his opinion the gun should be built on a K frame, having a heavy 4" barrel with an extractor shroud similar to those used on the large-frame .357 Magnum, target grips, target sights, and the .357 Magnum caliber. Mr. Hellstrom made many mental notes and returned to Smith & Wesson to discuss the feasibility of these ideas with his engineers. Until this date, the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge had only been used in the large-frame models and no company had ever attempted to perfect a small frame for this cartridge. Tests were carried out on medium-frame guns throughout 1954 and into 1955 as Smith & Wesson tested various steels and different heat treatment processes [emphasis mine]. On November 15, 1955, the first production medium-framed Magnum was completed; it was serial numbered K260,003. This new gun was named the Model 19 Combat Magnum."

As an aside, Jinks' book is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in S&W. Mine is a prized possession...



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Old 04-05-2018, 03:22 PM
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Elmer Keith...
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Old 04-05-2018, 05:10 PM
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Sure. Quoting from page 180-182 of Roy Jinks' History of Smith & Wesson...

"The line of K Magnums began at Camp Perry, Ohio. In the summer of 1954, Mr. Hellstrom asked the prominent U. S. Border Patrol shooter, Bill Jordan, what he considered to be an ideal law enforcement officer's handgun. Bill Jordan stated that in his opinion the gun should be built on a K frame, having a heavy 4" barrel with an extractor shroud similar to those used on the large-frame .357 Magnum, target grips, target sights, and the .357 Magnum caliber. Mr. Hellstrom made many mental notes and returned to Smith & Wesson to discuss the feasibility of these ideas with his engineers. Until this date, the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge had only been used in the large-frame models and no company had ever attempted to perfect a small frame for this cartridge. Tests were carried out on medium-frame guns throughout 1954 and into 1955 as Smith & Wesson tested various steels and different heat treatment processes [emphasis mine]. On November 15, 1955, the first production medium-framed Magnum was completed; it was serial numbered K260,003. This new gun was named the Model 19 Combat Magnum."

As an aside, Jinks' book is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in S&W. Mine is a prized possession...




Nope - does not address the question.
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Old 04-05-2018, 05:49 PM
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The model 19 was intended to be 357 capable, clearly they did not stand up to a continual battering of 357 rounds. In my youth I knew officers that carried 38/44 in both K frames, and J frames. At one time the light Colt Police Positive was advertised capable of firing 38/44. The 19 was supposed to have improved steal, and heat treatment. But I have a hard time believing that once the improvements were made that Smith would spend extra money to do separate treating to make a weaker firearm than the 19. Just does not make any sense, it did not make sense for Bill Ruger either, the 38 spl Sec Six models were made to the same standards as the 357 models. Think of the liability of actually intentionally making a gun weaker than the current technology is capable.

I rarely shoot hot loads in my model 64, but I carry 38/44 wadcutter, and semi wadcutter loads. I have fired limited numbers of the rounds for accuracy, and chrono testing. After that I only carry those loads, and hopefully never need to use them, or any other load.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:32 PM
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Using a lead bullet with two crimp grooves, and using .357 load data, you will get EXACTLY the pressure of the same bullet in a .357 case crimped into the outer groove. That loaded round WILL fit my model 10s or 64s.

That is how Elmer and associates created the .357.
If they created the two different crimp grooves before the .357 existed, how'd they know where to put the grooves?

The two different crimp grooves in some Kieth .38/.357 bullets are there because the bullets were designed around the .38 Spl case and making room for more powder. When the .357 was developed, that bullet would now stick out the front of a .357 cylinder. A second crimp groove was designed into the bullet to shorten the overall length if loaded in a .357 case.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:54 PM
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We're done here.

Differences in guns and case volume makes a huge difference in results when pushing the limits.

Do stupid things, win stupid prizes...
Just don't post pictures of your injuries or blowed up guns!

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