Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:03 AM
Milton's Avatar
Milton Milton is offline
US Veteran
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Birmingham,AL,USA
Posts: 1,156
Likes: 1,101
Liked 321 Times in 138 Posts
Default Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.

In an older "Rifles Handloader" Gil Sengel had an article about loading original .38 special and shooting it in a pair of 1905 S&W's.He stated that he cast his bullets to a hardness of 6-7 Brinnell and suggested that hard cast bullets could be the cause of these revolvers breaking while loading fast burning powders.
You guys that actually load for and shoot your older K frames just what do you use and why?
I know about the heat treated guns and I would never use jacketed in my old revolvers but if you shoot yours frequently what do you think of Mr. Sengel's assessment?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:30 AM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
US Veteran
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: The SW Va Blue Ridge
Posts: 10,692
Likes: 29,261
Liked 8,868 Times in 3,525 Posts
Default

I use soft swaged or cast bullets. How did the author define "breaking"? Was he talking about blown cylinders and bent top straps? I would think that could result from double charges of fast powder, like Bullseye.
__________________
John 3:16
WAR EAGLE!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:44 AM
gwpercle's Avatar
gwpercle gwpercle is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Posts: 3,509
Likes: 2,003
Liked 2,757 Times in 1,464 Posts
Default

His assessments are as good as any and better than most.
Lead , soft cast or factory swaged , avoid jacketed and as for powders,
the amount is more important than the speed. A light charge of Bullseye (2.7 grains) with a swaged lead HBWC (148 grain) will do no damage to revolvers made after 1900, the approx. transition time from black powder to smokeless. If in good sound condition of course !
Black powder era revolvers should not be shot with smokeless powder hand loads...just don't go there.
Stay with the mid range 38 special loadings , NO max and +P loads !
Gary

Last edited by gwpercle; 08-10-2018 at 11:50 AM.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #4  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:50 AM
Milton's Avatar
Milton Milton is offline
US Veteran
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Birmingham,AL,USA
Posts: 1,156
Likes: 1,101
Liked 321 Times in 138 Posts
Default

I think his breaking definition was in fact blown cylinders but especially splitting of the frame below the barrel.He even went as far to say that many of the supposed overloads were in fact due to this choice of bullet hardness and the form of rifling in the older revolvers.
I have yet to read anything by Mr. Sengel that was not full of insight.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-10-2018, 12:04 PM
reddog81 reddog81 is online now
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: IA
Posts: 912
Likes: 221
Liked 708 Times in 373 Posts
Default

Depends on what you mean by hard cast bullets. I wouldn't be afraid to use any normal cast bullet appropriate for normal .38 Special loads. Bullets in the 6-7 Brinnell range are almost pure lead and able to be deformed under finger pressure. Bullets in the 10-12 range will work just fine and not hurt anything assuming you are using appropriate loads. It also depends on which 1905's you're talking about. This model was made from 1905 to 1942. I'd be more conservative if loading for one produced in 1905-1920 vs later production ones.

When I think of "Hard Cast" bullets I think of bullets in the 18-22 range. These aren't ideal for any 38 Special loads and are more appropriate for .357 loads.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #6  
Old 08-10-2018, 12:41 PM
Milton's Avatar
Milton Milton is offline
US Veteran
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Birmingham,AL,USA
Posts: 1,156
Likes: 1,101
Liked 321 Times in 138 Posts
Default

Thanks for the reply's!I'll just keep shooting swaged bullets in mine.He did state that he had pulled a lot of bullets from older loads and they were pure lead and the rifling of the early guns was cut for pure lead.He was adding just enough tin to get his cast bullets to fill out in the mold and they still ran 6 to 7 Brinnell.
I did notice also he did not use Bullseye except in lightweight bullets or wadcutters and then the loads were light.He instead used SR4756,AAC-5,Blue Dot ,HS-6 and IMR-4227 to reach the safe velocities and pressure of the loadings of the past.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-10-2018, 03:08 PM
BC38's Avatar
BC38 BC38 is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 6,077
Likes: 259
Liked 6,635 Times in 2,789 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
...Black powder era revolvers should not be shot with smokeless powder hand loads...just don't go there.

Stay with the mid range 38 special loadings , NO max and +P loads ...
I'm confused by these two seemingly contradictory statements.

Don't the majority of recipes for "mid range 38 special loadings" use smokeless powder? Black powder load data is pretty scarce....
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-10-2018, 05:06 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: May 2016
Location: 30min SE Montreal
Posts: 1,348
Likes: 137
Liked 891 Times in 518 Posts
Default

While I do not have a circa 1905 .38 Spl I do shoot a model 10 that dates from 1954 and a Python born in 1956.They both only see soft cast loads(Aprox 8BHN)at low pressure standard .38 handloads and with relatively light bullets at that.Heavy loads are saved for my modern 357s and .38s.
After all an old gun just like an old lady deserves respect!
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #9  
Old 08-10-2018, 05:15 PM
HKSmith HKSmith is offline
SWCA Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Ohio
Posts: 519
Likes: 210
Liked 297 Times in 135 Posts
Default

I shoot my .38 M&P Model of 1899 with swaged lead bullets and HP-38 powder (same as W231). I've gotten best results with 3.4 grains and a 158 grain SWC bullet. This is well below maximum; lighter loads get the gun dirty and gummy very fast due to poor sealing of the case to the cylinder wall at low pressure. I've also used some swaged 148 grain HBWC's with 3.2 grains HP-38. I've heard that the reason for not using hard bullets has to do with cracking of the forcing cone, not blown up cylinders.

My gun was shipped in December 1899 and still shoots well. The .38 Special was introduced that year as a black powder cartridge, but smokeless loads came out the same year (I believe). Note that S&W didn't approve any of their revolvers for smokeless loads until 1909! I've never been able to find out why.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-10-2018, 05:17 PM
medic15al's Avatar
medic15al medic15al is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Pell City, AL
Posts: 766
Likes: 2,262
Liked 582 Times in 241 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BC38 View Post
I'm confused by these two seemingly contradictory statements.

Don't the majority of recipes for "mid range 38 special loadings" use smokeless powder? Black powder load data is pretty scarce....
He was making two different statements.

First was a general warning for any black powder gun, no smokeless at all

Second was related to the original post, the Bullseye Wadcutter load is safe for early smokeless 38 Special S&W K-frames.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #11  
Old 08-10-2018, 06:43 PM
reddog81 reddog81 is online now
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: IA
Posts: 912
Likes: 221
Liked 708 Times in 373 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milton View Post
Thanks for the reply's!I'll just keep shooting swaged bullets in mine.He did state that he had pulled a lot of bullets from older loads and they were pure lead and the rifling of the early guns was cut for pure lead.He was adding just enough tin to get his cast bullets to fill out in the mold and they still ran 6 to 7 Brinnell.
I did notice also he did not use Bullseye except in lightweight bullets or wadcutters and then the loads were light.He instead used SR4756,AAC-5,Blue Dot ,HS-6 and IMR-4227 to reach the safe velocities and pressure of the loadings of the past.
How old is this load data? Anyone using Blue Dot or IMR-4227 for light .38 Special loads is crazy in my book. You'll have to shake out all the unburned gun powder between each reload when using those powders. When using recently made gun powder it's best to use current reload data. Light loads of Bullseye are going to be way more appropriate than any extremely slow handgun powder. The manufacturers of those powders don't even have any load data for .38 Special and those powders because there are probably dozens of other powders out there that are better options.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-10-2018, 07:12 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 22,434
Likes: 2
Liked 13,252 Times in 7,395 Posts
Default

Milder lead bullet loads of any fast to medium burning rate powders will be satisfactory in any K-frame, old or new. I don't see that the lead hardness would have much of anything to do with their safety. Sharpe's reloading manual of 1937 was recommending .38 Special loads which are about the same as those recommended today. And there were far more old S&W revolvers around in 1937 than there are today. For any recreational shooting with a .38 Special I use only lead bullets.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:07 PM
ArchAngelCD's Avatar
ArchAngelCD ArchAngelCD is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northeast PA, USA
Posts: 5,388
Likes: 267
Liked 1,758 Times in 1,069 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milton View Post
I think his breaking definition was in fact blown cylinders but especially splitting of the frame below the barrel.He even went as far to say that many of the supposed overloads were in fact due to this choice of bullet hardness and the form of rifling in the older revolvers.
I have yet to read anything by Mr. Sengel that was not full of insight.
I highly doubt cast bullet hardness will cause a blown cylinder, it just doesn't cause that problem. Softer bullets are kinder to the barrel and rifling and that's what I mostly use in older revolvers along with W231.

There are a few contradictions in this thread. I would not believe what people tell you, research it for yourself for safety.
__________________
Freedom is never free!!
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #14  
Old 08-10-2018, 11:49 PM
rwsmith's Avatar
rwsmith rwsmith is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: (outside) Charleston, SC
Posts: 25,133
Likes: 30,161
Liked 21,682 Times in 10,558 Posts
Default I've shot everything in my model 10....

Mouse poots, barn burners, max hot loads from a long time ago, every style of bullet, both factory and reloaded.

Not only did I give out before the gun did. The model 10 did not even breath hard.

I was working up toward max on a load with Unique that was a full grain over what is generally recommended nowadays. I got about halfway there and thought that the loads were a little raucous and backed down a couole of tenths of a grain. I'm sure I could have carried right on up if I felt like it was necessary for what I was doing. (I experiment a lot)

The old K frames were well built and plenty strong for their purpose. I've never heard of one just giving out with some kind of major abuse.
__________________
"He was kinda funny lookin'"
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-12-2018, 01:38 PM
bulletslap bulletslap is offline
Member
Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths. Shooting .38 Special in older Smiths.  
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 280
Likes: 166
Liked 430 Times in 161 Posts
Default

I could see a concern with hard cast and jackets rounds cracking the forcing cone, as my pre 1920s K frames don't have much of a "cone".

I have gone to 4 grains of Unique, with 148 HBWCs for pre WWII K Frames and 5 grains of Unique with 158 SWCs for later K Frames.

At one time I used 4.5 grains, before I acquired a few elderly K Frames.

Your Firearm and loading techniques differ, so dont take my data as gospel.

Last edited by bulletslap; 08-12-2018 at 03:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
white lettering on older smiths ky wonder S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 8 05-07-2014 07:01 PM
Finish Protection on Older Smiths FPrice S&W-Smithing 9 02-15-2014 10:45 AM
Lead, SJ or FMJ in older Smiths? Steve in Vermont Ammo 6 12-19-2011 02:13 PM
Which older Smiths to collect? Mr Sola S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 3 09-08-2008 09:26 AM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:15 AM.


Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.42 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2018
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)