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Old 06-01-2013, 12:53 PM
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Default 38 New Departure

Hi I recently was give a nickel 38 New Departure serial 83XX, I was wondering how old it is and if its safe to shoot or should go in the safe? Thanks any help would be great
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:57 PM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! We love pictures! You have a 2nd model Safety Hammerless lemon squeezer. It shipped around around 1887 which makes it an antique. If the action function properly, it is safe to shoot. You can even shoot modern smokeless .38 S&W if you can find them. Did I mention that we love pictures?
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:37 PM
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The main problem is that, while factory-loaded .38 S&W ammunition is still made and is available, it is difficult to find and expensive. You will not find it at the local Wal-Mart, nor in most gun shops, as it is a low-demand item. That is why most people who like to shoot the old top break revolvers (and some newer ones) chambered in .38 S&W load their own.

Yours is legally an antique (pre-1899) and is not regulated as a firearm in most jurisdictions.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:25 PM
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I don't know about shooting anything much before 1910 as they were designed with lower black powder pressure in mind.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:50 PM
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Post - BP factory .38 S&W loads have always been loaded with light charges of smokeless powder which approximate the chamber pressure characteristics of BP loads and are safe to use in the older BP revolvers. In fact, factory smokeless loads have been safely used in the old revolvers for over 100 years.

Of course "Hot" smokeless powder loads can be made up by reloaders which could cause damage, but that's not what the factories sell. In a suitable modern revolver chambered in .38 S&W, the cartridge could easily be loaded to .38 Special performance levels, but of course those should never be used in the old top-break revolvers.

Some people believe there is some unusual and destructive "pressure spike" associated with smokeless powder which does not occur in BP loads. There is no evidence of that.
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