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Old 04-25-2017, 08:45 PM
Nickjc Nickjc is offline
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soooo. many questions. ...lol

first let me say the foray into smith's has completely revitalized revamped and refocused my collecting of firearms...!

why do they call me lemon squeezers?

I have seen posts about firing em with smokeless....but they are in the BP age.... smokeless safe?

what's a decent moderate load for one in bp...is there any original,load data out there? assuming firearm is in good serviceable condition.....
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:09 AM
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Who are "they"? Most do not call these fine little revolvers "Lemon Squeezers" and neither did the company. To many, the term denotes inferior quality brands and copies, but not S&W. They are simply Safety Hammerless revolvers offered in 32 S&W and 38 S&W calibers.

The Safety models were made well into the Twentieth Century with no design changes and the company actually made statements that these guns were safe with smokeless powders in the early 1900s. Besides, the companies that manufacture ammunition, load to the same ballistics as the original BP rounds, and most likely to even lower pressures than original ammo. The 32 Safety was manufactured until 1937 and the 38 Safety was made until 1940.

There is only one correct load for BP in the 32 & 38 S&W cartridges and if you do not know how to reload a BP cartridge, you would do well to research the topic first. Black powder is a potentially dangerous powder if used incorrectly. It is about the only propellant that can blow up your gun if you use too little in a case, leaving an air space. You must always fill the case to 1/16" above the base of the seated bullet, but decisions on powder type & size, bullet weights, lead purity, crimp, primer, etc. All need to be known before attempting to reload. BP is not just another powder, but requires care and knowledge to get right. There are lots of smokeless reloading tables out there that give you accurate and safe formulas for reloading these calibers and the end result will leave your revolver a lot easier to clean than with BP, with no corrosive residue.
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Old 04-26-2017, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by glowe View Post
Who are "they"? Most do not call these fine little revolvers "Lemon Squeezers" and neither did the company. To many, the term denotes inferior quality brands and copies, but not S&W. They are simply Safety Hammerless revolvers offered in 32 S&W and 38 S&W calibers.

The Safety models were made well into the Twentieth Century with no design changes and the company actually made statements that these guns were safe with smokeless powders in the early 1900s. Besides, the companies that manufacture ammunition, load to the same ballistics as the original BP rounds, and most likely to even lower pressures than original ammo. The 32 Safety was manufactured until 1937 and the 38 Safety was made until 1940.

There is only one correct load for BP in the 32 & 38 S&W cartridges and if you do not know how to reload a BP cartridge, you would do well to research the topic first. Black powder is a potentially dangerous powder if used incorrectly. It is about the only propellant that can blow up your gun if you use too little in a case, leaving an air space. You must always fill the case to 1/16" above the base of the seated bullet, but decisions on powder type & size, bullet weights, lead purity, crimp, primer, etc. All need to be known before attempting to reload. BP is not just another powder, but requires care and knowledge to get right. There are lots of smokeless reloading tables out there that give you accurate and safe formulas for reloading these calibers and the end result will leave your revolver a lot easier to clean than with BP, with no corrosive residue.
Thanks and that is how I have seen them referenced - so i thought it was applicable to all version and makes of top breaks.

Also thanks for the info on reloading, of which I have been doing for about 25 years. Loading for old damascus doubles in BP with 2.5" shells up to and including for my M1's etc.

I realize that there are tables out there and I realize that more research on a load can be done - i was just looking for a quick thought, is it 12 grains of FFFg 15 etc?

I would however not be too comfortable loading a smokeless propellant in the pistol is the round was designed for BP. Dunno just me.

thanks again
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Old 04-26-2017, 03:00 PM
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I always thought the term Lemon Squeezer applied equally to any of the hammerless break top guns. Some S&W aficionados don't like the term but it is what it is...

I use the minimum or starting loads from the Lyman manual for load data. Without knowing what bullets and powders a person has it would be hard to start just throwing out data. I have used 148 grain hollow base wadcutters with 3.2 grains Unique or 2 grains of bullseye. For black powder you need to figure out where the bullet base is inside the case and fill to that point. I'm not sure how that would work with a HBWC and have never tried it. It's my understanding that the average black powder load in a handgun is going to be around 12,000 PSI. It is definitely possible to load lighter loads using Unique or Bullseye. I would guess that a compressed black powder load will be just as dangerous as an over charge of Unique.
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Old 04-26-2017, 05:59 PM
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I am going to go with gunsmith Dave Ciccionies advice and say no to smokeless of any sort. I load .38 and .32 S & W with black powder, or bp substitutes. Fill with 3fg until you get about 1/16" compression, i think it's about 13 grns for the .38's. Nice, low pressure, but with good power. I shoot LRN's, but if you can get a semiwadcutter or something, it would probably be a better defensive round. The LRN mold is what i have
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:34 PM
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To each his own on choice of powders and I know I nor any supporting evidence shared in the past will sway many skeptics. I am very confident that the loads available are lower pressure than BP, certainly slower speeds than original BP loads and less felt recoil. I also know that pressure curves can be generated with smokeless that are identical to BP. There is so much just plain false information out there about BP versus smokeless powders, much is promulgated by gunsmiths. Actually, many will tell you these top-break revolvers are unsafe to shoot PERIOD, as I just read on another post.

First, you don't want to weigh BP. A volume measure is the best option and you simply fill the case to the proper level and seat the bullet until it lightly compresses the powder. You can set up this level in one case and use a volume measure to reproduce the loading of the rest of the ammo.

I have been loading BP shotguns, BP rifles, BP revolvers, and flintlock rifles and pistols for about 35 years and have a great deal of respect for black powder. Loading shotgun shells is quite a bit different than cartridges. First, you know the powder is going to be compressed by the wad in the loading method used, no matter how much powder you put in the case. What I was trying to convey is that it is not the same for BP cartridges.

If someone can tell me what the difference is between a 38 Safety made in 1890 versus the same model manufactured in 1915, I would love to know but there's no evidence there is any difference. Have fun at the range.

brazosdave, I am curious what type of pressure device do you use to measure that "low pressure" for your BP loads? Is that compared to smokeless or what?
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:43 PM
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The term "lemon squeezer" was basically collector slang for the S&W safety hammerless or hammerless safety revolvers as S&W used both terms. The term I believe originated because one had to squeeze the grip safety to allow the firearm to function.

The factory didn't use the term so that many S&W collectors try not to use it as well so as not to mislead folks getting into the hobby.

There are also other terms like stocks, yoke and checking that were used in early literature by Mrssrs. Smith and Wesson. It is my firm belief that this was a deliberate attempt on their part to differentiate them from their largest competitor in CT. They even went so far as to not want to put caliber markings on their guns if the caliber contained the word Colt.

Since the family sold the company to Bangor Punta back in the mid 60's, these terms have crept back into their literature and even the Historian uses words like grips and checkering.

Another common term that I see is "break top". Although the message is probably understood, the company referred to these revolvers as "top breaks".

Again, it is really up to the individual but those wishing to keep in tune with the founders try to use the terms that they chose.
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Old 04-27-2017, 01:11 PM
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Thanks for all the comments from all parties ! It is much appreciated

The one issue i have with BP and at least the hardware that I have been using for loading my flints/caps, is that my volume measure is not all that precise.

Not to derail the thread, but for my 54 caplock I have settled on 95grains of FFg for that rifle. Gives good power with round lead ball and accuracy when 'making meat'. My .50 flint like 75grains...

All this being said, my measure is cut for every 5-10 grains...as I recall..... What I did then is carve a horn tip to the size for the volume and use that to load from the horn.

Anyone know of a BP measure that is more precise? Haven't done a web search as yet.
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Old 04-27-2017, 02:57 PM
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Try a .32ACP case. See if that volume of FFFG comes close to filling the .38 case to the bullet base. If not, you can file down a .38 S&W case to the right level, solder on a wire handle, and you're in business. Remember, lightly compressed is what you want.

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Old 04-29-2017, 09:36 AM
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anyone out there have parts ? I need a hammer spring for a early 1st model .38 Safety Hammerless. This spring is unique to the 1st model. It is not like any of the following versions of the .38 Safety Hammerless.
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Old 04-29-2017, 11:09 AM
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I always thought the term Lemon Squeezer applied equally to any of the hammerless break top guns. Some S&W aficionados don't like the term but it is what it is...
It's not "it is what it is". They were named Safety Hammerless, or New Departure, by Smith & Wesson. Collectors called they Lemon Squeezers. You will not find that term in any of Smith & Wesson's literature.
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Old 04-29-2017, 12:59 PM
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Thanks to Google search, only NOW do I see the similarity to a certain type of older commercial "lemon squeezer". I'll think I will stick with "safety-hammerless", too.
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Old 05-01-2017, 08:41 AM
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As a previous poster mentioned, load bp or subs to get 1/16" compression. I determine pressure by recoil, striking power, sound. Nothing scientific, but you can tell the difference between a regular round and a plus P, bp rounds are the same. I almost shoot exclusively bp and subs, and i shoot throughout the week. All my old shooters are still doing well, so i reckon the pressure is fine.
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Old 05-01-2017, 04:46 PM
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Same for me with smokeless. Have shot properly loaded smokeless loads in everything I own from Model 1s, Model 2s, through Model 3s, Double Actions, Safeties, Single Actions Single Shots. All perform as they should, stay much cleaner inside and out, plus never broke a part on any antique or modern gun I have owned, so I recon the pressures are fine.
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Old 05-02-2017, 12:20 PM
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yeah, it's pretty much whatever you are comfortable with. Obviously, you have plenty of empirical evidence to have confidence with your loadings. Your experience has proven that. I stick to what i know more about. Two sides of the same coin, neither one is absolute!
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:57 AM
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Re: "It's not "it is what it is". They were named Safety Hammerless, or New Departure, by Smith & Wesson. Collectors called they Lemon Squeezers. You will not find that term in any of Smith & Wesson's literature.".
Lemon Squeezers would be the slang term that applies to any of them. I'm not saying that it is the model name or anything that specific. Just because some people don't like the term doesn't mean it doesn't apply. The factory literature never used the term but that doesn't mean 10,000's of other people haven't used the term.
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:13 PM
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This is the Smith & Wesson Collector's Association, isn't it? Our goal should be to help new members and non-collectors with properly identifying what they have and help them learn as much about their revolvers as possible. First and foremost is giving them the proper model name, change or issue number, etc.
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