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Old 07-25-2020, 02:08 PM
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Default Helping a friend identify a handgun

Hello.

I went to the range with a couple of friends yesterday and one of them brought along an old Smith and Wesson that he would like to learn more about. I told him I would ask here at the forum so hopefully some of you can provide solid information that I can pass along to him. Thanks in advance to any help.


1. TYPE: Top-Break with a visible hammer

2. Serial Number: 1860

3. CTG or Caliber: .38

4. Barrel Length: 6.5 inches

5. Sights: Top Break Adjustable
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Old 07-25-2020, 02:19 PM
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This is a New Model 3 Target. By far the most common chambering for these was .44 Russian but many target guns were made in .32-44 or .38-44, the latter the same bore diameter as .38 S & W but with a longer cartridge case and the bullet seated within it. One of the antique experts will be along with more information.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:30 PM
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The gun is a NM#3 38/44 Target model. This model had their own serial number range together with the .32/44 Target models. Only 1419 of the .38/44s were made, so they not commonly found. Ser. # 1860 was made Feb.. 24, 1891, as a blue gun which has been refinished in nickle at some time in the past. The 38/44 black powder cartridge is an unusual round. The bullet is seated within the case, below the mouth. It is not safe to fire any modern smokeless .38 caliber rounds in this revolver! Ed.

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Old 07-25-2020, 03:58 PM
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Here are a couple cartridges that show what Ed was describing. Ammo is long gone, but you can reload for this gun by using 357 Maximum brass. This brass is basically cut the same length as the cylinder and reloaded. Original 38-44 Target UMC rounds are shown in the first and second pictures. My reloads are shown with 148g SWC bullets.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:58 PM
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These are neat, specialized guns.
You can shoot it by trimming .357 Maximum brass to the length of the cylinder and seating roundnose bullets below the case mouth.
Choice of black or smokeless is controversial, but I admit to having shot mine with the same load I use for .38 Special wadcutters.
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Old 07-25-2020, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Governor View Post
Hello.

I went to the range with a couple of friends yesterday and one of them brought along an old Smith and Wesson that he would like to learn more about. I told him I would ask here at the forum so hopefully some of you can provide solid information that I can pass along to him. Thanks in advance to any help.


1. TYPE: Top-Break with a visible hammer

2. Serial Number: 1860

3. CTG or Caliber: .38

4. Barrel Length: 6.5 inches

5. Sights: Top Break Adjustable
Post a picture looking down in t the rear of the Cylinder so we can see into the Chambers?

Indeed, looks to be a "New Model 3" Target.

At a glance, to my own Eye, looks to be an old refinish in Nickel...

And as others have relayed, if "38" then most likely it is .38 - 44, which was a Target Cartridge of the times, and the Cartridge was full Cylinder Length so there would be no 'step' from Chamber to Cylinder Bore, just a straight Bore, basically.

And if so, it used a .361 Bullet, not a .357 or .358 like .38 Special.

Fun to see!

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Old 07-25-2020, 06:04 PM
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Default Range Report?

Mr. Governor,

Say, you mentioned that "your friend" brought it to the range? I was wondering if he shot it? and if so what did he use? 38 Special? If so, how accurate was the gun?

Murph
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Old 07-26-2020, 06:17 PM
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Post a picture looking down in to the rear of the Cylinder so we can see into the Chambers.
I texted him to ask for the photo. He's at work so he'll take one tomorrow when he gets home.

Thanks all for your input. I have shared this thread with him. Maybe he'll join the forum?

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Old 07-26-2020, 06:37 PM
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Mr. Governor,

Say, you mentioned that "your friend" brought it to the range? I was wondering if he shot it? and if so what did he use? 38 Special? If so, how accurate was the gun?

Murph
Yes, we both shot it (I watched him shoot twelve rounds and I shot six. We did use .38 special.) but since reading the posts on here, he has informed me he will stop shooting it until he can obtain the proper ammo. Thanks again for everyone's information.

We were shooting at 6" steel plates about 20 yards away. He is a much better shot and he hit all of the plates. I missed two of my six, if I recall correctly.
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:54 AM
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Your friend certainly conducted a nitro proof test by doing that, but not wise in a gun that age and design. If I were to guess, a 38 Special will generate around 15,000 psi and I doubt that the original black powder round would hit 10,000 psi. You will not be able to purchase this ammunition, but if you are or can find an experienced reloader, you can recreate the round. The best two low pressure rounds that I have shot are as detailed below. The 38 Maximum brass is available but you have to search some for it online. It needs to be cut to 1.5" case length by measuring my original UMC ammo.

This round can be reloaded with a 38 Special or 38 Magnum reloading dies and standard 38 Special bullets. I find the most accurate bullets and the ones that will function in the slightly oversized bore is the standard 148g HBWC. They are more difficult to load with black powder, since they have a hollow base and black powder needs slight compression with no air space to be safe. I load mine with a thin cardboard wad over the powder behind the hollow base bullet. The best method is to measure the total length of the bullet plus cardboard card plus another 1/16". Add black powder (or BP substitute) to the case until it is compressed about 1/16" by the card and bullet. The bullet is set level with the top of the case and the brass needs to have a slight crimp over the bullet in order to keep in from moving forward in the chamber while shooting.

The best all around load I have come up with so far is using Unique powder with 2.5g min to 3g max. I use a 158g SWC for this load and the goal is to chronograph the load until you get around 600 fps load. Slow, with low pressure, but certainly accurate and will put clean holes in a paper target with decent accuracy!!

Depending on what bullets are available, another favorite of mine is a 130g RN bullet with 3.5g of Trail Boss powder. This comes close to original loads and velocities run around 590 fps. Sure these are .357" 38 Special bullets, but seem to be quite accurate in my shooting. Besides the real fun is occasionally shooting the old hogleg anyway!! Don't overdo it, since parts are long gone and that is a near-rare gun with not many left out there.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Governor View Post
Yes, we both shot it (I watched him shoot twelve rounds and I shot six. We did use .38 special.) but since reading the posts on here, he has informed me he will stop shooting it until he can obtain the proper ammo. Thanks again for everyone's information.

We were shooting at 6" steel plates about 20 yards away. He is a much better shot and he hit all of the plates. I missed two of my six, if I recall correctly.
.38 - 44 Cartridge was out of production by about 110 years ago or so. It has not been manufactured since.

There is no 'obtain proper ammo' unless obtaining original Cartridges, or, loading one's own via shortening, expanding and modifying other adaptable Brass.

The original .38 - 44 Target Cartridge was a Black Powder Cartridge.

It is same diameter as .38 S & W, but longer.

.38 special is considerably smaller in diameter...as well as much shorter.

A later same-name Smokeless Cartridge, the '38-44' aka '.38 Heavy Duty' of the 1920s, 1930s, was simply a .38 Special loaded to almost .357 Magnum levels, and these would be entirely wrong for the New Model 3 Target, and could damage it, and they are also long since out of production.

Here is what the original .38 - 44 S & W Target Cartridges look like -

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Old 07-27-2020, 10:22 AM
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I love your guys loading techniques. I've done similar things to make ultra-low power plinking loads for 38 special.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:31 AM
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So, would there be any issue with using 38 S&W in this gun?

Rosewood
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:47 AM
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So, would there be any issue with using 38 S&W in this gun?
Yes you can, but as with any use of improper ammo, the accuracy can be affected. I guess Phil did not see my post, but my comment is that the difference between a groove with .357" or .361" is only .004". It is often debated, but I have read that a relatively soft lead bullet will expand when fired because of the back-pressure generated by the ignition of the powder, and it is also known that barrels differ is dimension so slugging a barrel is the best way to determine bore and groove diameters.

I did some experimenting early on, taking measurements after forcing .361" pure lead bullets into the .357" 38 Maximum case and guess what? They were reduced in diameter to around .358" so another compromising factor. I used a 38 S&W bullet seating die to get that result. If one uses a 38 Special or 357 die, the bullet will be reduced even more.

The reality is that one cannot completely duplicate the original cartridge, but by using hollow based bullets, you will get maximum accuracy using the 357 Maximum case. That, for me, has resulted in never seeing oblong holes or keyholes in the paper.
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Old 07-27-2020, 01:47 PM
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You said you have to cut down the .357 max cases. I wonder if the 360 dan wesson cases are closer to the correct size?? They are available last time I looked.

As for accuracy, how much are we talking about? I shoot 38 special in .357 mag all the time and it isn't bad. Would it be something noticeable in a firearm such as this?

Rosewood
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:40 PM
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Default Accuracy

I have used 38 special cases in my 38-44 Target Smith with 18 grains of FFFG (Goex Black powder) and Hollow based 147grain Ideal wadcutters that I cast, size, weigh, lube, and load myself. I prefer the CCI small pistol primers but sometimes I've noticed that Federal primers work better for Black Powder cartridges in smaller calibers for some reason. (See Photo)
The accuracy is amazing at 25 yards. All in the black with a pattern about the size of a baseball. I am of the opinion that this pattern can be tightened to about 2" if using the original load and bullet type with hollow base. I haven't been able to find an original mold but I know they are out there somewhere! There were actually 3 bullet types available in 1887 for the 38-44 Target. I have one of the molds with the heavier bullet( 148 grain RN) having a round nose and 3 lubrication grooves but haven't tested it yet. Rounds are loaded and ready though.

The heavier powder charge with the longer case would produce more velocity and that should translate to a tighter pattern.

I'll see if I can find my target in the pile. I keep range records but that was some years ago. Compression does actually fill the hollow base. I've used this same technique with my 41 Long "Hollow Base" round nose without pressure issues. When you fill the case with the weighed Black powder load it's almost to the top of the case. Compressing the bullet into the case fills that hollow base void. Otherwise you can't get a significant load in the case unless you use old balloon head cases. They are now pretty hard to find.

I have yet to try the longer 357 max or even a 357 mag but I have 357 Mag cases loaded with 23 grains and the original Target round nose heeled bullet. Trying to find a place to shoot that doesn't limit your time? It's not easy here in California now.

Also, My 38-44 Target has the long cylinder so an original case actually does not reach the end of the chamber. There is a slight throat and case stop about 1/16" of an inch from the end so you must also consider if you have a 38-44 target? Which frame you have? The earlier short frame short cylinder? Or the later Long frame, long cylinder. The short frame, short cylinder is easier to load as the original case reaches the end of the chamber.

The Op's 38-44 Target appears to me that it's the later long frame, long cylinder. So there is a slight case stop and throat in this cylinder! It is "NOT" bored straight through like the earlier short frame short cylinder. So you "CAN NOT" run the case to the end of the cylinder beyond the CASE STOP or very dangerous pressures will result no matter what powder you use!

"Extremely important"
Plus the long frame long cylinder is actually the rarest 38-44. Roughly 400 were made. So finding a replacement cylinder for a long frame would be about impossible.

So the Op's gun is very rare! If it's actually a long frame?

*** I just looked it up in Mr. Jinks book and the long frame didnít show up until the upper 3,000 serial number range. So the OPís gun is actually a Short Frame, short cylinder and is therefore bored straight through.


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Old 07-27-2020, 03:32 PM
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The collector I got my .38-44 from had shot it with .38 S&W just to hear it go Bang; I doubt he hit much.

Trimmed .38-44 expanded back about 2/3 of the cylinder length, the rear sidewalls of the case did not expand under the low pressure. I resized with a .38 S&W/.38 Super die to work the brass less.

I tried various bullets and powders, the best accuracy I got was with a 145 gr .356"(!!!) cast 9mm bullet and Black Mag 3 fake powder. Problem was, it hit nowhere near the point of aim. About any lead bullet and any powder for 600 fps was good enough for casual shooting and shot center.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:27 PM
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So, would there be any issue with using 38 S&W in this gun?

Rosewood
The Bullet would be unsupported for the remaining length of the Cylinder Chamber.

.38 - 44 the Cylinder was all chamber, no Cylinder Bore, there is no 'step', so, .38 S & W would load and fire fine, but the Bullet would likely not meet the Barrel Bore properly, there'd be massive Blow-By of Gasses as the too-small-for-the-Chamber Bullet is leaving the Case and proceeds to meet the Barrel end, making for probable Leading, and poor accuracy.

No Harm, other than the chore of removing what-ever Leading as may occur.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:37 PM
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Trimmed .38-44 expanded back about 2/3 of the cylinder length, the rear sidewalls of the case did not expand under the low pressure. I resized with a .38 S&W/.38 Super die to work the brass less.
Ohhhhh...I'm sorry...Lol...

Which ".38-44" are you talking about?

The .38 - 44 of the 'New Model 3' Revolvers, the Cartridge is the full length of the Cylinder, there is no "expanded back" etc to be done.

What does "expanded back' mean?

The Cartridge does not expand...do you mean shorten it back?

There would be no reason to ever do that.

See Post # 11 to see what the .38 - 44 Cartridges look like.

One would not shorten .38 - 44 Cartridges, they are meant to be full Cylinder Length as there is only the Cylinder Chamber, no Cylinder Bore - the Cartridge Case in being full length, takes the place of the Cylinder Bore in this instance.


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I tried various bullets and powders, the best accuracy I got was with a 145 gr .356"(!!!) cast 9mm bullet and Black Mag 3 fake powder. Problem was, it hit nowhere near the point of aim. About any lead bullet and any powder for 600 fps was good enough for casual shooting and shot center.
Again, I have no idea what Gun you are talking about.

Bullets for the New Model 3 ".38 - 44" are .361 diameter.

Yes, in theory, under-size soft enough Lead bullets may upset how-ever much to maybe fit the Bore a little bit, but why do that?

Just use right size Bullets to begin with!

So, I do not really understand if you are talking about the 1920s on "38-44" N Frame which took .38 Special, or I do not know what Gun you are talking about.

And I have no idea what Brass you are referencing...no idea what 'expanded back' means.

Can you explain please?

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Old 07-27-2020, 04:53 PM
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The gun is a NM#3 38/44 Target model. This model had their own serial number range together with the .32/44 Target models. Only 1419 of the .38/44s were made, so they not commonly found. Ser. # 1860 was made Feb.. 24, 1891, as a blue gun which has been refinished in nickle at some time in the past. The 38/44 black powder cartridge is an unusual round. The bullet is seated within the case, below the mouth. It is not safe to fire any modern smokeless .38 caliber rounds in this revolver! Ed.
This sounds similar to the 7.62x38 Nagant round. Seated below the mouth.
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:24 PM
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Would these guns chamber 38 S&W? A lot of 38sp, 357s won’t.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:41 PM
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Your friend certainly conducted a nitro proof test by doing that, but not wise in a gun that age and design. If I were to guess, a 38 Special will generate around 15,000 psi and I doubt that the original black powder round would hit 10,000 psi. You will not be able to purchase this ammunition, but if you are or can find an experienced reloader, you can recreate the round. The best two low pressure rounds that I have shot are as detailed below. The 38 Maximum brass is available but you have to search some for it online. It needs to be cut to 1.5" case length by measuring my original UMC ammo.

This round can be reloaded with a 38 Special or 38 Magnum reloading dies and standard 38 Special bullets. I find the most accurate bullets and the ones that will function in the slightly oversized bore is the standard 148g HBWC. They are more difficult to load with black powder, since they have a hollow base and black powder needs slight compression with no air space to be safe. I load mine with a thin cardboard wad over the powder behind the hollow base bullet. The best method is to measure the total length of the bullet plus cardboard card plus another 1/16". Add black powder (or BP substitute) to the case until it is compressed about 1/16" by the card and bullet. The bullet is set level with the top of the case and the brass needs to have a slight crimp over the bullet in order to keep in from moving forward in the chamber while shooting.

The best all around load I have come up with so far is using Unique powder with 2.5g min to 3g max. I use a 158g SWC for this load and the goal is to chronograph the load until you get around 600 fps load. Slow, with low pressure, but certainly accurate and will put clean holes in a paper target with decent accuracy!!

Depending on what bullets are available, another favorite of mine is a 130g RN bullet with 3.5g of Trail Boss powder. This comes close to original loads and velocities run around 590 fps. Sure these are .357" 38 Special bullets, but seem to be quite accurate in my shooting. Besides the real fun is occasionally shooting the old hogleg anyway!! Don't overdo it, since parts are long gone and that is a near-rare gun with not many left out there.
Thank you for sharing this. Neither of us reload but I'm sure he will print up what you have shared and look for someone who can create what you've stated.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:47 PM
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.38 - 44 Cartridge was out of production by about 110 years ago or so. It has not been manufactured since.

There is no 'obtain proper ammo' unless obtaining original Cartridges, or, loading one's own via shortening, expanding and modifying other adaptable Brass.

The original .38 - 44 Target Cartridge was a Black Powder Cartridge.

It is same diameter as .38 S & W, but longer.

.38 special is considerably smaller in diameter...as well as much shorter.

A later same-name Smokeless Cartridge, the '38-44' aka '.38 Heavy Duty' of the 1920s, 1930s, was simply a .38 Special loaded to almost .357 Magnum levels, and these would be entirely wrong for the New Model 3 Target, and could damage it, and they are also long since out of production.

Here is what the original .38 - 44 S & W Target Cartridges look like -

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Thanks for the clarification and pictures. Lots of great knowledge being shared. I appreciate everyone's input. I'm sure Scott (the gun's owner) will, too.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:56 PM
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. . . What does "expanded back' mean? . . .
I think Jim is might be referring to shooting the round and seeing the brass expand to fill the chamber for about 2/3s of its length??

In theory, if you run a 38 S&W neck expander die through a cut down 357 Max case you resize it to .361". If such a die exists, it is possible to resize the first 2/3s of the case length. I am familiar with rifle dies that set the neck size as you prepare the case for the powder and bullet, but what I do not know is where to find a 38 S&W die that has a neck expander??

Finally found what I was looking for in my computer files. Roy Bertalotto wrote up this cartridge in February 15, 2015 and the contents of his process for expanding the 357 Max cartridge is detailed in the attached Word document and a photo of the cartridge expander that fits into a 38 reloading die is attached as well.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:02 PM
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Were the original projectiles for this round tipped bullets or balls? From looking at the photos they almost appear to be round ball.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:16 PM
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It is my understanding that round balls were found in the gallery round which was shorter than the 38-44 Target round. The bullet was truly a round nose and looked similar to the casting that is detailed in the 38-44 Target Cartridge Loading article in my above post.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by BMur View Post
I have used 38 special cases in my 38-44 Target Smith with 18 grains of FFFG (Goex Black powder) and Hollow based 147grain Ideal wadcutters that I cast, size, weigh, lube, and load myself. I prefer the CCI small pistol primers but sometimes I've noticed that Federal primers work better for Black Powder cartridges in smaller calibers for some reason. (See Photo)
The accuracy is amazing at 25 yards. All in the black with a pattern about the size of a baseball. I am of the opinion that this pattern can be tightened to about 2" if using the original load and bullet type with hollow base. I haven't been able to find an original mold but I know they are out there somewhere! There were actually 3 bullet types available in 1887 for the 38-44 Target. I have one of the molds with the heavier bullet( 148 grain RN) having a round nose and 3 lubrication grooves but haven't tested it yet. Rounds are loaded and ready though.

The heavier powder charge with the longer case would produce more velocity and that should translate to a tighter pattern.

I'll see if I can find my target in the pile. I keep range records but that was some years ago. Compression does actually fill the hollow base. I've used this same technique with my 41 Long "Hollow Base" round nose without pressure issues. When you fill the case with the weighed Black powder load it's almost to the top of the case. Compressing the bullet into the case fills that hollow base void. Otherwise you can't get a significant load in the case unless you use old balloon head cases. They are now pretty hard to find.

I have yet to try the longer 357 max or even a 357 mag but I have 357 Mag cases loaded with 23 grains and the original Target round nose heeled bullet. Trying to find a place to shoot that doesn't limit your time? It's not easy here in California now.

Also, My 38-44 Target has the long cylinder so an original case actually does not reach the end of the chamber. There is a slight throat and case stop about 1/16" of an inch from the end so you must also consider if you have a 38-44 target? Which frame you have? The earlier short frame short cylinder? Or the later Long frame, long cylinder. The short frame, short cylinder is easier to load as the original case reaches the end of the chamber.

The Op's 38-44 Target appears to me that it's the later long frame, long cylinder. So there is a slight case stop and throat in this cylinder! It is "NOT" bored straight through like the earlier short frame short cylinder. So you "CAN NOT" run the case to the end of the cylinder beyond the CASE STOP or very dangerous pressures will result no matter what powder you use!

"Extremely important"
Plus the long frame long cylinder is actually the rarest 38-44. Roughly 400 were made. So finding a replacement cylinder for a long frame would be about impossible.

So the Op's gun is very rare! If it's actually a long frame?

*** I just looked it up in Mr. Jinks book and the long frame didnít show up until the upper 3,000 serial number range. So the OPís gun is actually a Short Frame, short cylinder and is therefore bored straight through.


Murph

Thanks for your reply. Which Mr. Jinks book are you referring to? I did a quick search and noticed he has authored more than one book on Smith and Wessons. I'm guessing it may be the History of Smith & Wesson.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:39 PM
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Just got this Mold on ebay but it is not arrived yet...

It's a fairly early 'IDEAL' 360 344, and may well throw a .361 Bullet.

This would be a very nice one for the .38 - 44, even though not getting a Crimp.

Hosted on Fotki

.38 Special of course was originally a Black Powder Cartridge, and the Standard Loading for it originally was 158 Grain Round Nose Lead Bullet, 21.5 Grains of 3F Black Powder, and this gave 950 FPS out of a six inch Barrel.

.38 - 44 ( of New Model 3 context ) if loaded fully, if same Bullet weight, would be giving over 1000 FPS.

Not sure what my new Mold's Bullet weighs, but I will cast and weigh some once it arrives.

'SAAMI' pressure standard, for 'Standard Loading' of .38 Special is 17,000 PSI.

I am sure the original Black Powder .38 Special gave about the same PSI or even a little more.

Modern off-the-shelf Smokeless of Standard Loading .38 Special, likely give in the mid 800s FPS out of a six inch Barrel.

Full House .38 - 44 was no slouch.

Gallery Loads, light Loads, full Loads, quite a few .360 - .361 Bullets to choose from as time went on, as well as Ball, it was a very flexible Cartridge.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:57 PM
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The ammo puts me in mind of 8mm Lebel ammo that I made about 40yrs ago. Another cartridge with bullet loaded into the case. The originals were struck with punch marks to hold bullet in case. Most of the BP cartridges you can load light with Unique just for fun ammo, without damaging the gun.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosewood View Post
You said you have to cut down the .357 max cases. I wonder if the 360 dan wesson cases are closer to the correct size?? They are available last time I looked.

As for accuracy, how much are we talking about? I shoot 38 special in .357 mag all the time and it isn't bad. Would it be something noticeable in a firearm such as this?

Rosewood
.360 Dan Wesson Brass is too short.

The .357 Maximum Brass, one would shorten to right length, expand it down far as one can with an Expander Die to accept .361 Bullets, then Fire-form to puff out as much more of the Case as will enlarge, with full charge BP and a heavy Bullet.

No idea why, but it seems very hard for people to understand and accept that the .38 - 44 Target Cartridge was a larger diameter Cartridge, and a larger diameter Bullet, as well as being a longer length Cartridge Case, than .38 Special.

.38 Special in .357 Magnum, all is same other than a tiny bit shorter Case. Bullet Diameter is the same, Cartridge Case diameter is the same...there's merely a very small "Bullet Jump" to reach the Cylinder Bore from the end of the shorter Cartridge Case, and really, the Bullet is already IN the Cylinder bore, before it's base has left the Cartridge Case, so really, there are no problems with it at all, other than crud will build up behind the little 'Step' which separates Cylinder Chamber from Cylinder Bore.

Bullet stabilizes in the Cylinder Bore, meets forcing Cone properly.

.38 Special in .38 - 44 everything is wrong, messed up, "off", etc, even if yes, one can do it.

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Old 07-27-2020, 08:28 PM
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Default Case Expansion

I don't know Phil,
Even the Op's friend was hitting a 6" metal target at 20 yards "all 12 times"? That doesn't sound off to me. Plus mine was in the black at 25 yards with the hollow base 147 grain wadcutter and full load of black powder in a 38 special case... Also, his is the short frame and mine is the long frame so we also have both variations of guns that shot the same cartridge.


I've personally never had any issues with the .38 caliber as far as case expansion/sealing issues with discharge. The difference between the .358-.359 .38 special bullet and the .360-.361 original .38 cal S&W bullet is nominal. The only issue would be if you used smokeless you'd likely see many cracked cases often using .38 special, .357 Mag, and .357 max cases but that is something that I personally would never do. Black Powder only for this old and rare bird.

The 38 special case mouth expanders are also a dime a dozen and even the old Lee Loading kits have mouth expanders that often mic at .360 for the .38 special kits. The Lee field loaders in 38 S&W come with mouth expanders also that mic at .359-.360.

You can see the comparison from the photo's below between the earliest target bullet circa 1887 with two bands next to the later improved 38-44 3 band target bullet both mic at .360 and will press easily in the .38 special case and also the .357 Mag case using the .38 special mouth expander. This would also likely work for the .357 Max. If you run the mouth expander a little deeper than normal? You can see the taper in the RCBS die expander that will easily expand the mouth even further if needed and "carefully done".

Black powder does actually fire expand the case to fit the chamber as well. The .38 special cases that I used with hollow based Wad cutters expanded perfectly and I keep them in a bag labeled and dedicated solely for this gun so I don't have to size them.

I'm looking forward to trying out that second bullet in the higher capacity .357 mag case. I have not yet tried it but I have 50 loaded in .357 Mag cases with full loads of compressed Black powder ready for the range. I expect better results than using .38 special cases.

Oh, Phil, My Long frame 38-44 caliber center-fire New Model 3 Smith & Wesson target Revolver (You have to spell things out on this forum) "Does" have a case stop and slight throat that does size down to .360 at the end of each chamber within the revolver cylinder! It is not bored all the way through like the shorter cylinder variation.

Murph
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Old 07-28-2020, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
The .38 - 44 of the 'New Model 3' Revolvers, the Cartridge is the full length of the Cylinder, there is no "expanded back" etc to be done.

What does "expanded back' mean?
Sorry I was imprecise. The trimmed .357 Maximum case is smaller diameter than real .38-44 No 3 Target and therefore expands to fill the chamber somewhat similar to firing Specials in a rechambered BSR. But pressure is low, so the expansion is limited to the forward 2/3 of the case where brass is thin and does not extend all the way back to the rim where the Maximum case is thick.

And I have no explanation why a .355" bullet should shoot accurately in a nominal .361"+ barrel; it just did. The whole loading program was a project to use what was available and not buy special dies or bullet moulds. The only dedicated component was the Maximum brass, the only special purpose equipment was a .357 Magnum file trim die, not screwed in all the way.
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Old 07-28-2020, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post

And I have no explanation why a .355" bullet should shoot accurately in a nominal .361"+ barrel; it just did. .
It is called obturation. If the bullet is soft enough, it can expand at the base and seal the bore.

Funny, this webpage underlines obturation for spelling, but that is the correct spelling per the interwebs.

Rosewood
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:39 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Yes, somewhere in there I shot some swaged bullets that were sure to bump up but that was a "hard cast" bullet meant for 9mm P. It was compatible with the Black Mag 3 fake powder which was otherwise a pain to work with. I wish I had tried some real black, but traded the revolver off before I got organized for it.
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Old 07-28-2020, 02:03 PM
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Default Undersized bullets

Well,
Even groove undersized bullets from a .355 9mm will easily contact the rifling and spin down the bore. Especially hardened bullets. Itís just not near as efficient as Match sizing a bullet to the groove diameter. Also extreme loss of efficiency from gas cutting will result. What really negatively impacts accuracy is what happens when the undersized bullet exits the barrel right at the muzzle and tilts ever so slightly from a poor groove fit. When using undersized manufactured bullets they will often pattern shoot because they will all tilt the same! LOL.

Murph

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Old 07-29-2020, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glowe View Post
Yes you can, but as with any use of improper ammo, the accuracy can be affected. I guess Phil did not see my post, but my comment is that the difference between a groove with .357" or .361" is only .004". It is often debated, but I have read that a relatively soft lead bullet will expand when fired because of the back-pressure generated by the ignition of the powder, and it is also known that barrels differ is dimension so slugging a barrel is the best way to determine bore and groove diameters.
Hi Murph!

Not only accuracy, but under-size Bullets promote Leading of the Barrel as 'early' ( or even continued ) hot Gasses go around the Bullet taking micro-droplets of Molten Lead with them, which then adhere to the Barrel Bore.

Bullets upsetting ( expanding on acceleration ) was all one had for good fit, with the usual Muzzle Loafing Single Shot Arms...which also used a Patch, and or when of larger Bore, and Military, used deeply Hollow Base Bullets.

Single Shot Muzzle Loading Target Long Arms, one Loaded through a false Muzzle End, in order to load a full size Bullet, or a very close size one with a Patch so it would already be "Groove to Groove" filling, as one drove it down all the way.

Hollow Base Bullets for Service Revolver were a way of trying to make up for over size Bores ( which had no reason to be over size ) in some of the Inside Lube Cartridges, but this was never a good solution.

Hollow Base Bullets in .38 Special, were to allow a heavier front and in theory, maybe, a little better stability over long distance than a flat base Bullet, but this has always been with right size Bullets for Barrel's Groove to Groove size...not as a way of trying to make up for an under size Bullet.

The good solution has always been, to use right size Bullets.

Quote:
I did some experimenting early on, taking measurements after forcing .361" pure lead bullets into the .357" 38 Maximum case and guess what? They were reduced in diameter to around .358" so another compromising factor. I used a 38 S&W bullet seating die to get that result. If one uses a 38 Special or 357 die, the bullet will be reduced even more.
Right...

Murph - One is supposed to e-x-p-a-n-d the .357 Maximum Cases to accept the .361 Bullet..!
This takes a long, purpose built expander made for this size, not a Lee Case Rim flare Die.




Quote:
The reality is that one cannot completely duplicate the original cartridge, but by using hollow based bullets, you will get maximum accuracy using the 357 Maximum case. That, for me, has resulted in never seeing oblong holes or keyholes in the paper.
One can duplicate the original Cartridge perfectly, using Original Cartridge Cases and right size Bullets...and 3F Swiss Powder.

I have decided to do this with 12 Rounds...to dismantle and use 12 of my original Cartridge Cases.

Or, one can virtually duplicate the original Cartridge to be indistinguishable in performance and fit and all else but for the diameter of Cartridge Case base, by using shortened, expanded .357 Maximum Brass, and right size Bullets.

Since these Cartridges are not crimped, one does not need a Crimping Die - only a Primer Punch, an expander Die, and a Seating Die.

Expander Die can be used to compress the powder first, if one likes, too.

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Old 07-29-2020, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Not only accuracy, but under-size Bullets promote Leading of the Barrel as 'early' ( or even continued ) hot Gasses go around the Bullet taking micro-droplets of Molten Lead with them, which then adhere to the Barrel Bore.
Having tried to melt lead with a torch on many occasions, I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how lead could soften enough in the millisecond that it takes the projectile to exit the barrel.

If you have a source for this I would love to read it. I always believed that it was due to the inherent softness of lead and the hardness of steel.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:47 PM
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Default Proper load/ Bullet

Hey Phil,

Yeah, I agree. Iím pretty anal with my reloading. Bullet sizing is something I never blow off. Undersized bullets are a bad idea most of the time.

Although the patented hollow base 41 Long is a prime example of what can be done with bullet skirt expansion from a hollow base bullet. Patented in 1891! The .386 diameter hollow base bullet was successfully used in the .405 groove diameter 41 Long bore for all guns manufactured in that caliber after 1891!

Thatís a ď Huge ď difference between the .386 bullet and .405 bore!
I often shoot the original Ideal bullet molded from my original Ideal field loader and itís not the most accurate bullet? But it definitely pattern shoots at 15 yards averaging 6Ē groupings and when you recover bullets from the backstop? There is rifling contact about 70% of the skirt. So expansion is most definitely taking place with Black powder loads. Proven simply by a fresh cast bullet will literally drop through the barrel without contacting the rifling.

So again, this was a successful patent that remained and in fact replaced the old outside lubricated bullet for the next 80 years. Thatís saying something!

They did eventually change the .41 bore to .401 in about 1905? But that only increased the accuracy of the hollow based bullet and by that time was the primary round available on the market.

So the OP using a .358 hollow base Wadcutter for a 360 groove diameter bore is 100% correct.

Murph

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Old 07-30-2020, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
Having tried to melt lead with a torch on many occasions, I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how lead could soften enough in the millisecond that it takes the projectile to exit the barrel.

If you have a source for this I would love to read it. I always believed that it was due to the inherent softness of lead and the hardness of steel.
It doesn't take much to melt the sharp edges at the base of the boolit. Now, to melt the whole boolit, it is going to take a lot more heating. An undersized boolit will lead, whereas a properly fitting will not with the same load. The properly fitting boolit seals the barrel and doesn't allow the hot gas to flow around the sharp edges.

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Old 07-31-2020, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
Having tried to melt lead with a torch on many occasions, I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how lead could soften enough in the millisecond that it takes the projectile to exit the barrel.

If you have a source for this I would love to read it. I always believed that it was due to the inherent softness of lead and the hardness of steel.
Hi JSR III,

'As far as I know' anyway...

I do not have any sources at my finger tips to cite...though likely the old "IDEAL" Handbooks and others remind about this.

And, if we think about it clearly...

Temps of Gases behind the Bullet in the brief time of "Blow By" with under-size Bullets, are greatly higher than what your Torch was putting out in it's manner of heating the Lead...as well as being intimately on the sides of the Bullet as they flow by under 14, 15, 17 thousand PSI...

Holding a Torch ( What kind of Torch? How close? What velocity of burning Gasses? etc ) to a Lead Ingot or whatever is a very different thing.

If we think of a "Cutting Torch", it'll be a closer comparison.

Lead on Steel is a super low coefficient of friction.

Under-size Bullets give 'Leading', and right size Bullets do not.

If Leading came from friction - galling - of Bullet galling against Bore, why would under-size Lead Bullets give Leading, and over size and or right size Lead Bullets not?

You can go here -

As them what causes 'Leading', see what they say.

Cast Boolits

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Old 08-01-2020, 08:42 AM
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Again, I'm not saying it isn't true, I'm just having trouble wrapping my head around the lead of the projectile melting/softening in the millisecond that it takes for the bullet to travel the 4 to 6 inches in the barrel after ignition.

I have access to a cutting torch so I will try an experiment when time permits. My experience with melting lead was with a propane torch using Mapp gas and IIRC even lead flashing that I was trying to render into liquid form took some time.

In my mind, the bullet exits in the blink of an eye so hence my amazement to think it would soften in that brief time.

Always willing to learn so that is why I come here.
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Old 08-01-2020, 09:57 AM
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Default Heat vs pressure?

JSR III,
It's an interesting concept. Applying a torch to the heel of a lead bullet? but in my opinion the test would not be accurate due to the conditions a bullet is subject to in those few Milliseconds prior to exiting the muzzle.

It's not only extreme heat? but it's also extremely high pressure that induces "Gas cutting" or what Phil keeps calling "Blow-by" that reminds me of the thousands of hours I spent on my back under old cars or wrenching on many engines rebuilding same due to this same worn out condition. What the heck, it got me to work and out of the bars.

When we apply extreme temperatures and pressures together? ( 7,000 to 15,000 psi or higher with more powerful loads) at the same time? I would compare the chamber to a "Hell" like state and the bullet heel taking all of it face on. There is also the effects of momentum. From a dead stop to 1000 FPS in 3 milliseconds?

I don't know how you can duplicate that. I suppose you could compare it to what you see at the edge of a rocket engine when taking off?

See photo attached. You can actually see in this photo the plume at the heel of this lead bullet after exiting the bore of a revolver. (obviously a magnum load) No denying that the bullet heel has expanded from heat and pressure. I don't think you could duplicate these conditions with a torch.


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Old 08-02-2020, 02:37 AM
Oyeboteb Oyeboteb is offline
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Right size Pure Lead or ''soft' Bullet, almost no blow-by of early Gasses...

Undersize Bullet, lots of blow-by till the Bullet upsets enough to obturate the Barrel Bore fully..an undersize and hard Cast Bullet may never fully obturate enough to occupy the Groove to Groove.

Once occupying the Groove to Groove fully, no more blow-by...

I'll guess that full house, heaviest Bullet of the Day for it ( 160 Grain say ) , best Pistol Powders of the Day, .38 - 44 would run about 18,000 PSI.

.44 Russian, probably about 14,000...maybe a little more.

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