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Old 10-25-2009, 03:47 PM
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Default .38 S&W Special Ctg.

Is this the .38 S&W or the newer .38 special cartridge? I saw a very nice example today while visiting a gun show. The dealer who owns the gun says it is the old .38 S&W but I am cautious because of the "special" stamped on the barrel following S&W, oh yes, it is a target model with a 6" barrel and must be at least 95% to 98%, no box or tools. Is it worth $600.00? Anybody know? Hey, thanks for your help.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:50 PM
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It's the .38 Special.

The cartridge's "official" name is the .38 S&W Special. The .38 S&W is that shorter, fatter, obsolescent cartridge from around 1880.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:03 PM
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An explanation. There are .38 S&W and .38 Special, two different cartridges.

The .38 S&W dates into the 1870's. In 1899 S&W designed a new cartridge which was designated .38 S&W Special which was a modification of the shorter .38 Long Colt (go figure). Colt adopted the .38 S&W Special shortly after but modified the bullet to a flat point and re-named the cartridge .38 Colt Special.

Both the .38 S&W Special and Colt Special cartridges were manufactured concurrently for many years, but the Colt loading fell out of currency somewhere around 1950. They were dimensionally and functionally identical so one was superfluous. Once the Colt loading was discontinued there was no longer a reason to try to maintain a distinction between the two, and the common terminology for the cartridge was simplified to just .38 Special.

S&W has always marked their guns .38 S&W Special since they were the originators of the cartridge. Every other manufacturer simply calls the cartridge the .38 Special.

In short, .38 S&W Special and plain .38 Special are the same thing. .38 S&W is a different cartridge which is both shorter and larger in case diameter than the .38 Special and is not interchangeable.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:21 PM
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Default .38 S&W Special

Alk8944 & mjr, thank you for the prompt replies and the good news, I was hoping that was what I was looking at, how about his $600.00 price, is that about right?
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Old 10-25-2009, 05:14 PM
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You will need more info. Many Smiths have target sights. I've seen some pretty common guns with asking prices approaching $600, when in reality they're $350 guns. You need to know either model # or description of type for an accurate estimate. As a side note the .38 S&W ammo is still abundant and the round is not to be discounted as feeble.
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Old 10-25-2009, 05:15 PM
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gun forums, guys, GUN FORUMS.
I'll move this from The Lounge.
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Old 10-25-2009, 05:25 PM
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Butt..butt... I was in my lounge chair when I made the reply.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:12 PM
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Hmmmm.... Let me think. It says 38 S&W SPECIAL on the barrel... but is it in 38 S&W or 38 S&W SPECIAL?

I just don't know... if only there were some clue... a hint... anything.

This is a real puzzler, all right.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:38 PM
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Default Hey Sax

The owner maintained that it was chambered for the .38 S&W and not the special, I'm not experienced enough to take issue with him. You can make fun but I needed to know, sorry to have wasted your time.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:47 PM
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Hey Smith
Don't worry about our porcine Saxon.
He's a little rough,but he knows more than most about Smiths.
In fact,he is our resident expert on having old guns refinished.

Hey Saxon,have fun,we are.
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:05 PM
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Default .38 S&W Special

I take no offense and use the replies to build an information base so as to learn. My reason for asking is to gain knowledge. There are so many variations and the rules are not often written in stone for the S&W Revolver. I certainly have all the respect in the world for those that are so well versed and knowledgeable in the S&W revolver. I aspire to be so well educated one day, myself. All information with regard to the original question and the asking price will be well received and very much appreciated.
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:41 PM
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I'll go out on a limb here and say: .38 special is a very popular caliber in S&W's and 75% of those guns are not valued at $600. There's always the exception, but you need more info on the gun, as in model specifics. What your info says so far equates to I'm trying to value a Ford P.U. V8, no year, no model, just Ford V8, or maybe V6. No dig intended.
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Old 10-25-2009, 10:25 PM
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If this is a pre-war M&P Target in the condition stated the price is not out of line. If the gun is stamped 38 SW Special then it is a 38 Special not a 38 SW. If you could supply a description , photo or serial number we could offer much better opinions.
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:15 PM
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Default Consider yourself welcomed

I think being pseudo-insulted by Saxon is just a simple right of passage here. He attempted to do the same to me a couple weeks ago on one of my first posts in this section. So just consider yourself welcomed to the hand ejector section of the forum. All these guys around here know an amazing amount of info about these guns and there do seem to be a lot of exceptions to the norm with these older smiths.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:40 AM
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Someone will correct me if I am wrong but the 38 S&W is the same diameter as the 38 special but the length of the special is much longer. You can try to insert a 38 special in the cylinder but it will only chamber so far as the cylinder has a rim that prevents it.

The 38 S&W was quite popular before the 1940's. I bought a new box about 10 years ago but haven't seen any of them lately.
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:24 AM
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"Someone will correct me if I am wrong.."

I guess I will be that someone.

"... but the 38 S&W is the same diameter as the 38 special but the length of the special is much longer."

No, both the .38 S&W bullet and the .38 S&W cartridge case are larger in diameter than those of the .38 Special. Yes, the cartridge case of the Special is longer.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smitholdtimer View Post
Is this the .38 S&W or the newer .38 special cartridge? I saw a very nice example today while visiting a gun show. The dealer who owns the gun says it is the old .38 S&W but I am cautious because of the "special" stamped on the barrel following S&W, oh yes, it is a target model with a 6" barrel and must be at least 95% to 98%, no box or tools. Is it worth $600.00? Anybody know? Hey, thanks for your help.
Sam;

A photo would be most helpful, but here are some thoughts. If it is an original, unaltered/unmodified factory gun, S & W made 3 target-sighted .38 Specials in the 6" barrel range in significant numbers. They never cataloged a 6" .38 S & W with target sights, but anything is possible. If it is a K or medium frame, it is either a prewar Military & Police Target with a tapered, non-ribbed barrel and old-style adjustable rear sight, or (most likely) a K-38 Masterpiece or model 14 with a heavy barrel and modern rear sight. They also made a 6.5" barreled N frame .38, the .38/44 Outdoorsman or model 23. Finally, there are gunsmith specials (no pun intended!), usually made up from a fixed-sight K frame with added target sights.

A really nice prewar M & P Target or Outdoorsman is easily worth $600. An older pre-model stamped K-38, probably not. With rare exceptions, a modern model 14 sells for a lot less in my observation. Hope this is helpful.
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:50 AM
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Default .38 S&W Special CTG

To all of you including Sax, thanks for your valued input. I am not in the presence of the revolver now but have tried to describe from memory, always dangerous. I have sent a message to the owner with inquiries. To my untrained eye and very limited experience the gun appeared to be authentic and if he responds I'll share the information with you guys. I remember the rear sight being much smaller and compares favorably to the sight on my .22/32 Heavy Target, the non magna grips have a medallion and the checkering seems to be finer. I do not remember the serial number and the 6" barrel length is just what I believe but am not sure. Hopefully to be continued.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:09 PM
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The bottom line is the word SPECIAL. If it says SPECIAL on the barrel then it's a good bet the caliber is 38 SPECIAL.

Nothing particularly intellectual about that bit of reasoning.

This still isn't as bad as the folks who ask "I have this revolver stamped Mod 15. What model gun do I have?"
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:27 PM
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Sam,

That sounds very much like a prewar Target M&P. I would think $500 is fair for that gun in the condition you describe, but I would consider up to six if the little internal voice said, "Yeah, that's a good one." If the voice is silent or kind of wishy-washy in its enthusiasm, and if the seller won't come down, I'd keep looking.

For comparison in your mind's eye, here's a Target M&P (shipped 1935) I picked up several weeks ago. This one happens to have a grip adapter and is maybe 95%. The grip adapter (original manufacture, but not original to the gun) was part of the package and pushed the price up a couple of hundred or more.



Not to pick a fight about Pre-14s, but a K-38 Masterpiece in really nice condition could easily sell for way north of $600 in my neck of the woods. Even nice with a few blemishes would go for nearly that much.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:02 PM
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Default Pre Mod 14

Yep David, looking at your photo and picturing in my "feeble" mind, believe that is it. Front sight is as I remember also, his stocks are nicer but same, of course, not sure if numbered to the gun. Appreciate the photo, as all have stated, the photo makes things much easier to explain. Sax, you are the "Man"!
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:45 PM
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Default .38 S&W special ctg

If you look at Mr. Ed Hicks post in this section you will see the revolver I have been trying to describe to you, he has included many fine photos so you may observe the condition and answer the questions you have, really appreciate the interest.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaxonPig View Post
Hmmmm.... Let me think. It says 38 S&W SPECIAL on the barrel... but is it in 38 S&W or 38 S&W SPECIAL?

I just don't know... if only there were some clue... a hint... anything.

This is a real puzzler, all right.

And the scary part is they own firearms just like the rest of us!

D R
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:51 PM
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This kinda nonsense is why I'm gonna start collecting Beany Babies.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D R Greysun View Post


And the scary part is they own firearms just like the rest of us!

D R
I guess I look at this more charitably. The OP knew there was a cartridge called the .38 S&W, and a cartridge called the .38 Special. He was looking at a gun that was stamped .38 S&W SPECIAL CTG, a label that blended two items distinct in his mind. Not knowing that the full name of the .38 Special (at least in S&W land) is the .38 S&W Special, he did the correct thing and asked a question to resolve what appeared to be an ambiguous label. What in that cautious action can justify disdain and mockery?

Nothing, I submit. At the outside there may be room for some ribbing or gentle kidding, but nothing heavier.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:18 PM
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Well said. It's funny because it is very likely those making a mockery know very little about other things besides guns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCWilson View Post
I guess I look at this more charitably. The OP knew there was a cartridge called the .38 S&W, and a cartridge called the .38 Special. He was looking at a gun that was stamped .38 S&W SPECIAL CTG, a label that blended two items distinct in his mind. Not knowing that the full name of the .38 Special (at least in S&W land) is the .38 S&W Special, he did the correct thing and asked a question to resolve what appeared to be an ambiguous label. What in that cautious action can justify disdain and mockery?

Nothing, I submit. At the outside there may be room for some ribbing or gentle kidding, but nothing heavier.
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