Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >

Notices

S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-14-2016, 10:34 PM
model70hunter's Avatar
model70hunter model70hunter is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Sante Fe Trail, Kansas
Posts: 5,332
Likes: 14,348
Liked 6,489 Times in 2,578 Posts
Default 38/44 original ammo specs.

I think I've only seen 1 38/44 for sale and probably wasn't smart enough to see past the 357 Mag that was not stamped on the barrel.

Recently I started wondering what loads they used in the 38/44 and why there even is a 38/44.

Found this Article in American Handgunner penned by John Taffin.

Answered all my inquiring minds want to know questions. History, original loads, why it came about and he adds some of his favorite reloads.

So if you are a 38/44 type and have not read this one it is very informative.

The .38/44 Heavy DutyAmerican Handgunner | American Handgunner
Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Like Post:
  #2  
Old 02-15-2016, 01:10 AM
alwslate alwslate is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Indiana
Posts: 4,606
Likes: 1,540
Liked 3,606 Times in 1,750 Posts
Default

Good read. I thought original 38/44 ballistics were 1150 fps with a 158
gr bullet out of a 6 1/2" barrel so that's close. I have three 4" HDs,
two blue ones made in 1956 and one renickle gun made in 1950 that I
want to sell but I've just been too lazy to list it. All three are still in
their original 38 spl chambering and I see no reason to push loads up
to 357 pressure levels as some owners do. I really like the looks and
balance of the 4" model. Some of them have been rechambered to 357
over the years and are probably unlikely to be marked as such. A real
chunk of iron in the original 38 spl caliber. It's pretty easy to reach
1,000 fps with a 158 gr cast bullet out of a 4" barrel without exceeding
+P pressures and that seems hot enough to me since I own several
357 magnums but we just don't all think alike. I prefer to take it a bit
easy on all the old models regardless of their strength.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #3  
Old 02-15-2016, 01:31 AM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 25,477
Likes: 13
Liked 17,201 Times in 9,152 Posts
Default

The old ammunition catalogs from the 1930s usually show the MV of the .38-44 cartridge as being in the low 1100s from a 5" barrel (158 grain lead or metal capped bullets). However, they do not specify if that MV is measured from firing in an actual revolver or from some special test barrel. I suspect the latter.

The only way to accurately know the MV of any load is to chronograph it in your own revolver. For those who have not tried it, one can see very significant variations of chronographed MV among various revolvers with identical barrel lengths and loads. I have always speculated that the cause is due principally to differences in the cylinder-barrel gaps.

Old Lyman reloading handbooks from the 1950s give heavy .38 Special recipes using only 2400 powder, usually in the 11-13 grain range, with 158 grain cast bullets. This is probably because of the small number of suitable propellants available at that time. They do not call such loads .38-44. They only suggest that such loads are intended for use in "heavy frame revolvers."

FWIW, I have calculated peak chamber pressures of the .38-44 to be around 25,000 psi using the Quickload internal ballistics software and 2400 powder with a 158 grain lead bullet, assuming a MV of 1150 ft/sec. Whether that reflects reality from a revolver I have no idea. But it's probably not far off.

Last edited by DWalt; 02-15-2016 at 01:42 AM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #4  
Old 02-15-2016, 09:35 AM
Peter M. Eick Peter M. Eick is offline
SWCA Member
38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 1,449
Likes: 8
Liked 714 Times in 245 Posts
Default

I chrono-ed original 38/44 ammo out of 3 different 38/44's. Do a search on my name for the post and threads. I can't access the data due to hard drive issues right this minute but I normally aim for my reloads to be between 1150 and 1200 for 158's out of a 5" HD. Pretty stout loads. I tend to load toward the 1150 for the 5" and 1200 for the 6.5" guns. I do all of my loading with 4756 right now.
__________________
SWCA 1646
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-15-2016, 10:41 AM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 25,477
Likes: 13
Liked 17,201 Times in 9,152 Posts
Default

From a posting I made several years ago:

This is from the 1939 Winchester ammunition catalog listing:

.357 S&W Magnum Super Speed 158 Gr. Lead 1510 ft/sec 8-3/4" bbl (not 8-3/8")

.38 S&W Special Super Speed 158 Gr. Lead 1115 ft/sec 5" bbl
.38 S&W Special Super Speed 158 Gr. Metal Point 1115 ft/sec 5" bbl
.38 S&W Special Super Speed 150 Gr. Metal Piercing 1175 ft/sec 5" bbl

.38 Colt Special 158 Gr. Lead 870 ft/sec 6" bbl

.38 S&W Special 158 Gr. Lead 870 ft/sec 6" bbl
.38 S&W Special 158 Gr. Metal Point 870 ft/sec 6" bbl
.38 S&W Special 148 Gr. Mid-range lead WC 770 ft/sec 6" bbl
.38 S&W Special 148 Gr. Full charge lead WC 870 ft/sec 6" bbl
.38 S&W Special 200 Gr. Lead, Super Police 745 ft/sec 6" bbl

This is the full product listing for Winchester .38 Special & .357 ammunition. There is nothing identified as .38-44, only the Super Speed loads shown. .38 S&W Special and .38 Colt Special are identical except for the bullet shape (the .38 Colt Special has a flat point). There is no .38 Colt Special Super Speed loading listed.
-------------------------
Addition - I consulted the 1943 Western ammunition handbook. The ballistics information provided is mostly identical to that from Winchester given above. However, it is made clear that the Western .38 Special Super-X load is the same as the .38-44. There are no longer listings for the 158 grain lead and 158 grain metal point bullets for the .38 Special Super-X, only for the 150 grain metal point and 150 grain metal piercing bullets, both at 1175 ft/sec from a 5" barrel. Additionally, there is a second .357 Magnum Super-X load shown using a 158 grain metal point bullet having the same ballistics as the 158 grain lead bullet load (1510 ft/sec from an 8-3/4" bbl). No .38 Colt Special loads are listed.

I'd bet that virtually identical ballistic information would be found in Remington publications of that time period, except that Remington's equivalent to Winchester's Super Speed and Western's Super-X is called "Hi-Speed."

Incidentally, the first appearance of the .357 Magnum was in Remington's January 13, 1937 dealer price list. It was available from them only in a single loading with a metal point 158 grain bullet. Note: Metal point refers to a metal cap over the exposed part of the bullet, with the bore bearing surface being lead. It is not a FMJ, even though it looks like one. That bullet design was common then in several calibers, as it was believed to reduce bore wear.
Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Like Post:
  #6  
Old 02-15-2016, 01:11 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
US Veteran
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: The SW Va Blue Ridge
Posts: 13,355
Likes: 46,147
Liked 14,960 Times in 5,436 Posts
Default

After S&W came out with the .38/44, Colt came out with ads that stated that the .38/44 ammo was safe in the New Service, the Official Police AND in the Police Positive Special (their lightest .38 special revolver at the time).

About 35 years ago, I loaded up some .38 specials using the upper limits from the old Lyman loading manual. I shot some of them in a 4" Police Positive Special.

OWWW!! Those killed at both end.

Shot the rest of them in my Model 19.
__________________
John 3:16
WAR EAGLE!
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #7  
Old 02-15-2016, 01:37 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 25,477
Likes: 13
Liked 17,201 Times in 9,152 Posts
Default

As I have previously noted, there are no warnings given in the older ammunition maker's catalogs to the effect that the .38-44 loads should not be fired in just any old .38 Special revolver. The 1930s Remington catalogs warn only of excessive recoil if such loads are used in lighter-frame revolvers, nothing mentioned about there being a potential for injury to the shooter or damage to revolvers. Apparently the ammo makers didn't believe there was a problem in shooting .38-44 cartridges in an S&W M&P or a Colt Detective Special. And shooters (including cops), being who they are and always wanting the biggest and most powerful, probably used lots of .38-44 ammo in such revolvers.

I have personally fired .38-44 equivalent lead bullet handloads in several old M&Ps from the 1920s with no problems other than more recoil. But not very often - I did it only to find out what it felt like.

Last edited by DWalt; 02-15-2016 at 01:43 PM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #8  
Old 02-15-2016, 02:15 PM
Texas Star Texas Star is offline
US Veteran
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 19,518
Likes: 22,613
Liked 14,347 Times in 6,756 Posts
Default

I'm interested that Dwalt has shot that ammo in 1920's M&P's. But heat treated cylinders began about 1920. I wouldn't try that in older guns, just in case.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #9  
Old 02-15-2016, 07:23 PM
Skeetr57 Skeetr57 is offline
SWCA Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Inman, SC USA
Posts: 1,304
Likes: 95
Liked 648 Times in 371 Posts
Default

One gun that I can think of that will accept a .38-44 cartridge that might be damaged is the Colt m1877 Lightning. I believe that they were built with straight through chambers for the original .38 long Colt, so will accept any .38 special, but they aren't too strong, so might be damaged by firing heavy loads.
__________________
Tom
1560
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #10  
Old 02-15-2016, 08:22 PM
model70hunter's Avatar
model70hunter model70hunter is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Sante Fe Trail, Kansas
Posts: 5,332
Likes: 14,348
Liked 6,489 Times in 2,578 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
As I have previously noted, there are no warnings given in the older ammunition maker's catalogs to the effect that the .38-44 loads should not be fired in just any old .38 Special revolver. The 1930s Remington catalogs warn only of excessive recoil if such loads are used in lighter-frame revolvers, nothing mentioned about there being a potential for injury to the shooter or damage to revolvers. Apparently the ammo makers didn't believe there was a problem in shooting .38-44 cartridges in an S&W M&P or a Colt Detective Special. And shooters (including cops), being who they are and always wanting the biggest and most powerful, probably used lots of .38-44 ammo in such revolvers.

I have personally fired .38-44 equivalent lead bullet handloads in several old M&Ps from the 1920s with no problems other than more recoil. But not very often - I did it only to find out what it felt like.
Shades of the M-19 K story. Heat treated sounds like it will help but probably not good with a steady diet fired over time.

Last edited by model70hunter; 02-15-2016 at 08:23 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-15-2016, 08:31 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 25,477
Likes: 13
Liked 17,201 Times in 9,152 Posts
Default

The idea behind the Model 19's design was that most cops would practice and train with .38 Special loads, and carry on duty with .357 ammo. It didn't work out that way.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #12  
Old 02-15-2016, 09:27 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
US Veteran
38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs. 38/44 original ammo specs.  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: The SW Va Blue Ridge
Posts: 13,355
Likes: 46,147
Liked 14,960 Times in 5,436 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
The idea behind the Model 19's design was that most cops would practice and train with .38 Special loads, and carry on duty with .357 ammo. It didn't work out that way.
Well, it did for about 20 years. In the mid '70s, a number of police agencies decided that they should qualify with duty ammo. That's when the problems with the K frame started, as the 125 grain .357 Magnum ammo was hard on forcing cones.

My sheriff's department did it the old way. We would go out to the range and fill our loops and/or drop boxes with .38 special wadcutters and then dump the rest of our ammo in our trouser pockets. My qualification gun was a 6" M28 that unfortunately didn't care for Zero wadcutters. It shot much better with my 146 grain Speer jacketed hollow point handloads.
__________________
John 3:16
WAR EAGLE!
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Vintage S&W ammo .38 +P specs imarangemaster Ammo 1 03-07-2015 05:50 PM
ammo specs 9mm par DR DICK Reloading 6 12-30-2012 11:52 PM
Correction to specs on Governor ammo, Federal 000 Buckshot FYI GeorgiaShooter S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 0 03-13-2012 02:44 PM
32-20 Factory Ammo Specs bobbyd Ammo 3 03-26-2010 11:38 PM
38/44 HD original ammo medxam The Lounge 1 11-16-2009 08:58 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 02:16 AM.


Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.42 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2020
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)