Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >

Notices


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-09-2017, 09:29 PM
Davidrr Davidrr is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 4
Likes: 5
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Question What to shoot?

My revolver is a .38 Hand Ejector, MDL 1899. Ser No. 146xx. 5" nickle. I would like to shoot black powder in it. What load would be best to start with?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-09-2017, 09:38 PM
Skeetr57 Skeetr57 is offline
SWCA Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Inman, SC USA
Posts: 1,159
Likes: 80
Liked 493 Times in 297 Posts
Default

Why do you want to shoot black powder? The gun will be perfectly safe with standard velocity .38 Special ammo, either 158 gr RN or 148 gr Wad cutter.
__________________
Tom
1560
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #3  
Old 01-09-2017, 09:50 PM
glowe's Avatar
glowe glowe is offline
US Veteran

What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Michigan Western UP
Posts: 6,518
Likes: 370
Liked 2,691 Times in 1,520 Posts
Default

Welcome to the Forum. Black powder is loaded by volume and any cartridge loading must NOT contain any air space. When loading a black powder round, you need to determine how far the bullet you intend to use will be seated in the case. Once that measurement is determined, subtract 1/16" and that dimension is the line in which to fill the case with black powder. BP should be slightly compressed and the 1/16" will accomplish that. Once you do this, you can measure the volume of powder in the case and repeat the loading by a powder volume measure.

Not sure why you want to do this, but I would use 3F and a 158 grain lead bullet.
__________________
Gary
SWCA 2515 Grip is a verb
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #4  
Old 01-09-2017, 10:29 PM
Davidrr Davidrr is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 4
Likes: 5
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I was under the impression that this particular gun was designed for black powder rounds. Is that incorrect?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-09-2017, 11:04 PM
JP@AK's Avatar
JP@AK JP@AK is offline
US Veteran
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Palmer, Alaska
Posts: 7,500
Likes: 2,227
Liked 5,429 Times in 2,334 Posts
Default

It is not correct. The .38 Special cartridge was a smokeless round from the very beginning.
__________________
Jack
SWCA #2475, SWHF #318
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #6  
Old 01-10-2017, 07:46 AM
glowe's Avatar
glowe glowe is offline
US Veteran

What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Michigan Western UP
Posts: 6,518
Likes: 370
Liked 2,691 Times in 1,520 Posts
Default

Smokeless powder was introduced somewhere around 1896 and by 1900 was overtaking black powder. You should be able to find many reloading recipes on the various powder websites. You could also use standard commercial ammo out there as well, IF your revolver is in good working order.

Some popular target loads can be had with lead wadcutter bullets and fast burning shotgun powders like Clays, Bullseye, Unique, etc.
__________________
Gary
SWCA 2515 Grip is a verb
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-10-2017, 07:55 AM
Arik Arik is online now
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Outside Philadelphia Pa
Posts: 14,240
Likes: 6,091
Liked 13,881 Times in 5,984 Posts
Default

You're perfectly fine with off the shelf standard velocity ammo

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #8  
Old 01-10-2017, 09:52 AM
Davidrr Davidrr is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 4
Likes: 5
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

According to my gunsmith, my revolver had rarely, if ever shot. If not for the state of the nickel plating, I probably would not shoot it at all. I also read that the cylinders were not hardened during this period. Smith & Wesson states that my revolver was shipped from the factory on March 12, 1902.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:02 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Florence, Alabama, USA
Posts: 1,169
Likes: 4
Liked 307 Times in 205 Posts
Default

The original load for the .38 Special has been given as 21.5 gr of black and a 158 grain lead roundnose. This made it way more special than the .38 Government (Long Colt) which was considered inadequate in the Philippines with 18 gr of black and a 150 gr bullet.

But by 1939 the remaining black powder load (of English manufacture) for .38 Special was down to 18 gr, probably due to thicker brass.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #10  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:40 AM
murphydog's Avatar
murphydog murphydog is offline
SWCA Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 15,863
Likes: 23
Liked 5,291 Times in 3,315 Posts
Default

Any major factory 158 gr lead or 148 gr wadcutter load will be well under pressure limits for even your 1899.

If yours was rarely shot but the nickel finish is damaged (flaked, peeling, pitted, etc.), that is the result of black powder fouling that was not cleaned promptly - another plus for modern .38 Special loads to be used.
__________________
Alan
SWCA 2023, SWHF 220
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #11  
Old 01-10-2017, 11:18 AM
Skeetr57 Skeetr57 is offline
SWCA Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Inman, SC USA
Posts: 1,159
Likes: 80
Liked 493 Times in 297 Posts
Default

Most of the rust and pitting damage to old guns is more likely to be from the corrosive chlorate primers than to the black powder itself. The same cleaning needed for black powder, water, also removed the chlorate residue. Use of chlorate primes with smokeless power was actually worse, because the black powder residue absorbed the chlorate reside and was blown out by subsequent shots and by brushing. Smaller calibers were affected worse than larger calibers, because the amount of priming was in greater proportion than for the larger calibers.
__________________
Tom
1560
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #12  
Old 01-10-2017, 01:46 PM
glowe's Avatar
glowe glowe is offline
US Veteran

What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Michigan Western UP
Posts: 6,518
Likes: 370
Liked 2,691 Times in 1,520 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
The original load for the .38 Special has been given as 21.5 gr of black and a 158 grain lead roundnose . . .
Jim, I do not believe that the 38 Special was ever commercially loaded in black powder. If anyone has ever found a box of BP 38 Special please post.

You should not weigh BP for the loading you list. First, you must know how far the bullet will be seated and not all 158 grain bullet seat at the same level. You also do not know the grain size used for someone's load. Also, different vintage and different manufacturer's brass will have different cavity volumes. If you leave air under the bullet, it creates a potentially dangerous situation. You MUST lightly compress BP, but yes you can compress it too far, so make sure you know how high the powder column needs to be and measure that amount of BP by volume for the rest of your cases as noted above.
__________________
Gary
SWCA 2515 Grip is a verb
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-10-2017, 01:59 PM
H Richard's Avatar
H Richard H Richard is offline
US Veteran
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Central IL
Posts: 15,620
Likes: 6,414
Liked 8,045 Times in 3,680 Posts
Default

I have had good results with 3.2 gr. 231 behind a Speer HBWC in this Jan. 1901 shipped 38 M&P 1st Model, (Model of 1899).

__________________
H Richard
SWCA1967 SWHF244
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #14  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:24 PM
Alk8944's Avatar
Alk8944 Alk8944 is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sandy Utah
Posts: 5,743
Likes: 491
Liked 3,119 Times in 1,503 Posts
Default

glowe and Jack,

You are both wrong about early .38 Spl. loadings!

Cited from "U.S. Cartridges and Their Handguns" by Charles R. Suydam, (C) 1977, pp. 172-173: "the .38 Smith & Wesson Special cartridge was first made by UMC early in 1899; cartridges were sent to Smith & Wesson for trial in May of that year. Original loads were 18.0 grains of black powder, ...... In June, 1899, the powder charge was increased to 21.5 grains:... The first smokeless loadings were made in September, 1899,....."

So, you see, the earliest .38 Special loadings were with black powder only from May to September 1899. Both black powder and smokeless loadings were produced from 1899 to, as I recall, sometime in the 1920s or '30s before finally being discontinued. Smokeless loadings were not produced "from the very beginning", and glowe's remark "I do not believe that the 38 Special was ever commercially loaded in black powder.", is equally incorrect. The cartridge was exclusively a black powder load from May to September, 1899.

The cited book is an excellent reference for anyone really interested in U.S. cartridge development. One copy of the first edition is available on E-bay if anyone is interested, only $59.95 BIN.
__________________
Gunsmithing S&W since 1961
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #15  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:33 PM
JP@AK's Avatar
JP@AK JP@AK is offline
US Veteran
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Palmer, Alaska
Posts: 7,500
Likes: 2,227
Liked 5,429 Times in 2,334 Posts
Default

Thanks, Alk8944
You learn something every day. Or at least you should hope to!
__________________
Jack
SWCA #2475, SWHF #318
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #16  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:50 PM
TripleLock's Avatar
TripleLock TripleLock is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Plantersville, MS
Posts: 144
Likes: 212
Liked 194 Times in 59 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by glowe View Post
Jim, I do not believe that the 38 Special was ever commercially loaded in black powder. If anyone has ever found a box of BP 38 Special please post.
Here you go...
My foray into .38spl black powder loads
Attached Thumbnails
What to shoot?-38specialblackpowderjpg-1-jpg  
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-10-2017, 11:53 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 18,079
Likes: 2
Liked 8,924 Times in 5,175 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JP@AK View Post
It is not correct. The .38 Special cartridge was a smokeless round from the very beginning.
As stated above the .38 Special was originally designed as a black powder round (the longer case would hold more BP than the .38 Long Colt case), but smokeless loadings were very quickly adopted. Factory .38 Special BP loadings were still available until the mid-1930s. I have no idea why anyone would want to buy them that late.

Black powder is not a good choice if smokeless powder is available. It gunks up the gun in short order. Your M1899 will safely handle light loads of smokeless powder. Wadcutter target loads would be very good for use in it.

Last edited by DWalt; 01-10-2017 at 11:58 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-11-2017, 07:18 AM
Alk8944's Avatar
Alk8944 Alk8944 is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sandy Utah
Posts: 5,743
Likes: 491
Liked 3,119 Times in 1,503 Posts
Default

Note that the post linked to in TripleLock's post perpetuates the myth that the .38 S&W Special was introduced in 1902! "Cartridges of the World"** also repeats this as well as at least one major re-loading manual, Speer** as I recall. Where this ever started I have no idea. Maybe that is the year Colt adopted the cartridge (as the .38 Colt Special)? Unfortunately Suydam makes no mention whatsoever about the Colt variant.

** Just shows re-loading manuals aren't the place to look for reliable/accurate historical information on cartridges!
__________________
Gunsmithing S&W since 1961
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 01-11-2017, 08:20 AM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
US Veteran
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: The SW Va Blue Ridge
Posts: 8,847
Likes: 17,810
Liked 5,280 Times in 2,288 Posts
Default

Back in the late '70s-early '80s, I found a box of semi-smokeless .32-20 cartridges at a gun show. I bought them with the intention of shooting them and reloading the brass. A friend, who also owns a .32-20, talked me out of shooting them and bought them from me. I'll have to ask if he still has them. I don't recall the brand.

Of course, the .32-20 was introduced in the 1880s as a black powder round. Just thought this was an interesting side note.
__________________
John 3:16
WAR EAGLE!

Last edited by Muley Gil; 01-11-2017 at 08:24 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 01-11-2017, 08:28 AM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 18,079
Likes: 2
Liked 8,924 Times in 5,175 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
Note that the post linked to in TripleLock's post perpetuates the myth that the .38 S&W Special was introduced in 1902! "Cartridges of the World"** also repeats this as well as at least one major re-loading manual, Speer** as I recall. Where this ever started I have no idea. Maybe that is the year Colt adopted the cartridge (as the .38 Colt Special)? Unfortunately Suydam makes no mention whatsoever about the Colt variant.

** Just shows re-loading manuals aren't the place to look for reliable/accurate historical information on cartridges!
Yes, Speer #9 ( and possibly other editions) says that the .38 Special cartridge was introduced in 1902 along with the Model 1902 revolver.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 01-11-2017, 08:52 AM
glowe's Avatar
glowe glowe is offline
US Veteran

What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Michigan Western UP
Posts: 6,518
Likes: 370
Liked 2,691 Times in 1,520 Posts
Default

Great information. As noted, there is lots of information out there that states 38 Special was designed as a smokeless round, but discussions like this put some facts on the table that clearly show black powder 38 Special rounds were out there. That is a great box of BP and the first one I have ever seen. Keep it clean and safe.

Interesting that Mike's study of barrel markings on the Model 1899 show that the first example of a 38 SPECIAL CTG was done around s/n 7500 and that would correlate with a 1900 ship date.

My only question about the text of the book Alk8944 referenced is why would the government send 38 Special ammunition to S&W if that was the company that invented the caliber?? I also wonder if he could have been confused and 38 Long Colt was what the government sent to S&W?? The reason I ask is that 18 grains of BP is about the amount that was used in the 38 LC round?? Probably more questions than answers, but one reference from Charles R. Suydam still leaves room for more research. Wonder if the government testing documents are out there, like the Army tests conducted on the 38 Safety in the 1890 trials?

I just remembered a bit of information is contained in Roy's book about the issue. It is reported that the factory sent the Army 1000 38 Hand Ejector revolvers chambered in 38 Long Colt (38 US Service Cartridge). This was done in 1899. That information supports the above comments that maybe the author was a little confused about the calibers?? If as stated, the Army or Navy sent ammunition to S&W, it would support the thought it was 38 US Service Cartridge and not 38 Special. That trial was in 1899 and it was already known that problems existed with this ammo not being powerful enough for the military. This is the very reason why the 38 Special could have been invented around 1900, as evidenced by the fact that more BP could be loaded in the longer cases.
__________________
Gary
SWCA 2515 Grip is a verb

Last edited by glowe; 01-11-2017 at 08:22 PM. Reason: added content
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #22  
Old 01-11-2017, 12:24 PM
Davidrr Davidrr is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 4
Likes: 5
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Thanks for all the very interesting information. I want to shoot black powder because of the era into which this revolver fits. I have been a black powder shooter for over 40 years, mostly flintlocks. I have been shooting black powder cartridges I have loaded in my buffalo rifle (.45-70), so I am familiar with how it is done. Besides, BP is just so much more fun!
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 01-11-2017, 12:47 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 18,079
Likes: 2
Liked 8,924 Times in 5,175 Posts
Default

The 1890 Army trials document states the following:

.38 S&W: 14.125 gr Black Powder, 146.3 grain bullet
10 shot avg. velocity 635 ft/sec (25') 5"

.38 LC: 17.85 grains Black Powder 150 grain bullet
10 shot average velocity 723 ft/sec (25') 6"

Last edited by DWalt; 01-11-2017 at 12:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 01-11-2017, 12:51 PM
DWalt's Avatar
DWalt DWalt is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 18,079
Likes: 2
Liked 8,924 Times in 5,175 Posts
Default

" I want to shoot black powder because of the era into which this revolver fits."

That is not actually correct. While black powder cartridge loadings were available and used well into the early 20th Century, UMC offered a fairly full line of smokeless powder handgun cartridges starting in 1894. Smokeless powder was being manufactured by duPont in 1892-93, and there was some use of European-manufactured smokeless powder in the USA even earlier. One can argue that the smokeless powder era began well before the Model of 1899 revolver was first marketed.

Last edited by DWalt; 01-11-2017 at 01:09 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 01-12-2017, 10:40 AM
NewDeparture NewDeparture is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 53
Likes: 6
Liked 7 Times in 4 Posts
Default

JMHO. I donīt see anything wrong in using BP as long as you know how to properly load your rounds with it (and how to clean the revolver after using it).

Having said that, I tend to believe that one can almost always find a safe smokeless load for a good quality solid frame revolver.

I donīt think the same about top break frames, in which I only use BP; seeing a couple of frame latches giving up under what was supposed to be a "light smokeless load" convinced me of not taking that chance with mine.

As a side note: measuring BP by volume is the most common practice; however it can be measured by weight, and it should be measured by weight if you are looking for accuracy.


NewDeparture
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 01-12-2017, 10:49 AM
NewDeparture NewDeparture is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 53
Likes: 6
Liked 7 Times in 4 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidrr View Post
Thanks for all the very interesting information. I want to shoot black powder because of the era into which this revolver fits. I have been a black powder shooter for over 40 years, mostly flintlocks. I have been shooting black powder cartridges I have loaded in my buffalo rifle (.45-70), so I am familiar with how it is done. Besides, BP is just so much more fun!
Sorry, I didnīt see this post. BP is a lot of fun indeed. I would hesitate to use BP in a pristine gun just for fear of not cleaning it properly after shooting but developing BP loads for any other shooter-grade revolver is a very interesting process.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 01-14-2017, 09:13 AM
TripleLock's Avatar
TripleLock TripleLock is offline
Member
What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot? What to shoot?  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Plantersville, MS
Posts: 144
Likes: 212
Liked 194 Times in 59 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by glowe View Post
My only question about the text of the book Alk8944 referenced is why would the government send 38 Special ammunition to S&W if that was the company that invented the caliber??
It was not the government that sent cartridges to Smith & Wesson, but - as stated in Alk8944's post - U.M.C. (Union Metallic Cartridge Co., for those who don't know). Yes, the cartridge was invented by Smith & Wesson, but they had no ammunition production facilities - you don't see ammunition boxes marked "Manufactured by Smith & Wesson".

Smith & Wesson built the revolvers and created the .38 Special cartridge, but it was U.M.C. that actually manufactured the first ammunition. A situation not unlike the development of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s and the .44 Magnum in the 1950s - S&W built the revolvers, Remington (interestingly, a descendant of the U.M.C.Co.) produced the first ammunition.

Jim
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Fox News Video Story: Shoot to kill vs shoot to wound? Karnivore Concealed Carry & Self Defense 52 11-05-2016 08:50 AM
.38/44 Outdoorsman of 1950 shoot or dont shoot? bruno2 S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 19 01-11-2016 03:09 PM
Steel match, pin shoot or plate shoot in northeast? BPD4 Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 8 02-07-2015 05:08 PM
38/44 Ammo, too shoot or not to shoot? WITH PICS. dacoontz S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 49 11-13-2013 08:18 AM
Poll: To Shoot or Not Shoot an Unfired NIB S&W MakeMineaMagnum S&W Revolvers: 1961 to 1980 60 02-18-2009 06:06 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 11:37 PM.


Đ S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2015
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)