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


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Old 01-14-2022, 12:02 AM
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I just picked up a Pre Model 10 M&P dated 1950. I was wondering if it's rated for +p 38 special. Gun is in very good shape as I would rate it 95-98%. I probably will never put a +p in it but I would be nice to know. Your answers would be a great help. I'll attach a picture.
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Old 01-14-2022, 12:18 AM
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When your gun was made, there was no +P. That didn't come along until later when SAAMI downgraded the power of "standard pressure" ammo while reassigning the older standard pressure the +P rating. Older .38 Special was loaded with enough powder to achieve between 900 to 950 fps. Current standard ammo runs around 700 to 750 fps. You shouldn't have any problems shooting any commercial .38 Special.
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:01 AM
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You shouldn't have any problems shooting any commercial .38 Special.
As a further clarification, this includes currently produced +P
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:14 AM
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Yes, +P ammo will be perfectly safe. I'd use it in a good defensive round without worry.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:40 AM
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The correct answer is the revolver is not +P rated by S&W ...
It is a K frame built in 1950 . I would not feed it a steady diet of +P ammo but a half a box of +P should not damage it and allow you to see where the POA / POI is ... carry +P if you like but do the majority of your shooting with standard pressure ammo .
My advice is to find a standard pressure load that hits to the fixed sights , probably a 150 to 158 grain bullet , and shoot it the most and maybe even carry depending on where the +P's hit .
Having to remember how many inches to hold high or low or left or right during a encounter could get you killed ... remember in a "situation" only hits count ...a miss might be your last .

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Old 01-14-2022, 10:43 AM
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If it were mine, I'd shoot mostly standard pressure 38 Special, use the +P just for sight in, recoil familiarization and defensive purposes. Besides, the +P ammo is going to cost more than the standard pressure ammo.
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Old 01-14-2022, 12:59 PM
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I know that you posted occasional use, but I'm with the sans +P group. Keep it tight using the loads that it was made for.

Have fun with that old and quintessential revolver of days gone by. I love shooting my old Hand Ejectors and pre +P Model 10s with standard loads using cast bullets. They will all get passed on as tight and sound as when I bought them.
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:13 PM
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Thanks guys. This gun is only going to see standard 38 special. I was just wondering if +P would damage it. Now I know I can shoot +P if I want to but in very low amounts. I love these old M&P revolvers.
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:59 PM
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In 1945 S&W upgraded it's revolvers with modern steel. Except for Magnum handguns heat treating of cylinders was no longer needed and eliminated. You have nothing to fear from +P loads.

Recognize that even in a non +P rated gun, the damage is not catastrophic, in other words, the gun does not "blow up". It's cumulative metal fatigue/extra wear. Same thing in +P rated guns.

Conservative use of +P or any hot loads in any handgun is just common sense when longevity of the firearm is an objective.
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Old 01-14-2022, 02:19 PM
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An appropriate bottom line is the fact today's +P ammunition performance is virtually identical to that from 100 years ago---almost exactly 100 years ago. Then they dialed it down a bit----and now have dialed it back to about where they started-----something on the order of "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get!"

And what better way to make a buck than to slap a NEW & IMPROVED label on a SAME AS IT USED TO BE product, and raise the price?

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 01-14-2022, 03:51 PM
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In 1945 S&W upgraded it's revolvers with modern steel. Except for Magnum handguns heat treating of cylinders was no longer needed and eliminated.
I have read and heard similar information for years.

Please tell us, or show us where we can read about the specific metallurgy changes were incorporated in 1945. Additionally, please share the details regarding metallurgy differences between similar cylinders AND FRAMES used for different models.

If you have reference sources for provenance of this very interesting story, please share it with us.

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Old 01-14-2022, 04:32 PM
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I have read and heard similar information for years.

Please tell us, or show us where we can read about the specific metallurgy changes were incorporated in 1945. Additionally, please share the details regarding metallurgy differences between similar cylinders AND FRAMES used for different models.

If you have reference sources for provenance of this very interesting story, please share it with us.
I don't know beans from apple butter about 1945, but I do know about 1934-----this from a letter from D.B. Wesson to a customer concerned abut the heat treating of the cylinder of his K-22 Outdoorsman.

"The steel that is used in the cylinder of the K-22 is identical in formula with that used in the larger calibers, but it is not heat-treated after machining as the great thickness of the cylinder walls do not demand any further strengthening. As a matter of fact, even in our larger calibers the steel as it comes from the mill shows a tensile strength in the neighborhood of 80,000 lbs., which does not make the additional strength gained by treating a necessity, but we do very much prefer the greatly increased factor of safety that is obtained with the 130,000 lbs. elastic limit that the treating gives."

Are there any questions?

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 01-14-2022, 04:46 PM
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The 1945 heat treatment elimination is in the book, "S&W 1857-1945", 1996 printing by Neal and Jinks, pg. 238 under the Oct. 12, 1945 Change Order. By reading which calibers were affected by the order, you can deduce which were not or were not heat treated in the first place. And the reason: improved steel is in one or both of the book text and the "Questions for Roy Jinks" (S&W Historian) in his many posts on the member section of this forum.

But you will not find the metallurgy specifics because that's S&W proprietary information.

My general knowledge from several S&W books, is that the yoke had some type of heat treatment.
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:10 PM
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I don't know beans from apple butter about 1945, but I do know about 1934-----this from a letter from D.B. Wesson to a customer concerned abut the heat treating of the cylinder of his K-22 Outdoorsman.

"The steel that is used in the cylinder of the K-22 is identical in formula with that used in the larger calibers, but it is not heat-treated after machining as the great thickness of the cylinder walls do not demand any further strengthening. As a matter of fact, even in our larger calibers the steel as it comes from the mill shows a tensile strength in the neighborhood of 80,000 lbs., which does not make the additional strength gained by treating a necessity, but we do very much prefer the greatly increased factor of safety that is obtained with the 130,000 lbs. elastic limit that the treating gives."

Are there any questions?

Ralph Tremaine
Ralph, I've seen that before thanks to you; a rare glimpse into the catacombs of the S&W factory engineering secrets. At least from the 1934 period in lieu of more current information.
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:12 PM
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I don't know beans from apple butter about 1945, but I do know about 1934-----this from a letter from D.B. Wesson to a customer concerned abut the heat treating of the cylinder of his K-22 Outdoorsman.

"The steel that is used in the cylinder of the K-22 is identical in formula with that used in the larger calibers, but it is not heat-treated after machining as the great thickness of the cylinder walls do not demand any further strengthening. As a matter of fact, even in our larger calibers the steel as it comes from the mill shows a tensile strength in the neighborhood of 80,000 lbs., which does not make the additional strength gained by treating a necessity, but we do very much prefer the greatly increased factor of safety that is obtained with the 130,000 lbs. elastic limit that the treating gives."

Are there any questions?

Ralph Tremaine
Yes. Will you provide a copy or a link to this letter?
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:13 PM
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The 1945 heat treatment elimination is in the book, "S&W 1857-1945", 1996 printing by Neal and Jinks, pg. 238 under the Oct. 12, 1945 Change Order. By reading which calibers were affected by the order, you can deduce which were not. And the reason: improved steel is in one or both of the book text and the "Questions for Roy Jinks" (S&W Historian) in his many posts on the member section of this forum.

But you will not find the metallurgy specifics because that's S&W proprietary information.

My general knowledge from several S&W books, is that the yoke had some type of heat treatment.
Thanks Jim. I'll go find the book :-)
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:35 PM
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OKAY!! Now I know about 1934 AND 1945!!

That said, once I learned about 1934----and that the steel as it comes from the mill is entirely adequate in untreated form for any gun they made at the time, I was good to go. That's because they were making the 38/44 Outdoorsman---that being the revolver Sharpe was using as his test bed for his development of the 357 Magnum cartridge--------AND D.B. Wesson was more than a little concerned (and on a continuing basis) with the pressures Sharpe's loads were producing----more or less constantly imploring him to dial it back a bit.

It's fun reading about that----it's almost as though Sharpe was deliberately pushing Wesson to see how far he'd go before he'd break----just for sport!!

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 01-14-2022, 08:33 PM
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Heat treatment was eliminated by order Oct. 12, 1945 due to improved metallurgy (which was likely better than 1934 steel) for cylinders on the I frames .32s and .22s only, K22 (which is listed), K32 & K38, and the 44 (not magnum) & 45 N frames, S&W 1857 1945.

The 38/44 N frame is not listed (neither is the .38 S&W I frame), which means it retained heat treated cyls. And the .357 continued to have heat treatment after '45 like the other magnums that came along not too long after.
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Old 01-14-2022, 09:41 PM
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Does a plus pee thread remind any of you old timers of Saxon Pig!
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:08 PM
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Although this is a bit off topic but back in the day when S&W considered the need for a frame to put a little more umph into the old .38 special they used the N-frame and consequently delivered the 38/44 Heavy Duty and Outdoorsman. The little K-frame is suitable for today's +P loads on an occasional use basis but from what I remember the old .38 Super Vel loads were much hotter than todays .38+P and from what I remember were more than a handful in an old Chief's Special, although no worry about blowing the old thing up, it left no doubt in your hand that you had just fired a potent load. A friend of mine liked to put a hot round in a cylinder and hand it to the unsuspecting buddy to try out. From memory a long time ago, facts may be slightly skewed.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:55 PM
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I seem to recall there was a discussion on here about S&W extending the use of .38/44 cartridges to its M&Ps before WWII because Colt had advertised it was ok to use that cartridge across its revolver line that chambered .38 Special. I can't find that discussion. IIRC, .38/44 was rated at ~1150 fps.
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Old 01-15-2022, 02:06 AM
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Here are the results produced by several loads from then and now for the enlightenment of our readers--especially those who may wish to compare today's +P loads with the standard and uploaded offerings of yesteryear. The time-frame of each entry is noted. All results are muzzle velocities.

.38 S&W Special Mid Range (148 Grain Wadcutter) of 1925----825 fps
.38 S&W Special (158 Grain Round Nose) of 1925---------------950 fps
.38/44 S&W Special (158 Grain Round Nose of 1925)----------1125 fps
.38 Special +P (158 Grain Round Nose of today)-----------------890 fps
.38 Special (158 Grain Round Nose of today)---------------------755 fps

Now I did come up with a +P load with some more encouraging results, this one with 110 grain bullet of today-----------995 fps
And a regular, everyday .38 Special with the same bullet--------------945 fps
(Almost makes your little heart go pitter-patter, doesn't it?!!)

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 01-15-2022, 05:16 PM
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The old .38-44 round (ca. 1931) designed for use in N-frame revolvers was just a .38 Special round carrying a heavier charge of propellant to achieve a MV of 1100-1150 ft/sec with a 150-158 grain bullet. As near as I can determine, it probably produced a peak chamber pressure of at least 25 KPSI, which exceeds more modern +P loadings, and likely is considerably greater. Yet, the ammunition manufacturers did not advise against its use in any .38 revolver beyond warning that recoil would be excessive if used in lighter-weight guns (such as the S&W K-frame). It's the original .38 Special +P+ cartridge.

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Old 01-15-2022, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinman View Post
Although this is a bit off topic but back in the day when S&W considered the need for a frame to put a little more umph into the old .38 special they used the N-frame and consequently delivered the 38/44 Heavy Duty and Outdoorsman. The little K-frame is suitable for today's +P loads on an occasional use basis but from what I remember the old .38 Super Vel loads were much hotter than todays .38+P and from what I remember were more than a handful in an old Chief's Special, although no worry about blowing the old thing up, it left no doubt in your hand that you had just fired a potent load. A friend of mine liked to put a hot round in a cylinder and hand it to the unsuspecting buddy to try out. From memory a long time ago, facts may be slightly skewed.
According to an article in HANDLOADER magazine #27 (Sept., 1970) the popular Super Vel 110 gr. JHP .38 Special load in those pre +P days had a pressure (CUP presumably) of 19,000, behind the Remington 158 JHP (20,000) and the Remington 125 JHP (21,250). Winchester 158 lead HP was 19,000. Several other factory offerings were between 23,000 and 24,000 and one was 27,000.

I've read Super Vel kept pressures down by using slightly undersized bullets. Years ago, in with some handloading equipment I had purchased was a box of Super Vel 110 HP component bullets. These were slightly smaller in diameter than other bullets I had used. I found this out quickly when I went to seat some of the bullets, though I don't recall the micrometer-measured diameter of the bullets. Whether these smaller diameter bullets had an adverse effect on accuracy, I don't know.

Shooters had a different attitude toward ammo before the +P designation. If the revolver was marked .38 Special and the ammo was marked the same, few questioned the suitability of the ammo for the gun. I never heard of anyone destroying a gun, including J-frames, by firing Super Vel or any other warm factory ammo but a few might have been loosened up a bit.
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