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S&W Revolvers: 1961 to 1980 3-Screw PINNED Barrel SWING-OUT Cylinder Hand Ejectors WITH Model Numbers


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Old 03-07-2012, 09:20 PM
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Default +P 38 Special Nonsense Regarding Model 10

I am a member of a few gun forums. Today, an individual asked the same question on two of them:
"Is it safe to shoot +P in a heavy barreled Model 10 bought new in 1971".
Argument ensued...one individual even opined that the K frame was never meant for plus P...that's what the L frame was for!
The original poster finally called S&W....Here is his post:
"....Spoke with a rep. in the tech. dept. at S&W. He told me that as of 1982 they heat treated the revolver so that it could take the pressure of the +P round. Prior to 82', the revolver was not manufactured for the +P and he recommended to stick with the .38 special cartridge..."

Oh well...
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:40 PM
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I don't know who the person talked to at Smith & Wesson but he or she should read their manual before making a statement like that.

Here is what S&W says about +P ammo in their 38 special according to there online manual.
“Plus-P” (+P) ammunition generates pressures in excess of the pressures
associated with standard ammunition. Such pressures may affect
the wear characteristics or exceed the margin of safety built into some
revolvers and could therefore be DANGEROUS. This ammunition
should not be used in Smith & Wesson medium (K frame) revolvers
manufactured prior to 1958. Such pre-1958 medium (K-frame) revolvers
can be identified by the absence of a model number stamped inside the
yoke cut of the frame (i.e., the area of the frame exposed when the
cylinder is in the open position).

So, any revolver model 10 made after 1958 is safe to shoot +P ammo.

Now I am going to let you know the real story. S&W has been heat treating cylinders at least since 1930. Also, todays plus P ammo is what standard pressure was back before 1972. I am going to give you a link from a well known member on this forum. He has done a lot of research and is knowlegeable on this subject.
Shooting with Hobie

Last edited by roaddog28; 03-07-2012 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:16 PM
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Now THAT is interesting Roaddog28...pre-1972 "standard" velocity ammo was same pressure as current "+P" ammo? Seems somewhat analagous to the old early .357 Mag ammo supposed much hotter than later. Or is it just that advances in propellant technologies allowed the standard velocity laods to operate a lower pressure?
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:23 PM
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I know, I know...I found it humorous that a person, and apparently S&W, thinks it unsafe to shoot today's "+P" 38 spl ammo in a '70's heavy barrel Model 10.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:06 PM
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Interesting read....Thanks.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox Creek View Post
Now THAT is interesting Roaddog28...pre-1972 "standard" velocity ammo was same pressure as current "+P" ammo? Seems somewhat analagous to the old early .357 Mag ammo supposed much hotter than later. Or is it just that advances in propellant technologies allowed the standard velocity laods to operate a lower pressure?
Hi Fox Creek,
Did you read the link I enclosed. The standard pressure 38 special back before 1972 was running at 850 to 900 fps. This round is still below 38 special SAAMI pressures. The SAAMI standard 21500 psi for 38 special. The pressure for the round above is in 18000 range. Todays standard pressure is running at 730 fps for the 158 gr LRN.
Most "+P" rounds today are running 900 fps to 925 fps. Of course there are exceptions but +P now is more of a marketing tool by ammo makers I believe ammo companies downgraded the standard pressure to guard against a consumer shooting the old round in a wornout revolver and having issues.
The original poster on the other forums was talking about a model 10 heavy barrel made in 1971. I believe he got some poor advice.
I am using +P 38s in a`M&P 4 inch made in 1954. No issues. I use for SD Remingtons LSWCHP 158 gr +P. I shoot a box every other month.
Regards.
Howard
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:47 PM
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Thanks. Very interesting info.
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:02 AM
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Here you go...


Shooting with Hobie
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:28 AM
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One day, I might gather up the courage to touch off a .38 Special +P. I think if I put on some really think welding gloves, I might be able to touch off one round in my Dan Wesson .357 SuperMag. If I ever work up the courage to try, and I actually survive...I'll post up a report!
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaxonPig View Post
Here you go...


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For the love of God, make that a sticky.

GF
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Rawhyde View Post
One day, I might gather up the courage to touch off a .38 Special +P. I think if I put on some really thick welding gloves, I might be able to touch off one round in my Dan Wesson .357 SuperMag. If I ever work up the courage to try, and I actually survive...I'll post up a report!
Don't forget to wear a welder's full face shield. For luck, you might also want to put on a kelvar vest.
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:09 AM
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GF is right mag that to the fridge!
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Now I am going to let you know the real story. S&W has been heat treating cylinders at least since 1930. Also, todays plus P ammo is what standard pressure was back before 1972. I am going to give you a link from a well known member on this forum. He has done a lot of research and is knowlegeable on this subject.
Shooting with Hobie
I had really been hoping someone would re-post this as I had forgotten where I read it.

I think GF is right; this really ought to be a sticky because I see the debate over .38 Spl +P over and over again.

My compromise for a Model 10 .38 Spl +P is a model 547.
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by GF View Post
For the love of God, make that a sticky.

GF
+1. Just about every week this topic comes up. I think if we had a sticky on this subject it would cutdown the question of, can I shoot +P 38s through my model 10-10 heavy barrel?
Howard
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:30 PM
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Yes. Please make this a sticky.

I have been shooting +P's for over 40 years in K frames. I still have all my appendages. And no blown up revolvers.

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:50 PM
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For the love of God, make that a sticky.

GF
+100 to that.
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:04 PM
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This Model 10-6 was shipped in June of 1971. It's been hammered with both +P factory loads and even heavier experimental handloads over many years time. After over 30 years of heavy shooting use it had a bushing stuck in it to minimize end-shake. If it'll make another 30 years it'll about see me out.

Factory +P is no problem in Model 10 revolvers.
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:09 PM
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i heard only the ctg marked guns are safe w/plus p.
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:12 PM
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Never let facts and figures get in the way of myth and paranoia. The +p hysteria will never end...

Last edited by Duke426; 03-08-2012 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 03-09-2012, 12:02 AM
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I can't imagine a manufacture of guns designing them to blow up with a 15% pressure overload! Engineers almost always design for a 100% safety factor.

Rawhyde,
Those welding gloves are important. Otherwise, the checkering on the grips could rip the hide clean off your hand!

rat
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:05 AM
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Thought this might be of interest, in Germany a firearm must have a proof house stamp on any firearm that is used here. In order to be proofed, the firearm must meet the CIP proof standards, which is firing a 25% overpressure round through it; for a Model 10 that would be two rounds for each cylinder.

And by the way, there are lots of Model 10s in Germany.

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Old 03-09-2012, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox Creek View Post
Now THAT is interesting Roaddog28...pre-1972 "standard" velocity ammo was same pressure as current "+P" ammo? Seems somewhat analagous to the old early .357 Mag ammo supposed much hotter than later. Or is it just that advances in propellant technologies allowed the standard velocity laods to operate a lower pressure?
The original .357 mag ammo was 1,500 fps plus with a 158 grain bullet, which is alot hotter than the stuff they put out now with a 158 grain JSP unless its something like Corbon or Buffalo Bore. Alot of the earlier .38 Special is much better than what's coming out now.
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:36 PM
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Those who claim that today's Plus P and standard .38 ammo is weaker than was once the case forget that pressures are now measured differently, and that now, four-inch vent test barrels are used, to represent the barrel/cyinder gap in a real revolver. Prior to that, six-inch test barrels with no vent were employed. That accounts for the lower velocity in modern .38 ammo.

I saw chrono tests on ammo in the old days, and what a revolver actually delivered was much less than the advertised 860 FPS.

And WHICH PLus P matters. The USAF had to rebuild its .38 revolvers, some several times, after going to high velocity ammo. That was a big reason why they pressed to adopt a 9mm auto.

Even with J-frames warrantied for PlusP, I use it in moderation for defense and occasional familiarity firing. You just don't need to beat your gun up with hotter loads unless you're going to need the added power to shoot animate targets that might require some added punch to put down.

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Old 03-09-2012, 05:24 PM
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TS and I keep going around on this. If ones looks at the piece I linked in an earlier post I have test results from actual shooting of a 4" revolver with older ammo. The real world difference is not as much as some think. But anyone who absolutely refuses to believe factory ammo has been loaded down is free to believe that. My research, observations and experience tell me otherwise.

TS keeps mentioning those AF guns breaking but I don't know anything about the guns, the circumstances or the ammo used. Was it something special for the military? Off the shelf ammo like in the stores? Frankly I can't believe ANY factory ammo would be so destructive.

As for the broken M15s being the reason for switching to the M9, again he is saying things that I have never heard from any other source. It was my understanding that the switch was made to align with NATO with the 9mm caliber and to consolidate all services with one gun for logistics sake.
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Old 03-09-2012, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
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i heard only the ctg marked guns are safe w/plus p.

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Old 03-09-2012, 05:38 PM
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My limited experience with 38 special military loads gave me the impression that they were a little wimpy compared to the commercial loads of the time. I believe the military ammo was loaded with 130 grain FMJ while the commercial stuff was mostly 158 grain round nose lead.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:17 PM
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SaxonPig,the link is a excellant write up and I will have to concur with your conclusions. I shot many,many,of those loads through the sixties and seventies,and when the Super Vel became available we used plenty of that.Plenty.
There were eight of us on my department that took training seriously even then(the 70's were a tumultuous time in LE across the country.) We even practiced with hotter duty loads,even moving and shooting in those days,and lots of point shooting. We never had any issues at all in any 38's or 357 magnums with any loads we used,and we shot a lot of what we considered hot in those days,while others were simply qualifying on a PPC course semi annually with wadcutters.
The eight of us eventually went over to the Mod.39-2 autos,purchased on a department letterhead for $89.00 each.
We ran the 90 gr. Super Vels in those too,even for training purposes.Spent a lot of our own money on ammo.
Again,no adverse effects whatsoever.Not many HP loads for 9mm were available then.

I also believe,as you eloquently stated, that both gun and ammo companies today are running scared in a known litigious society and that is the catalyst for many fears of +P ammo currently.
Like yourself,I can tell that many of today's +P factory loads are not the same as some of the stuff that we used on a regular basis in those formative years of our police careers.
Thanks for that link,I had not seen it before. Very interesting.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:51 PM
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I don't think the +P issue will ever go away. As long as there is a ammo company putting +P on a box of 38 specials or a gun company changing their stand on what revolvers to use 38 +P ammo in then this subject will not go away.
Example: S&W of today states to only use standard 38 special ammo in older than 1958 38 special K frames. This would mean a 158 gr round running a 735 fps.
S&W in the 1940s stated to use a standard pressure round. In those years a standard 158 gr round was running in the 850 to 900 fps. Talk about back peddling.
Unfornately, between the ammo companies and guns makers they have put the fear of god in some people that if they use a box of todays "+P" factory ammo in their model 10 or M&P pre 10 that it will either blow up the revolver or ruin it. I call this scare tactics.
Regards,
Howard
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roaddog28 View Post
Hi Fox Creek,
Did you read the link I enclosed. The standard pressure 38 special back before 1972 was running at 850 to 900 fps. This round is still below 38 special SAAMI pressures. The SAAMI standard 21500 psi for 38 special. The pressure for the round above is in 18000 range. Todays standard pressure is running at 730 fps for the 158 gr LRN.
Most "+P" rounds today are running 900 fps to 925 fps. Of course there are exceptions but +P now is more of a marketing tool by ammo makers I believe ammo companies downgraded the standard pressure to guard against a consumer shooting the old round in a wornout revolver and having issues.
The original poster on the other forums was talking about a model 10 heavy barrel made in 1971. I believe he got some poor advice.
I am using +P 38s in a`M&P 4 inch made in 1954. No issues. I use for SD Remingtons LSWCHP 158 gr +P. I shoot a box every other month.
Regards.
Howard
I agree with roaddog and others that feel .38 SPL has been watered down over the years. Here is a actual chronograph test of early vintage ammo that confirms that belief for me at least, read post #5
Original .38 Special black powder round? - Shooters Forum
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:25 PM
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Am I the only one that is VERY weary of this entire topic? Not to mention all of the BS that goes with it........
Randy
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:01 PM
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Am I the only one that is VERY weary of this entire topic? Not to mention all of the BS that goes with it........
Randy
Nah, it's like reruns of my favorite NCIS episodes.

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Old 03-09-2012, 09:18 PM
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Sticky would really help. EVERY week we get a "I just got a .38 SPL CTG" thread asking us what it is, and EVERY week we get a "Can I shoot +P in my model 10?".
There's nothing wrong with asking questions, of course, but the sticky would be so nice.
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:45 PM
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Back in the early to mid 1970s, when I first got into practical pistol competition there were no classes. Everyone shot against everyone else. The one revolver shooter who threatened the auto pistols was a police officer from a neighboring town. He had a M-14 with a BoMar rib installed. Despite its 6" barrel length it was his duty gun, his PPC gun and his combat shooting gun. In several conversations with him I learned he gave up reloading when he found a ammo maker who would sell him custom 38 ammo loaded to his specifications and, since he bought 2000 rounds at a time it was cost effective.

I remember him telling me the load was a 158g RNL bullet over 3.5g of Bullseye. That was THE standard 38 Special loading in those days and had been for many years. In that revolver shooter's 6" Smith & Wesson it choreographed at 860 fps. He said in a 4" it would still top 800 fps by a respectable margin. And remember, this was a well known STANDARD load for the 38 Special. Nothing being said about "plus P" or plus anything else.

Today's +P is a joke, and that should be spelled with a capital "J".

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Old 03-09-2012, 09:52 PM
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Am I the only one that is VERY weary of this entire topic? Not to mention all of the BS that goes with it........
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Post it ! Post it again! I'll do it I swear....



... one more plus pee thread and the kitten blows his brains out.

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Old 03-09-2012, 10:03 PM
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Road dog, a quick question; I'm a newby both to the forum and to Smith & Wesson. Just Picked up a Model 36, 2" chiefs special, mfg 1969. Do you forsee any problems with +P's in a J frame, it is 95%, safe queen never fired.
Thanks for input..............Ken
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:05 PM
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He's dead.

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Old 03-09-2012, 10:14 PM
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From the looks of the kitty it was feral and his Browning probably misfired.

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Old 03-10-2012, 06:36 PM
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Looked at some +P defense rounds today, the velocities listed on the box were similar to what the blog post described. I don't plan on shooting a large number through my 10-5, but will keep them around. I mainly am doing regular 38 target ammo anyway. I think the lighter loads are great for target practice.
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:53 PM
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My information on the USAF guns does not pertain to the mild M-41 load, very weak. The PGU round and possibly others were Plus P or beyond. They were developed after the M-41 proved weak in Vietnam. The Air Force wanted more power.

I corresponded with a project engineer for the JSSAP M-9 program and read the continuing test results in, Soldier of Fortune, which went into some depth on the matter.

I don't claim that Dr. Pig is all wet, just that various factors have to be considered in evaluating whether modern .38 ammo is weaker than it used to be. The change in measuring velocities and pressures is an important factor.

Firing BP ammo from around 1900. with no idea of how it was stored, will not necessarily indicate its true orginal velocity. But I did enjoy the links.

Actually, I asked some time back if standard .38 Special ammo from the 1920's was hotter than now, because I armed a character in fan fiction wth a five-inch barrelled M&P, and wondered what velocity she'd have been getting. I guessed maybe 875- 900 FPS, and that seems to jive with what I can learn. That was with smokeless loads.

I do fire Plus P ammo, and don't think that most is loaded really hot. But if the manufacturer says in a blanket statement not to do it or void any warrenty, I think it's wise to shoot it only in guns with a model number stamped in the frame, as the factory recommends.

Keep in mind that many of those AF M-15's were range guns, heavily used. Also remember that the USAF wanted to make the situation look as bad as possible, to prove to bureaucrats that they needed a new handgun that would deliver the ballistics they wanted. NATO standardization was a factor, but not enough that it hadn't been rejected before. The powers that be just said that there were too many .45 autos on hand to warrant a change to share ammo with allies.
By 1984-85, that was changing, and other arguments helped, too. We got the Beretta M-9.

I hope this clears up what I said. I had rather post on this myself, rather than see here what someone else says that I said.

Last edited by Texas Star; 03-10-2012 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:59 AM
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The link above to the test of black powder rounds was very interesting. The next question would be: when the new-fangled smokeless loads came out (pretty much at the time the cartridge was introduced, wasn't it?), did they achieve about the same velocities of mid-900fps in a six-inch barrel? If so, that was a nice jump from the .38 S&W/Colt family. In any case, those black powder loads were being shot from turn-of-the-century M&P's, which is an important point. How many of today's 158gr +P loads break 950 from a six-inch barrel?
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:52 PM
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The old saying may apply here, "I don't believe anything I hear, and only half of what I read." I was issued a heavy barrel Model 10 in 1968. We were only allowed to used .38 Special in our revolvers, but some of us "cowboys" carried Super-Vel. I only used mine for business. Others, trained and routinely fired the Super Vel. The guys who I had a personal experience with, all had to have their guns worked on after a while. So like my Model 19's with which I use .357's sparingly, I do the same with hot loads for my Model 10's.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:11 PM
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The old saying may apply here, "I don't believe anything I hear, and only half of what I read." I was issued a heavy barrel Model 10 in 1968. We were only allowed to used .38 Special in our revolvers, but some of us "cowboys" carried Super-Vel. I only used mine for business. Others, trained and routinely fired the Super Vel. The guys who I had a personal experience with, all had to have their guns worked on after a while. So like my Model 19's with which I use .357's sparingly, I do the same with hot loads for my Model 10's.

I boldfaced and italicized some of your text. I hope that Dr. Pig and other doubting Thomases see that.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:29 PM
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I'm a little confused so could someone please clarify -----

Is the claim being made that .38 Special Super-Vel of the late 1960s and early 1970s is equivalent to .38 Special +P available today from the major manufacturers?
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:16 PM
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Many thanks Roaddog28. Yes, I missed the link. Much food for thought here. I will have to study up.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:38 PM
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I'm a little confused so could someone please clarify -----

Is the claim being made that .38 Special Super-Vel of the late 1960s and early 1970s is equivalent to .38 Special +P available today from the major manufacturers?
Jack, that seems to be the implication of an earlier post. If that's what they think they are badly mistaken. Super-Vel's stuff was pretty hot. Certainly hotter than what is passed off for +P today.

And if you guys want the real forerunner of +P do a little research on the old 38/44 loads. How "plus pee" does a 158g bullet at 1150 fps out of a 38 Special case sound? (smile)

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Old 03-12-2012, 05:41 PM
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Did you read the link I enclosed. The standard pressure 38 special back before 1972 was running at 850 to 900 fps.
I read it, and your 1972 statement is simply not true. That writter's comments have changed many times over the years. As some of his unverified statements were challenged on this and other forums, he went back and deleted those posts without explanation, and deleted those sections of his story, not using it for future posts. There is an interesting thread in the ammo section of this forum a year or two ago where myself and other LEO's from the 1960's and 70's confirm that the quoted factory velocity numbers back then were pure hype, and not obtainable with standard sidearms. The test barrel for a .357 Magnum in those days was about 11" long and unvented. In 1979 when the new requirements were implemented industry wide for velocity testing, S&W's ammo reported velocities dropped over 20%. Same ammo, just accurate numbers. While it is true that factory velocities were advertised as higher back in 1972, it is not true that they were that fast when shot out of regular revolvers.

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Old 03-12-2012, 06:39 PM
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Ahh... now I understand the situation with the USAF revolvers.

1. Very well used.

2. "Range Guns" meaning they were probably filthy. Really dirty guns wear faster as tolerances fill up with crud accelerating wear and I suspect that carbon build up in the forcing cone can lead to cracking.

3. Non-standard ammo likely loaded much hotter than factory +P. So a comparison is moot. No relation.

As for the watering down of the 357 ammo, I know that at one time it was claimed that a 158 bullet moved out at 1470 FPS or some such number. No, this was not reality. I had one box of 158 SP 357s from the early 1970s that I clocked at around 1350 from a 5" M27. Now factory 158s tend more to the 1250-1300 range. I think the factory 357s were backed off 50-100 FPS in the interest of all the alloy and small frame 357s that came out the last 15 years or so. But this is just intuition.

The specification sheets and my own shooting convinces me beyond a doubt that 38 Special ammo has been back-pedaled and the 38 Colt Super has really been taken down a few notches.

At the end of the day regardless of what used to be loaded current mainstream +P is a 125 at 925 and this is, in my humble opinion, a mild target load. I would never trust my life to factory +P.
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Slidestop View Post
Road dog, a quick question; I'm a newby both to the forum and to Smith & Wesson. Just Picked up a Model 36, 2" chiefs special, mfg 1969. Do you forsee any problems with +P's in a J frame, it is 95%, safe queen never fired.
Thanks for input..............Ken
I have a model 36 no dash and I been shooting +P ammo through the revolver on occasion. Remember the S&W manual says, any model S&W 38 special made 1958 or later is ok shoot +P ammo. My only concern would be a airweight. But I don't own any airweight revolvers. I own only steel revolvers.
Hope this helps,
roaddog28
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:14 PM
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I read it, and your 1972 statement is simply not true. That writter's comments have changed many times over the years. As some of his unverified statements were challenged on this and other forums, he went back and deleted those posts without explanation, and deleted those sections of his story, not using it for future posts. There is an interesting thread in the ammo section of this forum a year or two ago where myself and other LEO's from the 1960's and 70's confirm that the quoted factory velocity numbers back then were pure hype, and not obtainable with standard sidearms. The test barrel for a .357 Magnum in those days was about 11" long and unvented. In 1979 when the new requirements were implemented industry wide for velocity testing, S&W's ammo reported velocities dropped over 20%. Same ammo, just accurate numbers. While it is true that factory velocities were advertised as higher back in 1972, it is not true that they were that fast when shot out of regular revolvers.
What you did and others I will not dispute. But way back in the early 1900s the hand ejector 38 special out of a 6 inch barrel was shooting a 158 gr at over 850 fps. Now this was blackpowder but still it leads me to believe the ammo back before the 1970s was running faster and loaded at higher pressures. What I am saying along with Saxon Pig is the standard pressure 38 special ammo today is loaded at a lower pressure and velocity.
The OP was commenting about a question on another forum about shooting +P out of a 1971 model 10. The member on the other forum was getting poor advice according to him from S&W.
Personally I shoot when I can afford it +P 38 special ammo through all of my K frames. This includes a M&P pre 10 4 inch made in 1954 and a model 36 no dash. I believe there is needless concern about shooting +P ammo. All S&W 38 special all steel revolvers made in the last fifty years can handle the +P round.
Regards,
Howard

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Old 03-12-2012, 07:25 PM
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Ahh... now I understand the situation with the USAF revolvers.

1. Very well used.

2. "Range Guns" meaning they were probably filthy. Really dirty guns wear faster as tolerances fill up with crud accelerating wear and I suspect that carbon build up in the forcing cone can lead to cracking.

I was a weapons instructor in the USAF for 20 years...1983-2003. Some of our M15s were well used, but they were not "filthy" range guns...our training guns were cleaned after every firing. Weapons qualification training in the USAF includes field stripping & cleaning, and they were ALWAYS cleaned by the students after firing and inspected by the instructor before going back into the armory, at least that was the case at every CATM shop I ever worked at. I also never saw any M15s worn out by shooting PGU ball ammo and I never saw a cracked forcing cone on any M15 I ever handled in the USAF. Doesn't mean it never happened, I just don't believe there was a widespread problem with the ammo causing accelerated wear in the guns. JMHO.
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