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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 01-13-2008, 10:42 AM
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I have a recently acquired pre-victory, and the cylinder had been bored to accept 38 Specials. Since the 38 S&W chamber is about 9/1000 larger in diameter than the 38 Special, the cases bulge out with even light loads. When I fire 38 S&W loads the forward edge of the newly cut 38 special chamber strips lead off the 38 S&W bullet. The piece is nice enough (5")Australian return that I want it to shoot properly. Bore is near mint. Is the bore size of a 38 S&W larger that a 38 Special? The only reloading manual I have that listed 38 S&W was an old Speer, and that showed the bullet size as .360 rather than .357. If the bore is .003 larger, I would plan to replace the cylinder with a .38 S&W cylinder, but if it is .357 I would replace the cylinder with a .38 Special cylinder.

I guess I could "slug" the barrel and see, just don't have any soft lead bullets on hand to do it with, and if it is larger, the slug may not fill the groves to give an accurate reading.
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Old 01-13-2008, 10:42 AM
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I have a recently acquired pre-victory, and the cylinder had been bored to accept 38 Specials. Since the 38 S&W chamber is about 9/1000 larger in diameter than the 38 Special, the cases bulge out with even light loads. When I fire 38 S&W loads the forward edge of the newly cut 38 special chamber strips lead off the 38 S&W bullet. The piece is nice enough (5")Australian return that I want it to shoot properly. Bore is near mint. Is the bore size of a 38 S&W larger that a 38 Special? The only reloading manual I have that listed 38 S&W was an old Speer, and that showed the bullet size as .360 rather than .357. If the bore is .003 larger, I would plan to replace the cylinder with a .38 S&W cylinder, but if it is .357 I would replace the cylinder with a .38 Special cylinder.

I guess I could "slug" the barrel and see, just don't have any soft lead bullets on hand to do it with, and if it is larger, the slug may not fill the groves to give an accurate reading.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:30 AM
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The .38 S&W cal (.361 cal) is larger than the .38 spcl (.357 cal)

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Old 01-13-2008, 11:38 AM
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Thanks. Looks like I order a 38 S&W cylinder from Numerich instead of the 38 Spec. Happen to know where I can buy .361+ bullets to load?
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Old 01-13-2008, 12:16 PM
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H Richard,
The 38S&W is as stated 0.361. Please remember that a 38 Sp. has a much higher preasure than the 38S&W. A +p+ 38Sp. will blow the gun.
Try 38 Long Colt with bullseye and bullets at 0.360. I use 125gr swc with 4.0 grs of bullseye.
Have your sizing die opened to your chamber size. This will save your brass. Starline Brass make great brass in 38 Long Colt.
DAVE........................
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:04 PM
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I'm well aware of the strength of this old piece. The 38 Spec I shot in it were 2.8 gr Bullseye behind a 148 gr WC. Still asking, where can I get some .360/.361 dia. lead bullets?

Is there something different about these old models? I just tried to remove the cylinder, and after removing the front sideplate screw the crane will not slide out of the frame. I have quite a number of other Smiths of various vintage, and never had a hand ejector where the cylinder crane wouldn't slide out of the frame. I never force any gun part, so I quit until I am sure.
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:11 PM
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I got lucky and found several boxes of vintage Remington lead round nose bullets in .360 on Ebay a few years ago. I don't know of anyone who makes them today. You could probably find a mold and cast your own.

As long as it's soft lead, standard .357-358 bullets will 'bump up' to fit the slightly larger bore and should shoot just fine.

Chris
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:13 PM
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I don't have a S&W in .38 S&W (still looking for that Terrier at a price I can pay) but I load this caliber for a Webley. I use lead .357" bullets and they shoot just fine in my gun. In fact they shoot pretty darn good for an old military pistol using undersized bullets.

Someone once suggested that lead bullets will upset or swell a tad at the base when fired and will fill the bore. I dunno, but the .357 bullets work OK for me. Try them.
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:21 PM
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Beartooth Bullets (208) 437- 1865 offers .360 diameter bullets, I got some from them for reloading for my .38 S&W Victory models. I found that I got no better accuracy from them than I did using .357 diameter 158 grain LSWC. I got the 200 grain LBTFN gas check bullets at $15.50 per box of 100. Loaded them with 3.0 grains Unique. I think they offer .360 diameter bullets in lower weights than 200 grain.

The 200 grain bullets did shoot to what was probably the original point of aim, a little high at 25 yards (2"), dead on at 50 yards.

My 158 grain LSWC load is 3.1 grains Unique.

148 grain DEWC were accurate, but shoot too low, like 3" low at 15 yards.
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Old 01-13-2008, 03:22 PM
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Penn Bullets offers some of their .38's in .360 diameter. My favorite load, however, is to use any of the soft swaged 148 grain hollow base wadcutters. These easily expand to fill the rifling so you don't have to worry about bullet diameter. I load them in .38 S&W cases to a COL of 1.12 inches, which means that about half the bullet is sticking out of the case, unlike the .38 Special wadcutter loads that are seated flush with the case mouth. My Victory model is not rechambered.

I'm currently using 2.6 grains of Bullseye and Hornady wadcutters. These also cut a nice full-caliber hole in the target. I do not use this load in breaktop revolvers, only hand ejectors.

Someone mentioned the fact that .38 Special pressures are higher than .38 S&W. While this is true, the Victory model was made of exactly the same materials in both calibers for the U.S. and British military respectively, so there's no difference in the strength of the guns - the difference is the chamber size and bore diameter. I also don't know what +P+ means, as that's not a defined SAAMI term.
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Old 01-13-2008, 03:36 PM
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+P+ or +P would be inappropriate for a Victory. While they would probably stay together, it's too much pressure on it. Especially when you don't know what it may have been subjected to since 1942.
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Old 01-13-2008, 04:12 PM
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Hi HR,
I had some lead bullets cast for me by
www.blackjackhill.com in .38 caliber and he left them unsized. The are a consistant .361.
Good Luck, ~Chef
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:39 PM
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Just checked their website. Evidently they are in the process of moving, and not accepting any orders at this time. Maybe by April.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:01 PM
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Maybe you could size some Makarov cast bullets [.365 diameter] to .361. It would be a light load for the gun, but probably a lot of fun to shoot. They run about 95 grains.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:40 PM
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Try www.pennbullets.com. They offer several .38 caliber bullets sized to .360. The 140 grain flat nose would be a good choice for .38 S&W or .38 Special.
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Old 01-14-2008, 05:58 PM
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I load quite a few .38 S&W rounds... I looked wide and hard for .360 bullets... without luck.

In frustration I tried .357 dia. bullets... and to my surprise they worked fine...were accurate and didn't tumble.

FWIW

CHuck


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Originally posted by H Richard:
Thanks. Looks like I order a 38 S&W cylinder from Numerich instead of the 38 Spec. Happen to know where I can buy .361+ bullets to load?
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:04 PM
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King Shooters Supply in King of Prussia, PA will cast 360 in 180 grain for you. Just do a Google Search. Dave_n
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:09 PM
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So far 800 rounds of +P and 400 rounds of +P+ (don't know what else to call them) have not caused any harm to my Victory Model in .38 Special.

But maybe I got the one strong one?

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Old 01-15-2008, 09:52 AM
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If I had a 38 Special sized cylinder for mine, I wouldn't hesitate +P. I shoot +P in my 10 (No dash) all the time and no problems. (By the way, I think the grips on it I got from you Dr.)

Since the barrel is marked 38 S&W, I am going to keep it that way, probably with a new cylinder without having been bored out. I have plenty of other .38's to shoot.
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:41 PM
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Need dies? I have a set of Lymans I have been trying to sell for about two years.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:18 PM
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SaxonPig, you have email.
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Old 01-16-2008, 01:39 PM
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Hi H. Richard,
Dave here again with a name and address for you.
Moyer Cast Bullets
Madisonburg Pike
Madisonburg Pa.16852
814-349-5410
$29.99/500 plus shiping/PA.Taxes
He makes all of my bullets for me. He makes 38S&W in 125-200grs. @0.360 diam. You can tell him what diameter you want and he will make them for you. Also what hardness you would like.
Again I use 38 Long Colt Brass.(STAR LINE)
I had RCBS cut my sizing die to match my cylinder. The brass last forever.
Have a great day......DAVE...............
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:42 PM
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Thanks, I think I'll try some of the .358 cast 158 gr. that I use for my .38 Spec. and see how they work and if they don't I may try these. I appreciate the information.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by H Richard:
I have a recently acquired pre-victory, and the cylinder had been bored to accept 38 Specials. Since the 38 S&W chamber is about 9/1000 larger in diameter than the 38 Special, the cases bulge out with even light loads. When I fire 38 S&W loads the forward edge of the newly cut 38 special chamber strips lead off the 38 S&W bullet. The piece is nice enough (5")Australian return that I want it to shoot properly. Bore is near mint. Is the bore size of a 38 S&W larger that a 38 Special? The only reloading manual I have that listed 38 S&W was an old Speer, and that showed the bullet size as .360 rather than .357. If the bore is .003 larger, I would plan to replace the cylinder with a .38 S&W cylinder, but if it is .357 I would replace the cylinder with a .38 Special cylinder.

I guess I could "slug" the barrel and see, just don't have any soft lead bullets on hand to do it with, and if it is larger, the slug may not fill the groves to give an accurate reading.


If you reload the 38 S&W, which I do, then Midway sells Magtech bullets, 158gr RN that are hollow based bullets. Sized to 358, they will bump up to fit your 361 diameter bore. I have the S&W Regulation Police with a 4" barrel in 38 S&W and these shoot great for me.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:54 PM
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Midway and Natchez both sell 38 S&W ammunition from Magtech reasonably, as well. Good source of brass for your future handloading efforts.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:25 PM
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For the record, I asked Roy Jinks for the bore diameter specs for both .38 Special and .38 S&W some years ago. I knew that some British shooters had complained of stuck jacketed bullets in the bores of S&W .38/200 service revolvers.

I thought that perhaps S&W had just chambered the cylinders for the S&W regular ctg., and shipped guns with bores at .38 Special diameter.

He said that a Feb. 18, 1942 bore spec for UNRIFLED .38 S&W bores was .350-.3512. That is tight. After rifling, the GROOVES were at .3595-.3612. Thus, a .360 lead bullet should do very well in a .38 S&W barrel.

I presume that underloaded service ammo with jacketed bullets accounted for the occasional stuck bullets in the British issue guns.

Webley and Enfield Arsenal probably have "looser" bores in .38, and the rifling lands may also be more narrow, lessening any tendency for bullets to stick. With the lower friction of lead bullets and a normal powder charge, I doubt if bullets sticking in the barrel will be an issue in .38/200 guns.

Because of the many old topbreak American guns in this caliber being of marginal safety, I think that modern .38 S&W ammo is loaded on the light side.

The careful handloader can certainly work up better loads in the British guns and in the modern S&W guns in that chambering.

Colt also made Commando (wartime Official Police) guns in .38/200, but I do not have access to their bore specs. I have heard of no trouble with them, and of course, Colts are actually stronger than equivalent S&W's.

Those guns got around. I read a book by a British officer fighting Japs in Burma. His weapons were a Colt .38 revolver and a Thompson gun.


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Old 01-20-2008, 07:12 AM
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I have used the Magtech 146 gr load. I also have a .38 Regulation Police, 4" and it shoots them great, much better than the K frame. I plan to try some 200 gr LRN from Beartooth bullets over 2.4 gr Unique. Have dies coming.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:23 PM
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Anyone have ideas/advice/suggestions on replacing a shot out 4" .38 Special barrel with a 5" .38 "S&W"?
Haven't run into any decent 5" .38 spl bbls… but I've read that lead .357 bullets will "bump-up" or expand when fired filling the gap in the lands and producing acceptable accuracy.
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Old 02-10-2019, 01:40 PM
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There is a tendency to greatly overstate the significance of the bullet diameter of the .38 S&W vs. that of the .38 Special. Most will be unable to see any difference in the grouping performance using the typical .357-.358 .38 Special lead bullet in reloaded .38 S&W ammunition fired in a .38 S&W revolver. For a very long time I used 125 grain .358 lead bullets for loading .38 S&W, and they worked fine. I have seen reloading manuals (I think Speer) which recommend using .357 bullets for .38 S&W reloads. Also note that the minimum SAAMI lead bullet diameter spec for the .38 S&W is .355". If you want to use a .360-.361 bullet, Missouri Bullet Company sells them. But if you have any .38 Special lead bullets you can load, try them first.

I once came across a large number of very old loose .38 S&W cartridges cheaply, and I had a high rate of misfires. I pulled the bullets from the dud rounds to salvage the components, and guess what I found? The bullet diameters measured to be .357-.358.

BTW, I have always loaded .38 S&W using .38 Super dies. It works fine.

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Old 02-10-2019, 02:29 PM
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Welcome to the Forum, lateaugust2.

I don't think I have ever seen a shot-out S&W .38 special barrel. I have seen many shot-out .45 1917 barrels, which have very shallow rifling. Are you sure it just isn't leaded up really bad? Can you post pictures of the bore?
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Old 02-10-2019, 02:55 PM
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A new thread would probably get better responses.

The 4” barrel was the standard for .38 Special. Gunpartscorp.com has both the .38 Special and .38 S&W barrels for sale in their appropriate lengths.

However, lik Muley Gil mentioned I’d be surprised to find a shot out .38 Special barrel. Unless someone was loading up some corrosive ammo and not cleaning afterwards, you’d have to do some serious shooting to wear out a barrel.
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Old 02-10-2019, 02:56 PM
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I had a similar gun - British victory model with cylinder holes reamed out to accept 38 specials. It shot 38 specials ok except for the bulged cases. I replaced the original cylinder with a 38 special cylinder and it still shoots fine and cases extract easily now. The cylinder I used was from a later revolver. I used the extractor parts from the original cylinder.

There are lots of "parts kits" available now as police departments specify that their trade in guns be cut up. If you can find a cylinder from a cut-up 38 special victory you are in business.

Here's a parts kit: Smith & Wesson Victory parts kit - Gun Parts Kits at GunBroker.com : 796981337
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:13 PM
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I buy my bullets from Mattsbullets.com they only sell 200 and 150 gr. In 361 di. Also would the bbl. rifling for the British 38/200 be the same as for the 158 gr. Bbl?
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:25 PM
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never had a problem with mine stripping lead off lead bullets [ timing issue , not chamber issue ? ] - try using hollow base .38 special wad cutters or any soft cast bullets - check this link
Converted Victory... Worth It?

Last edited by schutzen-jager; 02-10-2019 at 03:27 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:36 PM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Richard

As to the difficulty in removing the cylinder assembly from the frame, the groove that the front side-plate screw sets into may be slightly upset. Maybe someone put the wrong screw in it. Otherwise it should slide out.

You might remove the front side plate screw, and then put a liberal amount of penetrating oil in the hole, and then start moving the cylinder up and down, and pulling it forward. Keep putting more lubricant in the hole, and keep moving it. It will come out, at some point. Then you'll be able to see where the surface damage is.

Regards, Mike

Last edited by mikepriwer; 02-10-2019 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:17 PM
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I load my own cast 158 grn .357 dia. semiwadcutters. I cannot tell the difference between them and factory 38S&W ammo as far as accuracy goes in my BSR or my Terrier.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:53 AM
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Graf's has the Missouri Bullet Company 145 gr. .361" LRN bullets. I've used them , and they work well. $40 per 500.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:06 AM
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Missouri bullets is the way to go. Missouri Bullet Company they are open, have stock, good prices, and proper bullets for original 38 S&W, 145 grain RN.

You can shoot .357s if you want, but unless you have the right bullet, you will not have anything to compare accuracy with. Lots of people shoot 357 and I have compared accuracy in all my 38 S&Ws. Not one of them shot the small bullets as well as the .361" bullet.

I went through that process many years ago and first important issue is land diameter in a 38 S&W. While barrels from 38 SA spur triggers, to 38 DAs, to 38 Perfected, to 38 HEs vary slightly, the average land dimension was .355 to .356". That is just not enough to grab a bullet. The cylinder throat diameter in 38 S&Ws is .361 - .362", so the .357 bullet rattled through the throat and can end up with a shaved bullet and leading when it hits the barrel slightly mis-aligned. The case for a 38 Special lays in the bottom of the cylinder, also affecting accuracy when fired. Lastly, there is a loss of velocity with solid base bullets, since gases can escape around the bullet through the grooves. None of those issues help.

Lots of people just want to go out and shoot the gun, so if it has been re-chambered for 38 Special, no harm done. If one wants to recreate the original ammunition for this caliber, use the right components and accuracy will be improved. One caveat is that you can use cut down 38 Special cases or in the case of lengthened chambers, full length. After shooting the first time, the brass will be re-sized to seal in the chamber of the 38 S&W. Get a $25 set of 38S&W dies and you are set to go. Problem with using 38 Special dies is that they will resize the brass down to 38 Special dimensions if the case even fits into the mouth of some die sets? Also, the lead will be slightly downsized when forcing it into the .357 case and resized even more when crimping the bullet and finishing the case, if the 38 Special dies even can be set that low.

Why take the time and effort to produce something that is poor quality, results in potentially poor accuracy, and not as originally intended and designed?
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:10 AM
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I got acceptable accuracy in my 38 S & W Victory and a "Lemon squeezer" using 146 hollow based lead bullets. The hollow base expands enough to grip the rifling==IF you can find them. Keep velocities down!

Also, 200 gr are supposed to be pretty effective defense loads!
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:01 AM
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I never knew much about this issue until I bought a .38 M&P which shipped in 12/41 off of Gunbroker. It was advertised as a .38 special and had a 4" barrel. I took it to the range and the fun began. During the practice loadings I noticed the rounds just fell out of the cylinder when I used the extractor; that had never happened before. Then during firing the gun froze up after about three rounds and I almost needed a hammer to get the rounds out.

That is when I learned about how folks modified .38SW into .38 Specials. I tried firing .38SW in the gun; they worked much better in the cylinder but lead was being shaved at the forcing cone and I did not want that. I found a .38SW Victory barrel, had it chromed to match the gun and the gun worked liked a charm.

Later discovered the gun shipped as a 5", .38SW, BSR. It is back to that once again. I have no issue with Magtech .38SW rounds or PPU rounds. Pretty good shooting gun.

That round in the 8 ring was the first firing after the barrel change. I had my eyes closed and head down.
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File Type: jpg 2017-03-19 001 002 (Large).jpg (56.5 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg New SW barrel (8) (Large).jpg (114.9 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0356 (Large).jpg (69.6 KB, 13 views)
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Last edited by Targets Guy; 02-11-2019 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:04 AM
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My current ammo which works well.
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File Type: jpg MagTech .38SW 146 grain (Large).jpg (87.1 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg PPU .38SW (Large).jpg (119.6 KB, 10 views)
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:13 PM
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Also try shooting 148 grain hollow based wadcutters in your rechambered revolver . In theory the soft hollow base fills the throat and bore .

I use these bullets to reload 38 S&W rounds and they work well.
Loaded 38 special 148 grain HBWC should also work in the rechambered cylinder, The low pressure target ammo might also help with bulged or split empty cases.... worth trying !
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
Also try shooting 148 grain hollow based wadcutters in your rechambered revolver . In theory the soft hollow base fills the throat and bore .

I use these bullets to reload 38 S&W rounds and they work well.
Loaded 38 special 148 grain HBWC should also work in the rechambered cylinder, The low pressure target ammo might also help with bulged or split empty cases.... worth trying !
Gary
There is a gentleman who does reloads for my LGS. I use his .38 special wadcutters (148 grain, Titegroup) and they are fine. I've had the LGS owner ask him if he would consider reloading my .38SW brass.
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