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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 10-27-2008, 07:41 PM
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...when shooting .38 special cartridges.

Here's the thing. I have a lot of .38 special ammo on hand because I use it a lot for teaching, and for a relaxing day of target shooting. Up to this point, I have always owned .357 magnum handguns so that I could shoot both .38 and .357 mag with the same revolvers. My 4" bbl. GP-100 is a very accurate gun, but it is the only launching pad I have for accurate target shooting with the .38 specials. My snubbies in .38 spec. are not for the longer range target shooting.

So, I am thinking about adding a 6" bbl. .357 or .38 special S&W to the family. The question is, are the revolvers that are chambered for the .38 special cartridge inherently more accurate with that cartridge than a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum? Does the extra distance that the .38 has to travel in the .357 mag chamber before hitting the forcing cone make a difference as far as accuracy goes?

If a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum is just as accurate as one chambered specifically for the .38 special, with the .38 special cartridge, I may just get another 686 with a 6" bbl. If this is not the case, then what model .38 special should I be looking at for super accuracy?

Model 27? Don't any of y'all have a heart attack, but I am not a big fan of the K-frame.

Thanks,
WG840
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:41 PM
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...when shooting .38 special cartridges.

Here's the thing. I have a lot of .38 special ammo on hand because I use it a lot for teaching, and for a relaxing day of target shooting. Up to this point, I have always owned .357 magnum handguns so that I could shoot both .38 and .357 mag with the same revolvers. My 4" bbl. GP-100 is a very accurate gun, but it is the only launching pad I have for accurate target shooting with the .38 specials. My snubbies in .38 spec. are not for the longer range target shooting.

So, I am thinking about adding a 6" bbl. .357 or .38 special S&W to the family. The question is, are the revolvers that are chambered for the .38 special cartridge inherently more accurate with that cartridge than a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum? Does the extra distance that the .38 has to travel in the .357 mag chamber before hitting the forcing cone make a difference as far as accuracy goes?

If a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum is just as accurate as one chambered specifically for the .38 special, with the .38 special cartridge, I may just get another 686 with a 6" bbl. If this is not the case, then what model .38 special should I be looking at for super accuracy?

Model 27? Don't any of y'all have a heart attack, but I am not a big fan of the K-frame.

Thanks,
WG840
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:59 PM
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I would put either of my 686s, shooting .38 special, up against any "dedicated" .38 revolver made, in an accuracy test. Both of them are capable of extraordinary accuracy with my preferred load of .38 special 158 gr. semi-wadcutters. I doubt that the extra travel distance for the .38 special round vs. a .357 round is meaningful. Btw, both guns are equally accurate shooting .125 gr. .357 rounds.

For accuracy, my personal preference is the 686 with a 6" barrel. Not that it's inherently more accurate than a 4" gun. It's not. But, my aging eyes do a little better picking up the front sight when it is a couple of inches further away from my face.

I've fired the Smith 627 model, the stainless version of the 27 (also of the 28, which is also an N-frame revolver). It's a great gun, but, frankly, I'm just a bit more comfortable shooting the slightly smaller L-frame 686. But, that's a matter of choice. Also, the 627 comes with an 8-round cylinder and some prefer that to the 6- or 7-round 686. That's also simply a matter of choice. Either the 686 or the 627 (or 27, or 28) would be a great choice of gun.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:32 PM
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On paper the 38 out of a 38 revolver is more accurate than a 38 out of a 357. But in the real world very few shooters could really tell the difference. Back in the day, I shot a model 19 with a rib and was good enough to win a few trophies...Having said all that, it shouldn't stop you from getting a good 38 revolver . If you want something other than a K frame, you might look for an older outdoorsman but that will set you back more than a goodol' mod.14 which is probably the clasic 38 target revolver..How well can you shoot the Ruger? If you shoot it well, you really have all you need.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:48 PM
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With ammunition that my revolver likes to digest I get the same degree of accuracy from both the 38 and 357. I tried as many brands and loadings I could get my hands on at local shops. For example, in 357 my S & W PC-13 absolutely loves PMC but hiccups with Remington, Federal and Winchester. In 38 its the opposite. Go figure.

I think if you try various brands and loadings you can get excellent accuracy from both.

Cylinder to barrel alignment and a properly angled, lapped and dimensioned/spaced forcing cone are much more important than the greater distance that must be traveled by the 38.

A good, solid-performing target revolver is the Taurus 86 38SPL Target. Not a S & W, but nevertheless offers great value and fun.

There is no equal to S & W's target models of the 1940s - 1950s. They are works of art. I would be loathe to shoot a pristine example in original box with paper work, manual, etc. A worthy investment.
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by stevieboy:
I would put either of my 686s, shooting .38 special, up against any "dedicated" .38 revolver made, in an accuracy test.
Yeah, I think that the idea that .38's are less accurate in a .357 is basically a myth. I bought a model 14 K-38 Target masterpiece just to shoot target with .38's (it's supposed to be super accurate) and that gun will not group as well as any of my three model 66 guns.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:21 AM
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BountyHunter

I recall reading (can't remember source) that the Model 14 K-38 Target can be real finicky about ammunition.

Although I'm sure you've already tried different loads, perhaps you may want to contact one of forum administrators and ask who out there makes a masterpiece load. Really serious Masterpiece guys make some accurate loads.

Wasn't the original K-38 load a lead semi-wadcutter?
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by GB:
How well can you shoot the Ruger? If you shoot it well, you really have all you need.
I shoot it great. It is dead on accurate. The problem is that I use that gun for everything. I would like to have a 38/357 with a longer barrel than the 4" on the GP-100. All my current S&W .357s are snubbies.

I am leaning toward a 6" bbl. 586 or 686. Do they all have a full underlug? I would rather not have the full lug if possible. Of course, If I can find one of those ellusive .22LR 10-shot model 617s with a steel cylinder, the .38/.357 will have to wait. The 617 is a priority right now. It is also off topic for this post!

Thanks for the advice so far.
WG840
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:05 AM
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The only 686 that I'm aware of without a full lug with a barrel longer than 4" are some export guns done a while back and a couple of 5" guns done nearly 10 years ago as stocking dealer exclusives.

If you really want a gun without an underlug you may have to stick with model 19 or 66, or something not mentioned yet...

A model 27 with the "tapered" barrel in 6" or 8 3/8".
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:44 AM
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The 686SSR, which is currently made by Smith, is a 4" gun with a 3/4 underlug. I have it and it's noticeably less barrel heavy than is the full lug 686.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:49 AM
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I think the Mod 60 with the 5" bbl, would be a great addition. It will go both ways .38, and .357. However in a J frame. Kinda a .38 set up for a .38 origionaly, but with the now extra weight, would be a great .38 shooter. just my .02.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:09 AM
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The only way to tell would be with a machine rest, such as by Ransom, to eliminate any human error. People shoot one handgun better than another for reasons that have nothing to do with inherent accuracy of the firearm.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:38 PM
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I think it depends more on the individual gun that it does on the chambering. Like some of the other posters have said, I've seen .357 revolvers shoot extremely well from a Ransom rest with .38s, so I don't believe that the extra distance in the cylinder is that big of a deal.

That being said, I do suspect that the K-38s made around the 1950s are probably the most accurate 38/357 revolvers made. I've got several, and have tested them in a Ransom rest, and they are amazing.

That's not because of the chambering, but because I think the factory knew back then that these guns were often purchased by very picky Bullseye shooters who wanted the best. Smith was competing with Colt's Officer's Model.

Therefore, my hunch is the S&W factory took pains to make sure these K38s were very well fitted.

For example, Kuhnhausen states in his S&W Revolver manual something to the effect that most factory Smiths won't pass a match range rod--except for older K-38s, which often will do so.
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelgunner840 View Post
...when shooting .38 special cartridges.

Here's the thing. I have a lot of .38 special ammo on hand because I use it a lot for teaching, and for a relaxing day of target shooting. Up to this point, I have always owned .357 magnum handguns so that I could shoot both .38 and .357 mag with the same revolvers. My 4" bbl. GP-100 is a very accurate gun, but it is the only launching pad I have for accurate target shooting with the .38 specials. My snubbies in .38 spec. are not for the longer range target shooting.



So, I am thinking about adding a 6" bbl. .357 or .38 special S&W to the family. The question is, are the revolvers that are chambered for the .38 special cartridge inherently more accurate with that cartridge than a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum? Does the extra distance that the .38 has to travel in the .357 mag chamber before hitting the forcing cone make a difference as far as accuracy goes?

If a revolver chambered for the .357 magnum is just as accurate as one chambered specifically for the .38 special, with the .38 special cartridge, I may just get another 686 with a 6" bbl. If this is not the case, then what model .38 special should I be looking at for super accuracy?

Model 27? Don't any of y'all have a heart attack, but I am not a big fan of the K-frame.

Thanks,
WG840
Model 27 is an N frame
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:48 PM
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You cannot go wrong with a K38 or a Model 14. Both 38 sp
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:52 PM
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I haven’t seen much difference between .38 & .357 in my four inch Model 66. Oddly enough the gun I shoot best is my old service revolver, a Model 10-7 square butt snub. It’s the only gun I shot a perfect score with during semi annual qualification.
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Old 10-24-2020, 04:31 PM
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Too many variables for a
definitive answer.

Revolver chambers vary;
in the good old target days
with revolvers competitors
often marked their chambers
as to which shot the best with
their given handloads. Not
uncommon that one chamber
or two weren't as good as the
others. Or visa versa.

Ditto in comparing not only the
many possibilities in factory and
handloads but different chamber
oddities from .38 to .357 revolvers.

And let's not forget cylinder gap
variations and forcing cone variations.
Or even variations from one production
run to another for barrel riflings.

I'd say that sticking to .38s for .38
chambers only at least eliminates
some of the variables that would
come into play with using .357
chambers.
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Old 10-24-2020, 06:00 PM
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Accuracy is in the gun, not the caliber.

My 19-2 shoots .38 spc better than my 14-3. There is no meaning beyond that.
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Old 10-24-2020, 06:21 PM
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My 6 inch model 28 is as accurate as my model 14 using .38 spl wadcutters. Any of them can consistently hold the X ring at 25 meters.
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Old 10-24-2020, 07:03 PM
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Give us an idea.

What size groups are you shooting at 25 yards with your .357 now?

If you are not shooting honest 3-4 inch groups now.... the difference will be impossible to determine.
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Old 10-24-2020, 07:06 PM
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Are the cylinders of most .38 revolvers an 1/8 inch shorter than the cylinders of .357 revolvers? ( within the same manufacturer) I replaced the cylinder in my 642-1 with a titanium cylinder capable of chambering .357. And no, I won't ever shoot .357 in it. My point....unless the revolver you're looking at has a cylinder an 1/8 inch shorter then the bullet from the .38 cartridge still has to travel further before reaching the forcing cone.

I've never gone around with calipers measuring cylinders on .38 revolvers.
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Old 10-24-2020, 07:18 PM
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Guys, an interesting post from 12 years ago, but the OP hasn't been here for 5 1/2 years. Hope he worked out his dilemma.
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Old 10-24-2020, 08:10 PM
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I shoot a lot of Bullseye matches using almost exclusively 148g Match Wadcutters. I have no empirical data but personally I find little difference in accuracy between 38 and 357 given all variables constant (barrel length, quality of bore, distance, etc).
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Old 10-24-2020, 09:08 PM
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I believe a 38 special has a slight potential accuracy advantage over 38's in a 357 magnum. Of course there always someone's 357 that will out shoot his or his buddy's 38, but if I were having a top notch gunsmith build a match 38 special, it would be build on a 38 special frame.

Last edited by diyj98; 10-25-2020 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 10-24-2020, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
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Guys, an interesting post from 12 years ago, but the OP hasn't been here for 5 1/2 years. Hope he worked out his dilemma.
I totally missed that!!!
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Old 10-25-2020, 02:32 AM
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This is the right time of the year for a "Zombie" thread!
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Old 10-25-2020, 04:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banger View Post
Give us an idea.

What size groups are you shooting at 25 yards with your .357 now?

If you are not shooting honest 3-4 inch groups now.... the difference will be impossible to determine.
Make it two to three inches in my case.
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:06 AM
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:07 AM
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Well, there's also this:
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