Inbound from BB: .38 S&W defense ammo

Inbound from BB: .38 S&W defense ammo

This is a discussion on Inbound from BB: .38 S&W defense ammo within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Many of you have read about my amateur experimentation with the .38 S&W, aka .38 Colt New Police, .38/200, .38 S&W "Short," etc. Many of ...

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Thread: Inbound from BB: .38 S&W defense ammo

  1. #1
    Member Array LouisianaMan's Avatar
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    Inbound from BB: .38 S&W defense ammo

    Many of you have read about my amateur experimentation with the .38 S&W, aka .38 Colt New Police, .38/200, .38 S&W "Short," etc. Many of us have shared tales of woe caused by the unavailability of anything resembling defense ammo for our otherwise serviceable solid-frame guns.

    Good news! Within the next month, Buffalo Bore is bringing out two loads to fill that bill. Tim Sundlies of BB describes them as good, powerful loads. Guess I'll finally be able to load my guns with factory ammo! Can't wait to see what they've come up with. Will certainly try some and compare to my various handloads, and will try to post a range report.

    No personal involvement with the project, just looking forward to trying it. The more who do, the more options and/or availability we'll have. :-)


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    What a hoot! For personal defense, I'd rather have any of several good .38 S&W revolvers that could be mentioned than any .380 ACP pistol on the planet.
    glockman10mm and BigJon10125 like this.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    What a hoot! For personal defense, I'd rather have any of several good .38 S&W revolvers that could be mentioned than any .380 ACP pistol on the planet.
    Or 9mm.
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    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    OOOooo...I wasn't going to say that out loud.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    OOOooo...I wasn't going to say that out loud.
    I'm in rare form tonight
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    VIP Member Array BigJon10125's Avatar
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    I'm relatively new to the game so Bryan, or anyone else, want to drop a history lesson on us re the .38 short?
    BigJon


    "Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt" ~ Mark Twain

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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    I wonder how some of the old guns are going to hold up. I don't have a 38 S&W but I do have a Colt 32 New Police and it is not a very robust gun.
    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around laws. Plato

  8. #8
    Member Array LouisianaMan's Avatar
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    Introduced 1870's, standard loadings have long been LRN 145-46g @ 685, with the Colt New Police version running 150g FP @ 720, IIRC. Extremely popular in top-break pocket revolvers, and made in S&W I/J and Colt D frames. 1920's saw Brits and/or US ammo companies develop the Super Police version, 200g LRN@ 630; blunt, soft, high momentum, a tumbler. Brits adopted it pre-WWII, replaced the 200g lead bullet with a 178g jacketed conical bullet--also a tumbler.

    Widely popular 20th century US as police cartridge in early decades, and in "dresser drawer guns" thereafter. Smith stopped producing their J/2" in '74. WWII surplus "Victory" Smiths reimported to US in large numbers--a pre-10 M&P with slightly different chambering.

    Contentious since Brit Army testing apparently resulted in them describing it as having "stopping power" approx equal to the .455 Webley. Also, Brit Army ammo apparently had some problems with decomposition or destabilization, resulting in BIB problems and rather absurd trajectories at times! (My limited experience with CIS surplus ammo made more recently in Singapore has been very favorable.)

    Cartridge is shorter, fatter, and not interchangeable with .38 SPL. Handload options can run as hot or hotter than some modern standard-pressure .38 Special loads.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJon10125 View Post
    I'm relatively new to the game so Bryan, or anyone else, want to drop a history lesson on us re the .38 short?


    Actually I have a "Cartridge Discussion: The .38 S&W" on tap that was written up about a decade ago for another forum. I'm awaiting time to get out the chronograph and test some loads, and retest some others, before sticking it up on Defensive Carry.

    I still really like the .38 S&W cartridge. It can be handloaded to deliver a reasonable amount of "punch" in a uniquely compact snub. Solid-frame Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers featuring swing-out cylinders have shorter frames/cylinders than their .38 Special brethren. They were and are sturdy little revolvers, controllable and easy to shoot well. Sturdy does not however apply to the 19th century top-break .38 S&W chambered revolvers made by Smith & Wesson and a host of lesser makers. The latch isn't too robust and the steels were primitive and not heat treated. Some say don't shoot any of the breed at all but in my view the various top-breaks made by Smith & Wesson at least are suitable for use with factory loads or equivalent handloads. I had one for several years made in 1882 and shot hundreds of rounds through it. The British military issue Webley and Enfield revolvers chambered for the .38/200, which is yet another way to say .38 S&W, do feature good steels and a robust locking latch so the top-break shooting warning doesn't apply to them.

    Here's a plucky little revolver made of the finest steel Colt could muster in the 1930s (and that was actually pretty high-grade steel), a Bankers' Special. Colt sold it as chambered for the .38 Colt New Police, also known as the .38 Colt Police Positive, which was only the company's dodge to get out of appearing to chamber a cartridge of Smith & Wesson design, as really the .38 New Police is nothing more than the old .38 S&W. With it's six-shot cylinder, assuming ammunition featuring 200 grain bullets, one may have a total of 1200 grains of heavy lead on tap! All contained within a compact revolver too.




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    VIP Member Array BigJon10125's Avatar
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    Thank you Gentlemen!

    Sounds like a neat round. I am not sure what I enjoy more, the shooting of guns or the history that is behind every single one of them. It seems like even the newest guns to come out all of a history built upon hundreds of years of experience. Cartridges fall into the same category. Fascinating to me.

    One of my reasons for getting stRted with reloading is for the off the beaten path cartridge. Seems like a good deal of fun to take all the side.streets along the highway of "major calibers". Again, thank you!
    BigJon


    "Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt" ~ Mark Twain

  11. #11
    Member Array LouisianaMan's Avatar
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    Jon,
    Your sentiments match mine--I'm a history guy first and foremost, and an avid shooter, reloader, and caster next. Several things steered me towards the .38 S&W after all these years, and one of them was wonderment at how a once-respectable military & police cartridge somehow became viewed as the equivalent of suicide for HD/SD. Once I started reading Internet wisdom about the alleged inability of the cartridge to penetrate a German WWII greatcoat, I was hooked!

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