+P Ammo in S&W model 15?

+P Ammo in S&W model 15?

This is a discussion on +P Ammo in S&W model 15? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I put the S&W model 15 that I posted about last week on layaway and have a couple of questions about it. Is it safe/ok ...

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Thread: +P Ammo in S&W model 15?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array 1911luver's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    +P Ammo in S&W model 15?

    I put the S&W model 15 that I posted about last week on layaway and have a couple of questions about it. Is it safe/ok to use +P 38 special ammo in this gun? I know its an older gun but its a K-frame and if I'm not mistaken is a .357 magnum frame? Assuming this is correct and I'm using heavier loads like the 158 grain LSWC HP and 148 grain bullets is this a bad thing to shoot in this gun?

    weren't these guns sighted in at the factory for 158 grain ammo,and as such won't the they be the most accurate(i.e. point of aim/point of impact) with these loads? My gun is a 2" barreled adjustible sight model if this matters at all? thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Your wonderful Model 15 will digest more +P ammo than you'll want to afford to shoot in it. I've used and abused Smith & Wesson K-Frame .38 Special revolvers more than any three people and mine are all still ticking after their lickings. Just had Frank Smith with LSG who is the regional S&W Warranty man here to take a look at my most used/abused K-Frame and he pronounced it fit. Said it had a long way to go before it would require work.

    The factory's official position is that one shouldn't use +P in revolvers made before the model numbers began to be stamped on the inside of the frame at the yoke. They began assigning model numbers in 1957. If you open your revolver and swing out the cylinder you should see either a 15 or a 15-1, 15-2, etc. Any so marked will easily handle +P .38 Special. What's more, they're more comfortable to shoot with +P than are the J-Frame or similar guns.

    Other than for carry purposes along with some occasional familiarization practice you will surely want to shoot standard velocity ammunition most often. It costs less and is more fun. There's no shooting that's any more fun than a pleasant afternoon at the range with a good K-Frame .38 Special revolver and a three or four boxes of ammunition.

    I've used +P ammunition in much older S&W K-Frames with no OBVIOUS problems. The design is solid and is trouble-free, even with heavy use.

    The K-Frame was created in 1899 expressly for the .38 Special. It was adapted to shoot the .357 Magnum cartridge and produced as the Models 13 and 19, but the .357 frames are very slightly thicker beneath the barrel. They may also be heat treated differently but I don't know that. I've heard of folks in years gone by who bored the chambers in their K-Frame .38 Special revolvers to accept the .357 Magnum with no ill effects from shooting. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDDIES! This just isn't too bright and besides there's nothing wrong with .38 Special in its own right.

    The revolvers were said to have been sighted with standard velocity 158 grain .38 Special ammunition at the factory. I've observed this to be true with all fixed sight K-Frame guns I've had. I've also noticed that the +P 158 grain factory loads or the handloaded equivalent shoot only a couple of inches lower at 15 yards than do the standard velocity 158 grain loads. Of course you've got adjustable sights so can regulate them to suit any load you like.

    You really did get one of the best handguns made and one that's still practical in this day and age. I have a 4-inch Model 15 but would also love to add a 2-inch to the menegerie. Hope you'll post some photos when you liberate your Model 15.

  3. #3
    Member Array forestranger's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    North Carolina
    Ditto on above! put thousands of what today would be considered +p+ handloads thru old Model 10(like yours but w/fixed sights). Actually some of todays +p loads seem mild compared to those old maximum handloads.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Array 1911luver's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Thanks guys for the help and bmcgilvray my gun I believe is marked "mod 15-3" inside the crane under the serial number if this helps at all. I got this gun for $350 and its like brand new. I love snub nose revolvers and couldn't pass her up. Now all I gotta do is find good IWB or OWB leather for her. Also I'll be sure to poast back with picks as soon as I pick her up guys.

  6. #5
    1943 - 2009
    Array Captain Crunch's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    but the .357 frames are very slightly thicker beneath the barrel. They may also be heat treated differently
    The .38 & .357 frames & cylinders are heat treated differently.

    1911luver, the Model 15-3 was made between 1967 and 1977.

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

    Rudyard Kipling


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