What is so special

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Thread: What is so special

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Pro2A's Avatar
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    What is so special

    ... About a .38 special? I've never understood this. Could someone explain?

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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    .38

    I'll take a shot at this one.

    Don't forget that the .38 Colt that was around before, and that everybody was familiar with, was the load that had such a poor reputation as a stopper. Remember those stories of Phillipine Moro hashishans taking all those .38 rounds? The Special was a way to keep the consumer from confusing the performance of the two rounds. Remember also that S&W and Colt gave different names to the same cartridges out of spite for each other ( ".40 auto" on your Ruger? same thing). Smith and Wesson wanted to make the newer and more powerful round stand out and be noticed, and let everyone know that it wasn't the same cartridge with a "S&W Version" name.

  4. #3
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    The .38 Special case was made .370 longer than the standard .38S&W case so that the two could not be mixed. Although the .38 S&W can be fired in a .38 Special, the .38 Special would not fit in the .38 S&W.

    If thats not enough to confuse you, the .357 Magnum is .100 longer than the .38 Special case for the same reason.

    The original .38 S&W really was a pretty anemic round. It was chambered in a lot of somewhat weak pistols with weak designs. A more modern higher pressured round could blow the little guns up, so increasing the length was done for safety reasons.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  5. #4
    Member Array Solidgun's Avatar
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    Power of magic!!!

    No, what the previous posters said .
    It is not "might OF", it is "might HAVE". It is not "could OF", it is "could HAVE". Go spread the word.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array ICTsnub's Avatar
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    I would say the fine selection of "J" frames in .38 is what is so special.

  7. #6
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    The .38 Special and the .38 S&W are NOT interchangeable. The nominal bullet diameter of the .38 S&W is .361", whereas the .38 Special has a nominal bullet diameter of .358".

    .38 S&W - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    To the OP: I recommend you obtain a copy of Cartridges of the World, by Frank Barnes.


    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.

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    Terry

  8. #7
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    I don't think of myself as old, but I carried a .38 on leo duty back in the 70's. Everyone else around here was too. We thought it was great to start carrying .357's. Wow times have changed.
    Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array mr surveyor's Avatar
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    For a year or two I had a WWII S&W M&P that was chambered for .38 S&W. They were ordered by the Brits in large numbers during the war, and after the war many of them were sent in to be modified (honed out the forcing cones) to be able to chamber the more potent and more available .38 spl round. At the time, I had no idea why the .38 spl rounds were so loose in the chambers, and was not aware the gun was originally manufactured for the slightly larger diameter, shorter oal round. A call to S&W for information amazingly put me in direct contact with Mr. Roy Jinks himself, THE historian for everything Smith and Wesson. He told be a good bit of history on this particular model, and said that these were safe to shoot a light diet of standard pressure .38 spl rounds. All I got it for was a "dirty jobs" gun to carry shot shells. After firing a few .38 spls and examining a few swelled casings, I decided to trade it off. If you fire a .38 spl in the larger diameter chambering for a .38 S&W, you will see it compares to the smaller scale firing of a .22 lr in a .22 mag chamber.

    Compared to the .38 S&W, the .38 spl is indeed "special"


    surv

  10. #9
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    The .38 Special and the .38 S&W are NOT interchangeable. The nominal bullet diameter of the .38 S&W is .361", whereas the .38 Special has a nominal bullet diameter of .358".
    Technically correct.
    The manufacturing tolerances of the day though, were sloppy enough that there usually was no problem, we are only talking about .003 of an inch, or .0015 to the side.
    I have seen several of the older guns take the newer shells without any problems.Some of the smaller pocket pistol designs that were common back then, had cylinders that were too short to be able to seat them correctly. That was probably a good thing though.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  11. #10
    New Member Array farnorthdan's Avatar
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    I can tell you, compared to the 38S&W the special truly is.....I have a Webley in 38S&W and have worked my own loads up for it. With some of my starting loads and wad-cutters I seriously could throw a rock harder than these loads were being sent down range. After much testing and working up slowly, I have finally reached the max on this caliber and it still is one slow moving round and I certainly wouldn't trust it out past about 10-15 yards..

    Now the 38spl....thats a whole nother story

    DS
    Believe NONE of what you hear; HALF of what you see and ALL you believe

    Accuracy is king,penatration is queen but why not jack'em in the process if you can.

  12. #11
    Ex Member Array AVIVIII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Technically correct.
    The manufacturing tolerances of the day though, were sloppy enough that there usually was no problem, we are only talking about .003 of an inch, or .0015 to the side.
    I have seen several of the older guns take the newer shells without any problems.
    I just want to clarify some issues.

    The .38special uses a .357-.358 bullet typically, depending on if the bullet is jacketed(.357) or cast(.358). The OAL is 1.55"

    The .38S&W uses a .361 bullet. The over-all-length (OAL) is 1.24". Stay away from jacketed bullets in an older gun, especially the break-top models, to avoid over-pressures due to the extra friction caused by the copper jacket vs. cast lead. Some older revolvers, especially if they have seen lead all their life are prone to copper fouling and/or rifling damage. If you want to use a jacketed bullet in your .38S&W, keep reading.

    The .38special OAL is .3" longer that the .38S&W OAL, meaning that the cylinder in a .38S&W would be too short (by about .3") to use .38special ROUNDS.

    The .38S&W bullet is .003 larger in diameter than the .38spl. Yes, the old ones might have been made a little less exacting, but new ones are very precisely made. Using that larger .38S&W diameter bullet in a .38spl is also not a good idea. Again, you are facing a potential over-pressure issue with the increased bullet diameter. You might also risk damaging the throats and forcing cone on your gun.

    To review.
    DO NOT use .38S&W ammo in your .38spl.
    DO NOT (attempt to) use .38spl ammo in your .38S&W

    Heres the one interchangeability. If you are hand loading, it is acceptable to use .38spl BULLETS (.357-.358) in a .38s&w, however, you will see a loss in accuracy. Also, jacketed .38spl BULLETS (.357) are a great choice if you insist on running FMJ through your gun.

    Readers Digest: Only use the ammo that is stamped on the side of the barrel.chamber/cylinder. PERIOD.

  13. #12
    Senior Moderator
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    Good post.

    Only use the ammo that is stamped on the side of the barrel.chamber/cylinder. PERIOD.
    Absolutely correct.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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