Shooting .38 spl in a revolver chambered for .357 mag

Shooting .38 spl in a revolver chambered for .357 mag

This is a discussion on Shooting .38 spl in a revolver chambered for .357 mag within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have a Dan Wesson, Model 15 revolver, chambered for .357/.38, and occasionally use it to shoot .38 ammo. Several months ago, in a thread ...

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    Shooting .38 spl in a revolver chambered for .357 mag

    I have a Dan Wesson, Model 15 revolver, chambered for .357/.38, and occasionally use it to shoot .38 ammo. Several months ago, in a thread here on the forum, some members stated that they didn't like to shoot .38 ammo in their .357 revolver. The reason being that over time, the shorter .38 cartridge can cause a build up of fouling in the chamber, which can cause .357 casing to get stuck in the chamber.

    My question to the more experienced owners of .357 revolvers: If I use a nylon bore brush to clean the cylinder chambers, after shooting .38 ammo, would that help? Or is there more happening in the chambers than just fouling?


    As a general question: If it's a bad idea due to the potential issues of casings getting stuck, then why do manufacturers mark their .357 revolvers as chambered for .357/.38?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tstone View Post
    I have a Dan Wesson, Model 15 revolver, chambered for .357/.38, and occasionally use it to shoot .38 ammo. Several months ago, in a thread here on the forum, some members stated that they didn't like to shoot .38 ammo in their .357 revolver. The reason being that over time, the shorter .38 cartridge can cause a build up of fouling in the chamber, which can cause .357 casing to get stuck in the chamber.

    My question to the more experienced owners of .357 revolvers: If I use a nylon bore brush to clean the cylinder chambers, after shooting .38 ammo, would that help? Or is there more happening in the chambers than just fouling?


    As a general question: If it's a bad idea due to the potential issues of casings getting stuck, then why do manufacturers mark their .357 revolvers as chambered for .357/.38?
    That's not the problem. The problem is a lack of chamber cleaning after shooting the .38s. I shot mostly (nearly exclusively) .38s in my Ruger .357 BH and never had any build up of crud. Of course I ran a Hoppes-soaked brass bore brush through each chamber after each shooting session.

    The only way you can have a build up of fouling is if it's not removed/cleaned. I suggest you fire away with your .38s and clean the cylinder bores well afterwards. Should not be any problem. Wrap a few stands of "Chore Boy" copper scrub pads around the brass brush and any fouling will come out lickity split. Make sure it is Chore Boy brand as other brands most likely will be copper-clad steel and "could" cause scratching.
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    A brass brush and Chore Boy copper scrub pads...got it.

    Thanks OldVet!

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    I don't choose to shoot .38 Special ammunition in the .357 Magnum revolvers on hand here. Avoiding .38 Special use in the .357 Magnum is more of an OCD thing with me and also is viewed as a celebration of two different cartridges. It's not required to keep them separate. I also don't use .44 Special ammunition in .44 Magnum revolvers or .22 Short ammunition in .22 Long Rifle chambers (except for the odd back yard pest control).

    There's no good reason why a person can't successfully use .38 Special ammunition in his .357 Magnum revolvers. I have done it on occasion on outings when the .357 Magnum ammunition ran low and more shooting was desired. Simply clean the revolver's chambers well with your favorite sequence of brushing and soaking when you're done shooting and all will be well.

    The type of .38 Special ammunition makes a difference. The typical lead bullet load with its necessary bullet lube will leave more deposits and and they will accumulate faster than what jacketed bullet loads will leave. A crust of lead, burnt lube, and powder and primer residues will get in the way of use of .357 Magnum ammunition sooner than only powder and primer residues deposited by jacketed .38 Special loads.

    I've acquired used .357 Magnums that weren't tended to after shooting the shorter .38 Special cartridge and build-up can be more problematic to remove and cases would stick. Cleaning after each and every use is a easy way to avoid the supposed pitfalls of .357 Magnum cases sticking. That way the residue is easily banished and the revolver is ready for the next outing.

    The key is not to leave the revolvers uncleaned, perhaps shooting them with .38 Special ammunition over several occasions, then expecting .357 Magnum ammunition to eject normally. I don't think we could live long enough to shoot enough .38 Special ammunition in a .357 Magnum chamber to roughen, erode, and degrade chamber wall surfaces.

    An ol' Winchester Model 1886 .45-90 resides here. A .45-90 chamber is just a lengthened .45-70 chamber. The rifle gives perfect satisfaction with .45-70 ammunition. With that rifle I tend to shoot cheap .45-70 hand loads and save the more costly .45-90 brass for "special." I just clean the chamber well after each use.
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    Old Vet beat me to it. He got it said while I was pontificating.

    Why am I not surprised?
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    Nylon wont cut it for the bores. On Chore Boy please check that it says only copper. A couple of years ago there were reports of either counterfeit or different materials versions floating around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    I don't choose to shoot .38 Special ammunition in the .357 Magnum revolvers on hand here. Avoiding .38 Special use in the .357 Magnum is more of an OCD thing with me and also is viewed as a celebration of two different cartridges. It's not required to keep them separate. I also don't use .44 Special ammunition in .44 Magnum revolvers or .22 Short ammunition in .22 Long Rifle chambers (except for the odd back yard pest control).

    There's no good reason why a person can't successfully use .38 Special ammunition in his .357 Magnum revolvers. I have done it on occasion on outings when the .357 Magnum ammunition ran low and more shooting was desired. Simply clean the revolver's chambers well with your favorite sequence of brushing and soaking when you're done shooting and all will be well.

    The type of .38 Special ammunition makes a difference. The typical lead bullet load with its necessary bullet lube will leave more deposits and and they will accumulate faster than what jacketed bullet loads will leave. A crust of lead, burnt lube, and powder and primer residues will get in the way of use of .357 Magnum ammunition sooner than only powder and primer residues deposited by jacketed .38 Special loads.

    I've acquired used .357 Magnums that weren't tended to after shooting the shorter .38 Special cartridge and build-up can be more problematic to remove and cases would stick. Cleaning after each and every use is a easy way to avoid the supposed pitfalls of .357 Magnum cases sticking. That way the residue is easily banished and the revolver is ready for the next outing.

    The key is not to leave the revolvers uncleaned, perhaps shooting them with .38 Special ammunition over several occasions, then expecting .357 Magnum ammunition to eject normally. I don't think we could live long enough to shoot enough .38 Special ammunition in a .357 Magnum chamber to roughen, erode, and degrade chamber wall surfaces.

    An ol' Winchester Model 1886 .45-90 resides here. A .45-90 chamber is just a lengthened .45-70 chamber. The rifle gives perfect satisfaction with .45-70 ammunition. With that rifle I tend to shoot cheap .45-70 hand loads and save the more costly .45-90 brass for "special." I just clean the chamber well after each use.

    Thanks bmcgilvray! That's some very useful info you posted. Much appreciated, sir.

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    You will not harm your Dan Wesson shooting .38 Specials in it! IF...you shoot a LOT of cast bullets you might get some lead fouling but regular cleaning with bore solvent and bronze brush should eliminate those problems. If you shoot mostly jacketed bullets you will have less bore and chamber cleaning issues. BTW, I have a Dan Wesson 15-2 that is the most accurate and best trigger of any revolver that I have ever owned (that includes Colts)!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tstone View Post

    My question to the more experienced owners of .357 revolvers: If I use a nylon bore brush to clean the cylinder chambers, after shooting .38 ammo, would that help? Or is there more happening in the chambers than just fouling?
    I use 40 cal bore brushes and a little Hoppes for that job after any shooting. I've never used nylon brushes but I don't see why they wouldn't work for that. If you clean them after each use the buildup from using 38s isn't much of a problem.
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    I use an oversized bore brush and M-Pro 7 products to clean the cylinder chambers when shooting .38 special before .357 magnum. I do the same shooting .44 special before .44 magnum and shooting .45 Colt before .454 Casull.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmhawth View Post
    I use 40 cal bore brushes and a little Hoppes for that job after any shooting. I've never used nylon brushes but I don't see why they wouldn't work for that. If you clean them after each use the buildup from using 38s isn't much of a problem.
    The idea is that bronze, brass and copper brushes are harder than the fouling but softer than the cylinder and softer than the blueing on the cylinders. If you clean after every shooting you won't buildup crud and fouling and a Nylon brush will probably do just fine. Once you get a buildup the plastic won't remove it though. DR

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    @OldVet and @bmcgilvray have got it covered, but I'll add my $.02 anyway...

    I've been shooting .38's in .357 revolvers for 40+ years, and never had a problem. As noted previously:

    Clean with a bronze brush & good solvent after shooting, paying particular attention (of course) to the cylinder bores.
    Jacketed bullets will be less of a problem than cast lead, particularly with hot loads.

    Have to mention that two of my .357's are DW 15-2's. IMHO they were some of the finest revolvers on the market, particularly considering their reasonable cost. I think a nice ol' DW is the best-kept secret on the used revolver market, although word's getting around and the prices are climbing!

    One other tip: Be sure to check barrel/cylinder gap on your DW from time to time. I've never had any of mine require adjustment except after a barrel change (of course), but it's something to verify every so often. If it's kept in-spec, it will eliminate or minimize a lot of potential problems.

    Enjoy your DW, .38's and all!
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    I've been shooting 38s in 357s for over 40 years and have never encountered this "build up" you speak of. But then, I've always cleaned my revolvers after shooting them, (even if I didn't shoot a full cylinder), no exceptions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    That's not the problem. The problem is a lack of chamber cleaning after shooting the .38s. I shot mostly (nearly exclusively) .38s in my Ruger .357 BH and never had any build up of crud. Of course I ran a Hoppes-soaked brass bore brush through each chamber after each shooting session.

    The only way you can have a build up of fouling is if it's not removed/cleaned. I suggest you fire away with your .38s and clean the cylinder bores well afterwards. Should not be any problem. Wrap a few stands of "Chore Boy" copper scrub pads around the brass brush and any fouling will come out lickity split. Make sure it is Chore Boy brand as other brands most likely will be copper-clad steel and "could" cause scratching.
    ^^^^^^^SO MUCH THIS!!!! ^^^^^^^^^. OV has hit it on the head for sure. Hoppe's, a bronze brush, and elbow grease do wonders for the proper function of firearms! As a note, I shoot much more .38 out of my Python than I do .357, which is 51 years old. It has yet to have a buildup of fouling. Why? because of what @OldVet ; said.
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    I shoot 38's out of my 357's a lot. Just do what the other guys said and you will be good to go.

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