.38 Long Colt

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by ncamountaindriver, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. ncamountaindriver

    ncamountaindriver New Member

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    a little help please!

    I have my fathers' old 38 Long Colt in a Spanish copy of a S&W (the makers are Beistegui Bros. - I understand they are still in business - sort 'a). The gun is from the 1930's and is in fine shape. I also have about ten loads of old un-shot cartridges. I am well knowledgeable to reloading though most of my experience is in reloading my old and my modern cartridge and cap'n'ball pieces in black powder (I love the smell!)
    My question is:
    the old gun measures at the muzzle approx. .346. The old ammo measures approx. .348. Two different slugged balls measure approx .348. The measurements are with both a vernier caliper and a 'C' micrometer. However, all info I can get off the net says a 38 Long Colt (the modern style- not the older "heeled" bullet) should be mic-ing in at about .357. What gives! Could this discrepancy be because of the poorer quality of a spanish-made gun? (though every thing else about the pistol appears high-quality, even inside milling marks and components). Can I use a soft-lead .356 cast bullet for my hand loads over Black Powder even w/ this 8/1000's difference and not be in danger? I hear warning bells going of fin my head but don't have enough experience to know how close a bullet needs to be sized to a slugged dimension. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. BETH

    BETH Well-Known Member

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    pictures please
  3. old semperfi

    old semperfi New Member

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    i live in southern indiana,old country boy at hear
    I WILL TRY TO HELP BUT FIRST I HAVE NEVER SLUGGED A BARREL WITH ANYTHING BUT A SOFT WADCUTTER BULLET,THESE MUST BE 100 PERCENT LEAD,NOT ALLOY.IM NOT SURE YOU CAN DO IT PROPERLY WITH A ROUND BALL.THE OTHER THING I WOULD SUGGEST IS TO REMOVE A BULLET FROM ONE OF THE ORIGINAL ROUNDS AND MIC IT......I WOULD NOT SUGGEST YOU SHOOT ANYTHING THAT IS 8 THOUSANDS OVER....THE ONLY OTHER THING I WOULD RECCOMEND IS TO TAKE MIC TO GUN STORE AND MIC AS MANY OTHER BRANDS AS POSSIBLE.......SHORT OF RELOADING AND PURCHASING A RESIZING DIE FOR BULLETS YOU MAYBE STUCK.I HOPE SOMEBODY ELSE COMES UP WITH A SOLUTION. OLD SEMPERFI
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    I can think of three possible reasons why you are coming up with the measurements you are.

    Either, you have an even number of lands and grooves, but you are measuring where I've drawn the black line, instead of where the red line is (which is where you should measure). If this is what you are doing, measure it the other way, like the red line.

    Or you have an odd number of lands and grooves, like in the second picture. They are a royal pain in the tuchus to measure. If this is the problem, measure the red line and then measure the black line, and subtract them. Whatever the different is, double it and add it to the black line.

    Or, possibly, your barrel is so leaded up that you can't get a good measurement. If this is it, clean the heck out of the barrel.

    Attached Files:

  5. ncamountaindriver

    ncamountaindriver New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. The barrel has been slugged with pure soft lead round ball from my .44 Colt Army. There is not much left of a distinction between the lands and grooves in this old barrel though the gun does not appear to have seen extensive use or poor cleaning habits. There appears to be five lands and pretty tight spiraling on this bore. The bore is currently clean though not mirror polished. The old round-nosed bullets have been measured at their widest just before the brass casing/crimping - so I think I am getting an accurate measurement of the barrel and of the old bullets. What gets me is that I have never seen anything that indicates even the old 38 Long Colt cartridges in even their "heeled" form were anything but .35x. So why does both my barrel and my old bullets (the old original cartridge box they are in calls them "38 Long Colt") measure out in this odd dimension? In looking again at the pistol I see the barrel marks say "38 Long cartridge" - not specifically "Long Colt". I have had a competent gunsmith tell me this means "38 Long Colt " as there were no other "38 Long" cartridges around at that time, .... and I have never seen anything mentioned like that in my books that would be in the .34x caliber.
    So ...... I'm still open to all suggestions and looking forward to the input this forum might offer. Thanks again to you all.
  6. ncamountaindriver

    ncamountaindriver New Member

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    Alpo - thanks for the input. See my response to the general readership. You may be the closest to the answer as the grooves in this barrel appear very small in relation to the lands and the slugged ball did not appear to spiral as it was pounded through so it may not have been picking up the groove dimensions. However, this doesn't explain why the old original bullets are mic-ing out at such an odd measurement. So ... keep thinking, you appear to be coming up with the best answers yet. Thanks!







  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Beistegui Hermanos ( Beistergui Brothers ) are not still in business, their business was forcibly closed during the Spanish Civil War, after the war Franco only allowed four manufactures to continual ( the ones that were on his, the winning side ). The Beistegui Brothers not only sold their own firearms , they were distributors for several of the smaller " cottage " makers. So in fact, it is almost impossible to be able to say which ones were made by who, even if they are marked Beistegui. Only one revolver was marketed by the brothers, that which you have, a S&W copy. The rest of his sales were automatics based on the Browning 1906.
  8. ncamountaindriver

    ncamountaindriver New Member

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    thanks RJay - that is more info than I had on the Beistegui Bros. I had heard that along w/ other firearms they manufactured bicycles in their shop and sold many other things ,mechanical also. An interesting history is beginning to emerge of this nice old pistol. Sure ish I could figure out the cartridge mystery. I measured w/ a digital caliper today and got the same or LESS readings (by a thou.!) so I'm figuring I have an odd barrel and perhaps the old style of "heeled" bullet - though I didn't think the old box of ammo was THAT old! I guess I better pull a bullet and see if it is indeed a "heeled" slug w/ the larger dim hidden inside the brass.

    Thanks again for your input.

    EW
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I don't want to get into a long discussion on cartridge names and why a ".38" is really a .357" (or a .355" or a .360" or a .40"). But I will say that if I wanted to find a barrel made to strict SAAMI specs, I would not look on a 1920's Spanish revolver. Even a reasonably good maker like Beistegui had a somewhat lax attitude toward barrel dimensions. Some of those Spanish revolvers are marked "USE CARTRIDGES THAT FIT BEST", not a very exact caliber designation.

    I don't really recommend shooting the old revolver with anything, but that is up to you.

    Jim
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