Very old .38 S&W

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by StinkyLinkZ, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. StinkyLinkZ

    StinkyLinkZ New Member

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    Hey guys, this is my first post on this forum. I just found it while googling around to find out what kind of ammo my gun shoots. So here's the deal, I got a very old S&W 38 from my friend's dad and I've shot it before. But we shot it before it was my gun and I never looked at the ammo casing since it wasn't mine. (Makes sense right? I don't care what it shoots if I don't buy the ammo) Since then it has come into my possession and I have no idea what it shoots. I have some pictures of it. The 38 special is too long and I tried to put it in a couple times and it seems to get stuck at the end or something. I'm not sure what kind of ammo it shoots and I'm trying to figure it out so I can buy some more ammo and go have some fun with this revolver.

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    There is basically nothing written on the gun, so don't go thinking I'm that clueless. That is a dud .38 special in the pictures. I tried to see if the bullet portion would even fit in the nose of the gun and it doesn't. So I think it is a smaller diameter than the .38 special.

    Hope you guys can help!

    Thanks
  2. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

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    If a 38 spc fits in the cylinder then it is of 38 caliber but you have a 38 S&W, not to be confused with a 38 special. Completely different round. Same bullet diameter but a 38 special would blow that gun in 2 pieces. 38 S&W came in two different powders, black powder and smokeless powder. Smokeless being more modern. We would need some more info to decifer if that were a black powder or smokless gun. Do not shoot modern smokeless ammo in a black powder gun either if you so happen to stumble across some 38S&W.
    The bullet won't fit in the muzzle b/c it is slightly oversized compared to the barrel. They all are. 38 S&W bullet is .357 in diameter, a bore of a .38 pistol "should" measure around .354.

    Looks to be a old Iver Johnson, half to sick Jim on this one.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  3. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I agree that it's not a S&W. I don't see any sign of the grip safefty that all S&W Hammerless had.
    It also looks like it was pretty badly rusted and then scrubbed and cold blued at some point. I don't think I would fire it even with BP loads.
  4. StinkyLinkZ

    StinkyLinkZ New Member

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    Okay, it's smokeless because when I shot it I don't remember black powder. I found an old casing from the gun! I have been told that it was a 38 S&W which I know is not the special. Here is a shot of the casing:
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    It says W-W 38 S&W on it. If anyone can send me in the direction to purchase this ammo, awesome!
  5. kobsw

    kobsw Member

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    SL.. Your gun appears to be an Iver Johnson 2" top break bicycle gun. The grips are called owl grips with the letters IJ around the screw hole.

    Somewhere on the barrel it should indicated .38 S&W ctg. As others have already mentioned this is not .38 special. Good news is that if the gun is .38 S&W you should be able to get your hands on it since it's still being manufactured today.

    The gun's finish is not original but if someone gave it to me I'd take it too.

    Enjoy a nice old shooter.

    Best,

    Kobsw
  6. StinkyLinkZ

    StinkyLinkZ New Member

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    I kinda already knew the finish wasn't original, guess I should have mentioned that. Haha. The repaint/finish on the gun seems to have taken the wording right off. I wish I could read anything on it. I'll look for some ammo that you mentioned. My local shops don't seem to carry it though.

    I understand what you mean, it's not half bad for being free. Just have to find some ammo.

    Thanks for all the help.
  7. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    Because you shot a smokeless .38 S&W in the gun does not mean the gun was MADE to use smokeless powder.
    I wouldn't shoot it at all. With a finish that bad, it couldn't possibly be in good mechanical shape.
  8. Brisk44

    Brisk44 New Member

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    Look on the inside of the top strap for a serial number also beneath the left grip on frame. The serial # will give you year made and from that we can determine if it's black powder or smokeless.
  9. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    It is an Iver Johnson but not the "Cycle" model which is a Small Frame. This is a Large Frame Safety Hammerles Automatic Revolver. It is a Third Model made sometime after 1908. 1909-1941. This also means it is designed for modern smokeless ammo, however I highly agree with the rest of the folks here in as it may not be safe to shoot simply on the basis where it apears to have been badly rusted at some point, enough so that not a marking was salvaged. It's integrity as a shooter has to questioned. Of course that's your call, folks are only offering friendly words of caution, not getting into your business. Heck, we love you man!!! But Seriously I would above all else check the timing on "all 5" chambers first.
    And yeah, check those locations mentioned by Brisk44, you might get lucky and we can narrow down the exact date of manufacture. God speed and may the forum be with you!
  10. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    Just a thought but the end shot of that cylinder looks super clean. Is there any chance that it might be finished with a heavy texture rather than rust pitted?
  11. popgun

    popgun New Member

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    most commercial 38 S&W ammo is loaded weak because of old revolvers like yours.
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