caliber ?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by corsair, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. corsair

    corsair Member

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    Is there any advantage of a .38cal long over a .38cal short? Can I use a short in place of a long? I have a I J .38cal revolver with a short cylinder and a Colt .38cal Spec. with the standard long cylinder. To the point, can I use the shorts in the .38 Spec? TIA
     
  2. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

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    I'm no expert on this by a long shot, but my instincts tell me that even if this would work, and it might, it also might not be a good idea. There would be a bigger gap between the bullet and the barrel, that might cause lead to be spit out the sides. I don't even know if you could buy .38 shorts any more. Just shoot .38 wadcutters for practice, and plinking.
     

  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Once upon a time, Colt made a 38 caliber cartridge that they called (no big surprise here) 38 Colt. They eventually made it a little bit longer, and called it 38 Long Colt. 38 Colt was kind of a puny round, and it did not get real popular.

    In the same time frame, Smith and Wesson made a 38 caliber cartridge that they called (y'all see this comin', right?) 38 Smith and Wesson. This became popular as all get out. The 38 S&W round was a little bigger in diameter than the 38 Colt round. It would not fit in the Colt guns, and the Colt round, if fired in the S&W guns, would swell greatly and sometimes rupture.

    Pretty much, the only guns chambered for the Colt round were Colts, and various European cruddy copies of Colts and S&Ws. The much more popular S&W round was chambered, not only in S&Ws, but in H&Rs, H&As, IJs, and bunches of other domestic and foreign makers' guns.

    In the 1890s, the official army pistol was a Colt, chambered in 38 Long Colt. S&W, trying to get the military business, took the Colt round, lengthened it, and called it the 38 S&W Special. Chambered it in a new gun they designed called the Military and Police.

    If you read and understood this short history lesson, you will realize that your Iver Johnson is chambered in 38 S&W, while your Colt is chambered in 38 Special. The 38 S&W is a larger diameter round than the Special, and will not fit in the holes in the cylinder of the Colt.

    I could have just said, "No, it won't work", but felt like explaining why. :)
     
  4. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

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    I wasn't really sure if they would work or not. I knew the .38 Short Colt, was designed for use in converted .36-caliber cap-and-ball (muzzleloading) Navy revolvers, and was thinking that the acctual diameter of the round would be different. Thus, unsafe.
     
  5. corsair

    corsair Member

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    Thanks for the responses,and I get the drift. Remington makes a .38 short colt.125GR that I want to try inthe I J..The original thought was, is that the right ammo for 1922 I J. According to another poster on the I J forum any current manufactured ammo would do as long as the revolver is shootable. I was just wondering if the Rem. shorts I have for the I J would also be able to be fired in the .38 snubbie I have. I don't think I will chance it on Carvers observation about the lead possibly spitting. Any further insight on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again...And great info
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    38 Short Colt will work just fine in your 38 Special. The Short Colt is the parent case for the Special. It would be just like shooting 22 Shorts in your 22 Long Rifle. Kind of expensive, though. Before the recent craziness in ammo prices, you could get 38 Special for 15 dollars or less. 38 Short Colt, on the other hand, would run closer to 35 or 40.

    The Iver Johnson 38 revolvers were chambered in 38 S&W. 38 Short Colt (they just called it 39 Colt, until they came out with the 38 Long Colt) is the wrong cartridge. It will chamber. It will fire. The accuracy will suck, because the bullet is undersize for the barrel. And the case will swell greatly, and might rupture, because the case is undersize for the chamber. If you haven't already, don't buy the 38 Short Colt. Buy 38 S&W.

    And, depending on how old your Iver Johnson is, you might not want to fire anything in it. Guns made prior to 1900 are, generally, unsafe to fire with modern ammo. They were designed to be fired with black powder, and smokeless powder can turn them into a grenade while in your hand. Not fun.
     
  7. corsair

    corsair Member

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    Alpo. The I J is a 3rd model made in 1922. I can't locate the 38 S&W that are shorts, only one I can locate are the Rem. shorts. Can you or anyone advise to locate thye S&W shorts.
     
  8. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    .38 S&Ws are just that. There is no .38 S&W short.
     
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  10. corsair

    corsair Member

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    Thanks all. I really appreciate all the help