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Thread: 38 S&W/38 Spl

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    38 S&W/38 Spl

    For the heck of it, I ran a .38 S&W case through a .38 Spl die. The rims are identical, and I use the same cast bullets in my Colt .38 S&W and Smith and Wesson .38 Airweight. The .38 S&W case sized down perfectly (and easily) to fit in the Airweight.
    Would the sized .38 S&W case be useable in the .38 Spl, as a .38 Short? I feel like I'm missing something.
    .357 to .38
    .9mm to .380 (9mm Kurz)

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    rintinglen's Avatar
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    Provided you had a 9mm crimp die, you could easily make "38 shorts" but just because you can do something is no reason you should. If you own a garage, you can jump off the roof but do you really want to? As an inveterate 357 shooter, I can affirm that the build up of crud in the chambers that results from shooting short cartridges in a long chamber is real and is a nuisance, albeit one easily remedied by the prompt use of a chamber brush and some solvent. Given that 38 S&W cases are relatively hard to come by, I'd trade them for the proper brass for my 38 special, or else save them for the 38 S&W Revolver of my dreams.
    But if you have a small mountain of brass that you are dying to use up, a 38 sizing die, a 9 mm case expander die and a 9 mm crimp die will fix you right up.
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  3. #3
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    No reason you can't shoot such in 38 SPL chambers, or 357 magnum chambers. To test 38 S&W pressures I do exactly as you suggest as my Contender test barrel is chambered in 357 magnum.

    If you're already loading for the 38 S&W then the seating/crimping die for that cartridge can be used. Or a 38 SPL seating/crimping die can be shortened. If shortened it can still be used, after adjustment in the press, to seat and crimp 38 SPLs. Or, as rintinglen suggests, a 9 mm seating/crimping die will also work.
    Larry Gibson

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  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    dupe deleted
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Jumping off a roof makes no sense - it's not safe. Shooting .38 "shorts" makes some sense to me, if it's safe. Basically, that was my question - is it safe to shoot sized .38 S&W brass in a .38 SP? Other than the crud build up (I sometimes shoot .38s in my .357, so I know about the carbon crud), I don't see a reason not to do it. I have plenty of .38 S&W brass, and a ton of .38 spl brass. It was just an idea for mild, easy rounds in a little .38 revolver. I load for .38 sp, .38 S&W and 9mm (including Largo), so I have the dies needed.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    My experience has been that R-P headstamped .38 S&W cases have a smaller head diameter ahead of the rim than Starline, Winchester, or Fiocchi and will enter some, but not all .38 Special and .357 revolvers. Other makes do not enter.

    The Accurate 37-149H heeled bullet for .38 Long Colt tolerates the long jump in .38 Special chambers with better accuracy if you choose to do this on a regular basis and reduces the "crud ring" effect.

    Accurate 43-200QL performs similarly in the .44 Special and .44 Russian

    Accurate 47-259H accomplishes the same thing in .455 MkII and .45 Schofield.



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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    So, I'm thinking that it can be done, but there's really no need to do it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    And if you need 38 S&W brass Starline makes it. I have one. Fun to shoot.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battis View Post
    For the heck of it, I ran a .38 S&W case through a .38 Spl die.
    Would the sized .38 S&W case be useable in the .38 Spl, as a .38 Short? I feel like I'm missing something.
    My parents were always telling me like in 'Christmas Story"--- "No kid, you'll shoot your eye out"
    But I can't see how it would be any different than shooting .38Spec. in a .357Mag., .44Spec. in a .44Mag.,Or .22 shorts in a LR chamber.

    My Dad had a old .38S&W Webley. He almost never shot it, but he had a box of ammo for it I reloaded a couple times.
    I used a .38/.357 sizer, but the other .38 dies wouldn't reach down far enough.
    I got a 9mm Luger expander & seater/crimp die to work for it.

    We didn't shoot it much, but it did fine.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 05-24-2020 at 08:50 PM.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    And if you need 38 S&W brass Starline makes it. I have one. Fun to shoot.
    But Starline, like Winchester and Fiocchi .38 S&W brass is of full head diameter and isn't going into a .38/.357 chamber unless you swage the head. R-P cases are smaller in diameter and go right in after sizing.

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  11. #11
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    In truth, 38 Special/357 Magnum brass differs markedly in case diameter (.379") from the 38 S&W (.386"). 9mm Makarov tungsten carbide sizing dies do good work on 38 S&W brass if the need arises.

    38 S&W bullet/throat diameters vary as well. My Colt Police Positive has .359" throats, S&W Regulation Police has .361" throating, and my 38/200 revolvers (S&W M&P and Webley-Enfield) spec at .363".
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  12. #12
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    I have two .38 S&W revolvers - a Colt Police Positive and an Enfield "Tanker." In each I use 158 gr cast bullets sized at .358" with Starline brass. The Enfield is not accurate but the Colt is. I have a box of vintage .38 S&W bullets and I pulled one - the bullet is 146 grs and measures .358". The powder in this vintage round is a solid cake.
    As I said, for the heck of it, I ran a .38 S&W Starline case through the .38/.357 die and it dropped right into my S&W Airweight. And that got me thinking and experimenting. And while I was tinkering, my wife was spreading mulch and pea stones...I'd rather tinker with ballistics. "I'll be right there as soon as I figure out this problem."
    The back story is that I went shooting with my daughter the other day. She has a Ruger LCR in .38, which she loves, but she doesn't really practice with it much - it has quite a kick. She tried the Colt Police Positive .38 S&W, and enjoyed it. So, I was wondering if the same round could be used in the Ruger. I know, use a lighter bullet and less powder for the Ruger, but then we're back to the mulch spreading...

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    38 long colt brass is what 38 special grew out of. I'm not familiar with how common it is as I don't load it currently. One thing you might consider is using a special case but seating the bullet deeper to get the air space down to where you have duplication of the 38SW load. Maybe crimping over the shoulder would be close enough? Or trim back special brass to get the desired length if colt brass isn't available. That's the way I'm approaching it.

    I just checked, and both SC and LC brass is available new.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 05-24-2020 at 07:29 PM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    38 colt is same as 38spl ---they had 2 the short and long

  15. #15
    Boolit Man
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    I just cut down 38 Special cases to the shortest length that would still work with the die set I had. Too much bother, just use TrailBoss powder and be done with it.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Yeah, I cut some 38 sp brass down to the 38 S&W brass size. I'll use 38 S&W load data (same bullet). I found a good description and history of the 38 on this site:
    https://www.guns.com/news/2011/08/25...ing-in-between

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battis View Post
    Jumping off a roof makes no sense - it's not safe. Shooting .38 "shorts" makes some sense to me, if it's safe. Basically, that was my question - is it safe to shoot sized .38 S&W brass in a .38 SP? Other than the crud build up (I sometimes shoot .38s in my .357, so I know about the carbon crud), I don't see a reason not to do it. I have plenty of .38 S&W brass, and a ton of .38 spl brass. It was just an idea for mild, easy rounds in a little .38 revolver. I load for .38 sp, .38 S&W and 9mm (including Largo), so I have the dies needed.
    The only time that the carbon crud would make any difference is IF you alternate between .38 special and .357 magnum during the same trip to the range. If you go to the range with only .38 specials, there will not be any problems, and that carbon ring can easily be removed when you clean the gun.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    My experience has been that R-P headstamped .38 S&W cases have a smaller head diameter ahead of the rim than Starline, Winchester, or Fiocchi and will enter some, but not all .38 Special and .357 revolvers. Other makes do not enter.

    The Accurate 37-149H heeled bullet for .38 Long Colt tolerates the long jump in .38 Special chambers with better accuracy if you choose to do this on a regular basis and reduces the "crud ring" effect.

    Accurate 43-200QL performs similarly in the .44 Special and .44 Russian

    Accurate 47-259H accomplishes the same thing in .455 MkII and .45 Schofield.



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    If the Accurate 43-200QL were to be sized through sizing die slightly larger than the bore of my Ruger 44-40 it may be what I need. I've had it throated but the chamber neck is now the limiting factor. As to the 38 S&W in a 38spl, I've done that but it serves no purpose that I can see over just shooting minimal powder charges in the 38spl brass. Maybe I don't shoot enough 38spls in my 357 at one outing or I clean my guns more often than some but shooting powder coated bullets, I've never had the "crud ring" problem. Gp

  19. #19
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    2.8 grains Bullseye under any 150-162 grain slug in .38 Long Colt brass is a real dandy load. I use 'em in my little Charter Arms Undercover.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

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