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Thread: 38 vs 38 special

  1. #1
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    38 vs 38 special

    What is the difference ?

    Can they be fired in the same gun?

    Whats so special?

    PB
    "Air Force / Policeman / Fireman / Man of God / Friend of mine / R.I.P. Steve Lamy"

  2. #2
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    I think there are a few different 38s. MAC had a video on the Victory model M&Ps that were chambered in a short 38 round. It was called the 38-200 or 38 S&W or something like that. However it was to fat to fit in a 38 Special M&P.
    C co 1/30th Infantry Regiment
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    It is complicated... Since this is searchable in the future, will provide a bit too much simplistic detail.

    Similar to the .22 caliber, there are numerous.38 rounds. The common .22LR with often chamber and shoot .22 Short, .22 Long and others, but will not fit the .22 Magnum.

    Common in the US is the .38 Special, which was hotrodded version of the earlier .38 Short, .38 long and .38. Short and Weak (S&W). As noted above, the .38 S&W is real close to the UKís .38-200, but actually just a bit smaller. I get mediocre accuracy in my old .38-200 Webley. In other words, not even the bore size is consistent across all the .38 cartridges.

    Generally, you cross reference the gunís markings and manufacturing data to know what is safe. Then you make a reasonable guess or, even better, take it to a knowledgeable gunsmith to have it checked out. There are caveats, as some manufacturers even made guns for differing .38 chamberings at the same time or folks like Colt refused to refer to some cartridges by their main competitors name (S&W). The risk is a lot lower the newer the gun, especially in the last 50 years.

    The easiest way to get a rough feel is to post up a picture of the handgun, serial/markings, etc. I also frequent specific forums specific to those types of guns.

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    "Air Force / Policeman / Fireman / Man of God / Friend of mine / R.I.P. Steve Lamy"

  5. #5
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    As discussed there is a slew of different 38 revolver cartridges ( let alone multiple 38 auto pistol cartridges too)
    38 short colt
    38 long colt
    38 smith and Wesson special ( which was developed by lengthening the 38 long colt case)
    The slightly larger diameter 38 S&W ( case shorter than the special ) known in England as the 38/200
    38 colt new police ( which is identical to the 38 S&W- but as colt didn’t want to put the S&W name on the barrel legend renamed the cartridge, and modified it slightly by having a flat nose bullet as well)

  6. #6
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    Wiki has decent information on the 38 special. Look through the History section: LINK
    As mentioned, don't confuse it with ammunition marked "38 S&W" which won't fit in the chambers of a 38 Special.

    The cartridge has earned a reputation for extraordinary accuracy.
    It was offered as an improvement over the anemic 38 Long Colt. To prevent the new ammunition from being chambered in the existing guns that were not proofed for the new cartridge, the 38 Special was made longer than the 38 Long Colt. Being longer it also held more black powder...but the 38 Special was developed as the transition from black powder to smokeless occurred and there is plenty of space for an appropriate charge of smokeless powder, offering great versatility.

  7. #7
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    38sw is 38/200. Shorter and wider than the 38spl. It's the caliber the Brits used throughout WW2. It's what Oswald used to kill the cop after fleeing for his sniper spot.

    38spl can be shot in a 38sw if the cylinder is reamed out. However, accuracy is so-so since the 38sw is a wider bullet. A lot of SW Victory models that went to England were later sent back and many had the cylinder either swapped out or reamed to use the common 38spl

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    the .38-200 is a .360 dia. bullet. the case is shorter than the .38 special, but fatter,so they will not fit into a .38 special cylinder. the 200 was suppose to be the weight of the bullet, but lately the bullets are down to about 150gr. at around 600 FPS or so! and yes, I reloaded them with a 200 swc bullet for the Webleys, the triggers where horrible. (to me there was no reason to keep them.) I like CZ 9mm's, uberti single action pistols, Rugers in .327 mag. and a few S&W's in .357, 41 mag. .44 special, and in .45 LC.
    Pat

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