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  1. #1
    Member cuchulainn is on a distinguished road

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    38 Long Colt/ 38 special???

    I realize this may be a dumb question but here goes: What is the differences between 38 Long Colt and 38 Special? They both appear to use the same bullet and casing and the length also appears the same. But, I was told it wouldn't be advisable to fire 38 special ammo in a gun made for 38 Long Colt. Would it work the other way around (LC in a special)?

  2. #2
    Junior Member colt1971 is on a distinguished road

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    You really don't want to shoot .38spl ammo in a gun chambered for the .38LC. Best examples are the New Army & Navy revolvers. Only the last model of 1905 can actually shoot .38spl ammo, although it is not marked to that effect. The bore diameter of earlier models is different. In no event should .38spl+P ammo be fired in any gun chambered for .38LC or even those marked .38spl and made in the early part of the 20th century. Metalurgy and powder development changed dramatically from the beginning to the end of those 100 years.

    Catastrophic failure of the firearm and serious personal injury may result.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bmcgilvray is on a distinguished road

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    The .38 Long Colt is the shorter of the two with a case length of 1.03 " as compared to the .38 Special's length of 1.16". Most other case dimensions are practically the same.

    The .38 Long Colt originally offered a 150 grain lead bullet at 750 feet per second. The .38 Special offered a bit more spunk with a 158 grain lead bullet at a quoted 860 feet per second.

    My Colt Model 1901 Army chambered for the .38 Long Colt has a bore diameter of .362. The later Model 1903, which was also in .38 Long Colt, was manufactured with the tighter .358 bore, same as the .38 Special. I'm thinking most revolvers chambered for .38 Long Colt had the larger bore diameter though. They are a problem if hand loaded with standard .357-.358 diameter bullets. Bullets of proper diameter will do nicely. I've had good results from the .358 " hollow base wadcutter, the base of which expands to fill the bore and produces decently accurate results.

  4. #4
    Senior Member FieldShunt is on a distinguished road

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    From a slightly different angle, nowadays serious revo competition shooters use both Long Colt and Short Colt brass to build match ammunition in certain disciplines. This is especially true in Steel Challenge, ICORE revolver and USPSA revolver division. The shorter cases load a bit easier in moonclips and eject much more reliably.
    I recall even a couple of posters on the Brian Enos Forum saying that they made "major" with .38 Short Colt loads- that means a 158gr bullet, usually a Berry's plated round nose, travelling over 1050fps. Wow.
    Starline's doing a decent business in .38SC brass feeding this small market.
    As an added note, IDPA officially rejects the use of the shorter brass in their revolver divisions as cheating.
    Go to an ICORE match and you'll see lots of Short Colt brass in moonclips being thrown into Smith 627s and 686s. The Long Colt gets less use since it's the shortness that's the advantage.
    Running in the twelfth point, 600 volts on the meter, nothing but green boards.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bmcgilvray is on a distinguished road

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    "I recall even a couple of posters on the Brian Enos Forum saying that they made "major" with .38 Short Colt loads- that means a 158gr bullet, usually a Berry's plated round nose, travelling over 1050fps. Wow."

    I wonder what load they use in that short case to achieve that kind of velocity.

    Now wouldn't that load make the Banker's Special buck and roar!

  6. #6
    Senior Member FieldShunt is on a distinguished road

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    I remember getting nervous just reading it, and that was in terms of a .357-chambered 627.
    Even if I did retain what the charge and bullet was, I wouldn't repeat it out loud.
    That's Banker's Special would be roaring into many pieces, I'd say.
    Running in the twelfth point, 600 volts on the meter, nothing but green boards.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Toddwp is on a distinguished road

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    Can you use .38 long and .38 short Colt in .38 special revolver?

    I was wondering if you can shoot a .38 long or short colt in a .38 special/.357 magnum revolver? Some people say yes, but the diameter of a .38 special bullet is about .357-358" and the diameter of the .38 colt is .361 (similar to the .38 S&W). So you should not be able to shoot a larger bullet in a gun designed for a smaller bullet

  8. #8
    Senior Member Anibal is on a distinguished road

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddwp View Post
    I was wondering if you can shoot a .38 long or short colt in a .38 special/.357 magnum revolver? Some people say yes, but the diameter of a .38 special bullet is about .357-358" and the diameter of the .38 colt is .361 (similar to the .38 S&W). So you should not be able to shoot a larger bullet in a gun designed for a smaller bullet
    I think there were two different diameter sizes of the .38 Long Colt (and the same for the .38 Short Colt). The oldest ones were .361 inches (or was it ...375? I donít remember well). And the more modern ones that were .358 inches. Those ones (.358 inches) were used for the American Army.

    The more modern ones used a hollow base for in case being used in older revolvers in .38 Long colt caliber which have a longer diameter bore than the more modern ones.

    Forgive my bad English
    Anibal

  9. #9
    Senior Member kevin hines is on a distinguished road

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anibal View Post
    ....... The oldest ones were .361 inches (or was it ...375? I don’t remember well). And the more modern ones that were .358 inches. Those ones (.358 inches) were used for the American Army.

    The more modern ones used a hollow base for in case being used in older revolvers in .38 Long colt caliber which have a longer diameter bore than the more modern ones.

    Forgive my bad English
    Anibal
    You get your point across- your English is OK.
    The .38 Short and Long Colt cartridges were originally designed to be used in converted .36 caliber cap and ball guns. The first cartridge revolvers used the Rollin White/Smith & Wesson design of a chamber boered straight through the cylinder, so the cartridges were one diameter the whole length. In other words, the bullet and case were the same size, which would be the size of the barrel bore diameter, in the case of the .36, about .375-.377". A short, reduced diameter section at the base, or heel, of the bullet gave the case a place to grip the bullet. Today's .22 Long Rifle is a surviving example of this design.
    The grooves in the bullet to hold lubricant were, necessarily, unprotected and the lube either got wiped off (bad for the bullet and accuracy), or picked up dirt (bad for the barrel). When the Russians ordered revolvers from S & W, the specifically asked for a cartridge with the bullet inside the case, today's modern design. In nineteen-oh-something, the Army asked Colt to change the ammo and the barrels on their New Army revolvers to this "new" design (by then 30+ years old!).This made the barrels .357-or-so inches.

    EDIT:
    Just been to the local Barnes & Noble- the June Handloader magazine has an article on the .38 Long. Didn't read it, I don't have a gun in that caliber; but, if you can get it where you are, ther it is.
    Last edited by kevin hines; 05-28-2011 at 08:07 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bisley is on a distinguished road

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    Hello, I have a Colt re-make 1851 Navy .36 (Circa 1971) that I installed a Kirst Kartridge Konverter cylinder in .38 long Colt. At the time, I had no hollow or heel based bullets, but wanted to shoot badly. a soft alloy cast .38 bullet had an as cast dia. that was a snug push-fit in bore..but in no way would begin to take rifling. Using a .359 sizer die, I pressed a bullet in until flush with sizer mouth, this in turn was chucked up in lathe, and a round nosed milling cutter was fed into base .1" Using 3.0gr. Bullseye, I thought the best I could hope for was the very last band would expand enough to take rifling, and give some sembelance of accuracy. Imagine my surprise when a five shot group at 25yds. was about 5" high, but grouped well withen 2"! But the real surprise came when I dug some of those slugs out of the backstop...not only was the last band expanded...the WHOLE bearing surface of that bullet had expanded to groove dia. I shot some thru a S&W Mod. 19, with excellent accuracy.


 

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