Colt Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

I know this question has been asked a zillion times, but since I'm still confused I would appreciate some further clarification.

I have two older Cobras.. Both exposed ejector rod models, probably manufactured in the 1960's or thereabouts. I have one DS, manufactured in 1982.

I don't shoot ANY +p ammo in any of them, however, I keep them each loaded with SJHP +p's.

I don't think 6 +p's will destroy any of them, and if 6 rounds does in some way degrade the timing or whatever, it won't be until I've used the 6 in the cylinder.. We are talking strictly personal defense, no other option, type use here.

I have recently read where the present +p ammo is in fact not that big a deal, as older +p ammo was actually more powerful. Is that true? Or, present +p ammo is not much hotter than the old "regular" rounds.

I love the old Colt D frames, and I wouldn't do anything to damage them. But if I had to use one of them for personal defense I would use +p's. Under those circumstances I want the absolute best "man-stopping" round I can get, and conventional wisdom would in fact be that the round would be SJHP +p.

Any input would be appreciated.

Best Wishes,

JP
 

·
*** ColtForum MVP ***
Joined
·
15,686 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

The post-1972 Colt steel and aluminum heavy shrouded barrel "D" framed guns were factory rated for +P ammo.

The pre-72 guns WERE NOT, especially the aluminum models.

With that said, a good many people practiced with standard .38's and loaded up with +P for "business".

6 rounds of +P aren't going to damage your Colt's since the damage is a cumulative thing after shooting a number of rounds.

I'd just do that: Practice with .38's and load the +P ammo for carry. Should you have to use it, wear and tear on your gun will be the least of your worries.

There is somewhat of a dispute over the older Detective Special and +P ammo.
The pre-war Detective Special was rated by Colt for use with the old 38-44 load, which was pretty hot.
Whether it was hotter than the current +P or even whether the current +P is LESS hot than the earlier +P, I don't know.

All I can say is, there are no more Colt small frame revolvers being made, and no replacement frames available, so if shooting lots of hot ammo is going to have to be balanced against wearing out a gun that's going to get more and more expensive to replace.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,129 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

i think you have answered your own question. the d/s is rated for a limited amount of +p. the cobra IN MY OPINION would handle several hundred maybe more before damage. having said that neither is rated for +p+ and useing them in the cobra is asking for trouble.any alloy frame gun is really intended for ease of carry and long life is not a consideration.as with anything common sense and moderation is required.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
267 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

Dfariswheel,

I have often wondered about why Colt would rate the pre-war guns for the 38/44 when it would have been quite hot for the gun. I have a couple of conjectures and I would be interested in your insights.

1) It was a production gun, and every smith in town knew how to time one, how to fix one, and if it stretched they would tell the customer to replace it or Colt would. Maybe?

2) It was a marketing strategy. They figured few folks would actually shoot more then a cylinder full of 38/44's before they quit and the gun could take it. If they did more, then option 1 kicks in.

3) The guns were just built better than today (unlikely).

4) The 38/44 was not as hot as we think it was.

I think #4 is unlikely because I have chronoed original 38/44 high speed ammo out of my Heavy Duties and it seemed to approach what it was supposed to do. Not bad for 75 year old ammo. I found that compared to todays rounds, it was very close to "commercial" 357 magnum levels of velocity and power.

Any insights?

by the way, the 38/44 is a hobby of mine. I just bought a 1939 38/44 Outdoorsman with the original box, and factory target. It is a "gem", but now I have to reshoot my 38/44 pictures. The herd grew a bunch over the last 3 months....
 

·
*** ColtForum MVP ***
Joined
·
15,686 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

I'm not "up" on the intricacies of the 38-44, so my best guess is a mix of #1 and #2.

As for #3, the post-war Colt's were heat treated to a higher level.
The old pre-war Colt's were known for the softer frames and cranes.

If you're an NRA member, you might try writing to the Dope Bag and asking their experts for their knowledge on this.

Since I'm not up on the 38-44, how about some ballistics comparison between the standard .38 Special, the .38 Special +P and the 38-44.

I'm not sure just how much hotter the 38-44 is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
267 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

Out of my guns (5" Heavy Duty's) it basically breaks down like this (all assuming 158 lead bullets).

Original 38/44 ammo 1041 (5) (some of my older stuff only did 950+/-)
+P+ 38 special 979 (5")
+p 38 special 863(5")
38 special 757 (5")

I have chrono'ed a lot of factory now out of my HD's as I investigated the 38/44 power levels and found you could break down the levels by about 100 fps per step. Or more simply, 38 special is 750, +p is 850, +p+ is 950, 38/44 is about 1050. The next step is 357 magnum at 1150 for a 5" mild load or 1250 for a 5" HOT load.

I have thought about dope bag, but I wanted to chrono more factory 357 mag loads and my reloads so I have a coherent story. It is so much easier to write an intelligent question when you have facts vs. just saying "tell me about the 38/44?". I figure if I can say, "Tell me about the 38/44 in reference to the actual measured results of .... and what guns could this be fired out of?"

I have a long overseas job to do here next month so I will try and write up an internet "book" on the 38/44 and what I have learned. I will let you know when I get it done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,386 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

Hi,
I suspect the issue on which guns are "rated" to handle which ammo is because of the point of impact variation between the different rounds rather than the pressure question. I always carried at least two guns when I was working the street. My second one was usually a Colt or S&W 2 inch model in my pocket.... As we had to qualify with them if we were going to carry them, my DS digested a lot of .38 Special +P loads. I found that when shooting at longer distances the point of impact of the bullet vs the point of aim was radically different between regular and +p loads. My DS would shoot regular standard velocity .38 special ammo to point of aim at 25 yards... with +P police loads the point of impact was off by about a foot ... I always had to correct the point of aim to hit the right area of the target for score... Something to consider if you are practicing with regular loads and then change to Hi Velocity stuff for personal protection... Bob Best
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
Re: Colt Cobras/Detective Special and +p\'s

While the point of aim,can be an issue,for close range defense,you DON'T need MOA accuracy.21 feet and under!!!

Like Peter,I have loaded thousands of rounds of 38/44s,hard casts and gas checks in the 158-173 gr. weight. Velocity,6" bbls, run between 1050-1150 fps. I use a slightly stronger load in .357 magnums,but they don't exceed 1250 fps,as my old body just can't take an extended string of them anymore,and while potent,the 125 jhps,seem to strain a gun more.

Pre war Colt catalogs,certainly list 38/44's as OK for their guns,as do those in the 50's,I have,and .38/44s are more powerful than the +Ps(but I have always wondered about the pressure of those earliest Lee Juras Super Vels?? A "narc" pal,carried them in his 50's vintage D.S. in the 70's,and they were HOT!)

Just to add "fuel" to the debate,no less an authority than Keith warned against 38/44s in Colt Officer's Models,and he'd seen several "shot loose"-but NOT exploded-by CONTINUED use of factory 38/44s as well as his HOT handloaded 38/44s(some up to 173 grs.). HMMMMM???

Then we have a recent picture on the S&W Forum of S&W advertisements from 1940,touting the 2" M&P,saying it was safe for 38/44's-yup,its there in print-as was one for the 1950 Chiefs Special,saying it could fire the 38/44's. Any serious S&W type knows that M&Ps,prior to around 1957,are NOT considered able to stand up to steady use of even modern +Ps,and 38/44s were forbidden in the S&W catalog,let alone for the Chiefs! Sounds like the sales dept. NOT consulting engineering!

One problem of light weight revolvers,firing hot 38's in the 50's,at least according to Jeff Cooper,was that sometimes the pronounced recoil with the 38/44s would cause some bullets to break their crimp,and project beyond the front of the cylinder,tying up the gun! Seen it happen once in my alloy cylinder Courier,using some fairly hot Norma .32 SWL's.

In any event,BE SAFE!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top