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Hi:
reference the original model Colt Troopers (1950-1960 era) were there any differences between
the .38spl and .357 Magnum cylinders other than the chamber's lengths being bored deeper for the slightly
longer .357 magnum cartridge ?
 

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Here is a side by side. The nickel is .357 "I" Frame.. the Blue is .38 special "E" frame. Hope that helps.

 

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I have wondered the same. I bought a .357 mag trooper brand new around 1971. I sold it. A few years ago I bought a nickle one in .38 special. I have some confusion about the fireing pin on the hammer as opposed to frame mounted. Also just the other day here there was a thread about the frame actualy being beefier with the frame mounted pin as opposed to hammer mounted. I also get confused about the "357" model as opposed the trooper model in .357 being simialtanisly being built at the same time what the differance was besides the trooper haveing two tone blue. Its one of those things I have heard explained but still for some reason I cant quite get clear on.
I also have a .22 trooper. My .357 trooper came with the wide hammer and larger target grips. My .38 trooper and .22 trooper has the narrow hammer and service grips. Now to farther confuse, we hear the differance was the two tone trooper was different as the .357 model was all bright blue. Well, my nickle trooper is all bright nickle. Actualy I had my 22 hammer built up and made to look exactly like my 357 trooper hammer so both would look like a matched set of guns at the time. I stupidly sold or traded off my .357 trooper. To my way of thinking I actualy liked it better for packing than a python because of the lighter barrel. When I worked we were issued colt offical polices. I broke the rules for a few years. I put a set of service grips on my trooper and carried it at work instead of the OP. At a glance they looked the same in the holster unless a sharp eyed gun nut noticed the adjustable rear sight. Thats why I quit the practice. Another guard pointed it out to my captain friend. My friend just said I dont see that! And walked off. Of course he knew I was doing it for years but now that a PITA fellow officer had pointed it out I quit doing it to keep my captain friend out of trouble.
 

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This is from Defariswheel :

The "I" frame was also beefed up in the firing pin area.
The "I" frame was made without the firing pin bushing of the "E" frame and this and the frame mounted firing pin allowed more metal in that area.​
 

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During the days of the "E" frame Trooper and "I" frame 357 Model, the 357 Model cylinder had higher level heat treating then the .38 Special Trooper cylinder.
This is why you couldn't simply re-chamber a .38 Special cylinder to use the .357 Magnum.

The Trooper and the 357 Model were made during the same time frame from 1953 to 1960-61.
However, during that time there WAS no .357 Magnum Trooper.

During that time frame, the Trooper was an "E" frame (firing pin on the hammer) and was made only in .38 Special and .22LR.
The 357 Model was an "I" frame ( firing pin in the frame) and was made only in .357 Magnum.

In 1960-61 the 357 Model was not selling all that well and Colt decided to simply combine the Trooper and 357 models into one line.
What they actually did was discontinue the Trooper "E" frame and re-name the "I" frame 357 Model as the Trooper.
After that the Trooper was an "I" frame revolver available in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum.

As for the "I" frame being heavier, the only difference is that machine work necessary to allow a frame mounted firing pin required less metal removal then the hammer mounted firing pin. This left more metal in the critical breech face area.
That, along with no firing pin bushing in the frame and higher level heat treating made the frame stronger.
 
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