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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Consider the comments on this thread from TFL: http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214476

Specifically the comments by Person of Interest and DFariswheel. Since this is a Colt forum, I thought it might make a better discussion over here. You see the old Colt Advertisement saying that their Pre War Detective Specials (and PPS and OP) can handle just about any .38 Special round of that day, including the S&W .38/44 round. This is a fact that is supported by countless on this and other forums.

The main question for today is, can these old guns handle +P?

We have the Colt factory today saying, as Dfaris noted, NO. Perhaps the factory knows something we don't.

But then we have PoI saying that the current +P are the equivolent of what the standard .38 Special was 60 years ago. Perhaps the factory is being extra cautious nowdays with ambulance chasing lawyers lurking behind every corner.

From my experience, Colt told me the same thing about my PreWar Colt Official Police (a larger sturdier gun than the Detective Special). "No" they said. I've put between 1-200 rounds (probably more than that) of +P through that one. My hand is still there and the gun still intact. PHH and Cylinder & Slide told me it would be safe. One experienced gunsmith even told me that before these guns left the factory, each chamber was test fired for safety using 10 times (perhaps an exaggeration from my memory but make a point)stronger a load than anything I will ever put through them at any one time.

Everyone on the "yes" side agrees that giving these PreWar guns a steady diet of +P is not a good idea. It will ultimately wear the gun out loosening it up faster than with modern standard rounds. But that is not really the issue here, but rather whether the D frame gun is safe for the modern .38+P round (or even hand loads equivolent to the .38-44)
 

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I was going to reply to the TFL posting from POI, but I'd already said my peace - and it's my practice to avoid getting involved in internet pissing matches.

The long and short of it is that he is mixing measurement methods, which makes his conclusions suspect. An example: Jerry Miculek for years didn't want to attempt to break Ed McGivern's record, because we simply do not know how accurate (or inaccurate may be a better term) his timing gear was. Thus, anything that Jerry does with today's equipment cannot be readily compared to yesterday's.

The same is true in this discussion. First, with regards to pressure: the .38-44 ammunition was rated in CUP (copper units of pressure) and NOT PSI. They are not interchangable, and aren't even easily converted - CUP is not a perfectly linear measure, PSI is. Thus, unless one has a proper pressure test chamber and some original .38-44 ammunition, one really doesn't know what pressure (in PSI) the ammunition actually develops. (There used to be a good discussion of PSI vs. CUP in one of the reloading manuals - Speer, I think - but the current version doesn't have it included. I'll see if I can locate the article, as it was quite informative on this topic.)

The same is true for velocities. In those days, velocity was a calculated figure; today, we can measure directly. Again, without some original .38-44 ammunition to test, we simply don't know if the original velocity claims are valid.

Could the .38-44 be a super-hot round compared to today's fodder? Yep. Could it also be a lot weaker than we think it is? Yep. Without some original ammunition to test, and the proper equipment, we simply don't know.

That's why, in my little essay on the subject, I generally advise to stick to factory recommendations - always, of course, understanding the downsides of the decision.
 

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In my opinion, the 38-44 is "SAFE" to fire in the Detective Special, but not "good" for it.

Shooting any hotter ammo will increase wear and shorten the service life of the gun.

I'm not sure how the pre-war 38-44 compares to the +P+ ammo that was restricted to law enforcement for use ONLY in Magnum revolvers.
Kuhnhausen shows several Colt "D" frames that were blown up by as little as ONE +P+ hot load.

So if the question is "Will 38-44 level loads blow up a pre-war Detective Special", I'd say "No".
Will it be "good" for it.....again "No".

Why risk an increasingly collectible revolver shooting hot loads?
I think the thing to do if you want to shoot hotter loads is to buy a modern revolver that was specifically built to take it.

You could probably take a valuable pre-war Packard out on the highway and push it up to 100 miles per hour and drive it at that speed, but how long it will last under that is questionable.

You'd be smarter to buy a modern Honda or Mercedes for that and save the old collectible Packard for Sunday drives.
 

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Re: Pre War Colt Detective Special OK for Hot load

dfariswheel, you shouldn't to take being called a lawyer of all things! /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I'm just a little sick of all the gunshop hero's telling me what kind of round I should be shooting. Hell I hit what I'm shooting at real consistantly at 30 feet with a Colt Cobra loaded with 158 grain LRN. Since I hit what I'm shooting at with this load that's what I carry for my CCW permit. A hit is afterall what counts not a big bang. Try to avoid trouble. If it still seeks you out and God forbid you have to use a firearm, usually it's settled in less than six rounds or whatever the magazine capacity is of your weapon. A scumbag will go out and seek less formidable targets to steal from after that. We're not assaulting a fraking fort for Pete's sakes.

These are all just my opinions. I'm not trying to draw the flames.

Dave
 

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Re: Pre War Colt Detective Special OK for Hot load

I'm not going to write an essay on the subject, but I will give you my opinion. If it was my Detective Special of that vintage, I would ONLY shoot standard pressure .38 SPL ammunition; I would avoid +P and +P+ ammo altogether.

If I wanted/needed a snubnosed revolver that could safely handle stout loads, I would purchase something else.
 

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[ QUOTE ]


Why risk an increasingly collectible revolver shooting hot loads?
I think the thing to do if you want to shoot hotter loads is to buy a modern revolver that was specifically built to take it.





[/ QUOTE ] very well said, sadly there are some who must push everything they have to the max. i see it quite often in the car business. you`d be surprised at the people who buy a new mustang,{diesel pickup} install performance parts and run it to death, then bring it in for a warrenty repair, they act insulted/surprised when it`s not covered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
For me, out of all three of my Colt .38 revolvers, the Post War 1961 Official Police sees the most +Ps through it. But even this gun I have cut down on it as I don't want to wear it out before it's time. For all three guns Pre and Post OP and Post War Pre 1972 DS I limit them amount of +P I put through them...especially the DS (I have only put a dozen through it since I got it a year ago and it might see 6 more before the year is out). For defense, I always carry .38 Special+P LSWCHP 158 gr. (the weight I always try to stick with at the range and in public) Buffalo Bore manufacture of the same type of round also once in a blue moon sees action through an OP and I carry a spare speedloader full of those in case I need the extra punch. I would never fire these in my DS or even carry them in it unless my life absolutely depended on it.
If I want to put anything I want through the gun out of consistant practice without any worry to wear on the gun....I bring my Python to the range. It will handle anything in .38 Special from Corbon's to Buffalo Bore.

Dfariswheel,
I understand your take on wear and tear on the gun. You reminded me of something else Colt told me in the conversation. Colt said the same thing you said when they said +P was safe in my Post War Official Police. They said that gun was safe for +P with the understanding that it would cause accelerated wear on the gun. When I moved on to my PreWar Official Police the Colt-lady on the phone said "No." And she was talking about the Official Police (a larger sturdier gun than the Detective Special).
If I remember correctly, I called them and ask if it was SAFE for both the Pre and Post War OP.
 

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I really don't understand the need some people have to shoot +P loads in vintage guns. Especially so of range guns that normally don't get shot no further than 25 yards. Why the need for the extra speed?
 

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To which I'll add this:
If the only gun I had available was a Colt Detective Special, pre-war or post, you can be very sure I'd have it loaded with +P ammo.

When I used to carry a DS, I loaded it with +P, but practiced with standard .38 Special.

If all I had was a DS, I'd go with the attitude that "saving" the gun is nice, but I'd be more concerned about saving myself.

The difference is, most people don't HAVE to use an older DS for defense, so why over-stress a valuable gun.
 

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Man,this is really beating a "dead horse"(or Pony!) to death!

You get the same "opinions" on other Forums,as to what to fire in revolvers.

Only FACTS I am sure off;

Unless you are into "self inflicted pain"(masocism), SMALL lightweight revolvers are NOT fun to fire with "hot loads!

Steel ages! No,your prized pre war D.S. is not going to crumble into bits of metal in the safe,but it will no longer have the "flexibilty" under stress. Can't recall the number of older guns I have seen "break" a spring or firing pin "just" being manipulated.

And finally-NO reloads for self defense!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
[ QUOTE ]
To which I'll add this:
If the only gun I had available was a Colt Detective Special, pre-war or post, you can be very sure I'd have it loaded with +P ammo.

When I used to carry a DS, I loaded it with +P, but practiced with standard .38 Special.

If all I had was a DS, I'd go with the attitude that "saving" the gun is nice, but I'd be more concerned about saving myself.

The difference is, most people don't HAVE to use an older DS for defense, so why over-stress a valuable gun.

[/ QUOTE ]

All I have is a DS for a snub nose gun. Makes a good summer gun for light on the hip or pocket carry. I have around 10-12 handguns in my collection, don't want to go out and buy more just to get a 2006 snubbie when the DS will do fine for defense. (or even better as it has 6 shots instead of the modern snubbies that mostly have only 5 with the exception of the larger M-10 2 inch) Practice with standard and load +P for defense. Shouldn't be a problem. Just so long as it is safe and I am sure the gun won't explode in my face on the RARE occasions that +P rounds (Remington or BB) go through the gun. (especially when I NEED it most)
I have no desire to wear out any of my Colts but don't want them to be just dust collectors. They are still fine usable guns that will serve well for the purpose they were intended. I intend that these guns will be used and enjoyed one day by my great grandchildren. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 
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