Old Ammo-too old to shoot.

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by DrFootball, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    Ok folks, hear is the questions( no I don't know Everything, no one does). FIL left me and the Mz. Some old ammo,..probably from the 1960's. 2boxes of 38Spl. And 1 box of 38S&W. What models shoot the S&W round, and what does the ammo cost today in that caliber? Is it worth picking up an older gun that can chamber that ammo and shoot it.( for fun or in Comp.)?

    On the 38Spl. Even if 40 years old( does not look rusted at all) can we shoot this ammo( not +P) in any modern Revolver?


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  2. Bayou

    Bayou Active Member

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    I have shot 38 spl ammo older than 40 years in a modern revolver. To do this, I was:

    1. Assured to myself that it was factory ammo, and not someone's unknown reload, and

    2. The cartridge looked good in all respects - no signs of corrosion, pitting of the case or compromised integrity in any way.

    I actually shot a vintage WW I .45 ACP round in a modern revolver not too long ago. I was a hang fire with a bit of a delayed detonation. But it definitely went bang........
     

  3. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    Ok great, thanks. We have plenty of Centerfire Ammo, but these two boxes are def, from the late 60's..


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  4. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You can shoot 38 S&W in the 38 spl or 357 mag revolvers. The 38 spl is a hotter load and about 1/8" longer than the 38 S&W just like the 357 is a little longer than the 38 spl. This was done to prevent the hotter loads from being fired in the weaker guns. I have factory ammo from the 70's that shoots very well.
     
  5. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    No, JTJ they are too fat to even fit in the chamber. You were thinking of 38 short colt shells.
     
  6. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    Maybe-----

    38 S&W is NOT "in the same family" as 38 Special. The baby of the 38
    Special bunch based on case dimensions is the 38 Short Colt.

    38 S&W uses a larger diameter case, and in it's original loading used a bullet
    that was roughly .003 larger in diameter that 38 Spl.

    It may or may not chamber in a 38 Spl. gun, and the pressure may be higher
    because of the larger bullet.

    38 S&W was originally for small (usually top break) pistols by S&W and others
    in the 1800's. It also fits some Webley and Enfield revolvers, and several swing out cylinder models by several manufacturers. It's headed toward
    obsolete---no one I know of currently makes a gun in 38 S&W.
     
  7. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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    38 S&W cases are a larger diameter than 38 special. They will not fit in the chamber of a 38 special. I reload for both.

    Old cartridges are a crap shoot. I would not be afraid to fire them if they are not corroded and are factory ammo. But I had some WWII 8MM Mauser ammo that I got with a rifle of the same. But when I tried to shoot the ammo I had to hit each primer 3 or 4 times to get it to go bang. My new handloads went bang every time. So it was definitely the ammo. I ended up breaking down all the old ammo and using the powder and bullets in new cases.
     
  8. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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    New 38 S&W ammo is very hard to come by. I would not buy a gun to be able to shoot a box of ammo. If you want an old gun just because you want it, that is different. But if you don't reload you may never be able to shoot the gun again unless you get lucky and find some ammo on the internet.

    I would not be surprised if you could sell that box of ammo for top dollar.
     
  9. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have seen 38 S&W fired in a 38 spl but maybe he had a larger than normal cylinder bore . I did check my loading book and you are right it is larger in diameter. Case is .007 larger and bullet is .003 larger. Rim is the same at .440
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  10. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    That's a good point! Definitely see if any of that old ammo has more collector value than just using it as throw away range ammo.
     
  11. Winchester94

    Winchester94 New Member

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    .38 S&W, to my knowledge, was primarily used in S&W, Iver Johnson, and other brands in too break revolvers. I believe S&W made a double action, maybe a model 30, in the round too. The ammo, I believe, is pretty hard to find and probably expensive when you do find. A buddy of mine had an Iver Johnson chambered for it and it was very pleasant too shoot.

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  12. Winchester94

    Winchester94 New Member

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    Also, I believe the bullet is larger in diameter than the .38 Special so I don't suggest shooting but I'm no expert.

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  13. s4s4u

    s4s4u New Member

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    I wouldn't let the age of the ammunition preclude me from shooting it, but it may be worth more to a collector than blasting away. If kept high and dry it should work just fine.
     
  14. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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    I would not be suprised if someone was willing to pay $100 for a box of ammo to be able to shoot Grandpa's old gun that has been in family for 100 years.

    It would not be worth that to me. But I see people paying $75 for a brick of 22LR at a gun show!
     
  15. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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  16. texaswoodworker

    texaswoodworker New Member

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    A lot of old revolvers are chambered for the 38 S&W (mostly top break revolvers), which BTW is NOT compatible with guns chambered in 38 S&W Special.
     
  17. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    .. Buy a Medusa.. ;)
     
  18. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    The 38 S&W's are only a half a box. I think my FIL had an over under with the 38 S&W on the bottom and 12Ga. On top. The 38 Spls' didn't fit in his J frame, but I think it had too much buildup in the Cyl. That was never cleaned after he stopped carrying it( because he had a newer one). My BIL tried shooting it and the timing was off.


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  19. natman

    natman Member

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    It's not worth buying a gun just to shoot up one box of 38 S&W. Don't try to shoot it in a 38 Spl, even if you can cram it into it.

    Yes.