Sunday, March 16, 2014
.38 Not So Special
There's a really good article over on Forgotten Weapons about the .38 S&W, not the "Special," but the shorter round that preceded it. I think it's pretty interesting. The .38 S&W round dates back to 1877 as a black powder cartridge and has survived (barely) into the smokeless powder age, mostly due to the bazillions of S&W Victory Models that flooded the market for years.
My interest in the cartridge comes from the fact that my first handgun, a gift from my parents, was an S&W "Regulation Police" revolver in .38 S&W...got that gun for my 12th birthday! The "Regulation Police" was the 4-inch version of the S&W I-frame, the slightly smaller frame that predated the J-frame. The guns were also available in .32 as well. S&W started rolling them out in 1917-ish and they continued until the introduction of the beefier J-frame around 1960. The short-barreled version was I believe called the "Terrier."
When I was old enough to start carrying the little revolver, my father and I cooked up some "self-defense" reloads using swaged pure lead wadcutter we made on a C-H press over a stiff load of Bullseye. That made the little gun bark! I somewhat stupidly had the gun reblued back in the early 1980s, put Pachmayr grips on it and went totally tactical. Luckily, I had sense enough to save the original wood grips (unlike the wood presentation box for my Model 29 revolver).
One of these days I'll box it up and send it to Doug Turnbull for restoration.
Interestingly enough, Buffalo Bore makes a real self-defense .38 S&W round, with at 125-gr hard cast bullet at 1000 fps. A similar round, the ".38 Short Colt," a shortened .38 Special case made by Starline and NOT interchangeable with the .38 S&W (the S&W is slightly fatter, and also made by Starline) has achieved some success with ICORE shooters.