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View Full Version : can I shoot a 38 super in a S&W 38 special


Baja Jones
08-03-2011, 3:26 PM
I know this may sound like a dumb question from a fairly new shooter but.
A 38 special can be fired from a 357 and the round is .145 shorter.
Why can't a 38 special +P rated S&W fire a 38 Super that is .125 shorter than the special, or can it?
The bullets are all .357

InGrAM
08-03-2011, 3:32 PM
.38 special is rimmed and the 38 super is semi-rimmed. The 38 special is meant for a revolver and the 38 super is meant for a pistol. They are different.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Super

DVSmith
08-03-2011, 3:38 PM
The rim on the 38 super is a smaller diameter and the case is a larger diameter:
Rim 38 special .440
rim 38 super .406

Case 38 special .379
case 38 super .384

JTROKS
08-03-2011, 3:55 PM
If it was a SHTF/ITEOTWAWKI situation and your 38 spl revolver rated for +P+ can chamber the 38 Super round then why not. For regular world range practice, why even do it, since the price on 38 Super is alot more than 38 Spl.

kmca
08-03-2011, 3:56 PM
and the bullets are almost the same, but not quite ;)

BigDogatPlay
08-03-2011, 4:03 PM
Prolly have to have the gun modified for moon clips to start with, and have the cylinder rechambered a bit to accommodate the larger diameter, and shorter, case. There'd be some significant freebore in the cylinder before the pill hit the chamber throat.

Aside from that the SAAMI limit specs are:

.38 Super +P 36,500 PSI
.38 Special +P 20,000 PSI

Probably be better to base it on a cylinder rated for .357 Magnum.

scarville
08-03-2011, 4:26 PM
I do not encourage shooting anything out of a gun it was not designed for. I have never tried shooting a 38 super out of a 357 and I doubt that I will unless it comes down to a matter of life and death. That said...

The short answer is yes it can be and has been done. However, it may not work in your revolver. The case is about .005" larger in diameter so it will chamber in some guns but not in others. Also, the rim may not reliably engage the extractor star so you may end up poking the empties out with a pencil. I read somewhere that bad guys in the 30's sometime used the 38 super in revolvers because it penetrated auto bodies and the early vests better than the 38 spl of the day.

I was told by a guy who did try it that only Winchester and Magtech ammo worked in his test gun. IIRC, he used an N-frame S&W -- a model 28 maybe.

Baja Jones
08-03-2011, 7:12 PM
Thanks for all the advise.
The gun is a new S&W Bodyguard and the rounds will chamber in the cylinder. I am headed into black bear country in the High Sierra and do not usually encounter bears above 9500 ft this time of year but.... After reading how woefully under powered the 38 is against those critters I found the 38 super round with 3 times the poop and I guess they will work in a pinch. I would be carrying a 357 but it is in line on a soft DROS behind the new Glock 22 and we are headed up country tomorrow.
So do I have this correct. The gun should not explode in my hand 10/4?
Thanks
Stuart

redcliff
08-03-2011, 7:53 PM
Really, you're planning on doing this because the .38 super is a potentially better stopper on a black bear? How well will it work if you get light firing pin strikes, or the cylinder does grenade in your hand?

Just pick up some .38 special +p and forget about shooting ammunition your handgun is not chamberred for.

JTROKS
08-03-2011, 7:53 PM
There are a handful of gunsmiths that will modify a 357 wheelgun to shoot 38 Super by using moon clips and fitting it with a new cylinder specifically designed for the Super. OR you can just buy one of S&W PC 627, as you can see the cylinder is shorter with the barrel set back for accuracy and reliability.

http://gastatic.com/UserImages/4028/952291039/pop_wm_2217150.jpg

scarville
08-03-2011, 9:02 PM
So do I have this correct. The gun should not explode in my hand 10/4?
I don't know. The 38 spl +p has a SAAMI recommended pressure limit of 20,000 psi, the 357 magnum is 35,000 psi and the 38 super is 36,500 psi. I have no idea how close factory ammunition comes to that limit. Most revolvers are designed to withstand their rated ammunition for many thousand of rounds. However, the Bodyguard, IMO, is not designed for maximum strength but for easy concealment. It is for the person needing a firearm that can be concealed while wearing summer clothes or office attire.

I'll add a can of bear spray to redcliff's advice.

Riodog
08-03-2011, 10:46 PM
Just to cut to the chase and not clutter the discussion with all the bullsh*t, YES you can if it will fire. Some 357's will chamber and fire 38 supers and some will not. It's the same idiot discussion as shooting a 22 lr in a 22 mag. If you have no experience with it then just shut your piehole. Basically the only difference between the rounds -outside of length and .001 dia, is taper.
Rio

redcliff
08-04-2011, 4:31 AM
Just to cut to the chase and not clutter the discussion with all the bullsh*t, YES you can if it will fire. Some 357's will chamber and fire 38 supers and some will not. It's the same idiot discussion as shooting a 22 lr in a 22 mag. If you have no experience with it then just shut your piehole. Basically the only difference between the rounds -outside of length and .001 dia, is taper.
Rio

The OP has a 38 special revolver, not a .357 magnum revolver. And Scarville posted the SAAMI pressure differences.

r3dn3ck
08-04-2011, 6:07 AM
which were pretty dramatic.

T&A Armory
08-04-2011, 12:26 PM
There are a handful of gunsmiths that will modify a 357 wheelgun to shoot 38 Super by using moon clips and fitting it with a new cylinder specifically designed for the Super. OR you can just buy one of S&W PC 627, as you can see the cylinder is shorter with the barrel set back for accuracy and reliability.

http://gastatic.com/UserImages/4028/952291039/pop_wm_2217150.jpg


These are still available from certain distributors and are on the list.

El Gato
08-04-2011, 12:33 PM
Aside from that the SAAMI limit specs are:

.38 Super +P 36,500 PSI
.38 Special +P 20,000 PSI

Probably be better to base it on a cylinder rated for .357 Magnum.

Been here and done this... with a single action .357... no problems and with really hot super loads...due to having a bunch and having sold my super gun at confiscatory profits by the by.....
but blew some primers by the way...
and have gotten a bit smarter since I've gotten older... maybe not wiser.. but who knows....

Shooting supers in light-weight revolvers ...chambered in spl....This is a really good opportunity to blow you gun up or at least stretch the frame depending upon the frame material...some .38 S&W guns...really old ones.. will chamber the super... talk about dangerous!!!!

we used to have an ammunition "store" here in town who often gave super rounds to folks who were coming out to gun class and said folks often didn't pay attention to what was going on... then would complain their air-weight thunder button would hurt their hands... and wouldn't extract real well... one of the things that made me start bringing a variety of factory ammo to gun class....

would not do this... spoken from someone who has....
in a heavy .357 ... no problem...