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Old 11-25-2005, 01:12 PM   #1
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Hopkins and allen pistol

I own a 38 cal. Hopkins and Allen pistol. I have fired both modern loads and blackpower loads(both with the same grain 125) of powder. Some say never fire modern loads. My question is whats the difference since there both the same? I can see not firing a real hot load but both the blackpower and modern 38 ammo seem about the same(950') per second.
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Old 11-25-2005, 01:32 PM   #2
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I don't know anything about Hopkins & Allen pistols, but to address your question about the differences between a BP and a smokeless load with the same bullet weight and velocity, I have always heard that the issue is that due to the different burning rates of BP and smokeless, the pressure curve and peak pressure may be quite a bit different even with the same bullet weight/velocity, which in some cases makes shooting smokeless loads unsafe in older guns that were originally designed for BP. Of course, your pistol may be perfectly safe to shoot standard .38 smokeless loads out of, but like I said I don't know anything about them.
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:36 PM   #3
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Many cartridges still available today which were originally available as BP are loaded a little light because the manufacturer assumes some will fire them in real old guns and they are very liability conscious. The above may not be true for .38 special since many guns of modern manufactur are still out there. I think yours is likely a .38 S&W caliber, not special(?)
If you have any doubts about the safety of your gun you really need to have a gunsmith who knows blackpowder guns check yours.
MarkG's points about BP burning at different rates andhaving different peak pressure curves is a good point and these should not be ignored.
Your gun could shoot okay 100 times.
And go KA-BOOM!!!!! the 101st time.
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Old 11-25-2005, 04:12 PM   #4
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Thanks to the both of you for you help. Didn't realize the difference between BP and modern loads. I bought this in Wyoming and was told it was a 1898 model, but after a good cleaning I saw a 1904 date on the barrel and looking into the history of this company, they went out of business in 1912 or 1914. The 38 is in excellent shape but will have a gunsmith look it over and let me know if I should be using only BP loads only. Again Thanks!!!
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Old 11-25-2005, 05:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TommyGunn
I think yours is likely a .38 S&W caliber, not special(?)
IIRC there is only one .38 spec, and the original or proper name was ".38 S&W Special" as the cartridge was introduced by S&W; but when other companies started making guns chambered for the cartridge, they were simply marked ".38 Special" - I imagine the guys over at Colt would never ever consent to putting the letters "S&W" anywhere on one of their guns.... Note that the newest magnum cartridges that were introduced by Smith are called the "500 S&W Magnum" and the "460 S&W Magnum" but I imagine that as soon as ruger or whoever builds a competing product in the same chambering, the "S&W" will dissapear from the name.
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Old 11-25-2005, 06:15 PM   #6
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there's a .38 special and there was a .38S&W. the later being about 3/8" shorter in over all length then the special.
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