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Old 02-18-2006, 12:44 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Couple questions about .38/.357

I'm getting my first revolver - SW 686 Stocking dealer special (5", 1/2 lug 7 round wood grips, big smiles). Hope to pick it up this coming week. My police chief is very supportive of 2nd amendment stuff and is happy to get me my handgun permits in a very short time (I'm in NJ). But I digress.

First question - since you can shoot .38's in a .357, just exactly what is the real diameter? My wife asked me and my mumbling and stumbling quickly revealed my incompetance (like she didn't already know).

Second question - what are the issues of shooting .38's in a .357? Cleaning, erosion of the chambers, others?

Someone mentioned about not shooting too much (target) for fear of wearing out the firing pin on the hammer. Huh? is that true?

Guess I'm looking for a primer on revolvers, in reader's digest version.

Thanks in advance for your help.

waterman is offline  
Old 02-18-2006, 01:04 PM   #2
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The true diameter of a .38 Special is, ready? .357". The .357 Magnum case is longer.

You can shoot .38 Special in a .357 Magnum revolver. Some revolvers in .357 Magnum aren't quite as accurate with .38 Special, but that's not usually the case.

Problems? Well, the .38 Special case is shorter, and, after a lot of continuous use of them in a .357 Mag. cylinder, they can build up enough gunk to prevent a .357 from chambering. The answer is to clean the chambers after shooting, along with the rest of the gun. I know several people who always end the time with two cylinders full of .357 Mags. Why? Just "because".

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Old 02-18-2006, 02:05 PM   #3
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Re: Couple questions about .38/.357

Originally Posted by waterman
Someone mentioned about not shooting too much (target) for fear of wearing out the firing pin on the hammer. Huh? is that true?
You'll go through several times the cost of the pistol in ammunition trying to wear it out. I think the 686 is the finest revolver made today. Buy a case of .38 target ammo, get used to the trigger pull and enjoy yourself.
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Old 02-18-2006, 04:46 PM   #4
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Agree with JR squared. But I would also cheerfully use .357 ammo in addition to the .38s.

FWIW, the .357 is exactly the same dimensions as a .38 Special except that it's about .10 longer to prevent the higher pressure Magnum rounds from being chambered in .38 Special caliber handguns.
Al Thompson is offline  
Old 02-21-2006, 07:47 AM   #5
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i own and sp101 and I shoot 38's all day my only problem with shooting 38's through a 357 is the gunk build up. So after every range day I clean the crap out of the cylinder just to be on the safe side. Ive only experienced build up and chambering problem once with 357 and I will never experience it again.
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Old 02-21-2006, 08:59 AM   #6
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I bought a GP100 .357 and someone shot a ton of .38 spec. in it and .357mag rds wouldn't chamber. They do now after a long time of scrubbing. Like the other posters said, if you use .38's, clean it. You should clean it anyway.

The .357 mag case, as I understand it, has 12% more capacity than the .38 spcl case, thereby making it "magnum". S&W did that alot. The .38spcl is the result of them doing that before. The .357 was made for police to be able to shoot thru cars, and junk like that. I researched it a bit. I'm kind of a fan of the .357 magnum...
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Old 02-23-2006, 06:27 AM   #7
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I'm not that knowledgable about revolvers other than what I have(I specialize in Semi-Autos) but, doesn't the 686 have a Frame-mounted firing-pin?
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Old 02-23-2006, 06:53 AM   #8
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My 686 has the firing pin on the hammer. Older gun...

For cleaning cylinders, nothing beats a bore brush chucked in a drill.
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Old 02-23-2006, 03:28 PM   #9
Join Date: May 2003
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If you can wear out a Smith L-frame by shooting ammo loaded to specs, I'd like to hear about it. I've seen some older K-frames shot loose but that's it.
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Old 02-23-2006, 04:33 PM   #10
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Smith & Wesson made a modification to the early L frame guns by replacing the firing pin bushing in the recoil shield with a new design that had a smaller diameter hole...the hammer mounted firing pin was also replaced with a smaller one. If memory serves correctly, this was due to primer flow back into the firing pin hole with some magnum loads which caused the cylinder to bind, tying up the gun. The newer L frames have frame mounted firing pins.
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