.38 S&W vs. .38 special

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by cmcoy, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. cmcoy

    cmcoy G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2009
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Bay area
    what is the difference between the .38 special and .38 S&W.
  2. TACAV

    TACAV G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,510
    .38 SW is an older version of the .38Spl. It was a lot shorter and had a very small rim on the case. It was made for blackpowder I think. It came out back in the day sometime between the late 1890s or 1910. It was replaced by the .38 spl as they tried to make a "bigger better" cartridge.
  3. cma g21

    cma g21 G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    Florida
    The .38 S&W is an older, less powerful round than the .38 Smith & Wesson Special. It also uses a different case and bullet (.361" for the .38 S&W, .357" for the .38 Smith & Wesson Special.)
  4. TomcatPC

    TomcatPC G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    605
    Location:
    Between Homer, Alaska and Wrington, Somerset, Engl
    Hello

    I was under the impression that the .38 Special (originally named the .38 S&W Special Cartridge, entirely different from the .38 S&W Cartridge) was based on the .38 Long Colt cartridge? In the same way that the .357 S&W Magnum was developed from the .38 S&W Special.

    The .38 S&W Cartridge was used in the British version of the "Victory Model". I believe there was a .380" Mk I and .380" MkII cartirdge. The Mk.I version was the original 200 grain bullet, hence the name .380"/200, I think the .380" Mk.II was a metal jacketed ball round that was around 178-ish? grain in weight.
    Thanks
    Mark
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  5. SightNSqueeze

    SightNSqueeze G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,998
    Location:
    Intercoastal Sea Islands, SC, USA
    The .38 S&W is the same as the British .38/200. Smith & Wesson was contracted to provide hundreds of thousands of their Military & Police Model which was the forerunner of the blue steel Model 10. The guns were often called "Lend-Lease revolvers" but I believe they were provided earlier during the "Cash & Carry" period. Unlike the later .38 special American issue “Victory” Model with their 4” barrels and gray parkerized finish, the British contract guns had polished blue steel, checkered walnut grips, lanyard ring, and 5" narrow barrel. My father was a foreign born American soldier who was issued one of these revolvers when he was in North Africa. He carried that revolver with him throughout the North African Campaign, the early Italian Campaign, two overland trips through what was then Palestine, Trans-Jordan and Persia to the Soviet border, the Cairo Conference, Tehran Conference, and the drive into Austria in the European Theater. When the war was over, the armorer wouldn't take it, so he kept it. I remember my father carrying that .38 when he managed his businesses in the early 60s; a restaurant and dinner club, a night club, and a bowling alley. He often worked nights and carried money to the bank drop box. I wish that I had my father’s "Lend-Lease" .38 but it was stolen by a twenty-something drifter that my father picked up hitch hiking. My father put him up for the night and was going to give him a job and find a place for him to stay the following morning, but the stranger slipped out during the middle of the night with my father's revolver and some cash. He was picked up by the sheriff's department the next day with the cash, but no sign of the revolver...or so the sheriff said. Below is an on-line image of what my father's .38 looked like.

    [​IMG]
  6. TomcatPC

    TomcatPC G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    605
    Location:
    Between Homer, Alaska and Wrington, Somerset, Engl
    Hello once more.

    Here is a photo of my .380" Calibre British Version of the S&W M&P "Victory" Model revolver. Also shown is a Canadian-made box (empty) of 12 .380" Calibre Mk.IIz cartridges.

    Does anyone know that actual correct British term for this revolver?

    My Dad went through three of the US .38 Special Calibre versions of the S&W "Victory" Model revolver when he was a gunner in a TBM Avenger during the latter part of the War in the Pacific. I'd love to have a US Version of the Victory Model sometime in the near future.
    Thanks
    Mark

    [​IMG]
  7. SightNSqueeze

    SightNSqueeze G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,998
    Location:
    Intercoastal Sea Islands, SC, USA
    TopcatPC, that is a nice .38. My father referred to his as a Lend-Lease .38. I'm sure that was the "unofficial" term since different countries would have had different model designations for them.
  8. SightNSqueeze

    SightNSqueeze G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,998
    Location:
    Intercoastal Sea Islands, SC, USA
    This is the designation that I found online:
    SMITH & WESSON M 1905 .38/200 BRITISH SERVICE REVOLVER ( LEND/LEASE MODEL)
  9. Kentucky Fan

    Kentucky Fan G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Messages:
    2,264
    Location:
    Paintsville Kentucky
    will .38 S&W work in a .38 Special just wondering
  10. TomcatPC

    TomcatPC G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    605
    Location:
    Between Homer, Alaska and Wrington, Somerset, Engl
    Hello

    I think the "Lend Lease" term applies to the Lend Lease programme that sent many items to British/British Empire Force (and I think the USSR as well?) during the War. Including the S&W Victory Model revolver, the Savage made No.4 Mk.I* Rifle, along with armoured vehicles, Jeeps, Uniforms, Rifle Slings, etc. So using the term "Lend Lease" makes sense to me.

    When I meant "correct", I am asking what the correct military term would be. I'm looking for the term that Lance Corporal Lodge of the Royal Army Supply Corps would write on a order form to order them.

    Sort of like, for example the term:

    "Pistol, Revolver, . 380" No.2 MkI*" would be the "correct" term. The same revolver at a gun show here in the US would be advertised as a ".38 S&W Enfield "Tanker" Revolver". I'm not certain if I got both of the terms I used as an example 100% correct, but that is sort of what I'd like to know.

    The reason...I am involved in WWII Reenacting, and would like to know what to write for a description for my revolver. It,s not life or death...just would like to get it as correct as I could. I did not intend to highjack this thread...LOL.
    Thanks
    Mark
  11. SightNSqueeze

    SightNSqueeze G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,998
    Location:
    Intercoastal Sea Islands, SC, USA
    TopcatPC, Pistol, Revolver, . 380" No.2 Mk I* sounds correct. There was no mention of the manufacturer as I remember. The .380 (.38/200) in this case was sometimes referred to as the "rimmed" .380, perhaps to avoid confusion with the .380 ACP. Thanks for the input.

    Kentucky Fan, I'm afraid the two cartridges are entirely different. The .38 special is longer and more powerful than the .38/200. Also, the latter (.38/200) had a tapered case that was wider at the case head near the base and the lead bullet was slightly bigger in diameter and had the same measurement as the outside of the case wall.
  12. TomcatPC

    TomcatPC G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    605
    Location:
    Between Homer, Alaska and Wrington, Somerset, Engl
    As for the correct term...I have also posted this on the S&W Forum. The jury is still out on that one...LOL.

    One person said it was something like: "Pistol, Revolver, Smith & Wesson, .38 inch". Another wrote something like: "Pistol, Revolver,No. 2 cal .380 Smith & Wesson", or close to that. They both sound similar and correct to me, but I'm not 100% positive yet.

    However, I had thought that the No. 2 revolver meant the Enfield revolver? Maybe both are correct in that, the term "No.2" meant any of the .380" revolvers?

    Then I have heard the term "K-200" used as well...LOL.

    I think my question might qualify for one the WWII Reenacting forums I sometime check out?
    Thanks
    Mark
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
  13. SightNSqueeze

    SightNSqueeze G&G Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,998
    Location:
    Intercoastal Sea Islands, SC, USA
    That will be interesting. I might have to do some research and get back to you in a few days. I'll check out the S&W forum. As you may have read (Post #5), my dad carried one throughout the war. He was assigned to a company of foreign born Americans who could be called upon as interpreters as needed by 5th Army Headquarters. My dad was temporarily assigned to General Clark’s staff and rode into Rome with him. He had that .38 with him then, but the most memorable story he told me were the trips he and his company made into Persia. He talked about driving through what is present day Iraq to get there. In 2006, I was in Iraq and I routinely caught helo flights between Fallujah and Ramadi; both of which are on the banks of the Euphrates. From the air, I would look down and ponder where my dad's convoy would have crossed the river 63 years earlier. Everything from the black shadows of the distant mountains to the bright stars in the ice cold night sky was as he had described it and that little Lend-Lease .38 that rode with him in the front seat of a 3/4 ton Dodge was the same one that peaked out of his waist band at me when I was 6 or 7 years old. I don't have it now but I have the memory of it always. Thanks for the picture, and the story of your dad in the Navy.
  14. TheJoker

    TheJoker G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    2,587
    Location:
    "...upon the east bank of Big Blue River, a mile o
    In my experience at the range, the difference is: Knocking down steel targets and not knocking down steel targets!!!
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Powder Keg Pilot's special Mar 21, 2014
The Powder Keg Valentines Day is Coming - What are you going to do for your special someone?? Feb 5, 2014
The Powder Keg CNN, Fareed Zakaria anti-gun special. Dec 8, 2013
The Powder Keg Specially for Griz May 23, 2013
The Powder Keg whats so special about this? May 16, 2013