.38 Special Help

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Marc, May 21, 2008.

  1. Marc

    Marc G&G Newbie

    This has been in the family for many years and I was wondering if anyone knows anything about this revolver?

    On top of the barrel I'm having a hard time making out what it says.

    It needs a good cleaning but I'm glad to have finally recieved it.


    Attached Files:

  2. OK, first off, are you sure that revolver is chambered for the .38 Special cartridge?

    Nearly every top-break .38 revolver made in the last hundred years was chambered for the .38 S&W round, sometimes called the .38 short. From your pictures it looks like the cylinder is too short for the .38 Special.

    If you have a .38 Spl. round (round nose, not a wadcutter), see if the gun will close with the .38 Spl. in the cylinder. I'm guessing the .38 Spl. is too long. No big deal. The .38 S&W is a classic caliber and ammo is still available today.

    At least a million top-break .38 S&W revolvers were turned out by a dozen companies from 1890 - 1970. Without barrel markings it will be hard to pin yours down.

  3. Marc

    Marc G&G Newbie

    First off thanks for the reply. It does have barrel markings but I'm having a hard time making the co. out it's something Arms Co. and looks like 18 something.
    I just looked at the round and it is a .38 S&W.
    I'm super new to guns so please forgive me, what's the difference, just ones shorter than the other?

    Another thing the front sight is a lot taller than the rear, do you line them up the same?

    Last edited: May 21, 2008
  4. squirrelblaster

    squirrelblaster G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    about 2 months ago i saw one of those at my local shop for $199, guy told me that they used to very very commen and that everyone used to have one, at least if its the same gun it shere looks like the same gun, anyway cant remember what he said it was called but he did say its not safe to shoot with modern ammo.
  5. Hey Marc,
    Take a look at the grips, there's a circle type area where it meets with the gun frame. See if you can make out words, letters, logo/symbol. I have a H&A = Hopkins and Allen police safety in the .32 short S&W. H&A used an owl on their logos.
    There were few companies that handle these break open revolvers. S&W, H&R and Iver Johnson to name a few. I think if you have the .38 long S&W you can shoot the .38 S&W short, kind like the .22 short/long/long rifle cartridges in most .22 revolvers.
    You'll find them fun to shoot, but soon will find a blister on the trigger finger
    :( they tend to have a 12 pound pull with the double action.
    I try to align the front with the rear sights so that they are even and centered with the target being covered to the point that you see the top of the point you want to hit. From there you adjust the sights [if ajustable, in the case of this revolver you can't make any adjustments because they are fixed sights] or learn to point and aim as needed to achive a hit. :))
  6. The .38 S&W came first. It is shorter and less powerful than the later .38 Special.

    Both .38s were common police rounds in the early 1900's. They are not interchangeable. The .38 S&W brass case has a tiny bit larger diameter and won't fit .38 Spl. guns. .38 Spl. rounds are too long for the cylinder of a .38 S&W.

    Unfortunately there's a big difference in ammo price. A box of .38 S&W ammo is about twice the price of the cheapest .38 Spl ammo.

    Don't worry about the front sight. It's correct to have a higher front sight. Line the sights up so the top of the front sight is level with the edges of the U-shaped back sight.
  7. jackar

    jackar Guest

    Looks like an Iver Johnson

    That's what I thought too. I can't make out the grips close enough to see if that's an owl head on them. The hammer doesn't really fit the profile of the IJ but who knows. The profile shots look a little like the "humpback" H&R's of that period. The IJ's changed from the black powder models to the different steel used in smokeless powder models in 1908. I made the mistake of buying one of the older models for black powder only at a gun show because at that time I didn't know any better. I think the insignia on your grips would tell the story.
  8. It looks to be an IJ. A fine little handgun. I carried one when I used to work cattle from horseback. They are super easy to reload. Use .38 spl dies but just neck size. Size, prime, scoop it full of FFFg black powder (or a BP substitute) and seat and crimp the bullet. Mine liked 140 gr SWC. Wash the gun off in hot soapy water, oil it and it's ready to go again. Like an idiot I traded mine off. If that one doesn't work out for you mail it to me and I'll see to it that it gets a good home. :)
    BTW, likely as many Old West Bad Man died from one of those little pocket guns as any of the bigger holster guns.
  9. jackar

    jackar Guest

    JimKim - You're probably right. I took the picture, went into PhotoPlus6 and brightened it up, blew it up, and it certainly isn't IJ. It is a square with some sort of insignia in the center. I'm not familiar with that one but may be H&R or H&A.

    Mike Franklin - I tried loading some BP rounds for my old (1904) IJ .38 S&W using .38 Special dies but I ran into trouble seating and crimping as my .38 Special dies (Pacific) won't allow the casing to go up far enough to contact the crimping groove. I guess I could use the resizer die and just size the tip of the casing.
  10. TheWall

    TheWall Firearm Affectionado Forum Contributor

    JimKim wins the prize!
  11. Vigilant

    Vigilant G&G Newbie

    that was my guess
  12. Yep, I should have said that. I size the case just a bit, bell, powder and seat the bullet, then run the case into the sizer again to 'crimp'.
    Iver Johnson was a bicycle company that got into guns on the side. Later they got out of bicycles and just made guns.
  13. samsonite

    samsonite Guest

    I have a very simialr little revolver, a marlin model 1887, it shoots .38 s&w. is yours double or single action?
  14. This is an old post. He hasn't been on here since May.
  15. With you being new to guns I would suggest going in the way of safety and bringing it to a good gunsmith to determint it's condition and f it is safe to fire. If you can't find a gunsmith willing to fire it see if one of the instructors at your local range wouldn't be willing to fire it. It might cost you a little money but does safety really have a price?