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August 26, 2018

Gun Thread (Special Guest Blogger Weasel)

1.1 Barney.jpg

(Happy now bluebell?)

So what bullet did Barney keep in his pocket? Why it's none other than our old friend the .38 Special! Introduced in 1898 to replace the underperforming U.S. Service Cartridge in .38 Long Colt during the Philippine-American War, the .38 Special cartridge was for many years standard issue for military units and law enforcement agencies and to this day remains popular with with recreational shooters.


The name of the cartridge itself is somewhat misleading. With a bullet diameter of .357 inches or just over 9mm, the ".38" refers to the approximate diameter of the loaded cartridge including the case. A favorite of handloaders, a common load sends a 158 gr lead or jacketed bullet towards the target at a muzzle velocity generally under 900 fps, thus falling somewhere between the .380 ACP and 9x19 Para in terms of energy. Higher velocity "+P" loads improve the cartridge terminal ballistic performance, but are not recommended for revolvers not rated for the higher pressures.

Whether using commercial ammunition or target handloads, the .38 is an absolute pleasure to shoot and the mild recoil makes it a great choice for newer shooters developing basic skills and experienced marksmen, alike. The simplicity and safety of revolvers continues to make the .38 Special a popular choice for self defense, as countless gun safes, sock drawers and bedside tables will attest.

Ford vs. Chevrolet
All major manufacturers have at one time or another produced revolvers chambered in .38 Special. By the turn of the 20th century, the already great Colt vs. Smith and Wesson rivalry hit full stride with Double Action/Single Action revolvers and the .38 Special cartridge. Throughout the years, Colt manufactured a variety of models including the Police Positive and Official Police; while Smith & Wesson offered the Military & Police (or M&P, later the Model 10), the K38 (later the Model 15), and others.

1.2 Colt Official Police.jpeg

1942 Colt Official Police

1.3 SW K38.jpeg

1948 S&W K38

1.4 SW Model 15.jpeg

1977 S&W Model 15

Let's just say that Colt and S&W collectors are enthusiastic about their favorite brand with very elaborate conventions held around the country each year. If you aren't already spending enough time on the internet, both are represented by lively and civilized discussion forums with devoted contributors and are great places to browse and have questions answered.

Colt Collectors Association
Colt Forum
Smith & Wesson Collectors Association
S&W Forum

So which one did Deputy Fife carry? Apparently both brands saw action in Mayberry. While the publicity photo above appears to show a Colt, it is reported that for some episodes of the Andy Griffith Show a Smith & Wesson was provided by the prop department.

Colt or S&W? Do you have a favorite?


This Old Gun
Firearms manufactured before the advent of computerized machining techniques are of particular interest to me. Made in an era when assembly was performed by an actual gunsmith or other highly experienced craftsmen, in many cases the final result was a hand-fitted weapon which could arguably be considered a custom firearm by today's manufacturing and production standards.

A big part of the fun in collecting and shooting these old guns, at least for me, is wondering where they have been over the years. A good example is the well used Colt Official Police pictured above. When purchased, I noted "BS Co." engraved on the frame. A little research revealed that BS Company was very likely Bethlehem Steel making it a company guard weapon. I sent to the Colt Archives for more information and learned my revolver was indeed one of a shipment of 25 sent to Bethlehem Steel Company in Lehigh Valley, PA one week after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Just imagine the activity at the steel plant as war was declared!

Send In Your Guns!
Many of you have firearms with a known provenance or even more importantly, a significant family connection. Perhaps a bring-back by a relative from a war, or Granny's shotgun, or a treasured first hunting rifle. If so, and if you care to share your story, send a picture with your nic and tell us what you sadly lost in the tragic canoe accident. If you would like to remain completely anonymous, just say so. Lurkers are welcome! Email: guns at happyplacearsenal dot com

That's it for this week - have you been to the range?


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posted by CBD at 07:00 PM

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