Smith & Wesson .38

Deacon(Mk.19)Deacon(Mk.19) New MemberPosts: 5 New Member
I recently purchased a Smith & Wesson .38 J-frame style revolver from the mid/late 70's. It has quite a bit of pitting and a few nicks but other than that it seems okay to fire. The cylinder lines up perfectly and the action is smooth as butter but I had some questions about the rifling, I'm not too familiar with revolvers and wondered why the rifling is so light (compared to my Marlin .30-30 micro grooved barrel). Any and all comments will be taken with much appreciation!! Thanks, Brandon.


  • WeatherbyWeatherby Senior Member Posts: 4,768 Senior Member
    Have you had a light behind the forcing cone?
    I'm thinking you could just not have a good view and are getting an illusion.
    Could be some build up.could be 35 years worth of build up with lead bullets
    Have you tried a good cleaning yet?
  • Deacon(Mk.19)Deacon(Mk.19) New Member Posts: 5 New Member
    I haven't gotten a bore brush through it yet but I have cleaned it and got ALOT of grime out of the cylinder and barrel. I think it is some heavy build up and/or wear. The best thing I can think to do is have someone look at it before I take it to the renge just to be completely sure it's in firing condition. It's my first revolver so I'm pretty excited about it! Thanks for the input Weatherby!
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    I owned and shot (and loved!) a Model 15 from likely the same era or earlier than yours. Full-size 6-shot K-frame, adjustable sights, known also as the Combat Masterpiece.

    And the rifling didn't seem deep as opposed to others I've looked at, and especially if you compared it (not a good comparison but anyway) my Lyman Great Plains muzzle-loading .50-caliber rifle. But, highly accurate nonetheless - lead or jacketed, standard or +P, all shot where I wanted them and were more accurate than I could be.
  • Deacon(Mk.19)Deacon(Mk.19) New Member Posts: 5 New Member
    This is great news! I've done a little more reseach and it seems that the rifling on this and other models similar are not very deep at all, which makes me feel a bit better about it and more excited to shoot it!! which i'm headin' out to do right now. Let you know how she performs! Thanks.
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    If it weren't for the stand-by .38 Special load of the day being a lead SWC, with or without hollow point, I'd say it's like the difference between the "Ballard" rifling on some of the Marlin lever rifles chambered in classic lead-bullet based choices like .45/70, .38/55, .32/20, etc. as opposed to the Micro-groove rifling on jacketed-bullet rounds like .30/30 and .35 Remington. With the revolvers, it may just possibly be a case of "just enough" to put a good spin on the bullet without leaving deep grooves to collect lead, copper, and powder deposits. As gray and sooty as my Masterpiece got on a range day, especially with handloads, the bore never took a lot of effort to clean back to near-mirror shinyness.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    The best thing I can think to do is have someone look at it before I take it to the renge just to be completely sure it's in firing condition.

    Always a good idea, but the basics are, well, basic:

    1. Make sure you can open the gun easily starting with each of the five chambers at 12:00. If this is tight, it's probably because the extractor rod has started to come loose. This may be right- or left-hand thread depending on vintage of gun. Screw it back down by hand and try again.

    2. Check the timing in single action (if applicable) by S-L-O-W-L-Y cocking the hammer. The cylinder stop inside the bottom frame opening should "click" into the stop notch right before the hammer locks back in the fully cocked position. Repeat for each of the five chambers.

    3. Check the timing in double action. S-L-O-W-L-Y pull the trigger to the rear. Cylinder stop should "click" into engagement before the hammer falls.

    4. Check for cylinder endshake. Basically, this means excessive front-to-back play in the cylinder when the gun is closed up. There's bound to be a little wiggle, but not a lot. If you want to get anal-retentive about it and break out the feeler gauges, I believe the cylinder gap dimensions for a .38 are between .004" and .010" for the space between the front of cylinder and barrel, and between .060" and .068" for the space between the back of the cylinder and the plate where the firing pin protrudes.

    5. Make sure the single action setting (if applicable) holds. Cock the gun and push forward on the hammer. Shouldn't go anywhere unless you're pulling the trigger.

    That should do for a pre-buy/safety inspection.

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Deacon(Mk.19)Deacon(Mk.19) New Member Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I took her to the range and she shoots like a dream! Never thought I would enjoy shooting a revolver so much. :up:
  • Jim TomJim Tom Member Posts: 338 Member
    Revolvers rule! You don't have to chase your brass (You do save your brass, don't you?). Next, for pure pleasure, you need to buy a single action revolver. Then you'll be hooked good!

    And oh yeah, welcome to the forum!
  • Deacon(Mk.19)Deacon(Mk.19) New Member Posts: 5 New Member
    The forum is the best thing that has happened to me since my first time at the range. Everyone on here is so informed and incredibly helpful. I'll take you up on that single action and I'll more than likely have a BUNCH of questions when I do!:cool2: Thanks jim tom and everyone else.
  • Bunk40Bunk40 New Member Posts: 4 New Member
    Great information! Thanks for posting it.
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Rifling is only a few thousandths of an inch deep. Maybe .004''. Not much more than a sheet of paper.
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
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