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  1. #1
    Legacy Member imarangemaster's Avatar
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    Another Old Pistol 1902 S&W Military and Police

    My vintage Smith & Wesson Model 1902 Military and Police (Pre-Model 10). Came into the gun shop I work in on consignment. Serial number puts it as 1903! Condition of the revolver is great mechanically, with great bore, but finish is 30-40%. The .38 Special was an improvement over the .38 long Colt used in my 1895 Colt Army/Navy.

    For almost 120 years old, it is a sweet little weapon. It lives full time in my RV, in a case with two speed loaders of Winchester Silver tip (110 grain standard velocity), and two vintage Bianchi Speed Strips full of snake shot. It is my camping back-up pistol and snake killer.

    Last edited by imarangemaster; 11-02-2021 at 12:54 PM.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Nice old revolver. My great uncle had one that he brought back from the Philippines in 1923 when he mustered out of the USMC.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member imarangemaster's Avatar
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    I have read that 38 Special was actually introduced in 1898 as a black powder load, and smokeless a year later, but have also heard that the smokeless was introduced in 1902 in this 1902 M&P. The serial number of this one puts it at 1903, and it is definitely .38 Special.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    So was his. I've had old 38Spl that were BP and sure acted like it. They may have been a 38 Colt though... The one he brought back was a capture gun that was in a pile of handguns recovered from insurgents.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member RCS's Avatar
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    I have a few different 38 special cartridges in my collection and noticed something different. The different 38 special is a
    REM-UMC 38-44 SPL headstamp cartridge (introduced around 1931-32) produced for the S&W 38-44 (N frame) revolver
    with a small pistol primer diameter of .175 inch all my other 38 special cartridges have the larger .212 diameter primers.

    Are they any other 38 specials with the small pistol primer ?

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RCS View Post
    all my other 38 special cartridges have the larger .212 diameter primers
    I've never had those. I have one .357 cartridge that has large pistol primer, it was made up in the '50s. The rest of my .38Spl and .357Mag are all spp... So in effect, all the headstamps I've seen are SPP.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member imarangemaster's Avatar
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    I had some really old .38 S&W (not special) that had big domed primers. I fired it in a Webley and it was loaded with black powder! I still have a couple hundred 200 grain .361 diameter for loading for Enfields and Webleys. I may re-size to .357 and load for the 1902.

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    Legacy Member old tanker's Avatar
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    Attachment 121184
    Quote Originally Posted by imarangemaster View Post
    I have read that 38 Special was actually introduced in 1898 as a black powder load, and smokeless a year later, but have also heard that the smokeless was introduced in 1902 in this 1902 M&P. The serial number of this one puts it at 1903, and it is definitely .38 Special.
    Responding to the bad press from the Philippines, Smith and Wesson lengthened the Army's service cartridge by a small amount, upped the bullet weight and powder charge a little bit to bring the .38 Special to the market in its Military & Police revolver. That's why the .38 Smith and Wesson Special is a longer version of Colt's cartridge rather than a longer version of its own proprietary .38 S&W cartridge. The idea was to promote the fact that both the US Service cartridge (aka .38 Long Colt) and the new .38 S&W Special could be fired in the new Military & Police revolver. Early ones are even marked that way.

    Attachment 121184 Attachment 121183
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    Last edited by old tanker; 01-05-2022 at 09:52 AM.

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  13. #9
    Legacy Member imarangemaster's Avatar
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    That makes sense. In 1892, the Army introduced the 158 grain, .357" diameter hollow base round nose to replace the heeled .375s". They wanted inside lube like the rRussian round. It would obdurate enough in the old .375" bore guns to give passible accuracy.

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