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Please explain the difference between .38 and .380 (vanity)
2/16/03 | self

Posted on 02/16/2003 7:49:45 PM PST by rudy45

I had always believed that the caliber of a gun was the inside diameter of the barrel. Assuming I am correct (am I?) then shouldn't .38 and .380 be "close"? If I remember from high school math, the latter simply implies a greater degree of precision. IOW, a .38 caliber really could be anything from .376 to .384, while .380 caliber has smaller variance--.3796 to .3804?

However, the attendant at a local range said that .38 refers to revolvers while .380 refers to pistols (?)

Thanks.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: banglist; guns
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1 posted on 02/16/2003 7:49:45 PM PST by rudy45
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To: rudy45
I would've guessed rifles not pistols.
2 posted on 02/16/2003 7:52:25 PM PST by Bogey78O (It's not a Zero it's an "O")
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To: rudy45
380 is a "9mm short"; the same bullet with less powder behind it, for semi-auto pistols. .38 is a revolver cartridge with more powder behind it than the .380. I don't think the bullet is the same, but yeah, the diameter is real similar. .38 curiously has the same diameter as the .357 (magnum).
3 posted on 02/16/2003 7:53:59 PM PST by Indrid Cold
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To: rudy45
Buy a reloading manual or better two. Hornady and Nosler have superb basics explanations with lots of graphics and specs on most current popular choices.

This is the sort of information which citizens must carry into the next Democrat fascist administration.
4 posted on 02/16/2003 7:58:31 PM PST by SevenDaysInMay
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To: rudy45
Actually, the "38" is a .35.
Dont let it bother you, it's an old problem rising from the way cartridges were measured when they were invented.

A .38 or a .357 magnum are both .357. The .357 case is longer, and holds more powder for more power.

The .380 is a european calibre. It is actually called 9mm kurtz. it is .355 just like the longer more powerful 9mm parabellum (9mm Luger).

Dont even think about the other members of the family like the .38 Super or .357 SIG. That is when it gets very complicated.

SO9

5 posted on 02/16/2003 7:59:44 PM PST by Servant of the Nine (We are the Hegemon. We can do anything we damned well please.)
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To: *bang_list
Bang!
6 posted on 02/16/2003 8:03:08 PM PST by Ches
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To: rudy45
I carry a .380 autoloader and my dear spouse carries a 9mm. I use the same press to reload our ammo. The same bullet is used with a different case.

The .380 and 9mmm are rimless cases for autoloaders. The .38 is a rimmed case that (typically) fires from wheel-guns.

The ballistics are completly different from one round to the other.

/john

7 posted on 02/16/2003 8:05:05 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: Servant of the Nine
Thanks for the details.

Now can you explain the nine-tenths of a cent added to every gallon of gas?
8 posted on 02/16/2003 8:05:45 PM PST by 11th Earl of Mar
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To: rudy45
The main difference is in the length of the case, the .380 case is approximately 5/8 inch long, the .38 case is approximate 1 1/8 inch long. The configuration of the case is also slightly different. A .380 bullet could be loaded into .38 brass, but a .38 bullet should never be loaded into .380 brass because of the slightly larger diameter of the .38.
9 posted on 02/16/2003 8:05:57 PM PST by c-b 1
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To: rudy45
A .38 usually refers to the 38 special, cartridge length of 1.155 inches, overall loaded length of 1.55, usually a 158 grain .357 diameter bullet at around 750 fps.
A .380 is a smaller round, cartridge length of .680, overall loaded length of .984, bullet diameter of .355, usually a 100 grain bullet about 950 fps.

Similar bullet diameters are found in the 9mm luger, 9mm largo, .357 magnum, 38 automatic, 38 super automatic, 38 Smith & Wesson (which is the largest bullet diameter at .360), and a few rare old cowboy and BP guns.

None of these have an actual .380 bore, most are .355, .357, or .360.

10 posted on 02/16/2003 8:11:56 PM PST by templar
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To: Servant of the Nine
So a .380 will take 9mm ammo? Sorry for my ignorance.

Going to bed now- will thank you tommorrow.
11 posted on 02/16/2003 8:14:54 PM PST by Oschisms (Us runners finally have a President we can be proud of)
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To: templar
usually a 158 grain .357 diameter bullet at around 750 fps.

Now, explain +P loads. ;>)

/john

12 posted on 02/16/2003 8:15:38 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: 11th Earl of Mar
Yeah, I could but then I would have to kill you. :-)
13 posted on 02/16/2003 8:17:20 PM PST by dts32041 (Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a "4".)
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To: rudy45
This should bring the handloaders out on a slow news night..

The souce of your confusion is in thinking of the numerical designation as a strict caliber, or bullet diameter (actually, the dimension between the grooves of a rifled barrel, but that's more detail that you asked after.)

These are cartridge designations -- properly, the .38 Smith & Wesson similar to the .38 special, aka the .38 Smith & Wesson Special, designed by that company, and for years a standard cartridge for police in the US. The case diameter is .379", with a bullet diameter of .357". (As a poster above noted, this is the same case diameter as the .357 Magnum, more properly known as the .357 S&W magnum.) IOW, you can use a .38 S&W Special cartridge in a .357 Magnum revolver, but not the other way around. Also, since this was designed for a revolver, it has a "rimmed" case, ie, a pronounce lip that sticks out at the bottom of the cartridge, to keep the rounds from falling out of the cylinder when you load them.

The .380, on the other hand, was designed for semi-auto handguns, and thus uses a 'rimless' case. (OK, I know that there are semi-autos out there chambered for rimmed ammunition, but that's too esoteric for this post.). Interestingly enough, this cartridge is most commonly referred to in this country as the .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Product/Pistol), but is also referred to in reloading manuals as the 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurtz, and, in English speaking countries, the 9mm Short. It has a case diameter of .374, and a .355 diameter bullet.

This is a long way round of saying that your friend at the range gave essentially correct information, but left out all of the extraneous detail that would let you understand the answer, rather than accepting it blindly.

BTW, you don't have to take my word for it. The information above comes from the Lyman Reloading handbook (happened to be closest), 47th edition.

Regards,
Absalom
14 posted on 02/16/2003 8:17:59 PM PST by absalom01
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To: Oschisms
So a .380 will take 9mm ammo?

No, the 9mm won't feed. But you can feed .380 in a 9mm. Bad idea. Always double check your ammo and weapon. And don't assume your wife grabbed the correct box out of the truck.

/john

15 posted on 02/16/2003 8:18:21 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: absalom01
but that's too esoteric for this post.

Nothing is too esoteric for someone that has approached us for information. Explain about the Sig .357 autoloader. Because I don't understand why they did that. ;>)

/john

16 posted on 02/16/2003 8:22:38 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: JRandomFreeper
"Explain about the Sig .357 autoloader. Because I don't understand why they did that."

It's quite simple, it's marketing. Sig wanted a cartridge that could captitalize on the reputation of the venerable .357 mag. It's not a .357 and it's not a magnum but it is a good cartridge.
17 posted on 02/16/2003 8:30:10 PM PST by Blue Leader
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To: rudy45
The term caliber is actually used in two different ways.

In the original, it was refering to the diameter of the bullet (and the bore of the gun).

However, as companies brought out different ammunition based on approximately the same diameter bullets, it became necessary to tell them apart. Thus an approximate diameter designation was added to other descriptive words or numbers to identify a cartridge (the combination of bullet and case and powder charge and primer).

Thus the common 380 is designated the 380 ACP (ACP standing for Automatic Colt Pistol, I believe). The 380 cartridge is designed for semi-automatic pistols (not revolvers).

The most common 38 is actually the 38 Special. It is designed for revolvers.

The 380 ACP actually has a bullet diameter of .355. (That is just the way it was designed back in 1908).

The 38 Special actually has a bullet diameter of .357. (It was designed in 1902 as an improvement of the 38 Long Colt cartridge.
18 posted on 02/16/2003 8:32:05 PM PST by sd-joe
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To: absalom01; bang_list
indexing
19 posted on 02/16/2003 8:42:13 PM PST by harpseal (Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown)
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To: rudy45; SevenDaysInMay
If you're interested in cartridges and you have no intention of reloading, try to find a copy of "Cartridges of the World". It has been the Bible of gun enthusiasts since they printed the first copy around the late Sixties.


20 posted on 02/16/2003 8:44:13 PM PST by Shooter 2.5
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To: Oschisms
>>>So a .380 will take 9mm ammo?<<<

I have a 380 Llama - Looks like a scaled down .45 and was the RAF pilots sidearm in WWII. Friend of mine has a 9mm Luger.

NO - the 9mm will not fit in the 380's clip - the cartridge of the 9mm is considerably longer - I believe the diameter is identical however.

21 posted on 02/16/2003 8:46:01 PM PST by HardStarboard
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To: JRandomFreeper
Now, explain +P loads. ;>)

+P loads are higher than standard pressure loads. Industry standard (SAMMI) pressure standards are usually well below the point the cartridge case fails and the performance of the round can be increased by increasing the pressure (more powder). Strong modern firearms (steel frames, heavy barrels, etc.) can usually handle higher than industry standard pressures and +P gives added performance. Better to stay away from them if you're not absolutely certain of your firearm since it may damage the weapon or wear it out rapidly even if it doesn't blow it up. I never fire +P, I just get a more powerful gun if I feel the need for more performance.

22 posted on 02/16/2003 8:46:22 PM PST by templar
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To: JRandomFreeper
But you can feed .380 in a 9mm. Bad idea.

What happens? Will it scar the barrel or worse? Curious as I currently have 9mm and I still have a couple boxes of .380 sitting around.

While I asking questions, how do you discard safely ammunition you can not use?

23 posted on 02/16/2003 8:50:14 PM PST by Dave S
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To: JRandomFreeper
I love these threads. Best place in the world to get info on the right tool for the job. 8^)
24 posted on 02/16/2003 8:54:08 PM PST by ABG(anybody but Gore) (Support the handicapped, hire a liberal...)
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To: Blue Leader
Sorry to disagree, but the 357 SIG cartridge wasn't just a marketing gimmick. It was designed to produce ballistics identical to the 357 magnum revolver cartridge, but in an autoloader. Why? The 357 magnum is the number one man-stopper: it produces 97% "one-shot stops," which is better than even the 45 cal. auto and the 44 magnum revolver.

The 357 SIG accomplishes what it was designed to do. Powder load, bullet weight, and muzzle velocity are almost identical to the 125 grain 357 magnum revolver factory load. They feel the same, too; my S$W 357 magnum and my Glock 357 SIG both have the same feel- recoil, muzzle lift, etc.

One serious advantage of the 357 SIG that wasn't expected is that the necked-down case gives almost perfect cartridge feeding. Jams are almost unheard of, and are far fewer than with the 40 cal. cartridge. But the necked-down cartridge is a disadvantage for hand-loaders, as necking the cases down can be tricky. Another complication is that the bullets are glued into the cartridge, rather than being crimped. So, many recommend against handloading the 357 SIG, but more skilled handloaders still do.

The 357 SIG case is essentially a 40 cal. autoloader case, necked down to accept the 357 bullet. You can convert a Glock from 40 cal. to 357 SIG, or vice-versa, by just replacing the barrel (a two-minute job).

Several years ago, the Texas Rangers switched from their 357 Magnum revolvers to the 45 cal. autopistol. Many officers were unhappy with the change; they complained that the 45 cal. didn't have the "lightning-bolt" effect of the 357 magnum when it hits a perp. So, they switched to the 357 SIG, and reports say they love it! The best of both worlds.

If I were in a jam, I would want to reach for my pocket and find my Glock subcompact chambered in 357 SIG. Nothing else would make me feel as secure.
25 posted on 02/16/2003 8:58:04 PM PST by sailorforfreedom
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To: rudy45
Bump for my reference file.
26 posted on 02/16/2003 8:59:09 PM PST by NorseWood
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To: Dave S
The head diameter of the .380 is smaller than the 9mmP, so firing a .380 in a 9mmP chamber could cause a case rupture and damage to the gun and your hand. It is also possible, though remote, that the .380 round could slip out from under the extractor and get pushed up into the chamber. Then if a 9mmP round were chambered behind it and it had a FMJ bullet it could conceivably set off the .380 round with the slide out of battery. This would also cause gun damage and possibly injury.
27 posted on 02/16/2003 9:00:12 PM PST by Double Tap
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To: rudy45
Well I got a Walther PPK-S I wish I'd never bought (.380) and a Smith (pre-sellout) .38 snubbie that I love.

--Boris

28 posted on 02/16/2003 9:01:04 PM PST by boris
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To: templar
LOL! Bravo!

Excellent explanation. I was just teasing, but with the FR crowd, someone knows the answer. The Right answer.

/john

29 posted on 02/16/2003 9:02:32 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: Indrid Cold
I don't think the bullet is the same, but yeah, the diameter is real similar. .38 curiously has the same diameter as the .357 (magnum).

One refers to the land dimensions, the other the groove dimensions. A subtle difference to make the new cartridge distinct in the minds of the advocates. The .357 cartrige is much longer than the .38 and will not chamber in the .38 revolver. However, the .38 fires nicely in the .357 with the .38+P making a nice inbetween load.

30 posted on 02/16/2003 9:05:07 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: Dave S
Will it scar the barrel or worse?

My single screw-up experience was fairly tame. The round felt wrong and didn't eject. When I dropped the mag and tried to clear the case (barrel pointed down-range), I found the case lodged in the barrel. We (range officer and I, after my @$$ chewing by said RO) used a cleaning rod to back the case out and the pistol fired normally on the correct ammo.

/john

31 posted on 02/16/2003 9:06:30 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: Blue Leader
It's not a .357 and it's not a magnum but it is a good cartridge.

I believe it is a .357 nominally 124 g. It's power is within the range of low power .357 loads.

32 posted on 02/16/2003 9:08:04 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: Dave S
Since the .380 cartridge is shorter and smaller in some dimensions than the 9mm, it may very well rupture when fired due to lack of support (not fitting snuly into the chamber is a bad thing). This will certainly tie up your gun, and may well damage the chamber, the extractor, and various important pieces and parts.

This problem arises every deer-hunting season, when folks who shhot oinly once a year get confused and load their rifles with the wrong ammunition (say, .280 Remington in a 30-06). You should make it a habit to carry ONLY the correct ammunition for the firearm you are currently using.

Your question about how to dispose of unwanted ammunition is really an excellent one- NEVER discard it in the trash, or into a dumpster or landfill. I recommend taking it to your friendly local gunstore , and asking the proprietor to dispose of it for you (or sell it, whichever comes first!) Do not attempt to remove the bullets from the cartidges using household tools in order to render the ammunition "safe"- this will almost guarantee a bad accident- and I have seen a few of those. By the same token, burning it is extremely hazardous to everyone in the vicinity.

33 posted on 02/16/2003 9:08:31 PM PST by RANGERAIRBORNE
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To: Blue Leader
You couldn't be more wrong with that.

For some reason, the .357 is on the top of the heap when it comes to "One Shot Stops." That's with different ammunition of the Magic Bullet kind. Someone finally figured out the police needed a semi-automatic with the same stopping power so they copied the ballistics. Muzzle energy with the .357 Magnum factory loads range from 410 to 550. The Sig ranges from 445 to 530.
34 posted on 02/16/2003 9:09:02 PM PST by Shooter 2.5
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To: Double Tap
so firing a .380 in a 9mmP chamber could cause a case rupture and damage to the gun and your hand.

You quote from the range officer that chewed me out. I did luck out. I always check ammo now. Always.

/john

35 posted on 02/16/2003 9:09:15 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: sailorforfreedom
didn't have the "lightning-bolt" effect of the 357 magnum when it hits a perp.

This same "crack" on discharge also tends to make your neighbors take a break on the firing range till you finish.

36 posted on 02/16/2003 9:11:29 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: ABG(anybody but Gore)
I love these threads.

Me too, except for the obligitory "I was stupid" story that I have to tell.

/john

37 posted on 02/16/2003 9:11:58 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: rudy45
"shouldn't .38 and .380 be "close"?"

they are the same numeric value. If I remember correctly the "0" in .380 is called a significant value. This means that the third digit to the right of the decimal point in .380 is significant in the calculations and should not be omitted. So, if the number turns out to be .381 or .386 or .380, the "1," "6" or "0" should not be omitted.

I could be wrong on all this of course. I only have a GED diploma.
38 posted on 02/16/2003 9:14:12 PM PST by RecentConvert (Pacificists (eg, france) are the parasites of freedom)
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To: templar; rudy45
Ask your gun dealer about shooting regular .38 wad-cutters for targets but keeping Federal Hydra-Shok hollow points for"self-defense".

Ask if even with a small frame five shot pistol, "carrying" the +P for emergency use. It has been done.
39 posted on 02/16/2003 9:14:33 PM PST by BenLurkin
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To: RANGERAIRBORNE
J Random Freeper mentioned one of the really bad things that can happen- if you load the wrong ammunition, and it is small enough to get into the barrel and allow another round to be loaded behind it in the chamber and fired, you are most likely going to wind up with a badly damaged gun (if you are lucky- you could lose fingers, or an eye).

I once saw an M-1 rifle from which someone had attempted to fire a rifle grenade- but used a regular 30-06 cartridge rather than a blank. Pretty impressive- I think that qualified as a "bore obstruction", all right!

40 posted on 02/16/2003 9:15:09 PM PST by RANGERAIRBORNE
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To: Oschisms
So a .380 will take 9mm ammo? Sorry for my ignorance.

No. Semi-auto, rimless cartridges depend on having the case mouth (where the bullet is crimped into the brass) settle on a rim at the end of the firing chamber. This places the case head (where the primer is placed) in exactly the correct spacing for the firing pin to strike. A .380 ACP (9mm kurz) will slide down into the chamber and stop at the rim. The firing pin can't possible reach the primer. The 9mm, if placed in a .380 ACP chamber will protrude a great distance. The slide will not close and (hopefully) a safety mechanism will block the hammer from striking the firing pin.

This same technique of setting the headspace using the case mouth is also employed in the .45 ACP.

You should never put any ammo into a firearm unless is is specifically designed to handle that ammo. It is dangerous to do so. At the minimum, you may be disappointed when it doesn't fire. The worst case is obvious.

Bullet weights for the .380 ACP range from 85 gr to 110 gr. The .380 ACP uses a .354 caliber bullet. Same as the 9mm. The .38SPL uses a .357 caliber bullet in weight ranges from 125 gr to 180 gr.

41 posted on 02/16/2003 9:16:13 PM PST by Myrddin
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To: Indrid Cold
LOL My brother likes his 454 Casull. powerful :)
42 posted on 02/16/2003 9:18:00 PM PST by Libertina
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To: Myrddin
The firing pin can't possible reach the primer.

That turns out to not be the case, in my experience.

/john

43 posted on 02/16/2003 9:20:13 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: RecentConvert
""shouldn't .38 and .380 be "close"?""

No, they are not REALLY named for their actual bullet diammeter- they got these names for historical reasons, not mathematical ones, and you cannot treat the last digit as a "significant digit" at all. For example, as pointed out above, the .38 Special and the .357 bullet are the same diameter - the difference is in the length of the cartridge case, primarily.

44 posted on 02/16/2003 9:20:51 PM PST by RANGERAIRBORNE
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To: JRandomFreeper
The reason it turned out to not be the case in your situations is that the extractor was holding the .380 in the proper place and allowed the firing pin/striker to hit the primer properly. It can happen either way, but usually the extractor will hold the cartridge in place as yours did.

Glad you were not hurt.

45 posted on 02/16/2003 9:26:28 PM PST by Double Tap
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To: Double Tap
but usually the extractor will hold the cartridge in place as yours did.

It was the first round in the magazine. And I was much more tentative about racking the slide back then. If it had fed from the middle of the magazine, there would be a different story told. And probably typed by someone with fingers.

Always check ammo. Always.

I did luck out. I am glad also.

/john

46 posted on 02/16/2003 9:32:26 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
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To: JRandomFreeper
As an example of how the extractor can hold a cartridge well enough to fire:

I have several 9mmP cases that look like little mushrooms. They were fired in a pistol chambered for 40 S&W. I was watching a fella at the local range show his wife how to shoot. His S&W pistol was acting like a single shot. He would have to cycle the slide after every shot and the bullets were hitting the target sideways. I asked him what the problem was, and he said that his gun was broken as it would not cycle properly. He asked if I could take a look at it. The pistol was clearly marked as 40 S&W, but the box of ammo he was using was clearly marked 9mm. I showed him the fired cases and what he was doing wrong.

He walked off grumbling something about letting the wife pack the ammo in his bag!!!

47 posted on 02/16/2003 9:33:12 PM PST by Double Tap
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To: Myrddin
It always amazes me when careful reloaders will use questionable powders in order to save a couple of dollars.

Also, putting nasty, corroded cartridges into guns worth hundreds of dollars.

The same thing about accidently dropping a cartrdge on the ground and failing to clean it before loading it.

More importantly, if someone offers reloaded ammunition, use it in their gun. Make sure you have your eye protection on.
48 posted on 02/16/2003 9:35:09 PM PST by Shooter 2.5
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To: rudy45
Calibers are misleading as to bore diameter. 38 calibers are a varied lot, a 38 Smith and Wesson is a .360 bullet diameter and was for weaker top break revolvers. A 38 Special is a .357 bullet diameter, the same as a 357 magnum.

The 380 ACP, (automatic cartridge pistol) is .355 bullet diameter and known in various European countries as the 9mm Short, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Breve, or 9mm Corto to differentiate it from the longer and more powerful 9mm Parabellum, also called the 9mm Luger.

As an aside, the 9mm Parbellum came out in 1902 and today is 101 years old. The venerable .45 ACP invented by John Browning was chambered for the Colt 1911 in that same year and is now 92 years old, it remains the preference of millions today and is still going strong. I think my old (Remington Rand )19111A1 made in 1943, and my constant companion for many years is the greatest combat hand gun ever made. It's form and function is timeless, once mastered, the .45 ACP 1911 is a true friend indeed
49 posted on 02/16/2003 9:37:17 PM PST by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: RANGERAIRBORNE
Thanks. I learned something new today.
50 posted on 02/16/2003 9:39:17 PM PST by RecentConvert (Pacificists (eg, france) are the parasites of freedom)
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