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 .38 and .380 Difference
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Zaphodb17
Starting Member

USA
40 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  7:56:34 PM  Show Profile
I'm fairly new to this site and pretty much a newbie on guns, so I'd like to know the difference between a .38 and .380 caliber cartridge (if I have the terminology correct). I'm trying, like Popeye always said, to edjymicate myself. Thanks.

mark christian
Administrator

Panama
19230 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  8:03:29 PM  Show Profile
There are a variety of .38 cartridges and while most have rimmed cases for use in revolvers, one well known .38, the .38 Super, is used in automatics. The .380 is a rimless cartridge for use in small automatic pistols. Don't expect the actual cartridge designations to have much, if anything at all, to do with the actual diameter of the bullet since most .38 revolver rounds are .357 and the .380 is actually .355.

Edited by - mark christian on 01/17/2010 8:04:41 PM
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Zaphodb17
Starting Member

USA
40 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  8:13:14 PM  Show Profile
Thanks, Mark. I've seen the .38 cartridges that are used in, say, a Colt or S&W revolver, are those the same as used in the Colt .38 Super that looks like a 1911? And when you say the .380 cartridge is "rimless", what holds it in place in the gun? I would have thought that all cartridges have some larger diameter end where the primer is located. Sorry I'm a little thick, maybe I'll look it up on Wikipedia and see if there are any photos. Thanks again.
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dcs shooters
Advanced Member

Turkmenistan
10924 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  8:24:08 PM  Show Profile
Cartridges for semi-autos have a groove in front of the rim for the extractor to grab the brass and pull it out of the chamber. The rim is about the same diameter as the body. That's why the are concidered "rimless". They ae held in the chamber by the slide.
The 38 super is a semi-rimmed cartridge. You are able to shoot it out of a revolver chambered for 38spl, but not the other way around.

Dick
NRA Endowment Member

Don't mess with old guys. they are too old to fight, too fat to run, so their only choice is to kill you.

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If Obama is the answer, it is a very stupid question!

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quote:
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mark christian
Administrator

Panama
19230 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  8:28:24 PM  Show Profile
Someone who is better with computers than myself (which is just about anyone over the age of 5 years old) will probably come along and post a helpful photo or diagram which shows the differences between a rimless, semi rimmed and rimmed cartridge. A revolver cartridge needs a rim so that it can be ejected from teh revolver after firing. There are a few novel revolvers that have avoided the need for rimmed cartridges, but generally you either need a rim or you need to hold the cartridges in some sort of stamped metal clip which will allow them to be ejected. Rimless cartridges used in automatic pistols don't need rims to be ejected since the pistol's extractor grasps the case and then pulls it out and automatically ejects it. Of course just to confuse the issue, there are some automatic pistols that use rimmed revolver rounds, but these are generally target pistols. You might try a Google search on handgun ammunition and take a look at some of the available data on the huge variety of handgun cartridges.

Edited by - mark christian on 01/17/2010 8:28:56 PM
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idahoducker
Member

762 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  8:43:46 PM  Show Profile
Usually when people say ".38" they're refering to the .38 S&W Special
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Special
When they say ".380" it's the .380 ACP they're talking about. There are links to many of the .38 caliber rounds available on the wiki page.

You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.
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Zaphodb17
Starting Member

USA
40 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  9:09:57 PM  Show Profile
I'm starting to catch on to this...The .38 Super and .380 are similar to .45 caliber Colt ACP (I understand this means Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge) that has a rim about the same diameter as the shell casing, but a circumferential chamfer just above the rim. Rimmed cartridges like the standard .22 rimfire or .38 special cartridge have a a flat bottom larger than the diameter of the casing. Is this correct? Again, thanks for the insights.
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beantownshootah
Advanced Member

USA
13134 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  9:45:05 PM  Show Profile
The picture worth 1000 words.

On the left is the RIMMED .357 magnum revolver cartridge. On the right is the RIMLESS 357 SIG auto cartridge (which actually takes a .356/9mm round):



Note that both cartridges have rims, just that on the .357 magnum, the rim sticks out past the straight sides of the cartridge.

Here is another image worth looking at. Again, the .38 special and .357 magnum on the left have rimmed cartridges. The 9mm luger and .380 (which is also known as the 9mm short in Europe) have rimless cartridges.



Two other relevant points to your question about .380 vs .38 special.

In general, the .38 special is the more powerful of the two rounds, though how much more powerful depends on which loads and guns you are comparing. The .38 special is generally only fired from revolvers, and the .380ACP as the "automatic colt pistol" name implies, only from semi-automatic handguns.

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Zaphodb17
Starting Member

USA
40 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  9:53:33 PM  Show Profile
So what we have from beantownshootah is 2000 words...Har! That's actually perfect the way you showed the differences. This is an awesome site!
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Bill DeShivs
Senior Member

USA
1096 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  10:38:55 PM  Show Profile
There are rimmed, semi-rimmed, and rimless cartridges.
As a general rule, rimmed cartridges seat on the rim. Semi-rimmed seat on the rim, and rimless seat on the case mouth.
The chamber for a rimless round has a "step" in the chamber that the end of the case seats against.
Semi-rimmed rounds have been used in revolvers, too.
DO NOT SHOOT .38 SUPER IN A .38 SPECIAL! The Super's chamber pressures are higher than .357 magnum.
.22 rimfire: rimmed
.25 auto: semi-rimmed
.32 auto: semi-rimmed
.32 S&W, S&W long, Colt, etc.: rimmed
.380 auto: rimless
.38 S&W and .38 Special, .357 magnun: rimmed
.38 Super: semi-rimmed
9mm auto: rimless
.40 auto, 10mm auto, .357 SIG: rimless
.41 magnum: rimmed
.44 special & Magnun: rimmed
.45 auto: rimless

Bill DeShivs
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Hawk Carse
Advanced Member

3501 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  11:10:40 PM  Show Profile
There are whole books on the subject.
Cartridges of the World has pictures and descriptions of nearly all common cartridges and many obsolete and uncommon examples.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=cartridges+of+the+world+13th+edition&sprefix=Cartridges+
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11b6r
Advanced Member

USA
13138 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2010 :  11:57:43 PM  Show Profile
Abd just to confuse things, some cartridges have a "rebated" rim- which means a rim smaller than the cartridge body- and there are a few, fairly scarce collector's cartridges that are TRULY rimless- the back end is squared off- no rim or groove. Some cartridges are straight walled, some with a very gradual taper, some with a bottle neck. I have been dabbling at cartridge collecting for 30 years, and I am still learning about some of the weird stuff (Oh- BTW, besides rimfire and centerfire, there were other systems years ago- lipfires, pinfires, cupfires, titfires, and Crispins)

"Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can borrow mine."
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mark christian
Administrator

Panama
19230 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2010 :  12:09:58 AM  Show Profile
Zaphodb17, forum policy is to lock all threads after ten replies, but I hope that we have managed to shed some light on your ammunition questions.
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