.38 long cartridge

Artic wolfArtic wolf Member Posts: 181 ✭✭✭
edited December 2007 in Ask the Experts
The gun I have is a six shot revolver. It is nickel plated with walnut cheakered hand grip. It is made by Beistegui Bros in Eibar (spain). Trade mark stamp looks like H with a B in the middle.
It is in Very good condition it was a pre World War 2 pistol.
I would like any info on What ammo I should use the value of the gun and any more info.[:)]

EX-the 38 long cartridge is stamped on barrel


  • Der GebirgsjagerDer Gebirgsjager Member Posts: 1,685 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Where did you find the ".38 Long Colt" info? Is it stamped on the revolver? If so, that is what it is chambered for. It is definately not for .38 Special, which is too powerful. The metallurgy in some of the older Spanish revolvers was not comparable to U.S. guns of the same period, and you should have it checked over by a good gunsmith before you fire it at all.
  • WheelgunWheelgun Member Posts: 149 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I second the notion of getting a qualified gunsmith to check that gun out. I've seen some of the types of copies you have, and I wouldn't even consider firing most of them.

    .38 Long Colt ammo isn't widely available, and is rather pricey when found. A better alternative for a shooter would be to buy a good used American made revolver chambered in .38 Special.


    Wheelguns is REALGUNS!
  • joeaf1911a1joeaf1911a1 Member Posts: 3,340
    edited November -1
    I just really wonder just how many of us take our used guns which
    we bought to a "qualified" gunsmith prior to firing? I will admit
    it is a good idea. However its pricey to do so with them. Lets hear
    just how many do so. In a revolver such as this in .38 L.C. one
    can use .38 spl brass and reload or have some one reload for you
    light .38 L.C. loads after making certain it locks, times properly,
    and has no excess cylinder to barrel gap if you know how. The rim
    diam on a .38L.C. is .007 smaller, case length is a little different,
    L.O.A. is smaller. Have done this wth my 1898 Colt .38 L.C..
    If you are not a true gun nut and dont know, the qualified gunsmith
    is still the best thing. Frank C. Barnes's Cartridges of the world
    shows all demminsions .
  • Der GebirgsjagerDer Gebirgsjager Member Posts: 1,685 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Well, Joe, in my case I AM a qualified gunsmith----so I don't have to travel far. You are correct about shooting downloaded .38 Specials in an 1898 Colt, and the most ideal load I have found is factory or equivalent .38 Special mid-range wadcutters. The old 2.5 gr. of Bullseye behind a 148 gr. wadcutter is just fine. In the case of the 1898 Colt, the problem exists that no shoulder was cut into the chambers, and the unknowledgeable have not only fired full power .38's in them, but also the occassional .357. Not too long back a Tyro here on the forum kind of roundabout called me a liar when I mentioned this possibility, stating that a .357 was too long for the cylinder. Try it with a wadcutter or semi-wadcutter load. This creates a virtual handgrenade and the danger is very real. In the case of Arctic wolf's Pistola Espanol, a question exists if it should be fired at all, and this would be best determined by a good (qualified) gunsmith; as his asking the question in the first place indicates that he is not himself knowledgeable enough to make that determination. No offense there, Arctic wolf--there's a few things I'm not too knowledgeable about either! But, better to spend a few bucks which you can replace than to lose an eye or some fingers which won't grow back.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    My experiences with early 20th century Spanish and Belgian copies of popular Colt and S&W revolvers has not been good. While they may look good on the outside, the inner parts are roughly made of soft steel.
    Your revolver was for a black powder cartridge.
    I would sell it while it still is tight.
    If you have to shoot it, use only light target loads for the 38 SPL but don't be surprised if it loosens up or malfunctions within a few hundred rounds.
  • GatofeoGatofeo Member Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Before you run out to reload for that revolver, look at the firing pin placement and determine whether it's centerfire or rimfire.
    Many, many old revolvers of this type are rimfire --- and most rimfire cartridges above .22 caliber have not been made since World War I.
    On occasion, you still see .32 Long and .41 Short rimfire cartridges available, but I don't believe that anyone's made the .38 rimfire since the 19-teens or early 1920s. It is doubtful that such old rimfire cartridges would function well and they'd almost certainly have corrosive primers.
    If your revolver is a centerfire, you can trim .38 Special cases back to about 1.02 if you use a bullet that fits into the case.
    If you use a heeled bullet, as the originals did, then you'll have to trim the case to about .856 to accomodate the bullet's length outside the case.
    Were it me, I'd use black powder or Pyrodex to load those first cases. A small amount of smokeless might work well but I'd test it first with black powder loads and its lower pressures.
    If you decline to get a gunsmith look at it, which you should, I surely wouldn't shoot it the first time in the hand.
    Secure it to a post or tree, cock the hammer, tie a long string to the trigger and from 25 yards away or a covered position, pull the string. Wear eye protection. Do this at least twice for each chamber (12 rounds for a six-shooter) to ensure it will hold.
    The .38 Long Colt is hampered today by its large bore diameter. Most run about .375 inch. The .38 Colt was initially designed with a heeled bullet. The heel measured about .358 and the rest of the bullet was about .376 or thereabouts. This worked fine but all that lubricant on the exterior of the bullet attracted dirt and crud and soiled your pocket.
    So, about 1900, manufacturers began making their .32, 38 and .41 ammo with an undersized, inside-lubricated bullet with a deep cavity in the bullet's base.
    The cavity, upon expansion of the gunpowder gases, forced the bullet to swell out in the bore and properly engage the rifling. The system worked well with black powder, which seems to "bump up" such bullets well, but not as well with smokeless powder.
    I don't know why but that's been my experience with my Marlin Model 1892 rifle that fires the .32 Long Colt. I've heard others express the same experience.
    But with the .38 wadcutter and its deep hollowbase and thin walls, I don't think you'll have any problem. It should fill out well in the larger bore.
    If you use black powder, you'll need to use a bullet lubricant that is not petroleum-based. Crisco thickened with beeswax works well. Melt the two together in a small can.
    If you use petroleum-based lubricants with black powder, you'll get a hard, tarry fouling and lousy accuracy. Also, you'll have to cast a very soft bullet if you use black powder. Anything harder than wheelweights will cause bad leading.
    If you use smokeleless powder, you may use bullets of a harder temper and petroleum-based lubricants without a problem.
    Getting that old revolver to fire again is a noble task but it's probably an onerous one. Save it for a decorator and buy a good, used .38 Special revolver with adjustable sights. You'll find inexpensive, easily found ammo in a variety of configurations.

    "A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44!"
  • treedawgtreedawg Member Posts: 321 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I located this thread with a Google search.

    I have an old beistegui bros 38 LC at my pawn shop. I don't know if this was the case when this thread was started, but today you can find factory 38 LC ammo. You will not find it at Wal Mart ETC, but most gun shops can special order it.

  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,428 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by treedawg
    I located this thread with a Google search.

    I have an old beistegui bros 38 LC at my pawn shop. I don't know if this was the case when this thread was started, but today you can find factory 38 LC ammo. You will not find it at Wal Mart ETC, but most gun shops can special order it.


    My 2?! With these old Spanish made revolvers, with questionable materials/workmanship. The question is not so much with ammo availability, but are they safe to fire in the first place?

    I was at a range one time when a guy was trying to shoot one of these jewels. It was so badly out of time that people on both sides of him were being hit by bullet fragments. He was a non English speaker unfortunately, so we had a hard time trying to communicate with him. To explain what was happening and have him stop shooting, and have the revolver fixed. Which I seriously doubt, he ever did.

    The previous posters who advised to have these Spanish revolvers checked out by a competent Gun Smith, were giving you the straight skinny.
  • 11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,725
    edited November -1
    Besides getting a smith to check it out, be advised that there was a SPANISH 38 Long that is NOT the 38 Colt Long, but was a black powder cartridge that was close to 38 Special dimension, but was a light black powder load. Even if a modern 38 Special fits, it would be likely to disassemble the weapon (rapidly) and possibly the shooter. Chamber cast it.
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