Ray wrote:The problems you're having with this gun suggest a couple of things. First, there may be some misalignment of the barrel or forcing cone. Another possibility is a rough bore in one area. I'd try fire lapping the darn thing and see if that helps. Also, would check and re-cut the forcing cone if necessary.
Sounds logical, but the gun had been fire lapped decades ago, and it did not improve anything. The barrel has always been mirror smooth, even before firelapping. S&W barrels are usually pretty decent -- it's the rest of the gun that has problems.
I bought a forcing cone cutting kit, but it turned out that the existing forcing cone was grossly oversize -- it will swallow most of a 45 acp bullet. The barrel needed to be set back about 1/4" to eliminate the oversize forcing cone, and that wasn't practical, so that idea was a dead end.
Ray wrote:I have used H110 and WW296 (same powder actually) for years with plain base bullets without leading. In fact I never clean the barrels of my hunting revolvers when using these powders exclusivly-- no sense to it.
Ditto for my experience in a dimensionally correct Ruger 357. If it gets wet, I'll oil it to prevent rust, but otherwise, I never clean it, because it never fouls.
Ray wrote: Personally, I would not go to the trouble of reaming cases. Too damn much work! I think I'd stick with a gas check or get rid of the gun. Life's too short....
100% agreement. The gun had been retired many years ago (I don't think it would be ethical to sell this lemon) and it was only brought out of retirement to do these experiments.
It does shoot heavy GC bullets OK, but it's no fun shooting heavy bullets in a 4" Smith, and the recoil from the heavy bullets would sometimes unlock the cylinder -- yet another known S&W weakness.
This N-frame has since been re-retired, and is not missed.
I thought it was worthwhile to tell the story of this lemon, because there are other people out there struggling to get their wheelguns to shoot cast well, just as I struggled for years until I finally acquired a cast-friendly gun. My formative shooting years were spent reading every word that Skeeter and Elmer and Veral wrote, about how wonderful cast bullets were, and I'd run out and do everything they recommended, and get lousy results. I couldn't figure out what was wrong.
I'm glad you're getting outstanding results in your 38-55's, but there are also 38-55 owners struggling with their dysfunctional guns, and I think someone needs to tell them that they aren't doing anything wrong, they just have a lemon. It may hurt someone's feelings, but it's the truth. You sure won't hear the truth in gun mags.
There are lots of imperfect guns out there. Sometimes we can fix them, or work around the imperfections, but other times it is more cost effective to move on. I would have saved a heap of money if I had gotten rid of this lemon about 20 years ago.