50+ year old .38 revolver
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Thread: 50+ year old .38 revolver

  1. #1

    50+ year old .38 revolver

    Greetings fellow enthusiasts! I am helping a friend who, shall we say, lacks knowledge of firearms. He recently inherited a .38 revolver (no idea of mfg) that has not been cleaned in, oh, 50+ years... The trigger pull is estimated at about 110 lbs... I have offered to clean the dang thing & am wondering about stripping the grips off & soaking the entire pistol in some CLR.
    Good idea or bad? As old as it is I know there are no polymers in it & it does have a hefty feel for a 3 or 4" bbl length revolver. Anything I should be on the look out for?
    Thanks in advance for your advice. I really enjoy the feedback I get from you folks! You are the best!!

  3. #2

    old gun

    I put a old 32 I found that was rusted thru a sonic cleaner after stripping it and then let it set in a pot of heated moly 680 gear lube for 3 hours. After that I cleaned it up and barring some minor surface pitting its as good as new. The ultra sonic is a Godsend for getting old gunk out you can't get to.

  4. I suggest carrying it to a gun smith and have him detail strip it and clean it. It sounds like you need to pull the sideplate and really clean the internals of the gun. Unless you know what you are doing, you can screw up a gun when taking it apart like that.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Soverign State of Poverty Knob near Tennessee
    I would be careful NOT to use any RUST REMOVER type of chemicals on the gun. If it is blued or has any other finish, the acid in the rust remover will eat the bluing off. The comment from jtg452 seems like the best idea. They are trained at not accidentally destroying what they are trying to repair.
    Let's hear it for Gun Free Zones... Public places where the criminal has a monopoly
    on self defense. - Gary Nelson 2012

  6. #5
    +1 for gunsmith overhaul. There may be pitting, warping of the barrel, god knows WHAT kind of damage to the guts. In other words, it may not be safe to fire, and may need to be relegated to inert paperweight duty.
    S&W M&P 45; Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum; Charter Arms .38 Undercover

  7. Actually, I made the suggestion because I don't know if he has the proper tools and knowledge to do the job without doing any damage.

    You don't go grab your Craftsman screwdriver set to disassemble a firearm. The slots on gun screws are shaped differently than household screws. Use the wrong screwdriver and you run the risk of buggering up the screws. Do that badly enough and the screw is useless. Many revolver sideplates are under tension ('sprung') when in place. You can pull all the screws and it still won't come off. If you don't know how to take it off correctly, you can- and probably will- tweak it slightly and it won't fit flush ever again. We won't even mention the springs and such that may (or may not) be captive inside the mechanism. They have a nasty habit of flying off to where ever those socks we lose in the dryer go to hide if you aren't ready for them.

    In the long run, it's probably safer and cheaper to let somebody that actually knows what they are doing handle it. All he's got to do is detail strip it down, clean and relube the interior. While he's at it, he can look it over and see if there's anything that needs fixing or replacing. It's not a big job but one that can come back to bite you if it isn't done right.

  8. #7
    Thanks all for the responses. I think the best action for me to take is a surface clean, visual inspection & then returning it to my buddy with a recommendation he take it to a gunsmith for a detailed inspection & cleaning. I too would hesitate to fire this piece without knowing if it will blow up... I am certainly going to recommend he never fire any +P ammo period!
    Great group here!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Milwaukee, WI.
    Blog Entries
    When your buddy takes it to a gunsmith, have him ask if they will do a "Function and Safety Check". This will be a good indicator as to whether or not the gun can be repaired. Most smiths only charge between 5-10 dollars for this.

  10. #9
    So this thread is almost a month old now...

    How about an outcome? We need closure!!

    Some before and after pics of the gun would be awesome too!
    S&W M&P 45; Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum; Charter Arms .38 Undercover

  11. #10
    Wouldn't hurt to soak it in some atf as it works on rust then clean in normal manner. Make sure that barrel is good & clean before a round is fired. Pull grip before soaking in atf. Sounds crude but works.

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