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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Military J-38 Help

Reviews Summary for Military J-38
Military J-38 Reviews: 15 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: Basic straight key used by U.S. military
Product is in production.
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W0CKI Rating: 1/5 Aug 14, 2011 19:00 Send this review to a friend
El Stinko  Time owned: more than 12 months
Had one in the 50's. For the most part just junk. Put it in the trash.
AC8JD Rating: 5/5 Aug 14, 2011 16:44 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Key!!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought my J-38 key off of ebay. I paid a total of $35 including shipping. I love CW and love CW instruments of all types and styles. I have to say, this J-38 has to be my favorite. I gravitated toward the old military keys because I also love history and I thought it would be neat to own a good ol' piece of American history by picking up a key that was widely used in the military.

When I got the J-38, it still worked even though it was very dirty, and somewhat corroded. It didn't work great, but it still got the job done. I stripped and cleaned every part individually. It was a very easy key to dis-assemble and re-assemble. I took maybe a total of 1 hour. Once it was all cleaned up and put back on the air, the J-38 shined above all other keys I own. I think the other keys will get jealous that they are not getting used as much!

W8ZNX Rating: 2/5 Jun 21, 2007 13:37 Send this review to a friend
simply horrid  Time owned: more than 12 months
in over 45 years
have owned
more than one J-38

to me
the J-38
is a instrument of

wonder how many
thousands of phone only ops

were created
by having used
the dam thing
as a novice op

save your arm
save your money

there are much better keys

want a great straight key
for less than 40 bucks
see the Russian Cherkassy keys

selling on e bay
for 20 to 40 bucks
its as good
as the German Junker key


AC0CW Rating: 5/5 Dec 25, 2005 10:59 Send this review to a friend
Great Key  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Bought this key on Ebay for US$33. It's the version made by Lionel. It's easy to adjust, smooth, precise, and a pleasure to use. My unit required a bit of cleaning, but was easy to disassemble (and reassemble) and get working great and looking good again. I did add three rubber feet to the bakelite base, which is slightly warped, so that it would not rock when set on the benchtop. Also, if you have a heavy fist, it's a bit front-heavy (actually, back-light) so you might want to anchor it somehow.

This is a great key, and I use it 90% of the time when I opeate CW (with is 90% of the time).
KI4JOT Rating: 4/5 Dec 15, 2005 08:09 Send this review to a friend
Most reliable key I own!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
When I first got my Tech acouple months back my code elmer, W4DON, geve me a J-38 to practice code with. I started going over to his house at every chance so he could drill me on the code. when I finally got up to 8 words a minute on receiving he hooke up the key to hismorse machine and told me to call CQ. It was the key I made my first contact on and I plan on using it for the upcoming Straight-Key night. The key has a very good feel to it and I will die with it. I recently bought a Lionel J-38 and love it too. I believe everyone learning the code should have one for I believe they set the Straight-key standard.
K7UA Rating: 4/5 Dec 2, 2005 15:16 Send this review to a friend
Much better than the copies  Time owned: more than 12 months
In the 1960s I got a whole bunch of silver plated J38s from Air Force Mars. Gave them all away to new hams. Still have two regular J38s. Should have kept at least one of the silver plated jobs. I don't know what anyone could want much more in a straight key. I have never seen any of the later knock offs that was even close in quality and feel. I'm glad I still have the two that I do.
AE3A Rating: 5/5 Apr 6, 2004 15:14 Send this review to a friend
like this key!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Bought a J-38 in great condition off ebay, and it remains one of my favorites. Nice feel, crisp, smooth action, nicely adjustable.
KG9HV Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2003 09:14 Send this review to a friend
Lionel a keeper  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've got the Lionel J-38 and the workmanship is
great. A piece of history that's welcome in my
collection and I can put it on the air too. Every
cw op should have a Lionel in his shack. Compared
to my new nye viking, it is alot more key for the
money. Just believe it.
KF6IIU Rating: 3/5 Jun 7, 2003 20:04 Send this review to a friend
Sentimental favorite  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got my J-38 knockoff in the 70's from Olson or Lafayette or some place. Lost the shorting bar knob long ago but it's nice to have something from my junior high school days that still works reliably. Still nice and sinky, I am sure this key will last forever.
W5CGH Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2002 12:22 Send this review to a friend
EXCELLENT!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
J-38's (and J-37's for that matter) are excellent keys for the beginner and experienced brass pounder alike. They were made by several manufacturers, but probably the best known were made by the Lionel Train Company. You used to be able to buy them surplus for 50 cents or a buck, but today you'll probably pay $35+ for one at a hamfest.

STAY AWAY from the JJ-38, which is an unbelievably poor 1970's vintage foreign knock off. There is absolutely no comparison.

72 es 73,

Brad, W5CGH (ex WB0CGH)
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