38 loaders - I need your input


April 22, 2006, 11:37 AM
Hey guys... last week I reloaded my first 200 rounds of .45 ACP on my 550.

This lead free .38 load is more complicated and there is very little data out there for lead free stuff, so please take a look and tell me what you think.

Let me get this part out of the way - I'm going to Thunder Ranch in about a month. They mandate lead free ammo. This is not an option, and factory lead free .38 is a unicorn.

That said, the formula -

Mixed .38 brass, all nickel plated.
105 Gr Sinterfire lead free bullets - Note length is .676"
Titegroup - 3.5 gr - selected b/c it is supposed to work well with LF primers & burn clean
CCI primers - #500 small pistol Lead Free

Ammo is loaded to 1.53" OAL.

The Sinterfire bullets have a "shoulder". From the base to the drop of of the .357" diameter is .276" in length. It drops to .347" and tapers to the HP from there.

So, the length of the .38 cases (avg) 1.155" plus the .676" 105 gr minus the distance to the shoulder drop off = 1.55", but I couldn't get it to that exactly... the test run of 24 rounds ammo ranges from 1.528"-1.533".

FWIW frangiblebullets.com suggests charges based on a formula that takes the actual weight of the bullet (105), then add the size of the equiv length lead bullet - 147 - then divide by two and load for that - so 126, so I pulled some 125 data and 3.5 gr seemed like a good starting point.

VERY little crimp as the lead free ammo will crack if you give it to much crimp. Crimped just enough to get rid of the bell.

I'll be shooting these out of a Ruger GP100 5" and a S&W M13 .357 4".

Some Q&A intel from the fragible bullets-

Q. In your typical JHP load in 38 SPL, what happens when you drop in a SinterFire bullet?

A. When using 4.5 gr. of Bullseye the 110 JHP velocity goes from 606 fps to 813 fps and using a 125 JHP the change is from 7i14 fps to 928 fps. This is because of the built-in bullet lubricant and the reduced case capacity increasing velocity.

Q. You have loading data on your site(NOTE - NOT ANYMORE THAT I CAN FIND:(), but what do I do to develop my own loads?

A. Look at the data you use now. We have a light bullet that has a heavy bullet profile and case capacity. Use the intermediate bullet weight data you already have available. For example, in 308 and 30-06 using your favorite 150gr load, drop in our 125gr bullet. In 223, use your 55gr bullet load and drop in our 42gr bullet. In 9mm and 40 S&W, since they are high pressure rounds, our bullet is 30% lighter and therefore takes up 30% more case capacity. Go with your lighter loads using W231, Bullseye, AA#2, #5 or another fast pistol powder. The 45ACP, 38 SPL and 357 all have larger case capacity and a little slower powder loading will work OK. Just be sure that the load will snap the 45 well enough to cycle the action.


I'm planning on trying this at the range tomorrow afternoon, so if there is any chance I'm going to say, blow my hand off due to detonation a warning would be appreciated :uhoh:

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April 22, 2006, 12:40 PM
Remington makes Disintegrators in .38spl. Not to be a downer, but using reloads for a course like this is asking for trouble especially as a beginning reloader. I'm surprised they'd even allow reloads to be used due to training downtime for any ammo problems.

April 22, 2006, 01:01 PM
461 -

Any source for purchase on those Remmy Disintegrators?

I bought a few hundred extra componants to work up the load. I'm new at this but I'm a relatively bright banana, and I'm pretty methodical and cautious.

I'm planning on working up the load, testing a couple hundred, then loading them slow with great attention given to each individual round. This will be my 6th class at TR and believe me, I do not want to have any issues or cause any.

Suffice to say I want input from people with experience... this was not my first choice but after buying the dies, shellplates, frangible bullets, lead free primers, etc etc this is the route I'm going unless I can find a deal on 1000 rounds of factory lead free ammo.

April 22, 2006, 07:55 PM
Any local dealer in Remington ammo can order it for you but it probably won't be much of a deal. Wasn't meaning to insult in any way, I've been a reloader for 15+ years and am also very careful but I sure remember some of my early mistakes. I'd check for sure with Thunder Ranch to be sure they'll allow the loads as a lot of trainers I've worked with have strict rules agains reloads in classes. If they mandate a certain ammo then they may have it available for a decent price. Good luck.

April 22, 2006, 11:08 PM
Well, as it happens, it works very well :)

No smoke to speak of, very little felt recoil in the GP100.


I'm going to load up another 50 and see how they run...

461, I appreciate your input - certainly no offense taken.


April 23, 2006, 05:26 AM
Nice groups!! Might just have to get some of that Tite-group.

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