.38 Sp+P through a Short Barrel


July 17, 2007, 03:26 AM
I'm looking for suggestions on which powder to use for my .38 Special +P rounds that will be fired from a Snub Nose revolver. Right now I'm using Longshot but I'm not sure that powder burns fast enough to work efficiently in a 1 7/8" barrel revolver. It does achieve velocities normally associated with the .38 Sp +P round without excessive pressures, but through a test barrel, not a short barrel. (According to the data, I donít have a Chronometer yet)

I'm charging 5.5 gr Longshot under a 158 gr JHP bullet.
I'm charging 6.9 gr Longshot under a 125 gr JHP bullet.

My primary reason for wanting to work up a .38 Sp +P load is for practice. I want to try to match Factory +P SD ammo as close as I can so I don't have to practice with ammo which costs $1.00 a round. :rolleyes:

I also want to load a 158 gr SWC Hard Cast but I'm not sure what the charge should be since I can't find data for Lead bullets, only jacketed bullets.

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July 17, 2007, 10:55 AM
My 642 really likes Bullseye for practice rounds. No, they aren't +P but they're very accurate and aren't painful to shoot. For full power I'd recommend Power Pistol.

July 17, 2007, 11:17 AM
Another vote for Bullseye.

July 17, 2007, 12:04 PM
I have my eye on the GDJHP-SB .38 Spl +P 135 grain load for carry in my 340. So, like you I am trying to develop an reload for both acclimation to j-frames (I come from a semiauto handgun and .22LR marksmanship background) and for practice for the SD load.

A nominal cost of 10 cents a round (15 cents with Jacketed bullets) is a powerful incentive over the current $1.00 per round of the factory PD ammo.

Here's a couple of links to my threads and experiences to date:

As posted as handloads.com: http://forums.handloads.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=14856&PN=1

And, the thread here at THR: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=278146

There's also a thread at S&W reloading that is largely a replication of the handloads.com thread.

I think I have located most of the short-barrel loads one can find--from tests in Handloader / Pet loads from the Sixties on forward. The only thing 'officially' done recently has been by Speer--if you haven't done so, look at the Speer GDJHP-SB loads on this link:


The links are very nice one-page pdf files--and read them closely; the 2" barrel recommendations are buried in the commentary.

This project got set back when I spent the last month dealing with the creeping crud--but late last week I got back up to speed again--I've actually been to the range three times since the 13th to test fire loads. Unfortunately, I still have no chrono results--can't find the manual. A concerted effort today may change that, however.

My task is slightly different--I have scads of 231 on hand I would like to use. There ARE 231 recipes available, particularly for .38 Spl. However, if you read the handloads.com thread, you will see I am finding some .357 'lite' loadings that may achieve what I want. And, I'm going to disregard the 105 bullets and concentrate for now on 125s and 140s.

Depending on what your snubbie is, you can even consider doing "+P+" loads in the .38Spl cases. Otherwise, if your revolver will shoot .357, I will report that, at this early stage, 'light .357' loads look more promising.

On your question here--I've not shot Longshot or Bullseye. I initially started reloading in semiautos, and its reputation for dirtiness kept me away from it--and so far, my segue into titegroup is 'interesting,' but not compelling. I am finding nice tight groups at 10 yards with that '.357 lite' load, however. If you are willing to ignore the very good conventions about not shooting 'overpressure' loads, you might get some headway in .38Spl +P+.

Jim H.

July 17, 2007, 01:47 PM
Originally Posted By: Eagle103
My 642 really likes Bullseye for practice rounds. No, they aren't +P but they're very accurate and aren't painful to shoot. For full power I'd recommend Power Pistol.
Originally Posted By: jibjab
Another vote for Bullseye.
Gentlemen, while I truly believe you are trying to be helpful I wish I could get a straight answer to my question in just one thread I start. I am asking about .38 Special +P loads, not light loads. I specifically stated I want to try and duplicate Factory +P ammo so that my practice sessions is real practice for my carry ammo. Thank you but please try and answer the question asked instead of telling me what you think I need to know.

Thank you for the information and links. My J frame is a S&W Model 638, it's .38 Sp +P rated, not a .357 Magnum.

As for your W231 powder "problem", I read your thread but this just came to me. Even though W231 isn't the best powder for .357 Magnum loads, since you are shooting a .357 Magnum you won't have to worry about excessive pressures in the .38 Sp +P range since your revolver is rated for .357 Magnum pressures. You can push your load over 18,000 PSI whereas I can't. Unfortunately, W231 will still produce much higher pressures at lower velocities than W296. A 110 gr JHP bullet will achieve 1650 fps with W231 where the same bullet will travel @ 2078 fps with W296, and at lower pressures. W231 will produce 42,5000 CUP and W296 will produce only 37,200 CUP.

Since you are going to carry Speer's Gold Dot Short Barrel SD ammo which is 135 gr I think you would do better loading 140 gr bullets instead of 125 gr bullet. The 140's will be closer to the Gold Dot ammo. (I also carry Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel SD rounds but in .38 Sp +P)

Hodgdon's site has load data for 140 GR. HDY XTP bullets.
140 GR. HDY XTP W231 .357" Diam. 1.590" OAL
6.5 gr 1219 fps 30,800 CUP 7.7 gr 1378 fps 41,900 CUP

Since you aren't looking for a "Hot" load, if I were to produce .357 Magnum loads with W231 I would probably use all the data above but charge 7.0 gr W231. Even though it's not an exact figure I'm thinking that will produce a fair representation of the GDHP load you are going to carry since it too is a light load. I would usually never guess but in this case itís not really a guess since itís somewhere in the middle of the published data.

July 17, 2007, 02:26 PM
I went down and searched the moving boxes again to see what other powders I have--and low and behold, out came AA#5 and AA#7. I also have some 296, and can of Unique. All these powders are about fifteen years old, but in their original / sealed containers. I also have more (Lee) Powder Measures currently empty as I went through an 'updating' process when I got out the gear this Spring.

At any rate: ArchAngle CD, like you I am seeking a .38+P practice load. I started with 231 because I have A LOT of that on hand and because I know it well from my .45ACP / 10 mm days with my semiautos. I also would like to see some good data on 2" barrel velocities--and there simply is little of that. FWIW, I think most of the Hodgdon data is from 10" test barrels. There is an old Handloader article from the Sixties with 2" barrel data--but it is all .357 firewall loads in the heavier weights, of course.

As I started thinking this project through, I realized I could seek both 38Spl +P, even +P+ loads because of the specs of these guns. And, I wanted to try to burn up that 231--so I started there. As noted in other posts (elsewhere), I have no interest in firewall .357 loads--I want to practice with the 640, but with rounds I'll also shoot in the 340.

Currently I carry the FC 110 38 Spl (not +P) PD load--at my current skill level, that's a good round for me; I can shoot fast enough and accurately enough. Once the skills get in place and I'm fully acclimated to these j-frames, 'more is better' will come in--hence the eventual goal of (probably) the GDJHP-SP 135-gr in 38Spl+P.

Thanks for pointing out that 140 gr XTP-231 load--somehow, I had missed seeing that one so far--and I have downloaded and printed most if not all the 38-+P-.357 data from the Hodgdon site. I have both GDSB 135s and Win JHP 125s on hand, and it looks like I can build up some loads that will approximate the GD135+P ammo. I think I will do a run of 231 from 6.6 to about 7.0--e.g., a lower pressure range--and see what that shows.

So, since the Speer GD135 data sheet did list both AA#5 and AA#7 for 38Spl+P, I've loaded up ten rounds of 140 LRNFP-P over 7.8 gr. of AA#7. FYI--the (Ranier) 140 is NOT cannelured, and with a good LOA (1.455+) this is a slightly-compressed load in a .38Spl case. I do have some 140 gr LRNFP on order from Chey Cast; the Raniers were bought in error.

We'll see how this #7-140LRNFP-P shoots in the 640 later today--

Jim H.

July 17, 2007, 02:32 PM
38 +P are great, but in the very short J-Frame barrels I am not sure if you really realize the benefits of more charge due to the fact that most of the extra powder just fizzles out the end of the short barrel.

I found this to be the case with .357 mags from a 2" barrel revolver. After a few boxes of shells through it on an indoor range you could see the unburned powder that escaped that we swept up on the floor.

Just something to think about.

Jim Watson
July 17, 2007, 03:21 PM
Short barrel = fast powder does not compute.
If you want top speed, use a medium slow to slow powder. Yes, it will be "inefficient" but that is what it takes.
I would think Longshot to do as well as any.

As far as the difference between cast and jacketed, well, that's what the fine print about starting loads and "working up" is about.

Sharps Shooter
July 17, 2007, 06:16 PM
Actually, I experimented off and on again last winter with the very thing youíre asking about ArchAngel Ė finding a good powder for +P .38 Special loads in my wifeís 1-7/8Ē Smith. Unfortunately, of the two powders I tried, HS-6 and Unique, I found the velocities of the Speer 158-grain swaged lead SWC-HPs to be about 200fps slower from my wifeís revolver than the velocities listed in the Speer Manual. Speer claims they used a Smith Model 14 with a 6Ē barrel in their tests.
On another note, I shot the same loads across my chronograph using my own 4Ē barreled Smith and found the velocities only 100fps slower than those listed in the Speer Manual from their 6Ē barreled revolver. I donít know if you can draw any conclusions from that, but at least in the few experiments I conducted, I lost 50fps for every inch less barrel with both HS-6 and Unique powder for +P .38 Special loads. You might want to keep in mind it was winter (cold) in Southeast Idaho when I tested those loads at a local gravel pit at around 5200 feet elevation. Besides, I only had two .38 Special revolvers to test the loads in. Thatís not a very big sample. YRMV.
But here are the results of my experiments so far:

Speer 158-grain SWC-HP bullet

5.2-grains Unique (919fps from a 6Ē barrel according to the Speer Manual)
4Ē barrel Ė 830fps average
1-7/8Ē barrel Ė 720fps average

6.7-grains HS-6 (971fps from a 6Ē barrel according to the Speer Manual)
4Ē barrel Ė 851fps average
1-7/8 barrel Ė 768fps average

The Unique and HS-6 loads are maximum loads as listed in my Speer Manual and I didnít just jump into them Ė I worked up. Furthermore, I found I got the almost identical velocities with HS-6 powder when I was a couple of tenths of a grain below maximum. For example, with that 158-grain SWC-HP bullet, I averaged 850-fps from my 4Ē barreled Smith with only 6.5-grains of HS-6 instead of the maximum charge of 6.7-grains of HS-6. None of the loads I experimented with showed any signs of excessive pressure Ė no stuck cases, no ruptures, no abnormally flattened or cratered primers. Again, YRMV.
After the weather cools off, Iím going to try those Speer SWC-HPs in .38 Special +P loads again. Iíll probably try Power Pistol powder though. I sure donít know it all, but Iíve read enough to believe faster powders in shorter barrels donít equal higher velocities. Iíve read in order to get the highest velocities from short barrels handloaders should use the same powders they would use for longer barrels in order to get the highest velocities. Whether thatís true or not, I donít know. But thatís what Iíve read.:)

July 18, 2007, 11:56 AM
Bullseye. With 158 grain cast or plated bullets I use 3.7 grains, to just get into the +P range.


July 18, 2007, 01:00 PM
Gentlemen, while I truly believe you are trying to be helpful I wish I could get a straight answer to my question in just one thread I start. I am asking about .38 Special +P loads, not light loads. I specifically stated I want to try and duplicate Factory +P ammo so that my practice sessions is real practice for my carry ammo. Thank you but please try and answer the question asked instead of telling me what you think I need to know.

You asked for a powder to replicate factory +P recoil and I recommended Power Pistol which is what Speer recommends for top performance when handloading their 135g Gold Dot.
jfh has given you this link as well.
I can tell you from my own experience that the 6.4g load of PP will give you all the recoil and blast you'll get from factory loaded 135g GDHP +P Speers and velocities are very close. Like you I was looking for a cheaper practice round to replicate the expensive factory ammo and along with 135g Gold Dot bullets from Midway this works for me. I may be a sissy but after 20 or 30 rounds the web of my hand starts to get sore which is why I shoot lighter rounds loaded with 125g bullets over Bullseye as well. POI is very close to the +P 135s and I can comfortably shoot 100 of these in a session. Have a good day.

July 18, 2007, 01:35 PM
until I know more what happened. Right now, I suspect the uncannuleured bullet was the problem.

Pictures and details later.

Before that happened, I can report that about 4.5 to 4.6 gr. of 231 under that same bullet gave 1" groups at 10 yards, and was 'pleasant' to shoot.

I'll use up the rest of those 140 Raniers on that load.

Jim H.

The Bushmaster
July 18, 2007, 03:17 PM

.38 Special
Chronograph readings using 5.3 gr of W-231 under a 125 gr SJHP. WSP primer===755 fps and from a 2" Mod 10 S&W. Using a 140 gr SJHP and 4.5gr of W-231. WSP primer===675 fps.

.357 Magnum
Chronograph readings using 7.8 gr of W-231 under a 140 gr SJHP and a CCI-550 primer===1135 fps from a 2 1/2" mod 19 S&W Combat Magnum.

The above load data must be used in firearms capable of higher pressures. These loads are at the upper end of the charge weights.
Make sure you use a heavy crimp. Especially with the .38 Special and you will have a pretty clean burn...

July 18, 2007, 06:02 PM
The new Speer #14 manual has short barrel loads for 38 Sp, 38 Sp +P, and 44 Magnum, maybe more. The 38 Sp +P loads are listed for 110 and 135 gr bullets, the 135 gr bullets are especially for use in short barrels.
Darryl in AR

July 19, 2007, 11:12 AM
As noted above, a couple of days ago I loaded up ten test rounds of the following data:

1. new Starline 38 SPL case (+P, maybe even .357 Mag rated)
2. WSPs
3. data from Speer for their GDHP-SB 135-gr round for 38+P loading--
a. the minimum charge of 7.8 gr. of AA#7, under a
b. Ranier 140 gr. LFP, Plated.

Yesterday I went to the range, and fired the first five rounds from my S&W 640. These were 'impressive' loads--a big, slow recoil--but, in my judgement, not as fierce a recoil as I have experienced with 38Spl +P+ shots from an N frame. The cylinder did advance OK. But after all five were shot, I didn't want to shoot any more.

Here's a picture showing the results:


(bear with me--this is the first time I've uploaded images, ever, and I have debug this operation.)

when I got done shooting five rounds, I had trouble extracting the cases.

1. The cylinder opened with a bit of difficulty--and two cases fell out. For the other three, they remained stuck. I tapped gently on the rod with my range kit brass hammer, and the heads popped off, leaving the condition shown here.

2. I disassembled the remained five rounds of this load, and then took the pictures, one of which you see here in the link.

I remained a bit 'unsettled'--I've loaded 1000s and 1000s of rounds, and not had overpressure problems before--so I thought this through a bit more while musing about how to get the brass out of the cylinder. I eventually succeeded at that by using my brass range rod to tap them out far enough to get a grip with needle nose pliers. Two of them slid out smoothly; the last one took noticably more effort. The 640 appears undamaged--cylinder turns free, no alignment issues for opening and closing, but the latch is a bit stiffer. I'll have my gunsmith check it over.

After examining the picture closely, and looking at the brass headstamps, I can see increasing signs of overpressure. In the picture, it appears that the order of fire is 2-1-4-3-5.

Why did this happen: that Ranier 140 is an uncannelured bullet. I've shot over 150 rounds of it with moderate loads, using 231 and Titegroup with no creep, and after careful die adjustment for a solid rolled crimp.

But, set up with this load, 'something was wrong.' When I built these loads, I noted that the charge was 'slightly' compressed--and I ignored that. That was mistake two I think.

Mistake number one was not taking the admonition to use cannelured bullets only in revolvers.

It's a sobering lesson--as reloading mistakes should be, I think--and now I'll wait to build more 140 gr cast bullet loads (which will hopefully match the GDJHP-SB reload data) until my new order of 140-gr cannelured bullets arrive from Chey Cast.

Jim H.

July 19, 2007, 12:21 PM
My guess, if not an overcharge, is the soft plated Ranier hit the forcing cone with such force it expanded, "plugging it" so to speak, and took a great deal of pressure build up to swage it through and out. Cylider out of alignment? Just speculating. Lead at +P seems OK.

I don't see how the lack of a cannelure had anything to do with the problem. Will 14.8 Grs. of AA# 7 fit in the case? Just wondering here. And you would have had to do it more than once. Unlikely. Did you have the measure set wrong? Not hard to do.

That is a sobering sight for sure. A lesson to us all who load plated bullets. I have shot those same bullets in .38 Special with 700X behind them. Medium power loads though, like yours with W231 & Tight Group that did fine.

If it was a rifle I would say headspace. Did your frame strech to cause excessive headspace on rounds 3,4,5? Still just guessing.

I don't see pressure signs on the primers. I see case head seperation. The more I look the more it looks like a headspace issue?????

Very strange, Very unsettleing for sure. :uhoh:

July 19, 2007, 12:51 PM
jfh, did you happen to take a picture of a unfired round before disassembling ?
I've loaded Raineer 140gr plated FP nc with 5.5gr AA#5 WSP C.O.L. 1.442 with no problems in four of my revolvers. My dies are RCBS .38spl/.357 mag. the sizing die gives me good case tension on the bullet, and I apply a light roll crimp with these bullets. I have shot all but the last in the cylinder and checked for bullet pull but the C.O.L. has remained the same. Could you have over crimped ?

July 19, 2007, 01:30 PM
thanks for posting, guys--some answers:


1. The 640 (and the 340) had been given action jobs by my gunsmith, and checked over. No operational issues--they're both new guns; the 640 has about 250 rounds through it now.

The only apparent change to the firearm is that the cylinder latching is no longer as easy to do--but it latches OK, rotates OK, etc., etc. Barrel and forcing cone look normal, I think.

2. I'd like to believe the lack of canneleure was not an issue. FWIW, disassembly of the rounds (both this AA load and some 231 loads) took about six-to-eight sharp 'raps' on a concrete floor with the standard inertial puller.

3. No, 14.8 grains will not fit--in fact, 7.8 gr barely fit. The load was carefully weighed on my Lee scale, and the charge-bar setting double-checked after I reinstalled the auto-index rod on the Lee turret and started moving the dies and measure. The only thing I didn't do was double-check the weight on the digital scale. FWIW, this is a new scale....

It is fifteen-year-old AA#7--but from a sealed original container. Smells fine, looks fine--no clumping, nothing unusual.

4. With the possible exception of round five, I think I separated the heads when I tapped the ejection rod with the brass hammer. Note this was NOT 'hammering,' but gentle raps with the gun handheld--so there must have been some real near-separation about to occur. The extractors popped the heads out--no slideover.

5. Even though I have loaded full-house 10mm loads, these are the most flattened primers I've seen. Still, no leakage, and IMO, no flowing. The headstamps are still quite legible.

Your hypothesis about the plated rounds is thought-provoking. These are the first plated bullets I've used, so my knowledge is nil in this area.


1. Seeing your #5 reloading data with this bullet enheartens me. There is an alternate loading with #5 for the GDJHP-SB 135, and I will try that next.

2. regarding overcrimping: When I first started up this .38/.357 short-barrel project, I had not loaded revolvers before. My first rounds were with the 231 loads, and I had an experienced friend examine the crimps visually, and I checked the crimping by way of 'unloading,' as described above. Based on his critique and 'unloading,' I reached the conclusion that 'about six or so' raps was a good firm crimp.

What's your reaction to that assessment?

3. No, I neglected to take pictures of the unshot rounds. I can take a picture of one of the unseated bullets, however.

4. My dies are the Lee three-die carbide pistol set(s). This set was recently adjusted and set up. I did not, however, check the LOA on these specific rounds--they followed on a set of (lower) loadings with 231. That LOA is 1.445.

Meanwhile, I will continue to use the Raniers only in low-medium loads. The 4.6 gr. 231 load under these 140s is producing 1" to 1.25" inch groups (benchrest) at ten yards out of the 640, and it has enough oomph to allow me to use it for a good practice load. I'll get it through the chrono and find out what it does.

I have built 10 rounds of the Speer recommended charge for AA#5 using the GDJHP-135 rounds (which do have a cannelure)--and I'll probably try those next.

Any more thoughts--anyone?

Jim H.

July 19, 2007, 06:26 PM
A lot of this is a little over my head but I'm glad it's being posted here. I appreciate all the input and will pay attention to it all.

July 19, 2007, 06:37 PM
OK, I checked some LOAs--they all appear to be fine, nominally 1.445 or so.

I'm heading out to the range now; we'll see what this round of testing brings.

ArchAngelCD: What part of this discussion is 'over your head?' Speaking for myself, I'll be happy to further elaborate or do more explanations. The purpose of information (and the sharing) of stuff like this is to help all of us, so ask away....

Jim H.

July 19, 2007, 08:16 PM
But, set up with this load, 'something was wrong.' When I built these loads, I noted that the charge was 'slightly' compressed--and I ignored that. That was mistake two I think.

JFH--If your charge was "slightly compressed" you had considerably more than 7.8 grs of AA7 in your .38 case. Sounds like a double charge to me as I believe you would have to shove a 140 gr past flush into a .38 case to compress 7.8grs of AA7. It's not a bulky powder.

July 19, 2007, 08:27 PM
OK, I just got back from the range--the 640 shoots fine; no damage done.

for 38 Spl+P loads, then:

FWIW, the Ranier 140LRNFP-P bullets over 4.6 gr. of 231 seem to be a favorite for this 640. This makes a reasonable practice load--at today's typical costs, it looks like one can build 140-gr cast bullet rounds for about 10 cents a cartridge.

I also tested the Speer GD135 gr loads--the ones over 6.6 gr. of AA#5 as recommended in the Speer data sheet. They shot fine--maybe with a bit more oomph than the 4.6 gr of 231, but they shot to the same POA and shot an equally tight group--about 1.25" at ten yards.

I also tried the Speer bullets / AA#5 load in the 340. The recoil was noticably more (as it should be from a revolver that weighs 13.3 oz), but entirely livable for carry. When I finished the five, my reaction was that it was entirely feasible to consider a reload to get off another five rounds.

This load has a nominal cost of about 22 cents a round. It could even be a carry load, it appears--and all for about 75 cents a round less than factory ammo.

Now, we'll get these over a chrono.

fecmech: I just read your post--and I will double check that--but I don't think this was double-charging.

fecmech has it right: But it wasn't a double charge--something was mis-set or misread. The AA#7 powder measure had not had its chargebar changed--so I reinstalled it and sized / primed / loaded a case. I noted the powder was about where it was when I built those five.

I had set the Lee scale back to 7.8 gr, so I just poured it in--and the scale went way over. I pulled another load--same thing. So I broke out the FA digital and set it up for tare with that same case, then weighed three loads.

It appears those loads were charged with about 17.5 to 17.8 gr. of AA#7. In other words, this was a total ****up--and at this point, I am not sure how it happened. I have to think this through some more.

At any rate, the 'mystery' is solved--and I may even try a real 7.8 gr. of AA#7 load. Meanwhile, the fact that the S&W 640 took that load without apparent damage is a real testimony to that revolver.

Jim H.

July 19, 2007, 09:03 PM
Jim--I just put 15 grs of AA7 in a .38 case and was about 1/4" from the top. The AA powder guide lists a number of 7 and 8 gr loads of AA7 for the 9MM case and it is 3/8" shorter than the .38 case! You've got a scale or powder measure problem. Be careful. Nick

July 19, 2007, 09:12 PM
FWIW, the lee scale and the FA digital weighed within .1 gr of each other when I did the re-weigh. I gotta go over this some more.

Meanwhile, I truly was lucky, wasn't I.

Jim H.

July 19, 2007, 09:44 PM
My guess, if not an overcharge, is the...
Will 14.8 Grs. of AA# 7 fit in the case?
No, 14.8 grains will not fit--in fact, 7.8 gr barely fit
It appears those loads were charged with about 17.5 to 17.8 gr. of AA#7.

Hmmmmm...Measure problems. That little ught-oh in your head when you compressed the charge was your little inner voice trying to keep you out of trouble. :scrutiny:

I use settings recorded in my Log Book for my Redding 10X, but I always check a couple of charges on the scale after setting the measure and gearing up to load. I have looked cross eyed at it before and set it wrong. The scale got me on track.

July 19, 2007, 09:57 PM
ArchAngelCD: What part of this discussion is 'over your head?' Speaking for myself, I'll be happy to further elaborate or do more explanations. The purpose of information (and the sharing) of stuff like this is to help all of us, so ask away....
It wasn't the load data I was confused about but why you were having a problem with those AA#7 rounds. I see you have already figured it out. It's a good thing you fired those rounds off in a Stainless M640 rather than a Alloy J frame.

July 19, 2007, 10:09 PM
Hold the phone.
At one point you think you are loading 7.8gr
Then you weigh over 17gr

Which is it?
I've never worked with AA#7 so I haven't a clue as to density or volume. But that is some scary stuff you have going on here.

July 19, 2007, 10:20 PM
I went back and looked at the bench.

Normally, my scale sits on top of a little tin box into which I put the recycles. Because of my aging eyes (bifocals, that sort of thing), I picked up the scale to set the 7.8 gr. Then, with the initial settings on the powder measure (the Lee adjustable charge bar had not been used before) needing repetition, I set the scale on the bench next to the press.

Laying to the right of the scale was a small pile of load data sheets--e.g., 8.5x11 printouts from my internet searches--which I had not moved to the looseleaf notebook yet. A couple of those had the lower left corner curled--which must have been under the Lee powder tray, and prevented it from moving freely.

At least, that's the only explanation I can think of.

I can assure you that, within generally-accepted parameters, about 17 grains of AA#7 will fit into a 38 Special case and come within approximately 3/16" of the top. I can't begin to think of what the pressure was momentarily.

Because of lack of recent experience with AA#7, that full case didn't 'jog' me--so, it's time to look more closely at the procedures.

Shortly I will have a shelf along the back that will hold, among other things, the powder measures and the scale--and it will be lined up where my eyes and glasses can use the scale easily.

But for whatever reasons, I don't plan on making this mistake a second time.

BBQJoe: It's over and done with--but I thought, for the reasons above, I was measuring 7.8 grains--and, based on an after-the fact WAG based on a typical case weight--the charge was actually something around 17-18 grains. Like you, I didn't have enough current experience with AA#7 to recognize it.l

Jim H.

July 22, 2007, 12:31 AM
OK, after some data analysis, here's some practice loads:

All these loads were shot using Starline '38 Special' brass. Although not headstamped for +P, Starline notes it is identical to Starline brass so marked.

Ranier 140-grRNFP-P, 4.6 gr of 231, WSP, LOA 1.445.

Note that this is NOT a cannelured bullet. I put a fairly strong roll crimp on my loads, and I am shooting this up.

This load is 'fairly stiff' and groups very well out of my 640--1.25" groups at 10 yards. It was developed off the Hodgdon data for 231 and 135 LRNFP bullet--from a 7.7" barrel, they show 4.7 gr. max and a CUP of 17000, 1024 FPS. Nominal cost: 13 cents per round.

Speer GDJHP-SB135, 6.6 gr of AA#5, WSP, LOA 1.450.

This load performs identically to the Ranier 140 / 4.6 231 load listed above in my 640: Recoil feels 'identical,' shoots to same POA and with groups of 1.25" or smaller. It comes right off the Speer Data Sheet for 38 Special +P with this bullet. At 6.6 gr from a 6" barrel, they show a velocity of 1000 FPS, and "...fit within the 20,000 psi pressure limit established for 38 Special +P." Nominal cost: 23 cents per round.

My chronograph manual will be arriving in the next few days, so I will get these two loads chronographed and this post updated this week.

Note that I have used up those Ranier 140gr bullets and will be replacing them with a hard cast 140 gr. bullet from Chey Cast for further load development.

I have shot the GDJHB-SB135 / 6.6 (and 6.8) gr. from the M&P 340, and it is entirely livable. I now have some of the Speer 135-gr. / 38 SPL+P on hand and will be testing that as well.

357 shooters: 'lite' loadings--

A promising load for practice appears to be about 5.2 gr. of 231 under that Ranier 140bullet; that is a 'max load' off the Hodgdon data, showing a CUP of 19,400 at 1027 FPS from that same 10" (test?) barrel.

Another promising load is 5.0-5.2 gr. of titegroup under the Ranier 140. That shows a CUP of 24,500 and a velocity of 1186 FPS from the 10" test barrel. This one had noticably more snap in the 640, but was not objectionable.

Hopefully this post will get this thread back on track. Once the chrono data is available, I'll add to my own 38/357-2" barrel thread that's been awaiting chrono info.

Jim H.

September 16, 2010, 12:09 PM
Heres a couple of loads Ive used in the past with good accuracy.
Make sure your revolver is in good shape as these may be over spec.
158 gr.xtp hp 5.4 gr.Unique,same bullet 6.1 blue Dot.
They do make an air weight jump a bit.
Ps.sorry I just realised you were looking for lead data and I dont push my wad cutters that hard in the snubbies.

September 16, 2010, 03:17 PM
ArchAngelCD - I've loaded 38 Special +p with 125 and 158 XTP's using Longshot and was pretty impressed with it. I will be testing this load more and hope to chrono them soon. Longshot does give good velocity at lower pressures as per Hodgdon.
I'm also going to try 800x and hand weigh the charges. This should be a good load too.

I've not tried pushing any lswc loads into +p territory. Hodgdon nor Hornady's 7th edition show data for +p lead, but Lee's Modern Reloading 2nd Edition does.

Examples ---- From Modern Reloading 2nd Edition
158 gr lead -
Accurate # 5 5.6gr start (880 fps) 6.2gr max (1000 fps) 18400 psi 1.481 OAL
Accurate # 2 4.2gr start (879 fps) 4.7gr max (999 fps) 18500 psi 1.481 OAL
BlueDot 6.0gr start (959 fps) 6.3gr max (995 fps) 17000 psi 1.420 OAL

There are 10 other powders listed for this bullet.

As with any load data posted, please verify with a printed manual.

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