Empty space in .38 case?


PDA






kannonfyre
September 15, 2007, 09:36 AM
Okay...this is a technical question and I seek the understanding of y'all if I sound a tad long winded.

I know that the .38 special was originally designed as a BP cartridge. Hence, it fairly long as compared to the 9mm in order to accomodate enough powder to produced acceptable power. Hence....my first question is.

1) What was the ORIGINAL muzzle velocity of the .38 special BP load? Was the original projectile also 158grs?

Next, it is my understanding that using modern smokeless podwer, much less by volume is required to produce the standard bullet speed of the .38. Hence...

2) What is done with all that empty space?

I have examined many modern loaded .38 rounds and none of them appear to have powder sloshing around in the case. What's going on? Do these rounds have wadding between the poweder and the bullet?

If you enjoyed reading about "Empty space in .38 case?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
jfh
September 15, 2007, 01:12 PM
For the answer to your first question, try searches or googling.

Factory loads in a 38Spl case are custom-developed. I would guess they have 'filler' added. Reloading powders for use by the public, OTOH, have no such fillers. The cases will be much less than 'full.' Finding appropriate fillers comes up every now and then as the topic du jour--and, other than with ultra-light softball loads for bullseye shooting in 38Spl, I've never seen much advocacy for them. Supposedly, they will prevent SEE (secondary explosion effect), but in another forum a discussion of this yielded the informed opinion that straight-walled pistol cartridges simply don't experience this with most common powders.

I have experienced erratic velocity (accuracy) in .45ACP light loads, probably because of powder location in the case during shooting (it can 'slosh around' and get unevenly distributed), but never any real problems with the load.

It behooves the reloader to check loads scrupulously--setting them up by scale, double-checking the set, then case inspection in the process with random scale checking.

I can assure you that 17 to 18 gr. of AA#7 will fit into a 38Spl case behind a 135-gr bullet seated to the cannelure, and the load will be only slightly compressed. Speer lists the max load for a 38+P round as being 8.2 gr. IOW, this load was an error, and wasn't a double-charge. Post-event calculations show it was about 55,000 to 72,000 PSI--the max for the 38+P load by Speer was 20,000, and the +P SAAMI top has since been reduced to 18,500.

It was shot in a S&W 640--a modern 357 built of SS. It shot 'normally' after a cylinderful (five rounds) were shot, but the cylinder latch was difficult to operate. A gunsmith's exam showed four stretched chamber walls in the cylinder. At the factory inspection, S&W replaced the cylinder and barrel.

Jim H.

BlindJustice
September 15, 2007, 02:00 PM
You should read this article - the answer is yes, the
original bullet for the .38 Spcl was 158 grains bullet
for the first pistol ever chambered for the round.

http://www.shootingtimes.com/handgun_reviews/smith_12_0507/index1.html

Prior to the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935
S & W made the 38/44 on the N-frame platform and
ammunition in .38 Spcl was loaded for the Big Dog in the
S & W lineup as .38 Spcl High Velocity - after the .357
Magnum came along the .38 HV went away.

The .45 Colt is another cartridge that started it's life as a
Blackpowder cartridge. The .45 ACP was designed for smokeless
from the get go, and for the Army requirement of it approximating
the .45 Colt load in terms of performance. So, note that the case
length of the ACP round is just a bit over 0.33 of an inch shorter.

Today with smokeless
powder the .45 Colt is sometimes loaded with wads on top of the
powder charge in order to keep the powder in a uniform
and consistent place near the primer.

MCgunner
September 15, 2007, 02:07 PM
I have one handload, 2.3 grains B'eye behind a 105 grain SWC. There is a cavern of empty space in that load and it doesn't seem to affect the accuracy as it's one of my more accurate loads in several guns. It's very light, sort of approximates .22LR, what I like about it. 2.7 grains B'eye behind a 148 WC doesn't leave near the space, a good reason for the WC design I guess. Trailboss is supposed to be real bulky and used in such as .45 Colt and .38 spl to take the space up and prevent the possibility of a double or even triple charge that exists with such as B'eye if the loader isn't diligent. I've never tried trailboss, I'm very diligent and B'eye is very cheap to load with considering the tiny charges it takes to do the job.

Tom Bri
September 15, 2007, 03:23 PM
I have used BP, actually pyrodex, in .38 Sp. We loaded basically till the case was full leaving a little space to seat the bullet so as not to compact the charge too much. Not scientific in any way.

By the way, the result was very wimpy. I recovered one shot that had managed to penetrate a layer of cardboard and buried itself a half inch deep in rotten wood.

I would like to try it again to see if that was a freak. Seems to me it should be a bit better than that.

cocojo
September 15, 2007, 07:07 PM
Factory ammo does not have fillers to take up space. If you reload we use to put corn meal over the charge. Try trail boss this powder takes up a lot of the cases space and was designed just for that purpose. You have to be aware that too little powder can cause as many problems with pressure and blowing up guns as too much powder. That's why it's better to load to at least standard velocity. At least there is more powder. It's aways better to have the powder charge against the primer hole than toward the bullet. I believe Aqulla makes a short cased round for the 38 special.

HammerBite
September 15, 2007, 08:19 PM
What was the ORIGINAL muzzle velocity of the .38 special BP load? Was the original projectile also 158grs?
The original .38 Special blackpowder load was apparently not a plaything.

Shooting a 158 gr. flat nosed bullet from a 7.5" .38 Special SAA, Mike Venturino, in his Shooting Colt Single Actions, indicates velocity ranging from 676 fps with 20 gr. Elephant FFg to 863 fps with 19 gr. Goex FFFg.

If you like blackpowder substitutes, he got 899 fps with 14 gr. Pyrodex P. That is getting into +P territory.

Jim March
September 15, 2007, 10:21 PM
2) What is done with all that empty space?

An increase in case volume CAN mean much less pressure for the same amount of work done.

Pressure at firing is measured in PSI - pounds/square inch. Think about what that means: if there's more surface area inside the case for the powder to "push on", you can drop the amount of "push" on any given tiny section because you've got more total push area to work with.

Put it another way: say I put a padded block on your chest with tape, that's 1" by 1" square. Then I hit it with a hammer. It's gonna hurt, right?

Do the same with a block 4" by 4". It's going to hurt less - the force is spread over more area even though the total hammer energy is identical.

Inside a shell, if your powder measurements and everything else is lab-grade, you should be able to drop pressure in half by doubling the inside case area and deliver the same energy to the bullet either way. The half-pressure load will be easier on the gun and while felt recoil energy will be the same, the way you feel the energy is different: you feel the energy spread over a longer time period. Even when measured in microseconds, you can feel the difference.

This is why, the moment I can, I want to score a second 357Mag cylinder for my New Vaq and re-chamber it in either 356GNR (41mag shell necked to 357) or 357/44Bain&Davis (44mag shell necked down). Both drop the pressure when used at 357Mag bullet energies, or can improve on 357Mag ballistics.

It's about case volume.

Anyone interested should read everything John Linebaugh has posted online:

http://www.customsixguns.com/writings.htm

This material covers his early work in hot-rodding the 45LC in big guns, and shows why it has advantages over the 44Mag due to, you guessed it, case volume. More work for less pressure.

Sistema1927
September 15, 2007, 11:28 PM
For some reason, extra case volume is less of a factor in smaller bore loads like the .38 Special. I have never had any difficulty, even with very light loads in the .38, but I have experienced sporadic problems loading the .45 Colt light.

kannonfyre
September 16, 2007, 01:12 AM
I mainly shoot Fiocchi and Magtech for training and reserve Winchester, CCI and hot fiocchi loads for special emergencies.

Does anyone here know whether Fiocchi, Magtech, CCI and Winchester use more bulky powders or employ wadding?

Also, what is the industry accepted method for constructing +P .38 rounds? Do they use a powder that generates more velocity (faster burning???) or do they simply pack more powder in?

Jim March
September 16, 2007, 01:22 AM
For some reason, extra case volume is less of a factor in smaller bore loads like the .38 Special.

If I understand you right, you're actually saying "detonation is less likely in the smaller shells", right?

Detonation is when a light powder charge "flashes over" and goes off all at once instead of burning. It's similar to detonation inside a gasoline engine. Best guess is it happens when the horizontal powder level is lower than the primer discharge.

Is this what you're talking about?

Jim Watson
September 16, 2007, 11:05 AM
cannonfyre,

The ammo makers do not use wads, fillers, or other non-gunpowder crap in their ammunition, even for light smokeless loads of black powder cartridges.

Otherwise, the answer is "all of the above." The new American Handgunner has an article on muzzle flash. What got the author's attention was a new lot of .38 +P Special furnished to his department had tremendous muzzle flash, unlike the previous lot number of the same catalog item. He pulled some bullets and found the new stuff loaded with 17.8 gr of Ball process powder, the old contained 5.5 gr of flake powder. Yet they were sold as the same product.

The big companies have test labs and can make do with a wide range of reasonably suitable powders. Everybody gets all excited over their use of bulk lot powders that you cannot buy by the pound at retail for handloading. But mostly what they are doing is using what they get a good price on.

Glen Zediker tells of a military rifle team that bought factory match ammuntion by the pallet load. They noticed some lots of the same catalog number were appreciably more accurate than others, so they pulled some bullets. After that, they pulled bullets from every new shipment. Ammo loaded with extruded powder (turned out to be a Vihtavuouri product) was kept for 600 yard shooting, any with Ball process powder were used for practice and "shortline" shooting at 200-300 yards.

There was a huge hulaballo over "detonation" in CAS a while back. A guy blew up a .45 Colt with a light load and was just certain sure positive that there was no way in the world that he could possibly by the remotest chance have double charged a case, even on his progressive loader. So some other loaders watched him at work for a while. Sure enough, he never double charged a case. But a combination of bullet lube buildup in the seating die and a lack of attention to the round after dropping powder led him to seat two bullets over one powder charge... again. That'll do it.

jfh
September 16, 2007, 11:32 AM
one that is smaller but, quite frankly, posted to by some VERY experienced reloaders with technical expertise as well (more than here), I posted a query about the "data hole" in .38-.357 loads, and wondered about doing "357 lite" loads.

A segue in the discussion lead to SEE (Secondary Explosion Effect) and detonation issue--the flashover effect Jim March mentions above. However, the consensus was that from small (softball / target) loads of listed data for .38Spl on up to the full-house 357 hotrod loads (with the appropriate powders--e.g., not 296), pressure was uniform, and that SEE has not been shown to ever occur for straight-walled pistol cartridges.

So, I've been building up 38+P recipes in 357 cases and adjusting as needed to achieve the same subjective recoil as a 38+P PD round I carry. It's a total success so far: no unusual discharges at all--and, interestingly enough, as the subjective-recoil gets dialed in closely, the 357 POA ends up virtually identical to the 38+P factory round. That's with over 1,000 rounds loaded and fired with four different powders.

Some years ago, when I was churning out .45ACP and seeking a softball load I could shoot fast, I do remember getting some erratic accuracy, and I confirmed it with the chrono. That seemed to be the 'position sensitive' issue, and it was with 231 under a 200-gr LSWC. As soon as I went back up a bit, it went away.

Jim Watson's anecdote immediately above reinforces the discussion conclusions on the other forum board--that SEE is probably a faulty conclusion about reloader error.

Jim H.

MCgunner
September 16, 2007, 12:41 PM
You have to be aware that too little powder can cause as many problems with pressure and blowing up guns as too much powder.

I've read the articles, but I've never heard of anyone, let alone SEEN a kaboom from a light load. I've fired tens of thousands of 2.3 grain B'eye/105 grain Lee SWC loads, mostly in my rifle, without problems. Out of the rifle, it's like shooting a .22. It's my only lever gun, fun to shoot with that load and quite accurate. That gun won't feed wadcutters reliably.

miko
September 17, 2007, 01:28 PM
You have to be aware that too little powder can cause as many problems with pressure and blowing up guns as too much powder.

Apparently, that phenomenon only occurs extremely rarely with large rifle cartiges loaded with light charges of slowest-burning powders. The cause of it apparently is that the slow powder in empty space ocasionally acts as fast powder - and even a light charge in a large rifle cartrige is way greater than the full, hot charge in a 38.
Considering that 38 is loaded with the fasterst powders anyway (certainly true for B'eye) and the amount is muniscule, this danger - blowing up guns with pressure - is not a consideration.

There is of course a problem of blowing up guns when the previous bullet gets stuck in the barrel because the charge was not strong enough to push it out... :what:

miko

MCgunner
September 17, 2007, 02:05 PM
There is of course a problem of blowing up guns when the previous bullet gets stuck in the barrel because the charge was not strong enough to push it out...


2.3 grains of B'eye pushes a 105 SWC out of a 20" barrel at 900 fps and with a good standard deviation. No chance it's going to stick a bore. You'd probably have to skip the powder charge to do that, anyway. I ain't really sure why I'd ever want a load LIGHTER than the above. LOL It's a super fun load in my carbine, though, like I say, like shooting a .22. Since I don't have a lever .22, I like it. Besides, it makes the gun suitable for small game like no other load could. Someday, I might use it to squirrel hunt just because. Another thing I like about it is cost of loading. B'eye lasts for ever at that rate and I can cast hundreds of rounds of 105 SWCs without adding lead to my 10 lb pot. :D One of my favorite plinker loads.

PTK
September 18, 2007, 01:19 AM
I usually use 4.0 gr of Trail Boss behind a 158gr LRN, LSWCHP, or LSWC, depending on what I'm doing. (for reloads, that is)

It's a load you'd be lucky to get 750FPS out of on a good day, but it really isn't too much less than factory loads.

Harley Quinn
September 18, 2007, 01:08 PM
There is of course a problem of blowing up guns when the previous bullet gets stuck in the barrel because the charge was not strong enough to push it out...

That happened some times with a squib load and then some times a double load went KBoom (double up of powder of Bullseye load) I preferred unique for that reason.
According to Jim Cirillo, (famous for a book about gunfighting and bullet design and being in a lot of gunfights while on NYPD)

The original 158 round nose 38 special was a weak dude to start with, less than 800 feet per second and not a very good manstopper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Special

This article says a lot about the cartridge.

MCgunner
September 18, 2007, 02:43 PM
I could double charge my B'eye load and not blow the gun up, that light. LOL However, you really have to have a good routine with your reloading with B'eye to keep from double charging, good point. Progressives help reduce the possibility, too. Trailboss is hard to knock and I might try some in the future just for this reason. Don't know if I could get enough of it behind a wadcutter, though, but with the 105 or any SWC, it should be good and safe for light loads.

miko
September 18, 2007, 06:12 PM
2.3 grains of B'eye pushes a 105 SWC out of a 20" barrel at 900 fps and with a good standard deviation. No chance it's going to stick a bore. You'd probably have to skip the powder charge to do that, anyway. I ain't really sure why I'd ever want a load LIGHTER than the above. LOL It's a super fun load in my carbine, though, like I say, like shooting a .22. Since I don't have a lever .22, I like it. Besides, it makes the gun suitable for small game like no other load could. Someday, I might use it to squirrel hunt just because. Another thing I like about it is cost of loading. B'eye lasts for ever at that rate and I can cast hundreds of rounds of 105 SWCs without adding lead to my 10 lb pot. One of my favorite plinker loads.

I would still be careful with that in a revolver - a cylinder gap might let enough gas out to have bullet stuck.

For about $200 you could have a new Henry lever in .22 that looks and feels like Marlin. You could shoot .22s for the price of primers alone in your light 38 loads.

miko

MCgunner
September 18, 2007, 06:18 PM
I would still be careful with that in a revolver - a cylinder gap might let enough gas out to have bullet stuck.

I get between 750 and 800 fps with it from a 4" revolver. It's safe. I did stick a bullet in the bore of my M85UL once when I first started using my .38 progressive. I wasn't checking powder charges and apparently the powder measure stuck. I check every load with an inspection mirror now. That's a problem, too, with B'eye, powder's so deep in the case when you're chargin' it's hard to see without a friggin' flash light in a dimly lit room.

The Henry is cool, but I've got an old mossberg, a AR7, a Remington bolt gun, a Remington 597 magnum, and a 10/22 in rimfire. Ain't like I'm short .22s for plinkin', just don't have a lever when I feel like a cowboy. :D I check the pawn shops for .22s to buy occasinally, though I hardly ever find what I'd call a bargain. If I found a good Henry, I would consider it. I like rimfires, hard to have enough rimfires.

Harley Quinn
September 18, 2007, 09:24 PM
I was the range master at a gunclub back in the late 80's a guy was shooting his new S&W 357 with light 38 loads.
He fired one and I taped him on the shoulder and told him not to fire another, :uhoh: He stops and said what is up with you?

I said to him check your bore it did not sound right, sure enough it was a squib and the bullet was in the bore:eek:

He was very happy I noticed it ;) To say the least:D

It was something that happened in the old days at the ranges that pumped out the rounds by the thousands, then they would fix the gun LOL...LAPD circa 60's:scrutiny:

Headless
September 18, 2007, 09:28 PM
Re: not hearing powder in cases of factory loaded ammo... i can hear the powder shaking around in my corbon DPX 110GR .38SPL +P rounds if i shake them...

If you enjoyed reading about "Empty space in .38 case?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!