Anyone using Trail Boss for jacketed loads in .38 Special?


November 27, 2007, 12:10 AM
My brother-in-law is 65 and wants to start reloading. His wife, my sister recently passed away and he really needs a hobby. I am trying to help him get accustomed to recoil; he hasn't been shooting long and his revolver (4" Rossi .38) is a bit on the light side. Naturally cast and swaged loads are an option, but most of his bullet purchases will be jacketed. I've recommended he pick up some 110 gr. JHPs, but I can't find data for Trail Boss and 110 gr. JHPs. A minimum type load is what I'm looking for here. He really enjoys shooting, but he is very sensitive to recoil. I've loaned him a .22 Single Action, but he is intent on shooting his .38 Special. I've already loaded very light 140s and 125s, and that helped but I believe the 110s will help greatly, as would a 148 gr. HBWC if we could get them locally. Upgrading to a heavier revolver is next on the list.

He is a very attentive kind of guy, so I know he'll be very meticulous when charging cases. Nonetheless, I've seen reports of guys shooting mild jacketed loads charged with Trail Boss. Starting him off with 110 gr. JHPs that he can get locally, mild velocity and a powder that will give good case fill, lessening the potential for a double-charge seems to be the ticket for his confidence.

Once he burns the cannister of Trail Boss and feels a bit more comfortable, I'll steer him to something else if accuracy is lacking. Hopefully, Trail Boss will get it done. I haven't ruled out Bullseye or TiteGroup, but that will probably come after Trail Boss if I can get the data. If no one here can help, I'll e-mail Hodgdon/IMR.

I appreciate your help!;)

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Doug b
November 27, 2007, 08:31 AM
I think Trail boss is cast bullet only.

November 27, 2007, 08:43 AM
Pick up a can of plain Clays, Bullseye, or any of several others that is good for 38's. Theres plenty of info avail on starting loads for these powders. I use the minimum, sometimes a tiny bit less. I've used Trailboss to load 45acp and it filled the case well over half full. Worked fine, but I went back to my standard powders. I think you get more loads out of the above powders than you would Trailboss.

If you run across a S&W model 10 (blued) or model 64 (stainless) at a reasonable price he might want to get one. Good solid reliable accurate guns. Even better, a model 15 which has adjustable sights and is basically a model 10 with better trigger.

November 27, 2007, 09:41 AM
I have tried Trail Boss with plated bullets with ho hum results. They say it is outstanding with lead.

700X, Red Dot, Bullseye, AA #2, or N320 will give some good accuracy when downloading .357 brass to light levels with 110 or 125 gr. plated or jacketed bullets.

They work better in .38 brass for the plain reason there is less space and it burns a bit cleaner etc. Sounds like that is what you plan on doing.

Zip or Competition should work well, but I have not tried them in the .38 yet. Competition seems to give good velocity for recoil where I have tried it and Zip seems very accurate at low pressure/velocity.

Ditto on a Model 10 heavy barrel. Put full size grips on it and it will be much better on recoil than say the M15 or M14 etc.

700X and Red Dot are both pretty bulky and will help avoid a double charge.

The 110 Gr. bullets are best for low recoil. I have tried 158's at LOW velocity, but the 110 still beats it.

November 27, 2007, 02:57 PM
Well buddy, you already know which way I'll go! If I have to start him with a fast burner it will most likely be ZIP for .38 Special!;)

The next revolver will be a GP-100. That Rossi weighs in at 32 oz.

Thanks for the replies!

November 27, 2007, 05:30 PM
Why not start him with Unique? It's not quite as fluffy as Trail Boss, but still takes up a good bit of case volume for visual checks against double charges.

November 27, 2007, 05:40 PM
he wants light.2.8 of 700x with 148 gr wad cutter is a nice easy load.get lead.jacket must be shot with hotter loads than lead to get it out of barrel.
MIDSOUTH SUPPLY and GRAF have HORNADY HBWC at $12 per 250.jacket are going to get more expensive as time goes dont have to use HBWC but can get wad cutters.:confused::):)
PS:unique may need heavier loads to operate rite.

November 27, 2007, 07:35 PM
Thanks, guys! Unique and Universal are both candidates, and I believe we can get wadcutters from SPEER and Hornady, locally. I have thought about 700-X as well as 4756 which tends to work well with cast loads. In fact, I've been leaning towards 4756, but we have a member here that is experimenting with WSF. Start loads look light enough and leave him some room to grow with the GP-100.

We just got back from the range. I got him to the 7 yard line and that seemed to help. A new prescription for eyeglasses is now on the list and he says that hanging out with me is getting expensive! I should mention that he bought the Rossi at least 15 years ago. It sat unused for some time. The SA trigger pull is really heavy. I had to do a sight adjustment for the Rem. UMC 130 gr. loads he bought. I managed to get 5 rested shots into the X-Ring at 50', but it wasn't easy. Then he shot some decent offhand SA groups from 7 yards. I intend to polish the internals and replace the springs on that Rossi because he will keep it most likely. Today was a confidence booster for him and I believe he'll be fine with a medium burning powder at a start charge with the 110 gr. JHP.

I'll load him up some WCs. Walkalong already knows I've been looking for a reason to try ZIP, but I have True Blue that will work well enough for a light cast or swaged load as well as the 110. Just wanted to see if anyone had had any luck with TB and 110 jacketed.;)

November 28, 2007, 01:25 PM
If he wants to START reloading, do remember starting handloaders are a bit more prone to distraction and getting double charges (or no charges). Starting with a high volume powder where a double charge is obvious is an idea with merit.

Maybe you should buy him a brass 'squib rod' for Chrismas, too, just in case he pops a cap on one that he THOUGHT had powder in it..:evil:

Good luck. Once he gets started, he's going to be visiting you a lot.:eek:

November 28, 2007, 07:02 PM
JJ, I'll have him charging cases using a loading tray and charging all of them in one operation so that he can do a visual inspection before he does any bullet seating. As far as the powders, Unique, Universal, SR-4756 and WSF are the main contenders with a slight edge going to Universal and 4756.;)

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