lil'gun in 38 special


December 10, 2007, 10:33 AM
I have been working with lil'gun in my model 14 and 15 S&W revolvers and find it somewhat different from the usual run of powders such as 2400, 4227 and similar powders sometimes used in the 38 special for heavy loads. It seems to produce more velocity with less pressure than other similar powders.
Hodgden .357 magnum data indicates 18 grains will produce over 1500 fps with 158 gr. bullet with only 24100 cup. Most other powders produce 35000+ cup to reach this velocity.
I have worked up to 12 grains of lil'gun with 168 grain LSWC bullet in my model 14 with no indication of excessive pressures except for the velocity obtained. This load produces an average velocity of 1150 fps on my chrono which I have checked for accuracy. Using Winchester +P brass, Federal primers and hard cast 358429 bullets. Accuracy is good(1" at 25 yards). Primers look normal and cases extract easily. Recoil and muzzle blast are noticable, but do not seem excessive. I feel the load is safe enough in my guns, but would really like to know the pressure being produced.
The same load with a change in bullet to the RCBS 150 grain LSWC produces and average velocity of 1140 fps. Normally one would expect the 150 grain bullet to exceed the 168 grain bullet in velocity with the same powder charge.
It seems that the 168 grain bullet provides enough resistance to reach best performance with this powder. Consensis seems to be that lil'gun works best with heavier bullets. My results seem to confirm this. I plan to go with the 150 grain load for regular use as it will be easier on the gun and accuracy is a bit better. The 168 load will be reserved for use on feral hogs.
Sorry for getting long winded on this as this is my first post to the forum, but I wanted to throw this out and see how it fit with what others had experienced.

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December 10, 2007, 10:43 AM
Welcome to the forum.

I've also been experimenting with Lil'Gun, only in .357 Magnum and heavy bullets. I've used it with 175 grain, 180 grain and 185 grain gaschecked cast bullets of various alloys. I'm impressed with this powder with the heavy bullets.

All my work so far has been with the Marlin Carbine, and with 180 grain bullets and Lil'Gun, I've now got a handy little carbine that has about the same level of power as the .30-30.

Hope this helps.


December 10, 2007, 02:08 PM
Thanks for the reply. I also use the Marlin .357 carbine for deer and hogs. I am using the 158 gr Hornady XTP and 18 grains of lil'gun. Would like to use the 168 grain cast bullet, but it is too long to work thru the Marlin when crimped in the crimp groove. What cast bullets are you loading for the Marlin and what kind of accuracy do you get with them?

December 10, 2007, 05:13 PM
I'm using the Saeco #354 180 grain flat point gas check bullet. Out of #2 Lyman alloy, it drops from the mold at 185 grains, and if I harden it with a little linotype, it drops at 180 grains. Cast of straight linotype, they're 175 grains. They all hold the rifling just fine and I get a 10 shot, 1" group at 50 yards with the 180 grain bullet and Lil'Gun. The crimping groove on this bullet is just right for feeding through the Marlin.

Hope this helps.


December 10, 2007, 06:54 PM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

"Colt DA 38" on barrel of 1892 Colt Army has 38 special chamber cylinder
with no throat.
158 gr. lead SWC, 357 mag brass, 22 gr. LIL'GUN, WSPM, 1.56" pierces
158 gr. lead SWC, 357 mag brass 25.2 gr. LIL'GUN, CCI450 small magnum
rifle primer, 1.55", compressed powder, no case head expansion, primer
still round corners
154 gr. LSWC 1.59", CCI 400 small rifle primer, 26 gr. LIL'GUN ok in Pol
Pos, ok in 1892 but shorter and tiny primer pierce due to very hard
hammer strike

The Hodgdon max load for the 158 gr. XTP JHP is 18 gr. LIL'GUN for 1577
fps, 10" barrel, 25.8kcup
There is no lead bullet data for LIL'GUN, but I have been shooting 158
gr. LSWCs with LIL'GUN 1.590", WSPM:
13 gr. good 357 mag load
17.5 gr. the primer flattens.
21 gr. the primer top hats
26 gr. case is full, no pressure problems

I wrote Hodgdon and asked why they have no lead loads for 158 gr LSWC 357 mag, and they said becuase they had trouble with the base of the bullet melting.

I reamed out this old Colt 38 special to 357 mag with a few twists of the wrist with a .380" straight fluted reamer. That way I can use 357 mag brass and crimp into the canalure and make use of full length. [I also cut 1" off the butt of the frame and put rubber grips on it]

Colt Police Positive 38 Special 4" barrel:
1) cheap reloads mixed brand brass 158 gr. JHP, 830 fps
2) 18 gr. LIL'GUN 158 gr. XTP 1.59", WSPM, 1173 fps
3) 23.5 gr. LIL'GUN 158 gr. XTP 1.59", WSPM, 1155 fps

What does it all mean?
That revolver kicks so hard I don't need to shoot a 44 mag.
The velocity is higher with less powder, but it kicks harder with more.
After hundreds of rounds of 158 gr 26 gr LIL'GUN, that old Police Positive still locks up tight on all six.

December 10, 2007, 07:31 PM
I agree with Hodgdon. I've tried Lil'Gun with lead bullets in 357 and 44mag. A lot of that lead stays in the barrel. I'll stick with 2400 and 296.

December 10, 2007, 09:08 PM
I have found that Lil'Gun has less a chance of leaving Lead in the barrel than W296/H110. With heavy bullets in a .357 Magnum it will yield slightly higher velocities than with W296 yet produce considerably less pressure. In my Marlin 1894C a 170/180gr bullet screams downrange with scary accuracy. At those speeds I don't shoot a Lead bullet because you will leave Lead in your barrel with any powder. Lead bullets are hard to shoot at over 1800 fps without leaving something in your barrel. When shooting a SJSP bullet I feel there is nothing currently better than Lil'Gun in a .357 Magnum. With 158gr bullets and lighter I still swear by W296/H110.

December 13, 2007, 04:46 PM

December 14, 2007, 11:21 PM
Have not used this powder in any of my handguns, but in my
22 Hornet, It gives the highest velocities with the lowest chamber
pressures of any other powder out there. Accurracy is best of
any load fired. A caseful with room to seat 35 to 45 gains is 13
grains. Beats the old loadings with 2400 in all ways!:D

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