357/38 reloading questions


July 31, 2008, 11:16 PM
1 - What size/style primer does a .357 magnum need?

2 - What size/style does a .38 need?

3 - What size/style does a .38 +P need?

4 - Can you load a .38 Special/ .38 +P load using a .357 case?

Finally, what bullet/primer/powder combo would you recommend for use in a SP101 snubnose for my wife for concealed carry and home defense use? She is pertty strong and can handle recoil (loves her GP100 4") but just worried a little about the recoil on the snubbie.


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.38 Special
July 31, 2008, 11:20 PM
1- Small pistol. Depending upon powder (H110, for instance) you may choose to use small pistol magnum. Unique and 2400 prefer standard primers.

2 - Small pistol standard.

3- Small pistol standard.

4 - Yes, but use a fast powder like Bullseye. Slower powders can lead to hangfires and bloopers.

I do not have enough experience with snubbies to offer you good advice on the last question.

July 31, 2008, 11:22 PM
If you have invested in a reloading manual (preferably at least two) that should answer most of your questions. Not having a SP101 snubnose I can't help you with that one (however I do have a GP100 with four inch barrel.)

July 31, 2008, 11:31 PM
Small, small, small. Specific loads are a matter of personal preference based upon the shooter's skills and ability to handle and control a specific powder charge.
BTW - I agree with the other posters - get yourself a good reloading manual.

July 31, 2008, 11:34 PM
I have to stress my opinion that you NEED to obtain and read at least one loading manual.After reading everything (I don't mean that you have to read,for instance, the maximum charge of 4831 for a 180gr .300 Win mag)you will have most of the basics;different acceptable powders, recommended primers etc.After understanding the basics,members here can help you "fine tune" from there.

July 31, 2008, 11:35 PM
thanks, guys!

July 31, 2008, 11:42 PM
38 spl, 38 +P and .357 take small pistol primers.
Some published handloads specify magnum/hotter primers for certain powders that are harder to ignite.
If you shoot much double action in practice and want to reduce your trigger pull by having a gunsmith work on you firearm, consider limiting yourself to Federal primers. They go bang easier.
You can load a .357 to a lighter 38 spl power.
Many would try and talk you out of using reloads for any self defense use.
I would load a moly coated 158 grain SWC such as Billy Bullets, Precsions and concentrate on accuracy. I have had good results with commercial cast bullets without any coating, just the traditional bullets lubes.
I just like the fancy coating for easy none greasy clean up.
Many fixed sight guns such as yours are designed for 158 bullets.
I'm happy with 4 grains of WW 231 and a 158 SWC, with a Federal primer in 38 spl cases. Works well in my carry gun and at the range.
Get involved in some sort of shooting sport.

July 31, 2008, 11:43 PM
For the snub, (I'm assuming it's a .357) it's hard to beat the .38SPL 158gr LSWCHP +P from Remington. If it's bearable, and can get good follow up shots with the recoil and blast, and if it shoot to POA, and if the extractor in the snub can push the empties all the way out the .357 125gr SJHP from Remington clocks 1400 fps out of my 4" Model 19-3.

Yes, I didn't recommend a "load" for SD on purpose.

July 31, 2008, 11:49 PM
Do some searching about the wisdom of using handloaded ammo for self defense, especially looking for posts by Massad Ayoob. I don't intend to start a discussion on this point, just want you to know it's something to research and think about.

I reload 38 and 357 for a 2.25" SP101 and find that faster burning powders are best. I have used Power Pistol a bit, which is NOT an especially fast powder, and I don't recommend it in the 2.25" revolver as it doesn't seem to develop enough pressure quickly enough. It does work just fine in a 6" revolver, and also in 9mm which is really more what it was intended for.

August 1, 2008, 01:49 AM
I will add my voice to you needing to read a good manual before you try to reload anything, seriously...

As for the recoil from a snub nose revolver, most of the stories you hear about very heavy recoil come from the use of .357 Magnum rounds in a 12oz S&W Airlite revolver. If you fire Magnums in a Stainless S&W J frame or in a Ruger SP101 the recoil is manageable. The recoil really isn't an issue in a SP101 since it weighs 26oz.

If you don't already have the SP101 I would suggest finding a range near you which rents guns and have you wife fire the SP101 with several different .357 Magnum and .38 Special +P rounds. That will quickly answer your question about recoil.

August 1, 2008, 02:08 AM
+1 on the recoil answer. Light, fast moving bullets have a very different recoil profile than heavier, slower moving bullets.

August 1, 2008, 08:35 AM
Reloading data lists these primers to be used with the 357 magnum. CCI 550 Mag., WSPM, FED 200, REM 5 1/2 Reloading data lists these primers to be used with the 38 special and 38special +P. CCI 500,Rem 1 1/2, Fed 100, WSP, Speer list the CCI 550Mag primer for Alliant 2400. This info is available at all primer manufacture websites. http://www.cci-ammunition.com/products/primers/primer_chart.htm

August 1, 2008, 08:48 PM
Alliant calls for sp primers for 2400. You just need to be aware of what primers the book is using before using the load data. I use 14 gains of 2400 with a sp primer with a spm there might be a pressure problem. I use the same small pistol primers for all of my 38 and 357 loads. Makes it easier.
As far as snubbies go you need a fast powder forget 2400, #9, or H110. They would make a nice show though since you would burn a lot of your powder after the bullet left the barrel.

And like it has been said get some reloading books. All the powder makers have reloading data on their sites too.

August 2, 2008, 11:46 AM
Here's a question I've been pondering... Hornady 7th ed. specifies Small Pistol MAGNUM with all 357 loads. They do list 2400 in their recipes. Here on THR, most folks say 2400 won't need magnum primers...

But since Hornady specifies Magnum primers, shouldn't you use them when you use their data?

For reference, their 125gr data is 13.9-16.9gr 2400, for 158gr it is 10.5-14.3.

August 2, 2008, 11:56 AM
It's hard to out-guess Hornady in why they did that. Most of their .357 data is with ball powders, so I kind of think they just used Mag primers across the board to simplify things.

Regardless, 2400 does not require mag primers, and may not give as good a accuracy if you do use them.

There should be no danger in using Std primers instead of mag primers with 2400 powder. At most, it would give less pressure then the same loads with mag primers.

A real danger would be substituting Magnum primers in a max load that called for Standard primers.


August 2, 2008, 12:45 PM
H110 & W296 are the only powders I can think of that NEED mag primers when loading .357.

August 2, 2008, 01:04 PM
Alliant calls for sp primers for 2400 Wrong.:banghead: http://www.federalpremium.com/ammunition_catalog/components.aspx The Alliant Powder guide lists for the 357 mag. Fed 200 primer. For the 38 spec. Fed 100.

August 2, 2008, 01:27 PM
The magnum primer cup is thicker by .002" or more compared to a standard primer.:confused: I dont know this to be true? This MAYBE another good reason to use the "correct" primer. Do your own research as i have. http://www.google.com/ Google "primer cup thickness"

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