Two .38 Super Loads...


Stephen A. Camp
September 14, 2003, 11:19 PM
Hello. I recently acquired an STI 5" Trojan 1911 pistol in .38 Super. I learned from STI that their pistols' barrels are for the 9mm size bullets so I've been using bullets of that diameter in testing.

The two bullets for which data's given today are in the heavy end for this caliber, both weighing 147-grains. One is Hornady's XTP and the other is Remington's Golden Saber.

The first time I chronographed the 147-gr Hornady, I ran two 10-shot strings and got extremely close shot-to-shot variations, MUCH closer than what I've gotten with about anything in the past. I ran the same test another day and got significantly different figures, but they "felt" true and seemed in line with loading materials I'd checked. In any event, I'd decided to bump the load a little with the XTP. Today, for both loads tested, I ran 3 strings of 10-shot each and recorded the high, low, and average velocity as well as the extreme spreads and standard deviations. I then averaged the three for a result that is probably more accurate in the long run.

The powder charges given are at the top end for Blue Dot and the 8.6 grains with the Hornady is a published maximum in some loading information. My gun has a 1-piece ramp and is fully supported. If you opt to try these loads and have a standard 2-piece ramp and less case support, you might want to back off a bit and work up. I've not fired these in any other pistols.

Hornady 147-gr XTP
8.6-gr Blue Dot
Federal #100 Primer
Starline Case
LOA: 1.235"
Average Velocity: 1229 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 41
Std. Deviation: 15

Remington 147-gr Golden Saber
8.4-gr Blue Dot
Federal #100 Primer
Starline Case
LOA: 1.230"
Average Velocity: 1182 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 37
Std. Deviation: 13

I fired 3 of each into water to see expansion characteristics.
Both of these hollow point bullets showed similar expansion characteristics. While it doesn't really show in the picture, the Hornady XTP's are showing signs of the lead bullet wanting to separate from the jacket. Water will cause this more than other mediums like "wet pack" or 10% ballistic gelatin. One of the Golden Sabers did separate, but the lead bullet remained pretty well together. The Golden Saber jacket is tougher than standard gilding metal and is designed to enhance "wounding." The Golden Saber did go to slightly larger diameter than the XTP, but all were very obviously trying to slip their jackets. I won't be bumping the velocity on the GS. Neither bullet lost virtually any weight in the water. The Golden Sabers expanded diameters ranged from 0.69 x 0.64" to 0.58 x 0.57". The XTP's expanded diameter was usually more close to the .58" range.

I've shot the XTP over 8.4 grains of Blue Dot for accuracy and it's great. I'll shoot both the XTP/8.6 grain and the Golden Saber/8.4 grain loads for group in the near future and will go with the one that groups the best.


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September 15, 2003, 11:58 AM
Those are what I call hot loads for 38 Super. As Stephen said, start low and work up for your gun.

I have found Blue Dot to be the best powder for high performance from the 38 Super. I did not try them all, just stopped when BD was so good. I Like the Hornady 124 XTP, was most accurate for me.

Stephen A. Camp
September 15, 2003, 12:56 PM
Hello. Just got back from the range where these were fired at 15, 25, and 50 yards, with the latter being fired from a rest. Both loads group equivalently and both DO group. Quite pleased.


September 16, 2003, 10:27 PM
I really like the 38 Super. When a load works for ya, go with it.

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