Powder Choice


Spencer Hart
April 2, 2009, 03:37 PM
I am sure this has been asked numerous times. So here goes again. I plan to start reloading soon (when everything arrives) and was wondering if there is one power I could use for both .38 spl and .40? Plan to use FMJ 180 Gr for the .40 and either 125 gr or 140 gr for the .38. would like to use FMJ for the .38 Montana Gold is out of them. The next option would be Rainier plated.

I have the Lee reloading book. Any advice on another?

Any info would be appreciated

Thanks, Spencer

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April 2, 2009, 03:46 PM
Get the Lyman #49 reloading manual.
It is the best one out there.

The Hodgdon 2009 reloading magazine / manual available on newsstands is also very good for only $8.99.

There are any number of good powders you can use in both the .38 Spl & .40 S&W.

Bullseye, Unique, WW231, Power Pistol, HS-6, etc, etc, etc,.


April 2, 2009, 07:18 PM
+ 1 on the lyman 49

April 2, 2009, 08:00 PM
Those two are not really a good choice for one powder. Very different applications. The .38 Spl is very low pressure and generally uses fast powders. The .40 is fairly high pressure and uses medium to medium slow powders for best results.

AA #2 or 700X will work for both using your bullet weights, but are better suited to the .38 Spl.

There are several that will work for both. They just won't give optimum performance in both.

AA #5, Unique, or Universal Clays are pretty good compromise powders here. They will work pretty well in both, but lean towards the .40.

I believe you will end up using two different powders. Something fast for .38 Spl., and another for .40. :)

Welcome to THR

Redneck with a 40
April 2, 2009, 09:08 PM
Can't go wrong with Unique!:)

April 2, 2009, 11:35 PM
Lyman #49 is a great manual. I use Win 231 in 38 spec and 40.

April 3, 2009, 04:38 AM
Welcome to the forum...

I agree AA#5 would probably be the best choice for both if you must use only 1 powder. IMO W231/HP-38 would be a good choice for the .38 Special and something slower like Power Pistol, Longshot or HS-6 for the 40 S&W.

April 3, 2009, 07:38 AM
I use Titegroup for 9mm, .40 and .45 a little goes a long way so I save alot of money as well.

Spencer Hart
April 3, 2009, 09:18 AM
Thanks for the responses. In doing more research last night it does look like the 2 powder solution will be it. Especially if I want to try to get the case over half full to make it more obvious of double charge. I do see though that if I use V-n350 with 180 fmj in .40 and 140 fmj in the .38 that would work. Also unique would work with the 180 fmj and 125 fmj for the .38.

Guess I will get the Lymans book to see if they have more data.

Also other than it being easier to prevent a double charge, does fullness of the case matter?


April 3, 2009, 10:37 AM
Yes and no. In the .40, pretty much no, most charges will fill the case very well in .40. In the .38 Spl, it helps, but not absolutely needed.

I like a bulky powder in .38 spl vs say... Titegroup. Seeing every powder charge I seat a bulet over is how I protect myself from a squib or a double charge. W-231, Clays, American Select, AA #2, 700X, Red Dot, etc. are good for that in .38 Spl.

April 3, 2009, 11:11 AM
Spencer Hart,
I can't agree with you about VV N350 being a good choice for the .38 Special. It's way too slow a powder for that application. It's more suited for loading .357 Magnum rounds. I would say even N340 is too slow a powder for the .38 Special let alone N350.

April 3, 2009, 11:25 AM
Agreed. N340 and N350 are good for medium plus .357 loads, but not .38 Spl.

Ben Shepherd
April 3, 2009, 12:07 PM
Unique or universal. The problem you're running into is this:

The 40 S&W is a high pressure round, and the 38 special(even in +p) is a low pressure round. Both function best with different powders. Both will function adequately with some powders folks have listed here.

Spencer Hart
April 3, 2009, 12:17 PM
Y'all are great. Ok, so Looks like best bet is 2 types of powder. I ordered the Lymans book and will probably use HP38 and HS6. Now to find someone that actually has primers in stock. Unfortunately our two Sportsman's Whse stores are closing:( so it looks like I get to pay the haz mat fee.


April 4, 2009, 03:01 AM
HP-38/W231 and HS-6 are two of my favorite powders. Both will work well with Jacketed and lead bullets.

BTW, Hodgdon HP-38 and Winchester 231 are both the same exact powders now so buy the one you can find.

April 4, 2009, 09:23 AM
certainly, but you will not get maximum preformance out of one, or both of them. actually, there is one powder you can use in almost everything if you want. it is called black powder. but i won't be doing that anytime soon!

The Bushmaster
April 4, 2009, 12:42 PM
Buy a powder for the .38 Special and get another powder for the .40 S&W. Powder just isn't all that expensive even in todays market. You just can not get a good balance for both cartridges with only one powder.

As I do not have a .40 S&W therefore I can not recommend a powder for it, but I can recommend a powder for the .38 Special. W-231.....

April 4, 2009, 02:39 PM
Just for bulk reloads, nothing sexy or spicy, I'd have to say American Select. I recently switched to it, Bullseye, for 38, 40, 45, & 9. Most of these are mild loads, but enough to make major in 40 & 45, USPSA. I too try to use MT Gold bullets. American Select is nice volume too.

Marlin 45 carbine
April 4, 2009, 03:44 PM
or Red Dot for 'practice' loads. has more bulk than BE.

April 4, 2009, 05:07 PM
I burn Universal in my 40 S&W and 38/357 loads. It's about the best compromise for the two rounds that I've found. The Hodgdon data I have shows Universal gives about the highest velocities in 40 S&W of their powders recommended for the 40.

It will get you into mid-range 357 loads. It will work well in the 38 Special without being as dirty at the lower pressure as Unique.

I've used Universal for some time and have been very pleased with it. It tends to be more readily available than Unique, burns cleaner than Unique, and meters very consistently in my Lee Perfect Powder Measure.

Buy a pound . You won't be disappointed.

All the Best,
D. White

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