Anyone re-loading .38 S&W?


April 16, 2009, 04:11 AM
And if so, how so?

And for what Model Revolver?

I read the other day, that standard now-a-days Factory loadings for the .38 S&W Carridge have a higher foot/lbs impact than Standard .380 ACP.

The .38 S&W, in a strong Revolver, of course would allow higher loadings than present Factory ones, within reason anyway, and, original 4F BP loadings would probably have higher ft/lbs delivery, and or fps than present smokeless Factory ones.

Anyway, just curious to hear what others might be up to with this noble old Round, and in what Arm.

l v

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April 16, 2009, 08:59 AM
Got this Enfield at a local show 3 years for $100. Action was frozen and seller sold it cheap as a damaged gun needing repair. I took it home and used solvent to flush out the 5 pounds of congealed grease in the action and it worked fine.

Picked up some RCBS dies and Starline brass. Proper bullets would be .360 but I load .357 sized 125 grain round nose lead with something like 4.0 grains of Unique and get about 850 FPS if I recall correctly. The gun shoots these slightly undersized bullets with very good accuracy.

I have no doubt that the 38 S&W could easily and safely be loaded with .357 sized 125 JHPs to the same velocity as factory +P 38 Specials. I have looked for a shooter grade S&W "Terrier" (I frame even smaller than the Chiefs Special) to try as a carry gun with these loads but so far sellers think their 80% guns are made of solid gold.

April 16, 2009, 11:01 AM
I have a Smith & Wesson Regulation Police, made about 1922 in 38 S&W. Nominal size bullet is .360 as SaxonpPig sed. I started using the Magtech 158gr RN bullets from Midway but soon found the proper mold for this gun. Now I cast the 146gr RN and use a .360 sizer die. Works perfect.

If you do not have the proper set up to cast for this gun, try the Magtech 158gr RN bullets. They are hollow base and bump up when fired to work very well.

If you have a 38 S&W of recent manufacture, say the last 60 years, fine, but if older, I would be kinda leery about using factory ammo. Also, if your trying to use one of the older break tops, leave the factory stuff alone. Go to reloading

April 16, 2009, 12:04 PM
I loaded .358 lead bullets, but I had to use wax gas checks or Super Grex filler to stop leading. I changed to plated and cheap bulk jacketed bullets. I used to have a Model-33, but foolishly traded it. I have a H&R top break and a S&W Victory model. Fun little caliber to shoot.

You mentioned power. It has enough to get the job done with proper placement, but is not a strong caliber for self defense.

April 16, 2009, 05:09 PM
I have a 1890s Ivor Johnson Break-Top I used to plink with off and on, and carried off and on, and never saw any issues with it handling modern factory Ammo, but, yeahhhh, could be 'iffy' with 'early' or low-grade off-make Models of various makes.

I think that the present .38 S&W Factory Ammo has long since been down-loaded to defer to the weakest of the old 'Saturday Night Specials'...but I have not found any tehnical ballistics/loading data to compare old loadings with new, or recent.

Being as the Shell Case has plenty of room for modern Powders, if a strong Revolver were available, this Cartridge - in theory - could be loaded to 'Magnum' specs.

I have also looked at some 'Terriers' and they were quite expensive!

M&P 'snubbies' in .38 S&W show up now and then, and depending on condition, can be reasonable to 'expensive'.

Probably, for me, my primary fascination has been with he S & W later model Safety Hammerless, and later model Hammer DAs.

But, the Webleys and or other UK Pistols of WWI and WWII era, also are very inviting.

I am confident these ( UK, and S&W ones of the 20th Century's first decade or so on, ) would be fine with off-the-shelf Factory Ammo, and or, could be fine with just-a-little-more-oooomph even.

Though the 'Victory' and or Lend Lease M&Ps, I would think would handle stronger charges than the S&W Breaktops, but, I dunno...

l v

April 17, 2009, 03:34 AM
Speer reloading manuals have info on 38 S&W using their swaged lead bullets.

April 17, 2009, 04:12 AM
I load my .38 S&W rounds with 160gr .360" bullets. I do sometimes replicate the old British WWII 38/200 rounds just for fun.

I have the same DAO revolver as SaxonPig. It's a very strong revolver even though it's a top-break. It can probable handle much hotter ammo than most .38 S&W revolvers.

April 17, 2009, 04:48 PM
There was a WWII era Ausralian made ( 'Albion'? ) Enfield-like 'snubby' on one of the Auction sites a while back...Barrel had been shortened, but was very nicely done...pinned front sight, 'tidy', neat..

I was really tempted to bid...then was sorry I did went very 'reasonable'...darn it...

I like 'Break-Tops'...

I will send off for a 'Speer' Reloading Manual.

Any other good reloading Manuals one would do well to have?

bill larry
April 18, 2009, 04:04 AM
I had a Victory Model. I ereloaded using .38 special (.358) 158 grain wadcuttters, with 2 grains of bullseye.

Very accurate little load.

April 18, 2009, 09:18 AM
I have a Model 32 (Terrier) that I reload for using standard .358 bullets. They're a bit of a loose fit in the case even after a good roll crimp, but they work fine and give me all the accuracy I'm expecting from a snubby anyway.

April 18, 2009, 09:53 AM
but so far sellers think their 80% guns are made of solid gold.Ain't that the d*** truth!

April 18, 2009, 11:02 AM
I used to have two guns in that caliber. They were made by H&R and Iver Johnson before 1890.
Tons of break-top guns in that caliber were made from the 1880s to early 1900s. They were made for black powder ONLY and aren't safe with smokeless powder ammo.
I loaded 148 gr HBWC bullets over 3/4 of a case of black powder. I don't remember the weight. I used a Lee scoop. They were fun to shoot, but not accurate and both shaved lead like mad.

April 18, 2009, 11:28 AM
I also have a Brit S&W. My best reload is a Lyman cast 195gr round nose at 750 fps. It is sized to .358 in a hard lead. Leading is mild and the shooting result are very good.

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