.38 spcl Red Dot Load data?


June 6, 2009, 05:13 PM
Shooting .38 out of my GP100 6". I like the 5.3grains of Unique behind the Berry's 158 HP. Although I like the load I am about out of Unique and have a ton of Red Dot. Anybody have any load data for such a load. If not what is the comparison between Unique and Red dot. Use more or less?

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June 6, 2009, 05:53 PM
Use more or less?
Without trusted load data, don't use any!

Just so you know, your 5.3 Unique is 0.1 over a max +P lead bullet load.

3.8 Red Dot will give you a little less velocity at +P pressure because it is a faster powder then Unique.


Steve C
June 6, 2009, 05:54 PM
Red Dot is a very fast powder, just 1 step above or below Bullseye depending upon the burn rate chart you look at. This means that you need to use LESS Red Dot than Unique, a lot less.

The previous Alliant data says maximum .38 spl standard pressure is 3.1grs and maximum +P is 3.2grs for 158gr LSWC. 2.8gr is a good start load. Red Dot works well for target loads in most handgun cartridges but its too fast if trying to maximize velocity.

For full pressure .357 magnum loads 5.5grs is maximum for lead and 6.0grs is maximum for jacketed bullets.

Check out the load data at http://www.handloads.com

Marlin 45 carbine
June 6, 2009, 06:47 PM
I use Red Dot for 1000fps out of .357 cases in my 4" GP and nephews S&W's 6" for 'target loads' but can't recall the load it's in my written down data. I use sp primers not mag. very clean burning and tight groups. 158gr Lee mold SWC Alox lubed.
I go to the max data for hunting loads with same powder and slug but noone I've loaded these for has got a shot at a black bear yet. basically it's for 'tag along' handguns for hunters going along with the rifle carrying bunch. they carry anything from .22 Mag up to 45-70 and 12ga.
but I don't doubt at the published fps of 1310 that it would be hard hitting.

junior geezer
June 6, 2009, 07:17 PM
Jeff Cooper USED to suggest a certain 2" .38 spl RD load using 158-160. he said he gave up on it eventually and went to a bigger gun, but before giving it up that "it would really shoot." his load was so far off the loading tables even then, i won't reveal the powder charge. but you might look up Jeff Cooper and see if you can't find it.

i myself fired a good many of the above through j-frames, both steel and alloy framed. they really did shoot well.

June 7, 2009, 08:21 AM
Just so you know, your 5.3 Unique is 0.1 over a max +P lead bullet load.

Yes I know, although I am not using a lead bullet. I have worked up to it and quite frankly it doesn't feel +P, wish I had a chrono to check. Its also hard to judge as the 6" barrel takes a lot of wallop out of the punch. Still no signs of pressure issues though.

Thanks guys, if I do use it I will start out light.

.38 Special
June 7, 2009, 01:08 PM
Here ya go. (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=alliant+powder+reloader%27s+guide) :neener:

Beyond that, I'll add to RC's note about your Unique load by pointing out that a plated bullet is likely to create more pressure, powder charge for powder charge, than a lead one. And without a chronograph, you really have no idea what you're shooting -- but you're almost certainly above SAAMI pressures. Good thing most modern guns have a 100% margin of safety...

June 7, 2009, 01:53 PM
Probably a good thing he is shooting it in a .357 Magnum gun too.


.38 Special
June 7, 2009, 02:02 PM
Way I figure, even Ruger's .38s are pretty much bomb proof. The OP's load is almost certainly safe for his gun. I just wonder about folks who take max loads as a suggestion, and juggle components while doing it, all based on "feel".

Some folks are just braver than me, I guess.

June 7, 2009, 03:46 PM
Nice, but I have googled the subject, and Alliants site states nothing on a plated bullet. Lymans and Hornady, no data on the plated bullet and Red Dot, Lees also has no plated bullet data for red dot. Kinda why I was checking in over here, looking for guys that may have already worked up a load for it.

Guess I will get a Chrono on the way. I will post the data on the 5.3, it certainly does not feel hot and there are no signs of pressure in the casing, but you never know. I know feel is not the best way, but sometimes its what we have, problem is with that 6" barrel it absorbs a lot of the "feel". All I know is my grouping is best at that load. And yes I also feel safe shooting them from a .357, as opposed to a .38.

Thanks any way, I will start at 3.4 and work my way up.

June 7, 2009, 04:38 PM

Ranier says to use lead bullet data with their plated bullets.

Berry says to use mid-level jacketed data with theirs.


Mark whiz
June 7, 2009, 05:59 PM
I've used 3.4gr of Red Dot with 158gr Ranier plated bullets with pretty good results in my 2' snubbie. It hasn't been as accurate out of my 4" Security Six, so I have to wonder what it would do out of your 6" barrel.

BTW, that load reads 245fps at the muzzle of the 2" snubbie.

Ol` Joe
June 7, 2009, 07:29 PM
From Rainiers web site.

We, at Rainier Ballistics, recommend using lead bullet load data when loading our bullets. There is no need for adjustment when using lead bullet load data. Our bullets are jacketed using an electroplating process and are softer than traditionally jacketed bullets; hence the recommendation to use lead bullet load data. If you only have access to traditionally jacketed load data, we recommend reducing maximum charge by 10%. A roll or taper crimp may be used with our bullets; do not over crimp.

evan price
June 8, 2009, 03:31 AM
I started with Alliant Promo which is supposedly "old formula red dot" but without the dots. According to burn rate it is right up there next to Titegroup which I use. So I started with a min. load weight of Titegroup and used Promo by weight. Shot good. Wound up using 3.3 grains Alliant Promo (which is again, in theory according to Alliant, Red Dot by weight not volume) and they shot great for target ammo. 158 LSWC, range brass, Wolf primers.

June 8, 2009, 05:38 AM
I use 5 gr Red Dot in a 357 case for standard loads with a 148 gr LWC. For 38 spl I just loaded up some 2.3 gr Red Dot for practice. I figure they are somewhere around 750 fps or less. Not much recoil at all in a small K frame S&W.

June 8, 2009, 02:17 PM
Alright, just tried some Red Dot, and am pleasantly surprised. Loaded up about 20 of each of 3.6 and 3.8 behind the 158 grain plated bullet. I also loaded up 5g of Unique loads. The 5g and 3.8g were almost identical in feel but the Red Dot shot a tighter group. The 3.6 was a milder load but not by much and shot a fairly tight group at 50 feet, better than any, guess I have found a decent replacement load.

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