38 sw and 38 spcl


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Nicodemus38
September 3, 2009, 12:52 AM
were can i get loading data for the 38 smith and wesson, in all forms, american and british? were can i get original loading data for the 38 special, 200 grain "manstopper" loads?

i cant find the loading data in most relaoding manuals, and what i find is "dont use a 200 grain bullet in either cartrdige".

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Grump
September 3, 2009, 01:24 AM
Try one of the (older?) Lyman cast bullet manuals.

You're guaranteed safe if you fill the entire powder space with black powder. Modern cases actually hold a little bit LESS than the original solid head, open web ones.

I'll try to look it up tomorrow when I unbury the books.

Landric
September 3, 2009, 01:34 AM
Some of the older Lyman manuals have 200 grain .38 Special data, not sure about .38 S&W. The current Lee manual has data for 200 grain bullets in .38 Special, .38 Special +P, and .357 Magnum.

I cast my own 200 grain bullets (Lyman mold # 358430) and I have safely loaded them in .38 Special brass to 875 fps out of my 4" 681 with no excessive pressure signs or excessive recoil. Obviously more velocity is possible out of magnum brass (and probably Special brass as well) but 875 fps meets my needs. I really like the 200 grain RN in .38 Special. I wish I could find a reasonably priced mold for a 200 grain .358 SWC.

The data is out there if you look. I use HS-6 and 2400 for my 875 fps load. I am using Trail Boss for my 675-700 fps minor load, but that load I worked up myself without the benefit of data.

ArchAngelCD
September 3, 2009, 04:04 AM
Take a look at Dr. Smith's (http://www.reloadammo.com/38sw.htm) load data for the .38 S&W.


If you're looking for load data for the original British Service 38/200 ammo the following powder/charge combination list will deliver right around 650 fps which is what the 38/200 was loaded to:
2.4gr Unique (very accurate)
2.7gr Herco (accurate)
2.4gr W231 (accurate)
2.3gr Green Dot
2.1gr Universal
2.7gr SR-4756
2.3gr SR-7625
2.0gr Bullseye (~620 fps)

Jim Watson
September 3, 2009, 09:21 AM
What gun?
I wouldn't load .38 S&W 200 grain for anything but a Military & Police, Webley, or Enfield. Henry Stebbins wrote of a friend kicking the top latch right off a top break S&W with the Super Police factory load.

Nicodemus38
September 4, 2009, 01:09 AM
im in the planning stages, not sure if its just better to load 38 special to 38 smith and wesson/super police/manstopper or get a revolver that has a spare cylinder chambered in 38 sw.
was thinking a sp 101 would make an acceptable substitute for a victory model.

Old Fuff
September 4, 2009, 10:03 AM
I don't know of anyone currently making a gun chambered in .38 S&W. Also be aware that the standard bullet diameter for .38 S&W is .360", where the .38 Special is .358". Normally shooting a .38 S&W sized bullet through a tighter .38 Special bore doesn't matter, but with a 200-grain bullet with a long bearing surface it might. You would be far better off, and have fewer complications if you stay with the .38 Special and load it with whatever weight and style of bullet you want.

If you are thinking of using Ruger's SP-101 as a platform, there is no reason you can't work up a 200-grain bullet load in .357 Magnum, and save yourself the trouble of having to scrub out the chambers after using .38 Special ammunition.

ranger335v
September 4, 2009, 11:03 AM
I believe there are few, or no, loads suggested for 200 gr balls in those cartridges because the possible velocieties are too low to be effective defense loads.

Old Fuff
September 4, 2009, 11:19 AM
I believe there are few, or no, loads suggested for 200 gr balls in those cartridges because the possible velocieties are too low to be effective defense loads.

That debateable... :)

The British had a theory that low velocity caused the heavy bullet to become unstable and tumble on impact. Maybe yes, and maybe no. But before World War Two and a decade later the Super Police loads had a reputation of getting the job done.

A more probable answer is that 200-grain lead bullets aren't popular anymore for various reasons, so neither the ammunition makers or hand loading/bullet manufacturers are going to spend any time, effort or money developing such loads.

The relatively few folks that are interested can find data if they look for it, or work up their own loads.

RSVP2RIP
September 4, 2009, 05:25 PM
I shoot the 38 special with the 200 grain Lyman #358430 mold bullets quite a lot recently. I use the factory load equivilent of 3.8gr Unique. Gives about 700fps. 3.0 gr start, 4.1gr max. Be aware that there are some older 2400 loads that are currently unsafe! They shoot very high, even with the adjustable sights on my Diamondback all the way down.


Edit:

I wouldn't hesitate to use it for defence if I had to use a 38 special, mostly because it is very accurate. I don't have any personal terminal data to support this though.

Landric
September 4, 2009, 05:41 PM
I'm using data for 2400 from an older Lyman manual. I'm getting 875 fps with the same 358430 boolit. I haven't seen anything to suggest its unsafe at all, no excessive pressure signs, etc.

I know the general opinion is that 2400 is not exactly the same now as it was in years past, but if there was any significant difference it wouldn't still be called 2400, not in the sue happy world we live in these days.

I will be the first to admit that some of the older loads published might be higher pressure than current standards, but that doesn't make them unsafe as long as one is careful and pays attention to detail.

rcmodel
September 4, 2009, 06:39 PM
The thing with standard pressure .38 Special loads is, there are no pressure signs to look for.

You can be well over the safe pressure limit without any signs of primer pocket or case head expansion. By the time you start seeing pressure signs with a stanrd load .38 Special, it is already way past too late.

rc

Landric
September 4, 2009, 10:19 PM
The thing with standard pressure .38 Special loads is, there are no pressure signs to look for.

You can be well over the safe pressure limit without any signs of primer pocket or case head expansion. By the time you start seeing pressure signs with a stanrd load .38 Special, it is already way past too late.

I suppose that is quite true as far as it goes. I don't, for instance, load my 1970 max charge 2400 loads in one of my Airweights. Those loads are saved for .357 Magnum revolvers, in which I shoot primarily .38 Specials due to brass availability and easier loading with my favorite bullets (which tend to need to be seated deeper in magnum brass and therefore often take up the extra powder capacity the magnum brass is supposed to afford).

The .357 Magnum, after all, was developed out of the .38/44. Yes, extra caution is necessary. I'm not one of those people who feels the need to eek as much velocity out of handloads as possible, but for my needs I wanted to find a 200 grain .38 Special load making ~ 850 fps. I found that with older .38 load data that was considered safe at the time. I've seen no signs that its anything other than safe now. Of course if I blow myself up, I have only myself to blame.

I don't disagree with you that one needs to be cautious, or that one can go way over pressure for the standard pressure .38 Special without pressure signs. Obviously these are not the loads for lightweight .38 revolvers or older small or medium frame revolvers, but I have no doubt they are safe in magnum revolvers (or heavy frame .38 Specials).

ranger335v
September 4, 2009, 11:28 PM
Old: "That debateable... The British had a theory that low velocity caused the heavy bullet to become unstable and tumble on impact."

I certainly conceed the Brits had that theory, and also grant they were (probably) right! But our FBI rejected the 9mm because, while it was fast, the light bullets have too little penatration to be a reliable stopper (also been well confirmed in the sand box). A simular heavy bullet that starts too slow has the same weakness - low penatration - even if it turns sideways. ??

So, we got the .40 cal handgun round for the FBI and others! A faster, heavier bullet always drives deeper and makes a larger sore spot, even if it doesn't roll to a stop.

MANY .38 "defense" revolvers have 2-4" barrels and they just ain't gonna see high speeds, not with a 200 gr. ball.

End of my part of the debate! :)

Old Fuff
September 5, 2009, 09:44 AM
Oh I'm not really debating you, just pointing out that there are two sides of the story. Since 1876 when the cartridge was introduced the .38 S&W cartridge in its regular loading has downed an awful lot of people, and unquestionably the 200-grain was better.

During World War Two the U.S. Army used a limited number of the S&W .38-200 version of its Victory Model. But the largest buyer after the U.K. and Empire/Commonwealth countries was the OSS - our very own, and probably first, military spook agency. They also had some Colt Police Positives in their inventory. Time came they needed some ammunition, so they ordered some up from Remington and Winchester. These were the specifications:

Cartridge - .38 S&W
Bullet - 125-grain/full copper jacketed.
Muzzle Velocity (4" barrel) - 625 FPS (+/- 25 FPS) @ 25 feet.
Chamber pressure: 13,000 PSI (Maximum).

Now I realize that no fire-breathing, red-blooded, tactical orientated member of this forum, :evil: :rolleyes: or likely any other one involving defensive use of handguns would consider such a round for themselves – not even for a second! But on the other hand this is what the U.S. Army and the OSS specified – and the latter included Rex Applegate, who had both theoretical as well as real-world experience. Sometimes paper ballistics and jelly tests don’t equate with what has been used and worked in the real world. :scrutiny:

But if it makes you feel any better it wouldn’t be my preferred choice either.

Carry on…. :D

Nicodemus38
September 5, 2009, 10:01 PM
ive been interested in these two cartrdiges for pure penetration. every article i can find on old handgun hunting with a 38 caliber revolver fromthe 1930-1940s has been a 200 grain slug pushed as fast as possible to get pure penetration. from what i can get from reliable places online is that the 38 manstopper(200 gr in 38 special) was formulated purely to blow through car doors and blow through rib cages on big animals like wolf or blackbear at shorter ranges.

sure the 200 grain slugs may tumble, but when a 200 grain slug thats roughly 5/8" long tumbles end over end, it makes a big hole. the 38sw load in 154gr can create 206 foot pounds of muzzle energy, thats more then the 380acp makes, and thats considered the "smallest" sane load to use for defense.

ruger did make a batch of 38 sw chambered service six revolvers for india, but i cant find any way to locate one.

Old Fuff
September 5, 2009, 10:59 PM
Yes, but anything you can do with the .38 S&W you can duplicate or do better in the .38 Special. Given the difficulity of finding moden revolvers, ammunition, or reloading components for the .38 S&W you'd be better off to drop the .38 S&W and continue on with the .38 Special or even the .357 Magnum.

Malamute
September 6, 2009, 12:23 AM
If this is oriented towards real life protection loads, I would point out that the old 200 gr loads were round nose bullets, not the best shape for making an impression on things being shot. Compared to the somewhat pointy RN 158 gr 38 spl loads, the 200's may have been better, but I would venture that almost any common load today that isnt a RN will be better yet than the RN 200's. From shooting game with various bullets, I can tell a noticeable difference in RN 38, 44 spl, 45 auto, and 45 Colt loads compared to Keith type or SWC loads in the same rounds, or similar ones. I for one, would far rather use the 173 Gr Keith bullet in the 38 cals than any weight of round nose. Hollow points do work pretty well, also, particulalry in true high speed 38 spl loadings, and in 357. Just a thought.


Jim Cirrilo mentioned in his book that the coroners couldnt tell the difference between a bullet wound from a 32 or a 45 if RN bullets were used.

Landric
September 6, 2009, 12:04 PM
I think a 200 grain SWC would be a fantastic defensive bullet for those who either don't want to use, or can't use, hollowpoints. The problem I have had, is that while the 200 grain RN molds are available, 200 grain SWC molds are hard to come by. When they can be found, they are very expensive.

I think the 170-173 grain Keith SWC is a great bullet, but I really like the 200 grainers in .38 Special. For magnum loads, I prefer the Keith bullet simply because its easier to get a workable OAL with it.

jdmcomp
September 6, 2009, 04:13 PM
Old Fuff, the Brits had more than theory, they had tests to prove the contention the the 200 grain bullet would work. The British War Office had carried out significant experiments to prove the change to the 380 weapon was the right idea. Keep in mind what a pistol is used for in war and you have a somewhat different situation then exist for a policeman today. I own three of these relics and have handloaded the 38/200 for them. Since accuracy was never a real requirement beyond 7 to 10 yards, I have never worried about that issue. All that said, I shoot mine with the standard 38s&w load of the day which is the 145 gr load in keeping with the age of these guns. I support the British view that the 38/200 will do the job if you do your part.

Old Fuff
September 6, 2009, 04:39 PM
I support the British view that the 38/200 will do the job if you do your part.


I agree, although I think that today the better platform to work with is the .38 Special, not the .38 S&W. I am aware of the extensive testing that was done, and also the reason the .38 S&W cartridge was chosen was because the design of a proposed Enfield top-break revolver, as well as the Webley candidate required a short cartridge. It is also important to understand that the British regarded the revolver to be a close range/fast reaction weapon that should be used in the double-action mode. The .38/200 cartridge met these requirements. Otherwise they tended to issue STEN sub-machineguns. I would note that the .38's bullet weight was reduced to 178 grains later, and of course the 125 grain load the OSS ordered that I previously mentioned.

I seen nothing wrong with experimenting with heavy bullet/low velocity loads, but unless one is going to use either a Enfield or Webley revolver, the .38 Special cartridge in a present day gun, from all perspectives, is much easier to work with.

Malamute
September 6, 2009, 04:44 PM
"I support the British view that the 38/200 will do the job if you do your part."


I would agree in as far as the statement goes, however, feel there are better choices. Why settle for mediocre accuracy and range, when match grade is easily available, and much higher performance loads. Not really intending to be argumentative, just pointing out that there are much better loads and guns available, power, range, and accuracy wise.

Old Fuff
September 6, 2009, 05:21 PM
Not really intending to be argumentative, just pointing out that there are much better loads and guns available, power, range, and accuracy wise.

But that misses the point which started this thread. Nicodemus38 has tried to make clear that he's interested in developing heavy bullet/low velocity loads similar to what the British used in World War Two, and as late as Korea for that matter. The question he's asking is, should I work with what cartridge? .38 S&W, .38 S&W Special, or maybe way out in left field, .357 Magnum.

As a practical matter, it's hard (and more expensive) to get reloading components for the .38 S&W then it is the .38 Special or .357 Magnum. I included the Magnum because he mentioned the Ruger SP-101 as a possible platform. It is also next to impossible to find a post-war, hand ejector revolver chambered in .38 S&W. Rechambering a .38 Special is not a good option, and I don't know of any gunsmiths that work with the .38 S&W.

Unquestionably most of the members who have posted on this thread believe that the .38-200 cartridge is hopelessly inferior to whatever alternative each individual member may prefer. That fine, as everyone has a right to their opinion, but those opinions have nothing to do with what Nicodemus38 is trying to find out. ;)

Cosmoline
September 6, 2009, 05:23 PM
There was a recent issue of Handloader that had some good info in it.

Malamute
September 7, 2009, 12:20 AM
"But that misses the point which started this thread. ....The question he's asking is, should I work with what cartridge? .38 S&W, .38 S&W Special, or maybe way out in left field, .357 Magnum."


Actually, we were typing at the same time, (I type really slow!) and were expressing basically the same viewpoint, tho perhaps I wasn't as clear about it. I was responding to the post above regarding the British 38-200. We seem to have the same opinion, that the 38 spl is a better vehicle, and the 357 even more so.

His reference to the SP-101 was to some that were produced in 38 S&W cal.

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