Clean powder for .38special.


September 28, 2009, 06:04 PM
I'm looking for a ultra clean burning powder for my SSR loads. Loaded some with some PB that I had and after about 125 rounds had trouble with cylinder rotation due to powder residue. I'd like to be able to shoot SSR in IDPA but 125 rounds won't get me through a major match. Anybody got any suggestions?:confused:

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September 28, 2009, 06:14 PM
No clue what SSR loads are, but:
Anything but PB.

I'd try Bullseye, WW231, Titegroup, Red Dot, Unique, etc.

Just about any other fast powder, which PB isn't.


September 28, 2009, 06:16 PM
Red Dot, American Select, Clays, 700X, N31, N320. All very clean in .38 Spl at low pressure levels.

Lee Roder
September 28, 2009, 07:12 PM
My test gun is also "powder sensitive" and binds fairly regularly with many of my experimental loads.

Shooting 158gr LSWC in loadings from light through +P, I find

BULLSEYE is dirty at lighter loadings
CLAYS is wonderful, not a spec drops out of the fired cases, for all loadings
HP-38, apparently made "expecially" for this caliber. is dirty throughout the entire load range, big disappointment
UNIQUE shoots very well in all loadings but is dirty as all crap, but I expected this

If you shoot lead, one issue you might profitably watch is the bearing surface of the yolk tube which projects down the center of the cylinder at the point where it joins with metal hinge piece that slides into the frame and is locked in place by that screw. i recently found there much accumulated LEAD, which I'm sure made my gun much more sensitive to any buildup of additional crud than it might otherwise be.

To date, Clays and Unique are my most consistently accurate powders, go figur . My leading problem here seems due to large throats (.359+") in this particular gun. I have been shotting 0.358" but I think most buildup was from the 0.355" (pulled from factory) i shot previously. Forcing cone periphery was "plastered".

September 28, 2009, 07:16 PM
I use 700x it's pretty clean for me.

September 28, 2009, 08:21 PM
Trail Boss, none better.:)

September 28, 2009, 08:32 PM
Big fan of Titegroup in light target loads.

Leading? I get my lead bullets from Friendswood Bullet Co. or Penn Bullets on the 'net. Fairly hard bullets and very accurate. And have had next to no leading at all even going near 1000 FPS from a .44 mag Blackhawk.


September 28, 2009, 09:10 PM
Clays has to be the cleanest I've ever used. Works well with cast bullets also. I load it a little hot but I shoot these through a 357 Mag revolver.

3.3 grains Clays
158 gr. Hornady LSWC
any small pistol primer.

All the Best,
D. White

Jeff H
September 28, 2009, 09:28 PM
Anything but PB.

What is PB? All that comes to mind is that Pb= Lead= smokey regardless of the powder. Is PB an actual powder?

I use Bullseye but I shoot lead for 38 so I know it will be dirty anyway.

September 28, 2009, 10:12 PM
yes , I would like to know what PB is also .

Ol` Joe
September 28, 2009, 10:15 PM
I believe PB works much better as a shotgun powder then pistol. This is hearsay though, I`ve never personally used it in brass cartridge loads.
PB is a IMR powder for those that asked

If you`re looking for clean, try VVn310 or N320.

September 28, 2009, 10:26 PM

3.0 grains 100grn swc
4.5grains 158grn swc

my 2 favourite loads...i now dont load anything else for lead in 38 special. Both work beautifully out of any smith revolver i have tried them in....half my gun club is now shooting with trailboss.

September 28, 2009, 10:36 PM
Another vote for Trail Boss.

In my SASS guns I shoot .45 Schofield cases and they fall out.

September 28, 2009, 10:51 PM
I use w231 for 38Spl and 38 Spl +P.

Clays has great rep for being clean and making easy shooting target loads.

September 28, 2009, 11:14 PM
The cleanest burning powder at lower pressure levels I've shot so far has been V.N310. My preferred powder for 38 Special is Ramshot's True Blue, but it's not as clean.

added on edit: Steve C's post immediately following is a good point--I typically shoot only lead bullets.

Jim H.

Steve C
September 29, 2009, 04:18 AM
As long as you use lubed lead bullets you will not solve your problem as most of the dirt and grime come from the bullet lube. Switch to jacketed or copper clad and most any of the fast powders will be quite clean.

September 29, 2009, 10:02 PM
Clays (or Alliant's Clay Dot) and American Select powder with 38 cast bullets will get you through a match with no problem. A.S. I think is a tad bit cleaner. They will do anything Trail Boss will do and then some and a lot more economical.

October 4, 2009, 11:43 AM
Low pressure loads; VihtaVuori N-320 and N-310 ofcourse too.

Jim Watson
October 4, 2009, 11:52 AM
Vocabulary lesson:
SSR = Stock Service Revolver in IDPA competition. Normaly a .38 special at maximum load levels, up into +P with some combinations of powder and bullet.
PB, sometimes known as PB-6, is an old old DuPont powder, the last still made at IMR by the old Porous Base (PB, get it?) process.

A powder clean enough to get a revolver through an IDPA match may be an impossible dream. A dry toothbrush to clean under the star, a chamber brush to let reloads drop in, and a trip to the safety area about every other stage are the best approach.

October 4, 2009, 12:53 PM
I may be weird, but I find no extreme cleanup with Accurate Arms #2 in 38 Special.

October 4, 2009, 01:01 PM
I may be weird, but I find no extreme cleanup with Accurate Arms #2 in 38 Special.
I second this. I have shot as many 450 rounds of 148 gr HBWCs through a Ruger Vaquero at one session with excellent results. No dirt "problems" at all.

Ky Larry
October 4, 2009, 02:33 PM
+1 on AA#2. Clean, accurate, meters well, and is cheaper to use than most other powders.

P.S. PB is a shotgun powder made by IMR. It can be used in pistol loads but it is some nasty, dirty stuff.

John Wayne
October 4, 2009, 04:01 PM
I use Trail Boss and it's cleaner than most factory ammo.

125 gr. LRN FP BB over 3.0 gr. Trail Boss

I have had good results in both my 442 and 10-7.

October 4, 2009, 07:38 PM
I love AA #2, but it needs to get to a certain pressure level to burn completely. It likes 140 & 158 Gr bullets in .38 Spl better than 125's.

At the same level with 125's where AA #2 still leaves some residue (Grey spheres) Clays, N310, 700 X etc burn clean.

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