Range Report: Black Powder .38 S & W 'Special'


October 29, 2009, 10:11 PM
Two Test Revolvers, one Box of fresh, me-reload, .38 Special 'BP' Cartridges.

Revolver No1: S & W "Militry & Police'', Model of 1902, made in 1902.

This was my intermittent Daily Carry in the 1980s and now-and-then since.

http://inlinethumb37.webshots.com/43428/2910757840067835264S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2910757840067835264ijjFwz)

Revolver No 2: circa 1967 S&W ''Model10'', Bull Barrel, modified by me some moths ago for IWB. Was originally 4 inch, Square Butt, Spur Hammer, Magna-Stock.

My present Daily-Carry

http://inlinethumb49.webshots.com/42928/2428176440067835264S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2428176440067835264xQDwtL)

Cartridges are plane-jane .38 S & W 'Special', Mixed Headstamp, having 20.7 Grains of early 1960s 'Dupont' 3F Black Powder, and, 'Speer' 158 Grain, Lead, Hollow-Point, Semi-Wadcutter Bullets, seated with firm compression of Powder, for a normal OAL. Remington Small Pistol Primers.

Preliminary evaluation -


What a joy..!

First shot, out of Mr. 1902, I would have thought I just let one go from a mid-range-load 357 Magnum or one helluva '+P'...this is one VERY "Healthy" Cartridge.

Both Revolvers appered to enjoy these Cartridges about the same.

Very healthy recoil, very healthy report.

Shot mixed rounds of these, and, regular 'Store Bought' Standard Loading .38 Special Ammunition/Cartridges of 158 Grain Lead, to comapre...and BIG difference.

Oddly, the BP did not seem to make noticible Smoke, or, Smoke-Wise, no conspicuous difference was to be seen between the Factory Smokless rounds, and, the Black Powder rounds, maybe owing to it being so Windy.

Wind was really blowing, Target Stand kept blowing over, Targets horizontal anyway in the Winds, and it was getting dark out, so, I called it 'Good-Enough' for now....so, no 'POA' info yet.

Next item of accoutremon?


So...stay tuned!

First thing I did when packing up at the Range?

Tossed my previous Carry Cartridges and replaced them with these in Daily-Carry Mr. Model 10.

They even FEEL better just being 'there'.

Wow...I am very impressed with these.

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October 29, 2009, 10:25 PM
That's been my experience,too.I loaded up a bunch with 3f Goex, for my Remington Uberti and man, what a heck of a lot of fun that was!

October 29, 2009, 10:37 PM
Thanks for the report. Question: are you getting lots of fouling everywhere? Is any of it going down into the internals? or maybe the cartridges stop the gasses from blowing back into the gun?

4v50 Gary
October 29, 2009, 10:39 PM
Do keep us updated in this thread.

October 29, 2009, 10:53 PM
Hi Tomahawk674,

I see no fouling whatever.

I will give both Revolvers a nice 'Bath' before the evening is done, of course.

I used home-made 'Lube' on some, used Tumble-Lube-with-Alox on others, and Home-Made Lube-Wafers in others of this first Box worth.

Seems like the Lube-Wads, or 'Wafers' work very nicely for reducing or eliminating fouling.

I only fired about twenty-five Rounds of the BP though.

Lube is unpurified Bee's Wax, Olive Oil, and a little Orange scented Furniture Wax...heated to melt and meld together, soft when dry...when cool.

'Wads' or 'Wafers (.036 Thousandths thick once compressed ) are Paper Towell strips, dipped in Hot liquid/molten home-made Lube, cooled, and Wafers cut out with an old Gasket Punch, to be about .365-ish in diameter...these of course go on top of the Powder, under the Bullet.

Basically, both Guns seem hardly different clean-wise, than if they'd been shooting Smokeless.

October 30, 2009, 12:50 AM
Good range report Oyeboten, and by the I love a model 10 S&W wish I had one now ... My Dad always carried a S&W K10 38spl. What a sweet wheelgun that was.
I'll have to load a batch of black powder(KIK).38spl and some .357Mag up for my Ruger Police Service Six 2 3/4" SS Wheelgun... think I could get pics of extreme muzzzle flash?
Thanks for the Report...

October 30, 2009, 02:01 AM
Hi Smokin_Gun,

I did not notice any Muzzle Flash...

But, all in all, these .38 Special BP Cartridges, even in the 3 inch Barrel Model 10, feel like very Healthy +Ps...

BUT, with really nice 'Healthy' Recoil, really solid, heavy-ish 'deep' Report...

(I hate +Ps! Lol...nasty 'sharp' unpleasnat recoil, nasty sharp unpleasant report...foooey...)

The impression I had is of these being "Powerful"...and, effecient Combustion.

I compressed the be-jeeeeeezees out of the Powder, and, put on a good crimp.

Could be the right thing to do on these...

You should get yourself a nice, 'Carried lots, shot little', 1960s era Model 10...

They're good Black Powder Guns, afterall!!

Look on 'Gunbroker'...and be patient.

That's what I did.

October 30, 2009, 04:19 AM
I see no fouling whatever.

If it's really DuPont then maybe that has something to do with it too. :)

October 30, 2009, 05:39 AM
Just gave the Babies Bath...Scrub-a-dub-dub in hot soapy Water with a Sponge...and shoving little twist-wads of Paper Towels through the Bores with an unsharpened new Pencil...then a Heat-and-Rub dry...and a nice liberal Oiling.

They looked very decently 'clean' before the Bath, hardly any different than if it'd only been Smokeless, light schmuts...both had a pleasant Vaporized-Grease-Wad-Legacy 'sheen'...but, now they REALLY look 'clean'.

Do you think that the 45 year old can of 'Dupont' could burn nicer/cleaner/peppier than what we have now?

Das Jaeger
October 30, 2009, 05:41 AM
No pictures , how dare you :D


October 30, 2009, 05:48 AM
I loaded some black powder 38s when I was competing in PPC. Made sure I was upwind of the rest of the shooters and when the order was given, commenced to punch holes in the target. Lot's of noise from down wind but most of it was layghter, after the initial cussing. As I recall, they grouped a little bigger than my Bullseye load. Cleanup wasn't as bad as I thought it would be although the stainless revolver was dirtier than when shot with smokeless.

I recall hearing about a fellow who loaded some 45 ACP with black but don't recall how the 1911 faired with it.

Oyeboten, looking forward to the chrono report, guessing about 700 fps with the shoerter tube, hope I am wrong and they clock faster for you.

October 30, 2009, 12:07 PM
Pics of Oyeboten cleanin' his Model 10 at my place in the Mojave... :O) He cleaned his first ...

October 30, 2009, 06:00 PM
Well...after-their-Bath, they look just the same as they do in the opening images, of, home from the Range, before their Bath, just 'cleaner' now...


Ooooooooo-Boy...I am really looking forward to Mr. Chronograph being part of the fun...

October 31, 2009, 03:24 AM
So you want to be a numbers guy and start running some numbers for all of us huh?
I can't say that I blame you because it sounds like fun.
BTW, do you know what the spread is for the Series? :D

I like some of these by Pact, starting at $129.99.



October 31, 2009, 03:39 AM
I Ordered a "Competition Electronics ProChrono" from 'Midway'...

It's a very basic looking outfit, and, if I bring my Binoculars along, I'll be able to read the 'digital-read-out' at 20 or 30 feet.

Your FPS may vary!

I think it can also double as Rabbit-Ears for my TV..!

October 31, 2009, 04:08 AM
A very entertaining report and follow on posts.

One of the guys that I shoot with in my CAS club matches mentioned that I'd have to switch over to BP for the lever and shot guns if I wan't to stay in the Traditional class that my BP percussion revolvers place me. For club level it's not a biggie but I can see that in the more "serious" meets I'll have to load up the .38 lever gun with either Pyrodex or BP. The guy that mentioned this loads up shot shells for a few of the BP shooters and let me try a few for one stage. WHAT A SMOKE SHOW! ! ! !

Anyhow, to heck with "Pyrodreck" and here's to loading for my lever gun with good ol' black powder! !

And once I do this I'm thinking I'll have to put a few dozen through my Model 10 just for giggles.

October 31, 2009, 04:19 AM
:evil: H335 will shoot you some hot flames :uhoh:

October 31, 2009, 04:57 AM
Hi BCRider,

The Model 10 shown in the opening Image is my Daily Carry as of a Month or so ago.

I liked these "BP" Cartridges SO much, before I left the Range, my Daily-Carry was loaded with them, and, still is.

Merely seating a 158 Semi-Wad to normal OAL, will be a 'good' compression, if 20.7 Grains (1.3cc) of 3F are used.

20.7 Grains of 3F is what I have in these, where I'd done the 'Alox Tumble'...or, a tiny tad less, with a Paper-Towel-based-Bees Wax Grease/Olive Oil 'Wafer' of .040-ish thick, under the Bullet.

My 'GOEX' arrived to-day...so I'll load some up with that, and see how it seems against the old 'DUPONT' Can.


Got 'fifty' loaded up with 'Goex'...goes pretty fast! - even on this Press...

October 31, 2009, 06:15 AM
The 'Wafers' -

http://inlinethumb17.webshots.com/1488/2907777170067835264S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2907777170067835264IciVPr)

Strips of Paper Towel, run through hot Molten Unpurified Bee's Wax Olive Oil mix...cooled...then cut into slightly over dimeter size discs with an old Gasket Hole Punch.

Averging about .040-ish in thickness, and, holding more Lube than the measily not much of a supposed 'Bullet's LUBE groove' does, at least on these 'SPEERS' anyway...

November 1, 2009, 07:42 AM
Never used paper toweling for wadding, it holds up okay? I guess once in the case there isn't a lot for it to do except keep the powder off the base of the bullet.

I used wads cut from a cereal box, unlubed. When I need extra lube, a lube cookie of two cereal box wads with a gob of lube between is what I use. Never needed them in revolvers but they work well in my rifles.

Isn't stuffing black powder into cases a blast? It should be mandatory for all shooters to try at least once!

November 1, 2009, 08:41 PM
there are commercial lubricants for blackpowder that can be purchased that work exceptionally fine in these bullets with black powder.

have you noticed any bp residue from firing getting into the internal mechanism yet? That wold be the main worry for me.

November 1, 2009, 09:54 PM
BC, you don't need to change a thing to shoot in Traditional. You can shoot any revolver except one with adjustable sights, any rifle, and any shotgun with any type of powder.

Now if'n you're wantin' to go Frontiersman, then the rifle and shotgun must have BP or sub.

November 2, 2009, 04:37 AM
Pulp, perhaps it was Frontiersman that he was reffering to. I guess it's time to search out the rules and class specs instead of just showing up at the club matches and having fun... :D

November 6, 2009, 09:26 PM
My brand spankin' new "Item Number 852429 Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph" I'd Ordered from 'Midway' last week, arrived...so...now some figures!

Revolver today, is my lightly modified, daily carry, Model 10 S&W, 3 Inch Barrel, as seen in the opening images of this Thread.

Strings of six, fired from 10 yards.

158 Grain, Lead, Hollow-Nose, Semi-Wad-Cutter Bullet, Remington Primer, 20.7 Grains early 1960s "DUPONT" 3 F, .040 Home-made Grease-Wad, good Crimp...

FPS as


Yes...every darned Round got the same FPS reading, and I even tried other round in-between them, to double-check.

Next -

158 Grain, Lead, Hollow-Nose, Semi-Wad-Cutter Bullet, Remington Primer, 20.7 Grains new Bottle "GOEX" 3 F, .040 Home-made Grease-Wad, good Crimp...

FPS as


And, yes, I tried other rounds in-between to double check....

Next -

Commercial 'FAMAE' Brand, .38 Special, 158 Grain Round Nose Lead, unknown Primer, unknown Propellent -

FPS as


Next -

158 Grain, 'Waffle-Sided', Lead, Hollow-Nose, Semi-Wad-Cutter Bullet, Remington Primer, .040 Home-Made Grease Wad, consistent/approx 15.75 Grains of "777", good Crimp.

FPS as


Kind of inconsistent...

Maybe the "777" does not like Grease Wads?

What fun..!

Peter M. Eick
November 7, 2009, 06:23 AM
You have me interested enough in your results that I will get some black powder and do this myself to one of my beater 38/44's. I am truly fascinated by the consistency of your velocity measurements and the results.

My compliments, I wish I had thought to do this experiment myself!

November 7, 2009, 02:37 PM
The velocity produced by the DuPont fffg is 13% faster than the Goex fffg which means that it must be more like Swiss...rather than American cheese! :D

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