Loading .38 special


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TonyAngel
February 14, 2010, 09:41 PM
I recently bought myself a Ruger Blackhawk in .357. It has a 4 and 5/8" barrel in blue steel. It was an impulse buy, but the more I shoot it, the more I like it. It kind of forces you to take your time and make every shot count. I've found myself taking it with me on range days and neglecting my other toys.

In any case, I've been making my own loads for it. I had a bunch of .38 brass sitting around, so that's what I've been using. I have yet to shoot a .357 home brew out of it. A few weeks ago, I was looking around on line for some .357 brass and was surprised to find how hard it is to locate and the price of it at those places that have it in stock.

**ANY LOAD DATA CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT CLAIMED TO BE SAFE. I ONLY USE IT IN REVOLVERS CHAMBERED FOR .357 MAGNUM AND WHETHER I AM GOING TO BLOW MYSELF UP REMAINS TO BE SEEN**

Anyway, I've been using .38 brass exclusively and to tell the truth, I'd like to keep using it. Not only is it cheap (and I have a ton of it), but it's easier to extract as well. I load my .38 with 158gr LSWC from Missouri Bullet Company. I've been using these exclusively (the "action" bullets that are harder). I also use both Accurate No. 2 and No. 5. My load with the No. 2 is at 4.4 grains and with the No. 5 it's at 6.2 grains. These loads are beyond the recommendations within the data published by Accurate, but I have yet to see any signs of pressure. Brass is easy to extract and I haven't seen any flattened primers.

I did some research on the .357 and from what I gather, the .357 is just an extension of the .38. The first .357 loads were developed using .38 brass. At some point in time, .357 brass was lengthened to prevent the use of the hot loads in revolvers meant for .38s only.

I'm not talking about using .357 data with .38 special brass, but was wondering how hot can you get with .38 brass? From what I understand, .38 special brass can handle pressures way beyond those generated by SAAMI spec .38 special loads. I'd love to be able to get into the 1100 to 1200 FPS range using .38 special brass with the projectiles that I'm using and if it is attainable, it will be done at a bit of a reduced cost considering that I'll be using less powder and cheaper brass.

If you can share your personal experiences, I'd appeciate it.

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W.E.G.
February 14, 2010, 09:51 PM
.357 brass is not one bit stronger than .38 Special brass.

The strength is all in the gun.
The Ruger is so strong that you could loads so hot that the headstamp is obliterated, and the gun will still hold it.
Although, I don't recommend that kind of abuse.

Work your loads up until you find something you are satisfied with.
The Ruger has plenty of "headroom" when it comes to pushing the +P range in .38 Special brass.

Brass will get sticky on extraction as you get in the "too hot" range.

You will probably find a comfortable load somewhere a good ways south of "too hot" for the Ruger.

jfh
February 14, 2010, 10:33 PM
I've loaded 38 Special brass up into the 1100 fps range--from a 2 barrel. I do not recommend this.

Here's why:


overpressure 38 Special rounds fit in any 38 Special revolver, and someone else may want to try the same.
only his revolver is 38 Special-only...
the pressures generated may well exceed 357 Magnum max pressures.


There are no reliable pressure tests for the 357 data in a 38 Special case. 'Pressure Data Techniques'--for measuring handgun cartridge changes have been shown to be uncorrelated with actual tests. These techniques--case expansion, primer reading, etc.--developed in the 60s and 70s simply are not reliable.

Recently--as in, the last two years or so--the SR-4756 / Speer 8 data became widely-dispersed again. AFAIK, the pressures at the upper end have been found to easily be 43000 PSI (not CUP), and there may be a pressure spike into the 55,000+ PSI range.

My tests were all done in a 357-framed 640, or bigger. Another guy did this with his 38 Special Airweight, running loads only out past 950 fps or so--and he stretched the frame. It's your gun--and your body. The recipes are out there, make what you will.

Added on Edit: Don't forget--there is a significant drawback to shooting 38 Special brass in 357 chambers / cylinders: A crud ring is built up--that ring is not only a nuisance to remove, but it may result in NOT allowing 357 rounds to chamber easily--or, conceivably, create a constriction / overpressure situation for a normal 357 Magnum round.

Jim H.

Walkalong
February 14, 2010, 10:58 PM
.357 brass is thicker than .38 Spl. It is loaded to much higher pressures.

I like to use .357 brass for my light .38 Spl type .357 loads for much the same reasons jfh put forth. I wish .357 brass was as plentiful and cheap as .38, but right now it isn't.

Millions of rounds of .38 Spl are shot through .357's with no problems other than having to clean out the chambers for the reasons jfh mentioned. I am not against it, I just don't do it.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=115668&stc=1&d=1266202968

fecmech
February 14, 2010, 11:04 PM
Tony--The only danger with using .38 spl brass for .357 mag loads is that a cartridge loaded to magnum pressures (35000 psi) can be loaded into a gun that is only safe to 18000 psi. If you don't own any plain 38 spl revolvers it should be no problem, if you do it will be, I know! I got lucky, my S&W chief special survived my screw up.

PS. I have NEVER worried about 38+P in "J" frame Smiths!

Walkalong
February 14, 2010, 11:10 PM
Yep. Forgot to address that. I always recommend against loading .38 brass over .38 pressure levels, just in case. Just in case. (Yep, worth saying twice)

Sunray
February 14, 2010, 11:15 PM
"...the 1100 to 1200 FPS range..." You won't get that using safe loads. Likely lead your barrel too. .38 Special +P data for a 158 jacketed bullet runs between 835ish to about 956 fps. depending on the powder used.
The lube gunk ring is just a nuisance. Comes right out with regular cleaning.

MichaelK
February 15, 2010, 12:03 AM
Hi Tony
Here's one more reason you don't want to do this.

I'd love to be able to get into the 1100 to 1200 FPS range using .38 special brass with the projectiles that I'm using and if it is attainable, it will be done at a bit of a reduced cost considering that I'll be using less powder and cheaper brass.

This velocity is right about the speed of sound at sea level. Depending on the temperature, humidity, and air pressure, the speed of sound is ~1120 fps. Bullets crossing the sound barrier become very unstable do to the buffeting of the shock wave, and accuracy greatly deteriorates!

A good rule of thumb for maximum accuracy is either keep your bullets completely below the sound barrier, or so fast that they don't slow down to the speed of sound before they reach their target!
Michael

bluetopper
February 15, 2010, 12:04 AM
PM Sent.........

zxcvbob
February 15, 2010, 12:06 AM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

I load .38-44 (look it up) cartridges like that for my Marlin carbine. I mark the entire case heads red with a Magic Marker and write on the box: "DANGER! For Rifle Only" (of course they are just fine in any .357 Magnum.)

12.5 to 13 grains of Alliant 2400 with 158 grain cast bullets. RNFP is better for rifle, SWC is better for a revolver. The original load (Skeeter Skelton?) was 13.5 grains of Hercules 2400 with 158 grain bullets or a particular 173 grain bullet crimped in the 2nd groove, but Alliant 2400 might be hotter now than the old Hercules powder. However there's a reason you cannot buy factory .38-44 ammo anymore. It could fit in any old POS .38 Special gun, perhaps with tragic results. So consider the responsibility before you create any cartridges like this.

(I've also had case head separations when trying to develop the same type of load using Blue Dot powder, so don't even try that.)

TonyAngel
February 15, 2010, 12:28 AM
I'm really not worried about my loads winding up in the wrong handgun. I don't own any .38's and my home brews never get loaded into a firearm that I don't own. I'm not willing to accept that responsibility.

I've seen some .357 cases that spec'ed out a bit heavier duty than .38 special and I've seen some that didn't. I'm probably over thinking this. As it is now, I'm not seeing any signs of over pressure and until I do, the Blackhawk shouldn't have any problems.

With the AA No. 2 load, I think I'm just going to bump it up to 4.5gr and call it a day. With the 4.4gr load it burns super clean and I am getting no leading at all. In fact, the way the gun looked after the last range session, you would have thought that I was shooting jacketed bullets through it.

With the AA No. 5 load at 6.2gr it isn't quite as clean and there is more felt recoil. I don't know if I'm getting that much more velocity or if it's just because of the slower powder. I'd like to bump this load up a couple tenths of a grain to see if I can get it burning as clean as the No. 2 load.

I know that shooting hotter loads is sometimes counter productive, but at other times, it's just plain fun. When I'm just plinking and looking to shoot something really light, I usually do that with my 1911 .45 loaded up with 200gr LSWC on top of 5gr of No. 2.

I'm gonna try what I've proposed and see if the cases start getting sticky.

Thanks guys.

zxcvbob
February 15, 2010, 12:34 AM
The cases won't get sticky, even when you are in dangerous territory. Flattened primers also don't mean much one way or the other with revolvers. Find load data of the approximate power that you want from a trusted source, then work up to the most accurate load (it will usually be near the top of the range but probably not right at the max)

TonyAngel
February 15, 2010, 12:39 AM
I had always thought that cases get sticky as an indication of over pressure. Is there no way to tell that pressure is getting too high?

W.E.G.
February 15, 2010, 12:44 AM
If you are shooting inexpensive plain-lead bullets, as powder charges increase, you will run out of accuracy way before you run out of strength in the Ruger.

TonyAngel
February 15, 2010, 01:01 AM
Yeah, I'm shooting the "action" series bullets from Missouri Bullet Company. They're supposed to have an 18 brinnell hardness and the only leading problems I've had with them was when I wasn't pushing them hard enough. My only goal is to be able to consistently hit a clay pigeon at 25 yards.

Walkalong
February 15, 2010, 09:10 AM
I had always thought that cases get sticky as an indication of over pressure. Is there no way to tell that pressure is getting too high? By the time you see pressure signs in a low pressure round like the .38 Spl, you will be WAY over the pressure limit for it.

jfh
February 15, 2010, 09:34 AM
About those flattened-primers-tea-leaves-readings: think about it this way; The various manufacturers of Pistol Primers have those primers specified in 357 Magnum recipes as well as 38 Special. 357 Mag specs are (currently) 35,000 PSI; 38 Special, 17,000 (18,500, 38+P; 21,750, 38 CIP). People "read" primer deformation from those 357 cases--but the same primers will not show much change in deformation from 17,000 to 20,000. Can you tell the difference between a 38 Special primer fired at, say, 20,000 and 25,000? I can't--not with any reliability. That is, I can see a difference--but how objectively measurable is that difference, so that it can be repeated reliably?

The only time I've had a sticky case from high-pressure reloads was in an overcharged case in which the pressures were at least 55,000 PSI (and, arguably, perhaps 72,000). For rifle cartridges and a few select high-pressure handgun cartridges, perhaps or yes. At typical handgun pressures, no.

added on edit: With AA#5 and a 158-gr. LSWC, 38-CIP max. is about 5.8 gr.--so you are running pressure in the mid-twenties, it looks like. I'd be curious to know what the chrono shows for these rounds from your Blackhawk.

Jim H.

TonyAngel
February 15, 2010, 11:59 AM
What I'm looking for is some info from guys that have experimented with what I'm talking about. I am well aware of SAAMI specs and the fact that the .38 special is a low pressure round. I am also aware that the loads that I've discussed exceed published load data.

On the other hand, I have seen .38 special revolvers that were subjected to a steady diet of +P ammunition and the side effects, although detrimental to the firearm, were not catastrophic.

The point that I'm trying to discuss is "how far can you push .38 special brass?" I've seen .38s with stretched frames and chambers in the cylinders that had become stretched, but seems to me to be more of an indication that it was the handgun that couldn't handle the pressure, and not the components.

If the max spec for +P is 18,500psi and the max spec for .357 is 35,000psi (almost double that of the +P loads), will .38 brass handle something in between those specs? Like a .38 load that produces 25,000psi.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I won't get sticky cases if the pressure gets too high. Why are you saying that the cases won't get sticky as a sign that the pressures are getting out of hand? I can understand that the loads that I'm talking about will tear a small frame .38 apart before any signs of pressure, but I'm not talking about firing these out of a .38.

On a side note, I wonder why Ruger made these darned ejector rods in the Blackhawks so short. Believe it or not, this is the root of this whole discussion. It's a PITA when you're standing in the woods trying to reload and you hit a case where you didn't snap the ejector rod quickly enough to make the brass completely slide out of the cylinder and you loose your reloading rhythm, so your standing there with your handgun cradled in the same hand that you're catching spent brass in with the reload rounds in your right hand and you have to perform small feats of dexterity to extract the case that didn't come all the way out. .38 special is also just a bit easier to reload and it's cheaper.

And I do need a Chrony.

zxcvbob
February 15, 2010, 12:32 PM
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I won't get sticky cases if the pressure gets too high. Why are you saying that the cases won't get sticky as a sign that the pressures are getting out of hand?
I've had case head separations at about 40000 psi without any sticky extraction first. I've also had what looked like flattened primers with normal factory ammo in revolvers just from the case head hitting the recoil shield. This tells me that neither is a reliable indicator.
I can understand that the loads that I'm talking about will tear a small frame .38 apart before any signs of pressure, but I'm not talking about firing these out of a .38.You need to take extraordinary steps to make sure those rounds never get fired in a light-framed or prewar (S&W .38/44 excepted) .38 Special even if you are not around to prevent it. That's why I conspicuously mark mine red and label the box as rifle ammo. Even if they get separated from the box, the red should be a warning even to most knuckleheads.

W.E.G.
February 15, 2010, 12:34 PM
One poster asserted that .38 Special brass is not as "strong" as .357 brass.

I question that.

I've loaded a lot of .38 Special, and a lot of .357 Magnum.
I see no difference whatsoever in the brass other than that the .357 is just a bit longer.

My understanding is that the .38 vs. .357 STRENGTH issue pertains to the firearm and not to the brass.

If there is some study out there that proves that .38 Special brass is weaker than .357 Magnum brass, I'd love to see it and get my education.

Until I see such proof, I don't believe it.

W.E.G.
February 15, 2010, 12:36 PM
I've had case head separations at about 40000 psi

Show me what this looks like.

How do you get a "separation" on a straight-walled pistol cartridge?

Walkalong
February 15, 2010, 12:43 PM
The brass seals the chamber from letting hot gases escape rearward and damaging the gun/shooter. The brass does play a critical part in the pressure a firearm can handle. The .357 operates at a much higher pressure than the .38 Special, and so the brass must be able to handle it. Naturally the chamber must also be able to handle the pressure.

Believe what you will.

How do you get a "separation" on a straight-walled pistol cartridge? The same way you get it on any caliber. It has, happened to folks here. A member will hopefully post some enlightening pics soon. ;)

I wish I had the old thread marked. :)

jfh
February 15, 2010, 01:07 PM
OK. Here's what I'll say, now that the questions are getting refined here--Based on my reloading work with 38 Special and 357 Magnum in short barrels, I think some 38 Special brass is generally quite usable for pressures well up in the twenties. IOW, to be specific, 25,000 PSI may be routinely used with new and reused Starline 38 Special Brass, based on my use of it.

I also have mixed 38 Special brass that I bought, as well as various headstamps from factory ammo. Some of this brass is obviously thinner, lighter weight--I think it's Remington brass from 148-gr. DEWC loads--that I would not routinely reload to higher pressures. It wears out faster--I got splits out of it in as few as 5 reloads.

As for the sticky extraction issue: it seems to me a function of sticky extraction is much more likely to be the results of manufacturers' specs for polishing chambers. That is subject to a tolerance, range, as it were. Now add to that the variable of 'how dirty is that used brass, anyway?' and I don't see how we have a consistent stickiness factor that can be used for seat-of-the-pants reloading assessment.

What I have found in the anecdotal reports found in forums like these, is the fact that enough of us (reloaders) have read reports of non-sticky extraction of 38 Special cases reloaded with recipes that, when tested elsewhere, in a lab, were found to be at full 357 Magnum pressures, and possibly more. [I'm referring to videos, comments from honest and knowledgable reloaders, etc. in the "Speer 8" discussions on the S&W forum--now, no longer available, unfortunately.]

Finally, I admit to bias here--what I have gained from the anecdotal information and personal experience lead me to refine my reloading paradigms to avoid what I consider a bad practice--i.e., building overpressure rounds in cartridges that can be fired in other / less-specified firearms.

Jim H.

rcmodel
February 15, 2010, 01:18 PM
I see no difference whatsoever You can't see it looking at the outside of the case.

Stand a .38 & .357 case on end and look down inside them.

You will very likely see the bottom of the case at the flash hole on the .38 is much larger around due to thinner case web taper then the .357 case.

You may also find .357 brass is "harder" when you resize it due to different case head temper.

Trust me, most .357 brass is stronger then most .38 Spl brass.

rc

zxcvbob
February 15, 2010, 01:25 PM
One poster asserted that .38 Special brass is not as "strong" as .357 brass. I question that. I've loaded a lot of .38 Special, and a lot of .357 Magnum.
I see no difference whatsoever in the brass other than that the .357 is just a bit longer. You actually don't know if it is as strong or not. The .38 Special brass has lower specifications than .357 Magnum, so the manufacturer could make them thinner to save materials. Or they could use exactly the same blanks to reduce the number of supplies they have to maintain on hand, changeover, etc. You have no way of knowing.

I assume it is the same, but I no longer push them as hard as I used to after the head separations. That's not a big deal in a strong single-action revolver. It might be a big deal in a rifle -- I don't want to find out. I also only use Winchester brass now instead of mixed brass for my high-pressure .38 loads.

jfh
February 15, 2010, 04:21 PM
http://i47.tinypic.com/2ynjme0.jpg

OK, now that I know I got the image up OK, I'll add the comments.

1. These were NEW Starline 38 Special cases.
2. The recipe was from Speer, for AA#7 with the Speer GDSB 135-gr. bullet.
3. A reloading error was made (not double-charging) resulting in an overpressure load.
4. All 5 rounds were fired--and they were B-I-G rounds--but I've fired bigger (in a bigger 357)
5. The revolver still functioned--but: when the gunsmith looked it over, he found stretching on each chamber.

A reloader in another forum worked up the pressure from this load--ostensibly, about 17-18 gr. of #7--and calculated the pressure was at least 55,000, and maybe 72,000.

Look closely at those primers: seen any that look similar? That look similar in a 357 Magnum Round? I have...

Now, compare those primers to ones from a 38 Special recipe that runs 17,000, or 18,500. Can you accurately 'scale' the deformations?


added on edit: I went back and reviewed the latest comments. I'll refrain from commenting on 38 / 357 brass differences, as I have done no real surveying of it. But, Bob's latest comment about manufacturing specs is worth amplifying. As he points out, we are dealing with what appear to be 'reasonable' assumptions about how manufacturers specify their brass and how they use it. There certainly is nothing to prevent them from using 357-spec sheet goods to stamp out 38 special cases--but there's nothing requiring them too, either. In sum, when we make assumptions about case and primer deformations, we operate on a paradigm often changed / modified by any party in the process. It ain't SAAMI (or whoever) certified. The point is NOT that official specifications are "better," the point is that any time we step outside that boundary, we are testing procedures--and those tests are not generally quantifiable by us out here in the field.

Jim H.

W.E.G.
February 15, 2010, 05:43 PM
Wow.
Them's some atomic bullets you got there.

What is the gun that was used for this accident?

SAAMI spec for .357 Magnum is 35,000 or 45,000 for Piezo and Crusher respectively.

Those extrapolated pressure-numbers you mention in the case of the Atomic Case-Head Separations exceed specs even for the .357 MAXIMUM by many 1000's.

I hope nobody was thinking that I was suggesting that the OP should push his "hot" .38 Special loads anywhere REMOTELY NEAR the Oops-I-Accidentally-Loaded-Some-Atomic-Bullets pressures.

Thanks for posting the pics and sharing though.

hamourkiller
February 15, 2010, 06:14 PM
The original 38-44 data (as already mentioned) was loaded by Elmer Keith. 173grs SWC infront of 13.5grs 2400. Fired out of N Frame 38 specials. Lead directly to the .357 magnum.

Some of my real loading books from the 70' list 10grs 2400 with 158gr cast bullets for medium and large frame 38's only. This works well for me.

In my N frame .357 mags I use 38 special cases and the Keith style 173gr SWC with a load of 11.5grs 2400. Very good load.

These loads are no different than "Ruger or TC only" 45 Colt loads or 44 mag or 45-70loads. You need to mark such loads and take comon sense precautions to keep hot for cartridge loads out of weak guns.

Sounds like you will do fine.

jfh
February 15, 2010, 09:26 PM
W.E.G.:

1. The revolver (pictured) is a current-generation S&W 640--e.g., SS, 357-sized j-frame.

2. These were rounds about 300. I shot another 100 rounds or so out of it before the 'smith saw it and found the chamber / cylinder stretching.

3. S&W replaced the cylinder and barrel.

4. Since that repair, I've shot about another 20,000 rounds from this gun, all without incident. The vast majority were rounds in the 38+P / 38 CIP pressure ranges. Perhaps 200 or so were mousefarts, and perhaps 1,000 or so were load development sets (10 rounds each, two-tenths grain increments) of current recipes running up to max 357 loads. (Those max 357 loads were with Ramshot Silhouette, and topped out over 1100 fps. In a 357 case.)

5. The gun now has a trigger to die for, and no apparent frame stretching. The gap is the same as it was when returned by S&W after the repairs.

At any rate, I too see no general "problem" with TonyAngel building up his rounds--problem, at least, in the sense of the case not working at perhaps 23-25K pressures, or in the gun blowing up. But, based on my experiences (there's another one in Hanson's magic hat), I don't think it is a good practice. Reloading errors can cause problems.

Jim H.

TonyAngel
February 15, 2010, 11:24 PM
jfh, the pics are cool. I've never seen that before. I do, however, suspect that this particular accident as it occurred, would have occurred even if .357 cases were used. Of course, I do see your point. Case separation did occur and some of the pressure signs that I look for are not there.

I went and popped a few rounds this after noon and I think that there is something to that sonic boom theory that a previous poster mentioned. At 4gr of No. 2, I was getting beautiful round holes and very accurate shooting. At 4.4gr of No. 2 I was getting not so nice holes and not so accurate shooting. In any case, I've decided to limit my No. 2 loads to 4gr. I really don't think that it's a good powder to go hot with. It's too fast.

My No. 5 loads using 6.3gr are very accurate and they burn cleanly. It's a keeper. I loaded up another 500 rounds of it for Sunday.

I've also decided to order a keg of Alliant 2400. I'm going to see what all of the hubbub is about. From what I understand, it's what I should have been using all along.

BTW, I ordered some .357 cases today. LOL.

kelbro
February 15, 2010, 11:30 PM
There was a post here last fall that showed a side-by-side comparison of cross-sectioned 38spl and 357 mag cases. There was definitely a difference in the web areas between calibers and brands. It was an eye opener! Wish i could find it...

W.E.G.
February 15, 2010, 11:47 PM
...BTW, I ordered some .357 cases today. LOL.

I'm with you on that.

I long ago decided I'd rather down-load .357 than up-load .38 Special.
For handloads, there really is little reason to up-load .38 Special to shoot in dedicated .38 Special guns unless you are just so broke you can't afford premium ammo.

If you want top-notch .38 Special ammo (or at least ammo that will do all .38 Special could ever be expected to do), just get some of the new-manufacture 125-grain class ammo with the wide hollowpoint that is less-likely to plug with fabric.

As far as game-hunting goes, you are only really going to be hunting small game with a .38 Special. Wadcutters are as good as any for rabbits, squirrels, and possums. Did I mention that I had NO IDEA how much blood is in a possum? I was mopping that porch for a week.

W.E.G.
February 16, 2010, 12:00 AM
There was a post here last fall that showed a side-by-side comparison of cross-sectioned 38spl and 357 mag cases...

This one?
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=419154

Walkalong
February 16, 2010, 09:26 AM
My No. 5 loads using 6.3gr are very accurate and they burn cleanly. It's a keeper. I loaded up another 500 rounds of it for Sunday.I shot some Powerbond 125 GR HPs with more AA #5 than that in a 4" Model 10 HB this Sunday. The load was under what Speer #13 showed, but over Accurates data. The chrono results got my attention, although it was right in line with the manual. Shot great, although a bullet hole or so low. I am going to back it off some.

Remo-99
February 16, 2010, 09:54 AM
OK, now that I know I got the image up OK, I'll add the comments.

1. These were NEW Starline 38 Special cases.
2. The recipe was from Speer, for AA#7 with the Speer GDSB 135-gr. bullet.
3. A reloading error was made (not double-charging) resulting in an overpressure load.
4. All 5 rounds were fired--and they were B-I-G rounds--but I've fired bigger (in a bigger 357)
5. The revolver still functioned--but: when the gunsmith looked it over, he found stretching on each chamber.

I thought I was pushing things Jim H, loading 38spl at above 357mag data, in a s&w 686 357mag but that's dang pushing HOOOOOT lol.

TonyAngel
February 17, 2010, 02:54 AM
I went to Cabelas today and picked up the "Complete Reloading Manual for the .38 Special." It turns out that there is (or was) published +P data for Accurate No. 2 and No. 5 for the .38. It turns out that I was just a tad bit over with the No. 5 at 6.3gr. The published load shows 6.2gr as being the max. For the No. 2 it lists 4.7gr as a max charge. Maybe the projectiles would have stabilized if I just pushed them a bit harder. I like the No. 2 better. It burns cleaner and has less recoil. I'm going to spend the day at the range tomorrow, so I'm going to load a few up and see how they do. Since I'm using magnum primers, I'll be loading them with 4.5gr.

jfh
February 17, 2010, 09:39 AM
Tony, is that the little bound booklet that is a crude copy of various manufacturers' recipes? I have one of those around somewhere...

Let us know what happens at the range.

Jim H.

TonyAngel
February 17, 2010, 11:54 AM
jfh, that is exactly what I have. It's just a reproduction of manufacturers data, but includes data from powder and bullet manufacturers. I grabbed it because a lot of the manufacturers only post abridged versions of their data on the net. I'll let you guys know what happened when I get back.

hoptob
February 19, 2010, 03:45 AM
Another guy did this with his 38 Special Airweight, running loads only out past 950 fps or so--and he stretched the frame.
Hi Jim,

If we are thinking about same "another guy", I think loads that stretched the frame of his 442 were clocked north of 1100 fps. Proves that 442 was not designed for a steady diet of magnum loads. ;) Heard that S&W fixed the gun and the guy still carries it.

:)

Mike

jfh
February 19, 2010, 08:45 AM
Heh, I wonder if that guy is hopping around after trying to bob his revover--or something like that.

I had missed the final rounds tested, I guess--Mike. Were they the really, really north-side 4756 rounds?

Jim

hoptob
February 19, 2010, 11:49 AM
No, no they were just a little north. As we used to say elsewhere "a starting 38 special load of SR4756 with 158 gr. JHP from Speer #8". In a head to head comparison with Remington R357M2's (in a 357 mag snubby) these "starting loads" were slightly faster...

Closed course, professional driver, don't try it at home.

;)

Mike

streakr
February 20, 2010, 10:43 AM
Why do so many reloaders insist on making these damn "warthog" loads? Loads at or above maximum are dangerous even in Rugers. What is it that you're trying to prove by shooting these thing? You Tube has dozens of videos of people shooting overloaded rounds and in nearly all of them the shooter suffers.

What happens if you buy a 38 revolver other than a Ruger. Would you shoot these rounds in a Colt SAA? a S&W? a Taurus? How do differentiate these rounds from other lower power rounds? Would you use these rounds for defensive purposes in your home? I dare say that you would probably shoot clear through walls and into other houses. If you use these rounds in HD and do kill someone, local prosecutors do not look kindly on these types of loads.

Don't do this!!! Gun control means hitting your target.

NEVER exceed the maximum SAAMI loads.

s

jfh
February 20, 2010, 12:50 PM
streakr: Well, there are probably any number of reasons why reloaders like to do this kind of (overpressure) reloading. One, some of us are hot-rodders. Two, some of us find some sort of pleasure in developing 'the most efficient' type of round. Three (as in hoptob's example), there was a real very precise goal--to determine a certain bullet's efficacy--HP performance--as a round shot from a 2" carry gun.

Now, I happen to agree with you, at least on the general premise that there is no good reason to build overpressure 38 loads. Why do it, when you can usually have a same or similar firearm chambered for 357 Magnum--i.e., build 357 downloads to obtain the same ballistics. But, historically, we also have to say that 1) there are large numbers of S&W firearms in 38 Special built to shoot 38-44 loads without undue damage, and that 2) the gunny public knows this. The 'Speer #8 / SR-4756 discussions' at the S&W forum had numerous examples of people shooting this round without damage to their 38-44 (N frame) handguns--for years and years / thousands of rounds.

Human nature being what it is, someone will do it. If we have honest discussions about these practices, without advocating such practices, I see no harm.

I do take issue with your statement to "NEVER exceed the maximum SAAMI loads." I disagree because of the continued downward adjustments to 38 Special SAAMI specs over the years--apparently done to reduce liability issues for SAAMI, because of early BP 38 Special guns still around--or worn-out guns, or whatever. Should I use 1970 reloading guidelines for shooting a 38 Special Model 36 made that year? (SAMMI specs then were about 15% higher than now.) And, there is the question of SAAMI specs being lower than another acceptable standard--the 'European' CIP standards. Should I believe all the US-produced 38 Special handguns--for either US or export sales--are not produced to meet CIP standards as well?

For this reason, I choose to reload my 'maximum performance' to 38 Special CIP specs. By today's standards, that's about 10% hotter than the current SAAMI 38-plus-p spec--and certainly at or below the earlier (pre 1993(?)) spec. That's because I mostly own modern 38 Special firearms--e.g., a S&W 360--that are actually built to 357-Magnum pressure standards.

TonyAngel has sorted out a couple of loads that either match earlier SAAMI specs or, from what I can tell, do not exceed CIP standards. So, I really don't see people here advocating shooting overpressure loads. Do you?

Jim H.

ljnowell
February 20, 2010, 02:18 PM
Why do so many reloaders insist on making these damn "warthog" loads? Loads at or above maximum are dangerous even in Rugers. What is it that you're trying to prove by shooting these thing? You Tube has dozens of videos of people shooting overloaded rounds and in nearly all of them the shooter suffers.

What happens if you buy a 38 revolver other than a Ruger. Would you shoot these rounds in a Colt SAA? a S&W? a Taurus? How do differentiate these rounds from other lower power rounds? Would you use these rounds for defensive purposes in your home? I dare say that you would probably shoot clear through walls and into other houses. If you use these rounds in HD and do kill someone, local prosecutors do not look kindly on these types of loads.

Don't do this!!! Gun control means hitting your target.

NEVER exceed the maximum SAAMI loads.

Yeah, whatever. Are you done preaching? I bought my ruger solely for the purpose of hot rodding. The 45 colt is a wonderful cartridge for it.

hoptob
February 20, 2010, 02:29 PM
I guess we are just trying to impress you, streakr. Obviously we are not there yet, but we'll just keep trying. ;)

Why did I shoot these rounds in 442? It is S&W 442 not Ruger. The answer is simple -- at the time we did not know how much over they were. We had a number of discussions on S&W forum about Speer #8 loads in 38 spl. Two very experienced reloaders reported that they shot hundreds of these rounds through their alloy snubbs with no ill effects. I tried it too. Later all 3 of us found problems with their snubs. We investigated; one person sent these loads for pressure testing at HP White Labs. That's how we learned that these loads were pushing rugged end of 357mag pressures and were obviously inappropriate for alloy snubs. Later yet someone found an edition of Speer #8 where all SR4756 loads were removed. Apparently the 3 of us weren't the only people who had problems with these loads. We learned our lesson and moved on.

Also of note, nothing bad happened to my gun when I shot those loads. It worked itself loose over a period of time, after I tested several hundred different hot loads in it. Frame stretched by a few thousands, still within specs. S&W stretched the crane and fixed it; it's a standard gunsmithing job.

As far as reloading safety goes, here is what one renown authority on hot loads had to say about it. I can't say it any better.

http://home.comcast.net/~hoptob/images/357M_2400.jpg

Trivia question: who said it and when?

Cheers,

Mike

rcmodel
February 20, 2010, 02:39 PM
"Complete Guide to Handloading" by Philip B. Sharpe, 1937.

Do I get a prize?

rc

hoptob
February 20, 2010, 02:57 PM
Bingo, rc! :)

Phil published this in 1937; the load development work he was talking about was the development of original 357 magnum load.

Here is the prize -- full quote from Phil's book.

http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/gg160/hoptob/PSharpe1937p406.jpg

BTW, I think there is also an answer to OP's question here.

Mike

streakr
February 20, 2010, 09:02 PM
Not preaching, I know from experience; I still have scars on my left arm from a blown cylinder about 15 years ago. The guy was two lanes away and I was fortunately in between him and my 8 and 10 year sons. He was using a 44 magnum Ruger Blackhawk; I was using a 44 amg Vaquero.

Be careful. Thats all.

streakr

TonyAngel
February 21, 2010, 06:29 PM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

Why am I hot loading the .38? I don't know. It's fun and I haven't seen any signs of danger. Once my .357 brass and supply of 2400 get here, I may stop. For now, (and I want to stress that these loads are way beyond what is recommended by any load data) that I loaded up 25 rounds of the 158gr LSWC over 5gr of AA No. 2 and another 25 rounds of the same bullets over 6.5gr of AA No. 5. Again, the cases slid right out on ejecting and they shot really well.

jfh
February 21, 2010, 06:36 PM
Tony, see the sticky at the top of the reloading forum for the specific language THR wants you to include when posting overpressure recipes. IOW, we can do it--just make sure the disclaimer is present.

Jim H.

Tilos
February 21, 2010, 10:11 PM
I too have used 38 cases in a Blackhawk instead of 357 for easier ejection.

I have used 148 grain DEWC because I aquired a lot of them as cast.
I used the different lube grooves to crimp into, using a 38 case and extending the OAL.

With a 38 case, by increasing the OAL and crimping in a lube groove you can "almost" duplicate the case VOLUME of a 357 case.

These extended OAL hybred 38s will not chamber in a 38 cylinder (too long), so there's no danger with that.

This load is the most accurate in my blackhawk, a great paper puncher and groups well out to 50 yards.

I am not saying to take a 38 case to max 357 loads but somewhat above 38 loads with additional case volume.
Rather than post load data here, I can pm you if interested.

No need to defend your interest in doing this to me and I commend you for cautiously thinking outside the box.

Tilos

TonyAngel
February 22, 2010, 12:57 AM
Sorry, I knew that, but forgot.

TonyAngel
February 22, 2010, 01:00 AM
Tilos,

Go ahead and PM me with what you've cooked up. I've wanted to do what you are but haven't found an appropriate projectile. I've become rather loyal to MBC for some reason and haven't shopped any other vendors.

I've gotta tell ya, I'm not always in the mood to deal with shooting .357; but also want to have more fun than shooting the pop gun .38 special loads. If I just wanted to shoot for accuracy, I'd grab one of my stupid accurate .22's.

TonyAngel
February 26, 2010, 06:36 PM
Just an update. I got my order from PV today and it included a couple of pounds of 2400 as well as Alliant's manual. Imagine my surprise when I found that there is NO data for loading a 158gr. LSWC in .38 +P or .357 with 2400.

The "Complete Reloading Manuals" that I have for .38 and .357 show data from Alliant (must be older data) and lists a charge weight of 7.8gr of 2400 for .38 +P and 15.3gr for .357. Does this sound right to you guys? My book also calls for standard primers for the .38 and magnum primers for the .357.

I'd imagine that the rule is to start with a 10% reduced load and work up to the listed charge weight. From what I've read, I should also stick to standard primers, but I don't like unburnt powder.

Any comments?

Jesse Heywood
February 26, 2010, 07:32 PM
M.D. Smith shows 2400 14.9 gr. 1,232 near max for the 357, no list for the 158 gr. in 38 Special. www.reloadammo.com

Ken Waters says to always use the magnum primer with 2400 & 4227, the powders don't ignite that easily.

I haven't tried 2400 yet, can't buy it locally.

fecmech
February 26, 2010, 08:54 PM
I'd imagine that the rule is to start with a 10% reduced load and work up to the listed charge weight. From what I've read, I should also stick to standard primers, but I don't like unburnt powder.

If you don't like unburned powder than stick with .357 mag loads, 2400 doesn't really clean up till you get up in the 25-30K range. At one time I used an old Lyman load of 10 grs of 2400 behind the Lyman "Keith" 173 gr bullet. It was a good accurate load( 1000 fps) but when you dumped the cases into your hand you got a bunch of powder particles with it. Also if you extracted cases with the muzzle down the powder got under the extractor star and tied up the gun. Burns nice and clean in the 13-14 grain range but that's .357 territory.

TonyAngel
February 27, 2010, 02:46 AM
Jesse, I am seeing conflicting data, but I guess that's true of all data. 14.9 isn't that far off from 15.3, considering the overall charge weight. I'll start at 14gr and see what that gets me. As for the primers, I've heard the exact opposite of what you're saying. I'm being told that 2400 is really easy to light off and that most are recommending that you use standard primers. That's why I'm asking. ALL of the load data that I've seen calls for magnum primers.

fecmech, I didn't get the 2400 to load mild. LOL. I wanted to load some +P .38 and some semi cookin .357. I wasn't getting what I wanted when following the load data from accurate and the numbers published for 2400 were where I wanted to be. I'm going to be shooting these out of a Blackhawk.

fecmech
February 27, 2010, 01:50 PM
Tony--That load I mentioned in the previous post would be slightly in excess of today's +P loadings. I don't think you will find any 1000 fps 170 gr loads for .38 spl. Good luck with your loading endeavor.

zxcvbob
February 27, 2010, 02:14 PM
Just an update. I got my order from PV today and it included a couple of pounds of 2400 as well as Alliant's manual. Imagine my surprise when I found that there is NO data for loading a 158gr. LSWC in .38 +P or .357 with 2400.
Start at 12.0 grains and work your way *down* in small increments (in the .38 Special) until you find something you like. Start at the same place in the .357 and work your way *up* to a maximum of 15.3 grains. Use whatever primer you want; it doesn't really make any difference as long as you use the same one throughout the load development. Herco or HS-6 might have been better powder choices than 2400, but use what you got.

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