Good Fast Powder


Joshua M.
November 9, 2010, 05:00 AM
I am looking for some FAST powder to get a hell of a punch out of an 1 7/8"barrel J Frame Smith .38....I am using either 158 gr, or 125 gr Hornady...Any ideas, and should I get magnum small pistol primers? Thanks...-Joshua

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November 9, 2010, 05:19 AM
It has been proven too many times already but I'll state it here again. Slower powder=more velocity no matter what barrel length, um, period.

What are you trying to achieve from your snubbie? How about 158gr LSWC near 1000fps? Check out VitaVohri (sp) powders. They claim to be able to do it and stay in SAAMI or CIP specs.

I have some older manuals that have data where you can get near there too. Not going to share them on the open forum though. What firearm are you using? Alloy? Stainless steel? Blued steel? Charter Arms, Smith, Colt?

It will really matter before loads get doled out. ;)

November 9, 2010, 09:15 AM
Skip A Ro is correct. Speer did a study on 38 snubby's in one of their older reloading manuals and the result was faster powders are not the best in snubby's. All you will get is a tremendous muzzle flash and not much more velocithy than say 2400 or 296. Interesting article if you can find that older manual or search the web.

November 9, 2010, 09:29 AM
The shorter the barrel, the less difference it makes whether you use a fast powder or a slow powder. A max load of slow powder will give more velocity than a max load of fast, but it'll take twice as much powder to do it, and most of that powder burns outside the barrel.

Unique and Bullseye give good performance in .38 Special and will give a good burn in a short barrel. 231 burns more completely, but it won't give you as high a velocity as Unique or BE.

You might consider using 148 grain wadcutters. You're not going to get any expansion anyway, so go with a bullet that makes the biggest hole and does the most damage without expanding.

November 9, 2010, 09:45 AM
"Good Fast Powder "

I didn't even know there are any bad fast powders. ;)

November 9, 2010, 09:59 AM
Sounds like the first thing you need to get is a manual or two and READ them......

November 9, 2010, 10:37 AM
I am looking for some FAST burning powder.....

Be assured that other people have tried magnumizing a 38 Special before you, and may have damaged their firearm and/or injured themselves and others.

There is a reason for reloading manuals listing maximum loads. Read and adhere to listed loads.


November 9, 2010, 11:02 AM
The highest velocity Hodgdon lists for +P .38 Spl and the 125 XTP is acheived with Longshot powder.
How about 1,228 out of a 7.7" test barrel?

There are nine other powders listed that get less velocity, including some that are WAY faster then Longshot.

Lyman #49 lists Power Pistol as giving the highest velocity with that bullet, at 1,005 FPS in a 4" barrel.

The fastest burning powders they listed give about 850 FPS.

And I concure with the advice that you need to buy a couple of reloading manuals and read them several times to get a better understanding of how things work.


November 9, 2010, 11:20 AM
For what it's worth: - Powder burn rates.

Joshua M.
November 9, 2010, 03:05 PM
Well, I have been reloading for quite awhile, but the books I have are prolly 5-10 years old, so I was wandering if there are some new powders that I don't have listed.I do know what I am an extent, I am not using some cheap frame Rossi, I only use Smith's. I am not trying to "break" anything, nor I am trying to endanger someone, I was just looking for alittle advice, on what some people use, and not get thrashed for asking a simple question...Somepeople need to relax alittle, and if you don't want to help with alittle advice, and just call people out, maybe don't even post...:cuss:

Joshua M.
November 9, 2010, 03:10 PM
...and for the record, I usually use either Power Pistol, or 231, I have never tried Unique, that is why I asked maybe someone with more knowledge could help.

November 9, 2010, 03:37 PM
No need for you to get upset either.

Your first line in post #1 sounded to most of us as if you didn't have a clue about powder selection, and were wanting to try to blow up a .38 Spl snubby using a case full of Bullseye or something!


November 9, 2010, 03:40 PM
I was just looking for a little advice, on what some people use, and not get thrashed for asking a simple question...Some people need to relax a little, and if you don't want to help with a little advice, and just call people out, maybe don't even post ...
Maybe they forgot they were posting on THR? :D I do respect and endorse reloading safety practices, but replies like "read a manual" won't help anyone.

I am looking for some FAST burning powder
Many will consider powders faster than WSF/HS6 to be fast burning powder. For me, I divide pistol powders into the following "rough" fast/medium/slow pistol subcategories. Some will consider my "fast/medium" powders as fast pistol powders.

Good fast powder?
I think good fast powder would be ones that meter well for powder charge consistency and tighter shot groups. For me, Bullseye, Clays, Green Dot, WST, W231, HP38 are small enough in particle size and meter well in my Pro Auto Disk. If you are already using W231, you'll have hard time finding a more accurate powder that meters well. Perhaps N320?

From Hodgdon's Burn Rate Chart (
------------------ FAST PISTOL POWDER
5 Alliant e3
6 Hodgdon TITEWAD
7 Ramshot Competition
8 Alliant Red Dot
9 Alliant Promo
10 Hodgdon CLAYS
11 Alliant Clay Dot
12 IMR, Co Hi-Skor 700-X
13 Alliant Bullseye
14 Hodgdon TITEGROUP
15 Alliant American Select
------------------ MEDIUM PISTOL POWDER
16 Accurate Arms Solo 1000
17 Alliant Green Dot
18 Winchester WST
19 IMR, Co Trail Boss
20 Winchester Super Handicap
22 Accurate Arms Solo 1250
23 IMR, Co PB
24 VihtaVuori N320
25 Accurate Arms No. 2
26 Ramshot Zip
27 IMR, Co SR 7625
28 Hodgdon HP-38
29 Winchester 231
30 Alliant 20/28
------------------ SLOW PISTOL POWDER
31 Alliant Unique
32 Hodgdon UNIVERSAL
33 Alliant Power Pistol
34 VihtaVuori N330
35 Alliant Herco
36 Winchester WSF
37 VihtaVuori N340
38 IMR, Co Hi-Skor 800-X
39 IMR, Co SR 4756
40 Ramshot True Blue
41 Accurate Arms No. 5
42 Hodgdon HS-6
43 Winchester AutoComp

November 9, 2010, 03:57 PM
I like "medium" speed powders for +P .38 Spl. Kind of a compromise. Perhaps a little less velocity, but uses less powder with less muzzle flash. Naturally some powders have more muzzle flash regardless.

Don't get upset with the fellas. Without knowing anything about your background, your post did sound uninformed and a bit careless. The first time I read it, I ignored it, for that reason. :)

I know Hodgdon made the chart, and they are far smarter than I, but #16 & #18 (Solo 1000 & WST) are quite a bit faster than the other powders in the "medium" range as lined off by bds. I consider them "fast" powders. Most of the third group (31 to 43) I consider "medium".

November 9, 2010, 04:54 PM
Well, I have been reloading for quite awhile

That was not evident in your first post, and you came across as a neophyte, and a bit irresponsible.
I'm sorry that you were upset, but that's the read that I got initially.

You need to look at the different sites being offered, as they have the latest load data and information on new powders. has Unique data. has IMR and Winchester powder data.

Those are the basic powder companies that have data. You should be able to glean some decent loads to try.


November 9, 2010, 05:03 PM
I use Alliant Unique @5.3gr with a 158cast lswc in two J frames. M60 & 337PD (10oz) The speed is not great, Chronographed at just under 800fps out of the M60. The 10oz gun is a real handfull with this loading. In Speers old manual #8, loads listed using SR4756 give the top velocity with 158 gr. jacketed Speer bullets out of 2" barrels. I will not list the amount of powder as it is way over what the current data is showing on the Hodgdon website. Unique does NOT measure out well using a powder measure, about .2 gr variation. :) Alliant 2400 was to dirty with a cast bullet for me.

November 9, 2010, 06:07 PM
Like rc said: chill, dude. You have been around cranky old men before, get used to it. It'll be that way until you die. The thing you NEED to learn is how to extrapolate useful information from undesirable sources. Throw me in there to if you want. :D

Your posts don't bring a lot of confidence that you are one to be "told" what to do and advice to those kinds of folks rarely lands on open ears and is usually misunderstood. I hope you don't take my following post that way because it may save your stiffneck! ;)

If you are loading for an all steel, either stainless or carbon, K, L or N frame the loads will be a bunch different over those suggested for a J frame. In all honesty though, a M60 or M36 is probably stronger than a K frame in 38spl. That is just my thought on the matter though.

The reason I say that is two fold. One is that there is virtually no forcing cone extending out of the frame. The second is that the cylinder bolt notch is in the "meaty" part of the cylinder and not directly over a chamber. Both will lend to a stronger firearm. Now the down side is having an extremely light handgun with "rock and roll" rounds. Not too conducive to second shots in a dire situation.

I have fired "THE LOAD", 38Spl, 158gr LSWC with a starting load of SR4756 from the Speer #8 manual out of my M60 -13. It has a 3" barrel with adjustable sights and Uncle Mike's rubber grips on it. I can tell you this; functional? Yes! Fun to shoot a bunch of? NO!

SR4756 is THE powder for doing what you want. It is better than Power Pistol in the fact that it is low flash. I believe that is attributed to the fact it is a single base powder. It meters well in the amount used in "THE LOAD".

At any rate, I hope this helps.

November 9, 2010, 06:14 PM
It has been proven too many times already but I'll state it here again. Slower powder=more velocity no matter what barrel length, um, period.

I disagree. You can get powders that are so slow that the case is full long before you can get enough in to equal the velocity of faster powders.

Flash is also a lot greater using slow burn rate powders. I use VV N310 in 38 spl. It is very clean and fast burning.

November 9, 2010, 06:22 PM
a couple of years ago, a few of us spent a lot of time and rounds (and money) chasing 38+P / 357-Magnum short-barrel reloads--some of it with the Speer Gold Dot short-barrel recipes for their 135-gr. 357 JHP bullet, and then later running 158-gr. bullets. Typically, the latter bullet was a cast 158 gr. LSWC, but we also worked with the Speer and Hornady 158-gr. LSWC-HP bullets.

A good powder for the 135-140 gr. weight range turned out to be AA#5; for the 158-gr. bullets, I found Ramshot's True Blue to be the fastest powder. From the typical 2" barrel, True Blue would get upwards of 860+, when run to CIP pressure standards.

Note that these powders are of the medium-speed type. 'Fast' powders--like, for example, 231, simply peak too fast AFAICT.

Then, there are the Speer #8 SR-4756 loads--but those are easily well up past 38+P standards.

Googling here, in this forum, on such terms as "GDSB," 135-gr." and such similar terms ought to bring up a number of interesting threads. A look in the Revolvers forum, under the 642 and M&P340 threads, should also give you some info. Have fun.

Jim H.

November 9, 2010, 06:24 PM
As a long time reloader, I've always kept the idea of high speeds and 1 7/8"/2" barrels in different compartments in my mind. Hot rodding a snubby, even a little bit, seems an exercise in futility.

Considering the practical ranges for using a snubby in serious social work and the rapid speed loss for light .357 bullets, you could probably get nearly the same terminal velocity by simply sticking your arm straight out to make the target closer. ??

Good luck!

November 9, 2010, 06:24 PM
Taken to extremes, you can put a safe charge of Norma R1 in one 25 auto case and fill up another with VV 20N29 and the faster power will give a higher velocity.

Joshua M.
November 9, 2010, 07:39 PM
Gentleman....First of all, Thanks for the advice, I am gonna try some of the suggestions. Secondly, I appologize if I came across wrong. A little background on me, I am in my early 30's, and have been around guns my whole life, as my father was a local gun dealer for many years. I have been subject to some pretty "hot" loads, sometimes possibly even questionable on the structural integrity of the firearm. But anyway, guys came from all around in the early 80's to get some reloading advice from my Dad, so I figured he probably knows a few things, but .38 wasn't ever big enough for him, so he is kinda in the same boat as I. Again thanks alot for the advice...-Joshua

November 9, 2010, 08:35 PM
Gentleman....First of all, Thanks for

Secondly, I appologize

Again thanks alot for the advice...-Joshua

See, now that wasn't so hard! :D

All kidding aside, and your dad will attest to this too; there is no "osmosis" that takes place with loading knowledge. No more than standing in a garage makes you a car or going to church makes you a Christian. You have to learn it on your own or it just ain't gonna work.

This latter attitude restores my faith you, young man. I have two boys of my own along with 3 girls. One of the boys could whip me to a frazzle and the other is smarter than my by 1000 fold BUT, when it comes to loading, they will have to get it the same way I did. Open ears, shut mouth until a question can be formed in the mind.

You'll do OK, hang in there. By the way, try to find a copy of the Speer #8. There are some of them online. If you need the addresses, I can give them to you through PM or email, whatever you prefer. In them there is proof positive that the slower powders produce greater velocity even in the shorter barrels. What you have to weigh that against is the added muzzle flash. That is one reason I use SR4756 for such loads.


November 9, 2010, 09:02 PM
If some 135 Gr GDHP's are in stock one of these days, I intend to try some N340 with them. My favorite 125 Gr +P .38 Spl load right now uses AA #5 and comes from Speer #13. It is a little stout, but not unsafe. I have some 140 Gr XTP's to try right now.

November 9, 2010, 09:42 PM
And this is the beauty of networking and teamwork among reloaders. I mean, who's got time to test every power/barrel length/bullet combo available - if we had to, we'd all be cranky! :D

Thanks to forums like THR, we have dissemination of information/knowledge base that would not have been possible some 40 years ago. If someone has a question or want verification of some reloading concerns, Wham!, they get it within minutes to an hour. How convenient is that? Not only that, you get ample counterpoints of view and often valuable corrections/more in-depth explanation as to why. I mean, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. :rolleyes:

I refer a lot of new reloaders and shooters interested in reloading to THR and they tell me they learn a lot of pertinent information instead of turning their brain to mush watching TV every night. For me, however we disagree and argue at times it's all good as I see all of us being on the "same" side of gun ownership/reloading issues. We are all getting "smarter" each day we exchange and share our knowledge and experience using the modern wonder of the internet! ;)

Walkalong, yeah I know, different powder burn rate charts post powders at different burn rates in relation to other powders. After much contemplation, recently I decided to just use the Hodgdon's chart, but I should put a disclaimer in the future.

As to OP, I was taught to use faster pistol powders like Bullseye in shorter barreled pistols for more efficient powder burn and slower pistol powders like WSF/HS6 in longer 4"-5"+ pistols, but have experienced that sometimes that's not the case. These days, I just use whichever powder charge/bullet combos that produce the smallest accurate shot groups with recoil that I prefer.

Try out some suggested powders and see what happens. :D

November 9, 2010, 09:50 PM
I've found AA#2 powder to work great with 38 Special 110 and 125 grain bullets as well as a great powder in .380acp. I can get 840-850 with Hornady 125 XTP's and 900-920fps with 110 gr XTP's in a 2" barreled 38. It's shows very consistent velocity and no pressure signs. I use CCI 500 standard primers. Consult Accurate Arms data. Don't know why but in my tests using middle to slow powders listed for .38 Special I often would get larger velocity variations, as much as 150-200 fps differences. I recommend AA#2 which is a relatively fast pistol powder.

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