38 Special Loads, 777 FFG + Winchester Silvertip HP


December 6, 2010, 01:16 AM
For my girlfriend to have a lowered recoil load that might still be effective, I loaded up 6(six) test rounds of 24grs of 777(FFG) under a 145gr Winchester Silver Tip Hollow Point in new Winchester brass. I used Winchester WSPM(small pistol primers for magnum loads) primers.

Any thoughts on this?

The cases are filled so as there is no space left in them. The bullets are seated well. They're pretty good lookin on top of all that.

I plan to only use these in a Ruger Blackhawk 357 Magnum revolver with the shorter 4 5/8 inch barrel.

For target loads I may try to find a 9mm cylinder and let her shoot some 9mm loaded with a round nose lead bullet and a case full of FFG.

The point here is to get her to shoot the gun without to much recoil. Some **** headed woman groping perv of a ranger manager freaked her out before she even picked the gun up while we were down there shooting a 40 caliber Glock I got her. I could go on about that jerk all day. If it wasnt for the fact that firearms are present and I don't think he could take a broken nose without pulling one, I'd have corrected the guy long ago, now we just dont go there. The 40cal was as stout a gun as I think she'll shoot, and she doesnt like to practive with it, which isnt any good. Whenever I go in and get some new supplies I'm going to get some Bullseye to load some mild 38/357 stuff up instead of the Black.

I'm not real sure that silvertip will open up and perform like it should with that BP load...

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December 6, 2010, 06:51 AM
24 Grains of '777' behind a 145 Grain Bullet...in .357 Cartridge...is not a light Load.

Probably will have more recoil ( if a deeper report ) than many standard .357 Cartidges do.

It will be memorable...

Even in that Barrel length, the Silvertip might perform in terminal Ballistics, just like it's inventors or makers intended it do do. Should be into the low 900s, anyway, or high 800s for FPS.

December 6, 2010, 07:27 AM
Why not handload some wadcutters on top of 2.7 grains of Bullseye? An accurate but light recoiling load. After some practice start increasing the amount of powder. When I carried a 38, I used hard cast wadcutters at 900 to 950 fps. They work.

Pete D.
December 6, 2010, 07:39 AM
Have you shot those? Is the gun reliable after the first couple of shots (just something to check).
Why go to 777 as opposed to a lighter load of a smokeless powder? Was that all you had on the shelf? Since you handloaded them anyway....the wadcutter idea is a good one. For close range work a WC load will, as noted already, probably recoil less. Bullseye is a good choice.
Also....I was under the impression that 777 should not be compressed. You did not say that it was compressed but it sounded like it could be.

Carl N. Brown
December 6, 2010, 08:37 AM
The problem I have had with compressed 777 compared to compressed BP or compressed Pyrdodex RS, is that 777 does not burn consistently when compressed and seems to produce a wider range of low and high velocities compared to PyrodexRS compressed to the same degree. 777 by volume is slightly more powerful than the equivalent FFFg BP or PryodexRS but if compressed seems to give sporadically lower velocity due I suppose to poor ignition.

The .38 Special was a black powder cartridge and originally was loaded with a full case of FFFg black powder (touching the base of the seated bullet). A case of .38 Special BP or BP substitute loaded level with the base of the seated bullet is a normal BP cartridge load.

777 is a black powder substitute slightly more powerful than black powder volume-for-volume. PyrodexP is formulated to be volume equivalent to X grains of FFFg BP. A Lee 1.6cc powder measure would hold ~25 gr FFFg BP: the equivalent load of PyrodexP would be 1.6cc but would weigh ~19 gr. BP substitutes are a volume replacement for BP itself since most folks measure BP charges with a volumetric measure rated for black powder, and don't measure BP by weight with a scale.

25 gr by weight of Pyrodex P would be ~2.1cc or the power level of ~32 grain of FFFg true BP; 25gr of 777 by weight would be more powerful than 32 grain of FFFg BP. 24gr of FFFg BP pistol powder would be ~1.5cc PyrodexP; ~1.5cc 777 would be a little hotter load than either ~1.5cc FFFg BP or PyrdodexP. 24gr of 777 by weight would definitely be a bit much.

My experience has been that revolvers designed for smokeless powder often do not handle BP residue well. I have shot, in black powder cartridge matches, a BP era Webley Mark IV, a Ruger GP 100 .357, a Ruger Security Six .357, Mauser C96 broomhandle, replica Remington 1858 .44 and replica Colt 1851 .36.

The Webley is designed to keep BP residue off the cylinder pin and will go 20 rounds or more with no problem; similar for the Colt 1851 and the Ruger GP 100. The 1858 and the Security Six need cleaning between cylinder-fulls (six shots). In other words, I do not advise loading 777 or any BP substitute as a defensive round: it is fun at the range, but not a good idea for home defense, unless smoke screen is part of your defensive strategy. Also, cleanup cannot be put off: BP and substitutes are more corrosive than smokeless.

December 6, 2010, 09:15 AM
Try Trail Boss. Load data on Hodgdon sight.


Jim Watson
December 6, 2010, 09:57 AM
The only things I have shot 777 in is .44 Special and .44-40. Velocity is right in there with factory smokeless.
A .357 full of 777 is probably going to shoot about like a full power .38 Special, maybe even +P, although I doubt it will be up to magnum levels of recoil.
This is NOT doing your girlfriend a favor.
Wait until you can get some Bullseye, Trail Boss, or whatever other fast burning smokeless to load some standard target .38s with.

December 6, 2010, 02:23 PM
It's compressed somewhat.

Yeah, blackpowder and some shotgun powders I didnt really want to fool with last night is all I had out here.

After I posted last night I went on and loaded up some really light stuff with 777, I'm talkin really light, 14gr stuff. Yeah, I put filler in the case to take up the space.

No, I'm yet to have shot them. I'm planning on letting them roll about 4 this afternoon.

December 7, 2010, 12:02 AM
The 145 grain Silvertip is for the .357 magnum Silvertip load.
Better expansion will be had from the 125 grain Silvertip. It's what's used in the factory .38 +p Silvertip load. It has a softer jacket and expands better at lower velocities.

December 7, 2010, 08:55 PM
The full house BP loads were alright.

I did find a better one. 12grains of 777 FFG and the rest corn meal. All that on top of a Winchester small pistol primer for magnum loads.

Nice nice nice load. Very light report and an extremely soft recoil. Honestly it sounded and felt just like a gunshot in a movie. Nice low toned report. Ultra soft recoil. My Ruger MkII 22 sometimes has more recoil.

They spit out plenty of smoke and fire though.

I'm going to get some cheaper bullets than my silvertips to load this with though, a 110-120gr lead WC or RN would be good.

As far as punching paper goes, I'm really going to try hard to find a similar load for smokeless and that will be my target load from now on.

Started trying to find something for my girlfriend, I've ended up really liking what I found.

December 7, 2010, 10:16 PM
They spit out plenty of smoke and fire though

I bet the smoke smells toasty and makes you want to go and take in a movie as well... :D

Seriously, with the extra cleaning in a timely manner that is needed with BP or any of it's substitutes you should look at just loading up a batch of 148gn HBWC's over a light load of smokeless such as Bullseye or Trailboss and keep them aside for her. Wadcutter laods of this sort in my revolvers produce more of a pop than a BANG and are barely more intimadating than my .22 handguns.

December 7, 2010, 10:49 PM
Im going to go get a can of bullseye and trailboss tomorrow and see what I cant do. The wadcutters I might have to order though, or I could cast some round nose slugs, but to take up space in the case Ill prolly just order some wadcutters.

Im also considering loading up a box or so of 38 S&W with 1.5gr of bullseye and a wadcutter.

December 7, 2010, 11:20 PM
I shoot 3.0 grains of American Select with 148 grain DEWC's in .38 Special cases for a target load. It's about 800 fps, or 215 lb·ft with a bullet that's shaped like a hammer. The recoil is probably less than what you are loading, and you can go quite a bit lower if you need to.

Jim Watson
December 7, 2010, 11:31 PM
some shotgun powders I didnt really want to fool with

Strange, most shotgun powders are good pistol powders.
I have loaded several barge loads of .45s with 700X and 452AA.
I didn't like AA+ in 12 ga but it was fine in .38 and .45.
Green Dot is ok in .45, good in 9mm.
Clays, WST, and Solo 1000 are good, as is zxcvbob's American Select.

December 8, 2010, 12:12 AM
The recoil that I'm loading at right now is almost nonexistant, I'm sure I can get it lower, but I'm not real sure that getting a noticably lower recoil will be possible without running into problems with stuck bullets.

That said, hey, I'm open to suggestion

December 8, 2010, 05:45 AM
GeoffC ...Im going to go get a can of bullseye and trailboss tomorrow and see what I cant do. The wadcutters I might have to order though, or I could cast some round nose slugs,...

Since you cast, consider a mold from Lee, long before the introduced the six cavity molds, I fed a competition habit with a pair of wadcutter molds.


Reasonably priced and they cast decent bullets. Yes, quality control has been iffy in the past, usually with custom orders, but has recently been improved. I have used the 105 SWC, 148 WC and 158 SWC in my 38 SPecials and found them to produce good accuracy. The 148 grain wc kept me at the top of my class in PPC until I got out of competition.

GeoffC ...Im also considering loading up a box or so of 38 S&W with 1.5gr of bullseye and a wadcutter.

Depending on which 38 S&W revolver you have, you may need a larger diameter bullet than .358. Easily accomplished if you cast your own.

Have fun, sometimes working up a load is as much enjoyment as getting to the range.

December 8, 2010, 07:28 AM

Please read the section regarding use of 777 in cartridges.
They advise to not use fillers with 777 loads.

December 8, 2010, 02:15 PM
They don't advise it, but it's pretty regular for it to be done from what I've gathered, not to mention at the light load I'm using, I think it'd be almost impossible to have a safety issue come up with the 777 load.

Freakish things happen when you load to light of a smokeless load, or they can apparently, but I feel pretty safe with the 777 at under 14 grains and filler.

a full 25gr of 777 FFG in a 38 case produces something with about the recoil of a stout 357 magnum. I'd like to chrono it and see what it was running.

In a 357 Mag handgun, I'd almost go so far as to say in a pinch, Id be content with my 25gr load if I couldnt get 357 ammo for defense. It's an accurate and seemingly powerful load.

Bad news on the Trail Boss. The only place around here I found that has any I refuse to patronize.

December 8, 2010, 07:32 PM
You could always use round ball with those .38 S&W cases. Like a more powerful .22 BB cap on steroids.

December 8, 2010, 07:40 PM
I like your style....

That's about the wonderful idea I've been looking for....

Ill post on how this works out.

December 8, 2010, 08:21 PM
One issue with BP or sub, you can never use those rounds at an indoor range. The BP or sub will ignite the smokeless powder on the floor. The range I go to will boot ya right out the door for even trying.

Interesting read though. I use Trail Boss a lot, as well as Unique, HP38 and Universal for my .38 special loads. My Mild Mid-range load is 148gr LSWC.#2 alloy, 50/50 allox/beeswax sized to .357 Kieth Style over 3.2gr Universal and a CCI small pistol primer. Nice easy load to shoot, no soot and no leading. It is my wifes prefered .38 special load.

December 8, 2010, 09:40 PM
I routinely use .357 mag and .38 Special cases loaded with Pyrodex or 777 under a 125 grain RNFP lead bullet for cowboy action work. Recoil is mild.

After one or two shots in an indoor defensive encounter, the smoke will obscure the target. You will have to decide whether or not that is desirable. If the intruder is not out of commission at least he will be coughing, but you (or your girlfriend) will be choking too.

Many Ruger Blackhawks and Vaqueros have barrel-cylinder gaps in the .002 or .003" range. You will probably be able to run a cylinder full of BP loads without much trouble, but even with blackpowder lube on the bullets, a narrow gap may accumulate enough crud to make cocking difficult. My Vaqueros have been opened up to about .006 for blackpowder loads, but they still need a BP lube to run a 5 stage match without problems. I have never tried BP or a substitute under a jacketed bullet, but even with 777, as forgiving as it is, I expect you are going to accumulate some serious fouling pretty quickly.

My advice would be to enjoy the smoke in practice, but give her reliable smokeless loads for actual defensive use in the home

December 9, 2010, 10:15 AM
Geoff: If you're gonna use a round ball lube 'em first!........A coat of Lee's liquid alox & an overnite dry time is all you have to do..........I've done the same thing with .32 auto using .311 rb's with superb accuracy & full function.

December 11, 2010, 01:55 AM
I ended up going with Trail Boss for this...

Amazing what 1.3 grains of that stuff will do for you with a HBWC...

Now that I've started reloading smokeless again, I'm really going to be broke.

Between that and black powder...

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