Trail boss +.38 handload check.


July 9, 2011, 06:04 PM

Pressed out the first .38's in Clays for Pop 2 weeks ago. We're getting together tomorrow, and I just pressed out my Trail Boss .45 colts, and had the urge to see how it would compare to the .38s we've already prepped.

Dies swapped out, checked the site above, and figured 3.5 grains was a good medium compromise to push both a 158 grain LRN and a 125gr plated HP. 10 rounds each. (lists 3.0 min, 5.3 max for 125g, 2.7/4.2 for 158)

Any glaring Errors on the charge from the Veteran loaders before I scar the Model 10 up? auto-disk was pretty dang consistent on the powder shots again.

Have a newer (80s, the model escapes me) SW snubby as well, I'll be feeding the larger loads through that more modern gun first.

Need to invest in a chronometer soon.

Thanks, Neighbors!

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July 9, 2011, 06:35 PM
I wear a chronometer on my wrist everyday! :neener: I would like to get a chronograph someday as well, though.

I wouldn't be using Trail Boss with plated bullets at all. IMR says lead only in handguns.

I have had great luck with 158 LRN and 4.2 grains Trail Boss; it is my practice/plinking load. I tried 125 lead and 4.2 gr, but the pressure wasn't as high as I would like.

July 9, 2011, 07:20 PM
Thanks for the heads up, we're still playing around with powders to find the ones we like.

Chronograph :P Tired today, was up till 4 am... Middle sprout has graduated to a non-potty seat... no end of "fun" as she tries not to fall in. :D

Lost Sheep
July 9, 2011, 07:31 PM
I wouldn't be using Trail Boss with plated bullets at all. IMR says lead only in handguns.
I sent an email to Hodgdon to ask for load recommendations for jacketed bullets (I was teaching a friend to reload and all he had was his 500 S&W and jacketed bullets). They replied "Trail Boss does not like jacketed bullets."

I sent another inquiry asking how Trail Boss expressed its dislike. I never got an answer, even after multiple inquiries.

We got 750 fps out of 8 grains of Trail Boss with 300 grain jacketed bullets originally intended for .50 AE. Recoils like a 22 rimfire, that load, and even 10 grains under a 350 grain lead bullet is pleasant in the extreme. Great for training, practice (shooting and reloading both) and for new shooters.

I like Trail Boss, but am somewhat unhappy with Hodgdon.

Anyone have an answer?

Lost Sheep

July 9, 2011, 08:17 PM
I have not had good luck with Trail Boss and plated bullets. It is erratic and does funny things as you work up. It loves lead though.

Peter M. Eick
July 10, 2011, 08:42 AM
I shoot a lot of trailboss in 38 special. 3.5 grns is going to be really mild! Becareful of stuck bullets in the barrel.

Trailboss is the one powder I just go load the max load and then work up from there. Just make sure you don't compress it even one bit. If you cannot pick up the case and shake it and hear the powder going back and forth you have a real problem.

My normal just plinker load is 4.2 grns of trailboss with a 158 SWC. I shoot a lot of them and they are super mild shooters. I hate to think how slow 3.5 grns would be. You might even be able to see the bullet at the 25 yrd range!

July 11, 2011, 02:22 AM
Report today... the 3.5 grTrail boss rounds all functioned flawlessly, Lead and Plated.
Decent pop to em, shot nice and straight. but I think I'll keep the TB for my .45 loads while I figure out the other powder.

The Clays Lead rounds worked fine ( 2.5 grains) but soft... the "reccomended 10% under listed" (2.2 grains) charge squbbed on the 3rd 125 grain plated round and put the Model 10 out of the game for the day with no dowels handy to tap it out. The snubby fared a bit better, but I brought home the light charged rounds to put them through the kinetic puller. I'm takng a mulligan on those ones.

Comfort level will get me loading hotter as time goes on.

The one good thing buying the bag of cheap reloads at the gun show... They've made me VERY sensitive to squb rounds.

Plenty of room to move up in pressures at least. Thanks for the advice folks.

July 11, 2011, 01:19 PM
I was not aware you could load +P .38 Spl with Trail Boss!

The loads shown in the IMR Powder link you posted certainly isn't.

Max pressure for standard 38 Spl is 17,000 PSI.
+P Pressure is 18,500 PSI.

The IMR data you linked only shows Standard pressure loads, as far as I can see.


July 13, 2011, 08:07 PM
I've settled on 4.0 gr of Trail Boss for a quick and easy load for 38spl or 357 with lead SWC's. I tried 3.5 but thought that was too soft and slow. With 357 brass and WSPM primers I get 737 fps av from a 6" barrel. With a SP primer it would be something a bit less, but I haven't shot any over the chronograph so I don't know how much.

I did check the case capacity with the bullets I have and could only get 4.1 in 38 brass without getting right up against the bullet. 4.2 might not compress, but it's close. 5.0 will fit in 357 brass but 4.0 seems just fine.

Using Clays with plated bullets, two potential problems.

First, the "recomended 10% under listed" is 10% under the listed maximum when no minimum start load is shown. When you look at Hodgdon data you'll see that some of the start loads are 10% less than the maximum, some are as much as 30% less. They're showing you the minimum load that has enough pressure to function properly and consistently. Don't try to reduce them any further.

The second is that some plated bullet makers recommend using lead bullet loads, some using jacketed bullet loads. If you're using one of the latter, Berry's for example, you're a full grain under their recommended start load.

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