38 acp


October 9, 2012, 12:49 AM
I just picked up a nice Colt 1903 pocket along with brass and 130gr bullets. My books don't cover this cartridge and I couldn't find much searching online. Anyone have some loads they can share? I'm not a load data member and can't see what they have.

Found this:

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October 9, 2012, 07:53 AM
Hornady 8th edition has a 38 ACP section starting on page 906.

October 9, 2012, 11:25 AM
Would I be safe using the start loads for 38 super as max loads for 38 acp/auto? Same case and bullet just lower pressures. A factory 130gr 38acp is around 1040fps/312ft lbs, I have the same bullet in a 38 super starting load ranging from 984-1119fps. I'll probably stick with loads around 900ish fps.

What would be a good powder? I have power pistol on hand right now and have seen both faster and slower powders listed as used.

October 9, 2012, 03:24 PM
Probably not.

When i was looking through my manuals to see who had 38 ACP, all of them warned against using the 38 Super data in a 38 ACP. (Between Speer, Sierra, Hornady, Hodgdon, and Lyman, only Hornady had a 38 ACP section).

I do not have the books handy to my current location at the moment.

October 9, 2012, 05:47 PM
Hornady 3rd Edition with 125 gr jhp and Red Dot, Unique, Herco, Bullseye
Shows the same starting loads for both 38 ACP and 38 Super.

October 9, 2012, 06:25 PM
Three of those powders (bullseye, red dot, and unique) are faster burning than the power pistol I have. I found a load for 38 super: 6.8gr power pistol for 1255fps. I'm fairly new to reloading pistol but would backing that off give me a good start point? 4gr?

October 9, 2012, 09:33 PM
My Hornady manual is the only one with 38acp data as others have stated. I think you'll be much better off to use Red Dot, Bullseye or Unique.

Power pistol works best for me when loaded in the upper ranges and you sure don't want to do that with a 1903 Colt. That's too cool of a pistol to tear up just because you're determined to use a certain powder.

October 9, 2012, 09:51 PM
Definitely don't want to tear it up, just was hoping to keep the powder numbers down. I'll just have to get out to a shop soon.

October 9, 2012, 10:29 PM
If you don't see the load listed on the web, then call the powder companies. They have the data, they are just not showing it on the web because it's too much to maintain. They're happy to share all their data. I called just the other day about some Accurate Solo 1250 data. They faxed me 3 or 4 pages of load data.

October 10, 2012, 06:56 PM
I've come across an issue with my lyman dies that I can't figure out. When I run them through the resize/deprime they are loose enough to just slide a bullet in by hand. When I use the neck expander it gets even worse and I'm unable to seat a bullet properly. It does this with multiple brands of brass. Seems like the resize die isn't tight enough? I'm fairly new to pistol reloading and have used Lee dies for my 10mm and 380 with no problems.

October 10, 2012, 07:02 PM
Is the die marked ".38 acp/.38 Super/.38 SA", or any combination of those? One company uses the same die for .38 acp and .38 S&W (not .38 Special), since they're pretty close in OD.

Hope this helps.


October 10, 2012, 07:14 PM
It's Lyman 7680116 38 super auto/38 s&w

As best I can tell the inner diameter of the resized cases is roughly .360

Jim Watson
October 10, 2012, 07:27 PM
Die: I know Lyman has provided the same carbide sizing die for both .38 Auto/Super and .38 S&W. It should work but if it doesn't, it doesn't. Return on warranty or get an undersize "U" die from EGW.
Or even a regular .38 Auto die from Lee or whoever.

You cannot crimp a loose bullet tight and a .360" ID on a sized case is way too big.

Load: If you cannot find .38 Auto specific data, the old Lyman rule of thumb was to take a .38 Super starting load and reduce by .5 grain more. Work back up to the starting load if necessary for function. NO MORE.

October 10, 2012, 08:17 PM
Figured out a possible work around. After resizing/depriming a case I ran just the tip of it into a 380 resizing die, then switched back to the 38 auto neck expander. This gave me a properly sized case neck with a nice bell to load with and a firm solid bullet seat. Would this be safe?

October 10, 2012, 09:27 PM
As long as it chambers and the bullet doesn't set back while transitioning from the magazine to the chamber, then it's safe to shoot. Sometimes we have to do something out of the ordinary to make something work.

Hope this helps.


October 10, 2012, 09:59 PM
The empty test rounds I made held up to being pressed against and cycled through the magazine a few times. I loaded a test batch with 5.3gr AA#5 and a 130gr fmj bullet. It should be a very mild load. Lee 2nd edition lists 5.6-6.1gr at 931-1014fps.

October 10, 2012, 10:17 PM
I wasn't going to suggest using your 380 die. But if you have data showing 5.3 gr #5 in either the 38acp or as a starting load in the 38 super, and it chambers, I say go for it.
If you have any 38 special/357 mag bullets, see how they fit.
Where are you in WA?
Oh... wear safety glasses and gloves.

October 10, 2012, 10:39 PM
I didn't actually use the 380 die, just ran the brass into it slightly so the top 2-3mm were sized down a little. Once the bullet is seated the brass is uniform diameter all around. I'll be wearing glasses for sure but I don't expect any problems. I'm in Tacoma, stationed at Lewis.

October 10, 2012, 10:55 PM
I predict that that will work. Your load may be too light to cycle the action, or you might luck out and have it just right.

Jim Watson
October 10, 2012, 11:17 PM
Have fun. I have always admired the old parallel ruler guns but the prices have stayed about one notch ahead of what I cared to pay for a novelty.

October 10, 2012, 11:21 PM
I got lucky, stumbled onto it without really looking. Paid $375 for the pistol, 3 magazines, dies, about 75 factory loaded rounds, and a little over 300 each brass/bullets.

Peter M. Eick
October 12, 2012, 09:10 AM
I would have bought it for that price!

October 12, 2012, 04:59 PM
. I predict that that will work. Your load may be too light to cycle the action, or you might luck out and have it just right.

It worked, but only cycled the action about 15% of the time. Much less powerful than the factory rounds I fired. I'll bump the load up to 5.5gr and see how that goes.

October 12, 2012, 08:02 PM
Working up the load is part of the reloading fun. load up 10-15 for the 5.5 gr load and if that cycles the action, you have it. If not, try another .2 gr, it doesn't usually take much for a change.

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