.38 Super Bullets


November 11, 2012, 09:52 PM
I am trying to develop load data for .38 Super in anticipation of purchasing a .38 Super soon but the information I have from three reloading manuals (Lee, Lyman and Hornady) differs. Can regular 9mm Luger bullets be used in the .38 Super or do specific .356 bullets have to be used?

If you enjoyed reading about ".38 Super Bullets" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
November 11, 2012, 10:30 PM
For jacketed you can use either one. I bought some Zero .355 diameter 9MM and .38 Super .356 diameter 125 Gr JHPs some years back. Both shot well in either caliber. After that I just bought the .356 Zero bullet in bulk. Many 9MM barrels are over .355 anyway.

November 11, 2012, 10:46 PM
Thank you for the info. I will likely be using Rainier plated bullets for commonality since I already load the 124 grain version for my 9mms.

November 12, 2012, 01:34 AM
I use 9mm bullets for my .38 Super loads, both jacketed and cast. Mine do exceptionally well with cast bullets, pushed hard. I size mine .356" for both 9x19 and .38 Super.

Hope this helps.


November 12, 2012, 02:09 AM
Been reloading 38 super for a few months, been using 9mm bullets and they shoot just fine.

November 12, 2012, 09:52 AM
I slugged the bore on both my newer Colts (bought last year) and they both measure .355 so I can use 9mm bullets without issue allthough I shoot more HAP .356 bullets than anything else.

I believe most Supers made these days use a .355 bore where as the old Colts have a larger bore.

November 12, 2012, 10:24 AM
When I first got a 38 Super, about a year ago, I purchased new Starline brass. I also had about 35 pieces of range pick up: GLF, Win, RP and a few others.
With my Lee dies the .355 Precision Delta jacketed bullets do not have enough case tension to hold the bullets securely. I first noticed this when measuring the OAL of my finished round. Rolling the thumb wheel on my calipers would push the bullets further into the case.
I found that running the case about 1/4" into a 9mm die, after sizing and de-capping on the Super die, then using the 9mm expander would provide enough case tension. Don't know if the problem is with the sizing die or the expander. I started using the MBC IDP #6, 124gn .356 lead TCFP bullet and they work well.

November 12, 2012, 10:55 AM
.38 Super Bullets ... Can regular 9mm Luger bullets be used in the .38 Super or do specific .356 bullets have to be used?
This website has quite an extensive information on .38 Super specs, components and loads - http://38super.net/index.html
Bullets for the 38 Super (http://38super.net/Pages/Bullets.html)

Factory 38 Super ammunition is loaded with both .355 and .356 inch diameter bullets. Handloaders can choose either, and also .357 and .358 inch bullets for the Super ... the larger bullets work fine in the Super and some barrel manufacturers suggest using bullets with a diameter that is .001 to .002 inches larger than the barrels's groove diameter for best accuracy.

Hornady lists .357 inch diameter bullets in their manual for the 38 Super in addition to their .355 and .356 product line. In short, handloaders have lots of bullets to choose from.

The traditional bullet weight for the 38 Super is 130 grains, but it is loaded with bullets from 115 to 147 grains ... But anything of the 9mm/38 caliber realm will do, including 38 caliber revolver bullets. ... below shows examples of bullets that can be loaded in the 38 Super.


Check out the hand loading links:

Load development - http://38super.net/Pages/Major.html#Anchor-11481
Supported/Unsupported chambers - http://38super.net/Pages/Major.html#Anchor-47857
Bullets - http://38super.net/Pages/Bullets.html
Brass - http://38super.net/Pages/Brass.html
Powder - http://38super.net/Pages/Gunpowder.html
OAL/seating depth/round fit in magazine - http://38super.net/Pages/Overall%20Length.html

Sample load data:

November 12, 2012, 11:15 AM
For load data, above website links to Jeff Maass' page (http://www.k8nd.com/ipscload.htm) and Brian Enos forum pages (http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=110001&#entry1249257).

This is a bit older data, but it's still good: http://www.k8nd.com/documents/hl38sup.pdf

Most folks are probably running a 125gr Zero or Montana Gold. 115 and 121gr bullets almost certainly make up the bulk of the rest (mostly the same two companies). Yes, there are folks running heavier bullets, but it's not common.

As far as powder goes, 7625 is about the fastest you'll see used and N105 is about the slowest. There are a lot of powders in between that work well.
Here are a couple of my loads. Which one is best for you depends on the comp you have etc.

AA#7 10.5gr w/125gr JHP Zero WSP set 1.240
N350 8.0gr w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
8.3gr TruBlue w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
8.5gr Silhouette w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
7.3gr IMR7625 W/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
7.8gr 3N37 w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
8.8gr HS6 w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240
10gr N105 w/125gr JHP Zero WSP Set 1.240

I've also used IMR4756, AutoComp but don't recall the loads.

I have not tried LongShot, HS7, or 3N38, yet. I have always wanted to try Blue Dot it smells so good.
What is your favorite and why?
AA#7 10.5gr w/125gr @1.240 because it works with my system (aka Gun) fits my lack of style. I make pf at 10gr / 169pf at 10.2 but the magic happens at 10.5 (175 pf) in my Bedell Comped gun with one poppel hole. Its dirty, cheap and works well. Will it work for your gun, maybe.

November 12, 2012, 03:35 PM
Tons of excellent data here guys! Not that it changes anything but I will likely be getting a .38 Super kit for my new EAA Witness. I am leaning toward the longslide but I'm still not sure yet. Bullseye is my primary and soon to be only pistol powder as I reduce extra materials.

November 12, 2012, 04:44 PM
I have a rather stupid question which just came to mind. Do I need to get .38 Super dies or can I use 9mm dies?

November 12, 2012, 05:11 PM
You need Super dies. They are longer than 9mm.

November 12, 2012, 05:18 PM
Well that sucks. Oh well...

November 12, 2012, 08:13 PM
The 9MM (http://www.handloads.com/articles/cartridge.htm) is a tapered case, where the .38 Super (http://www.handloads.com/articles/cartridge.htm) is not. It takes different dies.

November 12, 2012, 08:35 PM
The 9MM is a tapered case, where the .38 Super is not. It takes different dies.
+1. SAAMI specification (http://www.saami.org/specifications_and_information/index.cfm?page=ANSI) drawing shows 9mm case mouth to be .3811" and tapers out to case base at .3910" and uses .3555" diameter bullets (.355"-.356"). But 38 Super case mouth and case base are same at .3840" (no taper) and as posted earlier, can use .355"-.358" diameter bullets

BTW, Berry's and other plated bullet manufacturers aim to size their 9mm bullets to .3555" but advertises them as .356". And due to this taper of the 9mm case, especially when using .356" diameter bullets, the case shows the "Coke bottle" shape bulge around the seated bullet and the resized case, and this is normal for resized 9mm cases.


November 12, 2012, 10:11 PM
I have used 9mm (0.355") bullets in my S&W 627 and 686 which are factory chambered for 38 Super. Nice tight groups with both revolvers.

November 12, 2012, 10:26 PM
How did you score those revolvers? I've never heard of a revolver in .38 Super.

November 12, 2012, 11:22 PM
I've never heard of a revolver in .38 Super.
Smith & Wesson model 627 revolver from the Performance Center chambered in .38 Super - all stainless steel construction, 5 inch barrel with comp, 8 shot blackened unfluted cylinder, plain black target sights and factory red, white and blue smooth wood grips.

Here are recent sales:


November 13, 2012, 09:46 AM
38 Super is semi rimmed and can usually be fired from a .357 mag revolver. It won't be near as accurate as TonyT / bds revolver above that is actually chambered in 38 Super but it can be done

If you enjoyed reading about ".38 Super Bullets" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!