Powder Question... Accurate #2 vs #5


December 27, 2012, 10:10 PM
I'm brand new to Reloading. In fact, I haven't put powder in a single case. I've calibrated everything to make sure that my seating will be correct and the crimp is right, but I have a question.... I'm Reloading .38special to start with. I will shoot it regularly from my 642. I ordered Barry's 158 gr hollow points. Not having received my manual yet, I ordered Accurate #2 powder because the description said that it was ideal for short barreled handguns of most calibers up to .45. As I ready myself to add powder, both the Lee die set and my Lyman 49th say to use AA#5 with that bullet. Other similar grain bullets in .38 call for #2, but not this one. Can I use #2 safely in this load?

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December 27, 2012, 10:16 PM
I would choose Accurate #2.
I load #5 in 38spl but it seems to require a near max load to burn well.
#2 is more flexible and works well with lighter bullets.
W-231 or HP-38 work very well for 38spl.

December 27, 2012, 10:26 PM
Thanks for the input. I figured I would be admonished for daring to go outside the recommended loads. I was going to pick up some bullseye or unique as they appear to be more universal, but if I can safely use the #2, I will. I'd probably load it up similarly to the 158gr lead round that they recommend the #2 be used with (3.6grs).

December 28, 2012, 03:09 AM
I was going to pick up some bullseye or unique
My two favorite powders for 38spl are Bullseye and W-231, I have given up on Unique for its poor metering and uncleanliness at lower pressures.

December 28, 2012, 09:28 AM
Thanks for the input. I figured I would be admonished for daring to go outside the recommended loads.

It can be done, but the better question might be "Is it wise for a novice reloader ?" Over the years reloaders have figured out how to do quite a lot, but hardly any of it is recommended as a 'good starting place' in your new hobby. And most of those "not recommended" procedures are based on safety concerns.

That being said, of all the swaps you could have made, using No2 with 158gr Berry plated might be the most benign. So I'm not here to admonish you so much as to show you where some of the possible "gotchas" are.

Here are some of the unstated issues....
• When using a "faster" powder than recommended, the load range shrinks. The load range for No2 with a 148gr bullet is only 0.4 to 0.5gr wide. When the bullet weight goes up, the load range usually gets even narrower. A load window of 0.4gr is not very wide and doesn't allow for many measurement errors. That brings on a raft of questions, like.... Just how accurate is your powder measure with No2 ? Over 100 rounds, what deviation can you expect ?

• No2 is so fine that a lot of less expensive powder measures will leak powder. Heck, a lot of expensive powder measure leak No2 !! Can your measure work with No2 and remain trustworthy?

• The one thing reloaders always focus on is the chamber pressure. The faster a powder burns, the more a Pressure vs Time graph starts to look like a spike rather than a smooth curve. That's one reason the load range narrows. What if the max pressure sneaks over? Your gun is rated for +P so there is some margin of safety. But some people recommending this load might be shooting it in a 357 Mag, which increases their safety far more. So knowledge of the gun they use may be just as important as their recommendation.

• Just being in Ohio raises concerns of it's own due to the low humidity. Low humidity leads to static, which makes some powders want to cling. Static tends to make a metal powder measure less accurate. Plastic powder measures can become totally erratic. Special steps might need to be taken.

• Be aware that tiny loads of faster powders tend to quirky. Inside the huge 38 Splc case, tiny amounts of powder can be dispersed many ways. Although No2 is not noted to be as troublesome as some, you need to be aware. "Case fill" is why powders like Trail Boss are so popular.

The place to start is to call Accurate Powders and ask them to fax or email you the load data on using No2 with 158gr jacketed/plated bullets. This will give you published loads that have been verified. Then move slowly and accurately from there.

Hope this helps! ;)

December 28, 2012, 10:18 AM
Here is the Accurate data for #2 with a 158 XTP on page #4.

Use that data with your Berry 158 grain bullets.



December 28, 2012, 07:10 PM
RC and RF.... Thank you. I thought it strange that the #2 wasn't listed for all if the 158 bullets, but I am new to this. I stopped by a gun store on the way home from work and bought some Bullseye since it is consistently listed for the rounds that I will shoot.

The question of an appropriate scale has me worried. I think the balance scale that came with the Lee set my not be, shall we say.... Premium. I zero it at night and by morning It's pointing to the ceiling. I'll be getting an electronic one before loading. I was going to heavily depend on the Lee disc powder dispenser. Bad idea? If the die manual said to set it at .30, I was going to do so and then weigh finished rounds to check for annomolies. I know I am sounding far more casual than I actually am about this. I'm reading the ABCs of Reloading as well as Lyman's 49th while perfecting dummy rounds prior to any serious work.

December 28, 2012, 07:37 PM
Hi Guy,

The general concensus is that the Lee scale, when used properly, is very accurate. It may not be conveninet (vernier scale, rezeroing after sitting overnight, low capacity) but used within its limitations you can be confident of its accuracy.

Most who use the Lee disk system seem to find that they are consistent, but throw charges less than listed in the charg. If your load recommends the .30cc try the .32cc disk and weigh 10 in a row and see if that works. When I find a load I like I write the actual disk used on the label for convenience. Don't weigh the final rounds as your verification, weigh the acutal powder charge thrown. Weighing the final round might provide you with an extra check that will make you feel better but you definitely want to verify the powder charge seperately. The Lee scale has a low capacity so you won't be able to weigh finished rounds except with very light bullets.

DOUBLE CHECK! Even with a known disk double check the powder charge by verifying before loading and by sampling during loading (I weigh every 5th or 10th powder charge for pistols. I weigh every rifle round.).

Good Luck,


December 29, 2012, 12:06 PM
AA#2 is a great powder for .38/357. 3.6-4 grains under a 158 bullet will get you ~665-756 fps. An additional benefit is that AA#2 is insensitive to position of the powder in the case, making it ideal for light loads in big cases. Check the Accurate website for the full .38 Special listing.

December 29, 2012, 11:31 PM
My first attempt at Reloading tonight. .38 spl... 158gr plated HP over 3.1gr of Bullseye. Lost a few primers, but no real hang-ups. I'll shoot the first few lefty just in case though. I'm pretty excited about this.

December 30, 2012, 01:43 AM
Your new to reloading and you are thinking of shooting lefty? Might I suggest a bullet puller? If you aren't 100% comfortable shooting your loads in your right hand then you are not ready.

How many did you make? What is the minimum and maximum loads? Why only the one powder weight? Why aren't you working up your loads?

I also recommend Trail Boss. Loading in in .357 it has become my favorite load. I am exactly in the middle of the range, so if I over or under charge a few tenths I am safe.

December 30, 2012, 08:51 AM
Joke..... Because I followed the directions. I'm not in experiment mode yet, but thank you for the input.

I dumped every 10th round to weigh the powder. The primers are seated, the rounds are at length using an electronic caliper, and the crimp appears to be in a good spot (my one ? Mark).

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