Trail Boss and the 38 S&W


March 9, 2013, 05:56 PM
Has anyone had any luck with loading trail boss in either 158g or 180g flat point bullets? I don't mind using unique since 38 S&W isn't exactly recoil heavy anyway, but just kind of wondering if anyone does it. Was really happy to get a jug today, Trail Boss has been pretty hard to find. I was kicking myself for not getting some last time, but I didn't make the mistake again. My store had NO primers in besides cci 35.

The gun I'm using is a Colt Police Positive Special chambered in 38 S&W.

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March 9, 2013, 06:07 PM
I have used Trail Boss exclusively for the past three years when reloading for my CZ 550 American bolt action .30/06 rifle - 15 grains powder, Hornady .30 cal 150 gr FMJ/BT bullets (max load: 19.3 grains IAW Hodgdon formula) with very satisfactory results, therefor I am most interested in postings to this thread. My revolver is a circa. 1955 Smith & Wesson K38 Target Masterpiece with a 6" barrel.


dagger dog
March 9, 2013, 06:45 PM
I would imagine the reason behind no TrailBoss data for the 38 S&W, is beacuse there are so many old 1800's topbreak revolvers still out there that could be dangerous to shoot with smokless powder.

Your Colt not being one of those, and it is in shootable condition, you can use the universal method to work up for TB powder.

Decide on the bullet you are going to use, hold the bullet against the case with the case mouth even with the crimp cannnelure, mark the outside of the case at the bottom of the bullet, add powder in the case to that mark, place that charge on a scale and record that weight, take 70% of that weight and use that for your starting charge. Trail Boss warns against compressing , not to be done and can be dangerous.

I haven't shot the 38 S&W with TB but have shot 38 S&W Special, 45 Colt.
I do load the S&W 38 with FFg blackpowder and shoot it from a top break Iver Johnson revolver. It's fun and suprising how accurate, with a boolit that fits the bore, 38 S&W nominal diameter bullets are 0.360" as 38 S&W Specials are 0.357".

With the "powder panic of '13" going on why don't you try blackpowder in your Colt ?
With a proper lube and the design of your Colt PP it should be easy to keep clean.

March 9, 2013, 06:50 PM
I am using N320 and plated bullets ( for .38 S&W. Good stuff. I imagine Trail Boss would work well with lead in the .38 S&W, but have not tried it. Trail Boss doesn't play particularly well with plated in pistol calibers, especially if you cannot fill the whole empty space. As in it would be an over charge. Very erratic. I don't see that with lead. It plays very well with lead.

Old Fuff
March 9, 2013, 09:27 PM
A Police Positive Special chambered in .38 S&W (.38 Colt New Police) is an unusual combination, but they did make some after World War Two.

Anyway, since you are handloading be aware that these revolvers have tight bores (.356") and chamber throats (.358) which were the same as Colt's .38 Special specifications. So use .358" (not .361") lead bullets.

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