Shotshells in 38 Special


May 3, 2013, 02:54 PM
Has anyone handloaded shotshells for a 38Spec/357? I am talking about snake loads for a person working in an area frequented by copperheads. All of the usual online sellers are as out of stock for this item as for normal ammunition.:banghead:

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May 3, 2013, 02:59 PM
Just aim good. You should be able to bounce a snake out to forty yards repeatedly double action.

May 3, 2013, 03:03 PM
You can buy shot capsules to load your own shot in, usually around #9 shot. Factory is usually smaller #12 shot.

I have heard of guys using gas checks to cap off the case mouth and load shot under this, on top of the powder. I haven't used this method before so I don't have much info on it.

May 3, 2013, 03:24 PM
You can buy the empty capsules from Grafs and sons, they are made by Speer and you can find some online loading techniques if you don't have a Speer manual.

May 3, 2013, 03:34 PM
Shot capsules have been around for decades. Their effectivness is debatable. The only truly effective ones I've ever seen were used in the T/C Contender with it's removable choke.

May 3, 2013, 06:27 PM
I started loading them recently. I bought a box of Speer ready to load capsules and then just followed the Speer process. If you don't have a Speer manual, you can find the process online, or just ask Speer. Be careful to not over / under fill the capsule, or it will prematurely fracture in either instance.

May 3, 2013, 07:52 PM
Right. If you already have shotgun shot, then loading your own is easy....and cheap. Almost any powder will work. The load info is in the Speer book, but also comes included with the capsules. You might want a 38/357 taper crimp die to keep from busting shot capsule, but that's optional if you're really careful.

These are most effective at about 8-10 feet. But that's perfect becasue that's where you see them.

May 3, 2013, 10:29 PM
Food for thought:

44 Magnum Shotshells

May 3, 2013, 10:51 PM
I reload them in 38 special with the speer capsules, #8 shot, and Unique. I patterned them and they open up pretty fast but are good out to 8 feet or so. They would probably be a little better with #9 shot or smaller.

I nearly stepped on a copperhead one night last year while walking to my building. A grabbed the .38 and from about 4 feet it tore him up pretty good.

May 3, 2013, 11:06 PM
I tried and failed with .357 brass. Gas checks or paper wad on top and bottom. Filled with wax or not. Just didn't work to the way I wanted.

I did have some luck with cut down rifle brass to fit to the full length of the cylinder. I used .308 brass for a 1917 S&W .45 ACP. But better luck was with cut down .303 Brit cut down for the .44 mag.

Both did best and that wasn't great, with an over the powder paper wad. Fill with melted wax mix and shot. Covered with another paper wad. Keep the amount of wax to a minimum.
These did better in cold weather. When warmer/hot, recoil would open them up. Unfortunately, snakes aren't out and about when it was cool/cold. End results, .22RF shot loads are just better all around.

Good luck with you experiments. That is the fun of it all.

May 4, 2013, 12:16 AM
Yep Tried them back in the 60's 3 gr of bullseye, #8 shot with gas checks above and below. S & W 19. Decided that there was a better chance of doing damage with the gas checks than the shot.

35 Whelen
May 4, 2013, 12:30 AM
As I've mentioend several times here, I live in rattlesnake hell. I've load the Speer shot capsules for my 3" Rossi 38 Special and hace used it many times for rattlers. With #8 or #9 it works like a charm, I mean kills them DEAD. Bear in mind the Speer manual says lighter loads pattern better than heavy.
When we first moved out here I tired .22 shotshells and lost more snakes than I killed. In fact for them to work, I'd have to be practically in striking distance of the snake.
I used to load homemade shells for my S&W 25-5 45 Colt using milk carton for over powder/over shot wads. They patterned pretty good, but I never got to try them on snakes before trading the pistol off.


May 4, 2013, 09:51 AM
I have found the Speer shot capsule very useful. I followed the Speer recipe with BullsEye. Ten feet is the furthest I have used them on copperheads, multiple holes and quite dead.

May 4, 2013, 09:57 AM
The Speer capsules work great. You'll get better results with a shorter barrel - the more the shot column spins, the larger the hole in the middle of your pattern. 2 or 3 inch barrels seem to be best.
My Ruger Blackhawk with the 4 5/8" barrel throws a pretty decent pattern out to ten or twelve feet, which is fine, because if I am concerned about a critter farther away than that, I can just run.

May 4, 2013, 10:42 AM
I've loaded them with Speer shot capsules for some time and it is relatively easy. I use 12 shot normally but also load some in 8 shot for more penetration. I also usually use .357 brass instead of .38 but either works. Instead of trying to weigh each capsule, I load them until the plug fully seats but you don't hear any rattle when you shake them.

The Speer box recommends 4.5 gr HP-38 but I have loaded to as high as 5.5 gr without the pattern opening up excessively. I load to 5.0-5.2 gr as my standard now as the pattern seems optimal at that load in my Taurus Model 66 with 4" barrel.

I use a taper crimp because I have one, but I have used the roll crimp successfully. You aren't truly crimping them in place as you can't really put any real force on the capsule without breaking it. All you want to do is close in the bell mouth so they chamber well. With either crimp, they will walk out of the case from recoil, so I use a couple of drops of super glue to hold them in more securely. Even with glue, I don't think you can load more than three in the cylinder without them walking out and preventing the cylinder from rotating. I load two, followed by carry loads in the remaining chambers.

I think the .38 load of about 110 gr of shot is on the light size, but I understand it will stun them so you can finish them off safely. .44/.45 has a much better load (or #6 shot in a Judge). I wish Speer would make a longer capsule that would hold 140-150 gr of shot. So far, I haven't had to use one, so I don't have any first hand knowledge of their effectiveness.

May 4, 2013, 11:48 AM
Food for thought:

44 Magnum Shotshells

This is exactly how I do my .44 and .357 shells...

150gr of shot in a .44 mag, and 100 in a .357...

I'd say that .38SPCL would be about 85gr of shot, if not a tad more...

May 4, 2013, 01:06 PM
With #8 or #9 it works like a charm, I mean kills them DEAD.
That's been my experience with the 38 capsules. #8 shot makes dead snakes, and I stay out of striking distance.

May 4, 2013, 05:50 PM
As someone above mentioned - good for 8-9 FEET, not yards - the reloading data is on the box. The plastic case and rifling do not lend themselves to great accuracy but they do OK

May 5, 2013, 01:31 PM
These will be used by #1 son in his snubby S&W Model 66. I will check and see if the Speer components are available at my LGS. Thank you all for the ideas.I have a Speer # 12 and will follow it's guide.:)

May 5, 2013, 01:57 PM
Shot capsules will work-close in. Another hint. DO NOT use a heavy powder charge as you will get a donut shaped pattern with a big ole hole right in the middle where you don't want it.

May 6, 2013, 11:40 AM
I have killed more rattlers with .22 shotshells than I can count.

May 7, 2013, 01:06 AM
I have loaded 38spl shot shells for my S&W 36 w/a 1.875" barrel.
I used a slightly modified 38 spl case to cut fine corrugated wads to cap the powder and non-corrugated and a crimp to cap the shot.
I use #8 shot because that's I have, If I remember correctly I use 3.0gr of Bullseye for the charge. I found that increasing to powder charge screws up the pattern as does a longer rifled barrel.
If I needed a handgun to dispatch of snakes, I would get one that is chambered for .410 ga

Texan Scott
May 7, 2013, 06:17 AM
Or get a Bond Arms .410. I love mine! #6 shot is plentiful and fairly cheap, and nothing wants a facefull of it.

May 7, 2013, 06:53 AM
I found the easiest way to make snakeshot is with the Speer Shot Capsules ( I use W231, a CCI500 primer and #9 shot. That combination works extremely well for me.

If you don't load shotgun shells and you don't want to buy and pay for 25# of shot there is a workaround. I opened a box of inexpensive shotshells loaded with #9 shot. I have been using that shot for about 2 years now and still have more than half left.

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