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1858 .36 with .38 Special conversion cylinder, warmer loads?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Busyhands94, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 New Member

    I have been thinking about getting a .36 Remington and a .38 Spesh gated conversion cylinder for a while now. I may end up buying one in a year or so.
    I'm kind of a newbie as car as loading handgun cartridges, and the idea of trying heeled bullets sounds fascinating. I'm always up for learning something new about firearms. :D

    So the questions are how hot can I load those .38 Specials? I'm thinking you could push those bullets a little faster being that there's more metal around the rounds than in a .45 cylinder. And also, what diameter roundball mold would be needed to make into a .38 heeled bullet mold?

    Just kinda curious about the subject. Any info on this would be appreciated. :)
  2. arcticap

    arcticap New Member

    ofitg posted about making a heeled bullet for use with a .38 Special conversion cylinder by modifying a .380 RB mold:

    DIY Heeled Bullet Mould?

  3. black_powder_Rob

    black_powder_Rob New Member

    What a coincidence I just ordered a 38 spec conversion cylinder for my 36 NMA 1858, just not the gated kind as I have read they require a little more fitting to instal and can affect the timing if you go back to the C&P cylinder (which I would like to be able to do.) From my understanding others have found good accuracy with the LRNHB and SWCHB rounds expanding to fill the rifling. as far as loading I have hodgins loading manual and plan on using the cowboy loads for my reloads using win231 powder. I believe if you are using true black powder loads (someting I also want to try) then the only limitations would be the case size.
  4. black_powder_Rob

    black_powder_Rob New Member

    also wanted to mention that I believe that the load data list the win 231 charge at 3.7gr and pushing a 158 lswc at 834fps. The max fps is given by Universal powder at 4.5gr and pushing the same projectile to 974fps. They list many other powders but if you are just begining in reloading then I would suggest using some Trail Boss powder first as it has a large volume and makes it hard to overload the case while still performing in the same class with the faster burning powders for the 38 spec in cowboy loads. Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  5. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 New Member

    Howdy Steve! :) I'll be sure to get a .380 diameter ball mold for making those heeled bullets. I already am fixin' to get one so I can make some buckshot with it for 12 gauge loads. :D

    Black Powder Rob, When y'all get the cylinder could you take a picture of the end and see how thick the cylinder walls are? A 158 grain semi wadcutter at 974 FPS is pretty damn respectable. That would actually be a pretty decent defensive load provided there's proper shot placement.

    See, the reason I'm contemplating this sort of thing is if the cylinder is beefier I think you could possibly find the right powder and a helled/hollow base bullet and work up a good load. I'm not saying it would be alright to load some .38 Spesh it .357 Magnum specs, nor am I insinuating it would be alright to "Elmer" it a bit.

    However, I think you could push the envelope as far as loads go a little. Maybe work up a load around 1000 FPS if you can find a bullet of the right weight and a powder that will generate low enough pressures. They'd have to be low enough to not hurt the gun, but efficient enough to get that slug consistently traveling good and fast. Add a soft lead bullet into the equation, and you'd have a pretty darn good weapon.

    Another question, can you use a Lee loader to load heel based bullets? I already have a S&W in .38 Special and I'm not too pleased with having to pay $20 for 50 rounds of .38 so I reckon I'll start handloading that caliber. A Lee press might be another good option, just not sure where to start. :confused:
  6. MCgunner

    MCgunner Active Member

    Me, I'd stick with standard .38 special, no +P stuff. The frame is kinda thin around the rammer. I wouldn't push things. Nothing wrong with standard .38 loads, though, ain't broke.
  7. black_powder_Rob

    black_powder_Rob New Member

    When the cylinder gets here, no problem on taking the pictures and posting them.

    As for the Lee loader I will reserve the right to get someone elses answer.
  8. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN New Member

    the link to the DIY mold doesn't seem to be working....
  9. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 New Member

    MC, if I remember right, even the 38 spl loads far exceed the recommended "cowboy" loads. But I say go for it. Pump em up to 357 pressures and see what happens. After all, It's not my gun or eyesight.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  10. MCgunner

    MCgunner Active Member

    Well, me, I'll keep shooting BP/Pyrodex. I have a .44, though. I have .38s if I wanna shoot .38 and I have loaders, couple of progressives even. For "classic", I'll just take the S&W M10 out back for a few rounds. :D

    In .38, my standard plinker is 2.7 grains Bullseye under a 148 Lee cast wadcutter. Very accurate and easy on the guns. I carry +P in my snubby, but don't shoot many of 'em.
  11. black_powder_Rob

    black_powder_Rob New Member

    McGunner I agree with the not pushing it to much with the cart conversion, I just gave the lad an idea (Levi keep in mind what I qouted was the max and you should never start at the max load) I also shoot 38's out of my snubby CCW and reload for that, for cheap and fun practice. Got the conversion to see if I could try something a little different and figured I all ready have the dyes and all for 38 so why not.

    P.S. I use the Lyman reloading tool. I think Duelist1954 has a video on it.
  12. black_powder_Rob

    black_powder_Rob New Member

  13. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 New Member

    Thank you Rob, I look forward to seeing what kind of thickness we have to work with here.

    I think they are saying you should use "Cowboy loads" to keep people from pushing the envelope and suing when somethin goes terribly wrong and some moron tries to shoot some really hot +P ammo in a conversion. It may have put there to keep the lawyer and the politician at bay.

    Loaded with BP or Triple Seven, you could probably get some respectable energy from a .38 Special. I know that a Winchester White box 138 grain FMJ will shoot through two 2x4's out of a S&W K frame with a 5" barrel. And if a Remington can handle spittin' a roundball at 900-1000 FPS, no doubt it could handle some warmer .38 Specials if the .36 and .44 Remingtons are made on the same size frame.

    A nice heavy bullet at elevated velocities can be very useful for self defense and hunting, and with a 138 grain bullet at 950 FPS or so you would have a very effective and accurate small game revolver. It is still a low pressure revolver cartridge though, so it has limitations. Not to mention the frame could stretch due to being softer than on a revolver that was designed for smokeless powder use. Gets me thinking something like this could be a pretty useful firearm to have. Especially if you can handload to increase the performance and ballistics for different game.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  14. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN New Member

    Pure soft lead expands amazingly well.
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Active Member

    I want a .45ACP cylinder for MY Remmy in the future. I'm waiting on two spare .44 cylinders from Cabelas at the moment, though. I like the idea of .45ACP in it, got more brass than Colt and I couldn't ever screw up and put a +P in it that I load for my Blackhawk. That might not end well if I ever did that. They're loaded hot with 2400 and will make a .44 magnum beg for mercy. :D Actually, the light load might be a might hot for a Remmy, 8.3 grains Unique and a 255 flat point. All the .45ACP I load is standard. And, besides, I don't have a revolver in the caliber since I got rid of my 1917 Smith.

    A cartridge conversion would be way cool, though, for the Remmy. I wouldn't get the loading gate, either, as I wanna shoot caps. I just think they're REALLY classy guns, though, and like 'em even more than the '73 Colt for looks. :D
  16. kBob

    kBob Active Member


    YOU WHAT?!?!?! GOT RID OF A 1917 S&W!?!?!?!?

    You have no soul.....or you got real hungry.... The .45 Black hawk I had was a prevertable and I shot more .45 ACP in it than .45 Long Colt (there i said it, nenner!) Of course some of the ACP I loaded just for the Ruger would have blown brass out the feed ramp cut on an 1911. At a hand gun class range day the cheif instructor was explainng the difference between Magnums and Vinella to a class and he had placed two milk juggs full of watter down range. With out consulting me he announced he would shoot one with his Ruger BH in .44 Magunum with factory ammo and that I would shoot the other with my old fashion .45 LC chambered BH. He fired his shot and the expected happened . I tried to explain but he shushed me and said to shoot so I fired one of my even Elmer would blanch at shooting .45LC handloads at the other jug....my jug was in worse shape after the shot than his and I had to explain to the class the danger of assuming and of being sure of your ammo.

    As I have gotten older I have realized the folly of such loads and speak of them only it indicate the insanity that youth are prone to.

    No way would I try to hot rod a C&B BP conversion unit on ANY reproduction or original gun. I don't see anything to be gained by it and the idea of testing to failure.....well I have had severe hand and eye wounds enough already thank you very much, to say nothing of the possible danger of injury to say attractive female cousins (that's a hint there Busyhands).

  17. Grunt

    Grunt New Member

    In all of my conversions (I'm a Remington man myself) I keep my loads to BP loads only. While the Remington design is stronger than the Colt conversions, I still really haven't seen much of a point to hot-rodding a round that will never be called on to do much more than poke a hole in paper or ring steel. Don't need a souped up +P load for that unless you like pre-mature wear, damaged parts or even having a kaboom failure right there in your hand! :eek:
    When it comes to the .38 conversions, I have settled on a Rapine 158 grain RNFP-HB mould and pure soft lead. Upon firing, the hollow base expands to grip the rifling much the same way a minie-ball does with my musket and provides acceptable accuracy. I just run them through the lubri-sizer giving them a good shot of SPG to fill up the grooves and load them like normal. The SPG is kept inside the case where it stays until I fire those rounds.
    Yeah, I could have went with a heel base bullet design and it would be more "period correct" but they come with their own set of problems. Lubing the bullet is really not much more than dipping the bullet into melted lube but when you are dealing with BP loads and using the softer SPG bullet lube, it can become a mess real fast! There is also the problem of trying to keep the lube on the bullets and when exposed to the elements, the lube that actually manages to stay on the bullet is also a great magnet for any dirt or debris they come into contact with.
  18. TomADC

    TomADC Active Member

    Aren't these 38 kits chambered for 38 Colt & not 38 Spl?
  19. Grunt

    Grunt New Member

    Nope, a quick look at Kirst's web site lists them as being rated for .38 Special. They also mention they are for use only in steel framed revolvers and only loaded with black powder or a cowboy load equivelant cartridge so no, your run of the mill ammo is a no-go and +P is right out as well. Kirst also points out the bore differences between a C&B revolver and the .357" bullets used in modern ammo and also suggest using a lead hollow based bullet.
    Now will they shoot .38 Colt? Yup, got a few pieces of brass around here from years ago. But with the higher price of .38 Colt, I really don't think I'd bother with buying any more of it.
  20. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 New Member

    Sorry about the lateness of my reply here, been getting all squared away since this is the first week of the spring semester at the college for me. I got a bunch of classes, I just have to get general education outta the way before I can take that course to become a certified gunsmith at Lassen Community College.

    I reckon when I get certified I'll have the skills needed to build a .38 Remington that will handle some hotter loads and has a bore the will accurately shoot .357 diameter bullets. :) Maybe even a conversion to shoot .32 S&W Longs! ;)

    But until then it's standard Remingtons for me. But something about these loads is pretty confusing. So you can shoot a roundball fast enough to where it would be close to .45 ACP in a .44 Remington with blackpowder, caps, and lead balls. But if you were to take that exact same gun but with a smaller bore you can only use some light .38 Special loads in it? Basically like comparing the energy of a .38 S&W to a .45 ACP. Something just doesn't make sense, I'm unsure of the logic behind this.

    Is it the faster pressure curve of the smokeless powder versus the slower pressure curve of the blackpowder that puts stress on the gun? :confused: Are you guys basically saying it's got to do with the cylinder?

    Don't worry Kbob, my cousin ain't shooting a .38 Special. She could handle the Super Companion but I feel she isn't ready for a bigger and heavier gun. Especially with some snappy loads.

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