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38 spl practice for my S&W 340

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Ghostrider_23, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. Ghostrider_23

    Ghostrider_23 Well-Known Member

    First time in this section and I’m a bit nervous but am excited to learn. I have finally taken the plunge to start reloading for the first time ever. I want to start with the 38 special and am interested to find out the in's and out's of this caliber.

    I have a Lee progressive 4 hole reloader and would like any tips, best loads, and practices you would recommend for this beginner. Any advise would be great!

    Case resizing
    Case cleaning
    Amount of powder
    Good loads
  2. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    I have been reloading the 38 spl off and on for 30 years. My pet load is 4.0 gr of W231 under a 148 gr lead wadcutter. According to http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp
    start at 3.5 gr.

    I full length resize the cartridge. Without FLR, the bullet will drop into the case. For case cleaning I tumble in walnut media. Corncob also works, it doesn't get stuck in the primer pocket, but takes longer than the walnut.
  3. Kernel

    Kernel Well-Known Member

    There are many, but Winchester W231 is one of the GREAT powders for the .38 Speical.
  4. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    One of the favored factory rounds for the lightweight j-frames is the Speer 38+P 135-gr. JHP Short Barrel Ammo. A few of us sorted out reloading recipes for that round, both as a reload for "replica recoil" and for external ballistics (860+ fps from a 2" barrel). and using 135-140 gr. LRN / LTC bullets.

    I recently lost my links in a HD crash--but if you search in this forum on terms such as 'GDSB 38+P,' 'Replica Reload,' or the like, you should be able to pull up the threads discussing them. They first showed up about September 2007.

    Jim H.
  5. docsleepy

    docsleepy Well-Known Member

    Pay careful attention to the LENGTH specified for charges and specific bullets for which you load. Wadcutters in particular are often crimped at a short length (1.16 sticks in my mind), nearly flush or flush with the end of the case, and this results in far higher pressures with the same amount of powder--so the max for these conditions is far lower.

    You can make plinking rounds with just 3.0 grains of Win231. Velocities will be around 500 fps with 158 grainssemi-wadcutters and 600 with near-flush double ended wad cutters (148grains).

    Of course it is extremely important that you use enough powder to be certain the bullet LEAVES THE BARREL! But I've been amazed at what you can do with just 3 grains of Win231. The rounds don't leave tthe barrel -- they will go through a 2x2 of soft pine on a target stand. But the recoil is way way less and makes range practice a lot more fun.

    I load several different loadings as a reuslt, from mild to pretty stiff.
  6. docsleepy

    docsleepy Well-Known Member

    The 38 special case is SO long that it can be hard to see excactly what powder you have put in. I made some little tools out of paper clips that rest on the case mouth, then point down into the case and should just touch the top of the top of the powder, for various amounts of powder. That made it very easy to check a whole batch, when I was batch loading in a single stage press.

    Now I use the Lee turret with the automated powder dispense and it is pretty reliable, but I carefully watch the powder spill into the pathway to get a visual on how much is being added. Also, I use carbide dies and therefore no lube, which avoids the risk of powder getting hung up in the expander die.
  7. joneb

    joneb Well-Known Member

    I would use .357 mag cases for mid to upper end of 38spl data, I'm assuming your 340 is chambered for .357 mag ?
    I use mostly W231 for .38spl, I like 4.2gr with a 158gr LSWC this load will work in a .357 mag. case and a magnum primer is not needed.
    AA#5 also works well for down loading .357 mag. I had this powder for loading .45acp, #5 works for .38spl but it needs sufficient pressure to burn completely.
  8. Ghostrider_23

    Ghostrider_23 Well-Known Member

    Bullets & Primers

    Yes, my 340 is rated for 357 but I am looking for just practice 38 spl. rounds.

    What or who makes (non lead nose) a good practice bullet in 38 spl.?

    Which type of primer should I look at and what make?

    Thank you very much for your help so far, you all have some great powder charges that I have been making notes on. Too many times iI read threads where info is giving without the OP saying thanks.
  9. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Asking here for loads is one thing, but you really need to verify with published data from the powder makers or bullet makers.

    You need small pistol primers. Powders - a wide range available; I like Universal Clays or Unique as they are also usable in my 32, 9mm, 45, 20ga., and 28ga.

    Try your basic 158 grain lead SWC - most 38's shoot POA/POI with that weight bullet

    Using carbide dies will make case resizing easier
  10. pcwirepro

    pcwirepro Well-Known Member


    Do you have a favorite recipe using Unique with the 158 gr SWC? Including COL?
  11. joneb

    joneb Well-Known Member

    The reason I recommended this is to reduce chamber fowling and possible damage to the chamber walls, it should also improve accuracy.
  12. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Rather than use any of the data here, use reloading manuals like Lyman's, or Speer, or Lee's etc.

    Start on the low end & work your way up to find out what shoots best in YOUR guns.
    We may have the exact same model gun, but I'll bet what works best in mine may be different than what works best in yours.

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