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38spl and AA#5 help

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by b money, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. b money

    b money Well-Known Member

    I have been loading 38spl with 5.5grns of AA#5 and a magma 158 BB LSWC.
    This has been a VERY accurate load out of my S&W model 19, more than once I've been able to put all 6 shots with in roughly a silver dollar size area at 25yards. But the problem I'm having is there is so much soot and unburned powder. So much so I have to clean the gun after about 100rounds due to buildup in the cylinders. I re-checked all my manuals and they all say the load is safe but Lyman 49th says its near max, where as Speer 14th and Accurate's own 2nd manual say it's just above or at starting load. I put a medium crimp on most but I did experiment with heavier crimping somewhat but it was still a very dirty load. I don't know where to go because I am very happy with the accuracy of this load I just want it cleaner if possible.

    I am going to experiment with 148grn Wad cutters(because I have about 60LBS of them) using red-dot, unique, bullseye, clays, and HP38/W231 soon so input there would be welcome as well.

  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    IMO AA#5 is too slow a powder for target pressure .38 Special loads. It, like many other medium burn rate powders will clean up when you are pushing the upper pressure limits of the powder. Accurate lists a Max charge of 5.9gr under a 158gr SWC bullet and if you keep using AA#5 you should be close to that charge weight for a cleaner load. AA#5, Power Pistol, HS-6 Longshot and a few others all burn better at higher pressures and are more suitable for making .38 Special +P ammo than low pressure target .38 Specials.

    For target .38 Special ammo, from the powders you listed I highly recommend using W231/HP-38 instead. My 2 favorite .38 special loads are made with W231 using a 158gr LSWC and a 148gr DEWC. If you would rather stick with Accurate powders switch over to AA#2...
  3. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    I prefer AA#2 for 38 special loads anything under max effort. For those I like Power Pistol.
  4. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Agree with ArchAngelCD, AA#5 is too slow of a powder to be efficient in a .38 Special.

  5. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    I have to give a +1 for AA2 on 38's. If you want to stay with the AA5, maybe work back up with mag primers. I stopped using HS6 in my 38's for the same reason and switched to AA2. Very accurate and clean.
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    AA #2 is better for target velocity loads in .38 Spl. than AA # 5.

    AA # 5 is good for +P territory in .38 Spl.
  7. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    If you have ever used a kerosene lantern, you know to 'trim the wick' to raise the temperature and stop the sooty burn. Kerosene or smokeless powder, both are combustible energy sources. Like the lantern, your sooty gun is trying to tell you that your load needs 'trimming'.

    In order to burn efficiently, powders need to burn at higher pressures. I'm not talking "max load", but somewhere in the range of approx 90% to 95% of max. Your No5 in this application is probably in the 85% range. By the time you increased the No5 load to an efficient range, the bullet would be traveling too fast. So instead we speed-up the power, while keeping the bullet at the same (optimal) velocity.

    The "faster" No2 is going to be burning closer to the max chamber pressure, which will raise the efficiency of "the burn" much higher. The case color will reflect that in a much cleaner tan or gray color, such as seen below.


    Now the "other side of the coin" to this is that if you needed that same weight bullet to go (say for instance) 1000 fps for SD, that's not going to be possible. Since you are going to be using the No2 at about 93% of peak, the max load is going to result in a max bullet speed of ~830 fps. That's where you'd want to swap back to No5 or even No7.

    In this way we can tune the load for a given bullet speed by proper selection of the powder speed.

    Hope this helps. ;)
  8. b money

    b money Well-Known Member

    Thank You everyone, I will start experementing with the other powders, I have on hand then.
  9. J.R.W.

    J.R.W. Well-Known Member

    My go to 38 load is 5.7gr AA#5 under a Missouri 158gr LSWC. It shoots clean in the 3 guns I've tried it in.
  10. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    b money - I feel your pain.
    I love the accuracy I get in my 45 Colt using 11 gr of AA#5 with a 200 gr lead RNFP.
    But I too, get unburned powder & soot.
    I just live with it, cuz of the accuracy.

    I may have to try #2 to see if it clears up the issues, but still maintains the benefits.
  11. joneb

    joneb Well-Known Member

    I load 6.0-6.2 of #5 w/a 158gr cast bullet using F-100 primers. This load works very well in a S&W model 10-5 4" and 6" I use a heavy roll crimp, If you are using R-P brass I would switch to Win, Fed or something with a thicker case for more case neck tension.
  12. stompah

    stompah Well-Known Member

    I have had the same issues with AA #7 in my .357. Rather than push the bullet faster I switched to Trail Boss for plinking and H110 for real magnum loads. The Trail Boss is very accurate and I do not have to clean the cases after shooting them.
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Hondo, try using W231 and see how you like the results. I get clean accurate ammo from those numbers. I also like HS-6 in the .45 Colt but I have never tried it with lighter bullets than 250gr bullets.

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