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Need a little help with .38 special/357mag loads(Not your usual questions..)

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by fistybum, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    Hello every one, I've been lurking for some time. I'm usually a AR/AK guy, but I have a project I'm working on and I'm not getting much useful info on the Black rifle boards I usually haunt. I was hoping some of you fellas could throw in some of your hard earned experience.
    I recently got back from my local smith a Rossi 92 in .357 mag/.38 special. I had him drill and tap the receiver for a Lyman 69a peep, mount the tallest gold bead marbles front sight Brownell's sells. He also cut down the mag tube 1/2 inch and threaded it for my YHM 9mm suppressor.(This is the only 9mm suppressor on the market right now that disassembles for cleaning, so I'm not afraid of cast bullets.

    (sorry about the crappy picts, I'm working on getting some better ones...)

    Let me tell you this thing is a kick in the butt! The giggle factor is way up there.

    I've bought a rockchucker and all the gear to reload.
    So far I've loaded 158gr lswc trailboss loads. I started at 3gr went to 3.5 and then 4gr. Cant really tell the difference in sound between the loads. So the 4gr has been the go to load.

    I just loaded some 158gr jacketed soft point with 4.5 gr of hp38, but haven't shot them yet.

    I would like to find a load that puts the heaviest round out at around 1,000 fps in the 16in barrel. I would also like to use .38 special brass,but could use .357mag.

    My questions for you guys is how would you go about it??? What bullet would you recommend? What powder would you use? Any pet loads that might fit the bill??? Are there any heavy cast bullets with a crimp groove That puts them closer to .357 length that allows more room for powder? How heavy of a bullet will the puma Rossi stabilize at 1,000 fps???

    Any help or advice would be really appreciated... Kinda flying by the seat of my pants on this one!!

    Thanks, Fisty
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    First, I would suggest you get a loading manual or two.
    Lyman #49 is the best there is for a wide selection of jacketed & lead bullet loads.

    Second, I would discourage you from shooting the 158 jacketed load with 4.5 grains HP-38 in a carbine.

    The lightest starting load for a .357 158 jacketed bullet is 6.2 grains HP-38 giving 1,095 FPS in an 18.5" carbine.

    Your 4.5 grain load is liable to result in stuck bullets in a carbine length barrel because it will be all burnt up and stop pushing before the bullet is out of the barrel.
    It's jacketed bullet bore friction from that point on.

    I believe you would be much better served, and safer, if you used cast lead bullets for sub-sonic carbine loads.

    Hodgdon lists 3.5 grains HP-38 and a 158 Lead SWC as giving 901 FPS - 4.5 grains gives 1,059 in a carbine.

    I can't tell you how heavy a bullet you might use, as I haven't a clue what rifling twist you Rossi Puma has.

  3. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    I would use cast bullets and probably Herco, Unique, American Select, or Bullseye powder. American Select is so clean burning, it's scary. If the cast bullets make just too much mess in the the suppressor, try Berry's copper plated bullets -- probably the HP's or flat-points.

    Try about 3.5 to 4.0 grains of Bullseye with a 158 grain RNFP bullet.

    4.5 grains of Unique with a 158 grain bullet is a good load, but I think it'd be supersonic from a carbine.
  4. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    Second, I would discourage you from shooting the 158 jacketed load with 4.5 grains HP-38 in a carbine.

    I have a one caliber load book that lists 4.1gr 800fps 6 in barrel as starting load, and a speer reloading manual #11 that lists 4.5 850fps out of a 6" as a starting load. .38 special. I thought that 4.5 would be a good start. Do you think this will not be safe?? Will I gain or lose velocity with the 16" barrel??
    Thanks, I really am a reloading newb....
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Well again, you are looking at handgun starting load data and shooting them in a rifle.

    I do not know if it will work or not.

    I just said the likelyhood of sticking a jacketed bullet in a longer carbine barrel is much greater then sticking it in a handgun when using a light charge of fast burning powder.

    We have seen tests on pistol caliber carbines where certain loads lose velocity in a longer barrel due to bore friction with jacketed bullets.

    Some manuals list the .357 in two chapters, one for handgun, and one for rifles.

    The starting load data is often not the same with the faster burning powders.

  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    If you're looking for the heaviest around, forget the 158's and pick up some of the Cast Performance 200 grain hardcasts. I've been having a lot of fun with them. The extra weight will help keep them subsonic. Try with some trailboss or a light load of 2400.

    I'm not sure about the twist rate out of your carbine, but the only way to know for sure how the bullets will perform is to try them with various powders and charges. Get the .357 loadbook, the little one that has photocopied bits from other manuals in it.
  7. MichaelK

    MichaelK Well-Known Member

    The Speer #10 manual (same loads in #11 too) has cast bullet loads that fit your criteria. Loaded in 357 cases, they give Bullseye charges from 2.8 to 4.8 grains with their 158 grain lead bullet. Their top load, 4.8 grains is going 1173 fps out of an 18" Marlin. That's just over supersonic.

    I myself have shot Lyman's 358985 full wadcutter in my Marlin with only 3.0 grains of 700X. That is fast enough to clear the barrel each and every time, though I won't shoot it in my rifle because of feeding problems. It does feed other .38 specials with an OAL of 1.400" just fine.

    I have to agree with everyone else about not shooting jacketed loads that slow. A stuck bullet can REALLY ruin your day!
  8. Ed Harris

    Ed Harris Well-Known Member

    Cast your own. Seat the 190-gr. NEI #161A in its normal crimp groove using .357 brass so the cartridge OAL is 1.58”. A charge of 4 to 4.3 grains of Bullseye gives about 1000 f.p.s. from 24” rifle and in mine averages an inch and a half at 50 yards. You can buy 190gr. LFN bullets from Hunter’s Supply which are machine cast on a Magma Engineering machine from moulds cut with the same cheery #161A, but cast from a harder 92Pb-6Sb-2Sn alloy.


    The Hunter’s Supply hard cast .358” diameter 190 LFNs with 4.3 grains of Bullseye averaged under an inch for a series of ten 5-shot groups from my Green Mountain barreled BSA-Martini with 6X Unertl small game scope at 50 yards. Increasing the charge to 4.5 grains the harder alloy averaged 1.26”, almost exactly half what my cast wheel weight metal bullets did when slightly overdriven.

    I took my best loads and tested them at 100 yards from my Marlin 1894 Cowboy Limited with 2.5X Weaver scope. Norma .38 Special 158-gr. LRN factory loads averaged 3,” Hand loads with Speer 158-gr. swaged lead round nose and Remington 158-grain semi-wad cutters with 3.5 grains of Bulseye in .38 Special cases didn’t shoot as well, but did stay under 4 inches, which is good for ordinary revolver ammo in the rifle.

    The Hunter’s Supply cast 190 LFN of 92-6-2 alloy and sized .358 from Midway, with 4.3 grains of Bullseye in .357 cases averaged 2.18” for five consecutive 5-shot groups at 100 yards in the BSA and 2.36” in the Marlin. When casting the NEI #191A from wheel weights I got comparable results as long as I kept velocities with the softer wheel weight alloy subsonic. Supersonic loads above about 1080 f.p.s. do not group as well at 100 yards as slower loads because the projectile is subjected to transonic buffeting as velocity decays below the speed of sound.

    My advice is not to try to make it a magnum, but use the heaviest bullet of the most blunt profile having the shortest ratio of length to diameter. Keep it slow, accurate and quiet. A good working velocity range is from 950 to 1050 f.p.s. so there is no “crack” to disturb the neighbors. A big flat-nosed bullet is effective on groundhogs, wild turkey and larger edible hooved critters raiding your garden. Bon appettit!
  9. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Well-Known Member

    I posted this on another forum a while back:

    One of my good friends lives in NH and has a coyote problem. He lives in a sparsely populated, but still residential neighborhood (3+ acre lots). He wants to be able to take out the coyotes without disturbing his neighbors, and has no interest at all in bowhunting.

    Living in a free state, he was able to buy a suppressor. He also bought a H&R HandiRifle in .357 Magnum. He added a mount, 2-6X shotgun scope, a tactical stock, shortened and threaded the barrel, and installed the can.

    Here it is:


    Is that cool, or what?

    He tried a variety of .38 and .357 ammo and it all proved too noisy, so he asked me to load something for him that would be quiet and accurate, yet still pack enough punch to take out a big coyote with one shot.

    Slow speed + lots of punch = heavy bullets, so I found some 200gr LSWC bullets with gas checks. The trick was making an accurate subsonic load that wouldn't stick a bullet in the barrel.

    I tried using small charges of Red Dot, Bullseye, and W231 but when he tested them, they all proved either too noisy or too inaccurate. I ended up going to my standby powder for light loads in big cases: Trailboss.

    I took a .357 case, marked where the bottom of the seated bullet would end up, and cut the case to that length. I then used the cut down case as a dipper, filled it to the top with Trailboss, and measured the charge weight at 4 grains (Trailboss is fluffy stuff).

    I loaded a bunch of test rounds with 4 grains of Trailboss and shot them out of a S&W Model 28. They chrono'ed out at 800fps. I figured that the longer sealed barrel of the rifle would add about 150-200fps to the velocity, so the rounds would still be subsonic.

    My friend tried them out in his rifle. They were quiet as a mouse, and produced groups smaller than 2" at 50 yards. Bingo.

    I'm going to make about 200 more for him tonight.
  10. Bruce H.

    Bruce H. Well-Known Member

    post deleted by author.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  11. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    Trailboss has been great for the lswc ,but I don't understand why max load is the same for 38 special and 357 mag...4.2 gr...

    I guess I'll save those 4.5gr jsp loads for my 638. I was worried about being to hot....breaking the sound barrier.The things you learn... I have a couple hundred more 158gr jsp. For powder on hand I have HP38, and clays. I'd like to load these as hot and as close to 1,000 fps as I can get with 38 special brass. Where can I look on line for good load data to achieve this?

    I'm thinking of ordering some 158gr rnfp from Missouri bullets , unless someone can help me find some thing heavier in the price range.

    Thanks Fisty
  12. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    If you want heavier you'll need to cast them yourself or be prepared to spend a little more for the CP's.
  13. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Mastercast (there's two of 'em; I'm talking about the one in Illinois) has 180 grain truncated cones listed for $62/1000. I don't know if that price is current or stale. It's on the limited availability page so you might have to wait for him to run a batch:
  14. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  15. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    It is my understanding that hp38 and w231 are interchangeable, but sometimes I find data for 231 is that different than w231?
  16. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Been reloading .38 specials myself & have used the data posted at reloadammo.com with good results
  17. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    Since Hornady started producing W231 Hornady has said the powder are interchangeable. I am assuming the difference came before Hornady started making W231. As always, be on the safe side and work your way up to the listed maximum.
  18. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    I'm having a real hard time finding any .38 special rifle data.......Any one know of any cowboy action reloading forums I can dig around in???
  19. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Here's a whole bunch of .38 Special rifle data I just generated. 1000 fps from a rifle-length barrel:
    Cartridge          : .38 Special +P (SAAMI)
    Bullet             : .358, 158, LEE 358-158-RF
    Cartridge O.A.L. L6: 1.400 inch or 35.56 mm
    Barrel Length      : 16.5 inch or 419.1 mm
    Predicted Data for Indicated Charges of the Following Powders.
    Matching Muzzle Velocity: 1000 fps or 304 m/s
    These calculations refer to your specified settings in QuickLOAD 'Cartridge Dimensions' window.
    C A U T I O N : any load listed can result in a powder charge that falls below minimum suggested
    loads or exceeds maximum suggested loads as presented in current handloading manuals. Understand
    that all of the listed powders can be unsuitable for the given combination of cartridge, bullet
    and gun. Actual load order can vary, depending upon lot-to-lot powder and component variations.
    Powder type          Filling/Loading Ratio  Charge    Charge   Vel. Prop.Burnt P max  P muzz  B_Time
                                          %     Grains    Gramm   fps     %       psi     psi    ms
    ---------------------------------  -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hodgdon Clays                       65.7      4.1     0.26    1000   100.0    29149     652   1.555  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Vihtavuori N310                     53.7      4.0     0.26    1000   100.0    26845     652   1.583  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Hodgdon TiteGroup                   41.5      4.4     0.28    1000   100.0    21872     696   1.628  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Alliant RED DOT                     61.7      4.0     0.26    1000   100.0    21781     707   1.637  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Accurate Solo 1000                  58.8      4.2     0.27    1000   100.0    21404     703   1.632  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Accurate Nitro 100                  57.1      3.9     0.25    1000   100.0    20142     732   1.651  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Vihtavuori N320                     56.1      4.3     0.28    1000   100.0    19793     708   1.661  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Alliant GREEN DOT                   58.0      4.2     0.27    1000   100.0    19723     725   1.668  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Hodgdon HP38                        45.7      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    18509     737   1.677  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Ramshot Zip                         40.5      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    18028     747   1.686  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Winchester 231                      46.3      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    18028     747   1.686  !DANGEROUS LOAD-DO NOT USE!
    Accurate Solo 1250                  57.9      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    17372     751   1.696  ! Near Maximum !
    Hodgdon Universal                   52.0      4.3     0.28    1000   100.0    16372     783   1.739  ! Near Maximum !
    Vihtavuori N330                     53.0      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    16065     770   1.728  ! Near Maximum !
    Accurate No.2                       41.2      4.5     0.29    1000   100.0    15399     853   1.745
    Vihtavuori N340                     54.0      4.6     0.30    1000   100.0    14969     829   1.759
    Alliant BULLSEYE                    45.9      3.9     0.26    1000   100.0    14729     854   1.759
    Ramshot Silhouette                  43.0      4.9     0.32    1000   100.0    14006     890   1.787
    Winchester WAP                      43.7      4.9     0.32    1000   100.0    13971     895   1.787
    Alliant UNIQUE                      52.5      4.4     0.28    1000   100.0    13859     876   1.807
    Winchester 540                      39.6      5.3     0.34    1000    98.6    13254     952   1.816
    Ramshot True Blue                   39.7      5.3     0.34    1000    98.6    13240     953   1.817
    Alliant HERCO                       58.1      4.7     0.31    1000    99.9    13003     944   1.843
    Hodgdon HS-6                        42.6      5.5     0.35    1000    97.1    12867     980   1.832
    Vihtavuori N350                     54.7      5.2     0.33    1000    98.8    12660     967   1.830
    Vihtavuori 3N37                     52.2      5.2     0.34    1000    98.5    12480     982   1.844
    Accurate No.5                       37.8      5.5     0.36    1000    89.6    11884    1052   1.873
    Alliant POWER PISTOL                48.3      5.0     0.32    1000    90.9    11332    1080   1.892
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  20. fistybum

    fistybum Member

    Damm zxcvBob that is cool, Thank you. Interesting that the hp38 is 3.8 gr. less than the 4.5 Load I loaded up yesterday...I'm loading some 158gr rdfp with 4.2gr trail boss tonight. Trying to get access of a Chrony in the local boards. It would be really cool If I could get close to the goal with trailboss. I really like loading with this powder...
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010

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