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Two reloading questions (.38 Special)

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ZeSpectre, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    I've got my .38 Special "Cowboy Action" loads down pat and am pleased with them. Now I've started tinkering a bit.

    Someone sort of casually mentioned that if you go into +P territory on a .38 Special round you needed to get +P brass to handle it.

    Is that accurate information?

    Also, one of the old timer CAS guys says I really should use some sort of filler on my .38 "Cowboy" loads since there is so much empty case volume. He suggested corn meal or some cotton wadding.

    Is there any particular reason I should use filler?

  2. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Well-Known Member

    As far as the +P goes, any brass in good condition will work. The +P designation is stamped on factory brass just to let you know it is a slightly hotter load. It is the same brass as is used for every other brass cased load minus the +P designation. For the filler, it is used to ensure complete ignition of the slight powder charge, as the powder does not have a lot of bulk and will not come close to filling the case. The filler holds the powder nearer the primer and gives better ignition. Dacron is a good filler, there are concerns about cornmeal being abrasive(maybe?).
  3. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Bullseye308 is correct on the +P and standard cases. They are all the same cases whether brass or nickel plated. No matter what the head stamp is...As far as fillers I'll beg out due to having no clue...
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    SOME brands of +P brass are a little thicker than standard, some are just headstamped for identification. I make no difference when I load, it takes a +P load to make the required power factor for IDPA in some guns and I just feed mixed brass through the press.

    I have heard of CAS shooters using fillers, but I do not want any non-gunpowder crap in my ammunition. Do it right and it helps consistency and accuracy, do it wrong and you can ring-bulge the chamber. The accuracy requirements of CAS are not great, I'd vote for simplicity and safety.

    I have not loaded Bullseye powder in years and years, but I was looking at some old chronograph data recently. Bullseye gave the lowest standard deviation in velocity for below maximum loads of any powder I have ever tried, advertising and Internet Expertise notwithstanding. I may well go back to it when my supply of pistol powder needs replentishment.
  5. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    Dacron, like the stuff in pillows?
  6. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Well-Known Member

    Never have used filler for pistol rounds, but have with some cast bullet loads in large case capacity rifles. You might look at "Trail Boss", which was brought to market for the very reason of high bulk, very case filling cowboy action loads. Stuff reportedly meters pretty well, and has a bulk density of around packing peanuts.

    Believe it or not, but one of the criteria for Trail Boss was to have a propellant that even with a bullet seated on a FULL CASE, the load would not exceed proof pressures. Obviously not a loading recommendation, but nice to know.
  7. streakr

    streakr Well-Known Member

    As a Cowboy shooter with 10+ years of loading experience I emphatically urge you: DO NOT USE DACRON/Corn meal in 38s!!!

    The hotter smokeless powders melt dacron more quickly and could produce overpressure. Corn meal can be used with black powder rounds to reduce recoil or powder volume. DO NOT USE corn meal in smokeless 38 or any pistol round. The smokeless powders don't need the help!

    Dacron works better in slower burning smokeless loads for 45-70 and other large rifles. I use dacron wads in my 45-70s loaded with 5744 powder which fill the large case to less that 1/3 of capacity. The wad keeps the powder over the primer and improves ignition. With BP I just fill the entire case.

    The 38 +P cases are generally nickeled to more easily identify them at a glance. the nickel makes them more likely to split but if you use CAS loads and keep the case flare to a minimum they will last nearly forever.

  8. bluewater

    bluewater Active Member

    Doesn't CAS limit you to 1000 FPS in revolver loads?

  9. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    The two questions were unrelated except for being about .38 Special.

    I'm not loading +P for CAS, I just had a CAS question and an unrelated +P question.
  10. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Well-Known Member

    re: fillers

    it's an extra step with little gain at our shooting distances.

    If it ain't broke why mess with it?
  11. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The most accurate & consistant target load for the .38 Special has always been a 148 grain HBWC over 2.7 grains of Bullseye powder for about 750 FPS.

    That load has won more hardware in NRA center-fire Bullseye matchs through the years then you could haul off in a freight train.

    Guess what?
    No filler in reloads or factory loaded 148 WC Match loads has ever been used or needed, to my knowledge.

  12. sargenv

    sargenv Well-Known Member

    Of course you could just use Trail Boss powder and not worry about how much space is left since that stuff is so fluffy. I don't think you can fit more than about 3.5 gr in any 38 spl case with a lead round nose loaded into it.
  13. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    might try trail boss just for the fun of it. Of course if it's that fluffy is it cheaper per bottle, are the bottles larger, or am I just paying for air? <grin>.
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  15. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Well-Known Member

    +1 on Trail Boss.Doesn't lead up as much(lower velocity, burn temp?)As for wadding with Trail Boss, it's probably not needed. According to my 2006 IMR Smokeless Powder Reloader's guide (page 26) "A double charge of the maximum loads will either overflow the case or will not exceed SAMMI proof pressures depending upon the cartridge case being loaded." Max load listed for 125 gr LRNFP bullet is 5.3 grains of Trail Boss so there isn't a lot of room left for wadding.
  16. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    One word: "Red Dot" ;)
  17. nitesite

    nitesite Well-Known Member

    Well, the nine-oz bottles I bought were only around $10 locally.

    For anyone who hasn't seen Trailboss, here is what it looks like:


    Amazingly, it drops exactly on the nuts on every throw from my Lyman #55. I mean, to the tenth about 95% of the time.
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nope, but I like to use +P brass to help keep it segregated. I only load +P loads in +P brass, so I know if I have +P brass, it is a +P load. I also put a label in with the rounds, but it could get lost.

    I have tried several fillers lately, with so so results. Nothing beats the old Super Grex. The only powders that seem to benefit from fillers are the ones that are very position sensitive, but we don't need them to load .38 Spl, so we don't need fillers for that.

    No one has mentioned 700X for .38 Spl. I really like it for loading .38 Spl & downloading .357. Bulky, clean, accurate. It does not meter as well as some, but still gives pretty good numbers, and who cares as long as it is accurate, which it is.

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