38 special LSWCHP & HP38 - good +P loads?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by NoirFan, May 10, 2017.

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  1. NoirFan

    NoirFan Member

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    Hi all, I have a box of Speer 158gr LSWCHP (https://www.midwayusa.com/product/258551/speer-bullets-38-caliber-358-diameter-158-grain-lead-semi-wadcutter-hollow-point-box-of-500) and a bottle of HP38/W231 . I'm looking for accurate loads that are on the warmer side of the spectrum, trying to safely hit 850+ FPS from a 2" snub with decent accuracy. Basically looking for old-school FBI load performance, not the reduced factory charges of today.

    I do have the Lyman #50 and the Latest Hodgdon paperback manual so of course I'll start with the low-end published data and work up. Just curious what others have found to perform well with this combo.
     
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  2. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    My newest Speer manual (#14) lists 4.1 to 4.5 grains of HP-38, standard primer, behind that bullet for +P .38 Special loads. But the velocities Speer is listing (855 - 918 fps) are from a 6" barrel.
    I've tried myself to develop some good +P .38 Special loads for my snubby using those Speer swaged LSWC-HPs. I couldn't get much better than around 700fps even though I'd worked up to the maximum listed charge. However, I was using Unique. I'd be happy to find out if HP-38 will yield higher velocities from a 38 snubby. It seems to me that a 158 grain LSWC-HP at 850fps might be a pretty good choice for SD.
    I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I'm going to try some Power Pistol behind those same bullets in my snubby. Speer shows higher +P .38 Special velocities using Power Pistol than they show with either Unique or HP-38. Again though, they're listing velocities from a 6" barrel.:)
     
  3. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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  4. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Is your pistol rated for +P? Lyman 48th is showing +P, WW231 data that pushes a 160 grain cast bullet to 956 fps from a 4" universal receiver (did not see it mention being vented). I think this should get you close. I love those bullets you bought, and did my own "FBI load" driving them with Power Pistol, to +P. Using the max charge listed by Alliant, my 3" M60 got a 927 fps avg, very accurate, and absolutely perfect expansion.
     
  5. Haxby

    Haxby Member

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    2" j frame got to about 825 fps with the Speer 158 gr swchp and Unique or HS-6. 231 didn't get close to that speed with Speer's max +P load.
     
  6. USSR

    USSR Member

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    NoirFan,

    You are going to have a tough time reaching 850fps out of a 2 inch barrel with a 158gr SWC and W231. The powder is simply too fast for that application, and you will reach high pressure before you reach high velocity. This load, commonly called the "FBI Load", is better served with slower burn rate powders such as AA#5 and HS-6.

    Don
     
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  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    This is true. I also suggest a slower powder. I'm partial to HS-6/W540 but the other powders in its burn rate range will also work well.

    As soon as I get some time I'm going to break out my old notes and compare them to what I get loading W572. It will be interesting I think.
     
  8. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

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    Winchester used to publish a yearly reloading manual and recommended as maximum loads for 231 and 158 grain lead bullets: 4.5 grains for standard pressure loads and 4.7 grains for +P loads.
     
  9. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I don't think anyone here said there isn't .38 Special +P load data available for W231/HP-38. The question is, can you replicate the FBI Load safely with W231?
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I have seen 900 fps in a 4" with a Lyman +P load of W231. Not all guns and bullets will do it, though. I don't expect 850 fps in a 2".
     
  11. NoirFan

    NoirFan Member

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    I saw that one too, sadly there is no HP38 data in that thread.

    Interesting, so I thought that faster powders get better results out of shorter barrels, since slow powders tend to burn outside the barrel. Not true?
     
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Nope, not true. The slow powders will still give the highest velocities. They all burn much faster than you give them credit for. Even the "slow" powders are extremely fast.
     
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  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Exactly, slow is a relative term when to comes to handgun powders.

    The mid-range powders will allow you to increase velocities without pushing through the pressure limits. The powder isn't still burning when the bullet leaves the barrel, the hot gasses are re-igniting when a new sources of oxygen is available when they hit the air outside the barrel.

    As a general rule, the powder that generates the highest velocity from a 6" barrel will also generate the highest velocity from a 2" barrel too.
     
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  14. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    That's because HP38/Win231 is not the "best" for max FPS, but to me at a SD distance of 10 ft or less does it real matter??


    As in the linked thread and what others have posted, HP 38 can make a good load but not as good as the other slower powders

    About the only powder that does not fit that "niche" is Unique used in short barrels. I did some tests with it VS 2400 and H110 in 357 mag and max loads come out almost the same in a 2" barrel with a 125 gr jacket bullet. Now this holds only for the 2" barrel, longer barrels are a tad different.

    Either way there is so much blast and flash, to me it's not worth it. I still do not understand (no offense to anyone) why folks keep trying the "FBI" load.
    JMHO but with the lighter JHP of today like a 110 or 125 gr short barrel bullet why mess with the old lead bullets.? Plus the FBI don't use revolvers or lead bullets anyway:) (yes, before the naysayers chime it, bullet weight. penetration, FPS and all that. Plug it in a calculator)

    Try some BE 86 or something
     
  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed.
     
  16. USSR

    USSR Member

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    First, the reason the "FBI Load" with it's "old lead bullets" is so popular with those in the know who reload is, it just plain works. The conundrum you posed above is the classic Jack O'Connor .vs Elmer Keith debate. Whether it is better to have a light bullet at slightly higher velocity, or a heavy bullet at slightly slower velocity. Having used both on live game, I am firmly in the heavy bullet camp. SD matters. But, aside from weight alone, you are also dealing with a bi-metallic constructed bullet (copper outside, lead inside) .vs a mono-metallic constructed bullet (all lead alloy). I have personally seen a 145gr Silver Tip bullet fired from a .357 Magnum fail to penetrate. I can't say the same for any of my cast bullets.

    Don
     
  17. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Well there you have it. Proof positive. A 147 gr ST did not work for you:uhoh:

    The debate will never end. Guess we should shoot lead bullets in 380, 9mm, 40 SW and 45 acp.

    Yes, the "FBI" load works but so do others.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The 158 has the added advantage of being what the sights of most .38 Specials are regulated for.
    (I have read of Light Bullet .38 Snubbys, a case of the gun following the ammo."
     
  19. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Sure. I shoot lead exclusively in all my handguns. Do you think this "old lead bullet" in .38 Special would be up to the task?

    Mihec 359640.jpeg

    How about this one in .45 ACP?

    [​IMG]

    Don
     
  20. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  21. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    As others have noted, it is difficult to reach over 800 fps using HP38/w231 with published data. I load the 158gr LSWCHP with 4.5gr up to 4.7gr of W231 using Winchester 2002 on line data.k Data below is as indicated with both w231 and Tightgroup both are relatively fast powders.

    I had a partial box of Speer LSWC bullets I'd loaded in the 70's using 5.5gr of Unique which was still below max data from Hornady of that time. Shot over the chrono it averaged 878 fps from the same Colt DS 2" but note 5.5gr of Unique is higher than current published data by 0.3 gr.

    Chrono38splLSWCdata.jpg
     
  22. Haxby

    Haxby Member

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    Look at the Lucky Gunners tests. Look at the highest-energy load that delivered 12" - 18" penetration.
     
  23. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I'm still loading replica FBI loads because the originals are too expensive for use in practicing. I have two revolvers that are scary accurate with that load including a 2" Chief's Special.

    My M442 is more accurate with the short barrel 135gr Speer GDHP .38 Special+P load so that's what I carry in that gun.
     
  24. NoirFan

    NoirFan Member

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    Thanks everyone, I'll stick with 4.7 grains HP38 for now. I'll check out HS6 or BE86 when I run out of my HP38 bottle.

    Thanks
     
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