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can 38spl be loaded with BP?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ChasMack, Aug 23, 2011.

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  1. ChasMack

    ChasMack Member

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    I was wondering if one could load 38spl with black powder and if you can are there any kind of charts as far as how much powder, etc?
     
  2. zimmerstutzen

    zimmerstutzen Member

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    My daughter loads 38 Spl with black powder. She uses a 38 S&W Ideal nut cracker tool and the dipper measure that came with the tool. I am not sure how much black it is, but it is enough that the powder crunches slightly when the bullet is seated. She shoots these loads in a small Martini that was re bored to 357 Mag and shoots 6 to 8 inch groups at 100 yds offhand. Not bad for a teenage girl!

    You don't want to have any voids in the case when loading black powder. ie, when loaded, you shouldn't be able to hear powder shaking back and forth. Some guys use a grease wad, grease cookie, over powder card etc. between the powder and the bullet. We didn't. I would measure the length that the bullet seats into the case and then put powder in the case to just over the line and see how much that it. It should be about right. I don't think it is possible to overload a 38 Spl with black powder. It is possible to underload it.
     
  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    .38SP was originally a BP cartridge. It was loaded with 22.5 grains of BP.
    You sure can load it with BP today. It will make cleaning more interesting.
     
  4. ChasMack

    ChasMack Member

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    38spl

    Now I'm new to BP and actually have yet to shoot my new Remington and 1851 Navy. I reload and got to thinking about the 38spl. Again, I don't know a lot about BP, but I remember reading where loading a Remington 1858 .44 with 20 some grains of BP...so would that not be too much for a 38spl?
     
  5. Montenegrin

    Montenegrin Member

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    You actually need to load your Colt Navy and Remington 1858 with loose powder.And for 20 grains .38spl , well,it depends on quality of firearm,but I think an average gun could stand that pressure (I load my Colt factory conversion .38 with 18 grains) .
     
  6. makos_goods

    makos_goods Member

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    ChasMack,
    A case full of 3Fg in a .38 special is a sweet and easy shooting load. Be more concerned about volume that anything else. Any pistol cartridge can be safely loaded with 3Fg or 2Fg powder by merely filling it until it is short of the case mouth. Here is a link to a very nice picture rich way of determining how much compression you will get with a case full of BP.

    http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,18257.0.html

    I load a black powder lubricated bullet called a Snakebite Grease Wagon which is a 158gr Big Lube(TM) design meant for BP and to give a long ogive helping it in the Henry pattern rifles like the 1866 and 1873 reproductions.

    I buy them from Mark Whyte (aka Springfield Slim) already lubed and very nicely packaged. A great guy to do business with.

    http://www.whyteleatherworks.com/BigLube.html

    I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what the grain volume is of the load and definitely not the weight. I load all of my pistol and cowboy lever rifle cartridges by volume and I want 1/16" to 1/8" compression to get a good compressed load. I am trying to get a nice pressure curve to help obturate that straight walled case and seal it from blowback (it's not dangerous, just some powder fouling in the chamber) in my rifles.

    You mentioned that .44s often have a target loading of 20 grains. If you consider the .44 cap and ball revolvers then you will note they are ballistically very similar to the .38 special. The shoot about a 148 grain ball at about 750 - 900 fps with commons loads. Some people try to hot rod them, but the old Martial loading with a ball was about 1 dram to 30 grains (1 dram is 27 grains). That produces about 850 fps with a ball and is very much like a common lead .38 spl load in the 140 to 158 grain range.

    I exclusively shoot BP for Cowboy Action Shooting and I normally shoot .44 Spl., .44 Russian or .44-40 in my rifles but there are times I shoot a .38 spl Uberti 1866 Short Rifle and I had a pair of Uberti Colt's pattern 71/72 Opentop revolvers in .38 spl and I shot the same ammo through them. I Set up my Dillon XL-650 and load in quantity, I use a Hornady Black Powder Auto measure on the press because I like it and it works well with coarse BP. I keep a powder volume standard with the tool head made from a cut off .308 case. It is cut to the length that gives me 1/8" compression of the powder in the .38 spl case with a SnakeBite bullet. I throw a few charges and pour it into the cut off case. Then I pour it into a .38 special case just as a double check, it is below the case mouth in the .38 spl case.

    BP is easy to load, it's easy to check for the correct powder charge on a progressive press too. At the height my press sits I can see the powder in the case at the third station before I place the bullet. I don't even have to use the powder checker I have at that station.

    The beauty of BP is that I load that way for .38 Long Colt, .38 Spl, .44 Russian, .44 Spl, .44-40, .45 ACP, .45 Colt and even .38-55 and .45-70 for the Marlins I use for the Cody Dixon " matches. I carefully measure long range precision .45-70 loads (though I probably don't need to). All of these except for the two rifle cartridges can be easily eyeball verified for correct load. Too much is not a problem, it would be underloading and leaving airspace that would be the issue.

    The case full of 3Fg is a relatively mild and easy to shoot load in a .38 spl. The interesting thing is that it sounds a lot more powerful than it actually is. BP booms instead of that crack you get with smokeless powder. It sounds impressive and with all of the smoke people don't even realize you are shooting .38 spl at a match until they pick up your brass.

    It is also actually very easy to clean. You just need this very special solvent called "water." Seriously, and I follow it with an emuslified oil mixture we call "Moose Milk." It is the old gun oil called Ballistol and you mix it from 1:7 to 1:12 part oil wit water. I put it in a spray bottle and spray the gun down after cleaning the barrel and cylinder with water, sometimes I use soap to help break up the oily residue left by the BP lube on the bullets. As you can tell it is not an exact science, it's the water that does the work. After I spay the gun down I wipe it off and follow with a rag greased with undiluted Balistol and I am finished.

    You don't get carbon fouling, you don't get leading in the bore. It's amazingly easy. If I can't clean that day I spray the weapon down with the Moose Milk and can let it sit a day or two. I've been doing that on a very regular basis for about 10 years.

    You can even try your hard lubed smokeless bullets, but it will foul more quickly and be a bit harder to clean. It is a way to just try it out. Some people melt the smokeless lube off and then pan lube the bullets with a good BP lube. There are formulations that have been listed here if you can't find them ask. But if you want to do it on a regular basis contact Mark at his site above.

    It's fun...
    Mako
     
  7. 45-70 Ranger

    45-70 Ranger Member

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    Don't forget to get it proofed first!

    Mako, you forgot to mention the "French POOF-house"! Gotta get those holes drilled and all:evil:
     
  8. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    What Mako said. He saved me a TON of typing.
     
  9. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    20 grains in a .44 is actually a very light load. I suspect it was someone playing with light loads for some reason.

    It would be so light, in fact, that with my Uberti Remington clones I would not be able to fully seat the balls against the powder unless I use a filler of some form. And that's not good if you leave an air gap as already mentioned. I shoot my Uberti '58's with 30 to 32 grains. And even with that much the balls sit low in the chambers and the ram is just barely long enough to get a slight compression of the powder. This gives them a nice satisfying report, recoil and smoke without being too much kick for just about anyone. Pretty close to a mid power .38Spl modern cartridge shot from a K frame S&W.

    Folks in this forum report loading up their 58's with up to 40 grains of 3f. That would result in a .38Spl +P like recoil. In other words getting close to being in the lower end of .357Mag territory.

    And to ease your mind consider this. The .44-40 indicates that they are a .44cal bullet that is generally heavier than a .44 ball. And it's sitting behind 40 grains of black powder in a classically correct loading. So you don't need to worry about your '58 clone shooting with around 30 grains.
     
  10. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Member

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    What Makos said +2. Saved me a bunch of typing as well.

    While my normal cartridge load is 44-40 with BP; I've taken to shooting a pair of MWNN conversions in 38 special. Very pleasant round out of a Navy frame.
     
  11. Jaymo

    Jaymo Member

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    OK, now I'm going to have to try .38 special BP loads out of my Taurus .38 snub. It's stainless, so cleanup isn't a problem. OR my stainless GP100.
     
  12. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    Jaymo et al,
    The pistols don't foul the barrel up as fast as in a rifle. I found there was not enough lube to keep the fouling soft for the last 4-6 inches of the rifle barrel so I added a couple of beeswax (sheet) discs over the powder and that did the trick but affected accuracy 5-6" groups @ 50 yds. The first 15" of barrel were OK. In a revolver you are likely to get fouling on thecylinder face that could cause binding of the cylinder. The "greasewagon" should do the trick. It would be best to use a black powder lube on the bullet.
     
  13. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    LOL going back to the Ole School ! BP in the Classic 38.
     
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