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can you make your 38 load powerful as 357 ?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by dekibg, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. dekibg

    dekibg Member

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    I know NOTHING about reloading - just wandering if by simply adding more powder you can make it comparable to 357 ?
    of course, using the same bullet.
    Is there enough empty space in 38 case for that much extra powder?
     
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  2. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    Basically, yes. But - the brass isn't designed for it, and the guns most certainly are not. There is no advantage. Want more power? Load to +P loads in a gun designed for it, or just get a .357 and fire away. (But a steady diet of full house Mags isn't really all that good for the life of your .357 either).
     
  3. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Nope. Not without risking blowing up the gun and yourself. But a 357 case is basically a lengthened, strengthened 38 case. So just get a 357.
     
  4. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    Well, kinda.

    The danger here, is that any hot .38 Spl loads may make their way into a gun that cannot handle the excess pressure. Also, it's not always easy to find out what pressures a given .38 Spl revolver can handle, and also not easy to figure out what pressure any load you cook up is actually running at.

    So it's really not a good idea and I want you to know that up front.

    From a practical perspective, a .38 Spl case loaded to .357 Mag pressures is not going to get velocities quite as high, due to slightly less internal space for powder. But it could be close.
     
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  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Like said it is possible but not a good idea. Inevitably over pressure loads like that find their way into a weaker .38 Special revolver which cm be very dangerous.

    Why do you ask? Maybe we have another way of helping you.

    Edit: you don't just add more powder, you would normally need to use a slower powder too.
     
  6. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    Isn't 38 special brass weaker as well?? More chance of case rupture, even if the revolver could handle it
     
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  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I have not found that the brass is any weaker but the possibility of making and using what would be considered a dangerous overload in a 38 SPL revolver keeps me from making them. I keep my 38 SPL ammo to 38 +P at a max for safety. Do not want anyone else, or if I forget what it is to gernade a handgun and hurt someone because I was too cheap to buy correct brass for a 357. On a side note I once had a friend that had a cheaply built 38 SPL that would chamber a 357 round in the cylinder. Until he trird to close the cylinder that is. The ammo was too long and it prevented him from hurting himself. I swapped him a box of 38's for those 357 and explained things to him. We all want every shooter to be safe.;)
     
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  8. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    The short of it is if they could have gotten ,357 power from a 38 Special, they never would have
    created the .357, in the first place. Even if you were willing to risk damage to your shell casings,
    the 38 Special chamber isn't designed to withstand .357 pressures. Usually the only safe way to have
    the benefits of a larger caliber is to transition to a larger caliber. .357 is considered "larger" because of the higher SAAMI specifications for it's chambers, over 38 Special.
    Granted, they are very close, in size.
     
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  9. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I would have to see where 38s are made differently than 357 cases. I believe in most cases they come off the same forming machine and are just trimmed shorter. I asked this question before because I have a ton of 38spl cases I dont use. The liability reason is the reason I refrain because stupid is everywhere and natural selection will still get you sued by the family.
     
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  10. dekibg

    dekibg Member

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    Good Morning Everyone,
    thank you for all these answers posted overnight !
    :)
    So I have to clear that I am not planning to start reloading anytime soon, nor do I have any equipment for it.
    But it definitely seems like interesting idea down the road one day - some people say they even find it relaxing ( I find my gun cleaning and polishing relaxing too, if I am not in the time crunch).
    I am asking this just out of curiosity and learning new interesting facts.
    For example, all these years I assumed that 38 SPL is more powerful than 9mm, just by visually looking at the case ( "longer shell- more gun powder inside")
    Then someone here told me few weeks ago that 38 SPL started off with different powders long time ago, hence the longer case , AND that cases are NOT packed up with gun powder to the max of the case volume.
    *silly me* :notworthy:
    Back to my original question: I was thinking that since there is still empty space left in 38 SPL case, just by adding more gun powder inside, you can reach more bullet velocity and get same ballistic results as with 357.
    Then, I just learned here that with 357 you should really use slower-burning powder - it is a whole little science, I guess ;)
    I totally get safety issue, too - 357 does not fit 38 SPL revolver so it prevents it from being blown up with higher pressures that it was not designed to withstand.
    (I do have a 357 revolver and none in 38 SPL only)
    Another question for you guys - save me internet search:
    let's say you are using same type of 115 grain bullet, how much grains of powder you will use to load standard 9MM, standard 38 SPL and standard 357 ?
    what muzzle velocities will each one of those loads typically create with 115 grain bullets?
     
  11. 748

    748 Member

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    Almost all of my 38 reloads are real hot, definitely +P and then some. But I don't own a 38 and would never buy one.
    Also marked all my 38spl reloads as "us in 357mag only".
     
  12. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Assuming we are loading both cartridges to the same pressure you can get closer but the extra case volume of 357 Mag is going to allow slightly more propellant for the same pressure and thus slightly more velocity. The differences this larger case volume makes become greater as bullet weights go up requiring the use of slower burning bulkier powders.
     
  13. 40-82

    40-82 Member

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    Yes, there is. Although the .38 Special came out in '08 when smokeless powder was primarily in use, the design of the case followed older cases that needed the capacity to hold voluminous quantities of black powder.

    An expression comes to mind from Phil Sharpe's classic reloading book of the 30's, "And the angels sing."

    You can put enough fast burning shotgun powder in a ,38 Special so that when you touch a round off, the gun will disappear, and you'll be left with a bloody stump, where your hand used to be. Most likely your face will be gone too, and likely a piece of the top strap wedged in the back of your brain.

    It's good that you asked first. When it comes to reloading anytime it occurs to you "seems like the thing to do at the time" you already know you're wrong far sooner than you actually know why.

    This is why you should never shoot somebody else's reloads. There are some old boys out there who are--how shall we term it?--innovative.
     
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  14. gonoles_1980

    gonoles_1980 Member

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    After reading both your posts, I would like to recommend you buy a couple of reloading books. I have a lot of empty space in my 38spl cases, if I was to fill the case up as you asked, the gun would probably become shrapnel and kill me and anyone nearby, considering that would probably be a quadruple load. Step back a minute and ask what you really want. Are you looking to shoot at the range, have a carry gun for self defense, what are your plans for the gun you want. Have you shot any of these guns before? If not, go to a range and rent a few and try them out. Do you already have a gun that you just want to use to learn reloading on? When you do, start with the bullet originally designed for that gun. Using the 38spl, start with a 158gr bullet, start on the low end of the power range, go up 0.1gr at time to create a ladder load. Start with the low loads and move up until you reach what you feel comfortable with. If you want more power you can go to lighter bullets to load, which require more powder. But first, buy some reloading books and read about the science in them. You have a ton of brilliant reloaders on this forum, but your answers will be mixed with some off topic and can be hard to decipher at times if you don't know what you're looking for.
     
  15. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    There's zero sense in hotrodding a cartridge. .357 Mag exists for a reason. So does .41 Mag, 44 Mag, 454 Casull and so on. Want more power? Get a bigger cartridge and a stronger gun, there's lots to choose from.
     
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  16. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    The 357 was made about 1/8" longer so it couldn't be put in a 38. It operates at twice the pressure. The designers knew what they were doing. Don't go there. It could be done but there is absolutely no sane reason to.
     
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  17. unclenunzie
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    unclenunzie Contributing Member

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    This. Safety first.
     
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  18. mcb

    mcb Member

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    There are reasons to hot rod cartridges but those that do so usually have a fair amount of experience. It's common to load 45 Colt well beyond SAAMI in guns that can take it for hunting and self defense. USPSA shooters have been pushing 9mm well beyond SAAMI to make Open guns run flat and make power factor. Same for 38 Short Colt for USPSA revolver shooters and 38 special for IDPA revolver shooters. You can hot rod safely if you do the research on how to do it.
     
  19. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    You could probably do it....................once.

    It is not that simple.
    You use the word "gun powder" like there is only one kind. There are probably over 100 powders that you could load .38 Special with.

    Some of them, like Bullseye, is very fast burning and takes a very small amount. If you just willy nilly "add more gun powder inside", you're going to destroy your gun and possibly do irreparable damage to your hand.

    Here is a pic I pulled off the interweb. It's was a beautiful old revolver. They didn't specify what powder was used, but they suspect a double charge caused the issue.

    YpjTlHi.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
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  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Ol' Phil tabulated some real spicy .38 Special loads in that book, too. With a mild caveat that "heavy loads are not to be used in light framed revolvers." How about a 146 at 1511 fps? Probably from a very long barrel, but you don't see that anywhere now.
    Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton were the best known Special overloaders. You will still see recommendations for the Skeeter load which gets a 156 up to 1200 fps, which is nearly what a standard brand factory Magnum does from a 4" barrel.

    Not any more. It could take +P to make Power Factor 125 in some revolvers, so they reduced the Stock Service Revolver power factor to 105. My midrange wadcutters are doing about 107.
     
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  21. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    I'm pretty sure our original poster is nowhere close to selectively working up loads for advantage in advanced competition.
     
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  22. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I think there’s a lot of well meaning info above, but intention doesn’t change the invalidity.

    You can’t fight physics. To make a case with a smaller volume exceed the performance of a larger case, it MUST be loaded to a higher pressure. In an (overly) simplified analogy, consider two portable air bubbles - one large at high pressure, one small at low pressure. That’s the scenario of .357mag and .38special. The larger, higher pressure container will inflate more tires than the smaller, lower pressure container. If you add air mass to the small container to match the pressure of the large container then it can inflate more tires than before, aka, a .38spcl loaded to .357mag pressures, then the larger air bubble will still hold more air at that pressure, and will inflate more tires than the small.

    If a .38 special case is loaded to the same pressure as .357 magnum, the larger Magnum case will have a larger powder charge to reach the pressure, and resultingly will push the bullet faster.

    If you want to match the “power” of the .357mag with the smaller .38spcl case, you have to load it to HIGHER pressure than the magnum. So you’d have a large air bubble at high pressure, and a small bubble at higher pressure, just to inflate the same number of tires. This would be an unfair comparison, at that point, as you’d be willing to grossly over pressure one of the rounds but handcuff the other. Take the same pressure restraint off of the Magnum case, it will always exceed the Special.

    To turn a phrase: “Anything the .38 special can do, the .357 Magnum can do better.”

    All of the above assumes you have a sufficiently strong firearm to withstand the pressure.
     
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  23. 40-82

    40-82 Member

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  24. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    There is plenty space in a case, but a gun is designed for a certain amount of pressure. Just like there is capability to add pressure to shove 30-30 up to 30-06 power and 9mm to 38 super. Design of the gun to support the pressure is the key. Think about it like a balloon. You can blow it up and tie it off which is like regular pressures. Blowing it up more amps pressure up just like having more powder and it’s not possible for the material to hold together anymore.
     
  25. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Yes. It's called ballistics. And that's only one aspect of it.

    Most likely a New Army or New Service in .38 Long Colt that someone fired a .357 in. The chambers on those were bored straight through, not stepped like .38 Spl. chambers usually are, and a .357 can be inserted into them, BUT DO NOT DO SO! The above pic is the usual result.
     
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