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Loading .38 spl to near .357 loads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Racinbob, Jan 2, 2009.

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  1. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    I'm fairly new to reloading but I have been doing a ton of research and learning. I work with a guy who claims that he and some of his buddies load .38 spl cases with near .357 loads. He said they shoot them in a .357 so it's fine. From what I've read, the shorter length of the .38 loaded like that could raise the pressure far above what the same charge would achieve in a .357 case. I havn't said a word to him because I wasn't positive. Am I thinking right? No, don't caution me not to do it. It just sounds like a science experience that could go bad wrong and I don't play like that. I just want more info before I say something. Regardless, I know all he'll say is "we've never had a problem".
     
  2. notorious

    notorious Member

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    Just read the SAAMI guides on what can a +P+ .38special round can be loaded to compared to a light .357 magnum load.

    From what I recall, there is still a 10,000 or 15,000 cup difference between the most power 38spcl loads versus the weakest 357 loads.

    I wouldn't risk it. Is a little more power worth a gun blowing up in your face or taking your hands with it or both?
     
  3. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    I didn't think +p+ were listed. I think it's a very bad and dangerous idea to do this. I'm just looking for more ammo to argue with him.
     
  4. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Skeeter Skelton, Elmer Keith, and Ray Thompson hung their hats on just what you ask...

    *** WARNING, THESE LOADS ARE FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY***

    Looking at a late 50's Lyman cast bullet manual shows loads that were listed as ".38 Special High Velocity (Heavy Frame Guns Only)" which refers to the 38/44 revolver. Max charges listed for Hercules 2400 using a 148, 150, and 158 grain cast lead bullets was 13.5 grains with velocities at a very near magnumish 1200 fps+.

    Again, I only list this to help answer your question, NOT in any way shape or form as data for .38 Special loading.
     
  5. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

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    When the 357 was developed, the case was lengthened specifically to prevent the high pressure round from being chambered in a 38 special, the longer case had nothing to do with case capacity.

    If your friend knows what he's doing and is careful, it's perfecty fine. But it is adding a lot of risk of trouble in several different ways, that's for sure.
     
  6. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    Thanks. Maybe it's not as dangerous as I thought but at least I can tell him he's really pushing it. Personally, I'm only loading for the range. My carry ammo is and always will be factory. I may load up some brisk .357 to go pig hunting someday but that will probably be the hottest thing I load. Some of mu buddies think I'm over doing it with my caution but I don't think that's possible. I don't want to have to take my shoes off to count past 7.
     
  7. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    Let's see now. We load .38 Specials to basement .357 magnum loadings. Some guy unknowingly comes along and loads these in his .38 revolver. BOOM!!!

    On the other hand. We have people like me who have been reloading for 20 years or much more. I have some nice Mod 10s and never exceed maximum powder charge for them (mod 10s are tough). But I would never load a .38 Special to low magnum levels on the off chance that I might load one in one of my .38 Specials. Besides I have some .357 magnum revolvers too. So if I want to shoot heavier powder charges I'll load up some .357 magnum cases...

    Looking through my loading manuals. I noted that there is VERY little .38 Special data that comes anywhere near the low end for .357 magnum data. In fact I couldn't find any in my six manuals. Closest I found was 3.0 grains difference. No...I wouldn't load anything past +P in .38 Special cases...
     
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    A little knowldege can be a dangerous thing.

    Indeed they did, but at the time the popular .357 Magnum was the one Smith & Wesson made on their N-frame (now called the pre-model 27 or model 27) that had a short cylinder. The above mentioned gentlemen prefered to have the bullet's shoulder outside the case, and they discovered that they could do this using .38 Special cases, where they couldn't when using .357 ones. However they only shot these "super-38 Special's" :D in revolvers built on .44 or .45 frames. If one had got dropped into an old Military & Police model, or an early J-frame the gun would have probably been damaged (expanded or cracked chamber) and maybe the shooter too.
     
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Bad idea to load .38 cases to .357 levels. An accident waiting to happen. No need to do so either. :)
     
  10. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    As others have pointed out using mag level loads in the .38 spl is a bad idea from the safety point and one of the reasons you shouldn't use other peoples reloads unless you know them very well.

    Skeeter Skelton and others that wrote about using such loads did so in wartime 1940's when .357 brass was all but unavailable. There's absolutely no reason to do this now as brass is readily available.
     
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    JMHO, but if you want a .357, buy a .357. The .38 is plenty for self defense as is with factory +P ammo or even standard pressure loads. I rely on it a lot. .357 is rather harsh in a 12 ounce unobtainium pocket revolver anyway. I like the SP101 for magnums, about as light as a gun gets with full power .357 loads and I can still shoot it comfortably.

    I prefer keeping .357 loads in .357 brass if for no other reason than to keep any possibility of putting a hot round in my aluminum framed ultralite revolver, the reason the .357 was lengthened in the first place.
     
  12. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    If you want 357 velocities in a 357 revolver use 357s. It's that easy and a lot safer than loading them in 38 brass.
     
  13. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    You probably won't be able to change your workmate's mind, but what he's doing is dangerous.

    Contrary to what some believe, the .357 Magnum case is heavier walled and thicker based than .38 cases. You can certainly tell the difference when sizing them, and it was done for a reason. The .38 Special case was designed to contain roughly 18,000 +/- psi, while the .357 Magnum case was designed to contain roughly 35,000 +/- psi. Those are rough figures, but you get the idea. The .357 Magnum case is engineered to withstand approximately twice the pressure of the .38 Special case.

    The danger of using the high pressure loaded .38 ammunition in a light frame .38 revolver is just too great. Your workmate will probably tell you he only shoots it in his guns, but what if he drops a loaded round at the range and someone not knowing any better comes along and picks it up and shoots it in their new J frame?

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  14. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    notorious...You are saying that you load magnum loads for a J frame .38 Special? Can you spell "suicide"?
     
  15. notorious

    notorious Member

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    Hmmm... my J-frame M640-1 is rated for magnum loads. As a matter of fact, I don't know any 38 special revolvers that can even CHAMBER a magnum load.

    Allow me to clarify, use magnum loads in a J-frame revolver that is rated for magnum loads... which Smith has a lot of in their catalogue.
     
  16. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    What's the purpose? If he's firing from a .357 gun, why not just load .357 brass? The shorter case length will also have a bearing on pressure. May be ok the first XX times but eventually....if you play with fire...
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    .38 or .357 J frame.? .357 OK.

    The subject was shooting .38 cases loaded to mag pressures in .38 guns. Bad joo joo.

    Sounds like we misinterpreted what you said. It sounded like you were shooting magnum level .38's in a .38 gun.
     
  18. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    But if he's shooting a near .357 load from a .38 case, i wonder if the shorter case is being taken into consideration. It will have a considerable affect on the pressure.
     
  19. notorious

    notorious Member

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    No way... I like having all 10 fingers unlike my shop teacher who needs both his hands and 1 foot to count to ten.

    In my M640-1, I use either +P+ or light mag loads. The full loads are too punishing.

    Smith compromised a bit too and has a lighter weight J-frame rated for +P+ 38 specials but not for magnums. I think those would handle a bit more but still nowhere close to what the OP's friend wants to do.
     
  20. easyrider6042004@yahoo.ca

    easyrider6042004@yahoo.ca Member

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    +1

    Gun safety is more than Jeff Cooper's 4 rules. No disrespect for our fellow shooters who'd load .38 spl to .357 magnum levels (or close), but common sense should dictate one's behavior, particularly when it involves safety.
     
  21. notorious

    notorious Member

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    I bypass those problems by not having any 38 special guns, just 357 guns so I can be free of mixups.
     
  22. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    Walkalong, I am talking about .38 brass loaded to .357 levels shot out of a .357. The whole reason for starting this thread was to confirm my thoughts on why this was such a bad idea. I feel that a given .357 load in a .38 case would have the same effects as seating the bullet too deep. The pressure would be higher than what it would be in the .357 case.
     
  23. notorious

    notorious Member

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    I would agree. Also, the 38 case would likely rupture since it is thinner and the shorter case would increase pressure beyond its design parameters.
     
  24. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    The case thickness is a point I didn't think of. I'll be comparing them later today. I think I've got enough 'ammo' to state my 'case' monday morning. Bottom line......it's just plain stupid.
     
  25. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Cut one each lengthwise of 38 Special and .357 mag and compare web thickness.
     
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