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Low powder charge 38 Special

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Trent, Feb 18, 2013.

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  1. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I inherited some handloads from my departed uncle, in 38 special. Never really paid much attention to them until I recently got a 357.

    I decided to look up the loads today - 4.0 gr Unique w/ 158gr. bullet. Looks like it's WAY under the starting charge for 38. Maybe was "soft" loads for his kids (my cousins) to shoot? Likewise another box had an equally soft charge (about 1/2 of starting charge) on 125's.

    Anyway... safe to shoot an underpowered revolvere load, or pull and reload?

    (I'm curious to shoot them, to see how mellow they are, but decided I should check first.)
     
  2. murf

    murf Member

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    lead or jacketed bullet?

    lead bullet starting load is 4.0 grains of unique (lyman 49th).

    jacketed is 4.7 grains.

    if jacketed, and you decide to shoot, make sure the bullet comes out the end of the barrel after every shot! take a copper rod with you (or something similar like a pencil) to stick down the barrel if you're not sure.

    murf
     
  3. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

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    are these lead bullets? for a lead 158gr my lee manual is showing a starting of 4.1gr. unless you really trust your wellbeing on your uncles reloads, most people here are going to tell you to pull em.
     
  4. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Lead.

    That makes sense, I looked up jacketed bullets of that weight in Sierra. I didn't even think about lead being different!

    Also, I double checked what I looked at and found my Sierra book turned to 357 mag. I looked up the 357 load data instead of 38 - I guess my brain hiccuped and looked at 357 data in instead of 38, because I was going to shoot it out of a 357. Funny. :)

    He also has some unlabeled 38 and 357 ammo. Plus some wadcutter rounds where the cylindrical lead bullet is pushed nearly flush with the end of the shellcasing... ???

    This revolver stuff is new to me, I'd never seen something like that before.

    Oh, and thanks Murf. :)
     
  5. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    THIS particular (dearly departed) uncle was a fanatic for big boomers. He owned a 357 maximum, a 10 gauge shotgun, etc. And he stood all of 5'1 and weighed maybe 110 pounds coming in from the rain.

    His loads seem good enough. (He was a meticulous person, when it came to gun stuff.)

    I've ALSO inherited handloads from two other uncles, which are considerably more questionable. I keep them segregated, two inheritances for components, this one I'm considering shooting.

    One of the problems I've found with growing older is you find yourself with a shortage of Uncles, and a collection of ammo that you don't have guns for. (Guns went to the kids, in each case, none of them wanted the reloading gear though.)
     
  6. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    (The Big Boomer thing must run in the family... I blame good genetics.)

    (And some of that ammo I inherited caused me to buy new guns to shoot it in; 357, 38 special, 30-40 krag... )
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It's 4.0 Unique.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    Choot,em Elizabeth! Choot'm!

    rc
     
  8. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Thanks RC.
     
  9. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Many manuals create "start loads" by simply backing down 10% from max. They are not necessarily testing to determine what the smallest load is that reliably ignites, nor that will reliably push a bullet down the barrel.

    I have found loads in one manual (8th Hornady) that are FAR below "start loads" in manuals that simply do max-minus-10%. See if you can find a manual that goes down the power curve a bit; you may well be able to find published data for what you have there.
     
  10. boommer

    boommer Member

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    nothing wrong with 4grs of UNI in 38spl Unique is not position sensitive. There are a lot loaders that are loading 11grs of uni in 45-70 all the way up to 500gr bullets and I called Alliant and they said CAN'T SAY THAT I WOULD RECOMMEND IT but knows of of some reloaders doing this. mouse fart loads.
     
  11. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    OK I can't find my damn Lyman manual.

    Can someone rattle me off Lyman's min/max on each lead bullet weight for Unique and Bullseye for both 38 special and 357 magnum?

    (Some of his loads are decidedly not mouse fart loads, because I just pulled out a box of 38 special that was marked 6.8 gr unique w/ 158gr SWC bullet)

    The ones that aren't labeled will get pulled, like I said, this uncle liked big boomers... (It takes a certain special sort of crazy for such a small fellow to buy a 357 maximum).

    Much appreciated!

    EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm not asking about 357 maximum here, just 38 special and 357 mag. I *have* some of his 357 maximum ammo (my cousin has the gun), but I'm pulling the components down on those.
     
  12. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    trent,

    38 special

    90 grain lead
    Bullseye 3.3 to 5.3
    Unique not listed

    120 grain lead
    Bullseye 2.8 to 4.6
    Unique 4.0 to 5.7

    150 grain lead
    Bullseye 3.1 to 3.5
    Unique 3.7 to 4.2

    155 gr lead
    Bullseye 2.8 to 4.0
    Unique 3.4 to 5.1

    158 gr lead
    Bullseye 3.0 to 3.4
    Unique 4.0 to 4.5

    160 gr lead
    bullseye 3.2 to 3.6
    Unique 4.2 to 4.7


    170 gr lead
    Bullseye 2.8 to 3.2
    Unique 3.7 to 4.2
     
  13. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    The formatting won't hold in my last post for the 357 so I deleted it so as to not confuse you.

    357 mag.

    90gr lead
    Bullseye 7.5 to 9.5
    Unique not listed

    120 gr lead
    Bullseye 5.7 tp 8.0
    Unique 6.9 to 9.1

    150 gr lead
    Bullseye 4.6 to 7.0
    Unique not listed

    155 gr lead
    Bullseye 4.8 to 7.0
    Unique not listed

    No 158 gr lead bullet listed in Lymans 49th for 357. (never notice that before)

    160 gr lead
    Bullseye 4.9 to 6.9
    Unique not listed

    170 gr lead
    Bullseye 4.1 to 6.1
    Unique not listed.
     
  14. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Gracias!!!
     
  15. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    The loads you mentioned with bullet almost flush with case mouth are probably 148 gr full lead wadcutters. If loaded properly, they are an excellent target load.
     
  16. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    So from Lee for 357 mag., 158 gr lead:
    Unique 6.2 1,188 6.8 1295 33,900 PSI
    Bullseye 5.9 1,211 6.5 1,320 33,900 PSI
     
  17. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Cool, much appreciated guys!

    I went out to dinner and had a couple beers so I'm done messing with gun stuff for the day, but wanted to drop by and say thanks. :)
     
  18. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Bingo. I found a plastic bag with a couple dozen bullets with the handwritten note "148gr wadcutters bevel base." The base kind of has a rounded dome look to it? Or maybe he was loading them backwards because he felt like it. Who knows. In loaded form, they're presented perfectly flat on front. Should punch REALLY nice looking holes in paper. :)

    On another note; there was one sealed 500 round box of 158gr SWC cast lead (price sticker affixed of $11.99...), which look fine with orange lube in the channel, and another half ful box which was opened, where instead of orange lube, there's this black brittle crud... I'm taking it age and oxygen done took it's toll on those. I'll have to tumble / relube the things. :)
     
  19. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    BTW thanks for the load data from the books. Some of his 357, as recorded, was sitting RIGHT at max. I'm going to pull those and recharge. By comparison his 38 special was all very cold, at or below minimum. Seems he kept one load for him, and one load for his kids (or practice, because there's a TON of the light loaded ammo in boxes).
     
  20. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I get to do this ALL OVER AGAIN soon - my wife's friend's father passed away, he was a member of our gun club and an AVID reloader. The daughter asked me to come over some time and go through his handloads, getting rid of anything that is questionable or unsafe.

    This all feels too much like funeral duty.

    :(
     
  21. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Woot!!! I found my Lyman book buried in the back corner of my bigger reloading bench. :)
     
  22. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    As a general rule I don't shoot other's reloads.

    I'd make an exception in your case.
     
  23. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Sport45 - yeah, I may pull down 1 round out of a box here and there just to weigh the loads to make sure the label is right. Beyond that?

    Life is full of choices, and risks. If I wanted to live risk free I'd move in to a padded room and let the nice orderlies take care of all of my needs. :)

    I won't trust reloads from some random estate sale. But I've got to have a little faith in family. (My uncle was the one that TAUGHT me to shoot, after all, I owe him some trust.)

    An example though, for the other side; when I had my FFL I traded in a Steyer 69 rifle and the guy handed me 50 rounds of unlabeled reloads in a box with it. He said "those are really accurate reloads! You can trust them."

    Well, fast forward 6 years and I recently pulled them down.

    I found that 8 of the 50 were military surplus 147 grain still sealed, with Berdan primed cases, and an unknown grain powder. 30 were 168 grain HPBT (which I greedily bagged the bullets and brass from.) However, there were THREE distinct types of powder I pulled out of those. !!!!! The remainder were mixed 147, 150, and 180 gr projectiles.

    "Accurate", my ass. There were at LEAST 7 different loads in that box, all mixed up and unlabeled. :)
     
  24. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    Sounds like you had an interesting uncle. I remember a picture you posted of some of his handiwork. Actually quite nice/esoteric. I'd probably shoot them but you can do better with your leavings.. knock on wood and all that
     
  25. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Yeah, the only ones that REALLY concern me are the 30/40 Krag ammo. There's not an awful lot separating a Krag bolt from your cheekbone of the lug shears. None of the Krag ammo is labeled, and there's several different types, all in crown royal whiskey bags (which I take as an uncertain omen hah!).

    I'm thankful for the brass and projectiles, but I'm going to reload those on the mellow side.

    One of the happiest finds so far was 30x 303 brit brass casings, and two boxes of 303 projectiles. I've had an Enfield No1 for years, but have never fired it. That's gonna change soon. :)

    People today don't seem to understand what "heritage" means. But I've been living it in my basement. Hopefully my kids gain an avid interest in firearms at some point and carry it on. If not, maybe their kids will. I plan on spoiling my grandkids, when I get some. :)
     
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