New reloader needing help with load builds for 38/357

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by knotquiteawake, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    I've found and read many threads in searching this great forum about exactly this kind of question. I wish I had done slightly more research before I ordered bullets with my initial setup to make sure there were loads out there for them.
    But here I am.
    Struggling to find exactly the load data I need.

    A friend who has been reloading for 30 years encouraged me to order plated bullets because he's lead adverse. I took his advice because Speer has a 20% off rebate which made the plated bullets nearly as cheap as lead. I ordered 1500 bullets to start with.
    To reload I have:
    500 TMJ FP 125g
    500 TMJ FP 158g
    and I ordered some lead anyways because its very cheap
    500 LRNFP 158g

    For powder I have:
    1lb of W231
    1lb of Alliant 2400

    Finding recipes for the lead "cast" RNFP is pretty easy. Seems to always been plenty of data on lead bullets. I think I can manage to get those 500 lead bullets used up.

    But finding exactly "Total Metal Jacket Flat Point" Load data is not.

    I've seen another THR user post they use 4.1g of w231 for their 125g TMJ FP.
    But then I've also seen the 1995 Speer loading manual say for 125g TMJ w231 to use 5.6g and DNR.

    I'm using online resources for load data because unless I know the recipes I need are in the physical manual I don't want to buy it just yet.

    Can anyone help me out with this? Assuming the weight and OAL are identical a recipe should work for any shape of bullet?

    I would love to be taking to the range with me next time a small handful of:
    125g 38 special
    125g 38 special +p
    158g 38 and +p

    125g 357
    158g 357

    Appreciate any direction.
  2. murf

    murf Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    this is kind of backward thinking. my way of thinking is: if the load is not in the "physical manual", do not make that load. so, I suggest you get a "physical manual" and choose a load that is in it.


    mdi likes this.
  3. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Just because I can't find it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Thats why I'm asking around. None of the reloading manuals seem to be exhaustive.
  4. Whiterook808

    Whiterook808 Member

    Dec 14, 2017
    21.3069° N, 157.8583° W
    +1 on buying manuals.

    Generally speaking, plated bullets can be loaded to medium level charges for jacketed bullets of the same weight. You might check the manufacturer's website to find how fast their plated bullets can safely be driven. I have no experience with the Speer TMJ, so these may differ from the Berry's plated that I use.
    P5 Guy likes this.
  5. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    The speer bullets I have (125 and 158) appear to be jacketed not plated. Speer just uses their own terminology of "Total Metal Jacket". They appear to have a flat nose on them. The jacket covers the entire bullet.
  6. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    That was one of the reasons I was asking around, because the load data I can find doesn't seem to use this same terminology so I wanted to see what might be another name for what Speer is calling their TMJFP. How interchangeable it is with any other common type of bullet.
  7. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    Not DFW
    Speer bullets = Speer manual.

    It's actually that simple.
    mdi, Rule3, Bandit67 and 2 others like this.
  8. George P

    George P Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    That data is 24 years old; powder formulations have changed a little; use CURRENT data with current powder.
    Personally, I prefer 158SWC, either lead or plated with a variety of powders like 231, Bullseye, Universal, Unique
  9. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

    Jun 6, 2016
    SE Idaho
    No need to struggle knotquiteawake – get a newer Speer Manual. The Speer Manual #14 (first printed in 2007) I have sitting in front of me has a lot of 38 Special, 38 Special +P and 357 Magnum load data using their 125gr TMJ FN bullets.
    Skgreen, Olon and 2011redrider like this.
  10. JO JO

    JO JO Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    Speer now offers their data on line
    Skgreen, 2ndtimer and .308 Norma like this.
  11. RealGun

    RealGun Member

    Mar 21, 2004
    Upstate SC
    My Speer manual offers 38 Spl loads for that bullet in 125 gr but not 158 gr. Nothing refers to W231. However, +p does show W231 with the UCHP bullet, jacketed the same as TMJFN.

    The bullet is known as FN rather than FP. The other profiles are SP and HP, while all of them are more or less FP in appearance. Speer shows all four TMJ bullet profiles taking the same data, i.e. TMJFN and GDHP, for example, load the same using the same jacketing method. The FN includes jacketing of the the flat nose.

    Speer does offer loads in .357 Magnum for 125 and 158 gr TMJFN, both of which include W231. The A2400 shows with the 158.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  12. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Thank you! I finally found it.

    Okay guys, I figured my problem out. I did things all bass ackwards. I apologize for taking up your time.
    Here is what I just did and should have done in the first place BEFORE stopping at Cabela's to buy powder (although to be fair it was mostly the opportunity to get some of the BBQ next door on my lunch break that made me go to Cabela's without doing the research first).

    I printed off the Speer websites data sheet for each bullet weight I purchased for 38 38+p and 357.
    Then I took a highlighter and highlighted each powder that was featured on either ALL of the 38/38+p or ALL of the 357 or ALL 3.
    Now I have a shopping list of powders that will work.

    So that being said here are some of top contenders to go to Cabelas and pickup:
    Accurate No. 5
    Alliant Power Pistol
    Alliant Unique
    Alliant Bullseye
    Hodgdon H Universal
    IMR PB

    Several of those also work on the 357 loads as well as all the 38 I have on hand.
    Then there's also for the 357 loads only:
    Alliant 2400 (which is one of the ones I already bought)
    Vihtavuori N110
    Hodgdon H110
    Accurate no 7
    Accurate no 9
    Nihtavouri N350
    Hodgdon HS-6

    Any random internet stranger preferences I can take into consideration?
    Keep in mind I'll be buying just a pound locally at Cabelas
    (side note, does Cabelas let you return unopened powder?)
    .308 Norma likes this.
  13. cheygriz

    cheygriz member

    Dec 28, 2002
    High up in the Rockies
    Don't OVERTHINK simple things. 158 grain lead bullet is 158 grain lead bullet, regardless of who made it.

    158 grain plated is 158 grain plated. Jacketed same. RN, JHP, JSP, FMJ, who cares?

    Work up your loads from below max and you'll never have a problem.

    Reloading manuals are wonderful, very useful tools. But they're TOOLS, not the Holy Scripture. Don't worship them.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  14. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

    Nov 30, 2003
    In 357 and 38 spl, I use, as do most people I think, JHP data for the TMJ's.
    I used Unique last time I loaded the 125 TMJ in 357 brass. The starting load in my Lyman manual made a dandy target load, 7 grains IIRC (check your manual;))
    I've also used 7 grains of N340 and W231.
    Unique is probably the optimum powder for the 125's, it really fills the case nicely.
    W231 also works surprisingly well in magnum brass despite a lot of empty space, don't be afraid to use it with the 125's.
    HS-6 or Unique for the 158's. HS-6 needs a magnum primer.
    I have a strong preference for loading all my loads in magnum brass regardless of power level.
  15. joneb

    joneb Member

    Aug 18, 2005
    For 38spl I like VV N340 for a 6" barrel and W231 for a 1 7/8" for 158gr lead bullets
    For a 2.75" 357 mag Accurate #9 is my go to powder for 158gr jacketed
  16. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    Central MN
    You've gotten some interesting advice, perhaps a little complicated. I'll try to boil some down for simplicity's sake. Manuals are good, I'd recommend one of Lymans for general information.

    The Speer 125 and 158 TMJ are suitable for full power .357 loads. They may also be used for lower velocity loads. Use Jacketed bullet data for these, follow good load work up procedure to find your top end loads whether your specific bullet is listed or not.

    Your 158 Cast, I assume Speer, are fine bullets. The speer lead bullets are swaged, therefore quite soft, and should be kept below 900fps...read standard velocity .38 SPL. Seek a "hard cast" bullet such as Missouri or Penn bullets marketed for .357 magnum, with a "BHN" at 15 or higher to push lead faster.

    Powders...there are lots of opinions, and lots of history behind choices for .38 and .357. I'm going to list a few for specific purposes that are time tested, and offer a good range of utility in their "range."

    HP 38, Bullseye, 700x, Red Dot. Good for low to standard velocity .38 special cast loads. The first 2 will have the most data available across different bullet weights and styles.

    Unique, HS-6. Good for heavy .38 and .357 Mid power. Unique is really a do-all powder, perhaps not optimum for all uses, but extremely versatile. Lots of loads that will "work".

    H110, Alliant 2400. Full power magnum .357 powders. H110 (W296 is the same powder) is the long time favorite for top power heavy .357.

    There are others, personal favorites, niche powders, new powders, but one selection from each "range" will cover any scenario I could think of for loading these calibers with ample load data and personal experiences available. Your Alliant 2400 is probably not optimal for .357, but I wouldn't return it. You can absolutely use it for full house .357. Keep the HP-38. Fine powder, I use a lot of it for .38 and .357 cast plinking ammo.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
    cheygriz likes this.
  17. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Southern CA

    No need to apologize, questions are what we are here for, most of us are always happy to try to help.
    If in doubt ask. Better to be safe than sorry.
    Having said that don't over think the issue.
    Start at start charges for the bullet you have if you can't find that exact bullet looks at start charges for bullets of the same weight and type lead, plated, jacketed etc.

    One thing to be aware of is all lead bullets are not created equal, some are soft some are hard, in general softer ones (lower BHN) work better for lighter loads, harder ones (higher BHN) work better for heavier loads
    The key with lead bullets is proper fit then proper hardness.
    when I started loading pistol I used lead bullets and had no issues, however there is something to be said about starting with jacketed or plated because lead bullets have the fit/harness issue to deal with.
    Get it wrong and you have leading in you barrel,
    Some guns are not picky about leads bullets, and some can be ah, let me say finicky to be polite.

    They no longer make PB so don't waste time looking for it.
    BE86 makes nice loads in .38 and .357
    It is fairly flexible so you can get light mid power loads to light heavy loads

    As mentioned above H110 full power .357 loads only, do not reduce it. It does really only one thing full powder mag pistol loads (ok well a couple things .300 Blackout, .30 carbine)
    In you case full power .357 loads only.

    The way to go about it is to decide do you want light target loads, something in the middle or the full power stuff.
    The burn speed for yourpowder tends to follow the load type,
    light loads = fast powder, Bullseye, AA#2, Titegroup, HP38
    medium = HP38, Universal, Unique, Be96, AA#5
    Full powder stuff in .357 = 2400, AA#9, N110, H110

    As a FYI W231 and HP38 are one and the same powder, so you can use HP38 load data with your W231, some manuls list both some list one or the other.
    W296 and H110 are one and the same powder

    You have W231 so you can use W231 or HP38 load data, that should cover you for light to medium in .357 and the 2400 should give you full power loads in .357.
    You may not realize it but you have the bases fairly well covered with those two.

    Unless I am loading really light loads (say hollow base wadcutters) I use the .357 brass for light to heavy loads.
    So if you have a .357 you really don't need to try to load .38 Special +P, just download the .357 to the .38 Specail +P vel.
    HP38/W231 will give you .38 Special +P velocities in .357 cases (or more) at start charges.
    For example a heavy .38 Special load with a 158 with say HS6 is maybe 1000fps, a start charge of W231 in .357 with a 158 is maybe 1100 (not using exact numbers)
    so unless you are loading for a .38 there is not a real need to try to load +P 38s if they will all be shot in a .357.

    One thing to be careful about with W231 in .357 is it is easy to double charge a case, big case not much powder, A double charge would be a very bad thing,
    Charge you cases, visually check the charge to be safe.

    Grab some cases and that W231 and some bullets and go for it!

    I attached a spreadsheet with Hodgdons data for 38 and 357, excel format no macros in it.
    This was data I extracted from their site a couple years ago.
    (you used to be able to copy and paste it into excel easy before they changed the site layout)
    Verify it against their site before using , but it might be a bit easier to deal with than the way their site presents it (and prints nicer)

    Grab some cases that W231 and some bullets and go for it!

    And ask all the questions you want!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
    murf and Random 8 like this.
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    STOP! No need to buy different powders. The powders listed in the Speer data only tells you what they used to create the data, not the only powders that will work well.

    The powders you bought are just fine and will work very well. I use a lot of W231/HP-38 in the .38 Special and 2400 is a very good .357 Magnum powder.

    Those Speer bullets are technically plated because of the process used to manufacture them but they are actually jacketed in thickness. Use FMJ data for the TMJ bullets are you will be fine. I have been doing this a long time like many here and would not tell you anything that might hurt you.

    IMO the Lyman manuals are the best first manual to buy. Don't forget to read the front of the book, there is a lot of valuable information there.

    For 2400 load data check the Alliant site: (the Alliant site uses Speer bullets since they are both owned by the same company)

    For W231/HP-38 check the Hodgdon Load Data Site:
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  19. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Southern CA
    Yes, like I mentioned earlier you have the bases pretty well covered with the two powders you have.
    tightgroup tiger and 2ndtimer like this.
  20. mdi

    mdi Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    I guess I'm K.I.S.S. oriented. I too believe you have started backwards by buying a lot of bullets and then trying to find a load. When I'm talking to a new reloader, I suggest first, a good reloading manual (data is available on line, but there is much more to a reloading manual than just load data). Even if the new feller is "too smart for the simple basics", I suggest he read the "how to" section. Then find a "classic", tried and true load of bullet, primer and powder in his manual, then buy components. Reloading done this was shortens the learning curve considerably and with a bit of experience, different combinations, right from the manual, can be tried and without overthinking the simple process.

    Another suggestion I offer is my Rule #1; pay no attention to any load data seen on any forum, from any gun counter clerk, range rat, good intended friend, pet loads website or gunshop guru. Get load data from a published reloading manual(s). Some powder distributor's web sites offer load data, but I only occasionally get data there. In the vein, I pay no attention to any youtube videos on reloading, or just treat them as entertainment and not a source of facts. Often a new reloader will ask a simple question on a forum and the replied soon drift into advanced techniques and theory, often confusing the new guy.

    Go slow. Double check everything. Stay simple and most important, have fun..
    murf and Bfh_auto like this.
  21. knotquiteawake

    knotquiteawake Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Thank you so much for the information in your previous post.

    Right now I've got about 28 empty 357 brass and 250 38 special.

    The two revolvers I've got are s&w 642 which I carry daily and a 5in s&w highway Patrolman.

    So I'd like to be able to load a LOT of light 38 to run through my 642 to build proficiency. Then 357 just for fun light loads and heavy loads to impress my new shooter friends.
    Random 8 and Bfh_auto like this.
  22. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    One piece of advice for your heavy 357 loads is 158s are better suited than 125s.
    125s or 110s can cause damage to your revolver by loading them hot.
    I starting only using 125s in 38 and light 357 loads.
  23. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

    Jul 20, 2019
    I'm new to reloading (about 1 1/2 years now) and started with 45acp and w231. Then I moved on to 38spcl and 357 mag, so take what I say at face value and back it up with your own due diligence.

    I found a nice 38spcl load that works well in my Colt King Cobra (357mag) six inch barrel using 158gr Hornady FP/XTP (#35780) in 38spcl brass and w231. Soft shooting and accurate in my gun. Bullet is a flat nose hollow point. I don't know if it would open up/expand, but shooting paper and cans it doesn't really matter to me.

    I've also found a 357 mag load using Sierra 158gr JSP (#8340) using w231 and 357 brass. A bit more stout, but accurate in my gun.

    I'm currently working on a 357 mag load using the 158gr Sierra JSP and H110. As others have said, H110 is a full power powder intended for full power loads, and shouldn't be downloaded. My current testing is at minimum loads and is more of a handful than the w231, although still easy for me to handle. My H110 load is not accurate yet and I plan on working my way up until I find what works for me in my gun.

    My loads/data have been found in the latest Hornady book (#10 I think), the latest Sierra book (just published a few months ago), and Hodgdon's website.

    As always, start low and work up, double check as you go, have fun, and most importantly stay safe!
    Random 8 likes this.
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 20, 2006
    Agreed 14.0 to 14.5 Grs of 2400 under a thick plated 158 at a reasonable OAL will make you smile.
    Bfh_auto and George P like this.
  25. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    Central MN
    If you really want to impress your new shooter friends, try a 110 or 125 XTP over H110 in .357. If data is available for your 2400, that should have a similar effect. Keep these to a minimum number of rounds, I've heard they can be hard on revolvers, but they have a shock and awe value of 10! The recoil is rather manageable from a heavy revolver due to the light bullet weight. Sounds like you're on a good path with a couple of tried and true powders. If you ever desire .357 mid power or .38 +p to match defensive loads, HS-6 or Unique should be a good bet.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice