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Powder Suggestions for .38 Special +P?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Waywatcher, Sep 20, 2010.

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  1. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    I'm looking for suggestions for powder to try in .38 Special +P. I use 158 grain lead bullets, BHN 12 from MBC. (A few styles) They work great! I'm relatively new to reloading; I started earlier this year.

    I use Trail Boss in .38 special (std), and 2400 in .357 mag, both with lead bullets and get almost no leading. I like them both very much. I am looking for a mid-range powder because Trail Boss can't go +P and 2400 doesn't go down that far very well. I am looking for 800-900fps with 158 lead. Bonus points for bulky powders; I like loading full cases of powder for safety.:)

    I have tried Unique but it leaded badly; :confused: :uhoh: Any other powder I am open to try.

    What powders have you tried and had good luck with in .38+P?
     
  2. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    I use the same bullet and 3.5 grains Clay's. Chronos at 820 fps from my 4" S&W 686. I've not had leading issues with this combo, but it's probably close to the upper limit for that relatively soft bullet.
     
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    To reach velocities associated with +P ammo without surpassing +P pressures you need a slower powder than Clays.

    I would use powders in the burn rate range of HS-6, Universal, AA#5, Power Pistol and powders like those. I use HS-6 and feel it works best but many also like Power Pistol. I would use Power Pistol if it weren't for the excessive flash it produces. HS-6 will deliver high velocities without excessively high pressures. Also, HS-6 seems to work very well with lead bullets and doesn't cause leading in my experiance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2010
  4. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Slower powder. ;)
     
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Thanks zxcvbob, I was thinking Clays is too fast so use a slower powder and of course faster got written down. Thanks for catching my mistake before it caused confusion...
     
  6. Runningman

    Runningman Member

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    I found Power Pistol to be an excellent powder for 38 special +P loads at least using 125 Gr jacketed bullets. Haven't tried it with 158 Gr bullets. Speer #14 has some loads for it.
     
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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  8. colonelhogan44

    colonelhogan44 Member

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  9. Glock20

    Glock20 Member

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    My last 38 Special +p were 125 and 158 XTP's and I used Longshot for both.
    Shot from a GP-100 with 4" bbl and a few out of my LCR to test +p.
    Looking at my notes, both loads shot very well with the 125gr a little tighter grouping. They felt pretty stout, especially in the LCR.
     
  10. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    I've had good results with 4227 with magnum primers.

    To solve leading issues, give the bullets a light coat of Rooster Jacket on top of the blue lube Brad uses. His lube is good stuff, but the RJ lets you go beyond the limits and push the soft lead faster and the hard lead slower.
     
  11. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Useing older pre Hodgdon marketing agreement Winchester data and the velocities match factory ballistic data out of my 4" barreled revolvers. With a 158gr lead bullet in a Win case and using Win primers, 4.5grs of W231 for a standard velocity load and 4.7grs for a +P load. I load Speer LRN, LSWC and LSWCHP's using this data with good results.
     
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Double-tap
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    As an addition to my above post, I forgot about Longshot. As "Glock20" posted it also works well for .38 Special +P ammo. I used it with 158gr SJSP or JHP bullets and I also got very good accuracy. I still like HS-6 but more for lead bullets for replicating the "FBI Load" than with jacketed bullets.
     
  14. The_Stig

    The_Stig Member

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    Unique provides excellent performance at any 38 velocity. Power Pistol is a good choice too.
     
  15. plateshooter

    plateshooter Member

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    I have used 3.8gr Red Dot with 158 LSWC for years. It is from the Alliant loading manual for 38 spec+P.
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I recently picked up some Longshot. I'll have to see how it does. My 4" Model 10 HB loves my AA #5 load and hits point of aim with it, so it is a favorite. I have not tried HS-6. If ArchAngelCD says it works well, I am sure it does.AC
     
  17. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    My very favorate .38 special load is 8.0 grains of Blue Dot behind Lyman's 150 grain 358477 lead SWC. I chronographed it at 1090fps out of my 6" revolver and 1285fps out of a rifle barrel.
     
  18. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the input!

    HS-6 and A No. 5 both look promising, both are ball powder. Do ball powders in general behave better with lead bullets than flake? I tried Bullseye too and was disappointed; I also got some leading.

    It looks to me like some HS-6 loads suggest magnum primers, whereas A No. 5 don't ever. Anybody have any other comparison between those two? Are they both about the same bulk or does one take up more space per weight?

    I'm a little surprised no one so far has mentioned 231; a couple folks at the range pointed me in that direction. Anybody like that stuff?

    That Rooster Jacket looks like a good idea to try; I am now a little suspicious that I have a powder-to-bullet-lube mismatch with Unique and Bullseye.

    Thanks again!
     
  19. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    I've used titegroup (a very fast powder), Universal & today I'm trying AA5.
     
  20. RevolverDan

    RevolverDan Member

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    I've used 4.4 gr of AA#2. Seemed to work well.
     
  21. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Great stuff, but you asked about .38 +P, so the answer is a bit slower powder than W-231, despite it being a fine powder with lead in .38 Spl.


    And as I posted in the other thread, Unique was not the cause of your leading, guaranteed. ;)
     
  22. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    Then why do I get no leading with Trail Boss and 2400?

    I don't mean to sound rude, but one liners like this are not helpful without any data or proof.
     
  23. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    I got one of those little handbooks that are dedicated to a specific caliber. It's lists +p loads using 2400, AA #2 and AA#5. I didn't like the 2400 load. Accuracy sucked in my Blackhawk. The #2 and #5 shot at about the same velocity with about the same accuracy, but the #2 load had perceivably less recoil, so I stuck with that. I just wanted to be able to know over steel targets with authority. It makes it more fun.
     
  24. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Exactly, while W231 is a great .38 Special powder and I use it almost exclusively it's too fast for building .38 Special +P ammo IMO.
     
  25. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    I believe that 231 actually has a slower burn rate than AA#2. I think it's closer to AA#5. I don't see why you couldn't use 231 for +P loads in a .38, except that I don't know of any published data for it.

    Personally, I love 231 and it was considered to be somewhat of a magic powder in my shooting circle. It does everything at least well. Our problem was that it got really hard to get where I am, so I switched to AA#2. I like it well enough for my uses. I prefer to run fast powders at the upper end of the load limits. It just burns cleaner and kicks less.
     
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