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underloaded .38 - should i fire them or pull them apart ?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bukijin, Nov 23, 2008.

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  1. bukijin

    bukijin Member

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    Hi. Today I was making some test .38 target loads which I'll be shooting out of a S&W model 627 .357 revolver. (5inch barrel)

    Specifically, 158gr SWC with PMC primers and AP50N powder in .38 cases.

    I just realized that .38S&W is different to .38 Special.

    The manual gives loads of 3.2gr (starting) to 3.8gr (maximum) for .38 special giving velocities between 660 and 800 fps.
    However I also accidently looked at data for .38S&W which gave a load of 2.8gr for a velocity of 700 fps out of a 4inch barrel.

    I made batches of 20 rounds at 2.8, 3.0, 3.3, 3.5,and 3.7gr - intending to go to the range and test them for accuracy, recoil and how fun they were to shoot. The 2.8gr and 3.0 gr rounds are below the published starting loads for.38 special. Do you think the projectiles will clear the barrel ok ? If it were you, would you shoot them off or just pull them apart and notch the mistake up to experience ?

    Before tonight I never even heard of the .38S&W cartridge. AP50N powder is manufactured by ADI and is supposed to be the equivalent of HP-38.
     
  2. goon

    goon Member

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    I'm not exactly the most experienced guy with reloading but I do know that some powders can burn differently when they're outside their listed data. There have been some reports of guns being blow up with extremely light loads (although some of these are thought to be from bullets getting lodged in the barrel and then the barrel blowing on the next shot).
    They'd probably be safe to shoot but personally, I'd pull them.
    You'll still have primed brass - just run it through the expander and you can probably even get away with reusing the bullets. At worst, you're out a few bullets and about 50 grains of powder.
     
  3. bglz42

    bglz42 Member

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    Just shoot 'em. Check your target, and make sure each one clears the barrel. Won't hurt a thing...
     
  4. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Member

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    I would shoot 'em, making sure there's a hole in paper for each of the low rounds. There will be, I've no real doubt--but just look to make sure.
     
  5. bglz42

    bglz42 Member

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    BTW: Always carry a range rod when shooting revos...
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Make D*** sure.

    Yep. I have a long brass rod in my shooting bag. I was trying some "powder forward" vs "powder back" tests in light .357 loads a couple of weeks ago and had a bullet fail to exit the barrel. Hadn't used it in years, but it came in real handy when I did need it. ;)
     
  7. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    just be sure to shoot them last..
    the if one gets stuck ,you're done shooting for the day anyway,so not a wasted range trip if the bullet doesn't come out.
     
  8. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Lead, plated or a Jacketed bullet? A jacketed bullet needs more velocity/powder than a lead bullet. A lead bullet should not be a problem.
     
  9. Remo-99

    Remo-99 Member

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    Those charges of 2.8gr and 3.0gr of AP50N in a 38spl case 'should' be OK.

    I think you'll mainly just have a bit of inconsistant burning resulting in poor accuracy and some unburnt powder remaining.

    If they are not crimped at all, applying a firm crimp to 'em will help.

    If your looking for a light target load AS30N works well in 38spl 2.8gr to 3.1gr (812-871fps) with 158gr LSWC's.

    And AS30N 3.1-3.3gr in 357mag cases with 158gr to get similar velocities.

    I've used it with charges much lower in 357mag cases, with filler wads.
    This load gives me good accuracy at 25yds, but drop too much for the 50yd ranges.
     
  10. bukijin

    bukijin Member

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    Thanks for the replies and good advice everyone. Yes they are lead projectiles. I'm going to pull apart the 2.8 gr loaded ones and shoot the 3.0 gr rounds. I'll make sure the projectiles clear the barrels. They are lightly crimped.

    Im looking for a load that the gun likes using 158gr LSWC, .38 special cases and AP50N powder which I have on hand. For plinking at the 25m range rather than serious competition (for which I'll find a load for 148gr DEWC). I can't find data for +P loads using AP50N so I'll just make normal .38 loads in .38 cases.

    Thanks for that data Remo - I think there's a typo on pg 43 of ADI "Smokeless Powders Handloaders Guide" 4th edition. For 158gr projectile, it lists AS30N twice - one is the data you just quoted me - Im sure the one should be AP30N. Actually on pg 8&9 it lists AS30N twice also. Im probably going to buy AP70N powder next because there is data for +P and magnum loads using it.

    Lessons learned - read the reloading data correctly, document exactly what you do, carry a brass rod to the range and ask the experts on THR if you have any doubts.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    That PARTICULAR error is not likely to cause trouble; poofty loads but even your lightest will probably clear a lead bullet out the barrel.

    Do be more careful in the future and educate yourself on what you are shooting... and are not.

    A terrible thing. The .38 S&W originated in 1976. Its heavy bullet Super Police variant was the basis for the .38-200 calibre of Enfield, Webley, and Smith & Wesson revolvers standard in Commonwealth service from 1928 until well after WW II.
     
  12. jjohnson

    jjohnson Member

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    Yep. +1 on being careful.

    All good advice. You should take 'em to the range and shoot them last in case you get a bullet stuck in the barrel and make SURE each bullet clears the tube.
    They should - but if you do get a slug stuck in your barrel and fire another, a catastrophic :eek: failure :what: could occur.

    Most of us who reload have made a mistake or two along the way. Most of us still have our fingers and eyesight because we learn from mistakes and get very very cautious.

    Good of you to "cowboy up" on the mistake. Double checking things never hurt in a hobby where you're playing with explosives.
     
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    .38 S&W rocks. It is a fun little cartridge. :)
     
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I know Jim knows better. It must be past his bedtime. :evil:
     
  16. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    lol we need a proof reader
     
  17. fireflyfather

    fireflyfather Member

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    slightly light loads causing blowups is usually the result of using SLOW powders (rifle powders) in large (volume-wise) cases.

    If you load VERY light, it is possible to lodge a bullet in the barrel and have the next round blow up the barrel. You'd have to be loading REAL low, though.

    Pistol/shotgun powders do not usually result in kabooms from a slight undercharge. Dirty burning, or even leading are possible, but probably not a kaboom.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    1976 versus 1876 or 1877, what's a century on the internet?
     
  19. wyocarp

    wyocarp Member

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    Back to the question, shoot them! It's not like you just put the primers in and forgot the powder. They will shoot.
     
  20. bukijin

    bukijin Member

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    ..i shot them this morning without any problems :)

    After shooting one 3.0gr round I realized that they were all going to be fine. Pussycat load but actually quite accurate. I didnt really notice any difference in recoil or accuracy to the 3.3gr rounds i loaded. The gun seemed to like 3.5gr best for accuracy with those projectiles but the 3.7gr were a little more fun to shoot.

    Thanks for your help everyone.
     
  21. loneviking

    loneviking Member

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    Anybody have a picture of your gun that fires the .38 S&W? I hadn't seen or heard of the round until about six months ago, and then I started finding a few of these cases at the range. I've picked up probably 50 or 60 of these little cases (they are about half the size of a 38 spcl. case) and I'm curious as to what is firing them.
     
  22. evan price

    evan price Member

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    Old S&W Victory revolvers that went to England, for one. They were chambered in .38 S&W iirc.
     
  23. goon

    goon Member

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    One could argue that "usually" isn't good enough with reloading. ;)
     
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