When we order bullets from one of the many retail sources in a particular diameter, we expect those bullets to be the diameter ordered. Now in some cases that is no longer true.
I ordered (1000) Remington 130 grain FMJ .356 diameter for my 38 Super. I selected that weight and diameter of bullet because much of what I have read indicates .356 diameter is usually more accurate than the .355 diameter.
The bullets I received measured .355 diameter exactly. All the code numbers were confirmed by Remington as being correct for their bullet that is listed as 130 grain FMJ in the .356 diameter. But, in fact, Remington is actually making the bullet sized to .355 diameter, not as listed at .356 diameter. I suspect Remington is trying to save money by not producing bullets in the .356 diameter, rather they use the .355 dies that are so common, and avoid the cost of the additional tooling.
For those of us that demand accuracy with our reloads, bullet diameter is important and must be as stated or we begin to avoid that manufacturers bullets.
Now I am in the process of contacting several of the manufactures in an attempt to determine which of them actually produces a 130 grain bullet in the .356 diameter and the code numbers for that bullet. Then I should be able to order the bullet I desire knowing the diameter will be correct.
Am I being overly critical of a bullet being .001 off from the stated diameter? I dont think so. Load testing, looking for the more accurate load, demands accuracy with all the components also. We cant be happy with powder charges being off by 1.0 grains any more than we can accept bullets being off by .001 in diameter.
According to my Sierra Manual 38 Super takes .355 buillets not .356. How did you decide you needed .356 bullets? Did you slug the barrel or ????
Barrel dimensions are not as closely controlled as you might think. Every manufacturer seems to have his idea of how deep to make the rifling in a barrel or the bore diameter for that matter. A rule of thumb (???) is the jacketed bullet should be about 0.001 inches bigger in diameter than the measurement from grove bottom to grove bottom on the diameter. Manufacturers sometimes follow that and sometimes don't.
Since the 38 Super is really a 9mm Super (uses 9mm bullets not 38 or 357 bullets) and 9mm bullets are traditionally .355 inches, I think the Remington bullets you got at .355 inches are probably right. If not then the tremendous force of the firing of the cartridge (probably 30,000+ PSI) will force it to fit the bore and groves of the barrel.
I think you are getting too carried away with bullet size. Yes, it makes a difference with cast bullets sometimes but rarely with gilded metal clad jacketed bullets as long as you are close to the nominal barrel size.
Anyway bullet diameter, as long it matches the nominal requirement, rarely can enhance or detract from the inherent accuracy of a semi-auto pistol. A whole bunch of other things swamp out any gains that might be made by a super accurate fit of the bullet ot the barrel.
On that subject, the fit of the barrel to the slide (bushing if there is one), tightness of the slide on the frame, repeatablitly of the slide to come to exactly the same battery against the barrel end, chamber fit to ammo, the breech fit of the barrel in length to the available space in the slide for it, and other things effect the accuracy a lot more than a mere 0.001 inches in the bullet diameter!
But this is just my opinion based on my experience and others may differ.
I selected the .356" diameter bullet because that is what the 38 Super was designed to use. If you are interested in the history of the 38 Super, send me your email address and I will send you a copy. It is very good reading.
I respectfully need to correct you. The 38 Super is not a 9mm Super. The 38 Super is a direct decendent of the 38 Auto or sometime called the 38 ACP. The 38 Super is exactly the same as the 38 ACP in all dimensions including the bullet. The bullet is .356" diameter.
The change to 38 Super was to provide higher velocity and therefore higher pressures that go with it. The 38 ACP can be fired in the 38 Super but the 38 Super should never be fired in the 38 ACP, unless the shooter can still see good enough to pick up the pieces.
My barrel does slug .355" and the .356" diameter FMJ bullet is correct for the pistol.
Several manufactures and loading manuals will indicate the use of .355" Diameter bullets. That don't make it right, but it does use the much more commonly available bullet and they work just fine most of the time. Some manufacturers, Remington included, go to the conservative side and produce bullets that are from .001" to .002" smaller than original design in order to keep pressures down. I spoke with one of the engineers at Hornady today and he stated Remington has asked Hornady to produce bullets for them many times. Remington requested the bullets to be of a diameter that is less than proper for the firearm, less than SAMMI spec. and less than original design. All because the smaller diameter will create lower pressures.
A Remington 110 grain 30 Carbine bullet is .307" in diameter. The same Hornady bullet is .308". Remington 303 British bullets are .001 to .002" smaller than Hornady bullets. The list goes on.
Remington and others have their reasons for the bullet diameters as do some of the loading manuals. Most of the time smaller than desing diameter bullets are the choice due to the lower pressures produced. Thats fine, but remember, lower pressures with a given powder charge means lower velocity also. Reloaders that have a cronograph will see this and increase the powder charge in order to get the desired velocity while watching for signs of pressure.
OK. You obviously have done your homework. But don't fault Remington because Sierra, Speer, Hodgdon and even Hornady list 0.355 inches as the diameter for 38 Super bullets. Only Lyman and Accurate Arms list 38 Super as 0.356 inches. I do agree with you that if Remington says their bullet is 356 and it is really 355 then that is wrong!
If its more velocity and energy you need change to a bigger hotter caliber like 40S&W or 10mm. The 40SS&W even comes in the smaller frame sizes of the 9mm if gun size is an issue. Trying to eek out the last few FPS from a 38 Super has gotten more than one tactical shooting competitor in harms way. I still insist there are many other things you can do to a good semi-auto to increase its accuracy, if that is your aim in using 356 instead of 355 bullets.
Apparently the bullet size for 38 Super is a much bigger issue than I realized or knew about. But with all the other options in hotter, faster, even better calibers now available that were not available 15 years ago, I see little reason to even shoot a 38 Super except that you may already have the gun. In recent times 38 Super was revived (and its chamber redesigned for headspacing on the case mouth rather than the rim to increase accuarcy in Colt guns at least) to allow small framed guns and a lighter recoiling caliber to meet "major caliber" in competiton. But others have stepped up with perhaps a better way with 357 Sig, 40 S&W. But this is just my opinion and yours may differ.
I agree with you that the various manufactures produce bullets in the .355" diameter and some of those are listed under 38 Super bullets.
Also, several of the manufactures produce bullet at the .356" diameter and list them under the 38 Super.
Winchester responded to my call today and confirmed their 130 grain FMJ bullet listed as .356" diameter is produced to a specification of .3559" to .3560" diameter. This bullet is intended for use in the 38 Super.
I spoke with Dave Emary, an engineer at Hornady yesterday and he confirmed the Hornady bullets are all manufactured to the diameters listed. They do produce several bullets in the .356" diameter also.
I haven't ruled out trying .355" diameter bullet in my 38 Super. Cost being equal, I have picked the .356" diameter bullet as a starter because accuracy could be better than the .355" bullet. I did say, "could be better", so the .356" gets tested first while the pistol goes through it's break-in period. .355" bullets will be tried later.
I am a paper puncher and shoot for fun, but I am serious about accuracy. My loads are mostly light to mid range. They are easier on the pistol and the shooter. After the pistol is well broken in, I will be testing several cast bullet loads. I cast my own, and that keeps the cost low. Low cost means I can shoot a lot more for the same cost. When load testing from a bench and rest narrows down the accuracy loads, I move to my Ramson Rest to see what the best possible accuracy is and chronograph the loads at the same time. At times the measured velocity of loads tells something all the rest of the testing misses.
A person that plays golf looks forward to hitting a hole in one shot. I try to get five or ten shots in one hole, but usually settle for one ragged hole and call that one of my tack drivers. Something less than one ragged hole is still very good accuracy if the groups are still small enough and these guns are a lot of fun to shoot.
By now you realize I like to shoot and shoot a lot. Load testing is one excuse to do a lot of loading and shooting. I have shot a lot of great groups, but being human, I don't do my best every day. I have my bad days too, and shoot less on those days.
My age and aging eyes, trifocals, make shooting with open sights limited to the point when eye stain starts messing up my groups, it is time to switch to something else.
I do have some fun once in a while shooting at steel targets and bowling pins. That means I so develope some loads for my revolvers and pistols that are closer to the top end but I still stay below maximum. I have my own shooting range on my property so range access is not an issue. Just the "honey do" thing get in the way at times. When she is happy, I can play.
If you email me I can send you the artical or the link to the artical about the history of the 38 Super.
I don't shoot a super but from what I understand the caliber was introduced in 1928 or 1929 & the bullets were plain lead which would have been properly sized to .356" if the barrel groove dia was .355". Jacketed bullets should be at groove size not larger. Even plain lead bullets for the super are often .355" nowdays & work well. The early problems with accuracy in the super were more about headspace problems than undersize bullets.
Popgunner is right about earlier 38 Supers having accuracy problems. Colt solved it by changing the headspacing to the cartridge's rim, like all other semi-auto pistol cartridges, from the miniscule rim as was done earlier. But that was done only in recent times when 38 Super regained popularity as a softer recoiling "Major power factor" tactical game gun.
If you don't know about "power factor", it is a measure of energy using a special formula. The clases for tactial shooting were broken into Major and Minor power factors and originally for 45ACP and 9mm respectively. But someone is always trying to beat the rules and someone decided follow up shots (double taps) were easier to do in 9mm than 45 because the mass of the bullets differed by a factor of two times and that means significantly more recoil in 45ACP, slowing down the double tap second shot. Hot 9mm's were becoming unsafe at the levels needed for Major so some reverted to the much hootter 38 Super and eventually other hotter small caliber cartridges like the 357 SIG.
The power factor formula is the bullet weight in grains times the velocity in FPS divided by 1000. The break point is 175 between Minor and Major. Hot 38 Supers make the break point and 9mm doesn't.
I realize, Bolt Man, this affects you little for your purposes, and I see your point of wanting to use .356 bullets. But there is little difference between 0.3559 and 0.3560, I would think. If the Remington bullets don't meet their own specs get them to replace them with bullets that do. If you did not use a set of micrometers to measure the bullet diameter and used common calipers or even digital calipers your meausrement accuracy of your tool is not sufficient. Few dial or digital calipers can read to much better than 0.0005 inches plus or minus. Most micrometers can accurately measure at least five times more accurately.
Last edited by LDBennett; 07-24-2008 at 09:01 AM..
I don't know where you come up with this "little difference between .3559 and .356". I believe I said very clearly the Remington 130 grain FMJ bullets measured exactly .355" in diameter. That is .001" difference not .0001".
I use micrometers that read accuractly to .0001" and you can read between the lines for even greater accuracy of .00005". I also have the gaging to check them for accuracy. I do have calipers, tape measures and yard sticks but I don't use them when extremely accurate reading are required.
I hear what is being said about 38 Super bullet diameters. I have read enough on the subject to fill a semi trailer. I'm sure I have already stated having read an artical by one of the gunwriters who did considerable testing with the 38 Super and he found much to his surprise, the .356" and even the .357" diameter jacketed bullets performed better than the .355". I think we all know the larger diameter bullets mean pressures can get high with less than suggested maximun powder charges.
I know there are lots of exceptions and everyones experience may be different.
That said, now I throw the curve ball. I had sent my 38 Super in for evaluation of a number of minor problems, not the least of which was the rear sight having to be moved way to the left to get the group centered on the paper at only 50 feet. Well, they decided to replace the pistol instead of fixing it. Their gun smith spent four hours polishing and hand fitting some of the parts that normally smooth up and work well after a break-in period.
I have to start over from the beginning with a new pistol. First I slugged the bore. Guess what? The groove diameter measures .3542". So, I will keep the Remington .355" bullets and call it good.
I fired over (200) of test loads left from testing the first Super yesterday and it was no surprise to see signs of higher than desirable pressure well below the suggested maximum listed powder charges. Even with all the bullets being .355" diameter. The primers were starting to flatten and some slight cratering.
I will be testing some of these borderline pressure problem loads using three different primers. Remington #1-1/2, Magtech #1-1/2 and Winchester small pistol. Many times I have tested these three primers with the powders I use and Remington primers have always yelded the lower velocity and extreme spread, Magtech velocity close to Remington, but extreme spread is higher and Winchester considerably higher velocity as well as higher extreme spread.
I have to rule out or in, the primers I used in yesterdays test as being the cause of the primer flattening and cratering.
In closing I do have to say the gun performed flawlessly. A minor exception to that being one of my magazines was causing strange ejection on the last round with loads that were near or at maximum. The last round empty gets turned around before it clears the gun and the case mouth hits the rear of the ejection port in the lower corner. The bevel area puts a big dent in the case mouth and the bottom rear of the ejection port, being nearly sharp, actually cuts the case mouth. Brass is junk. Only the one magazine does this so I am sure it has something to do with the mag. The slide has always locked open on the last round.
I have no idea how this can happen or exactly what the cause is, except it is related to the one magazine. Since I am not really interested in maximum loads it really isn't a problem for me. I just hate mysteries and consider it a challange to solve them.
"Winchester responded to my call today and confirmed their 130 grain FMJ bullet listed as .356" diameter is produced to a specification of .3559" to .3560" diameter. This bullet is intended for use in the 38 Super."
Then I said:
"But there is little difference between 0.3559 and 0.3560, I would think. If the Remington bullets don't meet their own specs get them to replace them with bullets that do."
Then you recently said:
"I don't know where you come up with this "little difference between .3559 and .356". I believe I said very clearly the Remington 130 grain FMJ bullets measured exactly .355" in diameter. That is .001" difference not .0001."
I realize it is now academic as the new gun does not have the classic 356 barrel but that's where I came up with it.
All kinds of people respond here. Some are accomplished reloaders and wish answers to tough reloading problem like you and other are beginning reloaders who wish simple questions answered. Often times it is hard to tell one from the other as neither give enough information for me to determine their status. For instance, you never even told me the brand of your gun (although it would have made little difference in my answers this time). I try to cover enough so that the newby gets his answer and the experienced reloader or gun owner gets enough info. Sometimes the inquiry is from someone like you that has the most inquisitive mind and whose experience probably is greater than mine. Ofter it is hard for me to distinguish which the poster really is. This was one of those cases.
Sorry to have wasted your time with info you obviously already had but my suggestion that the Remington bullets did not even match Remingtons own specs and should be returned for bullets that do, I think was valid and helpful. I wished not to insult you here by suggesting more accurate measuing equipment but my experience is that most reloaders are luck to own a calipers let alone a micrometer and I wanted to make sure such individual didn't rely on an inaccurate measurement to be bad mouthing Remington. In your case you had the tool and Remington deserved the bad mouthing, but I could not have know that from your responses.
You still missunderstand. The original and later posts indicate the problem bullets are REMINGTON, MEASURING .355" DIAMETER AND NOT THE LISTED .356", not Winchester at .3559" to .3560".
I did refer to a call I made to Winchester to find out what the actual diameter of their 130 grain FMJ bullets listed as .356" diameter was. Their answer was those bullets are manufactured to .3560" minus .0001" plus nothing. That means the bullets from Winchester can be .3559" to .3560". I hope this clears up your confusion.
Wow, now you have me a beginning reloader. I guess if 55 years in the game makes me a beginner then your right. I will not argue with you or try to impress on you what I know or don't know. I do know I can read well enough to easily understand what I intended to provide as a message to other readers on this forum and you seem to be the only one that doesn't get the point.
I posted this bullet issue to inform other reloaders that they may not be receiving bullets of the diameter they intended to purchase. Simply that and no more.
You have taken issue and missunderstood almost everything I have written here, you and only you. I have to believe you for some unknown reason have a mental block or some strange point you want to make.
We see persons like you on many other forums and all those posts and threads are counter productive to the intent of the forums.