38 special reloaders

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by 38 special, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. 38 special

    38 special New Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    I have 125 grain jacketed bullets, Bullseye powder and CCI 500 primers.
    Has anyone loaded 38 special with these compoments? Here is the dillema:

    The Lyman manual says starting load is 3.2 grains and MAX. load is 4.4 grains for 38 special and 5.0 grains is a +P load.

    Hodgdon gives starting load of 4.0 grains and 4.4 grains MAX. for 38 special

    Hornady says STARTING load is 4.5 grains to 5.0 grains MAX. for 38 special and 5.3 grains is +P.

    So if I go by Hornady manual, and load the Minimum load of 4.5 grains I am EXCEEDING both the Lyman and Hodgdon Manuals for max 38 special load.
    Also if I go by Lyman manual and load lightest (3.2 grains) load I am WAY under the recommended minimum fot Hornady manual which is 4.5 grains.

    WHAT GIVES?????
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I'll give you some more to think about.

    Speer #12 says for regular 38, 4.5. That's max, and they say "Do Not Reduce", so there is no "drop it by 10% and work up". They say going below 4.5 is not safe. For +P, they say 4.5 to 4.8.

  3. 38 special

    38 special New Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    Alpo, I'm glad I'm not the only one that has noticed the wild variations in the manuals. Although I have never had a problem with any of my loads the data has always bugged me.
    I can tell by recoil and other signs what mild, medium amd hot loads are but I have no idea when I load from 4.6 grains to 5.0 grains whether they produce hot or +P pressures /loads.It would appear that 4.6 grains and up would be considered +P in some manuals but not in Hornady manual. Ive never loaded over 5 grains although Hornady says +p is at 5.3 grains.
    Ive never bought +P factory loads cause they are around 26$ and up for like 20 shells.And who knows what these factory labeled +P rounds really are.

    Ive seen the same wild data with 140 grain and 158 grain jacketed bullets. 148 grain hollow base wadcutter loads min and max loads vary between manuals considerably as well.
    I guess Ill have to waste some money and buy some factory "+P" loads just to compare them with some of my reloads. Maybe Ill find my 5 grains of bullseye with 125 grain JHP are as hot or hotter than thye factory +P loads.
  4. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I kind of have the same dilemma, I have never loaded what I consider a +P load at all. My new LCR is rated for +P so I went by the Lyman #49 book and loaded them with 5.0 grains of bullseye pushing the 125 grain HP.

    I am going to the range in the morning and will try out those rounds plus a bunch of loads that I reloaded a few years ago with different 158 grain bullets. When I determine what round the LCR likes best, I will stick with loading that load. The only thing is that none of the 158 grain bullets are +P so I won't be able to see how it would work out.
  5. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    Reloading manual data can and does vary for numerous reasons, including that some publishers are more conservative (afraid of lawsuits) than others.

    Maximum recommended loads should be considered as an exact recipe for ammo; regardless of who published it. Some other loads like Alpo mentions in Speer #12, have been observed to create pressure problems using less powder than recommended. This seems counter-intuitive but it is a internal ballistics fact of life!

    In pre-plastic shotgun wad days, there was loading data for one popular fast burning pistol powder to be highly compressed (like 80-100 lbs) and used in 12 bore shotgun shells, producing pressures under 8000 psi.

    {Apparently, about 25 years ago, one popular 38 wadcutter load (that was ridiculously below any published minimums) is alleged to have damaged at least two S&W K frame revolvers on the MI Indoor PPC circuit. Thousands of rounds of this load were fired without incident. The powder manufacturer claims that detonation is impossible; and that there was not enough theoretical energy in the powder to break a cylinder. The foremost ballistics lab in the world has been unable to replicate alleged detonations with said powder. Yet, a 5X multiple charge of these alleged loads would not likely do any damage. Fact can be stranger than fiction. I advise staying within specific load parameters unless you have a well equipped ballistics laboratory, and the engineering knowledge and experience to be deviating. I advise avoiding tiny charges of powders, just as I advise against overloading by 10 or 20%}

    An exact recipe includes the cartridge case brand (because of small volume differences) powder brand and product name and charge weight {This should be obvious, but two US powder companies have used the same product numbers that were not load data interchangeable.}; brand and model # of primer {Changing primer brands alone has been observed to change breech pressures by 4000 psi}; brand and weight and product number (or name) of the bullet {Different weight distributions, and friction with barrel}; and of especial importance the seating depth of the bullet. {The initial volume inside the cartridge at ignition, can and does have a great effect on breech pressure. Small changes in volume can and do have a big effect on pressure. {Sometimes enough to wreck a 35000 psi design pistol with a max charge of fast burning powder.}

    There are those reloaders who think that the maximum published load in any manual or powder maker's published data is "just a good place to start". "After all the publisher, is just a nervous cat, and I can safely bump the data up at least 10%" they reason. Further they seem to reason "why bother loading if you can't load hotter ammo than you can buy"?; Such immature and careless persons often go a lifetime without a serious accident (likely because of a Guardian Angel) but it is not unusual for their abusive ammo to wear good guns out prematurely. This I have seen several times.
  6. 38 special

    38 special New Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    I loaded and shot some with 5 grains bullseye and 125 grain jacketed hollow point with cci500 primer. I shot them out of a Colt detective special. The Hornady manual says its just a hot 38 special load not a +P load.
    The loads were certainly hotter than my other 38 loads but the cases ejected without sticking and the primer hits were not pushed out recoil was pretty stout but the revolver is still in perfect time with no signs of a problem. Even though they are Supposedly not +P according to Hornady, I still would not shoot a lot of them in my Det. SPl. just because I dont want to stress it too much. I do most of my practice with milder loads.
  7. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    A "J" or "D" frame revolver fired with moderate load will likely last the average shooter a lifetime.

    Full power loads will likely loosen up 1950's and 60's revolvers in about 5000 to 6000 shots.

    Grossly high pressure loads will not likely break the gun, but will loosen it to being unreliable in less than 1500 shots.
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I have a Winchester pamphlet from in the 70s. Their 296 loads come with a warning. Load these loads. Do not deviate from these loads. Loading different powder charges can cause all kinds of bad things to happen. Makes it sound like 296 is a very dangerous powder to use. My 357 load comes from that pamphlet. 125 Sierra JCH over 18.5 of 296 with a CCI 550.

    Now Hodgdons owns Winchester powders. Go to their website and check their online data. 21.0 minimum to 22.0 maximum. What happened to "18.5, do not deviate"?

    Look in the Speer book. 18.3 - 20.3. Hmmm. Difference there, ain't there? Now look at H110, in the Speer book. 18.0 - 20.0. Why the difference? WW296 and H110 are the exact same powder. Made at the same powder mill, made by the same formula. Ask Hodgdons, they'll tell you. It's the same powder. Hodgdons site has loads for both 110 and 296, but they are the exact same loads. So why are the loads in the Speer book different from each other (aside from being different from the Hodgdons loads)? Quien sabe?

    Confusing as hell, sometimes.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
  9. Archie

    Archie Active Member

    38 Special and Reloading Manuals

    Why do reloading manuals differ?

    Here's why. It's pretty simple but it isn't so simple.

    Components vary.
    Not all use the same jacketed 125 grain bullet. The internal construction, including thickness and alloy of jacketing material, alloy of lead and clever hollow point shapes cause differences in how the bullet is forced into the rifling and that affects pressure curves.
    Not all primers are identical. Some run a bit hotter than others, some have a longer burn time.
    Cases vary; not just between brand names, but also between production runs. If the case weight varies, the internal volume differs and that affects pressure curves and maximum pressure levels.
    Gunpowder varies slightly between lots. Gunpowder sadly changes in burn rate over time, permanently.

    So, the possibility exists from one major extreme (tight bullet fit, very hot primer, tight case and fast lot of powder) to the other (loose bullet, cool primer, big case and slow lot of powder) one finds a serious disparity in pressure levels.

    Different testers who generate loading data do not all use the same firearm. Even two model 14 S&W revolvers made in the same year will give different results. Not to mention a four inch S&W revolver will produce different results than a six inch Colt revolver which is different than a Smith M52 which is different from a Universal test fixture.

    Not all testing is done on the same day. Hotter days give more pressure than cooler days.

    So; what to do? First, read all the information in the test specifications portion of the load data. See what sort of firearm was used and look at the specific bullet manufacturers and id numbers.

    Then, one might consider starting with the lowest of all the data shown and working up to where one runs out of data or reaches the velocity and/or accuracy levels one seeks.

    Reloading is not like drag racing; the fastest bullet is not particularly the winner.

    Any of that make sense to anyone?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  10. medalguy

    medalguy Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    New Mexico
    Yep, I highly endoese Archie's post. Always start low and work up. REPEAT: Start low and work up. Every firearm is different. I have a S&W Model 15-2 and a Model 36 and they each shoot best with, and handle best, different loads. They're both .38 Spec but each likes a different load for maximum accuracy..
  11. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida
    Alpo, I load 16.5 to 17.0 gr's. of W296 in .357 mag. using 158 gr. pills in my "N" frame S & W pistol. 17.0 gr's is hot in my opinion. 18.5 gr's. seems very ample for your 125's. Over 20 gr's of W296 in a .357 mag seems just silly and I wouldn't want to be around when someone trys that one.

    I agree though, the differences between all the information available on-line and in manuals is frustrating. My best advise to beginners is to start low and work-up the loads for your own guns slowly. A tenth of a grain at a time in small calibers like .380 acp, 9mm & .38/.357 mag. and .5 grains for larger capacity rounds using 50 grains or more like .30-06 and 7mm Rem. Mag..
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 38 special primer seating Nov 16, 2016
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 38 Special Case Gauge Problem Found ... Cause? Aug 14, 2016
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Going To Load 357 With 38 Special Dies Jun 21, 2016
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 38 special using Plated 158gr.round nose,ever use this bullet weight? May 23, 2016
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 38 SPCL not so Special Sep 11, 2015