Thoughts on a 38 special load?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by garydude, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. garydude

    garydude Member

    CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. Do not duplicate.

    When I was a teen I began reloading with Sierra's reloading guide. I loaded for my SW model 19 both 38 and 357 mag rounds with 158 grain LSWC. Sierra did not list any lead loads so I used the jacketed data for the 158 grain jsp. I used unique and picked the max for the 38 and the min for the 357. We loaded many thousands of these rounds, again all shot in a 357. Leading? You bet, but I had a lewis lead remover, so no worries. Pressure signs galore, but I didn't know it then (I followed my father's instruction, and he was a novice as well)

    The load in question for the 158 grain jsp was 6.1 grains of unique for the 38, and 7.2 for the 357. (Most current data gives 5.2 grains as +P for the 38.)

    I recently purchased Sierra's newest edition and, to my surprise, they still list the 38 load! Now I'm quite sure we never tried it with jacketed bullets, but I think it would show just as much in the way of pressure issues, especially the 38. So my questions are;

    Has anyone else tried the 38 special load (as directed, with jsp), and if so did you notice any pressure signs?
    If anyone is able, could you run the numbers through quickloads and see what they say?
    Also any thoughts on using jacketed data for lead? My understanding is that it's conditionally acceptable, and would likely give higher speeds. But would it also give higher pressure?

    Just for the record, I have no intention of trying this load again. I now understand proper powder applications and I've acquired caution with age. Funny how that works!:D:D
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    If I'm reading your post correctly, you used jacketed data to load lead bullets? You can't do that. Lead causes more bullet/barrel friction than jacketed does, so you get higher pressures with less powder.

    6.1 of Unique with a 158 lead in a 38 special? Overload. Serious overload. Like about 20%.

  3. garydude

    garydude Member

    Yes Alpo, you read it right. I did use lead for the loads. No way we could have afforded jacketed bullets.

    What's your take on using 6.1 on jacketed? This seems way high compared to everyone else's data. Could this just be a load that Sierra hasn't revised in a few decades?
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I wouldnt feel to afraid to try them in a rifle. but not a revolver. Unless it was chambered for .357 mag.
  5. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

    Mar 11, 2006
    NW Louisiana
    Hey...Alpo...You sure about lead causing more barrel friction than jacketed? I thougt it was the other way around..:confused:
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Hmmm. It appears you are right.

    Hodgdon data. 38 special, 125 lead, IMR SR 4756, starting load 5.4 grains for 13,300 PSI, max load 6.0 grains for 16,100 PSI.

    125 jacketed, same powder, starting load 5.3 grains for 14,700 PSI, max load 6.0 grains for 16,400 PSI.

    So the jacketed has a lower staring load, with more pressure, and the same max load, still with more pressure.

    Dammit, I ain't s'posed to be wrong about this crap. :(

  7. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Central, Ohio
    Alpo, I think it may be an age thing. Happens to me all the time any more. I have to be real careful any more.
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    158 GR. CAST LSWC Winchester 231 1.475" 3.1 782 11,900 CUP 3.7 834 14,600 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Winchester 231 1.455" 3.8 661 12,600 CUP 4.3 779 15,900 CUP

    158 GR. CAST LSWC Hodgdon H4227 1.475" 9.0 887 12,100 CUP 10.0 983 15,700 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon H4227 1.455" 9.0 769 12,400 CUP 10.0 864 15,500 CUP

    158 GR. CAST LSWC Hodgdon Universal 1.475" 3.5 756 9.600 CUP 4.5 974 16,700 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Universal 1.455" 4.0 678 12,600 CUP 4.4 778 16,200 CUP

    So, with the 231, the max lead load is 1/10 grain less than the starting jacketed load, but both the velocity and pressure is less with jacketed, which would seem to make lead have more friction.

    The 4227 load is identical, The start load, the speed is less, but the pressure is higher with jacketed :confused:, but with the max, both the velocity and the pressure is less with jacketed, which would again seem to mean the lead has more friction.

    The Universal load, the start loads are too far off to compare, and the jacketed max load is LESS than the lead max load. The jacketed max load has less pressure, but it also has less charge. Again, this seems to say that lead has MORE friction than copper.

    I think I was right the first time, and that 4756 load is an anomaly.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  9. garydude

    garydude Member

    Thanks much for the input. I think I basically created a weak 357 round and stuffed it in a 38 special case. I also think that because we fired them in 357 mag pistol we got lucky and survived the encounter.

    This does highlight the need to closely adhere to the published guidelines, and also that a little knowledge can certainly be a lot dangerous.
  10. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Central, Ohio
    Copper is harder than lead obviously but we are not comparing apples to apples here. The jacketed bullet is .001 smaller in diameter negating a direct comparison of friction and pressures. Or that is what I thought.:confused:
  11. sliclee

    sliclee New Member

    Jun 5, 2011
    Miami Beach Florida
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  12. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2009
    Simla, Colorado
    Alpo - you are the go-to guy about reloading in my book. All of this just proves the old point about using loads from a published reloading manual, and not substituting any components or experimenting outside of the load data.

    They hire guys in white lab coats who have pencil cases in their pockets and work in expensive laboritories to test this stuff. I figure they can do the work-up testing, and we can do the fine-tuneing and tweaking.
  13. Orin

    Orin Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Florida, USA
    Yup re the bullet sizes & hardnesses... But include how easily lead conforms to the groovies in the barrel! Situation worsens as lead fouling duz its thang. Ram a few leads down the chute & follow with hard jackets & you've a recipe for disaster if your pressures are maxed. Get a good book on loading lead. Stay away from pure/soft lead unless you're shooting squibs.
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