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Ive wanted a 38 special since I was a kid and shot my uncles when i was 12. fast forward to today, anndddd, I still don't own one. was going to get one this year then the virus that shall not be named hit and they were as scarce as hens teeth. however prior to this ive been slowly buying components, casting bullets, also have a chamber adapter for my .410 etc. my Lee mold which is supposed to be dropping 140 grain SWC bullets, drops 148 to 150 grain bullets (i assume this is because im using reclaimed range lead)even after resizing them. i contacted Lee and they just responded with " we dont give reloading advice check your reloaders manual." here's my dilemma. the only data i can find is for 148 grain wadcutters. can i load my 148gr SWC on that same charge just keeping my OAL at or under the recommended 1.53 OAL. my understanding is a wadcutter is a longer bullet, so i have concerns about chamber pressures. Im fairly new to reloading only reloading about 300 12ga rounds, havnt blown up my gun yet, but i followed the recipe exactly.
 

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The data for the 148 gr. WCs is quite light, on the expectation that the bullets will be seated flush with the case mouth or just above. This reduces the space in the round, which gives rise to workable pressures with smaller charges of powder.
If you plan to seat the bullets to 1.53" overall, I think I'd use starting loads for 158 gr. SWC projectiles and work up by 1/10 grain from there.
A couple of questions come to mind:
1.) What type of propellant do you plan to use?
2.) How long is the barrel on your chamber adapter?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The data for the 148 gr. WCs is quite light, on the expectation that the bullets will be seated flush with the case mouth or just above. This reduces the space in the round, which gives rise to workable pressures with smaller charges of powder.
If you plan to seat the bullets to 1.53" overall, I think I'd use starting loads for 158 gr. SWC projectiles and work up by 1/10 grain from there.
A couple of questions come to mind:
1.) What type of propellant do you plan to use?
2.) How long is the barrel on your chamber adapter?
im undecided on propellant i have several to choose from, i have red dot, titegroup, alliant 410, 700x, 800x, pyrodex RS (lol). my chamber adapters are 3 inch smooth bore and a 8 inch rifles. i thought about fully seating the bullet which would bring it down to 1.43 OAL which is the same as the winchester 130 grain FMJ rounds i have. but again i was concerned with chamber pressures.
 

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This how I would approach it:
Check a couple of different manuals. Lyman Revolver & Pistol Manual has a lot of loads for cast bullets. Years ago RCBS printed a cast bullet manual.
Also, a WC and SWC are cast bullets, I would treat them all the same. So go ahead and load them! I generally start at the middle of the powder range. Seat them so they fit in your cylinder and put a good roll crimp on them.
I reload 38spl w/WCs, SWCs, Berry's(plated not jacketed) RNs, and treat them all as cast bullets and shooting in a S&W .357s. Normally jacketed bullets need a little bit more powder to produce the same velocity, so I don't generally use jacketed data for cast bullets.
 

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Do not use 148 wadcutter data.

Look for 150 grain semi wadcutter data. If you can't find that, using 158 grain semi wadcutter data will be fine.

The first mold I bought when I started loading 38 Special was a Lee 150 grain semi wadcutter. I don't remember if we are allowed to give loading data on this board or not, so I won't tell you the load I used, but I will tell you that when I started loading 158 grain bullets I used the same powder charge.
 

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I think I'd use starting loads of Red Dot or 700X, for 158 gr. SWCs. They both tend to be more forgiving than the other propellants you mention, and burn very well at typical .38 Spl. pressures.
I agree with C5Mackie, that you should consult several manuals concerning recommended loads, but sometimes too much information can be confusing. You can also consult the Alliant website (for Red Dot), which should be the final answer on what charge weight to use. Consult Hodgdon's website for data on 700X.
I think I'd seat bullets to the max length the chamber adapter will accommodate, or 1.53", whichever is longest, use the starting charge weight for the propellant you use, and work up 0.1gr. at a time until accuracy is what you desire. Unfortunately, workable accuracy may be somewhat less than that obtained from a revolver, unless your .410 shotgun is unusually equipped.
 

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If they are dropping heavy, do not use the data for that mold. At least go up to the next heavier bullet. Lighter bullets use a higher charge weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ok thanks folks, i think ill load up a few rounds with X grains of titegroup on the 148 grain load and few with X grains of titegroup on the 158 grain load and test them out, in the reloading manual i have the max at 148 is half a grain more then the starting load for the 158 grain, also its the lowest pressured charge of the powders i have that fit these loads. for reloading i have a speer manual, Lee 2nd edition, Alliant, and the hodgdon website, also have Lyman 5th edition, RCBS, and BPI advantages 9th edition for shotshell. i cross reference these to each other. oh yeah my primers for pistol are CCI 500 small pistol if that even matters in brass reloading like it does in shotshell

yeah im just plinking with these loads,
I think I'd use starting loads of Red Dot or 700X, for 158 gr. SWCs. They both tend to be more forgiving than the other propellants you mention, and burn very well at typical .38 Spl. pressures.
I agree with C5Mackie, that you should consult several manuals concerning recommended loads, but sometimes too much information can be confusing. You can also consult the Alliant website (for Red Dot), which should be the final answer on what charge weight to use. Consult Hodgdon's website for data on 700X.
I think I'd seat bullets to the max length the chamber adapter will accommodate, or 1.53", whichever is longest, use the starting charge weight for the propellant you use, and work up 0.1gr. at a time until accuracy is what you desire. Unfortunately, workable accuracy may be somewhat less than that obtained from a revolver, unless your .410 shotgun is unusually equipped.
as long as i can hit a paper plate or a soup can at 15 to 20 yards im content, when i finally get my 38 revolver it will have a 4 inch barrel. its why i passed on one so far this year all i could was snub nose and its not what i wanted.
 

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You might also look at a good 6" barreled .357. It'd tend to give you greater flexibility in terms of what you want out of a revolver. It's a better fight-stopper should you ever need it (God forbid), and will digest .38 Special ammo forever.
 

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I would use the loads listed for the 150 gr. DEWC in my Lyman manual, the cast DEWC is loaded higher than a HBWC. (I don't often recommend Titegroup for new reloaders as the charge "window" is often very small, in this case .4 grains min to max., but if good reloading safety techniques are used, it'll be ok). Seat the bullet to the crimp groove and forget the book OAL.

The 38 Special is a very "forgiving" round to reload but guessing/extrapolating any load data can be problematic, even dangerous for a new reloader. So, go slow and double check everything...
 

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If your cast bullets exceed the weight that they are supposed to cast to - the problem is likely the alloy has too much lead content and too little of the hardening alloys. Lead weighs more than tin and antimony - so the bullets will weigh more than they are supposed to. Your bullets might be too soft and might give you leading problems.

You sound pretty convinced with the use of those 140 grain SWC bullets. Nothing against them, but I've been shooting either 141 grain wad cutters or mostly 158 grain cast round nose bullets for many years. I started off with Bullseye powder but long ago I switched over to Unique. I liked Bullseye, but found Unique worked just as well as Bullseye, and I could also use it in many other calibers as well.
 

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I would use the loads listed for the 150 gr. DEWC in my Lyman manual, the cast DEWC is loaded higher than a HBWC.
I totally disagree with this.
Bullets, RN vs WC 2.jpg


The bullet in this picture is a round nose, but the principle is the same. A woodcutter is seated flush with the mouth of the case, leaving you very little powder space. A round nose or semi wadcutter or hollow point is seated much further out, giving you a greater powder space.

You absolutely do not wish to use wadcutter charges with a non-wadcutter bullet. Neither do you wish to use non wadcutter charges with a wadcutter bullet. Either of these two practices is asking for disaster.
 

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I CONCUR WITH ALPO, on the difference in seating depths for the WCs vs. "regular" bullets.

ALSO...

IF YOU CAN FIND IT
a 1 pound can of Alliant Unique is a valuable tool for working up a usable load in handgun cartridges where there are conflicting indicators. It's not the cleanest burning nor easiest metering propellant out there, but it's generally very forgiving of cautious reloaders who find themselves in "uncharted territory".
 

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Work up loads using the start load for the next heavier bullet. In your case, 158gn lead bullets.
Now, after almost 50 years of loading lead bullets, I can tell you that I don't even pay attention to actual bullet weight, but use data for that nominal weight and START at the START load and work up. So far, I have never had an issue.
If I have Lyman load data for that mold, I use that load data. Lead, even the HARD alloys, is still quite soft compared to copper and I simply have NOT seen any pressure effects as I always start at the start load or reduce the max load by 10% (multiply max load by 0.90 to get start load).
Lead bullet alloy: Pure lead produces the softest bullet, and smallest diameter and heaviest bullet weight. So, your alloy is softer than Lyman #2 alloy.
Be sure to slug your barrel so you know the groove diameter and ensure the as-cast diameter is larger and use as-cast. Never needed to size one of my cast bullets, and my early testing showed that as-cast was more accurate than sized bullets. Be sure your expander plug if large enough to expand the case ID to be 0.001-0.002" smaller than actual bullet diameter.
 

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Just a "reply" to the two posts disagreeing with me, one item; the 38 Special, being originally a black powder cartridge has a comparably large case capacity and is not as critical with powder charges vs case capacity/volume. Much, much less than the 9mm that is often warned about seating depth raising pressures dangerously if the bullet is seated .010" "too deep"...

Also compare the powder charges listed between a 150 gr. DEWC and a 155 gr SWC and you will see the "deep seated" wadcutter loads are comparably quite close.
 

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I use Unique with 148 Hornady swaged WCs with the absolute lowest powder load in any manual I have found and through all three of my 2” j frames (airweight 442, steel m49 and aluminum 38) it recoils like a .22 and shoots into almost one hole at 10 yds in all of them. I’m getting 550-600 FPS. I might step it up to 650-700 but I’m not sure I want to give up the accuracy and I think I will let my wife use it as her defensive round in the 49 since she is so confident in it. Nobody has volunteered to catch any of her rounds yet. The .38 Special is a forgiving AND very accurate round.
 

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Found this load data on Hodgdon/IMR/Winchester website.
The bullet used with this data is a Hornady, Lead Hollow Base Wad Cutter.
0CD92523-9612-4A1F-9048-3E1C1A192FFA.jpeg
 
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