Powder reccomendation for 38 sp & 357 Mag

This is a discussion on Powder reccomendation for 38 sp & 357 Mag within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I am one of those married with TiteGrup but I find a bit enerving to load for 38 Special/357 Mag and have that wee little ...

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Thread: Powder reccomendation for 38 sp & 357 Mag

  1. #1
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    Powder reccomendation for 38 sp & 357 Mag

    I am one of those married with TiteGrup but I find a bit enerving to load for 38 Special/357 Mag and have that wee little bit of powder down there in that big case and makes me crazy double checking for double charges. I wonder if there was a propellant that has more volume that can be used for this calibers. Clean burning would be nice but secondary.
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
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    Senior Member Array coffeecup's Avatar
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    My personal favorite is Unique. Kinda dirty, but I own a cleaning kit.

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    Love Unique as a general purpose handgun powder and use a lot of it. If it has a reputation as dirty I don't mind as I clean after each shooting session. Unique is dirtier with low pressure loads in revolvers. Loaded near max or loaded in semi-auto cartridges Unique is pretty squeaky clean. Some dirtiness that is blamed on Unique may be attributed to bullet lube.

    I don't like to put handloading data on forums as a general rule however no one's going to come to grief with my favorite .38 Special load. It's 4.8 grains of Unique behind a 158 grain cast lead bullet using standard small pistol primers.

    Here's velocity data from S&W revolvers of various barrel lengths.

    Barrel length, FPS, Ft./Lbs. energy
    2-inch 806 228
    4-inch 858 263
    5-inch 889 276
    6-inch 953 318
    8 3/8-inch 920 296

    I originally devised this load in order to duplicate the old .38 Special/158 grain published velocity standard of 860 fps as taken from a 6-inch barrel. I was striving to obtain this same velocity from my 4-inch barrel and this load did the trick.

    A maximum charge of Unique as listed in several revisions of the Lyman manual published in the 1960s and 1970s gave the following performance.

    2-inch 847 251
    4-inch 935 306
    5-inch 952 317
    6-inch 1021 365
    8 3/8-inch 1007 355

    This load would make a reasonable "FBI Load" +P duplication handload. Though the maximum charge of Unique as listed in the Lyman manuals of yore is considered excessive by today's way of thinking, it certainly is manageable in a quality steel-framed revolver.

    It will be noticed that the velocity falls off a bit when these two loads are fired in a long barreled Model 14 from what is obtained from a 6-inch barrel. I've wondered if accuracy is affected with the bullet "coasting" out of that long barrel but my Model 14 is outstandingly accurate with the 4.8/Unique load. Some current loading manuals list 4.5 grains of Unique with a 158 grain bullet as a MAXIMUM +P class load. This is just nuts! The .38 Special has been watered down to the point that it's pitiful. In my handloading career I've seen my favorite ol' .38 Special combination go from a middle-of-the-road handload to off the chart. I've prepared tens of thousands of this load and the revolvers love it.

    For the ultimate in target loads for the .38 Special try 2.8 grains of Bullseye behind a 148 grain hollow base wadcutter, flush seated using a wadcutter seating plug and just a hint of crimp. It's a long time standard target load that's very gratifying to use.
    marcclarke likes this.

  5. #4
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    Good info again Bryan - most useful.

    Without going into detail - and altho I have used Unique over the years (it seems less dirty nowadays)......... I have of late been using Solo 1000 (a Czeck powder) which is marketed I think by Alliant now. Anyways altho a shotshell powder it is good for price and there are figures available for .38 spl and .45 acp. I am using that now for both.

    It is a bit ''flakey'' - looks similar to red dot type powder but it meters well enough and this is for practice ammo - non critical stuff. Churn em out and shoot 'em

    Like any .38 Spl load tho, and as Miggy is aware - there will always be room for a double charge so - essential to eyeball a case with good light before bullet seating. Bullseye has to be one of the nastiest to double charge!

    I used to use 2400 for .357 but for ages now have stuck with my fave VV N-110 - that pushing a gas check Lyman 158 SWC - lovely bullet and a good round that serves for handgun and lever carbine too. VV is pricey tho and I will return to 2400 when my N-110 stock is finished.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    I like the 158 grain bullets in the .357 Magnum both for hunting and self-defense. In my view the vaunted 125 grain JHP is overrated. The .357 Magnum can fling heavier bullets with much authority so I'll leave the lighter 125 grain slugs to the 9mm and suchlike.

    The best .357 Magnums for me are the N-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers. I like their balance and their ability to handle quantities of any reasonable .357 Magnum load one wishes to shoot. I even confess to thinking that the S&W Models 27 and 28 are better than the Colt Python. The L-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers are classics and excellent choices if one likes the full lug which I distinctly do not. I have a soft spot for the S&W Model 19 in 2 1/2 and 4 inch guise but see no good purpose for making the .357 Magnum a home in the J-Frame revolvers.

    A good .357 Magnum version of the .38 Special 4.8 gr. Unique/158 grain lead SWC is to throw 5.0 grains of Unique into the .357 case. The velocity is about the same and the utility of this load is great. Though there's not a thing wrong with it, I don't shoot .38 Special ammunition out of my .357 revolvers.

    For full power loads I like to use either 2400 or H110 behind heavy jacketed bullets. Blue Dot works really well too but seems a bit more contrary when crowding maximum. Unique is not the world's worst powder that may be used to concoct a full power .357 Magnum load. I've had a suspicion that Unique is more erosive when employed at high pressures in revolvers so I don't make much use of it in high pressure loadings. It's fine for mild loads.

    Both Unique and Blue Dot will exhibit a tremendous muzzle flash when used at near max levels in the .357 Magnum especially with the 4-inch barrels or shorter. This flash is readily apparent even in bright sun and at night it's spectacular to see. Since I don't like to singe my shoestrings I stick with the 2400 and H110. My favorite H110 load sends a Sierra 158 grain bullet out the muzzle of a S&W Model 27 with a 6-inch barrel at 1402 FPS and my favorite 2400 load yields 1526 FPS with the same bullet.

  7. #6
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    "It is a bit ''flakey''

    Yeah well, I'm a bit flakey too.

    Here's a photo of each of the two .357 Magnum revolvers in my menagerie. Both the S&W Model 27 and Colt Python date from the late 1970's.




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    More good reading Bryan thanks ... dang now you got the pics flowing I gotta reply, even if we are on about reloading .


















    Better stop LOL ..... hey, want some more pics of stuff ... go peek at one of my sites.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Chris, your photos are really great! That 8 3/8-inch Model 27 sure is nice.

    I may need to place the camera on a mount to steady it. My photos are never so clear.

    Had a Model 27 with 8 3/8-inch barrel once. Shoulda kept it. The thing I remember most about it was varmint calling one night from the back of a pickup when a bud and I were set upon but a big owl. I whacked him with that long barrel in order to fend him off. He flew away and we weren't any the worse for wear though we had a good laugh over the escapade.

    I'll look in on your site.

  10. #9
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    Must use tripod Bryan ....... also too if possible manual controls so as to have aperture priority and then shoot time - I often need a second or more. Smallest aperture gives better depth of field which sometimes is very useful.

    My pics start huge but I reduce and compress a lot for web so they do lose quite a bit. Yours are actually pretty good for hand held but if you have available light that helps a good bit - Pogo has lovely pics and I am sure he uses tripod ... plus total control on lighting is handy, using a diffusion method if possible - like a ''light tent".
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  11. #10
    Member Array pistola's Avatar
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    Wink 38/357 Powder

    I have always used Unique for any and all mild to mid-range loads.
    H110 was my choice for upper end loadings......Good chance to show off my circa 1950, pre model number,5 screw,with 3.5 inch barrel.
    U.S. Army Veteran

  12. #11
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    This little camera features 8.6 pixel capabilities but hasn't got much in the way of manual adjustment. It can be a bear to make it do what I want it to do at times. Here's a couple of examples: one that finally turned out after many tries and one that didn't ever focus properly.

    I was showing a 200 grain Remington .38 component bullet here in comparison to a couple of other .38 bullets. The camera wanted to focus on the background rather than the bullets but finally focused properly. Problem is, I don't know what I did to cause it to focus.



    I stood a KelTec .380 and a Colt .25 up on a log to take a photo of their muzzles. In this instance the camera never did cooperate, always focusing on the background brush.


    Lest anyone think that this has totally descended into topic drift, I might point out that I used one of these old Remington 200 grain lead round nose bullets in a .38 Special to take a white tail buck at about 17 steps, my first deer taken with a handgun, back about 1984. I used my S&W Model 14 8 3/8-inch and a maximum charge of 2400 as published in my old Lyman manual. Velocity was around 925 fps and the deer staggered a few rickety steps and fell heavily on his side and expired.

    I've seen it stated on several forums lately that the .380 is equal to the .38 Special.

    Not so!


    Here's my ugly mug and the S&W Model 14. I was awarded the nice knife for shooting the group shown in a previous post, by Erich, a Forum member here, who sponsored a "postal" match on the now defunct handgunplace forum. I'm actually also ruefully displaying a cut on my left thumb that I gave myself less than 15 seconds after opening the package that held the knife.

  13. #12
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    Ahhh that one on left looks like a Lee.

    Trouble with auto focus is, if you have distant stuff, it does want to snag that. However most cameras have a means of aquiring auto focus as half push and then hold that once correct, and move to center and take the pic you want. This pic here - I expect finally the auto latched on to the center bullet.

    8.6 Mpx is almost not needed for web pics and probably it'll let you take smaller ones - but still in the end they need cropping and/or reducing. I find linear interpolation works best compared with bi-cubic ... which seems to emphasize pixel ''staircasing'' effect.

    My camera was bought after searching for something with almost entirely manual options beyond point-and-shoot. Only trouble is it is only 72 PPI whereas I prefer 150 or better. If I could I'd spend a small fortune and go for top range Canon or Nikon SLR stuff!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    To add Bryan ... re the bullet pic .... it might suit better with that type of shot - to use a large piece of white card, bent so as to have bullets on it and some as background. Then maybe use another white card for fill-in light and/or diffuse sun with some white cloth - soften shadows.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post


    Here's my ugly mug and the S&W Model 14. I was awarded the nice knife for shooting the group shown in a previous post, by Erich, a Forum member here, who sponsored a "postal" match on the now defunct handgunplace forum. I'm actually also ruefully displaying a cut on my left thumb that I gave myself less than 15 seconds after opening the package that held the knife.

    Now you may think this guy is tough because of the mean face, the gun and the knife...NOT SO! Anybody that actually has survived the works Milton, Chaucer and Dante has to be scary!

    Guys thanks for the info. I'll try Unique but now I am intrigued buy the wadcutters.... I might have to experiment!
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

  15. #14
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    Yeah, I'm so goofy I even enjoy reading that stuff.

    Oooo... you really ought to treat yourself to the hollow base wadcutters. There isn't much in this world more pleasant than an afternoon spent with a good .38 Special and a few boxes of HBWC ammunition.

    The HBWC's work well with other fast burning powders like Red Dot, Green Dot, and Win231 amongst others.

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    P95Carry, that is indeed a Lee bullet on the left. My guess is the 357-158-TL tumble lube and the one on the right looks like a bullet from Montana Swaging.

    I've recently purchased a 4" GP100 off gunbroker. Changed out the springs, added Williams Firesights and a Hogue tamer grip. Was a beater gun for $280.

    I just started to load for it. At my disposal I have Blue Dot, Titegroup, HS6, W571, Unique, W231, Longshot, and 2400 to try out. So far I've only loaded some with Blue Dot and Unique but have yet to test them. Going shooting later this afternoon. Have to size and lube some sample bullets people sent me off of CB.com.

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