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Discussion Starter #1
Looking to reload some ammo for my Ruger LCR, want to load up around 2,000 rounds to keep in stock. Ive loaded revolver ammo with a few different powders, including CFE Pistol, HS-6, Clays, Trailboss, H110, True Blue, and maybe others that Im forgetting. What Ive noticed is some powders dont give a full burn, and leave unburnt powder all throughout the gun, especially the HS-6. Im not worried about soot or general grime after a shooting session, that doesnt bother me at all. There is no way around that. The problem I was having is every time Id go through 5 rounds, it was like I opened up the gun and sprinkled powder on it, and on my hands. Shooting the Clays and Trailboss, for whatever reason, the gun shoots clean, no excessive powder anywhere. I could go with a Clays or Trailboss, but they are bottom of the barrel when it comes to velocity.

The powders that Im looking at for my purposes (probably a 110gr JHP at the highest velocity possible out of a 2" barrel) are CFE Pistol, Longshot, IMR Target, IMR Red, IMR Blue, Winchester 244, or and any other powder that will give me a higher velocity. Has anyone loaded some rounds with any of these in a snub revolver? Id hate to buy an 8lb jug of powder and then my first range trip when I go test fire a few of them, I find out that Im getting tons of unburnt powder and its not a good load.
 

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There is a powder used in what is known as “ The Load “ in 38spl affectionate circles, but I’d be hesitant to advise anyone to go in that realm. Maybe @bmcgilvray will stop by and offer some suggestions on it since he has more experience with it.

I have put together 38/44 pressure loads, but you don’t get full burn in a snub.

Actually, IMO it’s hard to beat a full dose of Unique in a snub, which is what I run under a 110 XTP HP. I’m getting on average about 1050 fps out of the 1 7/8 inch tube with complete burn. Recoil is not bad at all, and it gives a nice flash effect from the cylinder gap and muzzle. I have also tested that load with a deer skull cap covered by a 1/4 inch piece of meat, wrapped in a t-shirt, and water jugs. It gives good penetration and expansion, and splits the first jug pretty good on impact. It is my carry load in the snub.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, thats the type of thing Im looking for. I want a load that Id feel comfortable carrying, but can also economically stockpile a bunch of. Im not too worried about pressures being unsafe, as its a 357 Mag revolver, and Ive shot some pretty nuclear handloads and factory ammo out of it. Handles it no issues. If it can take a book max charge of H110 powder, which is a compressed load of a slow powder, Id feel pretty safe going pretty hot on a 38spl +p load.

It would especially be great to get a load worked up with IMR Red, as Powder Valley has a smoking deal on it right now, at $14.50/lb.
 

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Take a look at power pistol.
 

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I agree with using fast burning powders. I can't say about IMR Red, I never used it, but it's a fast powder. I use a lot of titegroup, but I don't shoot snubby's. Longshot will make an incredible fireball out of a snubby!
 

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I am a very simple man and a somewhat creature of habit. I recently started to handloading again, due to the shortage of basic training ammo, (but I don't even have any place to train).

I have been using Alliant Bullseye for years, I normally buy an 8lbs. Keg and it will last me for two years, since I load 9mm/38 Special/357 Magnum. In these loads, you can load up to 8K rounds with 8lbs. of Bullseye.

I have been using 4.6gr of Bullseye with 125gr Bullets as my go to load. It is low level +P load, as it falls between an overcharge standard load, (above 4.5gr), but undercharge +P load (below 4.8gr).

Just my two cents.

I shoot this load out of S&W 642 Aluminium Frame and a S&W Model 60 3in, .357 Magnum.
 

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Yeah Chuck;

Hah! Both of you Chucks.

I'll probably wander in if it's about .38 Special.

I can mostly offer this old thread. It and a couple of linked threads contained within offer a chronograph test survey of .38 Special. I've not really revisited the chronograph with the .38 Special cartridge since posting this.
https://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/reloading/125541-four-high-performance-38-special-handloads.html

I'm not a lot of help as I've long since strayed away from light bullet loads in the .38 Special for any purpose, especially in short barreled revolvers. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s I went through a period where I embraced light 110 grain bullets at screaming hot velocities out of .38 Specials. Even shot them in .357 Magnums.

When I was really young a good friend of my parents who worked for the Treasury Department used to slip me the occasional box of "Treasury Loads", a Winchester Western creation that produced high velocities with 110 grain jacketed hollow points. Seems that it was the first "+P+" designated ammunition that I ever saw. Right on the heels of that source I ran onto a provider of Super Vel 110 grain jacketed hollow point ammunition. Super Vel may have gone defunct by the early 1980s, but the seller had a large stock of the ammunition.

Since I was a handloader I got into the act and cooked up a couple of hot 110 grain .38 Special and .357 Magnum handloads of my own. I began to sour on the 110 grain bullets when I wasn't having notable expansion out of the bullets in the "non-tests" I contrived. The bullets' expansion performance was not uniform and was not much. A couple of downed deer that required finishing shots didn't improve my opinion of light weight bullet performance. Besides, the fixed sights of my favorite Model 10 didn't shoot the 110 grain bullet to point-of-aim at longer yardage.

I can offer two loads from my handloading notes that worked in my Smith & Wesson K-Frame guns back in the day. They're maximum published loads in the 1978 Sierra manual which I still have and still use. Work up to this charge weight of powder if one is entertaining trying them.

Sierra 110 grain JHC, 7.5 grains Unique, Remington 5 1/2 primer, in Smith & Wesson nickel-plated cases
4-inch barrel: velocity 1295 fps, muzzle energy: 409 ft./lbs.
8 3/8-inch barrel: velocity 1434 fps, muzzle energy: 500 ft./lbs.
Tested 2/25/1980


Sierra 110 grain JHC, 11.3 grains Blue Dot, CCI 550 primer, in Smith & Wesson nickel-plated cases
4-inch barrel: velocity 1388 fps, muzzle energy: 471 ft./lbs.
8 3/8-inch barrel: velocity 1573 fps, muzzle energy: 605 ft./lbs.*
Tested 6/23/1980

Oehler Model 12 chronograph
All loads tested in 10-shot strings and averaged.

*Yeah, in .38 Special which is now the wilting violet of the handgun world and currently only utilized in shrunken snubs. Of course hauling all that barrel length out of a holster in an emergency situation would be silliness, but the 4-inch delivered the goods as well. The 2-inch revolver is my least favorite way of doing .38 Special, but they do serve a purpose.

I got my first J-Frame Model 36 during the time I was playing with light bullet loads and fired it with them, but never chronographed the results.

Man I'm a geezer for that's been 40 years ago plus or minus!

The manufacturers' component 110 grain jacketed hollow point bullets may have improved since when I was using them.

If I wanted to load an ultimate performance load for a 2-inch snub .38 Special I'd use 158 grain lead semi-wadcutters and 2400 over any other powder choice. Sure it leaves crumbs of half-burned powder but it displays reasonable extreme spreads and good useful accuracy near point-of-aim out to 25 yards or so. I can clean the revolver afterward.

2400 offers effectively the same performance as "The Load" and appears to be much more gentle.

"The Load" was a stunt. I am associated with a bunch of forum friends who got to playing with SR 4756 as published for .38 Special in the Speer No. 8 manual published in 1970. We simply named our creation "The Load." It's the starting load listed for SR 4756. I'd hate to try to exceed the starting load for it displays both all the performance one could ask and ample pressure.



One of the friends runs a bullet casting operation. He sent some handloaded preparations of "The Load" to SAAMI for testing and reported that they determined The Load operated at 26,000 PSI.

I did not know one could have his loads tested, but apparently if one pays a fee and send a batch of ammunition they will test it. At least they did back in 2010.

I've never discovered an instance where fast burning powders could beat out slow burning powders in short barreled revolvers. The highest velocities in short handgun barrels, regardless of the cartridge, will always be delivered by powders in the slower burning rate range for a given cartridge. This has held true for me across all barrel lengths. With the faster powders the pressures become elevated before one can achieve the same velocities that he's obtaining with slower burning powders that are also producing lower apparent pressures.

While we're at it, 5.1 grains of Unique under a 158 grain jacketed or lead bullet duplicates most of the best of the +P factory loads using that bullet weight.
 

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I started loading Titegroup in the .38s, but I found even light loads with wadcutters were pretty snappy in recoil. I've since moved to Unique, which covers the bases for me and is much more comfortable to shoot, even in the lightweight snub.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great info. It looks like the IMR SR 4756 was the type of thing I was looking for, but it has since been discontinued.

My two options for bullets are either a jacketed lightweight hollow point, or a heavy LSWCHP. I feel like with the snubs, the mid range 125gr bullets don’t give enough velocity for expansion, and not enough weight for good penetration. I’m sure it would still work, as what I carry now is a Remington 125gr SJHP, I just don’t see it expanding.
 

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Great info. It looks like the IMR SR 4756 was the type of thing I was looking for, but it has since been discontinued.

My two options for bullets are either a jacketed lightweight hollow point, or a heavy LSWCHP. I feel like with the snubs, the mid range 125gr bullets don’t give enough velocity for expansion, and not enough weight for good penetration. I’m sure it would still work, as what I carry now is a Remington 125gr SJHP, I just don’t see it expanding.
I have a different view of the light weight bullets for SD purposes now than I use to.

One of the main reasons I went that route is to get poa/poi right for my airweight snub. Every one I have ever had has a high poi; the all steel snubs always shot 158’s right or close on the money.

So, I did some testing using meat and bone backed with water jugs shot from about 3 yards away, and discovered to my own satisfaction that for frontal shots, the 110 weight XTP HP has ample and consistent penetration for my purposes; plus expansion.
It may not meet the FBI protocol, but it meets my expectation of always expanding and penetrating at least 9-12 inches. I don’t know of anyone who has lungs and heart deeper than 6 inches below the skin surface.

Now, I would not use it for hunting because I want a different result for that. But I am satisfied with it for my intended use.

Another benefit as pointed out above by @gasmitty is that it is pretty nice to shoot out of the snub, even a lightweight.
 
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I shoot a lot of Tite Group, Mostly because its cheap, and clean. I use a lot of both Unique, and Herco for performance loads. They are right next to each other on the burn chart. The biggest difference between them is at Max loads Unique has a white hot flash that can easily be seen in daylight! The Herco with the same load has a burnt orange flame color. The difference when shooting at night is like ..... Night and Day!

A max load of Tite Group has never been my most accurate load, but it shoots clean. Nearing max loads of either unique or Herco I can do pretty well.
I have not gone out of my way to create a real performance load for my snub yet, But from what I see on paper I might try CFE. It seems to generate velocity without the pressure spike. From a 7" test barrel it pushed a 125 gr jacked bullet just under 1200 fps but at 18,600 PSI. With the same bullet in a standard pressure load they got over 1100 fps and 16000 psi. You are not giving up much velocity to lower the pressure.
Will I get near that performance from a less than 2" barrel? NO, but its a place to start. And its a newer powder that I have not tried yet. Good Luck. DR
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Another thing that interests me is the Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHP +p load. Somehow they get insane velocity out of a snub which really flattens out the front of the bullet and expands it, while still getting good penetration.

Seems to be an ideal load, but people have a hard time duplicating it. I’ve read many old threads of people trying to get the same velocity BB does, and they can’t do it with any published book max loads. Supposedly the owner of BB gives limited info, but says it is within SAAMI spec of +p pressures.
 

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Another thing that interests me is the Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHP +p load. Somehow they get insane velocity out of a snub which really flattens out the front of the bullet and expands it, while still getting good penetration.

Seems to be an ideal load, but people have a hard time duplicating it. I’ve read many old threads of people trying to get the same velocity BB does, and they can’t do it with any published book max loads. Supposedly the owner of BB gives limited info, but says it is within SAAMI spec of +p pressures.
My guess would be because they have a lab so they can mix powders which helps create so much velocity and I think that is something most hand loaders stay away from.
 

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I had to hurry through my previous post in order to meet a doctor's appointment so didn't get to review it for content.

I failed to add in old chronograph test results with the .38 Special Winchester Western 110 grain Treasury Load and the Super Vel 110 grain load. A quick search located this post contained within an old thread right here on Defensive Carry that gives the data so I don't have to reproduce it now. https://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL1600/481405/1988188/226093452.jpg

I see that I did revisit the Super Vel 110 grain load in a 2-inch .38 Special and it revealed the following:

MV 981 fps
ME 218 ft./lbs.

This performance is a bit feeble in my view. If I can gain that velocity with heavier bullets than I'll give light bullets a miss. Maybe they expand well and maybe they don't. I don't worship at the alter of expansion. I like weight.

I went from someone who had to try every powder on the market in the 1970s and 1980s, keeping up with all the new ones as they were introduced, to someone who is jaded about newer propellants and how they are lauded as the latest and greatest. Color me skeptical. A few forays into newer powders hasn't impressed me with how much better they are or how much more accuracy or performance I'm getting out of them then I ever did with the ol' tried and true.

The makers gotta keep us buying powders and inducing us to try the "new and improved latest and greatest" is a sure way to reel us in.

I could grow old(er) and be happy with Bulls Eye, Unique, and 2400 for handgun cartridges of all kinds. I'm saying that even though H110 is my very favorite powder in .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum as well as for the .22 Hornet and .30 Carbine rifle cartridges.

At the end of the day I could live with nothing but Unique and get along famously. I've had fabulous results with Unique in everything from .25 ACP to .44 Magnum. It may not be at its most efficient best with minimal charges for target loads or give the very highest obtainable velocities in the straight-walled Magnum revolver cartridges, but it'll deliver good all-around performance in non-magnum handgun cartridges as well as real magnum performance usefulness in the Magnums.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Id definitely buy some Unique, but apparently you aren’t the only person who is a fan... I can’t find it anywhere online. The only local places that sell powder really charge a premium for it, so I’m stuck with ordering online, and because of the hazmat fee, I’m stuck ordering quite a bit to make it worth it.

I’m planning on probably buying 10-12lbs of powder and 5-8k primers between myself and a friend. He wants 2-3k rounds of ammo and I want 3-4k. Realistically I’m probably overthinking it, and there’s enough powder in a single pound to reload quite a few rounds. Add to it that most powders are pretty versatile, and I feel like I would be pretty well off buying like 3-4lbs each of IMR Red and IMR Target (because of the deal) and then like 4lbs of CFE Pistol because it works with pretty much every pistol round as far as I can tell by looking at the load data.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Will do!

Was just looking around, and found GT Bullets. All kinds of soft lead hollow points from 130gr all the way up to 185gr. The one Im looking at is the 160gr, but I dont see any reason I couldnt use 158gr load data. Im thinking one of those over a nice big charge of CFE Pistol might be the ticket. Even with the heavy for caliber bullet, the soft lead should still flatten the nose out pretty nice while allowing it to still penetrate deep.

*adds to bookmarks to order in a couple weeks*

Might even try some of the big fat 185gr bullets as well just for fun.
 
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