38 Special Information needed.

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CHEVYINLINE6

Single-Sixer
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Nov 29, 2022
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Anybody know about the reloading site called ( Reload Ammo ) ? I was looking for some information on reloading 38 Special ammo with 158 grain JSP and JHP Speer bullets. The powders I have to use are ( Bullseye ) ( Unique ) ( IMR 700X ) ( Universal Clays ) ( Alliant 2400 ) I want something mild to shoot to punch holes in paper and tin cans. All my reloading manuals are about 20+ years old. Are Berry's plated bullets any good ? After i use up the above mentioned Speer bullets, I will be buying cast lead bullets. I am using a RCBS Rock Chucker press.

CHEVYINLINE6.
 

Johnnu2

Hunter
Joined
Jun 26, 2003
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Location
NYS
I like Berry's plated bullets... I use them for my 9mm (1911) and my 38Super (1911). I haven't bought any in several years, so I can't complain about current pricing. I use the (I think they call it) triple plate variety... for my casual plate plinking, they work great, don't lead and up to a few years ago were reasonably priced.
J.
 

Pál_K

Guns. I has it.
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Gig Harbor, WA, USA
For any caliber, this site:


Lets you pick the bullets you're interested in, the powders you're interested in, and which manuals to look at.

Just check or uncheck the boxes.

It will then display all the loading data, showing bullet, primer, powder, velocity, etc., and where the data came from.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Sep 18, 2002
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Lake Lure NC USA
I always suggest buying the latest manuals due to better data & safer data.

But any copper plated bullet should be loaded using the info for lead bullets. The plating isn't as tough or as good as many of the powder coated ones. Berry's bullets are just fine to use. I've shot several thousands of them over the years.
 

Topfueler1

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 29, 2023
Messages
49
Location
Arbutus, Maryland
I have been handloading for forty plus years. I load for the .38 Spec./.357 mag and .44 Spec./.44 mag. I have a very accurate load for the .38 Spec. 158 gr. Winchester 231 or Hodgdon HP-38 they are both the same powders. I just loaded 100 Berrys plated 158 gr. FMJ over 4.3 grains of Win. 231 for target and plinking. A nice mild load not a +P although I do load +P. You can go on the Hodgdon website and get your loading info. I do buy the new Hodgdon manual that they put out each year though. I also have a RCBS Rock Chucker like you have. I've had it since 1983 still like new and built like a tank. Hope this info helps you out.
 

flyer898

Bearcat
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Dec 19, 2023
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46
Location
Rancho Cordova, CA
I started handloading in 1980. My first set of dies was a non-carbide .38 special/.357 magnum set. A couple of years later I bought one of the first Oehler Model 33 Chronographs.
The .38 Special is an easy cartridge to load, and other than double charging a case, very forgiving of the new-reloader's learning curve.
I have a collection of loading manuals and frequently compare new data to older data. Bullets change and powders have changed over time. I have used Bullseye, 231, Blue-dot, and Unique with good success in loading .38 Special for serious target, plinking, and varmint shooting. I have yet to find a load that was not at least acceptable in terms of accuracy and function.
The .38 Special is a great cartridge to start your reloading journey. I recommend reading a lot and using your critical thinking skills and increasing reloading experience to separate the written wheat from the chaff - not all writers are created equal.
I mentioned a chronograph - I consider this a necessary piece of the reloaders ensemble.
 

Paul B

Hunter
Joined
Dec 4, 1999
Messages
2,218
Location
Tucson, AZ
The only jacketed bulle I run in my S&W M60 .38 Spl. is Federal 125 gr. Plus P hollow point factory ammo.
I run two cast bullet loads in the .38 Spl. A 148 gr. wadcutter over 3.0 gr W231 or a 158 gr. Semi-wadcuttter over 5.0 gr. of unique. A bit snappy but OK in the M60 snub nose.
Paul B.
 

Pál_K

Guns. I has it.
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My choice has been 3.9gr of W231 and a cast 158gr BBSWC (bevel-base semi-wadcutter) that actually weighs 155gr on average. CCI-500 primers; PMC brass.

It's a mild and precise load, but I haven't chronographed it.

A pound of W231 with this load gives you well over 1700 rounds.
 

bhp9

Bearcat
Joined
Jun 14, 2024
Messages
15
Location
OH
Anybody know about the reloading site called ( Reload Ammo ) ? I was looking for some information on reloading 38 Special ammo with 158 grain JSP and JHP Speer bullets. The powders I have to use are ( Bullseye ) ( Unique ) ( IMR 700X ) ( Universal Clays ) ( Alliant 2400 ) I want something mild to shoot to punch holes in paper and tin cans. All my reloading manuals are about 20+ years old. Are Berry's plated bullets any good ? After i use up the above mentioned Speer bullets, I will be buying cast lead bullets. I am using a RCBS Rock Chucker press.

CHEVYINLINE6.
I strongly suggest you never ever rely as gospel any loading information you get off the internet.

Break down and buy the Lyman Loading Manual, both the standard and the one on cast bullets. Its been my bible since 1967 and I have all the "updated revisions" as loading data changes and more often than you might think. What is a safe load today may be unsafe in the future. I cannot remember how many times powder companies have changed the burning rates of their powder and most do not tell you that they did. Only an updated current loading manual will tell you this. The really smart hand loader will buy a copy of "all" the various loading manuals out there as they are not that expensive and all of them do not agree with each other either. Yes sometimes they even make mistakes and when you are comparing one manual to another its easy to see when this happens.

After all its your eyesight and even life that is on the line here. I do not want to seem melodramatic but as they say "A few well spent bucks on a loading manual just might save you half a million in doctor bills". And yes it can happen to you. Not to mention blowing up a rare, or expensive or collector grade gun in the process.

I might add the Lyman Manual has a wealth of information in it on how to safely and properly reload ammo and how pick the right powders and primers and when I bought mine I read it cover to cover "first" before going full blast and picking out a load and then letting it rip off.
 
Last edited:

Pál_K

Guns. I has it.
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Gig Harbor, WA, USA
I strongly suggest you never ever rely as gospel any loading information you get off the internet.

Wise words.

... The really smart hand loader will buy a copy of "all" the various loading manuals out there as they are not that expensive and all of them do not agree with each other either. ...

I am not very smart, but I buy reloading manuals about every five years from all the major bullet, powder, or reloading companies. They are enjoyable to read and each has its own unique character. They are getting expensive, though.

Old photo:

IMG_3823.jpeg
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2024
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44
Location
Atlanta, GA
Anybody know about the reloading site called ( Reload Ammo ) ? I was looking for some information on reloading 38 Special ammo with 158 grain JSP and JHP Speer bullets. The powders I have to use are ( Bullseye ) ( Unique ) ( IMR 700X ) ( Universal Clays ) ( Alliant 2400 ) I want something mild to shoot to punch holes in paper and tin cans. All my reloading manuals are about 20+ years old. Are Berry's plated bullets any good ? After i use up the above mentioned Speer bullets, I will be buying cast lead bullets. I am using a RCBS Rock Chucker press.

CHEVYINLINE6.
20 year old load books, the new ones are not any different except adding new powders and new cartridges. I have yet to see a change in any books I have, Lyman, Hornady. Hodgdons, Alliant, Nosler, Speer or Sierra across multiple releases. Personally, I don't go by any reloading data except in the books or manufacturer's site data. I have been loading and reloading for 55+ Years to include ammo mfg FFL license. The best tool is a chronograph. That is my true data placed in my load book for each firearm.
 

bhp9

Bearcat
Joined
Jun 14, 2024
Messages
15
Location
OH
Wise words.



I am not very smart, but I buy reloading manuals about every five years from all the major bullet, powder, or reloading companies. They are enjoyable to read and each has its own unique character. They are getting expensive, though.

Old photo:

View attachment 48674
Well after viewing your picture of your manuals you previously fooled me into thinking you had no manuals. I am sure you did not mean to do this.

As far as wanting or needing a load for the .38 Special some of the Manuals even give the most accurate loads they have found which is a good starting point for your own testing. What shoots well in someone else's gun whether it be from Lyman testing or Internet chatter this many times will not be the most accurate load for your guns. Only your own time consuming and often expensive testing will show you what load you need to use.

Testing is a lifelong necessity. I recently was given a large amount of Red Dot Powder. Since gun powder now is out of this world with rip off prices and a friend of mine was ripped off by a gun store when they recently charged him $87.00 for a $35 can of Bullseye powder I knew I had better see if Red Dot would shoot as well as Bullseye as I cannot even get Bullseye right now for even $87.00 because it does not exist in my area.

Pouring through my manuals proved that there was an "absence" of plentiful loads for red dot in the 9mm but after searching both old and new manuals I found 2 manuals that had some Red Dot loads to use as a starting point. I surmised that since there was such a lack of information Red Dot must "not" be a very good powder for use in the 9mm but I decided to see if this was true with some load testing. Much to my pleasant surprise after a bit of experimenting I equaled the accuracy I got for years with Bullseye and now that I have 16 lbs of Red Dot I can wait until the powder rip of prices settle down to normal again. There is nothing like an economic down turn to do this and that is the time to buy up a good quantity of powder and primers. I also lived through two primer shortages because I had stockpiled them when they were plentiful and cheap at 2 cts apiece. The rip off of .13 cts a primer I refused to pay and slowly the prices have now come down and I have seen them for sale in my area now for half the price at 6 cents. An economic downturn will probably lower them back down to around 3 cts.

I might add that the one manual had mostly only weak anemic Red Dot Loads for the 9mm and the other Manual had loads I considered slightly insane they were so hot. I spit the difference and started out fairly low and worked up only a bit and when the weak ejection went away and become reliable and the loads not over the max loading of the anemic manual I knew I had found my optimum load and the bonus was it was a accurate load as well. Lesson learned I would never have been able to find all this out without a library of many loading manuals.

As far as .38 Special loads this cartridge is a forgiving one and will work great with a wide variety of powders. The old standby and probably still the best is a mild load of Bullseye Powder with the 148 grain wadcutter or 158 grain semi-wadcutter. If you want a rip roaring load that will blow over and or burn down fences and have a 20 foot muzzle fireball flash then using hot loads of bullseye is probably not going to give you want you want as a slower burning powder is best or higher velocities.. I have in the past used some warm loads with Unique powder.

Warning: Many people are afraid to use Bullseye because its just to easy to double charge a case and not see that you have done so as bullseye will often lie in the bottom of the long .38 special case and you will not notice a double charge. Bullseye does not create much volume for you to see. Many a revolver has blown up like a grenade with this very fast burning rate pistol powder from a double charge.

Bullseye pressure can jump radically with only 1 tenth or 2 tens of an increase in powder. When I was a kid I used a hot load of bullseye in the 9x19 and the cases swelled up to the point where they would not even go back into the shell holder. I never forgot that lesson.

I hope these warning do not discourage you from using Bullseye because it always has been one of my favorite pistol powders for the "smaller" pistol calibers. The bigger .41 Smith and .44 mag Smith work better with much slower powders and most revolvers in these big calibers will lead like heck when using "lead" bullets with bullseye or even Unique but "not" lead much at all with slower powders like 2400 and 4227.
 

CHEVYINLINE6

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 29, 2022
Messages
450
Location
Vancouver Washington
20 year old load books, the new ones are not any different except adding new powders and new cartridges. I have yet to see a change in any books I have, Lyman, Hornady. Hodgdons, Alliant, Nosler, Speer or Sierra across multiple releases. Personally, I don't go by any reloading data except in the books or manufacturer's site data. I have been loading and reloading for 55+ Years to include ammo mfg FFL license. The best tool is a chronograph. That is my true data placed in my load book for each firearm.
I have about half of those I have bought in the last 25+ years. About the same time frame I bought the RCBS Rock Chucker master reloading kit. Factory ammo was cheap for many years and my old car hobby kept me from reloading. I have 9 types of smokeless powder and several pounds of Pyrodex for the old modern front stuffers. I have large boxes full of brass that I have shot and range pickups. I do need to get a better selection of bullets. At the moment I only have Speer 158 grain JSP's and JHP's. I plan to get a wet tumbler to clean brass in the future. The walnut shell vibrating one is a lot of extra work and messy. I probably will only reloading 38 Special and 357 Magnum for now. Maybe some 45 ACP in the future for me and some 9MM for my daughter and me.

CHEVYINLINE6.
 

JAYDAWG

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 17, 2024
Messages
323
Location
Olympic Peninsula
I plan to get a wet tumbler to clean brass in the future.

Buy one.
The difference in clean is worth the $$. If you go the extra step of popping the spent primer out before cleaning, hard to tell them from new, looks wise.
Just make sure you have a fine screened wash pail to get the steel media out to save.

20 year old load books, the new ones are not any different except adding new powders and new cartridges. I have yet to see a change in any books I have, Lyman, Hornady. Hodgdons, Alliant, Nosler, Speer or Sierra across multiple releases.

Yep, True that :D
I have some load books from the 60's, and,other than the newer boolit & powder loads, the new books just paste and copy the old data.

JAYDAWG
 

CHEVYINLINE6

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 29, 2022
Messages
450
Location
Vancouver Washington
Buy one.
The difference in clean is worth the $$. If you go the extra step of popping the spent primer out before cleaning, hard to tell them from new, looks wise.
Just make sure you have a fine screened wash pail to get the steel media out to save.



Yep, True that :D
I have some load books from the 60's, and,other than the newer boolit & powder loads, the new books just paste and copy the old data.

JAYDAWG
I cleaned about 100 38 Special cases in the vibrater using walknut shells after de-priming and had to dig out chunks of walnut shells out of the flash holes. The next 200 I de-primed after cleaning them. The then soaked all the cases in some hot soapy water and rinsed them with plenty of hot water and left them on a towel overnight to dry. I then used the little RCBS primer pocket cleaner on each of them. Wow, talk about a lot of work. All my cases are R-P brass cases. I sure hope the wet cleaning system works better.

CHEVYINLINE6.
 

bhp9

Bearcat
Joined
Jun 14, 2024
Messages
15
Location
OH
20 year old load books, the new ones are not any different except adding new powders and new cartridges. I have yet to see a change in any books I have, Lyman, Hornady. Hodgdons, Alliant, Nosler, Speer or Sierra across multiple releases. Personally, I don't go by any reloading data except in the books or manufacturer's site data. I have been loading and reloading for 55+ Years to include ammo mfg FFL license. The best tool is a chronograph. That is my true data placed in my load book for each firearm.
I suggest you go back and re-read those manuals again. The last manuals I bought recently show a decrease from 4.4 grains of bullseye maximum to 4.2 grains maximum of bullseye when used in the 9x19 with the Lyman 120 grain cast bullet. Similar lower changes were made in jacketed bullet loadings for the 9x19 but in different amounts all changed from the previous manual. Remember Bullseye is known for extremely high jumps in pressure with as little as 1 or 2 grains of powder.

Back in the 70's I was experiencing blown primers in the .270 Winchester with a 4350 load I had used many times in the past. I called IMR as to why? They told me that they had changed the burning rate and even before when they had not they told me pressures sometimes vary even from lot to lot of powder. Later published manuals even further lowered the load I had previously used. Again showing manuals change all the time.

I used Unique in the past and had pressures skyrocket in the .45 acp 1911 pistols when the powder burning rate was changed and recently Alliant changed Unique once again (2nd time I am aware of) when they attempted to make Unique burn more cleanly again changing the burning rate. Again the newer manuals reflected this.

The above were two of the examples of many down through the years since 1968 when I bought first loading manual.

I also remember back in the 70's all of the loading manuals coming out had way less maximum loads with a variety of powders from all the manufacturers of powder. Many reasons were given and it was difficult to sort out the truth but I suspect the former manuals that had red hot loads resulted in people suing because of unsafe loading information.
 
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