Newbie with .38spc/.357mag Powder question

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StanMemTn

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Hey guys, I'm new to reloading (as in the Lee Anniversary press is still in the box, the die set is being shipped this weekend).

I will be loading mainly for .38 spc but also for .357 (I have a 50th Anniversary Blackhawk, my stepfather has an assortment of S&W and Colt .38spc revolvers). To date, my favorite factory load has been the police issued .38+P that my LEO brother-in-law let me try.

To begin with, I'd like to go with only 1 powder and was thinking of starting with Winchester 231 based on the recent thread here about favorite .38 loads. Is there another powder I should consider at this point that would be a good choice for both chamberings?

Of note, I'm about 1/2 way through the ABC's of Reloading and haven't started reading through the Lyman's 49th edition manual. I don't plan on starting any loads up until I've finished ABC's and looked through the charts in Lyman's.

Any help would be appreciated,

Stephen
 

Cherokee

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I like 231 for 38 Special and it will work for 357 Mag. Got one good load of 6 gr that does 1100 fps with 150 gr SWC in the Mag. But there are better powders for the mag, especially if you want to get to magnum performance levels, like #2400, AA9, H110, W296. Hay, I notice you are from my city of birth. Got lots of family in that area.
 

Ruber

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StanMemTn":fh8z39rg said:
To begin with, I'd like to go with only 1 powder ...

That's tough, the two cartridges may share several dimensions, but are very different. There are a lot of folks who use Unique and Universal which work reasonably well with both (though they are not among my favorites in either, just my opinion). I like 231 for 38 spc, and it will work for .357 mag, but will build up much higher pressures with lower velocities than 2400 or H110/W296. If I really wanted to stick to one powder for both, I would probably choose 231, but don't be surprised if the .357 mag loads are a bit disappointing. You might find yourself reaching for 2400 or H110/W296 sooner than expected. :wink:
 

StanMemTn

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Thanks for the responses guys.

At this point, I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible and my main goal in the short term is to find a .38+P load that I like.
If I get a .38+P load that I really like in the Blackhawk, I'd probably not do all that many in the .357 cases since I don't have much brass for .357 anyway. At this point, I'm used to only shooting a cylinder or two of .357 before settling in with the .38s.
 

Ruber

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If you are not interested in any standard pressure .38 specials, think about Blue Dot. It does +P and .357 well, just make sure that they don't find their way into any old Detective Specials...
 

contender

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Welcome to reloading!
You will soon find that "one powder" just doesn't do it all. It all depends upon what you are trying to achieve. Finish reading,, and follow the advice.
Work on a load for the 38+p and then look at 357 stuff.
Things are a bit different.
 

StanMemTn

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That sounds cool and I may consider working up some loads with Blue Dot after I get my feet wet. The thing that would hold me back on that now is that I'm splitting some of the start up cost with my stepfather who has a Colt Cobra and a somewhat older S&W that for some reason I had thought was a caliber conversion (though I don't thnk it's anywhere near old enough to be a WWII era "Victory" model). In any case, I plan on staying with nice, soft "range" loads for his guns so for now my priority is a good .38 powder that hopefully could turn out a great .38+P load, and can also provide the occasional .357 mag load so I can get my Blackhawk spitting fire and brimstone! :)

I'm pretty excited abou getting started!
 

Jimbo357mag

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Universal Clays works good for both 38spec and 357mag. The Lee kit will have a "Not So Perfect Powder Measure" which works best with large grain powders like Universal and Blue Dot. Finer grain powders run out the side sometimes and make a mess. Universal is bulky enough to make a double charge all but impossible. You are on the right track. :D

...Jimbo
 

WESHOOT2

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I am going to second Hodgon Universal as the best single-choice powder for 38 Special / 357 Magnum.

It can provide exceptional accuracy in either chambering, yet still allows for modest recoil in 38, and near-Magnum level performance in 357 Magnum.
It also works well with swaged, cast, and plated or jacketed bullets.
It meters exceedingly well, burns cleanly, and is normally readily available.
I buy it in 8lb jugs......
 

I_Like_Pie

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Unique and 2400 (or the equivalents by other manfs) are staple powders that allow a huge range of loads.

Don't get hung up on using one type of powder. The unsung joys of reloading are variety, choice, and experimentation.
 

Rick Courtright

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Hi,

IF I were limited to a single powder for the two calibers, it would be Unique. Universal Clays is a fine choice, arguably better in a couple of respects, but Weshoot2 keeps buying it all up so it's close to impossible to find in my neighborhood. (He denies that, BTW! :D)

However, I recall him advising in the past that one should figure out what one wants to do w/ the ammo being loaded first, then work toward producing that ammo. He loads more in a year than some of us might in a lifetime, so any advice he gives should be given serious consideration! Many of us have "discovered" his truism along the way, too... sometimes thru research and testing, sometimes more by "accidents of availability" when we had to use powders, primers, bullets and/or cases that weren't our first choice.

As such, I think it's best to pick two powders at the very least. IME, the .38 Spl is a round that's best suited for target and "light" duties, while the .357 Mag shines as a "full house" round. Unique/Universal would be my personal first choices for good light to medium use in either caliber, while 2400/H-110/Win 296 would be my own choices for full house use in the .357.

Blue Dot has a few issues (w/ some warnings about its use from Alliant along the way) and I'd suggest you stay away from it until you've loaded enough to understand the whole process. I was advised when I first started to "Load light, and if you need heavy stuff, buy factory" until I knew what I was doing. Conservative advice, but good.

But there are many more powders that work, often quite well... as mentioned, discovering YOUR best one is part of the joy of this addiction (er, "hobby")! And always remember the adage "In MY gun!" as what works great for me might not be best for you...

Rick C
 

StanMemTn

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Thanks again for all the responses! I appreciate you guys taking the time to share your experience and expertise; I'll post an update when I get things up and running (probably in the next 2-3 weeks).

-Stephen
 

Ruber

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Rick C brings up a good point about Blue Dot. As a general rule, I follow published load data and recommendations from powder/bullet manufacturers, and try to get the most current data, most of which can be found on line from the manufacturers website.

http://www.alliantpowder.com/resources/catalog.aspx
http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp
http://www.alliantpowder.com/getting_st ... tices.aspx

Seemingly small, innocuous changes in a recipe can have disastrous results. For example, 125gr Hornady XTPs and 125gr Sierra Sportsmasters will develop very different pressures in the .357 magnum with the same powder, case and primer. Using the recipe from one manufacturer and applying it to another manufacturer's components can produce clearly noticeable changes. If I can't find published data for components that I have, I'll move on to something else, but that's just me.
 

EDK

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Since I usuall shoot 40+ rounds per day, I like the less expensive powders. I'm currently using TITEGROUP and HP38 (WW231) IN 357 and 44 magnum revolvers and Marlin Cowboy rifles. Start with the freebie books and Cowboy Action Shooting loads and work your way up.

DO NOT load any 357 level loads in 38 brass. One screw up might cause a blown up gun and personal injury. Sooner or later someone else is going to be playing in your ammo supply....fact of life.

Since you're going to be using 38 special brass in your magnum revolver, get an agresssive stainless brush to remove the carbon ring from the chambers after each range session. That garbage builds up and will cause major problems in the future if you don't get it out NOW!
 

WANT A LCR 22LR

Bearcat
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While we are on the subject, what makes a 38 +P different from a regular 38 special or a 38 +p+ ? Is it the quanitiy of powder or the type of powder?

I've got the 1995 Lee" Modern Reloading" book and the charts make no mention of a +P or +P+.

For the record I have no realoading experience. As for 38 and 357 needing different powder, the same book lists some cross over powders such as:

110 grain jacketed bullet
Blue dot
Bullseye
Unique
Accurate # 5

Just to name a few. The powder weights for a 357 look to be about double.


I'm finding out reloading can be way more complicated than popping in a primer powder then hammering a bullet! :shock: ( My goal is to make piles of 38+P as practice ammo for my LCR and GP100 )
 

Jimbo357mag

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WANT A LCR 22LR":34enggzi said:
While we are on the subject, what makes a 38 +P different from a regular 38 special or a 38 +p+ ? Is it the quanitiy of powder or the type of powder?

It is all about chamber pressure as established by the gunmakers and ammo makers testing organization. (SAAMI) The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute.

Here is a list of all the pressure limits. Note there are only 4 +P listings, all the others are unofficial and to be suspect.

http://www.lasc.us/SAAMIMaxPressure.htm

...Jimbo
 

StanMemTn

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EDK":35zvyexa said:
Start with the freebie books and Cowboy Action Shooting loads and work your way up.
I definitely plan on working my way up. I plan on staying within SAAMI limits, including published +P loads. I also am putting some trust in my .357 Blackhawk to be able to handle anything within those limits without a problem (hopefully that's not misplaced trust).

EDK":35zvyexa said:
Since you're going to be using 38 special brass in your magnum revolver, get an agresssive stainless brush to remove the carbon ring from the chambers after each range session. That garbage builds up and will cause major problems in the future if you don't get it out NOW!
I'm just using a brass brush, but I'm a pretty big stickler for thoroughly cleaning my gun after each range trip as it is. I'm not satisfied until I can drop in a .357mag cartridge with no trace of "stickiness" and until .357 cartridges can fall out of the cylinder with only gravity (hopefully that means it's clean enough; I don't want any residue around the cartridge leading to increased pressures).
 

Rick Courtright

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WANT A LCR 22LR":2nb7fj7u said:
While we are on the subject, what makes a 38 +P different from a regular 38 special or a 38 +p+ ? Is it the quanitiy of powder or the type of powder?

Hi,

The +P means "plus pressure" for purpose of discussion, not necessarily "plus powder." As explained, there are SAAMI standards for all our common calibers, and SAAMI sets the standard for industry +P loadings in the very few calibers that allow same.

Now, you're going to see a lot of advertising hype, such as +P+, and discussions w/ folks who THINK there's a standard for .45 Colt +P ammo. There ain't no such thing as either: the loaders are making ammo that's hotter than industry standards. Period.

That doesn't mean you'll necessarily blow up a gun w/ such ammo, but it's something to be very careful of when loading your own, or buying ammo, that's perhaps overly "hot." Some guns will do fine w/ heavier loads, but the standards exist to help protect the owners of EVERY gun within a given caliber from shooting ammo that could harm their firearms.

For myself, I don't load +P loads in the .38 Spl for a couple of reasons. One is the very real possibility already mentioned that someone could load a "hot" round in a standard .38 Spl. Not a good thing to do w/ most standard .38s. Another is that I like light practice ammo anyway. No need to practice my flinch!

Then, if I DO need something hotter, I've got .357s for that very reason. If push came to shove, I'd download my .357s before making any attempt to warm up my .38s.

If you DO decide to load +P ammo in your .38s, Starline (and others?) sell brass headstamped "+P" and many like to use that for ID purposes when they load their own +Ps. Others use nickel plated cases. Whatever you do, it's a good idea to have some kind of visual indicator when you open the box these aren't your garden variety target grade .38s!

Rick C
 
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