Using 38 Special components in 357 Magnum brass

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oldcrab

Bearcat
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I have read that ANY 38 Special load-recipe of powder, bullet and primer can simply be loaded into a longer 357 Magnum case and fired in a 357 Magnum revolver, without modification of the recipe, with no issues.

So is this true?

If selecting a “starting” 38 Special load, since the pressure inside the 357 Mag case would be less due to larger case volumes, the velocity would also be less, correct??
(Possible squib load, maybe??)

Your thoughts on this?

Thanks much!

Crab
 
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I wouldn't (and don't think anyone else should) recommend any load not published in a reputable loading manual. There are some light 357 mag case loads listed in several manuals.
 

Dan in MI

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I am a bona fide experimenter. Playing with “cat sneeze” loads tells me you would have zero issues, but you need to decide for yourself.

Now my question is why do want to do this? If it is for light loads that don’t foul the chamber then consider seating a little deep to get a similar case capacity.
 

Bob Wright

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Well, the obvious proposition is that load data worked up and published in loading manuals works best. Check you manuals and see if a .38 Special load might be duplicated in the .357 Magnum data. As pointed out, very light loads might result in squib loads. In general, most powders suitable for similar cartridges work pretty well over several different cartridges. Best to stick with tried and true data.

Bob Wright
 
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I wouldn't (and don't think anyone else should) recommend any load not published in a reputable loading manual...

I own many reloading manuals, but have also had good results using detailed data published elsewhere (my favorite .40 S&W loads came from a magazine article). Lee die sets often come with load data. In addition, the Hodgdon web site is a great resource - unlike a manual, it's available free and is frequently updated:


:)
 
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Dan in MI

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I have a different mindset. I’m going to assume it’s due to the second caliber I ever loaded was a wildcat and next four or five were wildcats before I started another common caliber.

I wholeheartedly agree that experimenting isn’t for everyone, but without experimenters we wouldn’t have the plethora of calibers and loads we have.

Please don’t throw companies and all their equipment at me. Nobody had that equipment for decades and still experimented.

I can even show you a round I considered pursuing in 1985 that is 97% of today’s 350 Legend. .223 case chopped at the shoulder with a .338 slug.
 

Old and grumpy

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This was a eye opener. This may help. Seating depth and PSI. If you load 38sp in the mag case I think the extra volume may come into play for good or bad? On the left, seating just a tiny bit more .062 doubled the PSI.
Z .38 WAD CUTTER.jpg
 
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As with many aspects of firearms ownership, reloading requires caution. The post above by 'Old and grumpy' emhasizes a couple of potential dangers: double charging, and bullet set back/improper over all length. Either one can ruin your day, and maybe send you to the hospital (or morgue), so taking precautions is a wise approach.

I'm not here to tell anyone else how to approach reloading, but there are obvious ways to reduce risk. I try to confirm load data I'm interested in, by checking multiple sources. Avoiding loads listed as near maximum can also lower risk, if such loads suit your needs. Cartridge over all length can and should be checked with calipers, before and after testing bullet crimp. For years I selected propellants that would overflow the case if a double charge occurred. Even reducing distractions can help - I leave the radio and tv off when I'm reloading. And I'm not afraid to go back and check (by pulling bullets if necessary), if I have a doubt about something.

Everyone will have their own approach - I met a guy years ago, who figured the max loads in reloading manuals were written by lawyers worried about liability, so that's what he used as a starting load, working up from there. (He may have been suicidal - his wife, who I had worked with, had just passed.) I've seen too many KABOOM! photos, and wrecked guns in gunsmith shops, to approach things that way myself. But there are lots of folks with more or different experience than I have, so there's always something new to learn, and I really appreciate these reloading threads!
:)
 
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As with many aspects of firearms ownership, reloading requires caution. The post above by 'Old and grumpy' emhasizes a couple of potential dangers: double charging, and bullet set back/improper over all length. Either one can ruin your day, and maybe send you to the hospital (or morgue), so taking precautions is a wise approach.

I'm not here to tell anyone else how to approach reloading, but there are obvious ways to reduce risk. I try to confirm load data I'm interested in, by checking multiple sources. Avoiding loads listed as near maximum can also lower risk, if such loads suit your needs. Cartridge over all length can and should be checked with calipers, before and after testing bullet crimp. For years I selected propellants that would overflow the case if a double charge occurred. Even reducing distractions can help - I leave the radio and tv off when I'm reloading. And I'm not afraid to go back and check (by pulling bullets if necessary), if I have a doubt about something.

Everyone will have their own approach - I met a guy years ago, who figured the max loads in reloading manuals were written by lawyers worried about liability, so that's what he used as a starting load, working up from there. (He may have been suicidal - his wife, who I had worked with, had just passed.) I've seen too many KABOOM! photos, and wrecked guns in gunsmith shops, to approach things that way myself. But there are lots of folks with more or different experience than I have, so there's always something new to learn, and I really appreciate these reloading threads!
:)
A man's got to know his limitations. The OP is actually really smart using loads that won't crap up his cylinders. Reloading isn't Rocket Science a little attention to detail and it's hard to mess up. I examine the powder level in every case before it is moved to the seating pile. I separate the various stages working back and forth. I start with the cleaned brass, then as I size and deprime I start lining them up in one place. Then as I prime and flare I line them up on the opposite side going back and forth as an operation is completed. I've seen people who use a single tray placing the brass back in the same spot as they work but I find it's easier to separate the individual operations especially if I have to stop for any reason. Most of the powders I use tend to fill the case to the point that any double charge would overflow the case which I would hopefully notice before seating a bullet. I also weigh a charge every 15-20 just to make sure nothing has changed with the measure. I zero the scale with a charge in the pan so all I will see is the variance.
 
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A man's got to know his limitations....
...and then there's always Murphy's Law!

A few years ago, a gentleman I knew was shooting some 5.56 or .223 reloads in an AR; the first few fired without issues - and then he had a round that did not chamber completely, but would NOT extract. When he and the range master finally got the live round out of the chamber, a little steel pin fell out with it.

Some folks might be guessing "roll pin" because it was an AR. Turned out, it was one of those pins some individuals and commercial reloaders use for wet tumbling cartridge cases; apparently it had remained inside a case after cleaning, and stayed inside during the entire reloading procedure. It had been inside the previous round that was fired, and rather than exiting the barrel at the muzzle, had stayed in the chamber when that empty case was extracted. The bolt attempted to chamber the next round, and it got jammed in there tighter than a (fill in the blank) shoved up a (fill in the blank).

Don't think I ever heard of that particular issue, before or since - it's worth remembering that there's always a potential for unexpected problems, whether you're using factory ammo, commercial reloads, or cartridges you loaded yourself!
:)
 

Rclark

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As for me ... I load down .357 all the time to the velocities I want to shoot. The .38 special data gives you a minimum range and then up through .357 data for 'same' powder for the 'same' bullet. There is no problem here as .38s SAAMI is way lower than .357 SAAMI. As stated, yes, the .38 load in a .357 case will be less pressure, and therefore slightly less velocity. No biggie. Test, add a bit, until the velocity/accuracy goals are met. Me personally, I start on the 'high' side of .38 special and work up or down accordingly to what I am looking for. Not rocket science here. Just common sense.

To stick a bullet, you'd have to be under loading the .38.... And if somehow you did, you'd just knock it out. No harm done (unless you put another bullet behind it of course)....
 

gunzo

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It's not always just about a squib & sticking a bullet in the barrel.

Some powders don't like to be loaded below a certain pressure level & if a listed minimum load for the Special case is used in a magnum case it, as discussed, operates at a lower pressure. Loading manuals with good tutorials address this. Odd detonations & pressure spikes are known to have happened.

Using the 357 case for light loads can be desirable in many ways, just simply bump the powder charge per the loading manuals recommendation to meet the pressure minimums of the powder & load.
 

Rclark

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Some powders don't like to be loaded below a certain pressure level
And ... That is why you check the .38 Special load data for that powder your intend to use ;) as .38 Special is 'lower' pressure cartridge. :) So for example if .357 data has 7 to 10gr. And in .38 for 4 to 6 for same bullet. Your golden from 4-10 in the .357. Simple. Again though, in this case I'd start at 6 and work up/down for desired results... On the flip side if you can't find any data for the .38 for that powder... Then stay away from it.
 
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noahmercy

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Some powders will do fine, but others will leave a mess of unburned powder and may stick a bullet in the barrel, especially if the powder is position-sensitive. I witnessed a friend who was loading 32 S&W Long load data in 32 H&R Magnum cases jam a Hornady XTP in his Single Six. Some powders are more forgiving, and if you use Titegroup, you can use 38 loads in the magnum cases without issue, other than the very real possibility of fitting a double (or even triple) charge in the case. Another option is to use PuffLon filler over the powder to keep it against the primer. This often allows low powder charges to develop better pressure and lower extreme spreads.
 
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... I witnessed a friend who was loading 32 S&W Long load data in 32 H&R Magnum cases jam a Hornady XTP in his Single Six. Some powders are more forgiving, and if you use Titegroup, you can use 38 loads in the magnum cases without issue ...

Bullet selection and barrel length may also be very important. IIRC, one of my reloading manuals specifically warns against using standard jacketed bullet .38 Special loads in .38/.357 carbines, due to the risk of leaving a bullet jammed in the barrel. Again, if I'm remembering the warning correctly, it did not apply to standard velocity lead bullet loads, or to jacketed .38 +P loads.
:)
 
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Paul B

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I wouldn't (and don't think anyone else should) recommend any load not published in a reputable loading manual. There are some light 357 mag case loads listed in several manuals.
I don't necessarily agree with you. However as the late great Elmer Keith once said, "I prefer to let every man scratch his own fleas in whatever manner he chooses." I have several loads that AFAIK have never been published other than tp those who has asked for it. In every case I tell them to start low and work up. As to the OP's question. yes, you can do this as long as one uses a little commons sense.
Paul B.
 
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I have read lots of handloading data also. I will cite who wrote them, Serria, Speer, Nosler, Hornady, Barnes, Lyman. For 357 loads I lookup .357 data. For 38 spl I look up .38 spl. I could care less if any list a bullet, powder, primer in both to be the same or not.
Out of curiosity I would like to know who printed that what post 1 says "He read."
For fun I checked the Hornady handgun data for 38 spl. it lists 79 different powder and bullet types with 41 different powder charges. 357 lists 51 different powder and bullet types with 54 different powder charges. I am not wasting a moment to see how many list the same powder, powder charge and bullet in both.
 

Dan in MI

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I believe there are three types of people that make ammunition at home.

Reloaders- follow the book only
Handloaders - follow the book but tailor slightly per gun
Wildcatters - Gather all the information they can, mix in some experience, add a little what if, and start there.

A 1986/7 "what if" next to a 357 Max. Wish I would have pursued it now...
Img_5167_40.jpg
 
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I have read lots of handloading data also... I am not wasting a moment to see how many list the same powder, powder charge and bullet in both.

Everybody has their own approach to reloading! One issue that I think is pretty common, is not having all of the specific components specified by any one of the manuals. I think most folks are comfortable substituting cases of one brand, for the specific brand of cases specified by a reloading manual - even though some cases are heavier/thicker than others, which can obviously elevate pressures. Reloaders seem less inclined to swap primer brands - again, changing components can change pressures. I recently read an article, where the author substituted a different brand of jacketed bullet, for his .350 Legend reloads. Fortunately, he was shooting a Ruger bolt gun rather than an AR, because his supposedly safe starting load immediately showed signs of extremely high pressure - just from using a seemingly identical bullet from a different manufacturer.

If you're a reloader who can match the exact cartridge case, primer, propellant, and projectile specified by a single reloading manual, more power to you (although it's wise to remember that batch differences are unavoidable). But if you're planning to use a Remington projectile (for example), and your two dozen or so manuals list everything except Remington, it's probably wise to look at more than one of them before you decide on a starting load.

As always, IMHO, FWIW, YMMV, etc., etc.
:)
 
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