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Old 05-04-2016, 04:14 PM
38SPL HV 38SPL HV is offline
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Default Your Favorite 38 Spl +P 158 gr lead load

What is your favorite 38 Spl +P load using 158 gr lead (cast or swaged, SWC, RN) by powder and amount, and velocity data if you have it.

My favorite is 5.2 grs Unique (Alliant data) with swaged 158 gr LSWC using CCI 500 primers. Probably duplicates current 38 Spl +P load about 890 fps from 4 inch revolver. Very accurate and fun load in my S&W Mod 28 4 inch.

Thank you all!
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Old 05-04-2016, 04:55 PM
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5 gr. Unique 158 swc,enough.
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Old 05-04-2016, 05:05 PM
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What a coincidence......5.2 grains of Unique has been my pet load for 40 years. I have used several cast SWC bullets with it from 150 to 170 grains. My two favorites being the Lyman 358156 155 gr. SWC with gas check and Lyman 358432 160 grain WC plain base (NOE now makes this design).
The 160 grain wadcutter is very accurate in my Ruger Blackhawk 357 magnum.

Gary
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:56 PM
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I have never done a 38spl+P, but in standard .38spl lead, but I love me a 158gr LSWC H.C.(357") over 3.6gr of TrailBoss.

It's probably sub-700fps in my SP101 snubby, but they are fun, accurate and super clean.
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:40 PM
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Have used 5 gr. of Unique with a 158 SWC for many years.....because it WORKS!!

Randy
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:44 PM
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I use AA #5. According to information from the Accurate Arms rep many years ago, the formulation is the same as Alliant's Unique (except it is nitrocotton, not nitrocellulose), but it is one grain slower than Unique.

I use six grains of AA #5 and standard Small Pistol Primers, typically Winchester.
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Old 05-04-2016, 08:20 PM
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Hard to beat Unique in the +P loads with a 158gr Lead bullet.

My little J frame snub nose likes 5.0grs with a heavy crimp on a LHP..........

The six inch tubes like 5.2grs of Unique for a full load .......

but for a target load they can't hold a candle to the light load at 755fps that has all six bullets touching with.....

3.5grs of Red Dot.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:42 PM
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From the Lyman 45 manual, 5.4 gr of Unique and a 358477. Now considered too warm for a +P, it does great work in my K frames.
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Old 05-05-2016, 03:23 AM
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When I did extensive testing to duplicate the FBI Load I found several powders that easily out did Unique. One of those powders was HS-6 and that's what I settled on.

Warning, even though I highly doubt this load is over the 20,000 psi SAAMI limit the charge Wright is over current published data. (current, not older data)

Here's the load:
Winchester .38 Special +P case
158gr Hornady LSWC/HP
CCI 550 Primer (Magnum primer on this load)
7.0gr HS-6
COL 1.475"
4" M686 ---- 2" M640
927.0 -- AV --- 888.9
955.1 --- H --- 897.1
905.4 --- L --- 876.6
49.7 ---- ES --- 20.5
20.7 ---- SD ---- 7.9
17.0 ---- AD ---- 5.9

Use this data at your own risk. If you blow anything up blame no one but yourself. I have shot hundreds of this load in a bunch of revolvers including a M10 and M442.
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Old 05-05-2016, 03:33 AM
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I get excellent performance from the 357446 flat base SWC over 6.0 gr. Unique in most of my .38s, but a 170gr. 358429 Keith SWC over 13.5gr 2400 in my .38-44.
As above, use this data at your own risk.

Larry
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Old 05-05-2016, 04:10 AM
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Default Not my 'favorite' but while we are talking....

......about it, I just clocked 158 gr LSWC with 4.0 gr of PB out of a 2" j frame. At 560 fps. I'm definitely going to go with a lighter bullets and hotter powder for 'serious' work. At 560 fps I'd be worried that a perp could swat the bullet out of the air.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:27 AM
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Since I own several .357s I don't see much reason to shoot a lot of
+P 38s and I have some older Rem 158 gr LHPs that chrono at around
900 fps out of my 4" S&W 10-5. My experience with swaged bullets in
handloads has not encouraged me to load them hot so my +P 158 gr
handloads have been with cast SWCs. Original Win data for 231 stops
at 4.8grs for +P loads with a jacketed 158 gr bullet but pressure is
only barely +P at 17,200 psi. This reluctance to list loads anywhere
the +P limit of 20,000 psi seems to be typical of most manuals. My
top load of 231 has been 5.1 grs with a 158 gr cast SWC with Win
brass and mag primer. This is less than I have seen in some manuals
and I do believe that it is below the +P limit of 20,000 psi. I have
chronographed it in three of my model 10s with good velocity and low
ES as follows; 2" 10-5 vel=910 fps ES=12 fps, 3" 10-8 vel=982 fps
ES=20 fps, 4" 10-5 vel=1003 fps ES=14 fps. It's just a cast SWC
load but it seems like a pretty good one to me.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:43 PM
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Maybe my 2008 bottle of 231 is getting old......
5.0gr with a Sutter 158 lswc bullet in my M49 only reached 816fps with a cci500 primer.

Low fps in my 9mm loads.......
oh well it is almost empty and will be used for target loads.
I did notice the "Lack" of a chemical smell when opened.

I pulled the plug with 6.8grs of HS-6.
It did 792 with a wspm but the recoil was getting to me.
For some reason a Red Dot load at 800fps did not feel quite as bad
but that was a full loading just barely into +p areas.

Universal and 2400 powder tied at 835fps but accuracy was not there, beating out
Green Dot at 822 that did have good accuracy in my snub revolver.

For some unknown reason the SR4756 load that did 890 in the 6" only put out 730fps
in the snub with a f100 primer.
Strange how things work out....... even a full boat load of Bullseye powder managed 752fps.
One reason it is easy to get frustrated in test with the little 2" barrel.
Now you will understand why I love my 6" barrels over a chrony.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:46 PM
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Nice loads

That is good velocity Alwslate in 4 inch! Bet swaged would be about 30-50 fps slower, only my guess...
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:48 PM
38SPL HV 38SPL HV is offline
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6 inch burns powder more efficiently I suppose...
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:15 PM
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see next post

Last edited by serger; 05-05-2016 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:16 PM
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Mine ended up being 6gr of Herco pushing the 158gr swc using a Winchester Standard Pistol Primer. That powder weight also runs my 124Gr Lead 9mm loads and my 230 Gr 45acp loads. Easier to swap the Dillon powder measure between tool heads.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:09 PM
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Six grains Power Pistol with 158 Lee 158RNFP gave 970fps in 3"SP 101, 994 fps in S&W 686
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Old 05-06-2016, 03:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada Ed View Post
Maybe my 2008 bottle of 231 is getting old......
5.0gr with a Sutter 158 lswc bullet in my M49 only reached 816fps with a cci500 primer.
Low fps in my 9mm loads.......
oh well it is almost empty and will be used for target loads.
I did notice the "Lack" of a chemical smell when opened.
For some unknown reason the SR4756 load that did 890 in the 6" only put out 730fps
in the snub with a f100 primer.
Strange how things work out....... even a full boat load of Bullseye powder managed 752fps.
One reason it is easy to get frustrated in test with the little 2" barrel.
Now you will understand why I love my 6" barrels over a chrony.
Lots of variables here Ed, your powder is probably ok. Different
bullet, charge weight, crimp?, primer and your mod 49 has a
1 7/8" barrel and the K frame mod 10 has a 2" barrel. All
loads that I have chronoed in a 2" K frame run faster than
the same load out of one of my J frames. Bullet seating
depth, cast or swaged, crimp can make a big difference. For
some reason some handloaders insist on taper crimping cast
bullets that have a substantial groove for a roll crimp. Is
your bullet plated? I just measured the barrel of my 37-2
and it's not even a full 1 7/8", more like 1 13/16". Don't
throw your old bottle of 231 away yet. The bottle of 231
used in these loads is older than yours. Maybe 231 just
keeps getting better as it ages. I might sprinkle a little in
my food and see if it works for me!
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:15 PM
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alwslate;

I have yet to shoot a plated bullet in my 38 or 357 revolvers.
They have a poor "can" and I refuse to have bullets jump a case
if the chance is there.
I do have two loads, five each, of 124gr 9mm .358 dia. in some
38 cases that will be tested in my J snub, just for giggles.
May go to coated if my visit to Xtreme bullets today does not pay off in the prices offered.

later.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:37 PM
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Universal 5.1, with any 158gr lead bullet.
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Old 05-06-2016, 01:24 PM
mike campbell mike campbell is offline
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I don't do much +P, tending more towards 38spl and 357mag loads. Recently wringing out a nice 1953 Colt Officers Model with 4 cast bullets of 156-162 grains and 7 powders (WST,AA2,CFE,Bullseye,452AA,AA5 & 231) and the composite accuracy winner is AA5. My expectation is for 5 shots in 1" @ 50 feet.

From the 6" barrel, 5.6 grains AA5 averages ~850 fps and 5.8 grains gives ~900 fps. The standard deviations are a tad better at 900. The AA5 placed first and second with 158's and 125's, whereas WST was the opposite.
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Old 05-06-2016, 01:32 PM
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Thank you, nice information all
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Old 05-06-2016, 07:40 PM
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I was working on my FBI replica load today but didn't venture into the +P area although it looks like I will have to.
I am up to 6.0 grains of HS-6 with a Lee C358158 SWC gas checked. My average velocity was 819 fps. I am trying to get to 906-910 which is what I get with the Buffalo Bore Non +P 158 grain hollow point SWC. I have Power Pistol, and AA#5 to try also.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:34 PM
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Tennessee Valley Bullets 158-gr hardcast LSWC, any case, 6.0 grains of Power Pistol, CCI standard SPP.
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:02 PM
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Thank you Erich, what velocities are you obtaining with 6.0 grs PP? I too used this loading in the past in my N Frame and liked it.
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Tennessee Valley Bullets 158-gr hardcast LSWC, any case, 6.0 grains of Power Pistol, CCI standard SPP.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 38SPL HV View Post
Thank you Erich, what velocities are you obtaining with 6.0 grs PP? I too used this loading in the past in my N Frame and liked it.
Depends on the gun and the conditions and the way you hold your tongue when you shoot, of course, but a representative sampling one afternoon at the Albuquerque City Range (5950'>sea level, c. 40°F) would be:

1 7/8" Model 38-2 M 855.3 fps/ES 11.48/SD 5.09 (257 fpe)
3" Model 36-1 950.6/41.86/20.07 (317 fpe)
4" Model 15 956.0/40.75/14.93 (321 fpe)
6" Model 14 1030/22.39/10.14 (372 fpe)

Basically a little more "oomph" than the old FBI Load. Honestly, it could be the magic lube Jessie puts on his bullets.

I'd note you can get almost identical results from Unique using data that was published and acceptable (not even max!) until the Great Neutering of the .38 Special, but obviously the pressures are a little bit higher with the Unique loading than with the even-our-Twenty-First-Century-lawyers-are-okay-with-it factory-published Power Pistol data I used and am willing to discuss on an open forum.

Now, I've said this before: the old counterleaners who recommended Unique to a young college student who could only afford one can of powder to use with his Lee Loader, they did me right - and God bless them, because they set me on a path that's led to a rewarding lifelong hobby. But, if I were the counterleaner these days, I'd probably point the youngster toward Power Pistol . . . and, in fact, this is where I directed my younger brother when he asked me about it a few years back. Only downside I've seen is it's flashier.
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Last edited by Erich; 05-07-2016 at 04:26 PM. Reason: To add fpe, in case anyone cares. :)
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Old 05-07-2016, 06:30 PM
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I, too like Archangelcd have settled on HS-6 for my 38 +p loads. I lack his experience, so I'm a little more conservative with my powder charge. Oddly, though, I've found CFE Pistol to work at higher .357 mag levels quite well.
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Old 05-07-2016, 09:46 PM
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Thank you Erich for the detailed information. That PP really "barks" at 6.0grs, but it's a real good load.
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Old 05-09-2016, 08:24 PM
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I purchased some CFE Pistol yesterday to try and find a replacement for Unique which is apparently a thing of the past at least locally. Anyways, 5.0 grains behind a Lee C358158 and Federal 100 primer is a great shooting and accurate load. It shoots to the same point of impact as the Buffalo Bore 158 SWC-HP Non +P in my M60. I think I have a new favorite. Now I need to see how it works for .44 plinking loads.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeeps View Post
5 gr. Unique 158 swc,enough.

This is what I've been using for 30yrs.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:22 PM
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My 158gr RN RCBS mould drops WW bullets at 160gr (weight after sized and lubed).Stuffing 5.4gr Unique in a .38 case from an old Lyman manual(must say that my supply of Unique powder dates quite a while back;none of the newer stuff they now have)gives me an accurate load(20yds standing no rest all in a 4''black).I don't own a chrono(yet)but according to Lyman's,it is close to 1000FPS.Gotta love a round that performs like that!I shoot these only in .357Mag guns though!Safety first.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:57 PM
10xatten 10xatten is offline
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Buffalo Bore 20A/20. Works for me.

Richard
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:39 PM
Model1567 Model1567 is offline
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Anyone use Universal Clays?
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Old 06-22-2020, 11:29 PM
91B40 91B40 is offline
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Default 38 SPL 158 grain load

Speer 158 gr. LSWCHP or cast 158 gr. LSWC, 5.2 gr. Unique. Seems to be a popular combination. Has worked for me for 40 years.
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  #36  
Old 06-23-2020, 11:57 AM
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Anyone use Universal Clays?
Universal Clays is close to Unique in its use.
It did not impress me in my pistol, revolver and 12 Ga. trap loads in order for me to toss away my Unique powder.

It might have metered better but that's about all it did better than the other powder and in starting loads in the 12 Ga. was very dirty.

I will give out one load that I used in a 6" 6868 S&W with a lead SWC 158 gr bullet for target use that was accurate for me.

Universal... 4.4 gr...... at..... 847fps.

Good loading.

Last edited by Nevada Ed; 06-23-2020 at 09:01 PM.
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  #37  
Old 06-23-2020, 01:54 PM
Model1567 Model1567 is offline
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Thanks Ed.
Appreciate you helpin' me out.
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  #38  
Old 06-23-2020, 02:45 PM
38SPL HV 38SPL HV is offline
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Anyone use Universal Clays?
I found that Speer’s max +P loading 5.0 grs Universal and 158 gr SWC gave a nice factory velocity equivalent +P for use in my SP101...pretty similar to 5.0 grs Unique. Work up from starting +P data first.

Last edited by 38SPL HV; 06-23-2020 at 02:46 PM.
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  #39  
Old 09-01-2021, 04:33 PM
Model 15-4ever Model 15-4ever is offline
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HS-6 works wonders in .38 Special +P. But current published loading data is so watered down that it stops well short of the pressure limit.

Speer Number 8 (aka "The Atomic Manual") lists the starting load as 7.0 grains of HS-6 under 158 grain lead bullet. That load exceeds the lame maximum charge on current Hodgdon website. The Speer Number 8 maximum was 8.0 grains... I've tried it and it's full power no doubt.

There are those who go into a catatonic trance and scream when Speer Number 8 is mentioned. Fine. Speer Number 10, published in 1979 (back when +P actually meant something) writing in the .38 Special section, states "+P working pressure is 22,400 cup."

SAAMI later watered down the .38 Special +P specification. In its 2015 publication, "American National Standard Voluntary Industry Performance Standards for Pressure and Velocity of Centerfire Pistol and Revolver Ammunition for the Use of Commercial Manufacturers", the pressure spec for .38 Special +P was lowered to 20,000 CUP. The nominal velocity for a 158 grain bullet is listed as 880 fps from a 4" vented test barrel.

Based on the performance of some historical hi-speed factory loadings (158 grain bullet at ~1090 fps), the "new" .38 Special +P level is fairly weak sauce.

Take a look at the current Hodgdon HS-6 data for .38 Special with 158 grain cast bullet, and it stops at 16,200 CUP. Having tried Hodgdon's low pressure .38 Special HS-6 loads, the results are dismal - unburnt powder, low velocities, mediocre accuracy. It's obvious how watered down the Hodgdon HS-6 data is in .38 Special. No data is provided for +P loads with a 158 grain lead bullet. Why?

Oddly enough, Hodgdon decided to provide 158 grain cast bullet data for .357 Magnum: 7.0 grains of HS-6 gives only 15,500 CUP. Hmmmm, something fishy is going on here...

A little bit of analysis indicates that whether you intend to stay within the current 20,000 CUP +P limit, or the traditional pre-watered 22,400 CUP limit... you can increase the charge accordingly. Pop a magnum primer in the .38 Special case, and bump up the powder charge to normal levels and you have something really good. My personal HS-6 loads with 160 grain LHP bullets make 985 fps in 4" barrel revolver, and 900 fps in a 2" gun. The loads are very accurate and hit POA in fixed sight revolvers.

Buffalo Bore sells loaded factory ammo at these levels. Their choice of powder is unknown, but obviously the pressure levels are safe.

Note these pressure figures are for copper-crusher CUP, NOT transducer PSI. The numbers are not the same. Hodgdon still lists its 38 Special and 357 Magnum pressure data in CUP... I'm surprised because you are now able to see how weak these loads have become since the SAAMI downgrading. Once pressure figures are expressed in PSI, you have no way of comparing them to older CUP data.

As always, YMMV, and practice safe and prudent loading practices. Inexperienced reloaders should adhere to published data. What is acceptable in your guns is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

Happy trails!

Last edited by Model 15-4ever; 09-01-2021 at 04:37 PM.
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  #40  
Old 09-01-2021, 06:15 PM
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My favorite FBI Load replica is made with a Speer or Hornady 158gr LSWC-HP bullet over 7.0gr HS-6. Its very accurate in my revolves. From everything I've read it is not over pressure but be aware no current manuals list that load.
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  #41  
Old 09-01-2021, 06:20 PM
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4.5 grains Unique and Speer LSWCHP.
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  #42  
Old 09-01-2021, 06:55 PM
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I never load that hot.
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  #43  
Old 09-01-2021, 07:03 PM
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For me it's 11.5 grs of 2400 under a Lyman # 358156 SWC HP with a gas check.
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Old 09-01-2021, 07:11 PM
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I've used plenty of HS-6 with a 160 gr. LSWC ( Hensley & Gibbs #51) in the .38 Special cartridge. I've never used 7 grs. and won't. It's probably best for all of us to check with reputable sources (the real experts) rather than Internet experts regarding safe maximum loads.

Last edited by ArchAngelCD; 09-01-2021 at 09:26 PM. Reason: Sorry, I didn't change anything, I just hit the wrong button.
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Old 09-01-2021, 07:32 PM
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4 grains of 700-X works for me. MV is usually in the mid-800s. I just loaded 200 rounds this morning.
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Old 09-01-2021, 07:42 PM
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Full load...equals the original .38-44 load...

Home cast Lyman/Thompson 357156 with 6.0 grains of Unique. Have both the original Lyman mold, a MP Mold that can be used solid, HP and PentaPoint as well as a MP aluminum mold that is a non-gascheck.

Runs in the mid-900s from a 649 2" to 1140 from a 4" Heavy Duty. It is just a little slower than the Outdoorsman load in solid and HP from Buffalo Bore.

For just target shooting and plinking, 4.0 of 700-X with most any 150-160 SWC works great and is cheap...

Bob

ps...as far as the SAAMI limits go...can someone please tell me why a J-frame can be chambered in 9mm at over 30k psi but everyone wets their underwear when someone goes to 26k in a .38 Special in the same gun...what am I missing?

Last edited by SuperMan; 09-01-2021 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 09-01-2021, 08:19 PM
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I never load that hot.
Not ever. No need.
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  #48  
Old 09-01-2021, 09:27 PM
ArchAngelCD ArchAngelCD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
I've used plenty of HS-6 with a 160 gr. LSWC ( Hensley & Gibbs #51) in the .38 Special cartridge. I've never used 7 grs. and won't. It's probably best for all of us to check with reputable sources (the real experts) rather than Internet experts regarding safe maximum loads.
The Hodgdon #26 load manual from 1992 lists the max charge of HS-6 under a 158gr LSWC bullet at 7.3gr for a velocity of 955 fps and 19,200 CUP. My charge of 7.0gr HS-6 is not the max charge and that's from a reputable source.

Additionally, some older Winchester manuals show loads for W540. It's known W540 = HS-6 so when I saw the data listing 7.2gr W540 under a 158gr LSWC being just under the 20,000 PSI SAAMI limits I knew my 7.0gr load to be safe. Another reputable source from before the merge of both companies.

You are correct, you should always verify all data you get from the Internet from people you don't know.
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Old 09-01-2021, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
The Hodgdon #26 load manual from 1992 lists the max charge of HS-6 under a 158gr LSWC bullet at 7.3gr for a velocity of 955 fps and 19,200 CUP. My charge of 7.0gr HS-6 is not the max charge and that's from a reputable source.

Additionally, some older Winchester manuals show loads for W540. It's known W540 = HS-6 so when I saw the data listing 7.2gr W540 under a 158gr LSWC being just under the 20,000 PSI SAAMI limits I knew my 7.0gr load to be safe. Another reputable source from before the merge of both companies.

You are correct, you should always verify all data you get from the Internet from people you don't know.
You make a good point. The old load manuals are great reference sources; guess I have between forty and fifty of them and refer to them regularly. As you well know, much of the information is not available online.

The method of pressure measurement may be considerably more accurate today and less dependent on operator interpretation than it was when #26 was published about thirty years ago; another good reason to be cautious with old data. There is also a suggestion in #26 that the data is not recommended for small frame (presumably including steel) and alloy frame revolvers.
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Old 09-01-2021, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMan View Post
Full load...equals the original .38-44 load...

Home cast Lyman/Thompson 357156 with 6.0 grains of Unique. Have both the original Lyman mold, a MP Mold that can be used solid, HP and PentaPoint as well as a MP aluminum mold that is a non-gascheck.

Runs in the mid-900s from a 649 2" to 1140 from a 4" Heavy Duty. It is just a little slower than the Outdoorsman load in solid and HP from Buffalo Bore.

For just target shooting and plinking, 4.0 of 700-X with most any 150-160 SWC works great and is cheap...

Bob

ps...as far as the SAAMI limits go...can someone please tell me why a J-frame can be chambered in 9mm at over 30k psi but everyone wets their underwear when someone goes to 26k in a .38 Special in the same gun...what am I missing?
I still prefer to use recent published data for the .38 Special and everything else as well and make no apology for doing so.

However, your point regarding 9mm vs. .38 Special pressures in a J-frame is worth considering. I don't have the answer, but would speculate on several things. The 9mm has always been loaded to 30K or more. It's always been a smokeless cartridge and I doubt any weak guns have been chambered for the 9mm. Pretty consistent high pressure loadings for more than a hundred years.

The .38 Special started off as a low-pressure black powder cartridge. Smokeless load pressures were greater but probably not by a great deal. Many of the older revolvers weren't particularly strong ones and then one has to consider the cheap Spanish revolvers and other junkers that have been made for the .38 Special.

To complicate matters, the high-pressure factory .38 Special loadings beginning in the 1930s would tend to negate any argument about "weak" revolvers. Many commercial loads and handloads have, in recent decades, been toned down somewhat over the hotter loads of years past.

Better and more accurate ways of measuring pressure have become available, but .38 Special pressures have been all over the place in more than a hundred years. Whether or not that accounts in any way for present day SAAMI specs, I don't know.

It's also of some importance to note that prior to "+P", many shooters reasoned that if a barrel was marked .38 Special and ammo was marked .38 Special, the two were made for each other regardless of other considerations. That may not have been the best way to look at it, but you didn't hear about anyone blowing up guns because they fired the 110 Norma jacketed hollowpoint (the hottest of the hot .38s) in a Chief Special.
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