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Old 04-20-2017, 11:40 PM
Eddietruett Eddietruett is online now
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Default Anyone load 38 s&w?

Curious if anyone here loads 38 s&w. Factory ammo is very limited to say the least. Ive seen brass for sale but no bullets. I have been told you can use .358 bullets but not sure about this.
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Old 04-21-2017, 12:37 AM
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I mold some with molds that are .358 and if not sized work OK using trail boss as some come out .359 in the two revolvers in 38 S&W I have.
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.360 bullets are hard to find....
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Old 04-21-2017, 12:57 PM
eddie76 eddie76 is offline
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I buy .361 bullets from Missouri Bullet Co.
Factory ammo is available online and is very inexpensive. I use "Ammo Seek"
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:08 PM
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.358 bullets will work. 148 grain HBWC's work well.

I've never seen factory ammo locally for under $30 per box but you can find it online for under $20.

Many of the guns chambered in this caliber were made before the exacting standards we have today. I'd try and figure out the cylinder throat diameter on your gun and use what ever bullet fits that the best. The nice thing about the hollow base wadcutter is that the soft swaged bullets will expand to fill the throat and bore easier than any other bullet out there.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:30 PM
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I reload for all my 38 spl target shooting. I just got into reloading about a year ago. I use 3.5 gr. Hodgdon Clays powder and I like how clean it shoots.
I started out with a Lee turret press and I do like it. It cost me much less than other name brand presses. And contrary to what some think about the Lee I have had no problems with mine and I have loaded over a thousand 38 spl.
I just loaded 400+ 38 spl using Swamp Popper 38/357 .358 dia. 124 gr. coated lead bullets. I suggest using coated bullets for less barrel leading. The box of coated bullets I just bought were only $1 more than a box of regular lead nose bullets. These were 44 spl from Missouri Bullet Co.

Cost savings is good especially when you are using your old spent casings. I am just now getting into loading 44 special and will be saving probably 70% over store bought rounds.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:30 PM
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The soft swaged 38 cal. hollow based wadcutters , 148 grain , work well. The hollow base expands to fill the bore .
Don't seat it flush like 38 Special , leave some sticking out and lighty crimp. Don't try to hot rod this one .
Gary
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:59 PM
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I also load for the 38 S&W. The bullets eddie76 recommended are very good. I also load a 170gr bullet from The Western Bullet Company. Most .38 S&W revolvers shoot very well with a 145/146gr bullet but they should be .360"/.361" in diameter, not .358". Accuracy with .358" bullets can be poor and leading is more problematic.

There are several casters online who sell the correct bullet but the Missouri Bullet Company is a good choice IMO. The sell them with or without Hi-Tec coating. They also sell 100 piece sample packs if you want to try something without buying 500.

Missouri Bullet Company
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Old 04-22-2017, 12:09 PM
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For many years, I loaded .38 S&W with 3.5 grains of Unique and .357-.358 125 grain lead RN bullets, and they shot fine. I like using the lighter weight bullets in the old top break revolvers. As stated, you can also get 145 grain .361 bullets from Missouri Bullet Company.

BTW - I load .38 S&W using .38 Super dies.
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Old 04-22-2017, 02:49 PM
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I have a bag of 100 38 S&W .360 146g lead round nose bullets that I don't have any need of. If someone wants them send a PM with an address and they are yours.
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Old 04-22-2017, 08:49 PM
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I have a local bullet caster who makes me 0.360 180 grain heads. Work extremely well in my Webley Mk IVs, Enfields (Mk1, 1* and 1**), S&W M11 and a number of M&Ps in that calibre. Dave_n
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Old 04-22-2017, 09:00 PM
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Before you get too wrapped up in getting the oversized 360-360 bullets, drive a slightly oversized soft lead slug through your barrel and measure it. Most modern 38 S&Ws are barreled the same as the 38 special/357 mag, and will shoot 357-358 slugs just fine. DWalt above has written extensively about these loads. I have been loading the 38 S&W for years, and use 158 gr lead Semi Wadcutters (I just happen to have thousands of them on the shelf). They shoot just fine. I don't like to give powder charges on line, but I mostly use Bullseye.

Some of the much older 38S&W guns may actually have the larger bore, so I recommend checking what you actually have. I have at least half a dozen guns in this caliber, including a "Lemon Squeezer" from 1887. A Colt Bankers Special, Smith Regulation Police, and two Terriors, also have a British Webley.

Great little cartridge.

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Old 04-23-2017, 07:07 PM
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As I have said numerous times here, the SAAMI minimum bullet diameter spec for the .38 S&W is 0.355". Look it up. If SAAMI says bullets that small are OK, then it should certainly be believed that the standard .357-.358 bullets for the .38 Special will work fine. The WWII .38 S&W bore diameter spec for Victories (land-to-land) is 0.350-0.3512" and that still leaves plenty of room for rifling engagement on a .357" diameter bullet.

Some years ago, I came into a batch of antique .38 S&W rounds. I broke them down to replace the old primers with new and add new powder for shooting. The pulled lead RN bullets all measured 0.357-.358.

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Old 04-23-2017, 08:39 PM
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The thing to be aware of is use a LEAD bullet. A jacketed 357 will not fit the bore well. At least in my experience. A soft lead bullet especially a HBWC will expand enough to seal.
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post

......Some years ago, I came into a batch of antique .38 S&W rounds. I broke them down to replace the old primers with new and add new powder for shooting. The pulled lead RN bullets all measured 0.357-.358.
I have some factory UMC in .38 S&W LRN that was loaded in the late teens or early twenties and it too measures out at .357-8.
I also measured some old W-W LRN that I have and it's exactly the same. I was surprised to find this so I also checked some Remington Green Box that I bought new in the late '80s or early '90s and it's .357-8 too.
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Old 04-24-2017, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosquebass View Post
I have some factory UMC in .38 S&W LRN that was loaded in the late teens or early twenties and it too measures out at .357-8.
I also measured some old W-W LRN that I have and it's exactly the same. I was surprised to find this so I also checked some Remington Green Box that I bought new in the late '80s or early '90s and it's .357-8 too.
I believe the antique rounds I had were mainly Peters and maybe a few UMC. I do remember a few even had black powder. I have yet to load my first jacketed bullet in a .38 S&W case. Other than the British Mk2 military ammunition rounds, I don't think I have ever seen any .38 S&W cartridges loaded with anything other than lead bullets. I use the .361 145 grain MBC bullets now, but for many years, only various lead bullets for .38 Special. mainly 125 grains. I also load that same bullet in .38 Short Colt.
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STCM(SW) View Post
I mold some with molds that are .358 and if not sized work OK using trail boss as some come out .359 in the two revolvers in 38 S&W I have.
screen shot pccertificity.com
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.360 bullets are hard to find....
I have a S&W Perfected just like the one you have in the pic and have never shot it. I had a gun smith look at it once and he told me not to shoot it because it was so old. He had never seen one before and was not aware that Smith ever made such a model.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:02 AM
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No reason not to shoot it.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:08 AM
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DWalt is correct...I have a Perfected that Roy says was shipped in August of 1909, and it shoots just fine!! Factory and reloads.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt. Bob View Post
I have a S&W Perfected just like the one you have in the pic and have never shot it. I had a gun smith look at it once and he told me not to shoot it because it was so old. He had never seen one before and was not aware that Smith ever made such a model.
Isn't it interesting that a gunsmith who did not even know that S&W built a 38 Perfected model can make such a blanket statement about the gun being too old to shoot??? These are the kind of people I keep away from! All 38 Perfected revolvers were made in the Twentieth Century, from 1909 to 1920, and were designed and built to shoot modern smokeless ammo.

While we are on the subject of bullets for the 38 S&W, one first needs to know what revolver we are talking about. Solid frame British 38s or top-break S&Ws. I think the answer is different for each type. Top break 38 S&Ws are manufactured to use a .360"-.361" LEAD bullet and not a .357. Will it shoot, absolutely, but why not use what a gun was designed to shoot? I once made the mistake of loading a 38 M&P with 32-20 ammo. Did it shoot absolutely. Did I ruin the brass, absolutely. Did it hit a 20 yard target, absolutely. Does that mean I should shoot 32-20 ammo in a 38 Special revolver - absolutely not!!

First problem with smaller bullets, if you use the proper 38 S&W dies, is that they are likely to drop right into the case. If you use 38 Special dies, you run the risk of weakening the brass and splitting is a real concern. Second problem is that the .357 bullets will not properly engage the rifling, resulting in limited or no spin. Hollow base .357 may expand enough to grip the rifling, but solid lead bullets will not expand in the relatively weak 38 S&W powder charge. Last problem is that the use of jacketed bullets add pressure to the revolver and top break revolvers are low pressure guns. There was no factory ammunition for top breaks with jacketed bullets and I do not believe they should be shot in a 38 top break.

A simple rule I follow so I never get in trouble - shoot the ammunition or reload with components that the model was designed to shoot.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:00 PM
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148gr HBWC by Hornady with 2.6 gr of Bullseye
158gr SWC cast lead with 3.2 gr of Bullseye
Both shoot excellent and accurate
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:21 PM
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I have had good luck with cup base and hollow base bullets both of .358 diameter. As noted elsewhere above you can actually buy the correct size bullet if you want to.
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Old 05-21-2017, 10:37 AM
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Remember the old 38 S&W with 200 gr round nose? I wouldn't use it except in Webley or Smith solid frame (not break open S&W) revolvers.
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