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Old 07-21-2009, 09:36 PM
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Default Keith .38/44 load

Wheeew is all I have to say. 13 grains of 2400 under a 358429 in a .38 case was giving slightly sticky extraction and flattened primers in my Highway Patroman. I've seen numerous people who know their stuff reccomend the full 13.5 grains (Taffin, Skeeter, Keith, etc..).. What gives? Anyone else have experience with this load? Must all have highly polished chambers and using CCI primers
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:20 PM
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This is sure to spark another discussion on " The Load "
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:02 AM
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Well, now that you mention it, "The Load" was a bit sticky, too. I loaded up a few today with a half-grain less and we'll see how that works out.

"Flat primers, huh? Guess we need harder primers."
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:23 AM
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13.5 gr in my 6" M28-2 will produce 1270 fps MV and 622 ft lbs of ME. My cylinder is just like it left the factory in 1972.

I guess I need to check it in my 4" 1955 Highway Patrolman and see what it does in it.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LazarusLong View Post
Wheeew is all I have to say. 13 grains of 2400 under a 358429 in a .38 case was giving slightly sticky extraction and flattened primers in my Highway Patroman. I've seen numerous people who know their stuff reccomend the full 13.5 grains (Taffin, Skeeter, Keith, etc..).. What gives? Anyone else have experience with this load? Must all have highly polished chambers and using CCI primers
I never had any trouble with it in my 28-2 from '75. Have you checked your throats for diameter? Could be under a thou or two. Worth checking, since Smith has varied throats in most of their other guns over the years a little. I haven't tried it in my 27-2 yet, but I am planning on it since I have quite a few of those bullets to load up yet.
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:23 AM
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Lasarus, did you use magnum or standard primers?
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:28 AM
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Unhappy

Standard primers. I know this because they were MY primers.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:55 AM
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Question Working up loads, remember that principle?

Well, I've had sticky loads too. Usually when I started out high with a load and then tried to work my way down. Is that how you are supposed to reload? Just wondering!

All sarcasm aside, when putting a load into a different firearm than the one that it was developed in, it needs to be worked UP again even if it is the same model firearm.

Case in point: I had two M586 6" barreled revolvers. In one I worked up "THE LOAD" and had absolutely no problems at all. No sticky extraction, none. No flattened primers, none, and yes they were standard ones. No pressure signs at all. Switched firearms and got both! Lesson learned. Work up loads per firearm. What is safe in one may not be safe in another. Everything made by man has tolerances. Stack all of those up one way and you get one set of results, put them in the "mean" and you will have quite different results.

Guns are individuals and need to be treated as such.

p.s. For clarification of terms; sticky extraction to me means that you have to use a tool or a bench to remove the spent cases. Is that what you had with the Keith load?
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smith crazy View Post

p.s. For clarification of terms; sticky extraction to me means that you have to use a tool or a bench to remove the spent cases. Is that what you had with the Keith load?
Absolutely not. We wouldn't even be discussing these loads if that was the case. I guess to say "sticking" to us was more of taking a nice little bump on the extractor with the free hand to get the cases to drop.

My recent Handloader has an article by Brian Pearce citing 12.5 grains as his load of choice. I'm going back to load some of those and see what I get.

Edit to add: These loads were worked up to, but not in this particular revolver. To be honest, I hadn't thought of the idea of working up loads to particular guns, outside of something like abnormally tight throats or something similar.

Last edited by Vanilla Gorilla; 07-22-2009 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gun 4 Fun View Post
I never had any trouble with it in my 28-2 from '75. Have you checked your throats for diameter? Could be under a thou or two. Worth checking, since Smith has varied throats in most of their other guns over the years a little. I haven't tried it in my 27-2 yet, but I am planning on it since I have quite a few of those bullets to load up yet.
Throats are good, a .357 sized bullet can be pushed through with only slight resistance. Wonder what other factors can affect pressure in other guns? The barrel cylinder gap is pretty average, so that can't be it, either.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:37 AM
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I've never used the 13.5 gr 2400 load in 38 spcl cases. If I want mag performance I use mag cases.

From what I've read 2400 has changed since Keiths and Skeltons day. It was reformulated several years back and now burns a bit FASTER. The old 13.5 load may now be 13.0 grains???

Just a thought.

FN in MT
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:04 AM
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My memory was that Keith seated the bullet, not in the crimping groove, but much lower, in one of the grease grooves. This gave much increased case capacity, and similiar overall length to the .357 cartridge.

I also remember him recommending use of this load only in .357 revolvers.
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:59 AM
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I've worked up a load in one gun which performed just fine and then when using the same load in another gun so chambered,got sticky extraction.Nothing you're experiencing is out of the normal.Back down and work up.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:04 AM
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Exclamation Some useful information---------

Here are Keith's loads, some of them at least for handguns.



It would seem to me that being on the safe side I would use the 12gr load for starters that he recommends for the C**t handguns.

Sometimes what is perceived as something by one is not what is perceived by another.

Flattened primers is subjective. Sticky extraction is too, as we discussed earlier. If there is any rounded part left to the primer, I don't consider them flattened. Others have another interpretation of them though.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:58 AM
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IIRC, Skelton used the 358156 bullet, which has two crimping grooves. He crimped the bullet in the lower groove, giving more powder capacity.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:32 PM
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+1 on 358156 in 38 Special cases with 13.5 grains of 2400. The .357 is one round where the Thompson bullet worked better for me that the Keith style.

I've used 15.0 with that bullet in .357 cases but that must be worked up to in individual guns. Was fine in my Python but a little sticky in M27. Go figure.

Bruce
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smith crazy View Post
Here are Keith's loads, some of them at least for handguns.



It would seem to me that being on the safe side I would use the 12gr load for starters that he recommends for the C**t handguns.

Sometimes what is perceived as something by one is not what is perceived by another.

Flattened primers is subjective. Sticky extraction is too, as we discussed earlier. If there is any rounded part left to the primer, I don't consider them flattened. Others have another interpretation of them though.

To me, sticky means that you have to give the rod a pop to get them out instead of a slight push like usual. There was still a decent bit of roundness left.. But they were beginning to flatten out which is usually a sign to stop or at least be careful. Although I've seen factory .38 +P loads that flatten out primers (cough. Speer. cough.) so mabye that doesn't mean a whole lot. Sure did make a satisfying "BOOOOM" though, sound more like a .44 than a .357
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:18 PM
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Flattened primers in revolvers can be a sign of a little extra headspace. The primer backs out against the recoil shield under the pressure of firing, due to the headspace issue, then the case sets back against the shield leaving flattened looking primers. It only takes a couple thousandths extra on headspace to do this BTW.

A good chrono is the best way short of a pressure gun, to check that your loads are performing in approximation with published data. I have had flattened primers and sticky extraction with loads that gave very near indentical velocities to the data I was using. That is with the same length barrel too. It really does come down to an individual gun's tolerances, smoothness of chambers, throats, forcing cone etc. You may get pressure signs, while not actually going over recommended loads, or velocities. Then again, you may get no pressure indicators, and be well over SAAMI specs. Caution is a reloaders best friend.

One other thing to consider- when your cases are seated in your chambers, are they flush with the rear face of the cylinder, or are they possibly a couple thousandths below flush? That would cause the same appearence of excess headspace. It is possible. Just something else to check for in guns with recessed chambers.

Last edited by Gun 4 Fun; 07-22-2009 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:22 AM
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The image Skip posted was from the 1980 era, when it was Hercules 2400. The load I posted was using 2004 vintage Alliant 2400. That leads me to believe there isn't an appreciable difference between the two powders, at least in the lot I have.

If there was more than lot to lot variation, they would be calling the new powder 2399 or 2401, not 2400.

A little resistance in extraction can be due to minute amounts of powder residue reducing the chamber dimensions. 2400 does leave some residue, even with higher pressure loads.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul5388 View Post
The image Skip posted was from the 1980 era, when it was Hercules 2400. The load I posted was using 2004 vintage Alliant 2400. That leads me to believe there isn't an appreciable difference between the two powders, at least in the lot I have.

If there was more than lot to lot variation, they would be calling the new powder 2399 or 2401, not 2400.

A little resistance in extraction can be due to minute amounts of powder residue reducing the chamber dimensions. 2400 does leave some residue, even with higher pressure loads.

In the spirit of the post about variation from one revolver to the next, I'm going to go back to try this load again in my Model 27, the one in which these loads were originally worked up, and see if there's any difference now.

I dunno, is 2400 temperature sensitive? It was damn hot the day these loads were tested in LLs Model 28.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:04 PM
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Pressures do go up & down at temperature extremes. Up with high temps and down with low.

Bruce
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:24 PM
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Some brands of 38 special brass seem to be softer than others. With heavy SR4756 loads I had sticky extraction of Winchester brass but S&B brand gave me no trouble at all. Go figure... These loads were much hotter than THE LOAD though. Maybe you just want to try different brand of brass?

I often get flat primers with 357mag loads even when they are well within current recommendations. Here are some examples, primers in handloads were WSP and WSPM.



I could be wrong but I just don't worry about flat primers any more.

Here is an quote from Skeeter about his 2400 loads. He was talking about lighter bullet - normal and HP 358156, but I thought it was interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeter Skelton in "Handgun Loads" article published in Shooting Times Magazine, February 1969
Like most other handgunners, I have loaded more .38 Specials than any other caliber. Unlike most others, I have eschewed the popular full wadcutter bullet and the ultra-light loads with which it is usually associated. The two .38 molds that do most of my work are the Lyman 357446 and their 356156 which is almost identical except that it wears a gas check. Both bullets are cast 1 to 15 tin-in-lead and sized .357”.

As accurate as the wadcutters at close range, these bullets cut just as clean a hole in the target and maintain accuracy and killing power at much longer distances.

For heavy duty .38 Special and .357 Magnum loading the 358156 gas check shoots much cleaner than any plain base bullet. It is possibly the most accurate cast bullet I have used, and is an excellent game getter. The HP version offers spectacular expansion, and the solid gives the utmost in combined penetration and shock in its category, being particularly satisfactory for taking small table game without unwanted meat damage.

The 358156 has two crimping grooves. The upper is used when loading .357 cases and standard velocity .38 Special loads. When seated out to the lower crimp groove in .38 Special cases, more powder space is gained, and a very powerful load of 13.5 gr. of 2400 may be used in these cases, giving around 1150 fps. I emphasize that these heavy .38 Special cartridges should only be fired from .357 Magnum revolvers or from .45 frame .38 Special sixguns such as the Colt SA, Colt New Service, or S&W .38-44. While I have fired this round from K-frame Smith & Wessons and Colt Officers’ Models on occasion with no visible ill effects, these lighter revolvers were not designed for such heavy loads, and I definitely do not recommend the practice. Since I commonly carry this round for everyday use in my .357 guns, I have taken more game with it than any other individual handload, up to and including antelope, turkey, and javelina.

Some loading manuals list the 358156 HP bullet with as much as 16 gr. of 2400 in .357 cases, a top load which gives about 1600 fps velocity. Although well below the acceptable factory pressure level, this load is a bit hot, and I prefer 15 gr. of 2400 for better accuracy, less recoil, and longer case life.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:50 PM
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Exclamation Just a caution!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceM View Post
Pressures do go up & down at temperature extremes. Up with high temps and down with low.

Bruce

It can be the opposite of that too Bruce. Take Blue Dot for instance. It can get really weird at temperatures under freezing, especially around 0 degrees F.
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:37 PM
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Blue Dot can do unusual things-period. I only use it in full power 10mm ammo and, to be honest, when my current supply is gone I'll buy no more. In that round AA#7 works better for me.

Bruce
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:39 PM
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Tried 12.5 grains today in my 5 inch 27. Cases fell out when the gun was turned muzzle up and primers slightly flat, but rounded at the edges. Average velocity was 1233 fps.
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:34 PM
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To revive this discussion:

I loaded up some .38 Specials recently and tested them today. 13.0 grains of 2400, 173 grain Keith SWC cast with my Ideal 358429 mold, CBC (Magtech) brass, Federal SP Primers, crimped in the crimp grove (I don't have the OAL data in front of me).

Here is what I found:

4" S&W 681-3, Ave. 1201 fps, SD 17.48, 554 ft.-lbs. energy

2 1/4" Ruger SP101, Ave. 1096 fps, SD 17.93, 462 ft.-lbs energy

Extraction was slightly sticky, but only slightly. Primers were flattened a little bit, but less than a lot of factory .357 Magnum loads I have fired. Overall, I'd say the load was safe, but I wouldn't want to push it any harder. I think I'm going to load up some with 12 and 12.5 grains of 2400 and see how that effects performance.

With the same bullet, primers, and powder charge in Federal .357 Magnum cases I got these results:

681: Ave. 1028 fps, SD 25.17, 398 ft.-lbs. energy
SP101: Ave. 959 fps, SD 11.24, 347 ft.-lbs. energy

Using .38 Special cases significantly increased performance.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:36 PM
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I tried that whiz bang 38 spl. load once., 13.5 gr. 2400 and a 158 lswc and managed to fire 6 of them and when I had trouble getting them to eject, I gave them up. Also shot some of the old Western lubaloy 357 mag loads with the soft lubaloy bullet and it tied up a 19-2 for three consecutive shots and leaded like hades. Gave them up also. If I want 357 performance I'll load 357 cases. Easier on me and my guns.
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:21 AM
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Those Western lead bullet loads would really lead.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Sackett View Post
Here are Keith's loads, some of them at least for handguns.



It would seem to me that being on the safe side I would use the 12gr load for starters that he recommends for the C**t handguns.

Sometimes what is perceived as something by one is not what is perceived by another.

Flattened primers is subjective. Sticky extraction is too, as we discussed earlier. If there is any rounded part left to the primer, I don't consider them flattened. Others have another interpretation of them though.


Interesting loads. Considering .38 Special, I load my backup/outdoor defense loads at 5.0 grains of unique for a 158 gr LSWC bullet (practically the same load E. Keith recommends) Velocity out of a 4 inch barrel is around 950 ft per second.

Interesting the he recommends 12 grains of 2400 in .38 special. I assume Colt .41 DA frame means the Colt Official Police. (which is what I use) 38 Special +P Load Data - Handloads.Com The maximum Alliant recommends for .38 Special+P is 7.8 grains recommending starting at 7. The max I have gone is 7.4. And Keith is recommending 12 grains?!!!!!!!! did I miss something?
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug.38PR View Post
The maximum Alliant recommends for .38 Special+P is 7.8 grains recommending starting at 7. The max I have gone is 7.4. And Keith is recommending 12 grains?!!!!!!!! did I miss something?
I think that this 12gr load has been proven but, Kieth was know to have blown up at least a few guns performing his "testing".
Use at your own risk!
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceapea View Post
I think that this 12gr load has been proven but, Kieth was know to have blown up at least a few guns performing his "testing".
Use at your own risk!
Please provide proof that they were 38spl firearms.
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:42 PM
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Ya know, a guy blows up a few rickety old Colt SAAs a hundred years ago, and he never gets to live it down!

The most commonly perpetuated story is when he loaded a 45 Colt SAA with a 300 gr (45-90?) rifle bullet and all the black powder he could get in a balloon head case. It worked for a while, but finally one let go. Elmer quit trying to make the 45 Colt a top performer since the guns then available couldn't reliably handle the stress, and moved on the the 44 Spl, which has thicker cylinder walls. Not long after that, Hercules 2400 entered the market, and the legend was born.

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Old 09-30-2012, 02:09 AM
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The Keith article posted above indicates it's for .38 Special revolvers and says .38 Heavy Duty S&W or .41 Colt DA frame when it calls for it
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul5388 View Post
The image Skip posted was from the 1980 era, when it was Hercules 2400. The load I posted was using 2004 vintage Alliant 2400. That leads me to believe there isn't an appreciable difference between the two powders, at least in the lot I have.

If there was more than lot to lot variation, they would be calling the new powder 2399 or 2401, not 2400.
Excellent point! I hear the same said about old / new Unique.

If the powder's performance changed enough to make the pre-change data obsolete they would just re-issue it under a new name.

On another point, H110 and Winchester 296 were/are considered to be the same powder using identical data.

In the 80's I used both and the powders were physically different.

The 296 looked like it does now, dark, small balls. The H110 was a bright silvery gray and with much finer grains.

Performance was similar, but not identical in grain-for-grain loads.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug.38PR View Post
Interesting loads. The maximum Alliant recommends for .38 Special+P is 7.8 grains recommending starting at 7. The max I have gone is 7.4. And Keith is recommending 12 grains?!!!!!!!! did I miss something?
Alliant's .38 Special data has come way down over the years.

They and Hodgdon also use ridiculously long barrels in both .38 (7.5 & 7.75) and Hodgdon uses 10" in .357.

I think they do this to show higher velocities while user the lighter, safer data. Most people choose data on velocity, and with both of their online data resources they do not show the barrel length.

I just looked at my Speer #10 & #11 .38 data, widely regarded as safe. Their write up says the .38 Standard loads are held to 18,900 psi and the +P are held to 22,500psi.

Today the 18,500 is the +P standard.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Sackett View Post
Please provide proof that they were 38spl firearms.
Hey, I did say "I think".
If the 12gr, 2400 load is so far over book today (and not by just a little), why risk injury or worse.
I know that most factory loads today are not what they used to be but a 45% over charge might be asking for trouble.
Just saying!
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:06 AM
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I've used the 2400 load as above with both the Thompson gas checked as well as the plain flat base heavier 358429 SWC.

No worries here.......




Any of y'all remember that of the Norma & ol Super-Vel days of really flattened primers and sticky extraction?

Sometimes primes would fall out and ya would have to jar the ejector rod on the wagon tongue!

Now, those were the Days!


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Old 09-30-2012, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceapea View Post
Hey, I did say "I think".
If the 12gr, 2400 load is so far over book today (and not by just a little), why risk injury or worse.
I know that most factory loads today are not what they used to be but a 45% over charge might be asking for trouble.
Just saying!
No, what he said was: "I think that this 12gr load has been proven but......." and then he goes on to mention blown up guns.

Listen, this is how rumors and Internet lies get spread. Elmer blew up 45 Colt guns trying to make them into the "45 Magnum", he may have blown up a few 44Spl guns on his way to the 44Mag but, the poster of the previous statement is misleading someone to think that they were 38spl guns with the 12gr 2400gr load, fallacy, plain and simple.

If it was a 12gr load of a fast powder, yeah, maybe, but it isn't. If it was in a pot metal special, yeah, maybe, but they weren't, they were S&W "N" frames & 45 framed Colts.

I wonder about some folks from time to time! As the youngsters put it: SMH! (Shaking My Head)
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:51 PM
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I have an Outdoorsman that I have shot lots of the #358429's through and even though 13.0 grains of 2400 is a hot load, I prefer and my gun shoots more accurately with 12.5 grains of 2400 with that bullet. I use good Winchester +P cases and CCI standard primers and the velocity is a tad over 1,200 fps with the 6 1/2 inch barrel.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:33 PM
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And David, I'd have NO PROBLEM running them in any one of my "L" frames either. They are built to take it. Now a "K" frame that has a hard time holding the 357Mag, such as in the M19, might be a different story or my preference NOT to shoot them in it.

I do have an interesting 160gr bullet for it though. Well, two, actually. Take a peek:

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Sackett View Post
No, what he said was: "I think that this 12gr load has been proven but......." and then he goes on to mention blown up guns.

Listen, this is how rumors and Internet lies get spread. Elmer blew up 45 Colt guns trying to make them into the "45 Magnum", he may have blown up a few 44Spl guns on his way to the 44Mag but, the poster of the previous statement is misleading someone to think that they were 38spl guns with the 12gr 2400gr load, fallacy, plain and simple.

If it was a 12gr load of a fast powder, yeah, maybe, but it isn't. If it was in a pot metal special, yeah, maybe, but they weren't, they were S&W "N" frames & 45 framed Colts.

I wonder about some folks from time to time! As the youngsters put it: SMH! (Shaking My Head)

That was me in both of the above, BTW.
You yourself acknowledge that Kieth blew up a few guns (at least two) also. I never said 38 or 357. Just stated some facts is all.
I see that a 45% overcharge still doesn't concern you...
So, now I'm a rumor starter huh?
Did I mention 45% OVERCHARGE?

WOW!!!

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Old 10-01-2012, 01:17 AM
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I shoot a lot of 11gr 2400 under 160gr lswc in a M-15-2. I have tested 12gr in this same platform. I don't believe the 12gr load is over 23,000psi. Both of these loads show very little flattening of Federal small pistol primers, and offer easy extraction with gentle thumb pressure. 38spl+P ammo is now loaded to lower pressure than the old standard pressure level.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:29 AM
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Unintentional as it may be......Carefully choose your words so your statements are not taken to mean something no didn't intend for them to say.

You allude to the fact that there is a hot load and then go right to blown up guns by Elmer Keith and, in this caliber, they don't correlate. At best it was an oversight, at worst it is irresponsible and misleading.

So, you tell us what it is, which one? Did he blow up 38spl guns or not with this load? Then, as I asked earlier, please provide proof that he did. If you make the assertion that he did, there should be ample proof out there, please provide it. I can be wrong. All you need to do is prove it and I will post a retraction.

Take this to the inh degree and this is how the fallacy of every Glock 40S&W that has ever had a reload through it has had a KB and that is as far from the truth as anything yet believed by tons of folks.

Elmer did blow up some guns, I don't know how many, but I am almost positive they were not 38 caliber guns and not with this load. THAT is my only point. I am sorry if that offends you but, I would want proof even if it was me that said it!
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:44 PM
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This might be beating a dead horse but Elmer isn't the only one who used or still uses these .38-44 loads. Phil Sharpe did a lot of work with these guns and loads as did many handgun hunters of the day. I think it's a pretty good testament of how popular the .38-44 loads were when the .357 Magnum came out in 1935 and Smith & Wesson did not stop making the Heavy Duty or the Outdoorsman (Models 20 and 23 respectively) until 1966, more than thirty years later and eleven after the .44 Magnum showed up. Brian Pearce did an excellent article on the .38-44 back in the October 2006 Handloader and his loads were the same hot loads of 2400 in a pre-war Outdoorsman. It was even mentioned some of the tests that were done in the 1930's that the Outdoorsman and the Registered Magnum were the same gun except for the checkering on the barrel and top strap, the recessed cylinders and the finish. They were identical in their heat treating and strength. You have to also remember, the .357 loads in those days were pushing 1,500 fps plus from a 8 3/8 inch barrel Registered Magnum. The factory loads today for the .357 are about what those .38-44 handloads are. Sure Elmer might have blown up a few guns, but Elmer and Phil Sharpe with this load got it right and they fired something like 40,000 that were even hotter through ONE gun to prove it.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:29 PM
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Well, not to add gas to the fire, but this looks like as good a place as any to post this old S&W ad I found somewhere.

They are pushing the 2" M&P K-frame like its the Hammer of Thor. From the ad copy this may be circa 1930's or so.

I have NOT verified this ad is authentic, I am posting it only because it says clearly the same thing I have seen in other S&W literature and contemporary write ups:

"...and makes it possible to fire even the .38/44 S&W Special cartridge..."

Name:  S&W Ad.jpg
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Sorry for the small size, it's the best I can do with the forum software.
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:03 PM
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I have fired enough of Elmer's loads out of a 38/44 to say I ain't gonna do the same out of a 2" M&P no matter what S&W says.

Momma raised some dummies, but they was my sister!!!
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:32 PM
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Down here, due to the stupidity of the law, being caught with .357 ammo is a ticket to jail and the confiscation of your toys. However, .38 Special is just fine if you've got the permits to go with it. There are a lot of our members with the standard Outdoorsman and Heavy Duty issue revolvers -- and some more that are "home made" out of VERBOTTEN model numbers that can fool everyone but the hardened S&W aficianados.

The Elmer load is the standard "hot" loading. In all the revolvers I've seen it fired in, it provides "one-thumb extraction". In other words, holding the revolver in your left hand (as the right hand reaches for your next speedloader) with the baby finger and the index finger wrapped over the top of the frame and the two middle fingers inserted into the cylinder-square and gripped on top of the open cylinder, a simple push from your thumb on the extractor rod will clear the empties.

No need to hit the rod smartly or employ your other hand to clear the piece, they just push out. That's good enough. Velocities are around 1,340 to 1,360 fps with our 358429 bullets (which weigh 166 grains out of the two different 4-cavity moulds we have here using #2 alloy) out of 6.5 inch Outdoorsman revolvers. Out of my 1956 era Heavy Duty, they run around 1,280 to 1,290 fps. Out of a "homemade" and rather tightly gapped 8 3/8 inch Model 23 we have around here they run 1,400 to 1,420. These same velocities register out of another friend's 8-inch ".38 Special Target Python".

I would not like to give the impression we shoot these loads all the time, that would be untrue. They are the maximum loads we use. However, most of our shooting is with the Lee 158 grain (which weighs 162 with our mix) tumble lube SWC bullets over 3.5 grains of Bullseye. When we play with heavier stuff, it's usually the 358429 bullets over 7.5 grains of Unique or 12.5 grains of 2400.

Again: all out of .38 Special cases. Using the longer case would be suicidal, as the Police and Army have traffic stops all over the place. As long as you have what you are permitted to have (as indicated on your transport permits), you are fine but whoe to the person who is stopped with something they are not supposed to have. Since the .357 is VERBOTTEN, there is no way you could have it, so we would not use it.

We load the 358429 only in heavier loadings, NEVER using it for regular .38 Special. That way we ourselves have a form of visual indicator that said loading should not be inserted into the wife's Model 36. Casting and reloading are not big-time hobbies here in Mexico as the regulations make it difficult. Still, within our group -- which is a fairly decent sized group in which everyone does cast and reload their own -- there is a clear understanding that the Keith bullet is used for Keith loads (or reasonable facsimiles) and nothing else. Primers are colored RED using a magic marker on all loads that are above .38 Special regular power levels as an additional safety step to prevent accidental loading of such rounds into light .38 revolvers.

We try to be very careful with these loadings to avoid any possible mix-up. These loads are more than powerful enough considering that the Mexican Army would love to leave us with nothing worthy of serious use.

I tend to pamper my Heavy Duty. But it certainly WILL take the Elmer loading of a 356429 over 13.5 grains of 2400 and still offer "one thumb extraction".


The Outdoorsman revolvers are extremely popular in our group, and the guys use them "loaded up" sometimes with the Elmer load or a slight reduction thereof. This one here unfortunately a reblue which caught the hammer and trigger as well...


Here's an interesting one. A roundbutt 19 that became an 8 3/8th inch K-38. I saw some of the Keith loads chronoed out of this one, and they came out close to 1,400 fps, but a little under if I remember correctly. 1,380 or something like that. The owner of this one doesn't generally shoot it with loads that hot, but they certainly did work when we tried it and didn't split his forcing cone either. Yes, one-thumb extraction again.


Mexico has lots of problems, there's no doubt about it. Reloading and shooting down here make every week of one's life into something out of a "Sons of Anarchy" episode just getting components and equipment. But, we have a 365 day shooting season -- it's always summer, just some days are hotter than others -- and the Elmer load lets us shoot our guns with something that does better than stock non +P .38 Special. We appreciate that.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:00 AM
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Calmex,

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing your insights.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:47 AM
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Yeah, thanks for the report from the south and for reminding us that
living and rolling the way you wish is worth some effort and trouble. Buena suerte.
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Old 10-04-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David LaPell View Post
This might be beating a dead horse but Elmer isn't the only one who used or still uses these .38-44 loads. Phil Sharpe did a lot of work with these guns and loads as did many handgun hunters of the day. I think it's a pretty good testament of how popular the .38-44 loads were when the .357 Magnum came out in 1935 and Smith & Wesson did not stop making the Heavy Duty or the Outdoorsman (Models 20 and 23 respectively) until 1966, more than thirty years later and eleven after the .44 Magnum showed up. Brian Pearce did an excellent article on the .38-44 back in the October 2006 Handloader and his loads were the same hot loads of 2400 in a pre-war Outdoorsman. It was even mentioned some of the tests that were done in the 1930's that the Outdoorsman and the Registered Magnum were the same gun except for the checkering on the barrel and top strap, the recessed cylinders and the finish. They were identical in their heat treating and strength. You have to also remember, the .357 loads in those days were pushing 1,500 fps plus from a 8 3/8 inch barrel Registered Magnum. The factory loads today for the .357 are about what those .38-44 handloads are. Sure Elmer might have blown up a few guns, but Elmer and Phil Sharpe with this load got it right and they fired something like 40,000 that were even hotter through ONE gun to prove it.
Just remember that when the FBI first selected fire arms the committee recommended the Colt Police Positive with 4 inch barrel (which is the same D frame as the 2 inch Detective Special, Cobra and Agent models) on the condition that the ammo would be the 158 grain Keith bullet at 1125 feet per second. In other words, they used the .38/44 load in their Police Positives. As one friend says, "You don't have to get in front of that revolver to figure out that it just went off."

That certainly started a Federal Government trend of using .38 Special loads that were really just low end .357 Magnums in small or medium frame revovlers. Anyone remember the so-called Treasury Load? The more or less identical round is now sold in Winchester's White Box as the 110 grain .357 Magnum.

The point is that neither the .38/44 (158 gr. at 1125) nor the Treasury Load were easy on the shooter or the equipment, but they weren't unsafe either.
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