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Old 08-31-2009, 08:22 AM
walnutred walnutred is offline
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Default 38 S&W load devopment Pt. 1

I’m going to describe the load development project I’m currently working on the 38 S&W ctg. Some of you might find the process interesting; others will learn to skip right over future installments. However I think my methods are fairly solid and the procedures I use here would work for load development of other ctgs. First off, I like the older cartridges. Many years ago I outgrew the need to shoot the most powerful of anything. Now I enjoy shooting a wide variety of firearms just for the joy of the experience of firing that type of firearm and seeing what kind of performance it’s capable of. There have been a lot of firearms made in ctgs like 38 S&W, 32 S&W, 32 Long etc.

At this point I’m only testing a 124gn SCW bullet that I use for a lot of things. The nominal as cast diameter is .360 and I’m using them as cast lubed with Lee liquid alox. The loaded OAL for all of these ctgs will be 1.12” even though OAL for this ctg is typically listed at 1.24”. An OAL of 1.24” would have left the upper grease groove exposed on the bullet, which is not aesthetically pleasing. Pulling the 146gn bullet from an old Peters round that had misfired was useful. First, the powder looked like Bulleseye that been contaminated with oil. Second, comparing the two bullets showed that seating the SWC to the OAL I had selected would result in the same amount of bullet INSIDE the case as the heavier factory round. Personally I consider this headspace above the powder to be more critical than OAL when it comes to pressure. In addition, a factory 38 S&W lead bullet has a slight band that is outside the case, but steps down and tapers quickly to the bullet nose. With the 1.24” OAL and the lighter bullet, the driving band is the same distance past the case mouth as with the heavier bullet.

For some reason I do not have a set of 38 S&W dies in my accumulation but to someone who grew up reading George Nonte’s Home Guide to Cartridge Conversions this presented only a slight inconvenience. After trying a couple combinations this is one that worked for me: Sizing die and expansion die from a 9mm Makarov die set, seating and taper crimp die from a 38 Super dies set. Yes, I tried using just the 38 Super set, but the Mak set worked better for me.

The crimp die was adjusted using the time honored method on placing a factory caartridge in the shell holder and running the ram to the top of its stroke. Then slowly tightening the taper crimp die down until you have good contact, lower the ram, tighten the die another 1/8th of a turn and set the lock nut.

Oh yes, reloading equipment. Normally I reload on an old Dillon 450 with upgraded powder drop and priming. However I still like to do my load development using my Lyman turret and 55 powder drop. Primers are Wolf Small Pistol, Bullseye powder and mixed cases. I did check the cases and culled a couple balloon head cases, they were that mixed.

Loads for testing are Bullseye 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8 and 3.0 grains. In addition I’ll try and test some modern factory ammo IF I can locate enough quantity. I do have some of the old military 380 2Z ammo I plan to test out of curiosity. Revolvers lined up for the velocity tests include barrel lengths of 2”, 3.5” and 5”. My best friends family and my family are going camping at a state park this weekend which has a pistol range. He is providing the Chrony and one of the pistols and we plan to do the velocity testing there. In a couple weeks we will go to a local range and test the point of impact shifts with the same pistols and loads.

Given the limited amount of pooled resources available to us, unlike some professional writers who I will not mention, we feel this will give a good overview of 38 S&W performance using one powder and bullet. Part of the purpose of this posting is that I know from reading posts on various boards there are many new reloaders on the shooting boards. What I’ve outlined is the thought process I use when developing loads and while I’m no expert I do still have all my fingers and both eyeballs.

One thing I forgot to mention is the powder charges I’ve mentioned are within the ranges of published data, though some of that data was published almost 70 years ago. Use your own best judgment and what works for me may not work for you. The two heavier loads listed may NOT be fired in top break revolvers during the testing. Depends on how it goes. Next week I should be able to list a table with the results of the 6 powder charges, one bullet and at least the military ball ammo, in three different barrel lengths.

I know some of you have more experience than me so I will not be offended if you poke holes in my thought processes.
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:19 PM
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I'll be waiting for your report. I have played around with the 38 S&W, and using the 158 gr cast SWC, but sized .360. I had loaded 3.1 gr Winchester 231, and seated the bullet to the normal seating groove. I considered the interior capacity, and it looked very small. I did not load too many of these. When firing in a Pre Victory they did not feel overly hot (did not chrono them) but the cases needed a lot of help in extraction. I have hesitated reloading more trying to get better information. I do not cast bullets, so have to rely on what I can purchase, but do have a source of .360 158 gr. I used a moderate roll crimp.

My supply of 231 is nearly exhausted, and don't seem to be able to find any locally. I do have a pretty good supply of Scott Solo 1000, and Pearl Scott, as well as Unique, 700X, Win. Super Target, and several other on that burning range.
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:15 PM
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If BE and 231 were not available I'd probably try the Unique for 38 S&W load data. I'm using Bullseye because it's a contemporary powder for 38 S&W, I use it for 32 Long, 9x18, 9x19 and 38 Special on a regular basis, I have a couple 8 lb kegs of the stuff I bought last year. The mold I'm using is a homemade mold that looks a lot like the Lee 90316 mold.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:54 PM
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Hey walnutred,--- and others.

I'm lovin your project, and can't wait for more installments.

I'm also doing some of this with my 32 and 38 S&W's, and thought I'd mention that HP-38 is also a powder that warrants investigation. It seems to meter even better than Bullseye with the miniscule charges we are talking about with some of these loads. (and I've always been a BIG Bullseye fan)

My latest experiment was with low power gallery rounds using .315 round balls in my 32 lemon squeezer. Accuracy is surprisingly good, and velocity must be pretty high compared to the heavier bullet weights. My POI was about 4" lower than the 77 gr. round nose bullet I have been using. (I've got no chrony---yet)

Jim
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:04 AM
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Walnutred; I have an old S&W top break I enjoy shooting. Third model D.A.I remember Elmer Keith shooting one & he said it was very accurate. I use an unsized 148 gr. Wadcutter with aloe lube. Mikes .360. Use 2.0 gr. Bullseye. Mild load but accurate with tiny sights & old eyes. A real pleasure to shoot this old S&W.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:00 AM
Calaveras Slim Calaveras Slim is offline
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Red, your getting to the fun part now. I find once I get the load developed that I like, I kinda lose interest.

I was reading Phillip Sharpe's book and he listed the 146RN as the main bullet for the 38 S&W. I scouted around and found a mold for this bullet and casted a bunch, and sized them to .360. Found a set of Lyman dies for this caliber and went to town. Loaded several boxes and gave them to my wife, along with the RP from S&W. She just gave it back cuz I gave her the I frame 32 S&W long I got in a swap.

I think I might like to try W231 in this one, but it may be a little hot. Gotta read up on it.

Guess I am gonna have to start shooting this one again. I do like carrying this 38 S&W and it fits so well under my shirt.

Good luck
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:06 PM
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I confess that I also occasionally carry a 38 S&W revolver. The ammo I typically carry though is some FN 380 2Z ball ammo of which I bought a boat load of a few years ago. OK, maybe it was a few decades ago. I plan on testing the velocity of some of these while I'm at it. I also have some old stock factory and some new production factory I plan on testing this weekend. The old factory ammo literature list the 146 gn 38 S&W load at close to 750 fps and 173fp of energy. The new ammo is listed at 680 fps and 150 fps of energy. I'm curious to see if the old stuff is really faster. In my mind a 38 S&W lead bullet generating 173 fp of energy has the practice effectiveness of 380 ball ammo. If that proves true it's no wonder so many revolvers were made in 38 S&W pre WW2. Same logic behind all the 380 semi- autos being sold now.
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:21 PM
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I will be looking forward to your findings and reports. I load for my 33-1 and have been useing unique with .358 LSWC's. accuracy is ok but not great, need to find some proper size bullet's. The caution on the max loads is a good one, one from the speer number nine for the 125 Jhp was a bit too hot even for the solid J-frame 33-1. Sticking with the more sedate lead loads for now on!
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:01 PM
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This is great! I'm looking forward to additional installments. I load for the .38 S&W but haven't really approached it very "scientifically." I've only ever tried 158 grain SWCs and 200 grain round nose lead bullets, both loaded with Unique but was pleased with the results. I confess that I like the cartridge quite a lot.

Your use of the 124 grain lead SWC may also closely duplicate .38 Short Colt ballistics.
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:43 PM
ArchAngelCD ArchAngelCD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H Richard View Post
My supply of 231 is nearly exhausted, and don't seem to be able to find any locally. I do have a pretty good supply of Scott Solo 1000, and Pearl Scott, as well as Unique, 700X, Win. Super Target, and several other on that burning range.
If you can't find W231 and you can find HP-38 buy it because they are both the same exact powder. This has been verified by Hodgdon/ Winchester /IMR in writing. You can find 1lb, 4lb and 8lb jugs of W231 online as well as 1lb and 8lb jugs of HP-38. If you buy enough you can easily offset the Hazmat fee.

Powder Valley has 8lb jugs of HP-38 in stock for $105. ($13.12/lb) Even if that's all you bought the Hazmat fee would bring the price up to $ 127.50 for the 8 lb jug. ($15.93/lb) That's at least $10/lb less than the local stores right now.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:43 AM
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I'm in the process of getting a number of S&W Mods. 32-1, 33, and 33-1 for my family. My wife & daughters like the J-frame (the 33 will be I frame) and will appreciate the varying levels of recoil I plan to load for it. A couple of them comfortably shoot .38SPLs, but one doesn't and has been shooting .32 S&W Long. We're standardizing guns, but not necessarily ammo. I expect my personal 2" will sport my favorite bullet. . .200g.

I look forward to anything you can pass along to those of us just starting with this caliber.
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:29 AM
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I have been working with some .38 S&W brass to see if I can put together some kind of "9mm Rimmed" load for my 940. The OAL of the case is long enough that it allows headspacing on the case mouth with reliable ignition and the rim is used only for extraction. I am using 9mm dies and bullets.

Frankly I have a very small amount of brass on hand. I have a few pieces of late manufacture R-P and they are very high quality. I was given some very old Peters LRN factory loads and pulled the ones that misfired. They are balloon head cases and the decapping pin gets stuck in the undersized flash holes. What brass is everybody using? I see Starline offers new brass. Are the rims all of even width and thickness between the different manufacturers? Do any of the old cartridges have any collector value?

I started out with light charges of SR4756 and got a very light load, though it did burn kind of dirty. This could be a very good powder if you're looking to start very soft.

Dave Sinko
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:49 AM
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Hello

I have both recent Remington (R P Headstamp) and Starline .38 S&W cases. From what I can tell with my naked eye, they both seem to be the same width in regards to rim thickness.
Hope that helped a bit.
Thanks
Mark
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:23 PM
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I am interested in seeing your results although I doubt I will ever use any kind of "fad" (smokeless) powder in my old break-tops. Certainly not in my Marlin tip-up!
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:02 AM
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Decided to be era appropriate with my 1889 .38 "lemon squeezer". 148 HB wadcutter over .5CC FFg black powder.

Now that's a fun load to shoot...

Only had the FFg available...
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:48 PM
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I am in the process of starting to load this caliber myself, and am faced with the problem of where to find the correct size bullets. .358 is about in glorious quantities, but finding a .360 is presenting a challenge. I have looked at bullet molds as Lee has some reasonably priced, but again even though it is listed as for use for a 38 S&W, from what I can make out of the product code it is nominaly sized to .358. So the question is what mold are you using or does a mold have enough positive slop to give you the extra couple of thousands to size it down to the correct size. I bought a Lyman casting starter kit when I got into reloading, I just have never cast any yet as using off the shelf bullets has worked fine for me.
The timing of this thread is great, I was just going to ask for assistance, when I stumbled across it. I have 2 revolvers that shoot this caliber, a Victory model and a Webly MKIV.

thanks,
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:02 PM
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Contact Stonewall Bullets in Stonewall Louisiana. He will lmake up .360 bullets for you and very inexpensively.

Stonewall Bullet Company
Robert Green - Owner
290 Russell Road
Stonewall, LA 71078
(318) 925-1836 - 1:00 to 6:00 pm CST
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomcatPC View Post
Hello

I have both recent Remington (R P Headstamp) and Starline .38 S&W cases. From what I can tell with my naked eye, they both seem to be the same width in regards to rim thickness.
Hope that helped a bit.
Thanks
Mark
First off I need to apologize to everyone for letting my project languish. When we went to the range on Labor Day we had technical problems with the chrony. Since them I've been too busy with other things to get back to it, then Winter set in.

David, I used to own a Charter Arms Pit Bull in 9mm Federal. 9mm Federal was supposed to be a 9x19 +P+ Rimmed ctg. It was only made for one year largely, in my opinion, because the the 9mm Federals would chamber and fire in a 38 S&W revolver. You can imagine what would happen if someone fired a 9x19 +P+ in a loose topbreak designed for black powder.

Anyway, to load for it I used any MODERN 38 S&W case I happened to have available and used the published 9x19 +p load data for 9x19 cases. For your application I do not think I'd load to +P specs but any reliable 9x19 loads shoudl work fine for your application.

HOWEVER, I stopped loading 9mm Federal in 38 S&W when I started shooting revolvers chambered in 38 S&W again until I accumulated enough nickle Remington 38 S&W cases to only reload the 9mm Federal powder charges in those.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:17 PM
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H. Richard,

Thanks for the infomation about Stonewall for the correct size bullet. Found them on the web, their prices and really good for all the calibers I shoot.

regards
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:45 PM
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Hello

As for finding bullet that are actually sized .360", check out Western Bullet Company. They sell a .360" 160 grain Flat Nose bullet (look for the bullet numbered/named "H&G #512"). I have bought and loaded some, but living here in the lower 48, finding a place to go shooting and not have to pay is not easy, needless to say I have not fired any yet.

I think that Western Bullet Company is also thinking of selling the correct .360" 200 grain lead bullet, so those of us with S&W British Service Revolvers, Webley & Scott Mk. IV and Enfield No.2 Mk.I Revolvers, etc, can reload a close duplicate of the original .380" Mk.I Revolver Cartridge, aka. .380"/200, or as some people say, the .38"/200.

I'd love to find a source for a 178 grain (or close) bullet in the correct .360", so I could reload a close duplicate of the .380" Mk.II* Revolver Cartridge.
Thanks
Mark

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Old 01-25-2010, 02:13 AM
ArchAngelCD ArchAngelCD is offline
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My favorite 38 S&W load is 2.5gr W231 under a 160gr .360" LRNFP bullet. I do load up some 200gr bullets once and a while just because I like to replicate the original British 38/200 load to shoot in my Enfield No2. Herco, Universal and Unique work well with the 200gr bullets.
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:09 PM
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I have an OAL question. I just received my dies and bullets from Stonewall Bullets and was putting together my 1st batch. According to the 48th Lyman edition I should have an OAL of 1.15 when using a 160 gr bullet. The bullets I odered from Stonewall are RNFP @ 158 GN, .360 diameter. I order to hit the crimp groove I have to use an OAL of 1.080 or a difference of .070. The starting powder for this load is Unique, 3.2 gns.

How critical is this OAL and is there any type of formula to determine the increase in pressure for a reduction of OAL and how would it equate to a reduction in the amount of powder.
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:42 PM
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How critical is this OAL and is there any type of formula to determine the increase in pressure for a reduction of OAL and how would it equate to a reduction in the amount of powder.
Of equal, if not more importance, when changing bullet weights is case free space. Probably not the right term but I don't know what else to call it. That is the distance between the base of the bullet as loaded in the case and the bottom of the interior case. I'm sure you can see how a bullet base seated deeper in the case will increase pressure. So you need to pay attention to how much bullet is seated inside the case as is seated outside.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:44 PM
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I like shooting the .38 S&W cartridge. Haven't done extensive experimentation with different powder & bullet combinations but have been very pleased with these two.

I used generic cast bullets at .358 diameter.

158g RNL or SWC w/ 3.0 grains Unique for 725fps.
158g RNL or SWC w/ 2.9 grains Winchester 231 for 750fps.

Very accurate in both Colt Police Positive & S&W 33-1
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:24 AM
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A flat nose bullet is shorter than a round nose bullet so the OAL of a flat nose bullet is shorter than a round nose bullet, if the crimp groove is the same.
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:49 PM
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I am afraid the crimp groove isn't the same. I took apart some Magtek RN ammo and made some comparisons. Stock ammo had 2.5 gns of powder, an OAL of 1.17, with .244 from the base of the bullet to the crimp grove. New bullet has .362 from the base to the crimp grove. It appears I am stuck with the long over-all length and hitting the crimp grove is not a good idea as I have added another .118 of depth to the combustion cavity. I believe that even with the differences I have described the only thing I can do is back off on the powder to 20% less of the starting point of 3.2 gns and hopefully not damage anything.
Now I have an excuse to buy a chronograph.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:24 PM
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This is exactly the problem I encountered. Crimping into the crimp groove placed the bullet much deeper into the case, and decreased the powder cavity space. This increases the pressure built up on firing, and caused me very "sticky" extraction in a .38 Regulation Police using 3.1 gr 231. I only fired one cylinder full of it, and need to pull the rest and reload considerably lower. About a 25% reduction would be right at 2.5 gr. Are you thinking this is still too heavy a load? I was also using bullets from Stone Wall, the 158 gr RNFP sized .360. The crimp goove I measured .351 from the base.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:51 PM
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I think the load using 231 is too heavy for the deep crimping. If you look at the starting Grs between Unique and 231 for a 160 grain bullet it is 3.2 for Unique vs 1.5 for the 231.
I made some comparisions another way when compared to factory ammo. The combustion cavity for stock ammo is .366 ( inside case depth .610 minus bullet seating to crimp .244) For the new Stonewall bullets this figure is .610-.361 = cc of 249 or 68% of the factory ammo. So this would lead me to believe that I would have to start at a point that represents a similiar reduction of powder which would be 2.2 grs of Unique. Rather than do that I am increasing the OAL length of the cartridge to 1.15, this will give me a new cc of .343 or 92% which will give me a starting point of 3.0 gr of Unique. Anyway you get the idea of what I am trying to do. Just for grins I compared the Stonewall bullets to Laser cast for a 38 and the crimp groves were in the same spot. Oh as an FYI, according the Magtek site stock ammo chronys @ 686 FPS. Bought a Chrony yesterday at Cabelas.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:05 PM
garra garra is offline
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Here is the latest on my load developement. I loaded 25 bullets all with 3.2 gns of Unique, measured on a digital scale, all shooting a Stonewall 158 Gn RNFP sized to .360. I broke them into 5 groups with different OALs, here are the results:

OAL 1.15, AVG 733.6 highest in group 758 fps
OAL 1.12, AVG 746.75 highest in group 808 fps
OAL 1.11, AVG 766.8 highest in group 815 fps (highest of all groups)
OAL 1.09, AVG 764.75 highest in group 800 fps
OAL 1.08, AVG 769.0 highest in group 803 fps ( this OAL hit cannelure)

My next try is reducing the powder to 3.0 gns with an OAL of 1.08. Even though the ranges don't seem too excessive I had the same low velocity on 1.15 and 1.08 of 707fps.

This process is interesting, I had to rig up a target holder that slid into the base of the Chrony so I had something to shoot at,and keep me in the beams, pasted a small 3" taget on to the paper backing, worked really slick, the entire 1 1/2" center is gone.

Last edited by garra; 02-22-2010 at 07:46 PM. Reason: wrong bullet weight
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:27 PM
walnutred walnutred is offline
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I'm impressed that you can push a 258 gn bullet 800 fps out of a 38 S&W. I'm a little frightened of the thought also, to be honest with you. ;D
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Old 02-21-2010, 12:05 AM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Garra,
I'm sure you mean 158g instead of 258g, right?

I've got my 32-1 and 33/33-1 collection together now, and I've got the following loads in progress:

1. 161g (nominal wt. 158) Lee LSWC at about 710fps with 3.0g Win231. The bullet is seated out to a COL of 1.155", i.e. in about the 2nd tumble-lube groove from the top.

2. 198g Lee group buy 358430, 639 fps with 2.7g Win 231, COL 1.270".

3. 215g RCBS 35-200, 2.5g starting load, COL 1.275". This load will be chrono'ed tomorrow & I'll report. I've got penetration results on the first two on other forums, and will summarize here tomorrow as well.

Photos show (L-R): .38 S&W 161g LSWC; 358430 LRN 198g; 35-200 LFP 215g; .38 SPL 193g 358430. (All wts. as-cast, rather than nominal.) Bullets are tumble-lubed and arrayed above respective loaded cartridges, with crimp locations aligned to facilitate comparison. Guns are Police Positive Special and Mod. 33-1.
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Old 02-21-2010, 06:43 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Default .38 S&W range report & photos

RECOIL TESTS (1st try) and 215g LFN penetration test:

I tried the 198g LRN in .38SPL with 3.0g Win231, seated in crimp groove. Average vel 574.6, so I'll probably need to try a 3.2g load to get velocities about the same as my .38S&W/200 load.

Apparent recoil in the Colt Police Positive Special, cal. .38SPL, was approximately the same--perhaps a bit stronger--than the .38S&W/200 fired from a S&W Mod. 33-1. Both barrels are 4".

Free recoil in the Colt .38SPL: 3 ft-lbs, 12 fps. In the S&W .38S&W: 4 ft-lbs., 14 fps. In other words, the .38SPL should have felt like it kicked less than the .38S&W.

In all likelihood, the somewhat stronger felt recoil of the .38SPL was a function of two things: the roundness of the Colt grip isn't as stable for me as the S&W grip, and I was in an extreme prone position as I fired over my chronograph.

Will post further recoil comparisons after I up the .38SPL/200 load to about 630fps, and fire it slow and rapid fire alongside the Smith .38S&W/200.

PENETRATION: Although no milk jugs were injured in conducting the experiments above, 6 paid the ultimate price when I test fired one of the .38S&W/215g RCBS 35-200 cast from 50-50 WW-Pb + tin. An 8-shot string chrono'ed as follows:
LO 596.4, HI 668.4, AVG 622.8, ES 72.03, SD 21.44. Excepting the HI and LO shots, the other six were from 605 - 627 fps.

The bullet tracked STRAIGHT through 6 jugs and embedded itself into the stop board 2x12, which was backed by other jugs. Clearly, the flat nose provides straight-on penetration, rather than the curving & apparent tumbling of the 200g LRN. Note that it is deeper in the stop board after 6 jugs than the 158g after 5 jugs.

Photos below show embedded bullets (2 x 161g LSWCs, 1 x 215g LFN); revolvers and 50' targets--probably the first time these two minty guns were ever fired. POI was +7". The very clean LRN bullet in the photo of the 4" gun was found next to my line of jugs--it was one of those previously shot thru the jugs and originally not recovered.

7 of my 8 .38S&W revolvers are shown; #8 is in active service w/daughter. . . :-)
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:11 PM
Kaumheimer Kaumheimer is offline
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I've been following this thread with great interest because I really enjoy the .38 cartridge and find the 148 wadcutter incredibly accurate at 25 yards in my 4"/6" M19, 4" M15, and 5" M27.

However, my 5" 686 does not do well with the 3.1 gn 231 load at all.

Thus I'm trying to develop a load either with 148 gn wadcutters or a 158 gn SWC that would be accurate in this gun.

To date, I haven't had much luck with Accurate #5 or 231 in experimenting with 158 loads.

OK, so here's the deal. I noted that some of the guys in this thread have recommended loads of as little as 2.9 or 3.0 gn of 231 for the 158 SWC. I find this very intriguing. I'm going to try this.

However...I note that Speer's minimum load for a 158 SWC starts at 3.8 for 231.

Is there a safety issue by lowering the load to such a degree, perhaps risking a squib?

Mahalo
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:03 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Kaumheimer, we're discussing .38 S&W, not .38 S&W Special. . .except for a few references to the latter. The former is shorter & slightly "fatter." Loads like 2.7g Win231 are for this round, not your .38SPLs.

I've loaded .38 SPECIAL 158g LSWC with 3.5g Win231 for an intentionally very mild load in the low 600s vel. I don't know how far down one can go before squibs are a threat, but very mild loads can be dirty b/c they're not efficient combinations of bullet-powder.

If you shoot great groups with several revolvers using your standard load, but lousy groups with the other revolver, you may want to check whether its groove diameter is larger than its chamber throats. If the throats swage a bullet down to sub-groove diameter, that's a major problem for accuracy (and leading). It can be fixed by reaming out the throats. Have you ever slugged barrel & throats?
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Old 02-22-2010, 05:17 AM
Kaumheimer Kaumheimer is offline
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LouisianaMan...Appreciate your comments on both counts. No, I haven't slugged barrel & throats. The bore seems pretty clean but I will double check and talk to a smith.

mahalo
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:25 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Kaumheimer--If you know how to slug already, then ignore this. Otherwise, this may help.

Grab some sinkers--the kind with the hole in the middle--at the local hardware store. Lightly oil sinker & revolver barrel, then hammer sinker(start it) into the muzzle. Then, place an old brass cartridge case or something similar on top of the sinker & hammer the case, to avoid scratching the gun. After it's well seated, then take a brass or steel (careful!) rod of appropriate size & hammer the sinker through. For .38 cal, I've used 1/3" sinkers. They're tight, and after I seat the slug in the barrel, a ring of lead comes off since it's too much stuff to cram down a barrel:-)

Good luck!
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:19 PM
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I was turned onto this GREAT thread/forum from a friend who was discussing the .38/200 round with me. I had developed this interest when I was trying to find out if there were any "factory" .38special/200gr rounds available (for my 442 jframe). The only .38/200 stuff either of us had heard of was the .38S&W/200.

NOW, after reading this thread (and joining this forum) I have the 38S&W bug...and will be looking at the next gunshow.

Here, I'm going along minding my own business, planing on getting another Jframe (.357) to compliment my 442 in .38 special(that I LOVE),.....and NOW you guys have planted the thought that I have to also find a good old .38S&W.
Next I'll be buying a damn reloader for all the different .38's...worrying about powder, etc.

Thanks folks..and good to be here. GREAT thread (and forum).


quick side question: any recomendations for a first .38S&W shooter? Good jframe sized shooter ideas..not tooo expensive? It will be a used fun gun/maybe wife carry.
PM me if ya don't want to clutter up this thread. Thanks.


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Old 02-24-2010, 09:56 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Arizona,

Yes, something about .38s and 200g bullets is addictive for some of us :-)

I tried 'em in .38 SPL for the first time about 18 mos. ago or so, and was stunned at the power you could feel when you fired relatively hot ones, while the "push" recoil remained comfortable to handle. When I saw target effects, I was floored. Man, a 200g LSWC-K at 700fps or so will smash a hole straight through anything I will ever need to shoot! When I learned that a .38 S&W can do about the same vel, it was an eye-opener that turned this caliber from a red-headed stepchild to a real option for me.

Will PM some links to what I've posted elsewhere, as well as how I put together my collection.

Yep, just when your addiction was getting under control, you happen onto us . . . !
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:36 AM
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Exactly. Thanks for the info/kinks, Louisiana!

A wealth of information. I think I may sacrifice Golf for the .38S&W...this may be more fun. The .38sp was always for "utility"...but this could be a blast.
GREAT forum here.

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Old 03-21-2010, 12:15 AM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Default March updates on .38/200 testing

200g flat-nose bullets in .38 S&W--penetration testing 7 MAR 10

I used a die made by "BUCKSHOT" on Cast Boolits to flatten the noses of my 192g wheelweight 358430s, giving them a meplat approx. .275 in diameter, while reducing the LRN profile to something resembling a LWC without the sharp shoulder. Since the flattening process caused a bit of swelling, I ran them thru a 361 sizer to ensure a fit in my guns. I also reduced the charge from 2.7g Win231 to 2.6g, since diameter might have increased from as-cast .360 to .361. COL was reduced from 1.270 to 1.205" due to the bumping process; bullet seating depth was not altered from my earlier tests.

CHRONO RESULTS (10 shots, 4" bb. Mod. 33-1): LO 608.8 HI 643.0 AVG 629.8 ES 34.28 SD 9.43

PENETRATION RESULTS @ est. 10' vs. water-filled milk jugs:
1. 4" bbl, Mod. 33-1. Shot chrono'ed at 604.5fps. Bullet penetrated all 6 jugs in essentially straight line, barely exiting 6th jug, denting a stop board about 1/4" deep, then falling back into the jug (now very clean). I had placed cardboard between each jug, to see whether evidence of bullet tumbling existed. Neither the holes in the cardboard nor the holes in the jugs evidenced tumbling. Since the velocity was actually lower than the chronographed LRN 198g in my earlier testing, the LFP profile seems to account for increased penetration & straighter flight path vs. the LRN version of this bullet.

2. 2" bbl, S&W Mod. 32-1. This shot screamed over the chrono at 575.0 fps, penetrating in a straight line into the 6th jug, but failing to exit. This bullet was also recovered in a very clean condition :-) No evidence of tumbling.

3. Both recovered bullets miked at .360 and evidenced no weight loss or deformation.

ACCURACY RESULTS: 50' off sandbags, 2 1/2" group 10 rds, POI +5", L 1 1/2".

ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS:
1. Penetration in LFP profile is markedly deeper & straighter than LRN profile of same bullet, despite lower velocity of the shot. The bullet hole is clearly larger and rounder in both paper target and mik jug than the LRN; larger wound channel and greater tissue damage are therefore likely. If any benefit obtains when the bullet tumbles in LRN form, however, this would be lost in LFP form.

2. 192g LFP penetration is slightly less than 161g LSWC and 215g LFP (35-200). The meplat and bullet hole sizes of the 192g LFP and 161g LSWC are very similar; both are larger than the LRN, which is in turn larger than the 215g LFP.

Next tests are with a Lyman Ideal 360271 mold, nominally 150g, which casts 50-50 in WW-Pb + tin at .364+ and 157g lubed.

Cartridge photos below are (L-R):

1. 215g LFP (RCBS 35-200). This is a .35 Remington fifle bullet. Loaded in .38 S&W, it resembles the British 178g FMJ in shape, and the tumble-lube almost makes it look jacketed.

2. 358430 "bumped" from LRN to LFP

3. 358430 in original LRN

4. 161g LSWC (Lee 358-158-SWC-TL)
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:25 AM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Default 50-yd. 200g test against pine tree, 157g against milk jugs

1. 200g results @ long range

Attached photos of 50-yard target fired off of sandbags, prone, with the 358430 bullet in .38 S&W (vel. c. 630) from S&W Mod. 33. Bullet weight was 197-98g, cast .360 from 50-50 WW-Pb + tin. See also "better" target with .38 SPL @ 725fps, 192-93g, cast from straight WW, sized .358, fired from S&W Mod. 67.

I've plinked with autos at 75 yds before, but this is the first time I've fired a 50-yd. target with revolvers. Although my marksmanship is nothing to brag about, it would not have been fun to stand in front of the targets, especially since there was no keyholing at all. :-) I presume the difference in accuracy was due primarily to better fit, sights, weight of M-67, esp. since Mod 33's sights are nickel--a bit of a strain in sunlight.

I also fired .38 SPL into a live pine tree at 56 yards and my probe touched the base of the slug 1" deep, so the nose of the bullet penetrated about 1.8" into the wood, plus 1/4 to 1/2" of bark.

When I fired the .38 S&W slug into a different live pine tree at 58 yards, my probe found the base 5/8" deep, so the nose penetrated about 1.5" into wood, plus 1/4 to 1/2" of bark.

So, the .38/200 supposedly bounced off of an overcoat???? I can't speak personally for the British 178g FMJ service round, but this 358430 is very similar to the original Brit lead bullet 200g load, and anyone expecting his overcoat to stop this bullet had better be wearing blue tights with a big "S" on his chest! :-)

2. Water-filled milk jug penetration test with 150g LSWC

BULLET: Lyman Ideal 360231 LSWC, nominally 150g, but 157g as-cast with 50-50+tin, sized .361

LOAD: 2.5g Win231. COL = 1.086" Crimped in crimp groove.

REVOLVER: S&W Mod. 33, 4" bbl.

CHRONO: LO 694.6, HI 713.7, AVG 703.9, ES 19.08, SD 6.85

POI @ 60' approx. +2"

PENETRATION @ 10 FT." (with both 4" and 2" guns)
a. Mod 33, 4" bbl: Shot chrono'ed at 690.3 fps, drove straight line thru all 6 jugs, halfway-exited #6 and buried up to shoulder in 2x12 stop board. Note deformed bullet nose in photo.

b. Mod 32-1, 2" bbl" Shot chrono'ed at 581.2 fps. drove straight line thru 5 jugs, cracked hole barely in front of #6, and stuck horizontally between #5 and #6. Note undeformed bullet nose in photo.

PHOTOS:
#017: Mod 67 .38 SPL with 50-yd. target
#018: Mod 33 .38 S&W with 50-yd. target
#004: Mods. 33-1 and 32-1 used for water penetration test of 150g LSWC, with recovered bullets at respective muzzles. Other cartridges shown, with nominal bullet wts. (L-R): Lyman 360231 LSWC 150g; Lee LSWC-TL 158g; Lee GB of Lyman 358430 LRN 195g; flat-pointed Lee GB of Lyman 358430 LRN 195g; RCBS 35-200 LFP, 200g.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:27 AM
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Good stuff here! Thanks Louisiana Man. The concept of the blunt-nosed heavy has merit. The ol' Colt Banker's Special could see some "pocket time" with such loads.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:58 AM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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bmcgilvray,
Yep, if pure penetration will do it, this blunt-nosed heavyweight should get the job done. Also, assuming the Beartooth "permanent wound channel" predictive model is relatively accurate, I'm assuming the actual wound channel of the 358430 might look more like .41 instead of .36. And if you hit bone, I expect the BG goes down.

Once I get the group buy 200g LSWC mold thru Cast Boolits in August, I can't wait to see what that bullet will do for this cartridge! I think the bumped LFN is pretty hard-hitting, but expect the SWC to be even more so. Also, I'll experiment over Spring Break with some 40:1 and/or 30:1 Pb:tin alloy to see if the softer bullet will deform markedly on impact. If so, I'll balance out the diameter of wound channel with remaining penetration & see what I want to use.

BTW, I'm trying to put together something with Brassfetcher testing. If he'll do the testing in .38 SPL loaded to .38 S&W vels, then I'll have to pay only for his material costs--he's interested in doing the test & will donate his time. I'll contact him again soon & see what firms up. If we can do a gelatin test with LRN, bumped LFN, and perhaps each one in two different alloys, it will be interesting to see how the bullet reacts in that tissue simulant.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:11 PM
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Hello

I think it was the .380in Mk.II (later WWII version with the 178 grain Ball Bullet) that did not penetrate a great coat?

I have heard about this "incident" a few times, was this a actual "scientific test" that was done by the Royal Ordnance Corps?, or just some bored squaddies that found a discarded German great coat?, not that it really matters LOL.

I am grateful enough to have fired a couple boxes of .38in S&W cartridges last week in my Webley & Scott Mk.IV and my S&W Victory Model. As much as I hear people say how weak the .38" S&W cartridge is, I can say that I would not want to be on receiving end of a .38" S&W LOL.

I have reloaded a box or two that I tried to get as close an I can to the original .380in Mk.I cartridge (200 grain lead bullet).
I had 200 grain lead bullets over 2.5 grains of Unique, and overall they did fairly well in my S&W Victory Model.

I wish I could say the same for the Webley & Scott Mk.IV, which the accuracy was "acceptable", but not "stellar". The bullets were undersized, they were .358" meant for a .38" Special, not a .38" S&W. I think in the future I can get both revolvers to shoot better.

But it was a step in the right direction, then again living where I do with no free access to safe and legal places to shoot on a regular basis, I was just grateful to have gone shooting LOL. Just wish I did not have to fork over $20 (U.S.) to get to shoot for an hour LOL.

I'm glad to hear an interest in the .38in S&W Cartridge.
Thanks
Mark
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  #45  
Old 03-29-2010, 09:06 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Several developments on my .38 S&W "testing":

1. Ordered the Skennerton book on the Enfield No. 2 today. Will advise when/if it provides good info on the cartridge.

2. Bought the only box of factory .38 S&W I've seen in 3 months, some Remington LRN. Will use it for "control" over chrono & vs. the long-suffering milk jugs :-)

3. Received two packets of British .380 Mk 2Z ammo from a kind donor in the Lone Star State. Will chrono, penetration test & publish.

4. Will cast pure lead 200g slugs tomorrow & test later in the week. Ditto for a new 140g LSWC Lee mold I bought--may have to "beagle" it to get it to cast .360ish.

5. Possibly on Sunday, a fellow enthusiast will bring up his 4" Police Positive, in caliber .38 Colt New Police, to provide some comparison results in penetration versus the slower-twist S&W's I'm shooting. He also scared up a 1946 NRA book on pistols & revolvers, with detailed data on this cartridge, to include published vels (and the bbl. length used in testing). I'll post that info soon with these other updates.

6. Will mail some 200g slugs tomorrow to bmcgilvray in TX to shoot thru his 2" Colt and Webley. Will be interesting to see if the differing rates of twist will make any difference.

7. Will call Remington & Winchester tomorrow and request historical information. Wish me luck!
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:15 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Default Chrono results, British Army Mk. 2Z ammo test, plus more "Greatcoat Shooting"!

Just a short report tonight from the battlefront, as your correspondent is busy catching up on both shooting and writing at this time. More to follow soon on yesterday's shoot!

LOAD: CIS .380 Rimmed, Mk. 2Z ball ammo, 178g FMJ

GUN: S&W Mod. 33-1, 4" bbl.

CHRONO RESULTS (10 rds.), temp. 80 degrees: LO 618.1; HI 656.4; AVG: 641.1; ES: 38.29; SD: 13.49.

POI at 50 feet, off chair/sandbags, sitting on ground: +5 3/4", R 2 1/2". First two rds. off paper (high); adjusted POA to bottom of cross, resulting in 8/8 hits in 2 1/4" group. 7 of the 8 went into 1 1/4".

ADDITIONAL "GREATCOAT TESTING":

1. Shot #1 @ 15', chrono'ed at 604.1 fps: went thru approximately 12-16 layers of wool coat plus multiple linings, cracked open milk jug behind the coat. Bullet fell out of coat upon examination, and the density of folds made it impossible to accurately determine the bullet's path. (It makes a small hole in the wool, and tends to practically seal up.) Bottom line: poorly-designed test shot, but it did show that if you rolled your overcoat up into a tight roll about 12"H x 18"W x 18"D, the bullet wouldn't get through :-) In the photo, the uppermost cartridge case & bullet are from this shot. Bullet is undeformed, and neatly fits into fired case.

2. Shot #2, chrono'ed at 632.2 fps: went through 8 layers of wool coat fabric, 8 layers of synthetic coat lining, 4 water-filled milk jugs, lightly dented stop board and rebounded into jug #4. The holes ripped in the milk jugs indicated the bullet was nose-first entering jug #1, tumbling as it exited jug #1 and thereafter. I read somewhere that the water:gelatin ratio for bullet penetration is approximately 2:1. If that's correct, this shot would have penetrated 12" of gelatin (9" while tumbling), plus 8 plastic layers of milk jugs (7 while tumbling), AFTER passing through 16 layers of coat/lining. The bullet path was generally straight, deviating only slightly while traversing the jugs more or less through the center. Appropriately, this coat was marked "Made in England"! In the photo, the lower cartridge case & bullet are from this shot. Bullet is undeformed, and neatly fits into fired case.

I guess opinions may differ as to the desirability of having a pistol bullet tumble within its target, as tumbling may generally cause the bullet to veer unpredictably. If it was originally on track to hit vitals, it might miss. On the other hand, if it was originally on track to miss vitals, it might veer into a vital part. But the way Shot #2 acted, it provided both a straight track & lots of tumbling; plenty of penetration against unarmored targets, with presumably a wicked wound channel. This would also tend to reduce overpenetration & get lots of "target effects" before possibly exiting the target.

I will provide more shot analysis from yesterday's shoot ASAP. I'll close now with the observation that it's high time to put the infamous "German Greatcoat Story" to rest. Obviously, it was a case of faulty ammo. BTW, the only BIB I've ever experienced was in a S&W M-1917, shooting WWII surplus .45 ACP ball ammo. That didn't lead me to argue that the .45 was a "weak sister."
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:24 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Help!

Does anybody have access to Textbook of Small Arms 1929, a British publication that evidently has good info about the original British Army .380/200g cartridge?

It was just recommended to me by Ian Skennerton, author of "The Book" on the .380 Enfield revolver.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:27 PM
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Hello

I hope this might help out a bit. I don't own this book, but I'm thinking I might have to consider buying it someday.
Thanks
Mark

Amazon.com: Textbook For Small Arms 1929 (9781843428084): War Office War Office: Books
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:45 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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Mark,
That is indeed tempting, isn't it? If I had a broader interest in Brit wpns of this era, I'd jump on it. As it is, however, there's really only the revolvers & their ammo. . .and I have several good WWII wpns books.
Will have to think this one over! Thanks for the tip--I imagined it was something esoteric & unavailable except for a university library, but Amazon strikes again!
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:36 PM
LouisianaMan LouisianaMan is offline
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See a quotation of the minimal info about the .380/200 contained in the Textbook of Small Arms, 1929, as provided to me by someone on another forum. Oh well, the search for info continues.
.380/200 bullet - British Military Handguns - Old Guns - British Militaria Forums - Message Board Yuku
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