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Old 08-08-2010, 12:18 AM
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Default 38 Special Brass questions

I was going thru some 38 special brass that I have had for a few years. What is the difference between plain or +p brass? Can these be loaded the same as regular or is there a lot of case difference? I know these questions are a little off but I would like to know.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:24 AM
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No difference at all in +P versus regular brass.

The +P marked brass is simply to identify the load level.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:32 AM
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John
Thank you I didnt know. I have a 2 gallon bucket that I can use with no problem.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:25 AM
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The plus-p brass I have seems to be thicker walled. You might try weighing a few individual cases to check.
Dick
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:30 AM
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I think being the same is true for starline, maybe not for all manufactures.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reddog View Post
The plus-p brass I have seems to be thicker walled. You might try weighing a few individual cases to check.
Dick

I have weighed a bunch. The Plus P usually weighs a bit less.

Starline is an exception. They are the same in every respect except the headstamp markings.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:24 PM
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This comes up now and then.

SOME makes of +P are thicker. Mil-spec, S&W-F (if you can find some) come to mind. There may be others, but you will not notice this unless you flush seat WC's; seating them out is not a problem. When this happens, there will be a noticeable bulge in the case and it will bind when chambered in a revolver. It will go in, but not without a little help. (I can't answer for their use in Model 52's; hopefully somebody with one will comment.)

With SWC's or jacketed bullets that are typically not seated as deeply, there is no practical difference. As has been stated, they are so marked to differentiate ammunition that has been loaded by the factory to higher pressure levels.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:47 PM
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I have a couple hundred seperated and set back because of some problem in loading them. As I recall, most of them are RP. I'll have to dig them out and try loading some again. It seems I had a problem similar to what cjw3 mentioned?
Dick
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:42 PM
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For everyone who thinks there is a difference! You have to compare brass from the same manufacturer and made at approximately the same time. If you try to compare Winchester to Remington or Star-Line of course there will be differences seen. Within a few tenths of a grain variation cases can be considered identical.

Surprisingly the same applies when comparing .38 Spl and .357 Magnum brass from the same maker! The only difference generally is length. Try trimming a few .357 Magnum cases to .38 Spl. length and compare them with .38 Spl. cases from the same maker and you generally will find their weight to be the same within usual weight variation. Works for .44 Spl/Magnum too.
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:30 AM
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I can't attest to the fact that +p case walls are thicker, but I can verify that WCC +p+ Brass has thicker case walls. I picked up 2000 government WCC 84 +p+ .38 special brass (FBI) about 20 years ago from a friend. He was selling it at a local gun show and had a standard
.38 Special case and one of the +p+ cases cut length wise for compairson. The +p+ case wall is noticeibly thicker tapering to the head. I have been shooting this brass since I traded him out of all he had. I rarely throw any away. I trim it once in while and usually a case mouth will split from working it, but like the Energizer "Bunny", it keeps going and going and going! I loaded 100 rounds of it today as a matter of fact. Best deal I ever made!
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:24 PM
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Default Comparing brass

I often see people comparing 38 special cases to 38 special +P cases by weighing them. This probably comes close to determine their interchangeability but volume is the most accurate. Get a good syringe calibrated in ccs and fill both cases with water to compare them. Or more crudely just fill one case and carefully pour the water into the other case to compare the volume.

Paul
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:57 AM
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Current SAAMI pressure limits for the .38 Special are 17,000 psi and 18,500 psi for the .38 Special +P. I highly doubt thicker walls are needed for those low pressures especially since there are many who load to .357 Magnum pressures in standard .38 Special cases without issues. (but that's not a good idea)

I only wish I had more .38 Special +P brass because I like to easily identify the loads I have on the shelf. (Yes I do mark the plastic boxes well but mistakes can happen)
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:22 AM
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Current SAAMI pressure limits for the .38 Special are 17,000 psi and 18,500 psi for the .38 Special +P.
FYI - I took a look at the SAAMI.ORG Centerfire Pistol and Revolver Pressure Data page and it states .38 Special is 17,000 PSI and .38 Special +P is 20,000 PSI.
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulus View Post
I often see people comparing 38 special cases to 38 special +P cases by weighing them. This probably comes close to determine their interchangeability but volume is the most accurate. Get a good syringe calibrated in ccs and fill both cases with water to compare them. Or more crudely just fill one case and carefully pour the water into the other case to compare the volume.

Paul
Paulus,

First, welcome. Second, when preaching to the choir be sure the message doesn't contradict what the choir already knows to be correct, let me explain.

To be able to accurately make a direct measurement comparison between two cartridge cases the two must be in the same condition and with identical external dimensions. The way identical external dimensions are obtained is by either firing both cases in the same chamber, or full-length sizing in the same sizing die. The final step is to fill the cases with water as you say. However there is an alternate way of determining whether the internal dimensions are the same, and that is by weighing the two cases. If they weigh the same they have identical internal capacity! Why, because if the exterior is the same dimension, the volume of the brass in the case is the same, then the internal volume of the case is the same. Do you understand the logic? The advantage of weighing is you don't have to be sure the external dimensions are identical first. As long as the weights are within a few 1/10ths of a grain they can be considered identical.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:07 AM
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It should read 18,500 for non-steel frames and 20,000 for steel frames but it is not going to happen.............

One reason the manuals state both as a +P rating..........
same as US vs Euro +p spec's.

The 9mm is even worse..............
Standard, NATO, +P and +P+ !!

Last edited by Nevada Ed; 12-06-2013 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:03 AM
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"they are so marked to differentiate ammunition that has been loaded by the factory to higher pressure levels."---cjw3

It's simply a lawyer thing......and not to be used in a non +P rated gun.

The brass is brass. No thicker/thinner. Headstamped only to designate a tiny bit more powder......in commercial ammo.

Although I cull all/any WCC brass for scrap/recycle, I wish you would send me 5 or 10 of the brass you say are thicker. I would like to test them against some I have. PM me for an address]
" but I can verify that WCC +p+ Brass has thicker case walls"---fredo batali
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:43 AM
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.38 spl and 9mm +P brass is different only in the head stamp showing the +P designation for load discrimination.

In the .45 ACP the +P cases are thicker at the base web and have smaller volume capacity than the non +P cases.
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Old 12-06-2013, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
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FYI - I took a look at the SAAMI.ORG Centerfire Pistol and Revolver Pressure Data page and it states .38 Special is 17,000 PSI and .38 Special +P is 20,000 PSI.
I consider the correct pressure limits for the .38 Special +P to be 20,000 psi but most sources on the net quote 18,500 psi so I use that number when making suggestions because it's better to be safe and not give out data that might be inaccurate.

Even if you use the 20,000 number my original statement holds true since the current limits for the .357 Magnum are 35,000 psi.
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:48 PM
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Default The way I've gotten if for .38

The only difference between +p brass and regular brass is the +p headstamp.``The reason is that the .38 case was designed from the start with the higher pressure in mind. The pressure spec was lowered but nothing else was changed. Except for the +p stamp to designate cartridges loaded to the original higher pressure. There will be a variance in case wall thicknesses, capacity, etc., but it is mostly due do manufacturing differences rather than any change in specs. Of course this doesn't hold true for specialized cases like the mil. spec. stuff.
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Old 12-06-2013, 08:22 PM
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I can see where volume would be the most accurate comparison, since rim thickness can vary and weight won't tell you if you have thicker walls or thicker rims.
Makes sense to me.

I actually ordered a couple of .38/357 molds today. A Lee 158 FN and a Lyman Devastator HP.
I know, I know, the Lyman is advertised as a .356" 124 grain 9mm/.38 Super mold.
Thing is, my buddy has this mold and all of our bullets cast from it dropped from the mold at .358" and 128 grains.
So, we can size them down for 9mm, or lube/shoot as cast for .38/light .357.
Double duty.
If we need, I can make a top punch and bump them up a thou or two.
Everyone should own a couple of lathes, mills, and shapers.

Anyhoo, I've never given much thought to case thickness variances between .38 and .38+P.
I just bought them and shoot them. I'm not new to reloading but I am new to reloading .38/.357.

I tell everyone I'm going to load .38/44 ammo for my .38s, but mostly I'll load mouse-fart .38 and .357 target loads, and a few .38/44s and real .357 mags for hunting use.

I once shot a box of Hirtenberger 100 grain SP 9mm+P+ out of my FEG P35 clone.
It was anticlimactic, to be sure. It recoiled like my Ruger MkII .22 LR.
Not what I expected.
Bet there isn't any real difference between standard 9mm and 9mm+P/+P+ brass, either.


Dang, my posts have a tendency to ramble.
I need to work on that.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:50 PM
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You can always do a cross-section of both and compare the web thickness with calipers.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:01 PM
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Lots of complicated/complex info. so far. But, for all intents and purposes, the only difference in +P and standard .38 Special brass is the headstamp. I wondered about this around '86 and I weighed mebbe 100 mixed .38 cases. "Blind test"; I would place a case on the scale without looking at the headstamp, and wasn't able to determine which was which with any consistency. Some .38 manufacturer's brass is heavier than others, but I was not able to determine the maker buy weight as even the same manufacturer's brass would vary up to 1.5-2.0 grains, untrimmed (different lots?).
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:46 AM
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I have about 20 boxes (50 to a box) once fired 38 special brass where can I sell it?
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:01 AM
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Default No problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by cballman View Post
I was going thru some 38 special brass that I have had for a few years. What is the difference between plain or +p brass? Can these be loaded the same as regular or is there a lot of case difference? I know these questions are a little off but I would like to know.
I've loaded none +p brass to +p specs and had no problems at all, even went to almost max with same results.
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:39 AM
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+P or not, even if brass is separated by headstamp, there may be a little variation in case weight and wall thickness from varying lots, but the separated brass batches will be more uniform than leaving everything mixed. When I deeply seat cast wadcutter bullets for use in an S&W 52, I can feel a noticeable difference in case wall thickness if I change brass.

Whether brass separation will be advantageous to a handloader will depend on the accuracy potential of the gun and skill level of the shooter. Most of us won't see a difference using mixed brass, even if the process is second-rate.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:07 AM
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"I often see people comparing 38 special cases to 38 special +P cases by weighing them. This probably comes close to determine their interchangeability but volume is the most accurate."

Not so. If the external dimensions are identical, two cases of the exact same weight will have the exact same internal capacity. And for cases of the same brand, the external dimensions are extremely likely to be identical.

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Old 04-24-2017, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cballman View Post
I was going thru some 38 special brass that I have had for a few years. What is the difference between plain or +p brass? Can these be loaded the same as regular or is there a lot of case difference? I know these questions are a little off but I would like to know.
I have a few thousand 38's, a mixture of plus P and regular, plated and unplated. I don't trim them, separate them, wash them, I just look for splits, reload and shoot them.

The key is to enjoy them, that's what 38 Specials are for, your shooting pleasure.

Have a blessed day,

Leon
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
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I have about 20 boxes (50 to a box) once fired 38 special brass where can I sell it?
You should be able to sell them here. There is a Accessories/Misc section in the classifieds area. The last brass I bought was $.06 per piece. That would be $3 per box or a total of $60 for 20 boxes. You might be able to get a little more with the original boxes and packaging, but shipping will also be more.

Also it should be noted this thread was started 7 years ago and revived 4 years ago. Starting a new thread is generally seen as the best way to get a question answered. You can note that 4 people have posted since the thread was revived but no one noticed the most recent question.
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Old 04-24-2017, 12:14 PM
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Default Why Does Wall Thickness Matter?

I've heard the explanation for years about such and such case being suitable for higher pressures because of its wall thickness. It makes no sense to me. The brass case is a soft and weak ductile membrane compared to the structural steel walls of the chamber. Its pressure retention job is like a confined O-ring or gasket, to expand and seal against irregularities. Comparing web thickness, i.e. the amount of material above the primer pocket makes more sense. I believe this is the situation with old style "balloon head" cases in that they have less material between primer pocket and case volume. It would also make more sense if we were considering a rimless case used in an autoloader with an un-supported area for the feed ramp cutout. Like most reloaders I have experienced case splits and head separations, but this is due to reduced ductility from repeated reloads or excessive headspace. Once a brass case obturates a few thousands of an inch, properly dimensioned chamber walls are doing all the work.
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Old 04-24-2017, 02:21 PM
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Default All manufacturers vary.....

But the only difference in a plus p case is the headstamp has a 'plus p' on it. It doesn't matter whether I load target or barn burners, I don't pay attention to the headstamp, just label the box they are in.

The only differences between .38 special brass and .357 is that the headstamp says .357 magnum and the case is longer than a .38, the ONLY reason for this is to keep from loading a magnum round ina .38 pistol.

I have all kinds of brass, some is thin as paper. (I call it 'one shot' brass because it's not fit for reloading. A also have some Starlines that feel like they about 1/16" thick. HEAVY walls and hard to resize. And I have different thicknesses .38, .38 +P and .357 brass.
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Old 04-28-2017, 09:35 PM
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The +P is there to let you know that the round is +P, otherwise there is no difference in the casing.
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