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.38 Special powder load

C-ya

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I just loaded up a few .38 Spcl rounds after setting COAL length with an empty case and bullet. When I add the powder, it strikes me how little there is inside the case. I know it works, but damn. I guess the primer does a lot of work getting that powder going.
 

Bad Bob

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Thanks. Weird what you don't know until you do something. I never thought of it because I pulled the trigger and it went bang.
Yeah, when I first started reloading .38 & .357, I looked in the case & thought, "There's so little propellant in there that I could accidentally double-charge the case and not notice!" So I started picking propellants that used more grains per charge, so if I double-charged the case it would come up to the top or overflow. Don't worry about that so much anymore, but it's not necessarily a bad idea.
:)
 

Colts4me

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There is said to be a balance of powder to case size or your cases split. Starline says....

"The Cowboy .45 Special is a case that is optimized for use with light loads in .45 Colt caliber revolvers for Cowboy Action Shooting. Light loads with excessive airspace are a recipe for case splits and erratic function. By using the Cowboy .45 Special case, with its .45 Colt rim and .45 Auto length, the problem no longer exists. While many claim that .45 Auto load data can be used in this caliber, it is important to realize the limitations of the firearm it is chambered in and only use loads that fall within the pressure range of that firearm. Generally these can be loaded using .45 Colt dies and a modified (shortened) crimp die, or .45 Auto Rim roll crimp die."
 

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I just loaded up a few .38 Spl rounds after setting COAL length with an empty case and bullet. When I add the powder, it strikes me how little there is inside the case. I know it works, but damn. I guess the primer does a lot of work getting that powder going.
You may have heard of 'position sensitivity' for some powders.
If the primer has to reach out almost to the base of the bullet before it ignites any powder, it will burn differently versus if the powder is piled up against the flash hole.
 

C-ya

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You may have heard of 'position sensitivity' for some powders.
If the primer has to reach out almost to the base of the bullet before it ignites any powder, it will burn differently versus if the powder is piled up against the flash hole.
That was exactly my thought. I'm guessing commercial ammo makers use a powder that fills the case. On my reloads with HP-38 (W231), do I need to worry about it? I used 3.5 grains as my starting load.
 

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Just use enough powder for decently normal load pressures. I dont think anything is quite as smoky, nasty and dirty as light pop gun 38spl loads. I absolutly detested firing next to some pop gun shooters back in my bullseye days. It was like shooting between black powder shooters.... :(
 

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The label on the bottle of powder said 3.7 as max load with a 158 gr bullet. My Lyman manual says to use 3.6 grs of W231 as a starting load and a max of 4.0 for 158, which is said to be the approximate equivalent of HP-38.
 

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That was exactly my thought. I'm guessing commercial ammo makers use a powder that fills the case. On my reloads with HP-38 (W231), do I need to worry about it? I used 3.5 grains as my starting load.
Probably depends on the bullet you are using.
3.5gr of 231 will work with most types of lead bullet. Its not usually enough for some jacketed/plated bullets (depending on your barrel length).
HP38/231 does best when the powder has a chance to develop some pressure and burn hot. Light loads with that powder will leave some soot.
For mild 38's I like to keep the COL as short as the bullet /brass will permit and give it a decent crimp.
 

skeeterbay

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Back when I was shooting in local matches I used 148gr hollow base wad cutters over 700X. The wad cutter is set deep but those charges were awful tiny just the same. I think my load was 2.6gn IIRC. Since then I have loaded target loads with red dot, bullseye and 231. I think any of them shoot just as good as another. If there is any difference I ain't good enough to tell. I use Unique and 2400 for my lead semi wad cutter loads.
 

ftierson

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231 and HP38 are the same powder made by Hodgdon but sold under different names. Win 296 and H110 are the same too.

I get my best results in 38 special using 148 grain hollow base wadcutters over 231.
While they are the same powder, keep in mind that Hodgdon really 'makes' nothing and they/it are/is an Olin produced powder...

I mean to take nothing away from Hodgdon in so saying...

Just sayin'...

Forrest
 

Colts4me

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While they are the same powder, keep in mind that Hodgdon really 'makes' nothing and they/it are/is an Olin produced powder...

I mean to take nothing away from Hodgdon in so saying...

Just sayin'...

Forrest
I got it ass backwards??? :D or maybe not...

 

Sig220

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In the old days (middle to late 70's) for me. There were a lot of occasions for 38/357 pistols to be damaged from "light" loads as the powder would not stay in the base of the case but lay horizontally in the case and when the primer fired the powder would "flash" and not burn gradually or sequentially as in a column. The "fix" was to stuff a bit of cotton on top of the powder to keep it in the base of the cartridge. I have not shot my 38/357 since the latter 80's but still have it in my stable. Probably not loaded 38/357 since the early 80's either. I still have a stash of suitable powder and a few projectiles so it could happen in the future.
 

C-ya

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The "fix" was to stuff a bit of cotton on top of the powder to keep it in the base of the cartridge.
I like that fix. I may try that based on what I see when I test fire the six rounds I loaded.

Yeah, I'm a 'fraidy cat. No sense loading crap loads and either waste them or have to download them.
 

TenTea

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Go by the books and past handloading experience without worrying about powder position in the case or using a filler.

Use a suitable charge of a suitable powder and a decent bullet...all will be well.

Trail Boss would ease some minds in this case, but no one knows when it might be on the market again - I have heard "this year" and time will tell.
 

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In the old days (middle to late 70's) for me. There were a lot of occasions for 38/357 pistols to be damaged from "light" loads as the powder would not stay in the base of the case but lay horizontally in the case and when the primer fired the powder would "flash" and not burn gradually or sequentially as in a column. The "fix" was to stuff a bit of cotton on top of the powder to keep it in the base of the cartridge. I have not shot my 38/357 since the latter 80's but still have it in my stable. Probably not loaded 38/357 since the early 80's either. I still have a stash of suitable powder and a few projectiles so it could happen in the future.
Interesting,, I have never seen or heard of that type thing before in a revolver with fast powder. Though I have heard of rifles damaged from that type occurance with light loads of slow burning powder. I have seen revolvers blowed up real good by double charges of fast powder and bullets stuck in bores from pop gun loads or forgotten/missed powder charges. Sometimes those can be incredibly monumental, filling a whole barrel with lead slugs untill they go all the way back to the cylinder and locked it up good and for all time.
 
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