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Old September 26, 1999, 07:24 PM   #1
461
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Maybe a dumb question, but I never really considered it before. Is .38 Special Brass as strong as .357 Magnum Brass? Yes, I'm well aware that a .357 loaded up in a .38 case would give much greater pressure, but what about the same pressure? I believe max for a .357 load is around 35,000cup or so, can a .38 case take the same pressure? I'm not asking about individual firearms, just the cartridge case. Thanks in advance for any info.

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Old September 27, 1999, 02:40 PM   #2
Paul B.
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Tim. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
The late Skeeter Skelton used to load up some .357 magnum "class" loads in .38 Spl. cases, and apparently they held up all right or I doubt he would have written them up with load data and all. He used the exclusively in .357 revolvers, Model 27's I believe.
Personally I would do that. I confuse easily, and to put one of those, by accident in my Model 49 Smith just might be interesting to say the least.
Based on what he wrote, I would guess that they were equal to withstanding the pressure. Before the advent of the .357 Mag. the was a high pressure .38 Spl. round called the 38-44. It was made to be fired in "N" frame Smiths and the large frame Colt's. If memory serves,it put out about 1200 FPS from a 6 inch barrel. I had a Smith 38-44 Outdoorsman, and I loaded some pretty hot stuff in it. This was back around 1957, and sadly the gun has been long gone. I killed a black bear with it in 1959. One shot, right behind the ear. Bullet was the 173 gr. Keith type. I miss that mold too.
I hope this answered you question to some degree.
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Old September 27, 1999, 04:02 PM   #3
Rod WMG
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TJS, Old guys like me, and apparently like Paul B (no offense, Paul!), have been exposed to this stuff.

I think Paul was very prudent to advise against this. I was holding off answering till I saw what others said. The problem isn't in the brass, apparently, but as Paul said, in mistaking which .38 brass is really loaded to .357 specs. It's not enough to mark just the box it's in, because, what if you're carrying two boxes and drop them? Never happen? It happened to me with .44 Mag cases loaded to different levels--it was a crapshoot as to what case contained what powder charge. The plastic boxes shattered and a 100 cases were dumped on the cement garage floor. Duh!

If you could find a fool-proof way to mark those cases so that you and others wouldn't fire them in a .38 Spl. gun, it would be okay, maybe, but how we gunna do that? In fact, that's why .357 Magnum cases are 1/10" longer in the first place; it's a fail safe effect.

No one should take anything for granted when it comes to ammo. I have some 180 gr. LBT gas checked .357" bullets which must be loaded in .38 Spl. cases if there're going to be fired in my guns--they're just too long to chamber otherwise. I try to load and shoot them in the same day or two because of the danger involved. I'm certainly not advising anyone else to load .357 type loads in .38 cases--I wouldn't do it if I were you and I will stop as soon as I shoot these bullets all up. Not long now.

To top it all off, it will screw up your powder charges. You have to reduce the amount of powder in such "off-breed" loads because it's the equivalent of seating the bullet 1/10" deeper. If that is done and the charge isn't reduced appropriately, you could double SAAMI approved .357 Magnum chamber pressure!! You just can't be too careful. My advice is , "No."

[This message has been edited by Rod WMG (edited September 27, 1999).]
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Old September 27, 1999, 08:55 PM   #4
461
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Thanks much for the replies, I'd pretty much thought the same, but wanted others opinions.
Let me give a little background here. I don't own anything chambered for .38 Special for starters, the reason I was asking is because of a Rossi .357 carbine I have that feeds .38 rounds very smooth, but hangs up on .357's. I have no intentions of loading anything very hot, but do wish to exceed .38 special loads a tad. I know my firearms can take it easily, but wanted confirmation that the brass could.

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Old September 29, 1999, 12:48 PM   #5
Cheapo
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The posters above have done a fine job answering the focus of your question.

The short answer to the general question is more important with modern rifle rounds than with mid-pressure ones like .357 Mag.

Some brass really is stronger than other brass. I once had some Philippino .223 that was noticably softer than USGI brass. In one rifle, the extractor rim would be yanked and tweaked bad enough to make it jam in the shellholder when reloading it. It was *safe* to contain the chamber pressures for at least three firings (maybe many more...), but was demonstrably weaker than other brands with either harder alloy mix or more work-hardening of the casehead area.

Even an AR-15 would dent the brass and even totally collapse the case mouths on ejection sometimes.
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