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Old November 1, 2013, 05:04 PM   #1
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38 +P

I'm tumbling/cleaning some brass my friend got in a trade and about 180 of the 38 cartridges say 38 SPL +P. Are they any different from regular 38 SPL cases? Do you load them differently?

Thanks for the help!

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Old November 1, 2013, 05:52 PM   #2
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The short answer is no. Some may tell you that they're stronger than regular 38 cases, but I rather doubt it.

I do like them however, for loading actual +P loadings. Call it tradition or OCD () or whatever, but when I load a +P round, I like to use +P stamped brass. Just me.

Bottom line: Unless you're an odd one - like me - just treat them the same as your other 38 brass.
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Old November 1, 2013, 08:05 PM   #3
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Thanks Nick! That's what I thought but I just wanted to make sure.
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Old November 1, 2013, 09:15 PM   #4
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Notta problem! Any time.

If you have any questions when it comes time to load 'em up, just ask.
Guns exist. Legislation will never change that.
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Old November 2, 2013, 01:19 AM   #5
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I have seen some +p cases sectioned and they are a little thicker and some that are the exact same. I ignore that and just load them how I want them.
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Old November 2, 2013, 09:08 AM   #6
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I have never come across any +p cases that were any different from the regular cases except for the "+P" inscription. "+P" ammo is nothing more than a marketing ploy. It is simply ammo loaded to the higher end of the SAAMI spec. for that particular caliber. Because of liability and other issues ammo companies started loading rounds to the lower end of the spec. and started marketing something they called "+P" ammo. I first noticed the diminished power sometime in the early 1980's, or so.
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Old November 2, 2013, 09:42 AM   #7
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Some of the brass company's will make a case for you with your head stamp if the entire production is purchased.
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Old November 2, 2013, 10:51 AM   #8
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some are, some aren't

Some +P cases differ from standard cases. Sometimes it's the alloy, or heat treatment, or thickness.

I never asume.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old November 2, 2013, 12:33 PM   #9
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There is not a separate SAAMI spec for +P BRASS. The brass is identical and within spec. +P marking only refers to the initial loading of factory ammo. After it is fired it is are the same.
+P factory loads are loaded to higher pressure, but the brass is the same.

Last edited by Marco Califo; November 4, 2013 at 12:24 AM.
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Old November 3, 2013, 06:01 PM   #10
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There is definitely a SAAMI spec for .38 Sp. +P. The Standard pressure Max. was 17,000 PSI last time I checked with +P rated 18,500 PSI. There may have been a change to the +P Max. and Ramshot currently shows data for .38 Sp. +P up to 20,000 PSI.

I agree with Nick_C_S that the main difference between standard .38 Sp. and .38 Sp. +P brass is the headstamp on the case-rim. And of course there are variations in case-wall thickness among different brands of brass, but that's the situation with almost all brands of handgun cartridge brass. Personally, I agree with the wisdom of loading +P loads in .38 Sp. +P brass for easy identification.

I've gone a step further with some experimental loads I called .357 Short Magnum. Some reloaders believe that .357 brass is just elongated .38 Sp. brass, but it's not that simple. Because of having an abundance of Remington 9mm 124 gr. JHPs some years back I made a number of loads with them using .38 Sp., .38 Sp. +P and .357 Magnum brass trimmed to .38 Sp. case-length. The only case that would provide adequate case-neck tension on the 9mm bullets, without taking additional steps in reloading like using an undersized expander, was the .357 Magnum brass trimmed to .38 Sp. length. and I used a sperate REDDING 9mm Taper Crimp die for the crimp. There was no difference between .38 Sp. and .38 Sp. +P brass. So at .38 Sp. length, the .357 Magnum cases are indeed thicker. These loads were only used in .357 MAGNUM reolvers and specifically for S&W short barrelled K-Frames with short ejector rods and 7 shot .357 Magnum revolvers that gave sticky extraction with full length, full power .357 Magum loads, i.e. Taurus Tracker. I liked using the trimmed .357 Magnum brass for the obvious reasons and the fact that they were headstamped .357 Magnum. Later I went back to using Rem. 125 & 140 gr. .357" SJHPs, but accuracy using the 9mm 124 gr. JHPs was pretty decent for defense type loads and it shed some light on the various case-wall thicknesses between .38 Sp., .38 Sp. +P and trimmed down .357 Magnum brass.
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Old November 4, 2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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Originally there most likely was a difference. Just like the original 357 cases had a larger primerpocket then the modern run of 357 does.
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Old November 5, 2013, 01:24 PM   #12
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There is no forumula magic or marketing conspiracy. .38 spl has been around for a very, very long time. Like many calibers, newer weapons could handle much higher pressures and handle ammo that may not be safe to use in older models. .38 spl +P loads are stamped as such on the case so that you can easily know they may not be safe to fire in a gun that is not +P rated in much the same way that "Ruger only" .45LC loads should not be fired in your classic collector guns. The case specs are the same. Cases vary between mfg. within the specs.
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