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Old November 22, 2002, 12:56 PM   #1
gmeister
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.38 spl/158 gr SJHP/2400/unique/bullseye?

I'm borrowing back my daughter's 38 spl 2 in snubby. I'd like to work up some target loads for myself using components I already have.
158 gr Win SJHP, Win SP primers and either 2400, Unique, or Bullseye.

Also:
Some data I found that seems strange is:

Lyman 47th Handbook pg 387, 158 gr JHP, 2400, suggested starting gr. 8.4, Max load gr. 9.4

LEE Carbide Dies data sheet 158 gr jacketed, Herc 2400, start grains 6.8, never exceed 7.6

Big difference here!


Suggestions, comments welcome.

Alan W.
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Old November 22, 2002, 01:54 PM   #2
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Of the three powders listed, I would go with Unique or Bullseye over 2400. 2400 is a little slower than you need for .38 Spcl and you should use a magnum primer, don't have to but it makes for more consistent firing with that powder.

As for the data discrepancy, believe Lyman and toss the Lee. The Lee die data sheets are useful for describing how to adjust the dies themselves. The load data is invariably lowballed which can be more dangerous than it would seem. They are not a replacement for a reputable loading manual by any stretch of the imagination.

Good online sources:
http://www.alliantpowder.com/
http://stevespages.com/page8c.htm
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Old November 22, 2002, 01:55 PM   #3
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never used 2400 in 38 special, it's more of a magnum powder, however bullseye and unique should both give excelent results,
I would use Bullseye for light loads, unique for medium loads.
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Old November 22, 2002, 05:03 PM   #4
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2400 From 7.8 grains to 10.3 grains
CCI-550 Primer

Bullseye From 3.1 grains to 4.9 grains
CCI-550 Primer

Unique From 3.5 grains to 6.4 grains
CCI-550 Primer

But I prefer:

H-4227 From 9.0 grains to 12.5 grains
CCI-550 Primer
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Old November 23, 2002, 08:21 AM   #5
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2400 in .38spec.

I have used 10.0 gr of 2400 in .38spec. for OCCASIONAL use even in a model 36 but I agree that normal practice and target loads should be of a faster powder such as the above mentioned Unique and Bullseye. Quantrill
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Old November 23, 2002, 10:00 AM   #6
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Steve, I've gotta question your recommendation of H4227 in a 38 Spcl. That powder is even slower than 2400 and is designed more for small capacity rifle cases and some magnum handgun cases, e.g., .44 Mag and .357 Mag. I've never seen it recommended for a .38 Spcl.

In gmeister's 2 inch snubby, which is what we are discussing here, a large percentage of it is going to burn (or not burn) outside of the barrel. Perhaps when shooting .38's in a .357 carbine that would be a good choice of powder.
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Old November 23, 2002, 10:17 AM   #7
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Of your listed powders, I agree with fellow posters.

Unique for light to standard loads.

Bullseye for those "Is this gonna make it out the barrel?" Really light loads.
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Old November 23, 2002, 03:04 PM   #8
Mike Irwin
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2400 used to be regularly recommended for loading .38 Spl., as it was one of the relatively few powders avilable that would work in it.

Sierra and Speer manuals gave loading information for 2400 and .38 Spl. up through the 1960s.

But it's certainly not one of the better choices. As Mal notes, it's too slow.

I'd only consider it with 158-gr. or heavier bullets, a heavy crimp, and an 8 3/8" barrel.

Out of a 2" barrel? Forget it.
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Old November 23, 2002, 06:15 PM   #9
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I'm not looking for the world's greatest reloads here. Just something on the light side that will punch holes in paper at 10-20 yards.

Using the information posted:

Bullseye From 3.1 grains to 4.9 grains
CCI-550 Primer

Unique From 3.5 grains to 6.4 grains
CCI-550 Primer

Should 4 grains of Bullseye or 5 grains of Unique work reasonably well with the 158 gr SJHPs I have. (Just looking for some quick and easy target rounds using what I have on hand.)

I know many handloaders are perfectionists, but I just want something average (and safe of course) for this particular revolver.

Alan W.
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Old November 23, 2002, 06:33 PM   #10
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Yes I would go with 5.0 grains of Unique, and you should be able to tell when you're shooting them if you want to move up or down.

That's the beauty of loading for revolvers, you can use almost anything (within safe limits) and it will work well.
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Old November 23, 2002, 07:07 PM   #11
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Mal...

Try the H-4227 with a heavy roll crimp. You might be surprised. I was...
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Old November 26, 2002, 11:49 PM   #12
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Thanks for the replies. I've got the press/ powder measure set up for 5 grains of Unique. Hope to load up a few rounds in the next day or two and try them later in the week.

Alan W.
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Old November 27, 2002, 01:51 PM   #13
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FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH.........

When Hercules sold out to Alliant, a slight but noticeable change occured in subsequent lots of 2400. The burning rate on the newer 2400 is somewhat faster than the original.
That explains why the change in the loads listed in the manuals

My .22 Hornet is a Ruger 77/22 KBZ (24"bbl-Stainless) and I decided to try some 2400 loads. The same loads that were good in a T/C Contender back in the mid '70's, cratered primers and caused the bolt to open with considerable difficulty. Backing down to the current listed max corrected the pressure problems, but velocity was down considerably too. I now use only Hod.- LilGun in the Hornet, best powder ever for the Hornet !!

Master Cartridge used to Load Herc. 2400 in there "Deer Stopper" load to meet Georgia's energy minimum for .357mag. They now use a different powder and have lowered the advertised velocity from 1525fps to 1475fps.

So, both the manuals are correct !!
The powder changed !!!
Some recent RL-22 has a disclaimer from Alliant. Old books say 62.0gr compressed in .30/06 and 48,000 cup-ok, New batch is 60gr. and 67,000psi. My two '06's agree (w/180gr bullet)
Ditto for the AA-#5. Used to be made in UK, now made in CZ., and is a very different powder.
Always use current data !!!!! Easy to do with Internet !
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Old November 28, 2002, 12:22 AM   #14
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Powders have changed. But that's not the point.

I must reluctantly disagree with Mr. Irwin.

Of the three powders listed, 2400 will provide the highest velocity in a given situation. Even in a two inch revolver. However, it will also generate more muzzle flash. Not to mention in a J frame revolver, the recoil will loosen fillings; never mind what it will do to the revolver over a short time.

But the gmeister says he wants a paper punching load at fairly close ranges.

A minimal load of Bullseye will serve. And preserve the revolver. And one's fillings.
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Old November 29, 2002, 05:08 PM   #15
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Gee, Archie, you're disagreeable today!

The reason 2400 isn't considered to be suitable for .38 Spl. anymore is because of the huge amount of powder that's expelled from it unburned.

There are other powders that burn a lot more efficiently that give virtually the same velocity curve, more efficiently, with less stress on the gun and shooter.

But you do touch on an important point.

Of the 3 choices, none is really truly suitable, but all will work.

Bullseye and Unique are pretty fast, and 2400 is way too slow.

Of the 3 choices, though, I'd go Unique. It's faster than 2400 and slower than Bullseye.
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Old November 29, 2002, 11:00 PM   #16
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Loaded up a few with 5.0 gr Unique. Was a little on the hot side for "light target." Went to 4.6 gr. Thought it shot pretty well. I wasn't looking for perfection (as I said) just decent plinking rounds. (I only get to borrow back the snubbie from my daughter very occasionally. I wanted some inexpensive rounds for informal shooting for myself and her. I prefer using components I already have.)

I've loaded about 100 rounds with the 4.6 gr. Shot half today and will probably finish them off tomorrow.

I'm satisfied with the results. Thanks to all who replied.

Alan W.
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Old November 29, 2002, 11:23 PM   #17
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Gee whiz, Alan W......

Mike and I haven't solved your problem yet! You can't be done!

Seriously, good that you've achieved what you wanted. I would also suggest that when your jacketed bullets run out, you replace them with either 148 grain lead WC or 158 lead bullets. The Bullseye then makes for a pleasant load for just plinking.

Back to you, Mike.
Based on several loading books and the writings of Elmer Keith, my experimentation shows 2400 as delivering more velocity than any faster powder in the 38 Special. Even in the shorter barrels. Yes, it does make more flash in shorter barrels, that's the trade off.
I have to agree, Bullseye is not the best powder for jacketed bullets. The pressure curve is too abrupt to get high velocity with jacketed slugs.
Unique is possibly the one universal powder. It's burning rate makes it useful in all manner of handguns, shotguns and rifles. Admittedly, it's too fast for rifles for full power loads, but will make them go in a pinch.

Still, of the three powders listed, 2400 will consistently give more velocity, all other factors being equal (in 38 Special). It isn't the most pleasant to shoot either, but full charge loads are not always pleasant.

However, we are far from Alan W's question, and he's settled the matter for himself anyway.
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Old November 30, 2002, 03:17 AM   #18
Mike Irwin
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"Based on several loading books and the writings of Elmer Keith, my experimentation shows 2400 as delivering more velocity than any faster powder in the 38 Special."

Jesus, Archie! How old is that information? Was Lincoln president then?

I haven't seen 2400 listed as a loading option for .38 Spl. in any manuals past about 1966.

Do you have any idea how many new powders have come on the market since then? Powders that have filled HUGE performance gaps.

Winchester 680 and 571 replaced 2400 in a lot of loading manuals for mid-bore cartridges, and now they're both gone, too.

I know for a fact that 571 would best 2400 for velocity in a lot of cartridges, because it used to be one of my standbys.
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Old November 30, 2002, 05:29 AM   #19
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'nuther thing about using 2400.
You'll only get roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the number of finished rounds per pound of powder for what amounts to zero gain in performance.
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Old November 30, 2002, 06:32 AM   #20
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I thought I was done with the discussion, but I guess I have another couple of comments.

Archie said:
"Seriously, good that you've achieved what you wanted. I would also suggest that when your jacketed bullets run out, you replace them with either 148 grain lead WC or 158 lead bullets. The Bullseye then makes for a pleasant load for just plinking."

I started out (when I bought the revolver used, 2 yrs ago) using factory reloaded lead WC and after a few target shoots with my daughter there were several malfunctions where the cylinder would hang up very occasionally. I found that there was quite a bit of lead buidup around the cylinder and in the forcing cone area. It may have been there from the previous owner, but I was at least partially at fault because I didn't give enough attention in cleaning those areas. (I own mostly semi-autos.)

Thorough cleaning of the cylinder, forcing cone and cleaning & lubing of the rod (axis) the cylinder spins on and everything was back to 100% reliability. I decided to use only jacketed bullets after that, as she keeps this revolver for self-defense and malfunctions of any type are not acceptable. (Also had the revolver checked by a gunsmith and timing was not a problem.) I'd rather pay more for the occasional target shooting with jacketed instead of lead bullets than have any possible problem with this issue.

Mike Irwin said:
"Jesus, Archie! How old is that information? Was Lincoln president then? I haven't seen 2400 listed as a loading option for .38 Spl. in any manuals past about 1966."

As stated in the first post, I found (conflicting) 2400 data for 38 special in the Lee carbide die data sheet (age unknown but probably not more than 5 years old) and the Lyman 47th reloading manual (not more than a few years old.)

Alan W.
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Old November 30, 2002, 12:17 PM   #21
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2400

Gentlemen,
My brand spanking new Lyman Reloading Handbook (February 2002) lists 2400 for several .38spec. loads. Quantrill
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Old November 30, 2002, 12:26 PM   #22
Mike Irwin
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Good lord, I don't believe it.

From what you guys are saying, 2400 is making a comeback for .38 Spl.

There are other powders out there that are so much more suitable for this cartridge.
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Old November 30, 2002, 12:32 PM   #23
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2400

Mike,
"Lyman 47 Reloading Handbook, New Edition, Feb.2002, last printing" Pg 386 and 387. I would note however that the loads that use 2400 are jacketed only. Quantrill
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Old November 30, 2002, 12:38 PM   #24
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In for a penny...

Alan, if you're concerned over lead deposits, you may want to see if any dealers have 'plated' bullets. They are cheaper than jacketed, but resolve the lead bullet issue. When you're done with your current stock, of course.
I shoot lead bullets out of all my revolvers and don't have any serious problems; but each revolver is a law unto itself.

Mike, sheesh!
I think I did my first reloading for 38 Special during the Nixon administration. You are correct in that there may be 'new' powders more suited in a number of regards for 158 grain 38 Special loads; however, the basic principles have not changed.
And, in Alan's first message, he limited his question to Bullseye, Unique and 2400.

What has not been mentioned is that "heavy loads" in a 38 Special are pretty archaic. .38-44 Outdoorsman revolvers notwithstanding, the .357 Magnum has pretty much ended the need for .38 Special heavy loads.
I did my experimentation as a younger adventurer who didn't have a .357 magnum. Got some pretty impressive loads, though.
The liability lawyers no doubt have had some small impact on loading manuals and corporate thinking on such matters. Lord preserve us!
Also, I understand many powders burn 'faster' these days. I do not understand why that should be so. Still, we've always known powders vary lot to lot. Perhaps 2400 is a different powder than it was some 30 years ago.

To be honest, my 38 Special loads these days are pretty much WC loads for PPC and bullseye shooting and some SWC rounds for the distinguished matches. Oh, and I load a practise round for the 158 SWCHP lead bullets I carry in my M10 anywhere gun. I load all those loadings with WW231.

But you're right, things have changed. I used to test my loads at the dump. Unsupervised. Amazing.
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