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Old July 16, 2005, 12:18 AM   #1
TomNash
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Are 0.355" bullets appropriate for .38 special?

Hi. I am looking to reload for both a 9mm and a .38 special and would like to buy the bullets in bulk to save money. Would it be a safety/accuracy issue to utilize 0.355" diameter bullets in a barrel cut for 0.357" ?

The firearm is a Smith and Wesson 642, 'post-sellout' model, so accuracy beyond 25 yards is not of much interest.

Thank you very much.

Tom
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Old July 16, 2005, 12:48 AM   #2
artbyaccident
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the fact that the bullet will travel down the barrel dosent cause me concern. What does is that the bullets are different legnths. you would have to choose one caliber then have trouble finding loading info for the longer or shorter bullet. maybe a load could be worked up to fit the specific bullets. someone with more experience than I might be able to give help with that.
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Old July 16, 2005, 01:02 AM   #3
Bullet94
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TomNash Quote – “Are 0.355" bullets appropriate for .38 special?”

I believe the answer is no. This is why they make .357 bullets for .38 specials.
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Old July 16, 2005, 01:31 AM   #4
artbyaccident
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well put.
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Old July 16, 2005, 03:06 AM   #5
BillCA
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Since lead bullets for the .38/.357 often run to .358 or .3575 you'll have a considerable amount of "play" as the .355 bullet traverses the barrel.

Can you shoot .355 bullets for the 9mm in a .38 case? Yes.
Should you do it? No.

The smaller bullet will not seal properly against the larger diameter barrel. This will result in poor accuracy, keyholing at short ranges (exacerbated by the short barrel of a 642) and incomplete combustion of powder.

Safetywise, Bullet94 brings up a good point. If the 9mm bullet is longer than your .38 bullet your seating depth needs to be adjusted in the .38 case. This can result in the bullet nose being too long for the chamber. Additionally, revolver cartridges have cannelures (grooves) around them for you to crimp the cartridge case. Most bullets for autopistols have smooth sides to allow a taper crimp. The .355 bullets thus cannot be given much of a roll crimp on useful loads without digging in to the jacketed bullet. This will cause accuracy issues.
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Old July 16, 2005, 03:07 AM   #6
Hal
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Tom,
I've used 9mm (.355) bullets in a .38spl in the past.
There's 2 problems with using them.
1.) Incorrect size causes lowered accuracy.(already mentioned)
2.) Lack of a cannalure on the bullet to roll crimp them into a .38 spl case.

Other than that they worked ok.
You definatly won't win any mathes with the loads though..accuracy kinda sucks.

(looks like Bill and I were posting @ the same time)

Bullet length/seating depth shouldn't be much of a concern. Typical bullets for the 9mm (115/124/147 gr) are shorter than typical bullets for the .38spl (148/158/160 gr).
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Old July 16, 2005, 05:21 AM   #7
Jim Watson
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The REAL problem with loading .355" bullets in .38 Special is that the sizing die probably will not size the brass down enough to give a firm grip on the bullet. Even if it does, the expander die will open it back up too big anyhow. You cannot crimp a loose bullet tight.
C.E. Harris did an article in American Rifleman about it. He had an extra tight .38 Special sizing die made up, used a 9mm expander and got quite decent results. Do you want to go to that much trouble? I don't. So buy the right bullets in bulk, they won't go stale if you don't use them up immediately.
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Old July 16, 2005, 10:20 AM   #8
Leftoverdj
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You can probably do it the other way around, though. Most 9mms work fine with .357 bullets. The few that don't are those with very tight chambers. Load up a dummy 9mm with a 125 grain .357 bullet. If it will drop into the chamber and drop back out, the chamber fit is good.

You can slug the bore if you wish. Just drive a 3/8" egg shaped sinker through the barrel with a brass or aluminum rod and measure it. I would expect the result to be .356 or .357, but you sometimes find them both tighter and looser. If your barrel is .356 or .357, .357 bullets will not cause a problem.

Few people appreciate how sloppy firearms tolerances are, especially with the older military stuff. A jacketed bullet a thou over or under is not going to hurt anything in the normal for caliber pressure ranges. Factory barrels and factory ammo had a lot more slop than that.
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Old July 16, 2005, 05:27 PM   #9
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A friend used them quite a bit in his .38 with no problems at 15 yards were ok at 25 yards not good at all.I have done it but don't make a habit of it.As far as reloading I had no problem with my resizer the bullet fit very nicly but made sure I put a little extra crimp,As far as shooting a lot not sure I would want to.
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Old July 16, 2005, 08:42 PM   #10
TomNash
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Thank you all for the replies. I am now unable to be as cheap as I would like to, in this instance .

Tom
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Old July 16, 2005, 11:59 PM   #11
BillCA
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Tom,

Be cheap. You can buy cast lead bullets for your .38 at very reasonable prices. FMJ isn't too much more, IIRC.

See if you can find a good 146gr LSWC-HP with or without a gas-check or jacketed base. Makes a good, accurate round up to about 1000fps.
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Old July 17, 2005, 10:16 AM   #12
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oddity (as usual, ay?)

First off, let me say there's lotsa assumption going on about the size of bores, but before one assumes they know they better 'slug'.

Have a 9x19 tube that mikes at .3595" LOL.
Anyone have a Python handy?


I use Rainier .355" and .357" "38 Super" bullets in certain 357 Magnum IPSC loads; I also use "357 bullets" sized at .354" (Hornady 158g LSWC-HP), .355", .356", .358", and .359" (NEB 158g LRN).
Lack of cannelure is NOT a problem.
The Rainier bullet's base seemingly obturates sufficiently.
A tight sizer is a good idea, maybe, if testing confirms it is.

The short barrel can provide stunning mechanical accuracy.

Contact direct for data.
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