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Old February 15, 2012, 09:19 PM   #1
Lead Express
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Loading 357/38 with Power Pistol concern

I may be just a worrywart on this, but I'm somewhat new to reloading and want some confirmation (I load 40sw, 357 and 38). I've loaded some 357 and 38 special with power pistol, and off the bat, I'm having a really hard time visually confirming powder level with the tall revolver casings. So, to confirm the level I have to tilt the shell off of the carrier to see the powder (I'm also weighing every three or so rounds).

Here is my concern: Power pistol is not fluffy, but I'm going off of published load data. I can shake the rounds lightly and hear that there is a LOT of empty space in the cartridges. Is this okay??? I'm loading at near start load and know even max charges won't fill the cases. Loads listed below:

357 magnum
158 LSWC at .358"
7.5 gn of Power Pistol

38 special
158 LSWC at .358"
4.6 gn of Power Pistol

Maybe time for a different selection of powder for my wheel gun?
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Old February 15, 2012, 09:26 PM   #2
ScottRiqui
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The .38 was originally a black powder cartridge. Since black powder doesn't have near the energy per grain of modern powders, you used much more of it compared to modern loads. There will usually be quite a bit of empty space inside a .38/.357 cartridge, even with max loads.

My typical .38 load is 3.3 gr of W231 and a 148 gr DEWC bullet. I can fit four complete charges inside the case.

Last edited by ScottRiqui; February 16, 2012 at 12:13 AM.
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Old February 15, 2012, 11:01 PM   #3
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This may not be much help right now, but it might be at a later date--besides using a small flashlight to look in the case---if you have a digital scale--weigh the case before you drop the powder and zero the scale with the case on it. Then re-weigh with powder and the scale will give you your exact charge weight. If you really trust your powder measure, you need not do this for every case, but maybe 1 in 10. But if you get a big difference at case # 50, you would be wise to go back and check # 41 through 49.

The entire point is moot if you use a slower powder like HS-6 or N-340 and such. Also the chances of double charging a case are reduced if not eliminated by using a slower powder that fills the case better, to say nothing about better performance.

I like Hodgon's Lil Gun for all my magnum pistol loads--partly for the way it fills up the case and partly because I get good accuracy and power with it.

A slower powder can result in an increase in perceived recoil, which in the .38 special is not really a problem, but the .357 mag can be a bit much for some more sensitive--maybe poetic--folks when using a slow powder..........
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Old February 16, 2012, 12:11 AM   #4
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I rather like your use of "poetic", as it can relate to few few shooters that I am introducing to the shooting arena.

Lights are great and safety is good as far as weighing goes.... I think it's just me wanting to be %100 sure of my accuracy of what I'm reloading so I wont blow off my trigger finger (quite a multi-tool). Different powder definitely needs to be explored, as I was "aiming" towards a multi-caliber powder to offset costs.
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Old February 16, 2012, 10:18 AM   #5
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In the long run you really are not saving money by buying one powder to do all/most of your calibers with.Certain ones you can but others it just doesn't pay, to a point. No matter what powder you use, you still have to pay for the it, so why not have one of the best performing for that particular cal.
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Old February 16, 2012, 10:36 AM   #6
hulley
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I installed a nice strip light on my reloading bench recently for that very issue.
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Old February 16, 2012, 11:17 AM   #7
AlaskaMike
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A lot of good comments so far. About the only thing I'd add is that you might want to intentionally double-charge a case just so you know what it looks like and have a visual reference for comparison. Just be certain to immediately dump the powder from that case when you're done comparing so you don't inadvertently seat a bullet on it!

I'd also recommend a different powder for standard pressure .38 loads. For +P loads, Power Pistol would probably do well (I haven't tried it, but my favorite midrange .357 load uses PP), but for standard pressure you'll probably be happier with a slightly faster burning powder like 231, or even faster still (Bullseye, Clays, etc.)
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Old February 16, 2012, 01:12 PM   #8
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This is also where a powder check die comes in handy,for double checking only.
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Old February 16, 2012, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
...About the only thing I'd add is that you might want to intentionally double-charge a case just so you know what it looks like and have a visual reference for comparison. Just be certain to immediately dump the powder from that case when you're done comparing so you don't inadvertently seat a bullet on it!
+1
I was going to suggest this as well. I use AA#5 (anti-fluffy as well) with some light .357 loads. "Case fill, what's that?" Even with that, a double charge is quite noticeable.

Perhaps an inspection mirror w/ a light would help the process. I seem to recall reading somewhere that a guy rigged a mirror & light setup on his press. It may or may not be practical for everyone, but it might be worth investigating.
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Old February 17, 2012, 02:41 AM   #10
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I thank you for all of the very useful input. I've double charged a few times (with no bullets on my bench) to see if I could identify one but it seems that is still not even visible. What mid range load are you using for 357 with PP??

The mirror trick.... Now that is something to look into!
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Old February 17, 2012, 11:30 AM   #11
AlaskaMike
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Quote:
What mid range load are you using for 357 with PP??
I use 8.0 grains of PP with a 158 grain cast SWC in my S&W model 28. With the 4" barrel it gives about 1100 fps. According to my notes I also had good success with 7.0 grains for about 1000.
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