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Old May 28, 2013, 12:36 AM   #1
BrokenBottles
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.38spc loaded to .357mag levels

This is hard to explain when I'm typing it out so bear with me.
Is it unsafe to load .38 Specials to .357MAG powder levels using IMR 700-X?
Hodgdon.com has a generic 125g cast LRNFP with 700-X for the .38spc
Quote:
125 GR. CAST LRNFP IMR 700-X .358" 1.445" 3.7 982 14,500 PSI 4.2 1076 16,200 PSI
They also have 125g MEI CAST LRNFP with 700-X for the .357MAG
Quote:
125 GR. MEI CAST LRNFP IMR 700-X .358" 1.580" 4.0 1069 13,500 PSI 5.5 1311 21,800 PSI
Those formulas are for pistol and I'm actually shooting them out of a 19" leveraction rifle, hence the slow powder choice

I've worked up a load for .357 that was great shooting and didn't show any pressure signs and was very accurate. 5.2grains with a COL of ~1.575(it was seated at the cannelure).
Would it be unsafe to work up a load for 38 Specials that went above the published max since there would still be a lot of empty space above the powder and it's in a rifle that can handle .357 MAG pressures?
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Old May 28, 2013, 12:51 AM   #2
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There is a classic "almost magnum" load using 2400 and either 158 or 173 grain SWC's and .38 Special brass. You'll have to look it up yourself.

If you put a .357 Magnum load of powder in a .38 Special case, the pressure goes way up because the .38 Special is shorter. There's also a risk that the high pressure ammo will end up in somebody's cheap RG .38 revolver and blow it to bits.
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Old May 28, 2013, 12:53 AM   #3
aiming fluid
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Yes its unsafe if for no other reason than some of those rounds could end up in a regular 38 special and create a hazardous situation.

Another reason is the pressures will be higher in the 38 case because of reduced capacity, meaning what you load in a 357 case safely can be unsafe just because of the diminished case capacity. Almost no load will fill up to capacity a 38special case. It was originally designed for black powder.

It is a bad idea on many levels so stick with the 357 cases, but big cudos to you for asking first.

whup, beat me Bob! Woulda been easier to type +1 on my phone.
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Old May 28, 2013, 12:57 AM   #4
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awesome. Thank you very much guys. Sure saved me a lot of time, money and maybe fingers.
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Old May 28, 2013, 08:13 AM   #5
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No!!!!!!!!!!!

700X is on the 'fast' end of my numerous burn-rate charts.

Just sayin'
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Old May 28, 2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
hence the slow powder choice
HUH? 700X is faster than Bullseye - you might want to actually follow the recipes
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Old May 28, 2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Would it be unsafe to work up a load for 38 Specials that went above the published max since there
would still be a lot of empty space above the powder and it's in a rifle that can handle .357 MAG pressures?
The answer is yes... with a big "BUT...."

Depending on the powder, "extra space above the powder" does not equate to safe room for more powder. Fast-burning pistol powders do their stuff with a lot of extra space -- and they need it to keep pressures down.

Could you put a 357 load in a 38Special case by seating the bullet further out to create 357 case volume? Yes.... BUT you'd better know exactly what you're doing and you'd still run the risk of someone (maybe not you) putting that cartridge in their J-Frame Airweight 38.

Pick up some 357 cases for 357 loads and call it a day.
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Old May 28, 2013, 09:57 AM   #8
Jim Watson
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As said, 700X is a fast powder, not slow.

You will note that they stop at 21,800 psi in .357 magnum even though the SAAMI maximum is 35,000. This indicates to me that 700X pressures are likely to get unpredictably high above 5.5 grains of powder even in magnum brass.

Don't do it.


You can do some interesting overloads with actual slow burning powders in .38 special, but I think it takes more research than you will get one question at a time on the internet.
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Old May 28, 2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Could you put a 357 load in a 38Special case by seating the bullet further out to create 357 case volume? Yes.... BUT you'd better know exactly what you're doing and you'd still run the risk of someone (maybe not you) putting that cartridge in their J-Frame Airweight 38.
That works pretty well with cast wadcutters, and (in my experience) they won't even chamber in a .38. The trick is finding trustworthy real .357 Magnum wadcutter data, but it's out there if you look. 700X is the wrong powder; even Bullseye would be better.
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Old May 31, 2013, 06:59 AM   #10
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think Skeeter

psssst, 2400.......
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Old May 31, 2013, 07:47 AM   #11
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May 28, 2013 12:53 AM
aiming fluid Yes its unsafe if for no other reason than some of those rounds could end up in a regular 38 special and create a hazardous situation.

Another reason is the pressures will be higher in the 38 case because of reduced capacity, meaning what you load in a 357 case safely can be unsafe just because of the diminished case capacity. Almost no load will fill up to capacity a 38special case. It was originally designed for black powder.

It is a bad idea on many levels so stick with the 357 cases, but big cudos to you for asking first.

whup, beat me Bob! Woulda been easier to type +1 on my phone.
May 28, 2013 12:51 AM



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+1
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Old May 31, 2013, 07:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
The trick is finding trustworthy real .357 Magnum wadcutter data, but it's out there if you look.
Both Hodgdon and Accurate have some suggestions on their web sites. Velocities ranging from 900 to 1300 fps.
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Old May 31, 2013, 08:48 AM   #13
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Why not look up .38 Spl + P Data? I forget which manuals I ran across +P data, I know its out there.
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Old May 31, 2013, 09:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Why not look up .38 Spl + P Data? I forget which manuals I ran across +P data, I know its out there.

My thoughts exactly. Get data for +P and use a +P suitable powder (not 700X), and work up from there. There is a lot of performance overlap between light .357 loads and heavier .38's.
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Old June 2, 2013, 12:57 AM   #15
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I suggest you pick up a copy of Lyman's 49th Edition Reloading Manual. It has a nice collection of data for .38 Spec. and .38 Spec. +P for most jacketed hollow points and a number of cast bullets. I particularly like their +P data for the 110 gr JHP bullets. Many years ago I had a Ruger Speed Six chambered for .38 Special, which for all practical purposes was a rugged .357 Magnum revolver with a cylinder chambered for .38 Special. It handled .38 Special +P loads effortlessly. I did push the envelope a bit with the 110 gr JHP bullets and HS-6 powder and was able to push the 110 gr bullet over 1200 fps out of the 2 3/4 inch barrel. I wish I would have kept that revolver, it was nice. I still have a few of those old handloads and have no qualms about shooting them in my SP101 .357 Mag. They were only about 3% over the maximum +P loads listed in the Lyman manual. But everyone needs to use caution and start low and work up slow. Each gun is different and not all primers or powders are exactly the same either.
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Old June 2, 2013, 07:35 AM   #16
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Maybe pressure ratings of the case itself should also be considered.
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Old June 2, 2013, 07:58 AM   #17
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Seems to me it would be better to invest in some .357 brass and only load the .38 Spcl brass with .38 Spcl loads. I can see mucho trouble in your thoughts, but you obviously are not stupid since you are suspiscious of your idea and smart enough to seek advice.
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Old June 2, 2013, 08:11 AM   #18
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I agree w/ investing in the 357 cases -- if for no other reasons than it takes the guesswork out, and removes even the faintest possibility of using high-pressure loads in a low-pressure gun.

-- BUT --

Case strength (38Special vs 357) is not the issue in a revolver. Both cartridges are fully supported all the way back/past the web to the rim itself. Pressure capacity is therefore determined by the steel cylinder wall, not the brass case wall.

(Might get interesting in a lever-action rifle, though, where some small portion of the web might be unsupported and/or the chamber/head area given some slight extra clearance to ensure reliable feeding. Below is a pic of my heavy-load 45 Colt cases used in a Marlin.



My 357s exhibit the same in a `92Win. I just two-stage size them both and go on....)

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Old June 2, 2013, 08:17 AM   #19
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challenged

To rephrase:

For many years folks have been loading 38 Special cases with 2400 and 158--170g LSWCs for high performance ammo shot from 357 Magnum-chambered guns.
38 Special-chambered gun, too (those with long enough cylinders ).
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Old June 2, 2013, 02:01 PM   #20
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CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond or not covered by currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The Firing Line, nor the staff of TFL assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.


I have asked this same question in the past, and I've done a lot of research into this issue. To be clear, a given 357 Magnum powder load should produce higher pressures in the 38 Special case compared to a 357 Magnum case due to the smaller case capacity of the 38 Special brass. Having said that, if you reduce any given 357 Magnum load by 10% you should be good to go in 38 Special brass IF AND ONLY IF YOU SHOOT THE CARTRIDGES IN A 357 MAGNUM FIREARM.

Obviously, you need to mark the containers with the ammo clearly so that the cartridges do not get loaded into a firearm that is not rated for 357 Magnum. It should go without saying that if you know that you are not the kind of person who makes darn sure he/she knows what he/she is doing when loading a firearm (i.e., what ammo are you using, where did it come from, what does it say on the ziplock bags or boxes in which the ammo is living, etc) then you probably are not safe enough to be doing this. If you shoot reloads that others have made, "because you trust the guy", etc, then you are probably not safe enough to do this. If you give YOUR reloads to others to shoot in their firearms, then you are probably not safe enough to do this.

If your "heirs" or "friends" or "family members" who get your stuff when you die are not smart enough to follow some pretty simple safety rules (i.e., never shoot another guy's reloads, etc) then I guess you better be worried and maybe not do this.

I can tell you that I personally have got way too many THOUSANDS of 38 Special once-fired brass to NOT do this. I'm planning to load 38 cases to about 15% less than a mid-range 357 powder charge and use them in a Winchester 94AE 357 lever rifle. I have the press set up right now for 9 mm and when I've got my allotment of those cartridges done, I will switch the press over to 357/38 and work on this. I'll report back about it, probably in late June if I can get the process going. [More specifically, what I am trying to accomplish is to get the rifle sighted in at 100 yards with a load using 357 Magnum cases, then find a load of powder in a 38 case that allows the rifle to be "already sighted in" at 50 yards. With factory ammo, when sighted in a 100 yards with 357 Mag ammo, the 38's shoot low at 50 yards. So, I need a load in a 38 case, probably somewhere between 38 +P+ and 38 +P++, or something like that, to raise that point of impact at 50 yards. We'll see how it works out.]

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Old June 2, 2013, 02:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Obviously, you need to mark the containers with the ammo clearly so that the cartridges do not get loaded into a firearm that is not rated for 357 Magnum. It should go without saying that if you know that you are not the kind of person who makes darn sure he/she knows what he/she is doing when loading a firearm (i.e., what ammo are you using, where did it come from, what does it say on the ziplock bags or boxes in which the ammo is living, etc) then you probably are not safe enough to be doing this. If you shoot reloads that others have made, "because you trust the guy", etc, then you are probably not safe enough to do this. If you give YOUR reloads to others to shoot in their firearms, then you are probably not safe enough to do this.
Color the case heads with a red Magic Marker or red fingernail polish so if the ammo gets separated from the box, it is still identifiable.
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Old June 3, 2013, 06:44 PM   #22
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I just don't like the idea myself. Shooting those rounds in a older, weaker .38 could really make a mess for the shooter.

But, I may be guilty of not following my own advice since I load .45 Colt to some pretty crazy loadings for a Ruger BH Bisley. I'd hate to see one of those being shot in an old model Colt. I clearly mark boxes to only use in the Ruger BH, but I could see an heir or maybe an auction buyer after I'm gone not heading the warning. Wow, something to think about.
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Old June 3, 2013, 10:41 PM   #23
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It is called a 38-44 cartridge.
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Old June 3, 2013, 11:30 PM   #24
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Wow, thank you all. There's a lot of info in here.
I actually load mainly .357(about 90%) I have like 150 .38special cases so it's not an issue of feeling like I should only load it. I was honestly just wondering how safe it would be. I've seen the +P load for .38special with 700X and a SJHP and it's only 4.4grains so going to 5 would be way higher than I'm comfortable shooting.

I need to stop listening and reading this old(well not too old since he's only twice my age) reloader's stuff, he/it keeps giving me the wrong information. I got the info about the 700X being slow from one of his books

I don't let anyone shoot my reloads, no matter how many times I check the load and the data and COAL. It comes down to why I never point my gun at anything I don't intend to destroy and I don't put my finger on the trigger until I know what I'm going to hit and what's behind it, even with a "safety flag" in the chamber.

This idea didn't stem from wanting to shooting the hardest .38special round from my rifle just trying to further what little knowledge I have on the subject of reloading so I'm even more thankful you guys didn't tear into me.
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