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Old June 27, 2013, 04:47 PM   #1
JefferS
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Loading 38 S&W with Bullseye

I had a post I started before, but it really got sidetracked into other problems I had.

When I'm searching for lead info, I'm usually getting into casting, which I'm not doing. Also, have you ever tried to search for "38 S&W"? I'm missing the magic to get anywhere with that. Anyway, I was able to obtain some Magtech Bullets 38 S&W (360 Diameter) 146 Grain Lead Round Nose from MidwayUSA because I wanted to learn how to reload lead.

Since these bullets are already cast, can I load them like I would jacketed bullets? Or do I still need to go through some sort of sizing/lubricating process?

Reading through my "ABC's of Reloading" isn't making it clear to me, as it seems to be coming from a casting perspective. I intend on using an old Harrington and Richards top-break 38 S&W revolver for my loads, if that makes any difference (maybe lower pressures needed?). It looks almost identical to an Iver Johnson.

I've only been able to get Bullseye powder, so that's what I guess I'll start with. I think my Lyman book has 150 gr starting at 2.1 gr. Doesn't seem to be a lot of data any more for 38 S&W, even on the Alliant site.

Any experienced suggestions on start, max, and OAL?

Thanks again--everyone is always very informative and it's appreciated.
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Old June 27, 2013, 05:20 PM   #2
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Commercially cast bullets are sized and lubed by the manufacturer, so no need for that. I find it useful to flare the case mouth more with cast bullets to prevent shaving lead. Bullseye is a great powder in just about any caliber with cast bullets.
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Old June 27, 2013, 07:11 PM   #3
JefferS
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Thanks, Shootest. I was having trouble finding a satisfactory answer regarding the lead.

As for loading, I found a site that mentioned that for a 145 g lead RN (.359" dia) with Bullseye, the max load for a Break Top was 2.0 g.

So that would imply a start of 1.8 g. Would 1.150" OAL sound right (or any of the rest of it)?

And I assume that 145 g lead RN is close enough to 146 g lead RN.
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Last edited by JefferS; June 27, 2013 at 07:16 PM. Reason: copy/paste error
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Old June 27, 2013, 10:20 PM   #4
SIGSHR
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Years ago I reloaded Hornady HBWCs over 2.7 grains of Bullseye, got good accuracy out of my Enfield No. 2 Mk I, no signs of pressure. Is your H&R a black powder gun?
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Old June 28, 2013, 01:01 AM   #5
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CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.
My poor grandfather had an Iver Johnson break top 38 S&W and black powder cartridges in the Alaskan Gold Rush.
I was buying and torturing 38 S&W revolvers with overloads ~ 10 years ago.
I worked up experimental loads. I worked up to 7.9 gr. Blue Dot 158 gr. JHP 357 bullet [38 Super +P loads], when I noticed that one newer breaktop had developed .003" looseness in the breaktop and an older one had .020".
The failure mechanism is the eye of the latch stretches into an oblong shape.
I had worked up loads .1 gr. at a time, looking for pressure signs.
However, my late father, once chief engineer of a large gun designing operation, snapped at me that the chamber pressure was unrelated to that failure. He said there is no direct pressure affect on the latch. Only the recoil on the upper half of the barrel and the bullet friction add to be the latch stress.
I had to think about this for hours. Most people cannot get it. What it means is that breaktops should only be shot with soft lead bullets.
Never JHP .357.

158 gr. .360" soft lead, 2 gr. Bullseye, good load
125 gr. JHP .357", 6.5 gr. AA#5, too dirty
158 gr. JHP, .357", 4.5 gr. Unique [9mm load] kicks hard in two of the 38 sw revolvers
110 gr. JHP, .357", 5.3 gr. Unique, good load
158 gr. JHP, .357", 7.9 gr. Blue Dot [38 Super +P load], elongated newer gun latch .0035", older gun .020" in 6.2 to 9.4 gr. work up.
158 gr. LSWC 5 gr. Power Pistol, no damage to latch in newer IJ, some leading

The following does not have a break top action with thin latch, but is a swing out revolver:
Colt 38 S&W Police Positive 38 made in 1911 20.5 ounces 4" barrel .7" long 158 gr hard cast .358" bullet 1.299" OAL, RP primed brass
a) 3 gr Unique wimpy recoil
b) 4 gr Unique stiff recoil
c) 4.5 gr Unique obnoxious recoil, tiny pierce in primer
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Last edited by Clark; June 28, 2013 at 01:08 AM.
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Old June 28, 2013, 05:14 AM   #6
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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The and only problem with using Bullseye. Its very easy to double charge a case with it since you use such small amounts of it. Try to pay close attention to what your doing when charging up your brass (if you do so by hand)
Store bought bullets (lead) don't require any lubing before or during their seating.
For OAL ask the bullet manufacture or it distributor for their advice. Best time to do that is when your placing an order to purchase.

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Old June 28, 2013, 06:44 AM   #7
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SIGSHR, I don't think it is black powder. From what I've read, I am thinking my H&R might be a "3rd Model AUTOMATIC EJECTING 3rd Variation (1913-1915), which was made to handle smokeless/Nitro powder loads." But I'm not an expert for sure. Just grabbing info from other sites and trying to make an educated guess. I just hope I have enough education to do that.
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Last edited by JefferS; June 28, 2013 at 06:45 AM. Reason: Added some punctuation
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Old June 28, 2013, 07:52 AM   #8
Gbro
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In my Cartridges of the World there is a duplicate factory load as follows
.38 S&W 145 gr. Lead Bullet 2.2 gr. Bull eye = 730 MV 173 ME
.38 S&W 148 gr. Lead Bullet 2.5 gr Bullseye = 700 V 161 E

" " 158 gr " " 3.0 Gr Unique 700 172
And 38 S&W are still available today, well as much as anything is available today

As for OAL, set one load without powder and primer with the bullet .015"-.020"
long and try it in your cylinder. Measure how far out of cylinder the rim sets. A long OAL will not usually drop right into the cylinder and close. Then reset your die to a standard.
It is nice to stay .005"-.010" inch shorter than the max length the cylinder will allow IMO
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Old June 28, 2013, 09:11 AM   #9
JefferS
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Thanks, Gbro!

I do have some 3-year-old 146 g Remington S&W on hand. My main goal, though, is to get better at reloading them. I started this late in life and I want to do as much as I can to get better as quick as I can. Great info.

By the way, I also have some old Winchester 145 g 38SWP (the 50 round box has $15 written on it), and a few, what appear to be even older, Norma .38 S&W cartridges of unknown weight lead RN. I haven't heard of Norma, but like I said, I'm kinda' new.
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Old June 28, 2013, 10:35 AM   #10
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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If you can find a Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook #3 Addition. Or a Lyman #45 edition handbook. Both offer 38 S&W New Police cast lead loadings. {of which I hope you have there?} Keep in mind the groove dia. of your bore is .361 and is suggested its bullets be resized and lubed to a .360 cast. Again bullets I've listed are indeed made & came from Lyman molds. (below.)

92 gr. cast -rd Nose
121 gr.Cast.- rd N
133 gr. cast - SWC
141 gr. cast -WC_wad cutter
150 gr. cast - rd N
158 gr. cast.-rd N

So OP if you intend to use the weight of 146 gr. store bought bullet which isn't listed as a bullet to use in both books I have here in front of me. {probably because it doesn't meet the proper groove dia. needed for your revolvers requirement.} I would step up to the next listed bigger loading weight of 150 gr. And use that loading for your 146 gr. non-standard bullet. {Taken as my advice. Just to be on the safe side of things.} I will thread a complete loading here on your thread of available powders used and their charges High /Low if asked too. But only for one of the bullet weights of all those I've listed (above).


S/S
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Old June 28, 2013, 11:47 AM   #11
Clark
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This is the correct bullet, Lyman #35864
http://www.westernbullet.com/ly3150gr.html


And that guy in MT casts it with soft Lead too, to keep the bullet friction down, and thus not stretch the latch on break top 38 S&W revolvers.
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Old June 28, 2013, 12:35 PM   #12
JefferS
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Here is the MidwayUSA page for the specific bullet I have on hand:

Magtech Bullets 38 S&W (360 Diameter) 146 Grain Lead Round Nose

I just noticed a recent comment for the bullet at MidwayUSA that supports what folks here seem to be saying:

Quote:
I loaded these 146 gr.LRN in new Starline brass with 2.0gr of Bullseye with accurate,low recoil results.I didn't resize the brass(because it was new and didn't have primers inserted)there were some "lead rings"-which was okay because I wanted a firm fit for accuracy..cleaned those up...coal was 1.190" Accuracy at 15' was POA..I enjoyed the experience
Someone else there said they were using data from Cartridges of the World. May have to add to my library.
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