View Full Version : Original Blackpowder Loads for the .38 Special and .38 Long Colt Cartridges

Hard Ball
October 1, 2002, 02:36 PM
I am interested in loading .38 Special and ,38 Long Colt (.38 Government) revolver cartridges with black powder to duplicate the performance obtained in 6 inch barreled revolvers around 1900. I would use the 158 grain lead bullet in the .38 Spcl and thhe 150 grain bullet in the .38LC.
I would like to know the powder charge and granulation used in both cartridges and a reliable source for the data.:confused:

October 1, 2002, 08:07 PM
Well according to Chicoine's "Gunsmithing Guns of the old West" on page 23 it shows,

38 special 158 gr Baloon head case Solid head case speed
21 gr FFg 19 gr FFg 850 fps

38 long colt 150 gr 18 gr FFg 16 gr FFg 760 fps

Lyman's black powder only lists 38 special

158 gr bullet

goex ffg 17 gr 561 fps

goex fffg 17.5 gr 642

pyrodex RS 17 gr 638

pyrodex P 18 gr 635

So that's quite a difference in sources, those are the only 2 I have on hand for BP.

October 1, 2002, 08:29 PM
well my table wasn't too pretty but, Hodgdon's lists data for 777 on their web site

hope this helps.

Just remember to make sure that the powder completely fills all of the open space in the case, if you want to download it you need a filler, such as corn meal.

you really cannot overload either of these guns with BP as long as they are solid guns. pressure on a completely full case is still dramatically lower than with smokeless powder, but the results are much more fun.

Alex Johnson
October 1, 2002, 09:57 PM
The 38 special to the best of my knowledge was never a blackpowder cartridge, I think you would be right on track loading a standard pressure 158 grain roundnose load with a recommended load of smokeless. As for the 38 long colt the 1908 Sears Roebuck catalog lists black powder loads with 19 grains of black powder and a 150 grain lead round nose.

Jim Watson
October 2, 2002, 10:19 AM
The .38 Special was introduced in 1899 (some say 1900) with a 158 grain bullet and 21.5 grains (21.0 in some loadings) of black powder. I don't know the granulation. You will have a hard time getting that much in modern brass with solid head and thick web. But BPCR shooters are going to more and more compression, so it might be doable. I don't know for sure, I am not a serious BP shooter.

Hard Ball
October 4, 2002, 01:27 PM
Thanks for the information. I have some old ballon head .38 Special cases and they will accept the 21 grain BP load.

October 4, 2002, 01:33 PM
Boy those Lyman loads are so s-l-o-w you could watch the bullets leisurely streaking toward the target. That is if you could see past the smoke. Not to mention the stench! ;)