View Full Version : Staring loads for 38 LC & 32 S&W

December 29, 2010, 12:57 AM
Does anyone have any good starting loads for the 38 Long Colt in Black Powder? Also what would be a good starting load for the 32 S&W (smokeless or BP)? I have exp. reloading, just not with black powder.

The weapons are;
Pietta 1862 Sheriff's, Kirst converted to 38 Long Colt.
Uberti 1849 Pocket, Kirst converted to 32 S&W.

December 29, 2010, 02:07 AM
Are the guns proofed for black powder or smokeless?

WildthatsthekeyAlaska ™©2002-2010

December 29, 2010, 02:41 AM
They are both steel frame.

The Pietta can shoot cowboy action 38 long colt. I use Black Hills in it.

The 1849 pocket, according to Kirst can shoot 32 S&W. If this helps.

December 29, 2010, 03:03 AM
Load the cases to 1/16" below the case mouth with bp. Bp must be compressed. You do not want an air space between the powder and bullet.

December 29, 2010, 11:42 AM
What he said :)


Foto Joe
December 29, 2010, 05:22 PM
Simpler in that "especially" with modern handguns designed for the pressures of smokeless powder, accidently "over-charging" a hand loaded BP cartridge is unlikely. (I'd say impossible, but then somebody would go and blow themselves up tomorrow.) What you need to keep in mind, is that cartridges that were originally designed for Black Powder such as the 38 Colt and 32 S&W were made the size that they are because that's how much powder Colt's or S&W wanted to use. Basically if the bullet fit, it was the right amount of powder. The brass of old of course was "balloon head" so they did hold a little more powder, but not much, especially the small rounds like 38 &32.

More complicated in that once you get hooked, there are some extra steps involved to get consistant velocities and accuracy. Since you're new to this, I suggest for compression a dowel rod placed into a piece of wood as a handle and simply press the powder down into the brass. Your pressures will be inconsistant of course which will lead to some variance in the muzzle velocities but it's a good start and still the way I compress my 38 S&W loads. Also, using a "veggie wad" of probably around .030 thickness will provide a gas check and help with consistancy.

If you want a reduced load, you can fill the extra space with cream-of-wheat or cornmeal (my preference because it compresses well). BUT....as stated above, make sure that there isn't any air space in the brass, Black Powder doesn't like room to expand before the pressure pushes the bullet base out of the cartridge.

Have fun and let us know how the results go.

December 29, 2010, 06:31 PM
Seat a bullet a bullet into case. Cut off case at bottom of bullet and a touch more. Scoop black powder into cut off case. Dump into primed case. Seat bullet, repeat.

WildeasyAlaska ™©2002-2010

December 29, 2010, 09:08 PM
Great advice gents. I am new to the BP cartidge reloading.

I read that you dont use a wad with hollow base bullets. Is this true? I'll be using HB bullets in the 38 long colt

December 29, 2010, 09:14 PM
if you want to load smokeless powder in 38 long colt or 32 smith and wesson, all you have to do is

buy a reloading press, appropriate dies, casings, proper bullets,powder measure, and then get a loading manual. id suggest the hodgdon one, simply open the manual to were it says "38 colt" and "32 smith and wesson".

read the powders used, get the powders listed, and reload.

this is a BIG issue with the cartridge conversions on the market. Most people are afraid to use smokeless loads due to "use cowboy ammo only" on the package. The cas ammo reference is merely legal safety for the company making the cartridge conversion because if you say, get a cartridge cylinder for your 1860 colt army or 1851 navy and use ammo sold for ruger blackhawks in it, the cylinder maker is dissolved from any liability for damage to shooter or to firearm because you clearly ignored the warning on the package...

on a side note, its been established for years that the kirst and r&d conversion cylinders are manufactured to meet all SAAMI pressure and chamber standards. otherwise they legaly could not SELL them.

on saami standards, they publish their standards for pressure and dimensions on their website. its a good read. and reloading manuals are legally obligated to stay within SAAMI standards.

December 29, 2010, 09:23 PM
I'm leaning towards reloading with BP. Ive never reloaded it before.

December 29, 2010, 09:48 PM
Yes they are but the guns aren't.

Foto Joe
December 30, 2010, 01:53 PM
I read that you dont use a wad with hollow base bullets. Is this true? I'll be using HB bullets in the 38 long colt

I believe you're right regarding the HB bullets. In that case you will want to use the bullet itself to compress the powder so that it fills the bullet base. The problem arises when doing this that you WILL deform the bullet if you compress any more than lightly, which is fine.

Are you making your own bullets?? Are they lubed with SPG or a Black Powder compatable lube??

December 30, 2010, 05:50 PM
I be buying the bullets then using spg lube. Thanks for all your help gentlemen. A lot of good info.

January 5, 2011, 03:47 PM
I reload a bunch of different BP cartridges. As said above, overloading using BP is impossible if you have a gun thats not cracked or have any other mechanical issues.

Iv found that most BP cartridges like a cardboard wad over the powder. In some way I find my groups tighter using those wads.

Depending on what kind of BP brand your using, a little compression of the load could make accuracy better. Wano powder like compression, Swiss not so much.

In general, measure the length from the base of the bullet to the crimp groove. Fill the case with powder up to that level. Badly explained, blame it on me being a Norwegian.