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Old June 3, 2012, 03:29 PM   #1
Bailey Boat
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Sectioned cases

As promised in a earlier thread, I sectioned 3 cases to explore if there really is any differences in 38 Special and 38 +P. From left to right the cases are; 38 Special, 38 +P and .357. All were Winchester cases just to remove that variable.
Personally, I can see a difference in the web area but the case walls appear to be fairly uniform between the Special and the +P. Obviously the 357 differences are readily apparent.
Not the greatest photography or sectioning skills but I think they'll do for this purpose. Your thoughts???

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Old June 4, 2012, 11:51 AM   #2
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I'm the guy who was determined to load 38 Special cases beyond the 38+P pressure loads to fire them from 357/38 lever rifles. Thanks for doing the case sectioning. It proves what a lot of people have stated without proof, that is, that 357 cases are indeed made stronger than 38 Special cases. Left unproven is whether the design differences matter, but I will leave that question un-tested. I am now convinced, thanks to your work, that I should NOT load my 38 cases beyond 38+P pressures.

I can tell you that many commercial reloaders, including Georgia Arms and HSM amongst others, do not separate out the 38 from the 38+P cases when they reload them. I have a few thousand 38+P cases that were loaded with 38 Special loads by those reloaders. When I asked another commercial reloader if I needed to separate the 38+P cases from the 38's in brass I was going to send in for brass credit, I was specifically told not to separate them. I can see differences in the 38 Special and 38+P cases you sectioned, but apparently they are not significant to the commercial reloaders.

Thanks for doing this work. It probably saved my life.
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Old June 4, 2012, 01:27 PM   #3
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It appears they came off different sets of forming dies, but I've had the experience with Winchester rifle cases of getting product from up to four different tooling sets off all in the same lot. So I'd want to see a larger sample before drawing a final conclusions. Even then, it will only apply to Winchester.

SAAMI specs cover only the exteriors of cases. It's up to the individual manufacturer to dimension the interior and control brass hardness to perform to pressure specs. Different makers handle this differently. Some may thicken brass to improve pressure resistance at the head, but some may run an extra forming step to increase work hardening, while still others may do nothing different.

For example, Starline says of their 38+P brass:
"38 SPL+P has no difference from the standard 38 SPL, other than headstamp designation for load segregation. This is due to the fact that our standard case design will handle +P pressures with no problems."
But for .45 Auto+P, Starline says:
"The 45 Auto+P is a strengthened version of the 45 Auto with the same external dimensions. A thicker web and heavier sidewall at base strengthens the case in potentially unsupported areas."
What you can do, when in doubt about a particular case, is simply weigh the cases. If the exterior dimensions are identical, then the weight difference will tell you whether one contains more brass or not. Weigh a large number of randomly selected samples of a particular brand, and you will have a good set of averages you can look at.
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Old June 4, 2012, 03:52 PM   #4
Bailey Boat
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I have no doubt about commercial reloaders not caring to segregate the cases as long as they are loading them to 38 Special levels but not the other way around. I don't even know if you can buy 38+P level reloads from a commercial source????? I reload, I don't buy anything commercial except my carry ammo.

In all honesty, I did the sectioning more for MY education than anything else. We all have heard this and that about the subject and this was the only way I could think of to find out. I used Winchester cases only because that was what I had, no other reason. I only had used cases or otherwise I would have used new ones to remove the interior erosion from God only knows how many reloadings.

I can say with authority that I won't be loading any 38+P level loads in 38 Special cases.
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Old June 4, 2012, 04:22 PM   #5
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Those pics are so out-of-focus that you can't see anything, at least not to draw a conclusion from. 3 cases? If there were 30 of each AND a good pic, then you might have something.

Just because a case weighs more does NOT mean the walls are thinker. The extra weight might be all in the base, the walls could even be thinner!
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Old June 6, 2012, 08:30 AM   #6
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For years the reloading forums have been stalled at military 30/06 cases are thicker because they are heavier, forget measuring before and again after, measuring before and again after is busy work, except? For me, I do not have to do measure every case, military surplus 30/06 cases are heavier with exceptions, Winchester anything.

The assumption, because military cases are heavier it is thicker, half-truth, the case head is thinner, most case heads are .200 thousandths and sometimes a little thicker, R-P case head thickness is .260 thousandths +/-,, then there is the deductive reasoning, if the case head is thinner, but the case is heavier, the case body is thicker, then the commercial R-P case as it applies to weight, the case head is thicker but weighs less, the case body must be thinner.

But, who measures?

Then there is all that stretch and or flow, or is it stretch and flow, again?

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Old June 7, 2012, 09:30 PM   #7
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.38 Special cases are NOT all alike from all manufacturers. At least in the past, some that were intended for full wadcutter ammo had especially thin walls toward the base. Those are actually preferred for loading the Speer plastic capsuls. But, they would not be a good choice to load to .357 magnum pressures.

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