The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 5, 2001, 07:03 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: September 10, 2000
Posts: 11
I recently purchased a pre-sellout S&W 640 in 38 spl, 5-shot with 2" barrel, concealed hammer, etc. I loaded up several different combinations using Federal +p nickel plated cases, Winchester small pistol primers, and Rainier 125 gr flatpoints. All the load combos used a starting weight of 4.7 grains of Unique. The only variance was the OAL. I loaded 10 rounds each at 1.500, 1.475, 1.450, and 1.440. All the loads were finished up with a Lee Carbide factory crimp die with a medium-heavy crimp.

What was interesting was that all the loads chronographed in the high 500 to low 600fps range, with a couple of oddball shots in the mid-300 fps.

However, what shocked me the most, was the large amount of unburned powder flakes in the chambers and in the barrel. I looked on my shooting notebook and there was powder everywhere!

Do I need a faster burning powder for the 2" barrel? A heavier crimp? Any help or advice would be appreciated.

This was my first attempt at reloading .38spl. Previously, I've been reloading 9mm for about a year and 40 S&W for about 6 months with absolutely no problems until now.
Glockzilla is offline  
Old May 5, 2001, 07:41 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: January 29, 2000
Posts: 709
too light?

Is Rainer plated lead, not jacketed?
Sounds like you could be too light with the powder. Looks like you should be at or over 5 gr for a 125gr bullet. 5.2-5.3 is the *starting* load for a jacketed bullet, don't have data for lead, if you do, check to be sure.
As always, be careful.

Nukem is offline  
Old May 5, 2001, 07:41 PM   #3
Member In Memoriam
Join Date: March 19, 2000
Location: Jeanerette, La. Near the
Posts: 1,999
I don't have any of my load manuals right at hand but that load seems on the light side to me. A lot light really. Unique is a dirty burning powder to begin wiht and a light load is even worse due to the incomplete combustion of the powder. I have always found that Unique is best on the warm side of all loads. My advice would be a tight crimp and start working up on the load staying within safe limits. If the 500 to 600 FPS velocity range is what you are looking for then a powder switch would be wise. A 125 grain bullet at 500 to 600 FPS range could be acheived nicely with Bullseye. That powder is not perfectly clean but is lots better than Unique.
Southla1 is offline  
Old May 6, 2001, 03:22 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: February 20, 1999
Location: home on the range; Vermont (Caspian country)
Posts: 14,270
AA2, Bullseye, W231, heavy crimp from a Redding Profile Crimp die.

Throw away the Unique and switch to Hodgdon Universal Clays, its modern clean-burning easy-metering ballistic equivalent (but start .2g less when copying Unique loads).
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
WESHOOT2 is offline  
Old May 6, 2001, 06:00 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: May 26, 2000
Location: Hastings, Nebrasksa - the Hear
Posts: 2,131
For 125 grain jacketed bullets and Unique

Speer #13 says 5.7 grains of Unique and "do not reduce".

All powders have to be at a certain level of pressure and heat to burn properly. It varies between one type of powder and another, obviously. Your load is under the minimal "proper burn level" for Unique.

And yes, Unique is somewhat dirty anyhow. Perfect burning rate for most autopistols... but dirty.
There ain't no free lunch, except Jesus.

Check out updated journal at
Archie is offline  
Old May 6, 2001, 06:24 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: November 19, 1998
Posts: 986
Unique is supposed to be improved with a cleaner-burning version available in about a month.

Even for a 2-inch barrel, your velocities are quite low for a 125-gr bullet. If you want to have a practice equivalent of a defense load, the Hornady 125-gr XTP, for example, is rated for a minimum impact velocity of 800 FPS.

One of the gun rags ignored that last year when doing a big article on .38 Special loads for the 2-inch pocket guns. Depending on the powder, you may or may not be able to beat 800 fps with a 125-gr bullet, in a 2-inch gun.
Cheapo is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:21 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11614 seconds with 9 queries