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Old June 26, 2020, 03:04 AM   #1
Gulfcowboy
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38 special trailboss loads

Hello I am about to give reloading at try for the first time. I've read that trailboss is the safest powder to start with. The closest I've come to reloading is firing black powder revolvers. I purchased a small classic lee reloading kit to start with. I need a good working load for trailboss powder in 38 special. I fire alot of 38 special so, I already have plenty of brass. I would like a round with respect able power. I know trailboss is usually used for cowboy action shooting. I don't need anything too hot just a good ole standard pressure 38 load. I will be most likely firing it from my S&W 686 4in, so I would appreciate any loads with trailboss you like, or what works for you, or any information you can give a beginner. Thanks for any info given.
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Old June 26, 2020, 05:49 AM   #2
jetinteriorguy
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I would recommend HP38/Win231, not Trailboss. It’s basically designed for the .38sp and works great. They are the same powder, just sold under two brand names. Plus it doesn’t stink like Trailboss.
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Old June 26, 2020, 10:02 AM   #3
Unclenick
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To clarify, W231 and HP38 are the same powder (canister grade OBP-231 from the GD St. Marks, Florida plant), not TrailBoss (ADI AS25BP from Australia).

The advantage of Trailboss is its high bulk will allow loads you cannot possibly double-charge without noticing. However, it is a Cowboy Action powder and the total energy content in it is 3,000 J/g like black powder. It cannot be compressed to any degree, or the pressure gets spikey. It is recommended only for lead bullets in handgun cartridges. In safe, uncompressed quantities, Trail Boss is capable of getting a 125 grain-lead bullet to 950 fps in a 7.7" closed breech barrel. Note that such a barrel has no barrel/cylinder gap bleeding off part of the pressure as a revolver barrel does, and which does cut into velocity some. But that 950 fps load is running at a pressure below the maximum pressure the 38 Special can tolerate, so it can't take the 38 Special to its performance potential. Bullets that are either heavier or lighter than 125 grains don't go as fast with it.

So, if you want a "decent" power level or you want to shoot jacketed bullets, Trail Boss is the wrong choice. 231/HP38 is pretty good with lead, but CFE Pistol is the winner in Hodgdon's data. If you are planning on using jacketed bullets, there is no Trail Boss data from the distributor and you'll want to look at other powders.
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Old June 26, 2020, 10:50 AM   #4
Gulfcowboy
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I'm using 38 Caliber Bullets 157 TC Outlaw Bullets. I have another question to fold in. The bullets are pre lubed. Can I still powder coat the bullets to help prevent leading?
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Old June 26, 2020, 11:07 AM   #5
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Sure, but you'll have to dissolve the lube off first. Soaking in mineral spirits works with some lubes, but it can take a good while.
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Old June 26, 2020, 12:41 PM   #6
reddog81
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Pretty much any Trailboss load is going to be a light load. Even a max charge with powder up to the base of the bullet it will feel like a light load. If you want a standard load Trailboss is not the powder to use.

The lube will melt and cause a mess if you try and powder coat lubed bullets without going through the process of getting rid of all the lube first. If you want powder coated bullets, buy powder coated bullets. Decent quality lubed bullets should work OK for .38 Special.
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Old June 26, 2020, 12:55 PM   #7
BondoBob
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You sound a lot like me a few weeks ago. Look at my previous posts. These members have been so helpful.

They will say you MUST start with a starting load and work up slowly. In my case that was 3.0 of Trailboss with a 125 JHP. I've now worked up (5 rounds at a time, upping 1 grain at a time) to 3.8 which is mid low for that round. 5.3 was the listed max for my particular load. At 3.8 these rounds are outright creamy coming out of the 686 and accuracy is very good as compared to my favorite factory loads.

My next powder will be 700-X or Universal. They offer quite a bit more velocity vs Trailboss, but retain a decent fill rate in the case to be able to eyeball a double charge.

Try the link below to work up hypothetical loads.

https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/pistol

I have the Lee Challenger kit. I'm finding it's a great way to start. Many here also recommended having several manuals for load data on hand and the book "The ABC's of Reloading". I concur. All very interesting and helpful.
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Old June 26, 2020, 02:49 PM   #8
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If you're going to be shooting this in a .357 gun, but are concerned about pressures, you don't have to be. Using a standard powder like Unique or Bullseye and even max charges will be more than safe in a .357.

I use Trail Boss in magnum cases for when I want a low power load, but the ability to feed them in a lever action or if I have a gun that's not exactly strong (top breaks, cap and ball conversions).
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Old June 26, 2020, 11:09 PM   #9
Gulfcowboy
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Thanks for all the good feedback.
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Old June 27, 2020, 02:24 AM   #10
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Unclenick beat me to it. The Hodgdon web site is the place to start for Trailboss loads.

http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/pistol
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