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Old April 13, 2019, 04:37 PM   #1
NorthIDIndependent
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38 Special +p+ Snubnose Defense Load.

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Some Background (if you’re interested):

For quite awhile I’ve carried a stainless steel 2-1/8” Smith n Wesson j-frame, with “oversized” houge grips, for defense, this gun has some weight on it relative some other j-frame models and I love that. My preferred target load of 158gn Horn.lswc/3.2gn BE is naturally a really soft shooter especially from this gun, while the full 357mag load is managble but still far from pleasant.
I’ve tried various bullets/ weights in the past but I intend to shoot mainly 158gn projectiles from now on mainly because the jframes fixed sights.

For defense I’ve been carrying my variation the “FBI load”, 158gn LRNHP/7gr HS-6/CCI SPM primer. I don’t know what the velocity is on that load but I think it’s a great load. I’ve also carried a 357mag 158gr xtp but didn’t love the recoil and flash so it was abandoned.

So now that we have some background out of the way, let’s get to the Meat.

The MEAT: My goal is to create a load that achieves 158gr XTP at 950fps average with my HS-6 powder from my 2-1/8” barrel. HS-6 likes pressure (and so do I) for that reason I don’t load it in anything below +p pressure intentionally. The closer to magnum pressures it gets the cleaner and steadier it seems to burn.

From my research this load will exceed 38spl +p pressure and that’s a a good thing IMHO. So let’s call it a 38 spl +p+, shall we?

So here’s what I’ve done and I’d love some feedback/ second opinions/ alternative estimates from anyone kind enough to offer some.

I started with what I know about my FBI load. It’s +p and the recoil ain’t bad at all. It’s lower pressure than the same load with a jacketed bullet but with this powder and a .357mag snubnose, pressure is my friend.
So I loaded and shot some 38spl+p

HS-6 pwdr CCI 550
158grXTP/ 7gn HS-6- polite recoil but I estimate 750-800fps it’s a starting point.
7.3 gr HS-6 feels a bit stouter but still an easy shooter, but we’re going hotter.
7.5 gr HS-6 recoil feels great, getting warm. I’m hoping this load gets me in the 850-900fps range I like the way it feels but I don’t estimate it’s getting me the 900-950fps I want. I estimate it’s in the 25k-27k psi range but that a very rough estimate of mine.

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear your velocity estimates or any information you have for me.

What kinda loads do you think I’d need to achieve my velocity goal with this powder?

If someone could run my load info through a program like QuickLoads I’d be really thankful. I’ll certainly keep loading up until the recoil and flash makes the load undesirable for defense.

Im going to get a chrono eventually, but I’m 19 and at the moment I have much more important things to spend money on than my hobbies.
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Old April 13, 2019, 05:28 PM   #2
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For defense I’ve been carrying my variation the “FBI load”, 158gn LRNHP/7gr HS-6/CCI SPM primer. I don’t know what the velocity is on that load but I think it’s a great load.
That's a well established load that myself and others use all the time. A chronograph is your friend. That load does 940fps out of my 2.5" Model 19. BTW, 7.2gr of HS-6 is listed as the Max load with a 158gr lead bullet.

Don
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Old April 13, 2019, 07:18 PM   #3
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Seems like some 357 mag starting data (in 357 mag cases) would be a better starting point.
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Old April 13, 2019, 07:32 PM   #4
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I wasn't pleased with HS-6's performance in 38 Special; but then, I didn't pump them up beyond published data, as you have. (Neither criticizing, nor condoning.) Having also used HS-6 in 357 Mag (much higher pressures), I suspect it would clean up and get more consistent had I gone over published 38 data. The meat: I started down that road (158/HS-6) and scrubbed the project.

I recently ressurected the "usable" 38 snubby defense round project. Because I wanted a low flash signature, I'm trying Ramshot Silhouette. However, I'm using a lighter bullet (135 GDHP SB); and I suspect I'm looking for less recoil than you. My gun is a Smith M60 - a touch lighter than yours too.

Either way, I would suggest using a flash-suppressed propellant.

Oh, and get a chronograph

Load safe,
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Old April 13, 2019, 08:02 PM   #5
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I loaded up some of the Speer 135 gr. SB with Accurate #5 in 38+P and liked the results.
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Old April 13, 2019, 10:17 PM   #6
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Use 357 brass and midfast to mid range powders that aren't so pressure sensative so you can use between 38 +P and starting 357 loads to reach the velocity range you want.

Those powders will work better for you in a short barrel and have less flash in low light. Me I would use W231 or AA#5.
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Old April 13, 2019, 10:38 PM   #7
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Get the chronograph before you break your gun or hurt yourself.
You need all the information you can get when adjusting loads.
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Old April 14, 2019, 12:28 AM   #8
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I greatly appreciate and closely consider every piece of information I can get. As much as I’d like first hand velocity data from a chronograph, I can’t get my hands on one right now. But, no reason to let that stop me. Any information you can offer will help a bunch.
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Old April 14, 2019, 12:51 AM   #9
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I recommend referencing a foot-pounds of energy calculator, like this
http://www.shooterscalculator.com/bu...tic-energy.php
Depending on your bullet weights and attainable velocities, you may find that a lighter bullet at a higher velocity delivers the most energy.
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Old April 14, 2019, 01:07 AM   #10
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Unless you can be absolutely sure that your loads won't end up in a 38 Spec. revolver use 357 brass.

Don't get stuck on a quirky powder just because you have it. You have a lot of better choices.

Especially don't go into unkown territory until you have enough experience to make educated guesses...and you clearly aren't there yet.
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Old April 14, 2019, 06:51 AM   #11
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The bullet on the right came out of my Model 19 snubbie at 940fps using 7.0gr of HS-6. IMHO, with that kind of performance, there is simply no need to go beyond published load data.

Don

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Old April 14, 2019, 09:24 AM   #12
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I can be sure these won’t find there way into a 38spl. I only own 357 and I don’t know anyone else that owns a revolver in anything but .44 mag. I’m perfectly comfortable loading over Pressure 38 spl.
I inherited eight pounds of hs-6 when my grandpa died and I actually really like this powder
And think it’s a great option for the task at hand. I’ve used it for years now, and while I’m completely open to trying new powders in the future, HS-6 is the powder I’m using. Advising I switch powders is reasonable and welcome, but it’s not super helpful because Im only try to get velocity estimates on the HS-6 load I’ve already worked up.
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Old April 14, 2019, 09:33 AM   #13
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My FBI load LRNHP performs well as a standard +p load and I’m happy with that staying as is. I’m really only trying to pump up the XTP to ensure expansion, XTPs tend to penetrate really well IME and I Like that. If I can run it at 900-950fps and it’s managble to shoot I’d rather carry it. Otherwise I’m just sticking with my FBI load.
I’m not chasing FPE only reliable expansion with a projectile that loves to penetrate.
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Old April 14, 2019, 09:53 AM   #14
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Could make a list of of the posters practices which could lead to dangerous results;
-no chrono graphed results
-going past published loads

And the real winner " I’ll certainly keep loading up until the recoil and flash makes the load undesirable for defense."

Sorry, you need to learn some safe reloading practices, even if you are using a 357 mag revolver with 38 special brass. Why not just use 357 mag brass and listed loads?
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Old April 14, 2019, 01:57 PM   #15
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NorthIDIndependent,

Please read this required sticky for those posting over-book loads. I will fix your original post in this instance.

Based on tweaking QuickLOAD to match your data and allowing that you have a barrel/cylinder gap, where Hodgdon's test barrel does not, I think a chronograph is probably going to say your 7.5-grain load is just south of 800 fps. You are going to need to run hotter to get near your velocity objective. Unfortunately, just after finding that number my computer decided to go south and I don't have QL on this one to continue to find an estimated charge number.

One problem I have seen with snubnose barrels is velocity inconsistency with slower powders. I think the issue is, no matter what happens ideally, sometimes the powder burn gets going late and, if the barrel is short enough, it doesn't catch up completely (late peak value). Until you can get some velocity measurements, it will be uncertain for you.

I see eBay has a foreign-made one with artificial lighting built-in that is new for $55. No idea how good it is and the display appears to be LED, which will require shade to read in daylight, but it comes with a spare light screen in case you shoot one.
My first chronograph was an Oehler and the only way I could afford it at the time was as part of a co-purchase with friends. That might be an avenue to look into if you have shooting buds.

So, a question arises. Why 38 Special +P+ instead of using .357 cases? We all know the 38 Special cases can handle the pressure, as that's how Elmer Keith et al developed the 357 originally. The longer case was adopted not for powder capacity (a bonus), but to prevent someone from loading the hot load into a light frame 38 Special revolvers by mistake. That same purpose might serve you well here for helping keep track of the load.
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Old April 14, 2019, 03:16 PM   #16
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Thank you for fixing my original post for me, Unclenick. I’ll make sure to keep my posts regulation in the future.

I’m sorry to hear about your computer going down, I hope it wasn’t poisoned by feeding it my load data (joking of coarse). I appreciate you running those number for me. Hopefully it comes back from the dead soon.

Assuming my load of 7.5gn is just under 800fps like QL predicts, I do want to to load up a bit more. At this point I’m going to move on to a magnum case, because I’m getting to the starting magnum preasures. I’m going to load 8gn 8.3gn and 8.6gn loads with the magnum primers in magnum cases. See what kinda recoil that gets me, my guess is it’ll be higher than I’d hoped. And if those “lite magnum” loads don’t get me a 900 FPS average I’ll probably scrap the project and save the XTPs for full magnum load. I estimate full Magnums get me about 1050fps out of the short barrel. I also estimate that it's time to stop estimating and splurge for a chrono.

I’ve always really wanted a chronograph but convinced myself it wasn’t necessary and more important to save the money. Now I’m thinking I’ll do what you did and just go 50/50 with a friend that I regularly reload 9mm for.

To directly answer your question regarding my use of a 38 case at above standard pressures. My hope was to hit the pressure peak earlier to get a more consistent burn, I wanted to avoid low pressure in a magnum case (especially with the HS6 powder) So I decided id bridge the gap by loading up from 38 spl +p pressures to the 357 starting load pressures; hoping to achieve my velocity goal somewhere in there. Although, above 7.5gn load, I'll be moving up to magnum casings.
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Last edited by NorthIDIndependent; April 14, 2019 at 03:39 PM. Reason: To Finish reply, posted before I finished writing.
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Old April 14, 2019, 04:13 PM   #17
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If I understand you correctly, you're hot loading .38 Spl. brass for use in a .357 Mag, snubbie. If I were going that route, I'd try and find data for the old 38/44 that was used in the big heavy "N"frame S&W 38/44 heavy duty and outdoorsman revolvers. Not all the data tried to reach .357 Mag. velocities. IIRC, Brian Pierce did an article on the 38/44 not too long ago for Handloader Magazine. Might be worth a look see. FWIW, the 38/44 was the forerunner to the .357 Mag.. Also, there was an earlier 38/44 target cartridge by S&W that was way before the heavy duty/outdoorsman loads.
Also, if you can find a copy of the old Speer #8 manual, there is a list of +p loads for snub nose revolvers.
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Old April 14, 2019, 05:45 PM   #18
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Get the chronograph before you break your gun or hurt yourself.
You need all the information you can get when adjusting loads.
Or someone standing nearby.
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Old April 14, 2019, 05:52 PM   #19
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Not wanting to drift this thread, but just want to point out that sometimes a shooter might want to use a 38 case instead of 357. I was preparing loads for a scoped Win 94 rifle in 357/38. I had a reason why I wanted to achieve a certain pressure and velocity that was higher than standard for 38's but that would still be well-tolerated by the 357 chamber of the rifle. But I wanted to use 38 cases because at that time I had about 12,500 once-fired 38 Special cases and less than 1,000 357 magnum cases. Point I am making is, sometimes there is a reason a shooter wants to do something, and this forum is where the shooter comes to ask about it. Advising to "not" do it, seemingly in a helpful way, is not actually helpful at all.
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Old April 14, 2019, 08:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Not wanting to drift this thread, but just want to point out that sometimes a shooter might want to use a 38 case instead of 357.
To get the velocitiy required out of a short barrel the OP will be well into magnum pressure territory. An off the cuff guess is that he will hit max pressure at least .5 gr. before book 357mag. maximum with 38 brass. To top it off the OP will be blowing large fireballs out which makes low light use questionable at best.
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Old April 14, 2019, 08:47 PM   #21
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One problem I have seen with snubnose barrels is velocity inconsistency with slower powders. I think the issue is, no matter what happens ideally, sometimes the powder burn gets going late and, if the barrel is short enough, it doesn't catch up completely (late peak value).
My go to 6" barrel load (RBH and GP100) of AA#9 and 158 gr. plated out of my 3" Sp101 can be seen going down range. Yes, you can see the bullet fly down range. My AA#7 load with the same bullet you can not see. Funny thing about using powders that are suited for the application you are using them in....they work better than ill suited powders.
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Old April 15, 2019, 08:20 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by valleyforge.1777
Advising to "not" do it, seemingly in a helpful way, is not actually helpful at all.
That's why I asked him his reason. He gave one based on case capacity and thinking the smaller case capacity will let pressure peak sooner. That, in turn, may or may not be true, depending on the bullet used and his particular chamber dimensions and the way the powder and primer work together. The 38 Special is shorter than the 357 Magnum, but its SAAMI COL is 0.395" over its maximum cartridge case length (CCL), while the 357 Mag COL is only 0.300" over its maximum CCL. So if the same bullet is loaded to max COL in both rounds (the reason some .357 jacketed and some cast bullets for both of these cartridges have two cannelures or crimp grooves 0.095" apart), the real case capacity difference is just 0.040", or about 1 grain of water capacity. However, a couple of other factors are involved.

One of the additional factors is the shorter .38 Special cases in the long 357 chambers gives bullets effectively longer freebore travel to the forcing cone. That tends to lower pressure. The other is the tendency of a primer to start unseating a bullet before the powder gets burning, which is greater in a short powder space and can result in the actual powder space behavior being larger in the .38 Special. Primer choice can affect it.

An example of that latter situation can be seen in Hodgdon's data for the 148-grain wadcutter in the .38 Special and .357 Magnum for HP38/231. The maximum charge in the .38 Special is actually larger. For Tightgroup they are the same. For all other powders, the .357 Mag charge is bigger, but the ratios of the two varies a lot from powder to powder. I actually emailed Hodgdon about this when I first noticed it. They assured me they had signed data on file from the ballistic technician confirming this was, indeed, exactly what he measured for pressure. So there are different ignition delays and other factors involved, like the 357 data being done with Winchester magnum SP primers while the 38 Primers were with Winchester standard SP primers. So maybe HP38/231 is just sensitive to the primer ignition difference or it just starts burning slowly enough that the powder space/bullet unseating effect is occurring. I don't know which it is, but the bottom line is it doesn't affect all powders the same way so you need to test to find out what will really happen and you can't just count on things to work the way you expect. Handloading is full of this sort of thing.
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Old April 15, 2019, 08:40 AM   #23
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You’re essentially looking to make some 38/44 loads (like you said they would now be called 38+p+).
HS-6 is one of the best powders to do this as it does not pressure spike. Be sure to use a magnum primer with HS-6 as you’ll get more consistent burns. Here’s a ic from the Speer #8 manual to help you out:

{Edit: Please read the board policy on posting copyrighted materials.}

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Old April 15, 2019, 09:44 AM   #24
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I have a 38 Special and I have a 357 Magnum; I started out in the early days with a 357 Magnum, and because it was the early days I purchased military surplus 38 Special reloads meaning I did not reload them, they did.

And then one day I was reading a magazine that catered to shooters/reloaders/gun enthuses etc. and there it was, a full page add warning me not to shoot my government 38 Special reloads in a 38 Special. It is not possible to un-shoot all that ammo but I was shooting it in a 357 Magnum, I will tell you there was a difference between the Government reloads and 357 Magnums with sound and recoil.

Even then I collected early American Junq so I saved one of the boxes with a few rounds. And then came the +P, manufactures were making claims their pistol would handle +P loads. And now? I can only guess manufacturers are going to start over with double++Ps. Again, I started with a 357 Magnum and then made a deal on 38 Specials from a place on Stanton Island. One of the pistols had a serial number that was in the 1500s, the other one started with a serial number that started with a 'C'.

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Old April 16, 2019, 12:27 AM   #25
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I’d love some feedback/ second opinions/ alternative estimates from anyone kind enough to offer some.
Can of worms, 1 each, now open...

I think you're going about things the wrong way, sort of.

OK, let me see if I got this right...
You want to find a load that gives you 950-ish fps, from your snub nose, so you get good expansion with 158gr XTP bullets. And you want to do it with HS-6 powder.

But you don't have any way to measure velocity, other than comparing the FEEL of recoil.

I get it, that you aren't all that concerned about staying inside SAAMI pressure limits. That's fine with me. If the cases don't stick in the chambers, and the gun doesn't fail (crack/blow up, etc) then its all good, right???

Seems to me that you want to go 65mph, but you don't have a speedometer, and can only judge your speed by the feel of the wind coming through your open car window. Your skill at this can get you somewhere close, but without a speedometer (or a pace car with one) you really can't know if what you THINK you are getting is what you are actually getting.

Which is not an insurmountable problem. What you are looking for is a certain performance from a given bullet, right? If you have the bullets to shoot and examine, you don't need to know the exact speed, its just nice to know. You can make a load, shoot it, check bullet expansion, then adjust the load, and repeat, until you get the desired expansion, or cases stick in the chambers or something else fails.

A chronograph will tell you if you get the velocity you are seeking, they aren't nearly as expensive as they once were. Only TESTING will tell you if the velocity you want produces the bullet expansion you want.

There are some combinations that simply cannot be achieved. Be prepared for that, just in case.
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