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Old November 1, 2007, 10:33 PM   #1
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Loading white hot .38's

I don't want to get into why I would not just use .357 brass, here is the question;
Is there any reason (other than slight length difference) you couldn't load a .38 case to .357 magnum levels in a strong, properly supported chamber such as a Ruger GP100?
Is the .357 case stronger around the primer pocket area? Anybody have crossection pics? Tks, ahead. Nickels
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Old November 1, 2007, 10:51 PM   #2
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.357 mag cases are built stronger to handle x2 the pressure, the greatest danger in doing this is that these rounds may fall into unsuspecting .38 spl chambers
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Old November 1, 2007, 11:29 PM   #3
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Also if you shoot enough of the hot 38's you could turn you 357 into a 38. I can't say it will happen to a Ruger but I do have a friend, not a friend of a friend, who did this and after awhile and even after a good cleaning could not get a 357 to extract without extreme difficulty.
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Old November 2, 2007, 01:03 AM   #4
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You will have to do a good job of cleaning to get rid of the fouling should you wish to fire 357 out of it. Other than that, the only real reason is that you will have case head separations happen after a few loadings. Some cases last awhile, some will separate ofter a loading or two. Keep a small flathead screwdriver handy to poke those cases out from the front of the cylinder.

Also, mark the case heads with a red sharpie to designate them as high pressure loads.
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Old November 2, 2007, 01:21 AM   #5
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Sure, you can load a .38 to .357 Magnum levels, but the question is why.

The first prototypes were hot-rodded .38 Special cartridges fired in the .38/44 Heavy Duty (ancestor the model 27/28). Since the advent of the .357 Ctg the loads have been well researched and designed for the longer case.

The first obvious problem is inadvertently slipping one of these hot loads into a .38 Special chamber. The .38 Special chambered guns are not heat treated to withstand the extra 13,000 to 15,000 psi of a Magnum load. The result may look (and act!) like a grenade.

Secondly, you risk cartridge-case failure when firing. It's possible to have excessive pressures in such a handload that cause case heads to rupture or a primer to crater or flow, releasing hot gasses from the primer pocket and tying up the action. The case may split in the chamber as well.

Third, the longer jump from the .38 case to the forcing cone may cause throat erosion and/or cracking, flame cutting of the top strap, erosion of the cylinder face or barrel mouth. The longer jump from the shorter .38 case may also reduce accuracy.

Lastly, I don't think you'd gain anything. You'd still need to fire such a load in a .357 chambered gun. Accuracy may be less than using a .357 case and you'll be fouling the chamber mouths excessively most likely.

Remember the old axiom:
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Old November 2, 2007, 09:33 AM   #6
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So the case itself is different.

The firearm I'm referring to is a .357 customized to chamber .38's only and the barrel set back (I know it's weird but it's not mine), and yes, it is plenty strong for .357.

Tks for the reply's.
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Old November 2, 2007, 10:49 AM   #7
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The October 2006 Handloader magazine had an article on the .38-44 Heavy Duty and a tabulation of loads at or above the old H.D. A 158 at 1200 OK?

As to brass, Skeeter Skelton said he started with once fired .38 special and only loaded it so heavily one or a very few times.
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Old November 7, 2007, 09:07 PM   #8
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Pressure will be HIGHER in 38SPL cases than 357 cases if the OAL is not the same. Risky business! You may not blow up YOUR gun. Your loads may inadvertently blow up somebodies gun if they find a home in a weak chamber..........
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Old November 7, 2007, 09:14 PM   #9
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I think this is appropriate for this thread. Just a friendly caution, so no one ends up with a very big ouchie .
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Old November 8, 2007, 04:43 AM   #10
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20 Nickels,

The .357 case was made longer so it couldn't be chambered in a .38 special revolver. Same deal as the .44 Magnum, which Elmer Keith developed by loading up .44 specials in a large frame revolver. In the commercial version, they just didn't want accidental cross-chambering.

There is no reason a .38 Special +P+ case would not hold up to .357 pressures. Because it is shorter, it will reach those pressures with less powder if you are not able to seat the bullet out to SAMMI .357 maximum COL, which is 0.04" longer than .38 Special maximum COL. In the case of H110/W296, that 0.04" deeper seating of the bullet will raise pressure about 10%. With a 158 grain bullet, knocking a .357 load of this powder down about 1/2 a grain will compensate for the pressure increase.

Are you sure the adapted cylinder has proper heat treatment? I assume the cylinder is custom made in order to be reamed for .38 Special throat length? That's no guarantee it got same heat treatment as a factory .357 cylinder gets, but it may have. None of them is heat treated very hard, as they can all be reamed later during accurizing, but it isn't zero heat treating in most cases, either.

Tim R,

Your friend's cylinder still has lead caked in it. Have him remove the cylinder and soak the whole thing in Kroil for a week, then go after it with an undersize brush that has had several strands of Chore Boy 100% copper cleaning pad wrapped around it. That or a Lewis Lead Remover. The lead should come right out. If that somehow fails, he should get the use of an Outer's FoulOut, and use the lead solution to get the rest. He'd have to plug the business end of each throat and go at them one-at-a-time. Not a lot of excitement in that possiblity.
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Old November 11, 2007, 07:13 AM   #11
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I don't think that a .357 mag case is any stronger than a .38 special case. The .357 case is made slightly longer to prevent accidental loading of a .357 mag round into a .38 special revolver.

If you decide to do it, you must be aware that if someone who doesn't know that the .38 special case is actually a .357 mag round, could really have a bad day.

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