38 SPL with 170 gr Cast Bullets & 2400 Pressure Test

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Larry Gibson posted this 24 June 2020

38 SPL with 170 gr Cast Bullets & 2400

Often on the forum someone asks about loading 160 – 180 gr cast bullets over 2400 powder in the 38 SPL for use in S&W 38/40 N frames along with 357 chambered handgun/rifles.  The questions usually center around start and max loads.  I have a bit of pressure test data on the Lyman 358156 seated out to the 2nd crimp groove loaded over 2400 in 38 SPL cases for use in 3844 or 357 handguns as that is what that bullet was designed for.  The 358156 has become my favorite bullet of choice in the 357 Magnum for use with top end magnum loads.  Also, if I was loading +P+ 38 SPLs for use in 357 magnums that is the bullet I would use.  Some seem to want to use the heavier bullets though so I’ve pressure tested two different bullets [36-168K & 36-175H supplied by Ed Harris (Outpost75)].

 

Unfortunately, I no longer had a 170 gr Lyman “Keith” 358429 mould when I started pressure testing.  I never developed an affinity for that bullet in the 357 or 38 SPL so long ago when I traded off an OM Ruger BH I let the mould go with it.  I regret letting the Ruger go but not the 358421 mould.  With the receipt of the 36-168K (169 gr) & 36-175H (184 gr)  bullets I loaded them in 10 shot test strings of 8 – 12 gr in 1 gr increments.  I used W-W 38 SPL cases and WSP primers.  Alliant 2400 was used.  All charges were thrown using a Lyman 55 powder thrower.  The bullets were crimped in the crimp groove with moderate crimp.

 

Testing was done last Monday, May 22, at the local range here.  Temperature was 90 degrees with 7% humidity.  Testing was done in the shade so the ambient temperature is also the temperature of the ammunition. 

 

The test firearm was a Contender with a 7.94” barrel.  The pressure data and velocity was obtained via a strain gauge attached over the chamber connected to the Oehler M43 PBL.  The M43 corrects the screen velocity to muzzle velocity and I posted muzzle velocity.  Chronographing the similar loads in a 6” barreled Ruger Security Six results in 150 – 200 fps less velocity out of the revolver.

 

Test results are the averages of the 10 shots with each test string;

 

 36-168K (169 gr)

 

Load……Vel……..PSI

8.0……..923……20,100

9.0…….1065…..22,800

10.0…..1151…..24,600

11.0…..1291…..27,000

12.0…..1392…..28,900

 

36-175H (184 gr)

Load……Vel……..PSI

8.0……..948……22,500

9.0…….1094…..24,400

10.0.....1185…..25,500

11.0…..1298…...28,100

12.0…..1396……29,700

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Rich/WIS posted this 24 June 2020

Probably not an issue in the Contender but those pressures seem a bit on the high side for a revolver.

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Qc Pistolero posted this 25 June 2020

My 358156 lubed and checked gives 166gr.I can use your data from your 169gr in my model 28.Useful to me since that's an area I've always wanted to venture into but not having pressure measuring instruments I never wanted to risk the experiment.

Thanks for posting,that is useful to me and I bet to a lot of others.

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billwnr posted this 25 June 2020

The correct number for the other Lyman mould you reference is 358429.  I'm curious why you were glad to get rid of it as I'm working on an accurate load in .357 and I'm building my test ammo around the 358429 bullet.  You have issues with the bullet or issues with the mould?

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 25 June 2020

thanks Dave; good stuff.  

the magic went out of my revolver shooting when i stupidly traded off my 8 inch dan wesson ... but my boringly perfect ruger Security Six 4 inch might be interested in some heavy bullet loads .. be fun to see what it does to the zero ...

ken

 

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Larry Gibson posted this 25 June 2020

Probably not an issue in the Contender but those pressures seem a bit on the high side for a revolver.     

 

Rich/WIS

The first sentence in the post reads; "Often on the forum someone asks about loading 160 – 180 gr cast bullets over 2400 powder in the 38 SPL for use in S&W 38/40 N frames along with 357 chambered handgun/rifles."    

Thus the above listed pressures are on the mild side for 38/44 revolvers and 357 Magnum revolvers.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Larry Gibson posted this 25 June 2020

billwnr

"The correct number for the other Lyman mould you reference is 358429.  I'm curious why you were glad to get rid of it as I'm working on an accurate load in .357 and I'm building my test ammo around the 358429 bullet.  You have issues with the bullet or issues with the mould?"

Thanks for the "catch on the "1" instead of a "9" in the mould number.  I had no issues with the Lyman mould as it cast excellent bullets.  The issue I had was one of velocity attainable in 4 and 6" barreled revolvers.  I've had Oehler chronographs since '74.  The original Remington 357 magnum loads back then were with 150 gr bullets giving 1500 +/- fps from 6" barreled revolvers.  I found with the 358429 I could not get within 150 - 200 fps of that with published maximum loads (Lyman's primarily). Most often 1300 fps was just obtainable 2400.  With the 358156 I could get 1450 - 1500 fps with a softer alloy and excellent accuracy usually better than with the 358429.

My standard magnum load using 2400 for the 357 is 14.0 gr 2400 under the 358156. Out of the 6" barreled Ruger it runs 1350 fps right at 34- 35,000 psi.  With H110 (actually my preferred Magnum load) runs right at 35,000 psi at 1490 fps out of the 6" barreled Ruger Security Six. 

Many like the 358429 or similar bullets loaded to the crimp groove in 38 SPL cases because of fit in certain Magnum cylinders and feeds in some lever guns.  Many also like the longer "Keith" design for longer range shooting among other reasons.  I am not averse to any one using this bullet.  The above test was because many have asked me if i have Pressure tested the 358429 or similar bullet in 38 SPL cases with 2400 powder.  The above test results are in answer to those queries.

LMG 

Concealment is not cover.........

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Larry Gibson posted this 25 June 2020

Qc Pistolero

"My 358156 lubed and checked gives 166gr.I can use your data from your 169gr in my model 28.Useful to me since that's an area I've always wanted to venture into but not having pressure measuring instruments I never wanted to risk the experiment.

Thanks for posting,that is useful to me and I bet to a lot of others."

 

My 356156 in the same case/primer with 12.0 gr A 2400 runs 28-29,000 psi with the bullets seated out to the 2nd crimp groove.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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billwnr posted this 25 June 2020

Got it Larry,  I understand your choice.

 

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Rich/WIS posted this 25 June 2020

Larry,  I am familiar with the 38/44 S&W revolvers but asked because I did not think that they were intended for pressures that high.  Have seen data on the standard 38 Spcl and 357 but have never seen data on the pressure levels the 38/44 was designed for (steel/heat treat).

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Larry Gibson posted this 25 June 2020

Rem-UMC produced a 38/44 cartridge for use in the S&W 38/44 Outdoorsman revolver, the precursor to the 357 magnum revolver.  The velocity was listed with 150 and 158 gr j and lead bullets in the 1120 - almost 1200 fps (just going from memory there.  Colt is said to have said the 38/44 loads were fine to use in the Colt New Service revolver. 

Over the years I've seen the 358156 seated to second crimp groove over 12.0 gr 2400 as "the" load for use in the S&W 38/44 revolvers.  That load was also oft recommended for use in M19s and other 357 magnum revolvers "back in the day" when 38 SPL cases were plentiful and easy to obtain and 357 magnum cases were hard to find and expensive. 

The 358136/12 gr 2400 was and still is an excellent load in 357 Revolvers. Years back i shot a lot of that load in my Colt Trooper, S&W M28 and Ruger BHs.  Back then, as a low paid LEO, I had lots of 38 SPL cases but little 357 Magnum cases. These days I have a sufficient quantity of 357 magnum brass to use.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Ed Harris posted this 25 June 2020

When the 38-44 loads were introduced in the 1930s, there was no industry standard pressure for the higher velocity loads.  The +P designation was not standardized until 1974.  The S&W Heavy Duty, Colt New Service and Official Police revolvers of that era were deemed OK for use with the higher velocity loads.  

I expect that the catalog velocities for those loads were based upon the 6-inch solid industrial test barrel in use at the time.  Chronographed velocities of vintage service ammo from my 4-inch S&W .38-44 Heavy Duty and 5-inch Colt New Service shown the the accompanying table below are substantially less than the catalog figures:

Factory .38 Special +P and .357 Mag. Velocities and .38 Special (.38-44)  Handloads

.357 Factory Loads Reference:______S&W Model  28  4” ”____Colt New Service .357 Mag. 5”

.357 Mag. Super-X 158-gr.Lubaloy_____1236, 8 Sd ______________1307 fps, 36 Sd___1950s

.357 Mag. Rem-UMC 158-gr. SWC_____1221 fps, 23 Sd__________1287 fps, 27 Sd___1950s

.38 Special Factory Loads Reference: S&W .38-44 HD 4”____Colt New Service .357 Mag. 5”

Super-X 158-grain Metal Penetrating__939 fps, 9 Sd____________1009 fps, 13 Sd_____1950s

Old Super-X 158-grain LRN .38-44_____994 fps, 23 Sd___________1024 fps, 11 Sd__Large Primer 1930s

Winchester X38SPD 158-gr. LHP+P____909 fps, 16 Sd____________936 fps, 16 Sd____1990s

“.38-44” Handloads in .38 Special brass, W-W cases, WSP primer:

_________________________________S&W .38-44 HD 4”_______Colt New Service .357 Mag. 5”

Saeco #348 146DEWC 8.9 grs.#2400___922 fps,12 Sd___________1005fps, 34 Sd

Acc. 36-175H 4.0 grs. Bullseye+P______871 fps, 5 Sd_____________902 fps, 14 Sd

Acc. 36-175H 5.5 grs. AutoComp+P____902 fps, 14 Sd____________947 fps, 11 Sd

Acc. 36-175H 11.5 IMR4227+P________914 fps, 22 Sd____________981 fps, 18 Sd

Acc. 36-190T 8.4 #2400+P___________888 fps, 21 Sd_____________926 fps, 37 Sd

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Eutectic posted this 26 June 2020

Thanks Larry,

The information is very useful.

Back in the 60's I had a chronograph, a Herter's Mark 7. A big metal suitcase with lights which gave the read out and wire screens. I think it was the only chronograph in the county. Lots of attention when I had it at the range. Everyone wanted to test their load or gun.

The Outdoorsman and the S&W Model 20 same as the Outdoorsman but with iron sights were very popular. They were 90$ new and had been produced for years so used guns were common. This was when a 357 set you back 130$. The price delta was huge, those 60's dollars bought a lot. The performance difference was surprisingly small with hot handloads in a 38/44.

Some 38/44 158 grain loads I choreographed at 1300+ in 6 inch revolvers. This was better than the actual velocity of factory loads in a 357 6 inch. Original 357 factory 158 grain loads listed the velocity in the long 8 3/8 inch barrel at 1500 fs. I never saw that with any 357 factory ammo, even one which had the long barrel.
The 357 shooters had a hard time believing they were only getting ~1300 fs.

I settled on12.5 grains of 2400 under 358156 in the 357. It not a maximum load but was the most accurate in my Ruger 357. Thousands of these were shot in a failed attempt to wear out the Ruger.

Steve.

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Ross Smith posted this 26 June 2020

This is interesting stuff. I don't shoot handguns much and know nothing about handgun pressure. Do the cartridges show pressure signs like rifle brass does? Mainly the flat primers etc.?

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Eutectic posted this 26 June 2020

Yes Ross they do, and just like rifles primer appearance and case extraction ease are not reliable indicators of pressure.
Larry Gibson has a strain gage on his Contender. While this is not perfect, it is the best we can do because putting a strain gage on a revolver cylinder is difficult.

Those of us in the back country have to use case web expansion. In order to do this you need comparison to a known pressure load in identical cases. In most rifles, factory loads provide a good pressure standard. In many revolver cartridges this is not true. Here we are looking for magnum pressure loads in a non-standard 38 Special case. Nothing wrong with this in a strong gun, but loading manuals are no help.   Larry's data is valuable, he provides a benchmark where  factory loads and loading manuals do not.

Steve

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Ross Smith posted this 27 June 2020

Thanks Eutectic

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max503 posted this 27 June 2020

Does tumble lube like LLA work with loads like this, out of a rifle?  I have a Rossi 357 on order and I have a Lee 170 grain swc mold.  I've actually go some 38's loaded up with 4.2 Unique for when I get the gun.  

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Ed Harris posted this 30 June 2020

I use LLA in my .357, .44-40 and .44 Mag loads in rifles up to about 1300 fps rifle velocity.  If loading to higher rifle velocities which require a GC, then you will want to fill the lube grooves rather than just applying a light coating.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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RicinYakima posted this 01 July 2020

For rifle use, if you don't dilute the LLA very much, coat then size in a die, recoat and resize. That will move most into the grooves. HTH, Ric

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Larry Gibson posted this 01 July 2020

I still use 450s to size and lube most of my handgun and rifle bullets.  I do use LLA for some of each though.  For higher velocity loads (1400 - 2000 fps) I pretty much use Ric's method with straight LLA.  It works fine.

Problem most have with straight LLA is is too much is used in a single application and many try to use the bullets before the LLA is completely dry.  Too much leaves a "tacky" coat which can be messy to say the least.  A thin coat applied as per Lee's directions and let dry thoroughly does not leave a "tacky" coat.  Lee's direction say to apply a light coat, let dry, size, apply a 2nd coat, let dry then load.  Seating the bullet into the sized case neck moves most of the 2econd coat into the grooves.  However, it can leave a ring of lube around the bullet in front of the case mouth.  That can be messy to handle or leave deposits of LLA in the seater die.  With Ric's method of running the bullet through the sizer the 2nd time moves the lube into the grooves and there's no lube around the case mouth when seating those bullets.

LMG

 

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harleyrock posted this 01 July 2020

I have used LLA straight and diluted,  I have used 45/45/10 a dilution/addition lube which has LLA plus Johnson's paste wax painstakingly melted and evaporated and diluted with mineral spirits....too dam* much trouble.

There is a guy over on Boolits named Ben who created a liquid lube with LLA and a liquid floor wax that is sooo simple and easy to make and when used as directed is ready to use much quicker than any of the tumble lubes listed above.  Heat the bullets and the BLL (Ben's Liquid Lube)  apply a thin coat spread on a drying screen or wax paper etc. and they are ready to load in few minutes.  The floor wax has carnauba wax which gives a hard dry finish.

Works for any application LLA works for but is not sticky.

Rocky

Lifetime NRA since 1956, NRA Benefactor, USN Member, CBA Member

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