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.38 Special information


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Interesting article. Reminds me of the old .38-200 British service load. That was simply a .38 S&W with a heavier 200 gr bullet.  While seriously under powered by today's standards, the Brits used it quite successfully in their Webley and Enfield break top revolvers for many years. 

Edited by Grayfox54
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  • 5 months later...

How about the old 33/44 loads at 1200 fps? Also, how does the old FBI load fit in? There's another view of the best 38 Special loads not the worst.

Unalloyed lead: I can cast hollow points of the Kieth SWC  358429 and  or the Thompson bu;let with two crimping grooves 358156. Those are not may pop loads. These loads are good if one has a mixture of 38 and 357 revolvers around the homeplace. Loading 357 Mags rounds with the 358156 will keep one from having a bad day with N frame Smith's like my Model 28 in a household emergency. Don't dis the 38 Special  loaded correctly.

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I shoot a custom K-38 in our local codger match. Right now I'm shooting a load with cast 150 gr. SWC using ShootersWorld  Ultimate powder. I can find the SW powder since Accurate #5 is not to be had these days, It's a general purpose load here for both 38 and 357 handguns. In a hurry I want a handy round that will go in any of my revolvers.  At 800-900 fps it's not a toy. I shoot 38 Specials in my 357's. That carbon ring stuff may be wisdom from the net. I have never experienced such. None of my 38's or 357's are carry guns due to size or barrel length. As  holster guns these revolvers cannot be beat.

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On 8/2/2021 at 2:01 PM, Mowgli Terry said:

How about the old 33/44 loads at 1200 fps? Also, how does the old FBI load fit in? There's another view of the best 38 Special loads not the worst.

Unalloyed lead: I can cast hollow points of the Kieth SWC  358429 and  or the Thompson bu;let with two crimping grooves 358156. Those are not may pop loads. These loads are good if one has a mixture of 38 and 357 revolvers around the homeplace. Loading 357 Mags rounds with the 358156 will keep one from having a bad day with N frame Smith's like my Model 28 in a household emergency. Don't dis the 38 Special  loaded correctly.

What Mista Mowgli said..!  

I use the ole time173 grain LSWCs in 38 special cases ta duplicate the 38 Special Hi Speed loads for my Ruger Vaquero Sheriff.  12 grains of 2400.  1200 fps.  Deadly accurate.  

RE " FBI Load ".  Pretty standard 158 hard cast SWC.  About 950 fps. It ain't in the runnin with the old 38 special Hi Speed load.

leroy...

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.38 Special is looked down on all the time. Especially by 9mm shooters, and I'll admit there's good ammo for 9 available, and a lot of it does good. But, the .38 isn't dead by a long shot. I used to load and shoot a lot of it. 

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21 hours ago, leroy said:

What

RE " FBI Load ".  Pretty standard 158 hard cast SWC.  About 950 fps. It ain't in the runnin with the old 38 special Hi Speed load.

leroy...

The FBI load that I had in mind was factory loaded with a 158gr. lead hollow point bullet. The numbers frequently cited or 800fps average in a 2" handgun. These rounds came from both Remington and Winchester. This level of performance was eclipsed by high capacity 9mm Luger handguns.  I don't think any standard or +P 38 Special loads equal the old 38/44 loads. Those guns were made on the N frame for good reason.  I got an Outdoorsman 38/44 back in the Skunk Works. That is a great handgun.

FBI Load: The other school of thought is that this load is just another HV 38 Special load in pre +P days.  I'd say that a 158 gr. bullet and 800 fps is no toy. My loads  for 38 Special use the 150gr. 358477 with heavy charge of ShooterWorld powder The powder,Ultimate Pistol, is slightly faster than Accurate #5. I shoot these in loads in 19 and 586 Smith's. Benefits of this level of loads is accuracy and easy control of the handgun.

Next, I have two hollow molds for the Lyman 358156 bullet. That's the HP version of the 155 grain lead SWC. I plan to run these loads to 1000fps in 6" guns.  This project is in the works.

Edited by Mowgli Terry
Too early in the AM to be typing a post
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I understand... I remember the soft cast hp round now.  I never paid much attention to em.  They seem ta be close to the old time standard 38 special loads.   

That said, the standard 38 specials were far from being a slouch; they were simply thrown away by the new wave thinkin that semi-autos were inherently better than revolvers because they held more rounds between reloads.  Remember the words of the late shooting master, Col. Jeff Cooper: " They are all pretty much the same to the first reload "... 

We did reload the old 148 wadcutter load for " J " frame use from  time to time...   

We most always shot the 38 hi speed loads in our model 13, 27, or my new favorite, the 357 sheriff...

leroy...

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Somebody mention the .38/44? I got a couple of those laying around. A 6.5" Outdoorsman and both 4 and 5" Heavy Duties. I use the same as Leroy's load of 158gr lead bullets over 12grs of 2400 for 1200 fps. Standard .38 Specials out of these big N-frame revolvers are pure cream puffs.  Target 148gr Wadcutters are almost like shooting a .22. 😃

The original .38/44 High Velocity load actually ran closer to 1500 fps. But they were notorious for leading the barrels and were eventually cut back a bit. to 1200. 😉  Although more or less replaced by the .357 Magnum in 1935, S&W continued to make and sell .38/44s well into the 1950s.  Wonderful revolvers! 😃

f23yD8i.jpg 

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Gray… I absolutely love these old heavy duties… I made a grave error in not rounding some up when they were plentiful.  I’m 75 years young, Brother; and I still remember handling my dear Uncle Clarence’s heavy duty.  I was all of about 10 years old… I never forgot gettin ta see and handle it.
 It wuz responsible for my love of large frame smiths that continues to this very day… Thanks for posting these great photos…

admirin leroy…

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