Author Topic: Reloading how critical is the bullet type (handgun)  (Read 3709 times)

Offline DDJ

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Reloading how critical is the bullet type (handgun)
« on: September 17, 2013, 10:43:27 AM »
I walked into a deal last week on some used RCBS carbide dies that added to my reloading tools a caliber I shoot little of.  Step 1 hit the books.  I started looking at my reloading manuals, most are new.  I have been loading 9mm and 45ACP lot of load for both in every offered bullet weight, and type.  I start looking at 38special and there are many more weights but few loads in each. 

Can I assume a 150Gr JHP and a 150FMJ are good with the same load?
I assume also the load data for case in the 38SPCL is all linotype for a reason?  I should  get tin to harden my recycled lead shot casting alloy I have been using for 9mm and 45.


Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Reloading how critical is the bullet type (handgun)
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2013, 12:06:06 PM »
The .38 Special is a low pressure load, so it takes a small amount of powder.  The primary bullet types and weights are:
- 110 gr HP (usually jacketed)
- 125 gr LSWC or JHP
- 148 gr DEWC (double ended wad cutter)
- 158 gr LSWC, JSP, JHP

Personally, I prefer to load 158 gr LSWC for my .38 Special.  I see no reason at all to try to push for greatest velocity in this cartridge.  If one needs more velocity then the 9mm Luger or .357 Magnum are better choices.  The .38 Special is a great cartridge for target practice and small game, or personal defense.

Because of the low pressure of the cartridge you do not need or want really hard cast bullets.  Many of the bullets in this caliber will be hard cast for the .357 magnum but may be too hard for the .38 special pressures.  Whatever you use for .45ACP should be perfect for the .38 special.

The JHP bullets are generally longer than the same weight of FMJ.  If you seat to the same COL, then it means the base of the JHP will be seated deeper and increase peak pressure.  The .38 has a much longer case than say the 9mm so this effect is less pronounced.  Either use load data specifically for the bullet type, reduce max powder charge by 5%, or seat the JHP out longer COL by the amount the JHP is longer than the FMJ bullet (either meassure or look up manufacturer's specifications).

Fast powders such as Bullseye, W231, AA2 are often used for this cartridge, but you can slower with Unique, Universal range of powders as well.

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: Reloading how critical is the bullet type (handgun)
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2013, 01:31:56 PM »
<<<SNIP>>>
The JHP bullets are generally longer than the same weight of FMJ.  If you seat to the same COL, then it means the base of the JHP will be seated deeper and increase peak pressure.  The .38 has a much longer case than say the 9mm so this effect is less pronounced.  Either use load data specifically for the bullet type, reduce max powder charge by 5%, or seat the JHP out longer COL by the amount the JHP is longer than the FMJ bullet (either meassure or look up manufacturer's specifications).

Fast powders such as Bullseye, W231, AA2 are often used for this cartridge, but you can slower with Unique, Universal range of powders as well.
Very good advice

Another difference between FMJ and JHP bullets is the amount of bullet actually in contact with the barrel.
This causes a difference in barrel friction.

With different seating depths and different amounts of barrel friction to consider, the advice to seek out the load data for each specific bullet is spot on.

About bullets:

What type of performance are you looking for?

For accuracy, I have found that the longer heavier bullets are more accurate.
(I cast a 160 Gr. SWC for my 38 Special that is wonderfully accurate all the way out to 100 yards.)

However, this would not be my choice for self defense.
An 8 inch circle in the center of mass of an attacker at 7 to 10 yards doesn't require the same accuracy as the 3 pound coffee can at 100 yards.
So, obviously my choice would be different.
But, then again, my defense choice is either a 357 Magnum with 125 Gr. JHP, or a 40 S&W JHP, not any 38 special.

My top Bunny Buster is the 148 Gr. Wad Cutter.
It is very accurate in both my 38 Special and my 357 Magnums.
Loaded to about 800 FPS it is a devastating small game load that doesn't destroy too much meat.
(Busted a cotton tail a lot of years ago with a 125 Gr, JHP out of my 357... Very impressive stop.... Was able to save the rear quarters... Learned my lesson.)

For casting, I've been scrounging materials for over 40 years.
I cast up the materials and then test them with a hardness tester.
This info and the composition if known is engraved on the ingot with a small ball bit in my Moto Tool.

I attempt to duplicate the Lyman #2 alloy when I can  (Usually through a VOODOO process of different ingot hardness components in different weight amounts.)
Since I don't compete anymore, I am fairly liberal with my final mix hardness.  A final tweaking with tin or pure lead usually gets me fairly close.

As long as my bullets are hard enough not to lead at the modest velocity I shoot them I'm happy.

Because I reload so many different cartridges (28) I tend to gravitate to powders that are good for a variety of different applications.
So, Bullseye and Unique are my go to Low-Medium pressure handgun powders.
I've been reloading since 1962 and have developed a fondness for several of the older powders.
That doesn't mean that the newer ones are not as good or even a better choice, I just am happy with what has worked well for me all these years.

Enjoy your 38 Special reloading, and if you come up with a "Pet Load" share it with us... I'm never too old to learn

Steve



Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Reloading how critical is the bullet type (handgun)
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2013, 04:22:50 PM »
I walked into a deal last week on some used RCBS carbide dies that added to my reloading tools a caliber I shoot little of.  Step 1 hit the books.  I started looking at my reloading manuals, most are new.  I have been loading 9mm and 45ACP lot of load for both in every offered bullet weight, and type.  I start looking at 38special and there are many more weights but few loads in each. 

Can I assume a 150Gr JHP and a 150FMJ are good with the same load?
I assume also the load data for case in the 38SPCL is all linotype for a reason?  I should  get tin to harden my recycled lead shot casting alloy I have been using for 9mm and 45.

A large variety of loads is not that big a deal with .38spl.  The 38spl is a pickup truck, not a hot rod.

Back in 1968 I discovered a load that shot to the fixed sights of most police issue revolvers using a 150gn swc and 4.5gn Unique, at 850fps and have found not a single reason to depart from that load.

I have one Lee turret set up specifically for that load combination and it is really handy to have a setup that dies not need to be adjusted, piddled with, or touched from one loading session to the next.

JHP and JSP slugs at 38 velocities are not guaranteed to expand and there is no sense stressing the gun to achieve over the top 1000 FPS plus P pressures for this purpose.

Your .38spl dies will work for .357mag loading too, which is the place you need to be for testing and experimentation with JHP and JSP high speed slugs.  That is how and why the .357 round was developed.