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Reloading .38 special question.

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Edmon, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    I loaded up some .38 special with 147gr .357 cast and 3.8 grains unique for plinking. The 3.8 gr. Did not fill the case much and when I shot it there was some unburned powder and was very dirty. I have heard people putting some tp in as filler but have never tried it. Since it is only used as a plinking round would adding tp (not packing it down like a musket) help with the unburned powder or be any benefit? Is unique a dirty powder?
    Thanks, Edmon
     
  2. filsonhand

    filsonhand In the Silicon Forest Smooth as a Rhino 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I've found unique to be a little dirty on the lighter loads also. You might wanna check out trail boss powder, it works great for cast boolit loads.
    :s0159:
     
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  3. Darkker

    Darkker Mesa, Wa Active Member

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    You asked a couple questions.
    As to the "dirty" bit, this is often misunderstood. What type of fouling do you want? For example the rifle powders with copper cleaners(Win 748, 760, CFE) have a very heavy soot-like fouling. Whereas the coated Extreme powders do not. However the "clean" extremes accumulate hard carbon fouling rather quickly. So do you want loose easy, or hard clear stuff?

    Unless you specifically find some info about packing, take care in fooling with that, as that effectively changes the case capacity, as far as the powder is concerned. This can radically change the burning rate of the powder.

    I'd try changing the charge, or try a hotter primer if your loads are light.
     
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  4. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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    Any powder can be "dirty" if used at pressures other than the maker designs them to operate most efficiently. Your load is not developing a lot of pressure (well under 10,000 psi according to Quickload) and that will certainly be a contributing factor. This is a problem with lead bullets: if you push them too fast (more powder higher pressures and velocity) you get leading in the lands of the barrel. Still, soot is easy to clean.

    Unique has a reputation for producing a lot of carbon fouling, mainly I think among us geezers who used it way back when the rep was deserved. I bought some last year when I was close to running out of my favorite powder for my .38s and etc. It did not seem to me that it was especially "dirty" in my loads. I still don't much care for it as it produces a lot more flash than I like since I shoot my handguns almost exclusively at an indoor range.

    A good bore claener, some snug patches, a bronze bore brush and elbow grease will clean up the bore just fine. I find that the cylinder face, inside of the frame and forcing cone area clean up well with the use of a Kleen Bore lead away cloth. IMHO everyone who wants to shoot any type of firearm should be resigned to doing a good cleaning on them after every use. Those who cannot see the wisdom of this should be sent to Paris Island until the get their mind right. :)
     
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  5. TOVO

    TOVO SW WA. Active Member

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    You may want to switch to magnum primers. We use 3 grains of powder in our Cowboy loads and the extra magnum primers insure all the powder gets burned.
     
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  6. coyotecaller

    coyotecaller Active Member

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    The 38 special casing has lots of real-estate room inside, so most powder charges don't take up too much space in the case, being that its a low pressure cartridge. Powder selection helps, specifically powders that take up more case volume, rather then using TP, cotton balls or other fillers. As mentioned before, Trail Boss is recommended for cast bullet loads and another good one is Red Dot. Otherwise your primer flash happens in a casing space that's sometimes less then a quarter filled with actual propellant. Good Luck with your loads.
     
  7. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Yep - that's too light for Unique - heck thats a good Bullseye load - BUT if you are long on Unique and still want to use it use magnum primers for better ignition. It helps to clear up some of the unburnt flakes.
     
  8. Greenbug

    Greenbug Bend Well-Known Member

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    No, No, No, you guys are all wrong. He just needs to get a gun with a longer barrel so all the powder can get burnt up!:D
     
  9. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    I have about a 1 1/2 lbs unique and approx 1000 cast bullets that I thought I would use on the 38 special. I am also trying to find a decent light to medium load so the wife can practice without it killing her hand. It is a SW lightweight 38. When I start loading the plated bullets I was going to use switch to tight group.
    Thank you all for your replies,
    Edmon
     
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  10. filsonhand

    filsonhand In the Silicon Forest Smooth as a Rhino 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I loaded some 158 hardcast 38 SPL loads with trailboss, and you couldn't wipe the smile off my father in laws face. The rounds were accurate and low recoil, a real crowd pleaser :)
     
  11. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Others have much more experience here than me. I didn't like Unique, it seemed dirty and it didn't throw well in my RCBS Uniflow. Get a powder more suited for the .38 special such as W231/HP38, titegroup or Bullseye. Having sad that, I always have Unique though. It's called Unique because it will work in many calibers. It'll shoot your puppy fart .38 wad cutter loads AND do .357 mag, .44 special and .44 mag, among others.
     
  12. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Mag primers
     
  13. bmw2

    bmw2 Mount Vernon, Wa Active Member

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    Hogdon Clays, regular clays, not universal, is very clean with light loads and is a little bulkier too. I use it exclusively for my cowboy loads.
     
  14. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    anyone who can find regular Clays is darned lucky,wish I could.
    ..In my airweight J frame almost everything has recoil,they are not a fun plinking gun,imho.

    To get Unique to meter well,I fill the hopper farily full,then give a few knuckle taps to settle it in,and dump 2 dumps before actually loading a cartridge. Per my scale it helps a lot.

    I would not ever add filler to smokeless,you can get away with it with real black powder,not so much with smokeless.
     
  15. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    ;););)Why complicate your life?

    Don't like your powder.........change/switch it out with something else.

    After using Unique in my 45 ACP loads, I found many unburnt flakes on my arm. I switched to Bulls Eye. Problem sloved and my groups became tighter.

    LOL....Unique is useable for many different pistol cartridges (and shotgun loads). In some applications it'll do better (or worst). Experimentation in reloading is just a part of the fun.

    And, I wouldn't complicate my life with adding a filler. Just too much work for me.:)

    Aloha, Mark

    PS........For my .38 Special SASS rifle loads. I use a 147gr TC lead bullet loaded to a COAL of 1.50" in .38 Special brass. 3.0 gr of Bulls Eye w/a standard sm pistol primer.

    That being said......it's not a defense load. It was made for SASS competition where low recoil is wanted. And the reason why it's COAL is 1.50" is because, it's being fed through a lever action Marlin. Having a COAL that will work with your lever action is important to functioning and speed.

    Yes, I could also use it with my SAA revolvers. But, I have another even lower recoil load for the revolvers.;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
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  16. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I think as has been said, your loads are below a starting load. Up it to where it should be and it should be good.
     
  17. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    yours is a low end load,and Iv'e found almost all low end loads suck....poor ignition with resultant unburned powder.Up the charge to mid range,should not make a huge diff. in felt recoil,but will most likely make you happier.
     
  18. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    Thank you all for your help.

    Edmon
     
  19. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    3 gr bullseye is a sweet practice load with that bullet and its clean. A lb goes a long way.
     
  20. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Ditto this! For years I shot 158 gr SWC with 3.5 grs. of Bullseye - accurate, low recoil and clean.
     
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