View Full Version : .38 Special B.P. @ 300 meters

10-31-2006, 09:25 AM
Fellow darksiders,

I've been having too much fun lately shooting more original b.p. .38 Special loads in my .357 Marlin Cowboy rifle. The original .38 Special b.p. cartridge used 21.5 grs. of b.p. under a 158 gr. bullet. For more information, please see:

Anyway, lately I tried shooting them at 100 yards and fired a 10 shot group. Discounting the fouling shot and one called flyer, I was very pleasantly surprised when 8 rounds printed into a nice 1.98" group at that distance. No blow tubing or barrel cleaning was done between shots.

This past weekend, I had a chance to try them on the 300 meter (327 yards) steel javelina at the Ridgway Rifle Club's (Ridgway, PA) high power silhouette range. To say the least it was very WINDY. Even so, those 158 gr. b.p. propelled bullets rang steel more often than not! NEAT!:-D

I'm looking forward to trying them again on a calm day....hopefully before the snow flies.:Fire:


Old Ironsights
10-31-2006, 10:21 AM
Snork! People always look at me weird when I tell them I load BP in my .38 & .357 cases...

Here's a big question that no one seems to want to answer:

I have more than 10lbs of 4Fg. WAAAAY more than I could EVER use as pan prime for my Flint.

I can't see a reason NOT to use it in my .38/.357 Rossi loads yet the "common consesnus" on the ML forums I frequent says it's bad - but they won't say why, so it soulds like more Tradition than Science.

Can anyone tell me it's bad - and have pressure data to back it up?

10-31-2006, 12:09 PM
I have used up to 50 grains of FFFFG (4F) in a .50 caliber flintlock of modern manufacture, with both round balls and maxi balls. No blown touch hole, or other problems. No bad accuracy. With FFFG (3F), or FFG (2F) the rifle is rated for at least 100 grains of powder.

If I had a stong modern lever rifle in a pistol caliber (that is not micro-groove rifled), I would try it with a light charge, and a deep seated wad-cutter to help limit the amount of powder you need to eliminate air space.

Of course, it is your rifle, and your face. Just because I would try it doesn't mean it is safe. This experiment is treading in poorly chartered waters.

Good luck, and be safe.


10-31-2006, 12:53 PM
You might have more fouling issues, as everything I've read says that as you go finer in the powder, you get more fouling; particularly in the smaller calibers. I've run into this going from 1 1/2-2F to 3F in a 38-55, but so far can't really say it's an issue, as I haven't been able to find a good load even with the larger grained powders. A really good lube might help this if it does happen. Can't comment on the pressure issue, never read anything on it and haven't done it.

10-31-2006, 01:23 PM
the "common consesnus" on the ML forums I frequent says it's bad - but they won't say why
Your main problem might stem from talking about metallic cartridges on ML sites.

It has certainly been written, in all of the instruction manuals and loading pamphlets, that you should never use 4F as the main charge in your muzzle loader. We all 'learned' that as beginners. Since it is part of our fundamental knowledge base (kinda like ancestral memories) it's hard to think of it as something that's open to interpretation.

There may be dozens of good reasons for this cautionary note, but it could boil down to two things...
(1) If you don't feel a certain amount of fear about the 'consequences', you might not do a good job of remembering which flask contains which powder.
(2) Pouring exceptionally fine powder into a recently fired barrel might be just a bit more likely to singe the front of your coonskin.

Of course, those are just (mildly humorous) guesses. And so is my next statement...

Considering the small capacity of the case you are talking about, I can't imagine 4F powder damaging your modern-made rifle if the cartridge is properly loaded with no air space.

After all, guys shoot 3F in cartridges that are normally considered as needing 2F and 1F, and they have no apparent safety issues.

MT Gianni
10-31-2006, 04:06 PM
It's just one of those things "everybody" knows. Don't shoot surplus powder especially 7383. You will blow your gun up. Don't load anything that isn't in a manual, Magnum cartridges have to have magnum primers. Black powder will corrode your barrel if you don't clean it in an hour after you shoot. Don't get involved in a land war in Asia, Cast bullets will lead up or wear your gun out. I knew a guy once ......[you fill in the rest of the blanks].
Seriously, the main reason a non muzzleloader would not do it is because you would have to clean it. If it shows no psi signs in all weather you shoot it in and you know how to read psi signs, it looks like you are having fun. My 2 cents, Gianni.

10-31-2006, 05:40 PM
I have used 4F powder in small cases (32 S&W, 38 S&W, and 360 Rook (Like a 38 Colt)) with good results in Iver Johnson break open revolvers and a Piper rook rifle. None of these weapons are considered strong actions but I had no problems with it. I like you had too much 4F but I used it all up now I use 3F in these calibers as I get slightly less fouling and better accuracy.

Old Ironsights
10-31-2006, 05:48 PM
Thanks guys.

Since these are to be plinking loads anyway, I'm not too worried about accuracy.

As for cleaning? Well, that's why I have a Bore Snake. No BP crud into the action for me.

I love making heavy BP subsonics too. Great for busting coons on the back porch.

10-31-2006, 06:57 PM
When firelapping my Lyman GP I used 4F. At first I was skittish .....remembering all of the warnings etc. Then after using up to 50 grains of 4F, I figured heck, why not go for broke and loaded 70 grains under a patched round ball. It worked and i survived. it fouled like crazy though so I'm done with it. But, it did work.

Old Ironsights
10-31-2006, 07:27 PM
What the ML guys I've talked to will say is that while it might not blow up your ML immediately, the Spike from 4F is significant enough to lead to early metal fatigue.

IMO in cartridges this shouldn't be an issue, but was wondering if anyone had seen pressure curve data for 4F vs 3F.