...Like most other handgunners, I have loaded more .38 Specials than any other caliber. Unlike most others, I have eschewed the popular full wadcutter bullet and the ultra-light loads with which it is usually associated. The two .38 molds that do most of my work are the Lyman 357446 and their 356156 which is almost identical except that it wears a gas check. Both bullets are cast 1 to 15 tin-in-lead and sized .357”.
As accurate as the wadcutters at close range, these bullets cut just as clean a hole in the target and maintain accuracy and killing power at much longer distances.
For heavy duty .38 Special and .357 Magnum loading the 358156 gas check shoots much cleaner than any plain base bullet. It is possibly the most accurate cast bullet I have used, and is an excellent game getter. The HP version offers spectacular expansion, and the solid gives the utmost in combined penetration and shock in its category, being particularly satisfactory for taking small table game without unwanted meat damage.
The 358156 has two crimping grooves. The upper is used when loading .357 cases and standard velocity .38 Special loads. When seated out to the lower crimp groove in .38 Special cases, more powder space is gained, and a very powerful load of 13.5 gr. of 2400 may be used in these cases, giving around 1150 fps. I emphasize that these heavy .38 Special cartridges should only be fired from .357 Magnum revolvers or from .45 frame .38 Special sixguns such as the Colt SA, Colt New Service, or S&W .38-44. While I have fired this round from K-frame Smith & Wessons and Colt Officers’ Models on occasion with no visible ill effects, these lighter revolvers were not designed for such heavy loads, and I definitely do not recommend the practice. Since I commonly carry this round for everyday use in my .357 guns, I have taken more game with it than any other individual handload, up to and including antelope, turkey, and javelina.
Some loading manuals list the 358156 HP bullet with as much as 16 gr. of 2400 in .357 cases, a top load which gives about 1600 fps velocity. Although well below the acceptable factory pressure level, this load is a bit hot, and I prefer 15 gr. of 2400 for better accuracy, less recoil, and longer case life...