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Thread: Round Ball 38 S&W Loads

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Round Ball 38 S&W Loads + Picture

    I started to post this earlier and got distracted, so let me try again. I was fortunate enough to find one of the S&W "Peanut Handle" bullet moulds years ago. It was in a caliber I had never owned, 38 S&W, but with its 2 chambers (round ball and round nose conical) and its built in primer seater (not to mention the cool handle design) it was too cool to pass up!

    Flash forward about 15 years and I have just picked up an old S&W Regulation Police in that very caliber. I want to try some of the round ball loads in it for indoor plinking and was wondering whether anyone else on the Board had done any load development for these little "cat sneeze" loads. I'd like to hand seat the ball over some sort of standard fast burning powder (like maybe Bullseye or Unique) with a dab of lube on top... keep it very simple so I can do it on the spur of the moment. With the primer seater built in as it is on the mould that, along with some kind of decapper, will make it possible for me to do this otherwise tool-less.

    I seem to remember seeing a long thread on this very subject here about a year ago, but when I did a search, I had no luck. Any help would be most appreciated.

    Regards,
    Froggie
    Last edited by Green Frog; 04-27-2012 at 08:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
    I started to post this earlier and got distracted, so let me try again. I was fortunate enough to find one of the S&W "Peanut Handle" bullet moulds years ago. It was in a caliber I had never owned, 38 S&W, but with its 2 chambers (round ball and round nose conical) and its built in primer seater (not to mention the cool handle design) it was too cool to pass up!

    Flash forward about 15 years and I have just picked up an old S&W Regulation Police in that very caliber. I want to try some of the round ball loads in it for indoor plinking and was wondering whether anyone else on the Board had done any load development for these little "cat sneeze" loads. I'd like to hand seat the ball over some sort of standard fast burning powder (like maybe Bullseye or Unique) with a dab of lube on top... keep it very simple so I can do it on the spur of the moment. With the primer seater built in as it is on the mould that, along with some kind of decapper, will make it possible for me to do this otherwise tool-less.

    I seem to remember seeing a long thread on this very subject here about a year ago, but when I did a search, I had no luck. Any help would be most appreciated.

    Regards,
    Froggie
    According to George Nonte, 1 grain of Bullseye works for the #0 Buckshot and the .32 S&W Long.

    If it is a late model .38 S&W you MIGHT get away with using 000 Buckshot and about 1 1/2 grains of Bullseye. (You'll have to check on that to make certain of the charge). these "Gallery loads" are great for carboard boxes and stacks of newspapers in the basement to stop the round balls.

    If you have an older .38 S&W, you may have to resort to swaging down some what would be called 0000 "Buckshot" (.380") balls to achieve a .361" diameter projectile.

    All the best.

    Scott
    Last edited by gunfan; 04-25-2012 at 08:08 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for the reply, Scott. The S&W is a 1930s vintage, and if this project works, the S&W mould has the round ball that I hope to use, and with a decapper and a powder dipper/measure, I'll be good to go.

    Froggie

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I'm still looking for somebody who has done the round ball thing with smokeless powder in the 38 S&W. I would love to hear what powder and how much of it folks have actually used in this particular caliber. As expensive and hard to find as 38 S&W has become, surely somebody has gotten fed up and started reloading plinking ammo this way!

    Also, the fact that I have the original S&W mould for the round ball makes this a very attractive proposition. I found a cigar box full (over 300) of once fired, nickel plated brass cases, the bullet mould also seats primers, and the round ball should be seated by hand. This looks like it could provide hours of fun on the cheap for an old retired guy.

    TIA ~ Froggie

    PS I found the old 1962 article in American Rifleman on the subject, but again, no charges were suggested for the 38 S&W.
    Last edited by Green Frog; 04-26-2012 at 08:23 AM. Reason: Add ps & fix typo

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    Froggie,

    I can't help with first hand experience with loading the .38 S&W, but if you search for "top break" some interesting reading will come up. A lot of it is about the .32, but there is some info on the .38S&W as well.

    This is the first I have read of the peanut handle molds, is it possible for you to post a picture?

    Robert

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mk42gunner View Post
    Froggie,

    I can't help with first hand experience with loading the .38 S&W, but if you search for "top break" some interesting reading will come up. A lot of it is about the .32, but there is some info on the .38S&W as well.

    This is the first I have read of the peanut handle molds, is it possible for you to post a picture?

    Robert
    Thanks for the top break tip, Robert. I'll try it. As for posting pix of the handles, I've been trying to get around to that for a while and just found my digital camera this morning. In the meanwhile, if you will go to the ARTCA site (Antique Reloading Tool Collectors' Association) and look in their galleries of tools, there is a great picture of the three different calibers of the "peanut handle" tools. When you see them, I think you will agree that these are some of the most attractive and elegant loading tools ever made. I would still love to find a 32 cal set to go with my 38s!

    Froggie

  7. #7
    Boolit Master L Ross's Avatar
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    I have only done it with black powder for a couple of top breaks I shoot in cowboy pocket pistol category. I cast .360" round balls from a Lee mould, put 3fg bp in the case leaving about a quarter inch of space. I next put a felt wad cut from an old hat brim, seated down on the powder, then drop a little ball of soft bullet lube that is maybe a BB size ball. Lastly I seat the round ball to just past the mid point of the ball and crimp it there. The round ball squishes the lube ball to fill the space between itself and the wad. They worked real well.

    Duke

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by L Ross View Post
    I have only done it with black powder for a couple of top breaks I shoot in cowboy pocket pistol category. I cast .360" round balls from a Lee mould, put 3fg bp in the case leaving about a quarter inch of space. I next put a felt wad cut from an old hat brim, seated down on the powder, then drop a little ball of soft bullet lube that is maybe a BB size ball. Lastly I seat the round ball to just past the mid point of the ball and crimp it there. The round ball squishes the lube ball to fill the space between itself and the wad. They worked real well.

    Duke
    Whew! That description sounds almost like as much work as a regular reload! I'm hoping to ladle in a minimal charge of smokeless into a primed case, seat a ball, add a dab of lube, and be ready to go. With a '30s vintage S&W solid frame, I am not as worried about pressure as I would be with the older guns, and as I said, these will be at "cat sneeze" levels anyway. I'm looking for 25 foot accuracy or closer, and just enough power to penetrate a paper target or ring a gong. "More shooting and less work" is my attitude.

    Thanks for the input, and I'm getting a nice cross section of what you other guys are doing.

    Regards,
    Froggie

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
    Thanks for the top break tip, Robert. I'll try it. As for posting pix of the handles, I've been trying to get around to that for a while and just found my digital camera this morning. In the meanwhile, if you will go to the ARTCA site (Antique Reloading Tool Collectors' Association) and look in their galleries of tools, there is a great picture of the three different calibers of the "peanut handle" tools. When you see them, I think you will agree that these are some of the most attractive and elegant loading tools ever made. I would still love to find a 32 cal set to go with my 38s!

    Froggie
    Froggie:

    If you really want to shoot the .32 Longs with #0 Buckshot (recommended) the charge is 1 grain of Bullseye and bullet lube pressed in with your fingers will work well.

    Scott

  10. #10
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    Greetings
    Still a few 38 S&W's floating about down here. My old lyman cast book shows with a 121 grsin boolit(heavier than RB) a start load of 2.gr Bullseye for 560 FPS up to max of 3 grains for 805. Firearm was a S&W model 33 4 inch.
    Mike in Peru
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    Be careful with light RB loads. If shot at a wooden target, the ball will often bounce back.
    Use enough powder to insure penetration.
    Best,
    Mike

    NRA Life Member
    Remember Ira Hayes

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Well, I got a picture taken... let's see if it will post. The upper mould with plain steel handles (ouch! ) is the earlier style, and casts a standard 32 cal round nose bullet. The lower set is the later style, nicknamed "Peanut Type" for obvious reasons. They have double cavities to cast the round nose bullet as well as a round ball (and do it with style! ) Note that both are also designed to prime cases as well as their primary function. Enjoy!

    Froggie
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    Last edited by Green Frog; 04-27-2012 at 08:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    Pretty neat molds/ priming tools.

    My guess is with the early style no one had to ask if you were using gloves or not.

    Robert

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I used the smallest dipper in my old Lee dipper set and Red Dot to load some round ball loads for an old Iver Johnson Cadet that I used to own. I broke down some water dammaged paper case shotgun shells and used the 000 buckshot for balls. I just thumbed the buckshot into the case as far as it would go and then loaded and fired. No recoil and nowhere near point of aim, but they went bang.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I have not tried a 38 S&W with RB yet but have used them extensively in a 45-70 rifle as well as a 45 colt hand gun. I have used both black and smokeless powder in both. Of more interest to you is some rounds I made up for indoor practice in my basement. I loaded a 451 RB into a case that I droped 2 gr of Red Dot into and pushed in the bullet in flush with the mouth of the cartridge and then dropped some LLA over the ball. These worked well and would penetrate about 2 inches of news paper I used as a back stop. Accuracy at 25 feet was good. I would try 1 gr of bulls eye or Red Dot in the 38 S&W using a similar technique for loading and see what happens.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check