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Thread: 38 Squib loads?

  1. #1

    38 Squib loads?

    Newby here, I just started reloading with my sons. We are loading for a H&R Handi Rifle in 357 Magnum. After three years of the kids practicing we have about 700 38 cases, so we decided to not let the go to waste. Because of the long barrel I picked up some 2400 and three different cast bullets. Two of the bullets are from Matt's the first is a RNHP in 148gr weight and the other a traditional SWCHP in 158gr. The other boolits are gun show SWC in 158gr. The 158's went 1370fps avg out of the 20" barrel and seem to show promise for grouping well. This was behind a 10.1grs of the 2400. The 148's were a completely different story, they avg 545fps behind the same 10.1gr load. The crazy thing is that there was less that 50fps std? What gives, is 148 to light for that slow powder, do I need to significantly increase the charge, or is there another explanation? The 158's had a similar standard deviation. I was very pleased overall on our first attempt at reloading. So give me your thoughts on a good long barrel powder to try behind the 148's. Here is a video of my daughter getting her first deer (16" eight point) with this rifle.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Hmm, I guess I think of 2400 as a magnum powder rather than a 38 powder. Mostly I use faster powders in 38 special loads and, with the exception of DEWC and HBWC loads, I use the same cartridges in a 24" rifle as I do in revolvers. A favorite is 3.8 to 4.0 grains of HP 38 under a 158 grain lead bullet (I use a RNFP, but your SWCs would do similar). Unique works OK (better for +P loads), and Trail Boss will yield powder puff loads.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master




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    Lyman 44 from 1967 lists the following:

    141gr cast and 2400
    8.0 for 794fps and 12.0 for 1233fps

    150gr cast and 2400
    8.0gr for 627fps and 11.5 for 1015fps

    158gr cast and 2400
    8.0gr for 690fps and 11.0 for 1010

    168gr cast and 2400
    8.0 for 700fps and 10.5 for 1005fps

    Not knowing the chrono you are using, is it possible you forgot to change the input data before shooting the second load skewing the results?
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    You are clearly getting incomplete burn with the lighter bullet. Skip the 2400 and go with Unique for that one.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    Fire a .22 over the chronograph to check it.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Welcome to the forum!

    I've never used the powder you are using in my 357 Handi Rifle - I stick with Unique, Bulls Eye and Red Dot. I shoot everything from 115 grain to 200 grain boolits out of mine. I've used 38 Colt Short, 38 Colt Long, 38 Special, 357 and am going to be playing with some 360 DW casings as well as my chamber is deep as many of the HR chambers are in 357.

    I may be all wet . . . and I understand you thinking that 2400 might work better out of the Handi Rifle - but here's my thoughts on the 357 Handi. The 357 caridge is a pistol cartridge - the rifle just happens to be chambered in that caliber. The majority of people, who don't reload, are going to shoot standard 357 pistol cartridges out of it which utilize a faster burning powder - so stick with a faster powder and I think you'll e happier with the results with the 148 WC, etc.

    One of the best combinations I have out of mine is the Lee 158 TL SWC in a 38 Special casing over 3.5 gr. of Bulls Eye. When powder was short and hard to get, I couldn't get Bulls Eye so I ought a 8# jug of Red Dot when I ran across one. I started using that and like it just as well and get some good results with it. I even use Red Dot in my 8 X 57 Mauser and my 30-30s - all with lead boolits and it performs well. I have used Unique and it works O.K. but I just prefer the BE and RD over it. I'm pretty low tech and I don't have a chronograph but the results I get on paper at 25 and 50 yards show that it seems to work O.K. (for me and my old eyes). I have a scope on my Handi Rifle which helps!

    It would be worth a pound of a faster powder to try it and see what you get anyway. Work your load up and you should bind your sweet spot. I love my 357 Handi. I bought it when I ran across it at a LGS as I had heard they wee being discontinued. I've had it a while and have never regreted getting it. I'll bet your kids have a ball shooting it! Good luck and enjoy!
    Last edited by bedbugbilly; 11-12-2017 at 12:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    The velocity should be much higher for the 148's. Is there a noticeably different amount of recoil between the two loads? A quicker powder may be a better application but 2400 should do OK. I would suspect the chrono results are incorrect.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    2400 really needs magnum primers and a good crimp for a good burn. The light bullet isn't helping either.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master




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    Welcome to the forum. 2400 w/the lighter bullet should have done better but 2400 is best for magnum loads. Otherwise, I use 231 (HP38) in 38 and 357 Mag. I suspect you had consistent incomplete power burn with the lighter bullet.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I suspect you had consistent incomplete power burn with the lighter bullet.
    Nice diagnosis, I was puzzling over that. If they were wadcutters there would be no such issue. Maybe some overpressure with that load.
    I’ll bet if he upped the load for the 148 and applied a stronger crimp they’d fly right.
    Last edited by Boolseye; 11-13-2017 at 06:50 PM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    In my .357 revolvers and in a .357 Rifle I use the Saeco #348 double-end, bevel-based wadcutter loaded as-cast and unsized at .360", lubricated with Lee Liquid Alox and loaded in Federal .38 Spl. +P brass, with Federal 200 primers, seated to 1.20" OAL with 9 grains of Alliant #2400. This load gives 900 fps in a Ruger SP101 with 2" barrel and 0.006" cylinder gap and 1200 fps in a .357 rifle with 20" barrel. This load is about 95% of case capacity with bullet seated and gives excellent ballistic uniformity. Be advised this load exceeds industry +P standard by about 15% and should NOT be used in .38 Special revolvers other than the Ruger Speed Six, Service Six and SP101. It is fine in .357 revolvers and rifles.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Your 148 grain bullets are too light for 10 grains 2400 powder in 38 cases. You are not getting the powder lit. You need either a faster powder or a 357 case with more powder in it. Also a magnum primer could not hurt either.
    I had similar troubles with a 30-06 when working up a load with Winchester 760. It had radical results ( 2600-3100 fps) till I got to a full case then it settled down to a steady 2900 fps.
    I later found that using a magnum primer allowed me to reduce the powder charge and WOWsers the recoil was cut by half too and I still had a steady 2900 fps with good accuracy.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Look in the bore after firing a round You will probably see some greenish yellow balls, the 2400 with the coating burned off. Ive used 2400 with good results in heavier loads and magnum loads. but it dosnt do as well for light loads, same with 296 and H110.
    The old "stand by" 38 spl load for bullseye was 2.7 grns bullseye with a 148 grn HBWC and a light crimp. In your rifle this should give around 650 fps and be extremely accurate.
    Uniuque, 231, bullseye, HP38, and some of the new powders should shine for you.

  14. #14
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    Welcome the to the addiction pastorjeep


    http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm has a lot of load data for 357 mag.

    go here http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...online-sources

    click on Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook #3, multiple older reloading handbooks & downloadable load data link
    use the arrow at the top bar and go to 8 of 29. you'll find a downloadable pdf "the complete reloading manual for the 357 magnum

    you will also find links to many other free load data sites.

  15. #15
    Wow, I was tied up through the holidays with multiple commitments, not the least of which was finishing a Willys restoration, and didn't see all the great responses. Just a quick update, the offending loads (10 for testing purposes) had wet granules of case cleaning media from an attempt to use brasso. Keep the hate to a minimum! Took some advice from you guys, went with a heavier crimp, magnum primers, and clean cases and got some great results. We settled on 11.5 after working up .5 grains at a time from 9. The Matt's 148 looks like this Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
    We took three factory loads (Rem 125, WW 130, PPU 130) and our two loads Matt's 158 LWHP and 148 RNHP with the 11.5 load and with three different shooters the 158 was getting ragged hole at 50yrd. You can image how proud my boys were to see their loads out performing factory ammo with three different shooters. The velocity for both the 148 and 158 1400+ fps. Out of my wife's 3" barrel 357 about 1050fps. The 2400 seems to be performing great at this stage. We are getting ready to work up some Hornady 125 XTP in 357mag with the 2400 and see what the long barrel will do. Stay tuned. I must say it is interesting that the 148 showed no real velocity gains over the 158's which seems to often be the case with 38 spl. The hollowpoint action on water jugs is dramatic though.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master 243winxb's Avatar
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    The 148's were a completely different story, they avg 545fps behind the same 10.1gr load.
    Hollow base? Bullet separation on firing. Stop shooting it with that powder charge.

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  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    FWIW; I just looked at my Lyman 49th and there is no recommendations for 2400 in 38 Special with any weight bullet (except for one; cast 155 SWCGC). Where did you get your load data? For a new reloader I recommend they find a load in their manual(s), bullet, primers and powder before they buy any components. I've been reloading 38 Special since 1969 and haven't used any powder slower than Unique although I did try some 2400 as an experiment. It was like shooting a sand blasting gun...
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  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    pastorjeep...Welcome to the craft. It is a great thing for you and your family to share together. There is a learning curve involved and you have found it. There are a couple of lessons here.

    1. Loading manuals are not always right.
    2. All powders have an optimal pressure range to get a complete burn and efficient use of the energy released.

    2400 is a great powder, but your are on the low end of it's practical use. In the 38 Special case 9 grains is the bottom and in the 357 mag case 10 grains is the bottom. When you are at the bottom, then bullet weight might make the difference between an efficient load and an inefficient load. This is what you discovered. Just ten grains of bullet weight was enough to change the pressure in a negative way.

    When you moved the powder charge to 11.5 grains that took you off the bottom. I would not give the change of primers and crimp to much credit. 2400 does not need a magnum primer to get an efficient burn.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

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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