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Thread: Elmer Keith’s 38 Spl and 358429 load experiences?

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    Boolit Buddy Hi-Speed's Avatar
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    Elmer Keith’s 38 Spl and 358429 load experiences?

    What do you think of Elmer’s classic 38 Special load using 5.0 grs Unique under Lyman 358429? I use this bullet in 38-44 and 357 Mag loadings, but never handloaded the 38 Spl with 5.0 grs Unique and the 358429. I’m hoping that the 5.0 grs Unique/358429 will serve me well both at the range and on the trail out here.

    I’m estimating about 900 fps +/- from a 4 5/8 in Ruger BH.

    Appreciate any comments on this Keith load including any history which you can share, it’s accuracy and all around effectiveness.
    Last edited by Hi-Speed; 07-17-2022 at 11:18 PM.

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    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Good load in sturdy revolvers, S&W Model 10-5 and later, Colt Official Police, any of the Rugers. Would avoid in pre-1970 Colt D-frames or S&W J-frames if you want the gun to last.
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    Boolit Master

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    Lyman lists 4.2 grains of Unique as getting you to 841 fps out of a 4" barrel on a "Universal Receiver" which tells me they were probably running a TC Contender with no cylinder gap to bleed pressure from. That said, I'd say your 900 fps estimate is realistic, and honestly, what need is there for faster?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a 9mm 135 grain NOE Ranch Dog cast of air cooled wheelweight driven to 1030 fps, which as you can see from the photo I get a great deal of amusement out of, ALLLLLLMOST made it into the tenth water-filled milk jug full of water set at 7 yards.

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    Also got nine jugs out of the LBT 230 grain .45 at GI speed of 830 fps.

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    A little more exotic, but the same 130 grain .320" rifle bullet cast of two alloys fired at the same 1250 fps. Nine jugs for the hard one; three for the softer 20-1 version.

    So if you want to deploy the .358 Keith's 170 grains of a harder alloy anywhere near the ballpark of a thousand FPS, I have every confidence it'll adequately penetrate anything walking in N. Nevada.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

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    Boolit Buddy Hi-Speed's Avatar
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    If I have any energy remaining this evening I’m going to load up about 25 and bring to the range tomorrow am and chronograph.

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    Boolit Grand Master
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    Big Slug,
    Interesting post
    Don Verna


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    Boolit Grand Master

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    Mr Keith liked to tip the bottle, rye bourbon unique 2400 didnt matter

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    Boolit Master
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    I always thought Uncle Elmer's .38 Special load was 13.5/2400/158 gr. LSWC (DON'T try it!). I thought I remembered 12.5/2400/170 LSWC as Skeeter Skelton's ".357 Mag approximation" using .38 Special cases, back when .357 brass was simply unobtainable. If memory serves, the 170 gr. bullet was crimped in the SECOND crimping groove, giving the round an OAL long enough to keep it out of the more dainty .38 Special revolvers.
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    In the 1950's - 1970's, we ran the #358429 over 5.0grs of Unique in Colt OP, S&W K frame and SAA's all the time.
    Never in a small frame Colt or S&W. My 1968 S&W M10 & 1957 Colt O.P. show no ill effects to this day. A great load for tumbling jackrabbits.
    These days I run it lighter in difference to my arthritis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kosh75287 View Post
    I always thought Uncle Elmer's .38 Special load was 13.5/2400/158 gr. LSWC (DON'T try it!). I thought I remembered 12.5/2400/170 LSWC as Skeeter Skelton's ".357 Mag approximation" using .38 Special cases, back when .357 brass was simply unobtainable. If memory serves, the 170 gr. bullet was crimped in the SECOND crimping groove, giving the round an OAL long enough to keep it out of the more dainty .38 Special revolvers.
    That first one was Skeeters load with the Ray Thompson bullet, 358156 which had dual crimp grooves.
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    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by dverna View Post
    Big Slug,
    Interesting post
    Thank you. I think that it's a lingering of observations made in the day of soft core, rapidly-expanding, and sometimes fragile jacketed bullets that often cause many of us to lean toward cast bullets that may be heavier, or loads that my be hotter, than needed for the job at hand.

    As I often say of the original blackpowder .45 Colt loadings - that round was intended to screw not just you, but also the horse you rode in on, so I have trouble seeing the sense in trying to turn it into a wrist-pummeling .454 Casull unless maybe for sake of trajectory. With proper bullet selection, the .357 kinda falls into the same boat, and I like where the OP is trying to go.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    . I thought I remembered 12.5/2400/170 LSWC as Skeeter Skelton's ".357 Mag approximation" using .38 Special cases, back when .357 brass was simply unobtainable. If memory serves, the 170 gr. bullet was crimped in the SECOND crimping groove, giving the round an OAL long enough to keep it out of the more dainty .38 Special revolvers.[/QUOTE] I dont think that is the correct load. I have the article he wrote about that load. I will post Skeeters load latter .

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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    . If memory serves, the 170 gr. bullet was crimped in the SECOND crimping groove, giving the round an OAL long enough to keep it out of the more dainty .38 Special revolvers.[/QUOTE] Skeeter had no concern for dainty revolvers His objective was ,self defense. He was carrying two guns at the time a 357 and a 38 HD As a latter poster has said it was a 158 grain bullet. I will post the article latter

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    Boolit Master derek45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    Mr Keith liked to tip the bottle, rye bourbon unique 2400 didnt matter
    LOL

    maybe so,...be he also shot more than he typed, . . . . unlike most gun writers
    .


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    Boolit Buddy fn1889m's Avatar
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    “38 Spl with 5.0 grs Unique and the 358429…
    I’m estimating about 900 fps +/- from a 4 5/8 in Ruger BH.”

    Doing the same. 5 gn Unique, bullets weigh 169-171, made from range scrap. To be fired from a 5.5” Ruger New Vaquero. Tumble lubed, sized to .358”.

    Trying to duplicate some vintage/classic loads. This was listed in the Lyman CB #3. It’s not in #4. I suspect it, or its equivalent, was moved to the +P or .357 section.

    I get the impression that Unique (and maybe Bullseye) are falling out of favor, if only with manufacturers, replaced by more modern powders that are cheaper to make, cleaner, and which serve a broader range of applications. I know that Unique, Bullseye, and 231/HP38 filled a lot of cases over time. But they are becoming vintage powders. Which is part of their appeal. I can do all my pistol reloading with these powders. I picked up some Shooters World Clean Shot because it was available. But I am not doing anything that a reloader/shooter could not do in 1950.
    Last edited by fn1889m; 08-14-2022 at 04:25 PM.

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    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by derek45 View Post
    LOL

    maybe so,...be he also shot more than he typed, . . . . unlike most gun writers
    He blew up a few guns, too - so he sometimes pushed the envelope.

  16. #16
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    Elmer loaded Hot.
    He used heavy frame 38/44

    Im not a fan of torture testing my firearms. Your gun, do what you want.

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  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy fn1889m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hi-Speed View Post
    What do you think of Elmer’s classic 38 Special load using 5.0 grs Unique under Lyman 358429?…. Appreciate any comments on this Keith load including any history which you can share, it’s accuracy and all around effectiveness.
    Shot this last Sunday with apx 170 gn cast from range lead, over 5.0 gn of Unique, at 15 and 50 yards, two hands unsupported. The bullets ranged from 169-172 gn. I find range lead to be pretty soft, variable, heavy. Fired from a SW686 with a 4 inch barrel. It did not have as much recoil as expected, it was a heavy revolver.

    The surprise, though it should not have been, was how much drop at 50 yards. Quite a bit. Will try with 158 +P to compare. Will try again this Sunday with a SW27, 5 inch barrel and New Vaquero, 5.5 inch.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I'D like to know how many grains of Unique in a .38 Special case will propel a 158 gr. LSWC or LRNFP at 1100 f/s from a 4" barrel IN A .357 Magnum revolver. Since I own no .38 Special firearms, and do not loan out my reloads to others, THIS load would be JUST for my use. Its intent would be for general purposes, but also for social situations, should they arise. The .38 Special case is shorter, and slightly faster and easier to eject than the longer .357 magnum case (which, yes, I know, will develop the desired ballistics), which mat mean life or death if I must fight someone with a revolver.
    Last edited by Kosh75287; 08-28-2022 at 02:11 PM.
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    I really like the bullet but I don't load it that hot for the 38 special.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    Lyman lists 4.2 grains of Unique as getting you to 841 fps out of a 4" barrel on a "Universal Receiver" which tells me they were probably running a TC Contender with no cylinder gap to bleed pressure from.
    A gunsmith in northeast Texas told me that he once did testing at Lyman. He said the universal receivers were M96 Swedish Mauser receivers. That wasn't the point of the conversation but I wish now I had asked more questions. Lyman usually specifies the type of firearm if they used, for example, a Ruger Blackhawk with a 7-1/2" barrel. I once loaded up some of their Ruger/Contender only loads for my Contender with a 14" .44 Mag barrel. They got 1350 fps with a Super Blackhawk with its cylinder gap and 7-1/2" barrel. My perfectly sealed 14" barrel chronographed the same load at 1600 fps.
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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