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View Poll Results: How do you load your 38 Spec for "the shelf"?

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Thread: Q On Conflicting Win 231 Data for 38 Spec

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Q On Conflicting Win 231 Data for 38 Spec

    I'm trying to develop a load to load up a quantity of 38 Specials. I've mostly shot them out of my own 357 mag - so was not as concerned about the actual upper limit. But, I'd like to comfortably pull them out and use them in any 38 Special as well.

    I use the Lee 358-158-RF with LBT blue lube and seat to COL of 1.437" which crimps in the crimp groove. I use the Lee FCD.

    I understand that Win 231 and HP 38 should be interchangeable. But, data is different.

    Lee's book shows for a 158 gr lead bullet Win 231 start @ 4.0/747 fps and max @ 4.5/830FPS/15,800 press. But, HP 38 shows start @ 3.1/782 fps and max @ 3.7/834/14,600 press.

    But, Lyman Cast Bullet book shows for a 158 gr SWC Win 231 start @ 3.5/680 fps/10,400 press and max @ 4.7/885 fps/16,800 press. But for HP 38 shows start @ 2.8/642 fps/10,200 press and max @ 3.9/854 fps/16,300 press.

    Then, Hogdon's online data shows for a 158 gr LSWC Win 231 start @ 3.1/782 fps/11,900 press and max @ 3.7/834 fps/14,600 press.

    So, it looks like Lee's HP38 data is exactly the same as Hogdon's Win 231 data. But, both Lee and Lyman show heavier loads of Win 231 than HP 38.

    Has anyone chrono'ed any of these loads with the Lee 358-158-RF?

    I'm looking for a max load for the shelf. Defensive, knock down steel, plinking. REasonable accuracy for the purposes but not worried about the most precise target loads.

    I've used all from 3.1 on up to 4.5 in my Ruger GP100 and SP 100 and, of course, no problems with any of them in these. I was going to load them up at 4.5 max but then became concerned if I wanted to use these in just any 38 Special. Based on the published data, I should be fine at a maximum of 3.7 as this is the lowest of all maximums listed for both powders.
    Email: daryl@ohioguns.us

    I'm an FFL interested in wholesale purchases of modern firearms. http://www.ohioguns.us - Credit/Debit cards OK. Site has constantly changing inventory - will ship to your FFL.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master S.R.Custom's Avatar
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    I didn't see a choice for "none of the above"...

    I've experienced squibs in the .357/.38 in cold weather using light charges of 231, and have since stopped using it in large capacity revolver cases.
    “If your only tool is a hammer, then all your problems start to look like people who need to be beaten with a hammer.”

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


    fecmech's Avatar
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    My Lyman cast bullet handbook shows 4.9/231 as max std press. and 5.2 +P for the 158 rn bullet. I have shot a lot of the 4.9/231 load with the H&G 158 RN out of my k-38, I'm talking more than a 1000. It's very accurate and clocks right at 900 fps out of my 6" K frame, 939 FPS out of a 6" gp 100. My K frame is just slightly more accurate with 4.2 of Bullseye and the same bullet so that is my std 38 spl load, it is also right around 900 fps and max std pressure.
    "Masculine republics give way to feminine democracies, and feminine democracies give way to tyrannies.” Aristotle

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master
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    WW-231 is my primary 38 Special propellant. I don't deal with ultra-cold temps where I live or hunt/shoot, seldom if ever under 0* F. It can get pretty hot here--110* or more--but I've not seen that be a problem for the loads, just the operators.

    Years ago, my agency's only authorized sidearm and load was the W-W 38 Special 110 grain +P, carried in 38 Special or 357 Magnum S&W/Colt/Ruger double-action revolvers. Through chrongraphy, I derived a duplicator load of 5.5 grains of WW-231 underneath bulk Winchester 110 grain JHPs. This load matched the factory fodder in all respects, including mediocre accuracy. This load is now out of print, and the agency has relegated the 38 Special to second-line status. Rem 125 JHP +P is the authorized carry load. For my usages, the 357 Magnum has wholly superseded the 38 Special as a social engagement accessory. Autopistols do the heavy lifting for CCW anyway.

    This means that the 38 Special has become a sporting proposition for me. My 38 Specials range from somewhat delicate (Colt Detective Special/1933) to rather stalwart (S&W Model 10, Colt OMT). My "shelf" loads of 38 Special are all standard pressure concoctions, either #358477 atop 4.5 grains of 231 or #358429 under 4.0 grains of 231. Once in a while I get the notion to run the Model 10 at full-throttle, and I'll conjure up something warmer using Herco or 2400, 50 at a time and marked to keep them the h--l out of the little Colt. Red 'Hi-Liter' on the case heads is a good idea for such ventures.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by S.R.Custom View Post
    I didn't see a choice for "none of the above"...

    I've experienced squibs in the .357/.38 in cold weather using light charges of 231, and have since stopped using it in large capacity revolver cases.
    I've had the exact same experience with 231 in a 38 special. I do use it in a 9mm and a 380, but at maximum charges. For the 38 I use 5.0 grains of Unique under a 158 lead boolet, either a SWC or a RN. That's slightly on the warm side, but not up to +p pressures. I use that load in everything from a Smith 36 to a 19, and it does well in everything I use it in.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    This is very helpful so far. Basically, it looks like the Hogdon data is the out-of-date HP38 and unnecessarily conservative. fecmec's velocity data would seem to support the velocity data from the Lee and Lyman Win 231 data. The 4.5 or 4.7 seems a reasonable maximum load for modern guns.
    Email: daryl@ohioguns.us

    I'm an FFL interested in wholesale purchases of modern firearms. http://www.ohioguns.us - Credit/Debit cards OK. Site has constantly changing inventory - will ship to your FFL.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    W231 & HP38 is exactly the same powder, comes out of the same spout, this was reported in a recent Handloader article by Brian Pearce.
    I've shot many thousands of the 168 gr Keith slug using 5.2 grs of 231, this is a +P load & I only shoot it in my 357 maggie's. Its a little too much for a J frame gun.

    Dick

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Even if WW-231 and HP-38 are indeed the same stuff from the same vat at the factory, the data is inconsistent for some calibers--38 Special is a case in point. I've fired A WHOLE LOT of the fuel over the years--probably 20 lbs or more--so I do like it. I've sourced data from Winchester (the powder maker) and Speer (often the bullet maker), and I compare the data before starting out--opting for the lowest charges at the start and working up gradually to the performance level sought or data maximums--whichever comes first. WW-231 has never given me any surprises or excursions. I trust it, I suppose--but verify it first.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Rodfac's Avatar
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    I've used 231 for 20 yrs or so too. For light to medium loads it replaced Bullseye and Unique for me primarily due to its smooth metering through my RCBS and Dillon measures. In .32 Long, .32 H&R, .32-20, .358 and .38 Spl, .41 Magnum, .40 S&W, 9 mm and the .44's as well as both the .45 ACP and LC, it's as uniform as I could wish. In all of the above listed calibers, it's produced several loads each that are way under 2" at 25 yds, (with the exception of 9 mm, in which it duplicates previous accuracy results). To say that I like it is an understatement.

    When I could no longer find it, two yrs ago, I began the search for a substitute and HP38 is the answer. It's available sometimes...and not much of it at that...I'm buying in single pound lots now. I've chronographed my old 231 loads with equal charges of HP38 and can find no difference. Dealers have told me that it's the same powder but with a different factory label. A cursory inspection with the aid of a magnifying glass confirms the outward appearance. For me it's the same. While I don't now and never did load for high pressures or velocities using 231, I continue to use HP38 in the same manner.

    HTH's Rodfac.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Rodfac,

    That's great info. So, do you run across the situation of conflicting data in the charts for Win 231 and HP 38? If so, do you go with the more conservative or less?

    thanks
    Email: daryl@ohioguns.us

    I'm an FFL interested in wholesale purchases of modern firearms. http://www.ohioguns.us - Credit/Debit cards OK. Site has constantly changing inventory - will ship to your FFL.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy dogbert41's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daryl View Post
    Rodfac,

    That's great info. So, do you run across the situation of conflicting data in the charts for Win 231 and HP 38? If so, do you go with the more conservative or less?

    thanks
    I put them together and have a larger spectrum to work from. I actually do that with all my load books. Especially lead loadings because it seems there isn't a single bloody one that has the exact bullet weight I got, so I put together as much as I can of as close to as I got, search these boards and work from there.

    That's why this place is so bloody good! You can bounce off of the board your thoughts and experiments/experiences and read about everybody else's. If you have to err, err on the light side. It's much better to squib than to explode. And I've been fortunate to have never squibbed, though I was with my buddy two weeks ago...And it was his first time shooting his own reloads, first magazine actually, poor bastard. Good thing I was with him. He was in the process of jacking another round in there not knowing what happened. That's an XD .45.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master S.R.Custom's Avatar
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    Heh. That would make an awesome avatar.
    “If your only tool is a hammer, then all your problems start to look like people who need to be beaten with a hammer.”

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy dogbert41's Avatar
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    I never thought of that!!!!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    I've loaded several hundred pounds of W231 (much of it as a commercial reloader), and can tell you that the reason for all the variation is lot-to-lot inconsistency. This is why the warnings are there to always work up your loads whenever you change a component, even if it is a new lot number of the same old component...

    I've had W231 that burned so fast that 4.1grs was max in a 38 Spl. I've also had W231 that was so slow-burning that I couldn't get my 9mm's to cycle reliably until I went .4grs above my usual max load. What I've tried to do is buy in large quantity so when I work up a load, it's done for a long time...

    That said, what I've found is that about 95% of the W231 I've loaded worked real good in 38s with 158gr LRNs with 4.3 to 4.4 grains. The 5.2gr "+P" load in the Lyman handbook never gets loaded by me. It's way too hot. They must have worked that up with a particularly slow lot of W231. My 38-44 load is 5.6grs of W231, and that's a weak 38-44 load, but it's WAAAAY over any 38 load no matter how many "+" signs you add...

    Start at 3.5grs and work up to 4.4grs. Use a chronograph and watch for pressure signs. When you get around 850fps, you're there. No need to go higher. I'd bet that will be around 4.3 to 4.4grs if you get the normal W231/HP38.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I load on a lee Cast turret, I've settled on 4.2g (as determined by the disc size) as my all around .38 special load using either HP38 or W231. Both drop right at 4.2g EVERY time. I shoot that Lee RNFP 158 grainer as well, along with the 358429, same load. More accurate than me in J & K frames as well as my 1894C.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Daryl

    All the different sourses you mentioned all use different test guns, different pressure test barrels, probably different psi methods (CUP is not the same as current psi (piezo), and different bullets ( different designs with different size driving bands and probably of different diamters) of different alloys (swaged, cast etc.). All of that makes for some differences in "data" as you've noted. If you've shot the 4.5 or 4.7 gr loads without problems that would seem to answer your question.

    Larry Gibson

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've been using a 158gr SJFP or SJHP over 5.2 grains of 231 for several years. I've occasionally ended up with a split case but I tend to run through the same batch of around 500 brass regurally.

    The last time I had the load chronoed it ran in the 850fps range. Plenty powerful enough to knock down steel or use for self defense.

    I'm not quite sure how to calculate the pressures but I'm pretty certain that I came across some information that this load is in the +P range.

    Wheeler

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    There is no substitute for experimentation to find out what works best for your lot of powder, boolits, cases, guns, etc. If you want to use them in any .38 you are likely to encounter, it seems like erring on the conservative side is the wise choice.

    Pressure and velocity are usually proportional when all other things are equal, so if you have a chronograph, load to reach a velocity between that shown for min and max charges in the manual. Be aware of the fact that most reloading manuals like to chronograph the .38 special in a buntline special - 2-6" revolvers are gping to show less velocity than the long barrels used in the manuals. Throat dimensions, barrel to cylinder gap, and other factors like case capacity, boolit design, seating depth, case length... may cause your results to vary.

  19. #19
    In Remembrance


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    I seriously couldn`t tell you how many pounds of both HP-38 and Win. 231 I have burned up using the same exact load of 3.5 gr. behind a Lyman #358495 wadcutter I have shot over 3 or more decades. I couldn`t see any change in accuracy or performance.Robert

  20. #20
    Moderator Emeritus robertbank's Avatar
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    W231 and HP 38 are the same powder produced by Hogdons. Larry Gibson nailed it on the data variations. Try Clays in your 38spl. Clays is what I use for all my IDPA shooting now. Very clean burning compared to W231/HP38. My stainless Ruger GP-100 remains clean after an extended match now. Very economical as well.

    Take Care

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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