Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Discussion on reloading the 9x18 and any other cartridge
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juniustaylor
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Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by juniustaylor » March 10th, 2012, 2:37 am

I typically load my .38 S&W using Olin cases, 3 grains of Unique, and 146 grain Missouri Bullets. However, I decided to do some experimenting. I took 5 .38 Special cases and cut them down to .38 S&W length. I used 2 grains of Bullseye and some 158 grain .358" RN bullets just to tinker with to see how accurate it would be. I was rather surprised. 2 grains of BE was extremely mild, low report and relatively accurate at 7 yards. I'd say the 5 shots were within 2.5" or less. Those cases then fireformed to the chambers in the cylinder.

So, I have reloaded them again. Using 2 grains of BE. The seating depth puts the bullet virtually on the powder charge. The bullets were a smidge loose in the case. They remind me a bit of a .22 LR how you can grab the bullet and turn it, but it won't come out. I will shoot these 5 again to see if I have similar accuracy.

I'm sure some folks would call it a waste of time but it's 5 rounds and some nights I have nothing better to do than to tinker. Cutting the cases down was EASY. I had some .38 Special cases that have a line around them. I use my Dremel and cut them at this line. Finish them up with the Lee .38 S&W case length gage. It takes maybe 45 seconds or so per case to trim them down. Load as normal using the .38 S&W die set.

Not sure the exact purpose of the experiment as this has been done. Some folks say it's not worth bothering with as you can buy .38 S&W brass from Starline. Other folks say they only use cut down .38 Spl cases. I guess I'm just doing it for the purpose of if I absolutely had to use .38 Spl, even .357 Mag cases, then I could and would still be able to shoot my old S&W revolver.
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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by Dwight » March 10th, 2012, 10:59 am

juniustaylor wrote:Not sure the exact purpose of the experiment as this has been done.
"Because I want to..." is often good enough reason for me to do some things.

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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by juniustaylor » March 10th, 2012, 2:48 pm

They shot OK I suppose. At 25 yards five shots were in around 4.5" or so. I guess that's not terrible. Seemed very mild still. I may mess with them another time or two and then give it up. The bummer is that my .358" bullets fit a tad loose but are crimped in place by the roll crimp like a little .22 LR round. I would say that even in under 5" at 25 yards would be pretty decent. That beats a lot of autos at that range and it's a slightly undersized bullet that fits loosely in the case with 2 grains of Bullseye.
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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by wyo-man » March 25th, 2012, 10:34 pm

Very nice report.
What model S&W are you shooting these in?

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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by juniustaylor » March 26th, 2012, 12:01 am

wyo-man, I'd guess it would be called a Model 11. They were the ones that were on the lend-lease program. A lot got sent to Great Britain and other places. Mine does not have any import markings though.

Image

The cylinder currently on it is not the original and it does have a star stamped on each flute. The original cylinder I still have but some putz drilled the chambers out to accept a .38 Special. Never shot accurately like that and it ruined the .38 Special cases. They would be bulged and sometimes split from the fat chamber. I had thought about just finding a S&W Mod 10 cylinder in .38 special to use but my good buddy fknipfer1 suggested I just find another .38 S&W cylinder and take it back to original and it was a good idea.
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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by daven » March 26th, 2012, 7:22 pm

I have a fair number of 38 S&W revolvers, Webleys, Enfields and S&Ws. I brought 38 S&W cases from Starline, a local bullet caster makes me 180 grain heads at .360 diameter and I load over 2.8 grains of Clays International. Excellent reproducible POA at 7 to 10 yds. The 38 S&W is "wider" than the 38 Special and 38 S&W will not load into a 38 Spec cylinder. The regular S&W 38 as loaded today will give you a hole at about 7" low at 7-10 yds (146 grain bullet) compared to the UK load of either 200 grain lead or 178 grain FMC. Mine mimic the 200 grain load. Dave_n

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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by gunneyrabbit » April 22nd, 2012, 3:05 am

Daven, I noticed the same thing with my StarLine cases, they would not fully seat in a 38sp. cylinder but dropped into all of my .357 revolvers. The only thing I could come up with was the .357 cylinders were tapered for ease of ejection? Regardless I love my S&W top break .38 S&W lemon squeezer revolver, very light recoil and amazingly accurate for a 90+ year old revolver.
GR.

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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by daven » April 23rd, 2012, 8:12 pm

Gunneyrabbit:

I also load an S&W 38 but from 1890 or so that uses the even smaller original 38 S&W case. Not as tall as the 38 S&W case used for the UK 200/380 (aka Colt New Police), but in my 5 shot top break Model 4 in that series, it is quite accurate at 7 yds. Would not want to get hit with one.

Now getting ready for the arrival of an S&W Model 1905 4th change in 32-20. Problem with a C&R is that you keep buying these old warriors and then reloading for them!! DaveN

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Re: Piddlin' with .38 S&W

Post by gunneyrabbit » April 27th, 2012, 11:24 pm

Daven, I agree, I recently read a great editorial piece about the number of hand gun wounds that don't end gun fights. My son in law is a surgeon and he verified what the author said, caliber isn't as important as where the shot is placed. Gun shot wounds are evidently much more prevalent than we realize, all are reported to the police but very few hit the local T.V. news unless there is a spectacular event that the press is able to get to before it is over. According to him .22, .25 and .32 hand guns will kill you just as rapidly as a big bore when they hit you in the right place. I suppose that is why Isreali Air Marshals are issued .22 auto's as the pistol of choice for their jobs, or so I have read.
GR.

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