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Discussion Starter #1
What are folks using for loads for their .38 ACP handguns? I did some research in some old loading manuals and founds some data in them. I decided to try 2.8 Grains of Bullseye with a 125 Grain FMJ bullet. Will try them out on Friday.
 

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That might not be enough to cycle the action. From Lee #2 for 38 ACP

For 130 gr. Jacketed OAL = 1.260

W231 4.4 gr, 875 fps, 20,000 CUP
Green Dot 4.2 gr, 910 fps, 19,000 CUP
Red Dot 4.0 gr, 910 fps, 19,400 CUP
Bullseye 4.0 gr, 935 fps, 18,100 CUP
Herco 5.3 gr, 945 fps, 19,600 CUP
Unique 5.3 gr, 945 fps, 18,800 CUP

OAL = 1.300
Acc #2 4.0-4.5 gr, 995 fps, 23,000 CPU

As always, start low and work up. And loading lighter bullets with data from the next size heavier is accepted practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That might not be enough to cycle the action. From Lee #2 for 38 ACP

For 130 gr. Jacketed OAL = 1.260

W231 4.4 gr, 875 fps, 20,000 CUP
Green Dot 4.2 gr, 910 fps, 19,000 CUP
Red Dot 4.0 gr, 910 fps, 19,400 CUP
Bullseye 4.0 gr, 935 fps, 18,100 CUP
Herco 5.3 gr, 945 fps, 19,600 CUP
Unique 5.3 gr, 945 fps, 18,800 CUP

OAL = 1.300
Acc #2 4.0-4.5 gr, 995 fps, 23,000 CPU

As always, start low and work up. And loading lighter bullets with data from the next size heavier is accepted practice.
Will see if it does cycle the action. My data books start at 2.4 of Bullseye for the 125 grain FMJ. Thanks for the input.
 

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Will see if it does cycle the action. My data books start at 2.4 of Bullseye for the 125 grain FMJ. Thanks for the input.
I loaded and thousands of 148 Grain .357 semi-Wadcutters intended for .38 Special, through my Colt 1902 Sporting back in the 1980s...I used "Unique" and it was a fairly mild Load meant for 50 yards and closer, indoor Range. I think they dropped about 10 inches at fifty yards, so who knows what FPS, but likely in the mid 7s I'd guess. But they dropped consistently, so I was happy, my groups were good.

They fed fine.

I evolved the Load empirically by starting out too low to cycle when fired straight down in to a Bucket of dry Sand with a Cloth over it...upping in tiny bits till it just would cycle, then up one tiny bit more...I wantged a Target Load which would be reliable and easy on the Pistol.

Worked perfectly, was a fun round too, since it made perfect round Wadcutter Holes in the paper Targets.

A few months back I loaded up a Box of .38 ACP with 125 Grain RNL and 6.1 Grains Vihtavuori 3N37.

I have not tried them yet nor clocked them, but my guess is they will be around the 1000 FPS mark.

Vitavouri 3N37 is one well worth working with for .38 ACP and is THE one to have for 9mm Largo, so even within a range of loadings, that general Case size seems to be it's "Sweet Spot".
 

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Last few Days I got back in to Casting and cast up a bunch of the old "IDEAL" 356 472 Bullets, which in my instance weigh 142 Grains with pure Lead...and drop from the Mould right at .360, so I wil size them down to .357 for the old Auto-Colt.

These - or their slightly shorter version - so far as I have gathered, were intended for Paper Target use with the 9 mm Luger and the early Colt 38 Automatics ( hence the 'nose' for feeding properly ) but would do fine in .38 Special also of course, or likely do well in .38 S & W too.

I'll decide on a loading sometime soon and load up a Box to try out in my Colt 1902 Sporting Model.

I do not know of any place which sells the old IDEAL 356 742 Bullet or it's equally obscure and forgotten slightly shorter Brother...I wish someone would sell them! They deserve to be available...and a 125 Grain smaller Brother one would be a delight.

Hosted on Fotki
 

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I'd like to shoot mine, I've had it for 15 years and never have. I'm getting inspired. Would be fun to see one filmed in slow motion cycling.
 

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The older Lyman Manual #45; page 169:

"For the "Standard 38 Auto" cartridge, it is recommended that you use a bullet of 133 grains or less. reduce the starting load by 1/2 grain and work up to the starting load.
Do not exceed this load with the "Standard Auto" cartridge."

Cases: Remington
Primers: Remington 1 1/2

130 Grain Jacketed
Bullseye..... 3.4..... 870
Unique...….. 5.0 …..961.....I'd keep this load at 5.0, same for Herco.
Herco……….. 5.5.... 974
Red Dot..... 3.5..... 825

Later editions do not have this statement, although I think #46 does, so I'm not so sure if this will apply to any load data. If you keep the FPS below 1000 you should be okay as the .38 Auto is listed at 1040 factory.
Factory .38 Automatic loads are pretty stout comparable to any standard 9mm Luger load.

Hornady publishes data for their bullets

Winchester data is 4.4 grains of 231.

These old Colt 38 Automatics are tougher then what might be suggested, but I would not try to load up past reliable functioning. These guns also seem to have weak headspace.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The older Lyman Manual #45; page 169:

"For the "Standard 38 Auto" cartridge, it is recommended that you use a bullet of 133 grains or less. reduce the starting load by 1/2 grain and work up to the starting load.
Do not exceed this load with the "Standard Auto" cartridge."

Cases: Remington
Primers: Remington 1 1/2

130 Grain Jacketed
Bullseye..... 3.4..... 870
Unique...….. 5.0 …..961.....I'd keep this load at 5.0, same for Herco.
Herco……….. 5.5.... 974
Red Dot..... 3.5..... 825

Later editions do not have this statement, although I think #46 does, so I'm not so sure if this will apply to any load data. If you keep the FPS below 1000 you should be okay as the .38 Auto is listed at 1040 factory.
Factory .38 Automatic loads are pretty stout comparable to any standard 9mm Luger load.

Hornady publishes data for their bullets

Winchester data is 4.4 grains of 231.

These old Colt 38 Automatics are tougher then what might be suggested, but I would not try to load up past reliable functioning. These guns also seem to have weak headspace.
I have that manual. I have been using Sharpe's "COMPLETE GUIDE TO HANDLOADING". I have been using the 2.8 grains of Bullseye with a 148 Grain WC in my Colt .38 Special MidRange and it cycles well and shoots well, actually much better than I do.
 

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Fellas - I purchase 2 boxes of shells from a reputable seller on GB. Made the mistake of taking the gun to a show, and a guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse! Never even got to put a round through it!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Fellas - I purchase 2 boxes of shells from a reputable seller on GB. Made the mistake of taking the gun to a show, and a guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse! Never even got to put a round through it!
The last I saw at a gun show was offered at $70.00 a box. More than I want to pay. I did find a box not long after I bought the pistol, I was in Pa. and a small gun shop had a box of Aguila for $20.00. Of course I bought it.
 

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I'd like to shoot mine, I've had it for 15 years and never have. I'm getting inspired. Would be fun to see one filmed in slow motion cycling.
Light Loads, heavier Bullet...well oiled slide, you can pretty well watch it cycle..!

I am wondering how 777 would do in .38 ACP...

Might try a few rounds to see...
 

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If loading our own, 38 Super Brass is the identical Cartridge, and perfectly alright to use it...it is a lot easier to find too. If not comfotable with possible confusions, then of course do not use .38 Super Brass, but stay with .38 ACP Brass proper.

As for me, I never liked FMJ, and I have never used it in Loading my own for anything.

Load your own, you can tailor your Rounds to be what you want, and to have the kind of Bullet you want, have the FPS you want.

Cast your own Bullets too, and it is just that much nicer.

If not for the Hague Convention of the 1890s which had the subscribers agree to no more use of "Dum Dum" Bullets in Rifles in context of formally declared War, no one in Civilian Life would have ever wanted or liked or had any reason to ever use FMJ in anything, and certainly not in any Hand Guns.

Being as the early Automatic Pistols Manufacturers wished for Military Patronage, ammo Makers elected to go along with the Hague Accord for those Pistol's Cartridges...otherwise, we'd have had Lead Bullets the whole time for all the Automatics, and some Semi-Jacketed Soft Points maybe, for those who may want them, and those likely only for the Luger P-'08 and .38 ACP, since .380 and 32 ACP likely would not be able to really justify their use for want of enough mass and FPS for a semi-Jacketed Soft Point to really expand well on impact.

Lead Bullet will go faster on the same Powder charge with less pressure, than FMJ, and are very kind to the Barrels and to the Pistol as a whole.

FMJ is hard on the Pistols and hard on the Barrel's Rifling and are much less efficient in every way...making for higher pressure, higher Heat, more wear and strain, and nothing gained in accuracy at all...

Load your own! And be Happy!

It's fun! and very satisfying!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Graf & Sons has .38 Auto brass:

38 Auto - Handgun Brass - Metallic Reloading - Graf & Sons

Keep an eye on Gun Broker as I've seen 38 auto listed for a reasonable price, but most want too much.
I have a decent stash of .38 Auto



I have 500 .38 ACP headstamped cases.

If loading our own, 38 Super Brass is the identical Cartridge, and perfectly alright to use it...it is a lot easier to find too. If not comfotable with possible confusions, then of course do not use .38 Super Brass, but stay with .38 ACP Brass proper.

As for me, I never liked FMJ, and I have never used it in Loading my own for anything.

Load your own, you can tailor your Rounds to be what you want, and to have the kind of Bullet you want, have the FPS you want.

Cast your own Bullets too, and it is just that much nicer.

If not for the Hague Convention of the 1890s which had the subscribers agree to no more use of "Dum Dum" Bullets in Rifles in context of formally declared War, no one in Civilian Life would have ever wanted or liked or had any reason to ever use FMJ in anything, and certainly not in any Hand Guns.

Being as the early Automatic Pistols Manufacturers wished for Military Patronage, ammo Makers elected to go along with the Hague Accord for those Pistol's Cartridges...otherwise, we'd have had Lead Bullets the whole time for all the Automatics, and some Semi-Jacketed Soft Points maybe, for those who may want them, and those likely only for the Luger P-'08 and .38 ACP, since .380 and 32 ACP likely would not be able to really justify their use for want of enough mass and FPS for a semi-Jacketed Soft Point to really expand well on impact.

Lead Bullet will go faster on the same Powder charge with less pressure, than FMJ, and are very kind to the Barrels and to the Pistol as a whole.

FMJ is hard on the Pistols and hard on the Barrel's Rifling and are much less efficient in every way...making for higher pressure, higher Heat, more wear and strain, and nothing gained in accuracy at all...

Load your own! And be Happy!

It's fun! and very satisfying!
I do cast my own at times. That is how I learned reloading many years ago. As of right now I have 18,000 slugs on hand.
 

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I have 500 .38 ACP headstamped cases.



I do cast my own at times. That is how I learned reloading many years ago. As of right now I have 18,000 slugs on hand.

Yikes!

And here I was doing the Proud Pony Walk having cast about 300 odd!

Lol...

It's been really enjoyable, and I am glad I sent off for the little Lee Electric Melter...it is working out very nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yikes!

And here I was doing the Proud Pony Walk having cast about 300 odd!

Lol...

It's been really enjoyable, and I am glad I sent off for the little Lee Electric Melter...it is working out very nicely.
I am lucky in that I have access to a LGS that buys collections and estates. Since there is not a real market for used reloading equipment and broken boxes of components, I get first dibs. Lots of usable stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
1903Hammer Group.jpg
Shot this today with my M1903 Hammer. I shot at only 7 yards for these shots. The 15 yard group was a bit larger and a bit high left. Those ity-bitty sights are hard to see for these old eyes. The 2.8 Grains of Bullseye would not cycle the action. Will be trying either a 3.0 grain load or 3.5 grain load next. But none the less it was and is fun. What else does a retiree need?
 

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Just so happens that I shot one of our Pocket Hammer Colt's today.
One load was 5.0 Unique, my brother stated that they sounded like my .38 Supers, but they're not.
When I found out IMR 4756 was discontinued I bought the last two cans locally: 5.0 barely worked the slide with the case getting caught in the ejection port, but 5.3 seemed like ca nice light load.

Looking at that old Lyman data Red Dot should make a nice load. I've never used any Red Dot, but might get some.
 

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You might look at the new IMR Red. Supposed to meter better, burn cleaner and use the same load data as Red Dot. I still have half a can of Red Dot, so I haven't bought the IMR, yet
Yes, I suspected that those new IMR powders where marketed to compete with the old Alliant/Hercules standard.
 
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