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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My paperwork isn't done yet, so I can't get the Police Positive I'm looking at until Monday. So no shooting this weekend. Sadness. /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

However, a friend and I are going to an ammo reloading seminar at Cabelas tomorrow. And as luck would have it, he has a friend willing to sell me a Lee press with a 4 hole turret and also a single press and various other re-loading equipment. I'm sure I'll probably need to get .38 S&W dies.

So -- who out there is rolling their own .38 S&W's, and what would be safe for an old police positive like this one?

I'd like basically two types of loads -- one for self-defense (probably wadcutter?) and one for plinking and practice. Any other ideas are welcomed, too.

What are you all using?
 

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I've really come to like the .38 S&W cartridge. I started loading for it when I acquired an old Iver Johnson Cadet revolver in that caliber over 20 years ago.

As far as loading data goes, you either have to load down to pressures that the old break-top revolvers will take or you have to devise some sort of fool-proofing scheme so that loads you make up for solid-frame revolvers are never chambered in the weaker break-top guns.

Having said that, the best range load I've used in SOLID-FRAME guns is 3.5 grains of Unique powder behind a 158 grain jacketed bullet. It will work equally well with lead, and scoot a bit faster, but I don't like having to remove the leading. This load, in my 4-inch Police Positive generates about 675 fps. It's nice and mild, too.

Many "experts", as well as Massad Ayoob, caution against the use of reloads as a defense carry load. The logic is that a prosecuting attorney will cast you in the light of a blood-thirsty vigilante, looking for trouble, for whom factory loads were not nearly lethal enough. A good defense expert would be able to show that even a hot .38 S&W round would probably be no more powerful or deadly than a factory .38 Special cartridge. It's your call there (there are no readily available factory defense loads in .38 S&W).

Having said that, a good "warm" load with 148 grain hollow base wadcutter bullets is 4.0 grains of Unique, but don't seat them flush with the case mouth. Keep the OAL slightly less than maximum or your pressures will be too high. If you want anything hotter than this then you're on your own.

The nominal bullet diameter for .38 S&W is .360", compared with the "normal" .38 Special bullet diameter of .357". You can purchase lead .360" bullets, but they're a little harder to find locally than .357's. I use .357" bullets myself. They're a teeny bit less accurate than using .360" bullets, but if your barrel is in good condition then the difference is pretty insignificant up to 25 yards. The hollow-base wadcutters will do really well as the hollow base will bump up to fill the .360" barrel grooves.

Unless you have tiny monkey hands, consider purchasing a Tyler grip adapter or set of Pachmayr grips. The trigger guard on a PP with factory grips is pretty relentless at battering the knuckle on your middle finger.

-Bob
 

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No problem using .357-.358 sized bullets in a Colt chambered for the .38 S&W versus a Smith and Wesson in that round. Colt used the same .355 bore size for BOTH ,38 S&W(or as Colt preferred to name it, ".38 New Police") and .38 Special.

S&W used .360-.361 bore for the .38 S&W guns,and .357 bore for their .38 Specials and .357 Magnums.

I once owned a Colt Bankers Special that was very accurate,with virtually any reload I put in it,but seemed to thrive on about 3.5 Unique and the 180 gr. Bull-X lead T.,

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nope, not a bloodthirsty vigilante, just slightly concerned that my pistol of choice happens to be considered on the weak side for stopping a determined assailant, so I made my own charges that scooted it a little closer to a .38 special to help tip the balance in my favor.

"Your honor, if I'm hearing this correctly you're saying if I'd shot him with a .357 magnum factory load from a Mag .357, we wouldn't be having this conversation -- but since I hepped up the charge of my much much weaker ammo to something that's still much weaker than a .357, I'm a vigilante????"

I'm more concerned with being alive to stand trial in the first place if it should ever, God forbid, come to that. I frankly hope I never have occasion to use it in self defense.

Mine's not a break-top. What I'd probably do is keep one brick of that stuff around in a specially marked box, and use less custom charges for plinking.

We really need laws that don't swap the roles of criminals and victims, and don't leave victims open and defensless against criminals.

-P
 

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I agree. I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6. However, reloaded ammunition has been an issue in some trials. As long as you know that you can make your own informed decision.

-Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, and I appreciate you pointing it out. I wouldn't have thought of it. Given the nature of the ammo I'm using, though... my now informed opinion is that I shouldn't worry about it in the case of this gun and this ammo.

Thanks again!
 
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