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  #1  
Old 02-20-2011, 01:48 PM
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Brass: 38 Spec vs 38 Spec +P


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Is there any difference in brass stamped 38 Spec vs 38 Spec +P?

I checked my Speer #13 and could find no difference in the brass dimensions altho there are different loads for 38 spec vs 38 spec +P.

Does that mean you can put 38 spec +P loads in brass that is stamped 38 Spec?
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  #2  
Old 02-20-2011, 01:54 PM
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Nope.

No difference whatsoever outside of the different headstamp.
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  #3  
Old 02-20-2011, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for that quick help.

Just found another forum with the long answer:

http://www.nodakoutdoors.com/forums/...p?f=20&t=61389

Their main concern is accidentally putting an unmarked +P round in a normal 38 Spec revolver.
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  #4  
Old 02-20-2011, 08:52 PM
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Sidenote: S&W revolvers chambered for .38 Special and manufactured prior to the introduction of +P ammunition are not warranted if they are fired with +P ammunition. So said the Customer Rep when I inquired. If you contemplate shooting +P in an older S&W, you do so at your own risk.
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  #5  
Old 02-21-2011, 04:48 AM
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No worry. I've got a Ruger Security Six and a Rossi Model 92 in 357. But I appreciate the heads up.
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  #6  
Old 02-21-2011, 05:12 AM
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. . . then you are good to go!
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  #7  
Old 02-21-2011, 07:18 AM
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A couple of points on this. One is that SAAMI only specs outside case dimensions to ensure chamber fit. What the brass manufacturer does to the inside is up to him. The brass just has to perform in the intended chambering with a proof load charge. Proof loads are always fired in standard cases (so brass isn't helping the gun unduly), and standard brass has to survive that event (but just once). Since .38 Special proof loads (25,000-27,500 psi) are above +P (18,500 psi) and even the non-standard +P+ pressures thus far tested (22,000 psi on Fr. Frog's site), you can be sure standard brass is up to them for at least one firing, but case life could be pretty poor in some instances as far as tolerating reloading goes.

For this reason, you'll find Starline, which caters to reloaders as a primary market, has elected to make their .45 ACP +P cases 17 grains heavier and, so, with a couple grains lower water capacity than their standard .45 ACP brass. This is so the reloader will get less case "pregnancy" bulging in partially unsupported chambers and get better load life out of it when running high power factor loads.

Revolvers support cases well, so standard cases are generally just fine in them. Starline and all others, AFAIK, make .38 Special +P cases the same as standard except for the headstamp. Revolver brass using a heavy roll crimp, as needed for higher pressure loads, tends to split at the case mouth long before it wears out from brass flow at the head and primer pocket.

The CIP (Europe's equivalent of SAAMI, but with legal authority there, which SAAMI does not have here) uses just one pressure for all .38 Special. They have no +P and, where industry here creates +P+ without a SAAMI standard existing for it, the legal authority of the CIP prevents that in Europe. That CIP standard is 150 MPa, 21,756 psi. That is about as much as the non-standard +P+ loads Fr. Frog has listed results for. They simply expect all .38 Specials to handle that just fine. They do require all guns to be individually proofed across the pond, so no gun can be sold that has not withstood proofing above that higher pressure standard. That's probably about 3,000-4,000 psi over SAAMI proof pressure for the same round. (I know SAAMI's proof standards, but not CIP's, so that's a guess.)

Personally, if I owned an older aluminum frame Airweight snubby, I would not be putting +P or +P+ pressure into it. I'd be afraid of gradually stretching the frame, as has been reported for some of those. I would avoid it in really old revolvers in case the steel is softer, especially pre-WW I, without first doing very careful load work-ups. But otherwise, I think the CIP has the right idea. You'll be hard put to find anything modern that doesn't digest even +P+ just fine.
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Last edited by unclenick; 02-21-2011 at 07:22 AM.
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  #8  
Old 02-21-2011, 08:43 AM
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Nick, please make this a "sticky". This question comes up often enough. Excellent post if even I can understand it.
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  #9  
Old 02-21-2011, 09:54 AM
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Done. Thanks for the suggestion.
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  #10  
Old 04-04-2011, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unclenick View Post
A couple of points on this. One is that SAAMI only specs outside case dimensions to ensure chamber fit. What the brass manufacturer does to the inside is up to him. The brass just has to perform in the intended chambering with a proof load charge. Proof loads are always fired in standard cases (so brass isn't helping the gun unduly), and standard brass has to survive that event (but just once). Since .38 Special proof loads (25,000-27,500 psi) are above +P (18,500 psi) and even the non-standard +P+ pressures thus far tested (22,000 psi on Fr. Frog's site), you can be sure standard brass is up to them for at least one firing, but case life could be pretty poor in some instances as far as tolerating reloading goes.
Actually, case life at those pressures is much better than you'd think. I have two Rossi 357mag leverguns and with Quickload's help, I've developed a great 38spl+P+ load specially set up to work well in leverguns. First of all, leverguns are case length sensitive so they cycle better with 357mag and long loaded 38spl. A standard 38spl has an OAL of 1.460" while a 357mag's OAL is usually 1.580". I've found that rounds with OALs of 1.500" and longer eliminates any case flipping and other feed failure issues in both my 20" Rossi carbine and 24" Rossi rifle.

With that understood, and with a very large supply of Zero 158grn JSP bullets, a few kegs of H110 powder, plenty of magnum primers, and a large supply of 38spl cases and few 357mag cases, I undertook to find a load that worked well in my leverguns with the components I had on hand even though there is no load data nor any recommendations to use H110 powder in any 38spl loads.

I understood that loading long will reduce pressure, that H110 likes to work in a high density environment, and that 38spl cases won't hold up long if overstressed. What I didn't know was what was a reasonable pressure limit for the 38spl brass as I wasn't concerned about the rifle being damaged because it's proofed for 357mag level pressures.

Anyway, I looked at the 38spl's remaining case volume when a 158grn bullet is loaded to a OAL of 1,500" and compared that volume to a 357mag case with the same bullet loaded to the recommended 1.580" OAL. Then I looked at the load data for H110 and noted that the starting was 15.0grns and max was 16.7grns with a similarly shaped 158grn XTP bullet.

Next, I calculated the percent reduction is case volume between the the long loaded 38spl and the normal 357mag and applied that percentage to the starting and max loads of H110 to get an idea of a target range. I wanted to maintain the same case density to ensure that the H110 burned completely in this hypothetical load.

Based upon that data, I selected a target powder load of 14.0 grns with that bullet for my Rossi Levergun only 38spl+P+ candidate. Then I loaded that information into Quickloads as well as information on a 357mag version using the same bullet to see what the pressure and velocity predictions would be.

Quickload didn't have the Zero JSP bullet in it's database but it had the Speer JSP in 158 grain. The Speer bullet has a length of 0.630" and is seated 0.275" deep. It turns out that the Zero bullet approximates the length of the Speer but sits a bit farther in a 0.290". The results are as follows:

In a 20" rifle barrel Quickload projected my 38spl+P+ load using 14.0grns of H110 at an OAL of 1.500" would produce a peak pressure of 20,411psi (vs the peak SAAMI spec for 38spl+P of 18,500psi) and 1,525fps while the .357 Magnum load with 16.7 grains of H110 at an OAL of 1.580" would produce a peak pressure of 32,400psi (vs it's SAAMI peak pressure of 35,000psi) and 1,798fps. I was encouraged by the max pressure level predicted for my 38spl+P+ load so I worked up 20ea of them and 20ea 357mag to take to the range with my chrono and actually measure the average velocities to compare with those predicted.

My thought was that if the actual velocities were close to the predicted velocities, then the actual pressures would also be close to their predictions. The actual velocities measured out of my 20" Rossi carbine for the 38spl+P+ averaged 1,503fps while the 357mag velocities averaged 1,799fps on a 78° day at 6,100ft above sea level.

Encouraged by the results, I next did a life test on 20ea 38spl cases with my 14.0grn loads. The cases were a mixture of Winchester, Remington, and Speer. Each case was loaded and fired 10 times and of the 20 cases tested, only 1 case failed after 9 reloads; it split. The case failure caused no noticeable issues with the rifle or even the load's performance. In fact, the split case wasn't even noticed until I got it home and tumbled it clean.

Note: Later I shortened some of the 38spl, 14.0grn loads to an OAL of 1.460" with a Quickload predicted peak pressure of 22,962psi to test what higher pressure's affect would be on case life. I ran 10 more 38spl cases for 10 reloads at this higher pressure and only had 1 case failure after the 10th reload. Again, it was a split case that produced no noticeable bullet performance issues or extraction issues.

From this data, I've surmised that my 38spl+P+ load is safe when fired from my Rossi M92 leverguns because, a) the peak pressure is far below the max pressure limits for a 357mag, and b) at even the elevated pressures of the 38spl+P+, the 38 cases proved durable enough to safely work in a Rossi M92 levergun for a reasonable number of reloadings.

Note: This load is above SAAMI specifications for a 38spl+P round and should not be undertaken lightly. You assume all risks of loss, liability, and injury should you elect to duplicate these loads in your firearm. Further, I've not tested, nor can I recommend the use of this load in any other firearm.
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Last edited by COSteve; 04-04-2011 at 08:34 PM.
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  #11  
Old 04-05-2011, 01:57 PM
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Steve,

I should have broken the statement down. The heads and walls of these cases don't normally expire easily, IME, but rather, slow powders at higher pressures tend to require heavier roll crimps that harden the case mouths so they split sooner than with light crimps or the taper crimps common on light target loads. So the pressure is indirectly responsible in that instance.

The other thing that can happen is, with loads somewhere in the ballpark of 30,000 psi MAP you begin to see enough pressure to stick the case wall to the chamber and stretch the head back to meet the breech. There's some variability depending on where in the pressure rise the bullet starts to move, but if this is occurring with your load, it will eventually require case trimming. If you're having to trim, then eventually you'll get a pressure ring that never appears at lower pressures. So there's a pressure threshold phenomenon for pressure-caused wear in that instance.

I might mention for those interested, that the difference in peak pressure with different bullet seating depths and case lengths you saw with 296 has to do with expansion ratio. In the shorter case, that ratio is larger, since the bullet doesn't have to move as far to double the space the powder begins burning in, nor to multiply it further beyond that. The faster the volume multiplies with bullet travel, the harder it is for a slower burning powder to evolve gas fast enough to fill it, so peak pressure drops.

Because of the larger expansion ratio, if you fill 100% of case volume under a bullet base with 296/H110 in .38 Special, the peak pressure will be lower than when you fill it 100% under the same bullet in the .357 Magnum case. Indeed, if you apply the CIP pressure limits (nearer originals) rather than current SAAMI psi MAP limits for .357, 41, and 44 Magnum, you can fill them all 100% and be within those limits. The higher pressure .454 Casull Magnum is also well within its limits under either standard with that load density. It's only when you get to the long-for-caliber cases, like the .357 Maximum or the .460 S&W Magnum that the expansion ratio gets small enough for a full case to create dangerous pressures.
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Last edited by unclenick; 04-05-2011 at 02:02 PM.
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  #12  
Old 04-06-2011, 12:40 PM
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Nick,

Thanks for the explanation above. I knew the 'what' from my testing but I'm driven to find out the 'why' whenever I can. BTW, my hot 38spl loads just us a taper crimp and work fine. BTW, chrono testing shows that with 14.0grns of H110 in the shorter 1.460" OAL, my loads produce terrifically low (single digit) std dev's too. I thought of going to more powder but I really didn't need to as my std dev's at the 1.500" OAL were in the low 20's and that's good enough for this application.

Expanding on your comment on expansion ratios, I've talked to some old hands that claim that Hodgdon's max of 16.7grns of H110 with a 158grn bullet in a 357mag case is no where near the real max. Both of them say that they routinely load up to 18.0grns for their levergun loads because they just don't see any pressure signs at those levels. I asked how well their brass held up and they same they get over 10 reloads before they toss them.

While interesting, I'm not inclined to run right out and load up 500rds at that level. That said, I'd be interested in anything you might know about 357mag loads at that level (leverguns only) you'd be willing to share?
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  #13  
Old 04-07-2011, 10:48 AM
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CAUTION: This post discusses loads or load data that equals or exceeds published maximums for the cartridge(s) mentioned. Neither the writer, The Shooter's Forum, nor the staff of The Shooter's Forum assume any liability for damage or injury resulting from using this information. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DUPLICATE THE DESCRIBED LOADS without first working them up from a published safe starting level charge while watching for pressure signs. If you don't know how to do that, don't try.

A couple of things: In the shorter case the primer can better pressurize the space (see this article, in particular, page 2 paragraph 2), so that may be helping the standard deviation and mitigating the need for the heavy roll crimp recommended for that powder, but you may want to try one anyway to see what effect, if any, you detect.

If your revolver weighs enough, it can avoid the bullet pull problem. It occurs when recoil backs the gun up so the cylinder smacks back against the case rims. This tends to pull the cases off the bullets, which inertia tries to keep in place. Obviously, the lighter the gun, the higher the velocity imparted to it by the equal and opposite force that accelerates the bullet and powder masses, so the sharper the blow pushing the case rims back.

I have a friend with a flyweight titanium revolver in .45 Colt. He is a big guy with big hands and a lot of weight to put behind the grip frame, but he cannot shoot anything heavier than 200 grain bullets in it. If he uses the traditional 250 grain bullets, they pull. Commercial, hand-rolled, it doesn't matter. The heavier bullets pull and the cylinder jams when they protrude from their chambers.

As to warmer loads, I'll elaborate a little on what I said in my last post: If you look at the specifications for .357 and .41, and .44 Magnums, you conclude they were originally rated for higher pressures by SAAMI than they are now. The original specs were for copper crusher measurements (copper units of pressure; cup). These don't convert directly to psi for technical reasons, and indeed the two can scatter some around each other. However, in straight wall pistol cases up to around 40,000 psi they don't usually produce grossly different results. This makes the differences in magnitude of the old copper crusher and modern Piezo standards from SAAMI a pretty clear reduction. Note how the CIP's changeover didn't produce nearly the same differences.
Code:
            SAAMI     SAAMI      CIP       CIP
             cup       psi       cup       psi

.357 Mag     44K       35K      46.4K     43.5K 
.41  Mag     40K       36K       n/a      43.5K
.44  Mag     41K       36K      40.6K     40.6K
If you load to the CIP numbers, which appear to be closer to what the original specifications here in the U.S. (and for which every gun I've owned in these three chamberings has been more than beefy enough to handle), then you can pretty much fill the empty space under the bullet 100% with 296/H110, and not exceed those higher numbers in all those chambering, and even compress it several percent in the .357. But work up watching for pressure signs. If you go by the SAAMI specs, then, no, you can't use that rule with all bullets. I know of people running up pretty warm charges in .357 Mag loads, but given the erosion it causes, I'm not recommending that to anyone, offhand. Also, be aware that powder bulk density changes lot-to-lot by several percentage points, so the weight can change. Make measurements and see what appears to be within reason for you.

A useful formula:

seating depth = case length + bullet length - COL

Calculate seating depth and run the seater stem of your caliper out that far and set it down into the case and add powder level with it for 100% fill. Weigh that to find the number for your powder lot in your cases.
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  #14  
Old 05-01-2011, 02:02 PM
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The SAMMI +P rating for the .38 Special was raised from 18,500 psi to 20,000 psi in 1994.

See:

Will the real .38 Special +P please stand up.

http://www.shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=11047
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Old 05-02-2011, 08:33 AM
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Yes! That and the old vs. 1993 .357 and .44 Magnum ratings are an exercise in caution run amok. You can look at them in links I put up to SAAMI, here. For .38 Special, 17,600 cup and 17,000 psi is listed for standard loads, and 20,600 cup and 18,500 psi for +P in the 1993 numbers.

When I called Ken Green a couple years ago to clarify something on pressure testing, he said SAAMI would start publishing updated specs and make them available over the following several years. I don't know what the status of that is. I'm waiting for a CD to become available with all the newer stuff.

Meanwhile, when I'm in doubt about these funny changing ratings, I look at the European CIP standards. The CIP doesn't segregate .38 Special into standard pressure and +P. They have just one value for all .38 Specials: 150 MPa, or 21,756 psi.

My old Vihtavuori manual, which has copper crusher pressure numbers, lists 160 MPa (23,207 cup) for all .38 Specials. So, CIP did lower the magnitude of the number a little bit for Piezo transducer testing, but that's only 6%, from which I infer it is likely due to crusher and Piezo transducer discrepancies measuring the same reference loads. CIP positions their pressure sampling a little differently than the SAAMI method does, so their numbers can vary about 3% or so from SAAMI's based on that, but they are obviously still higher accepted pressures, no matter how you adjust them.

The bottom line is the CIP trusts all .38 Special guns that have been proofed to CIP specs to withstand what would be over 21,000 psi even if you measure using the SAAMI conformal Piezo transducer method. From that information, I expect such loads to be safe in all modern steel revolvers and modern aluminum and titanium and scandium alloy revolvers, unless they are specifically labeled as not for +P. Very old guns would need to be proofed to be certain, but I'd expect most to handle the CIP numbers. The old S&W Airweight revolvers should not be expected to have their frames resist being stretched by rounds above the SAAMI standard pressure numbers. I don't know when the frame alloy was first strengthened, so you'd need to call S & W to ask about a particular serial number.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:05 PM
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I notice on my old Star progressive when I use +P or +P+ it takes quite a bit more pressure on the stroke of the handle for the sizing and expanding stations. To me this indicates the +P stuff is a little thicker than the non +P brass. When all stations are full of +P brass there is a marked difference in the amount of pressure required as opposed to the non +P.
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Old 09-04-2011, 05:56 AM
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Welcome to the forum. Rules are to join in and have fun and play nicely with the rest of us kids. There are other rules in stickies in the General forum.

Some brass brands are thicker than others, so you need to segregate by brand alone before comparing standard brass to +P or +P+ to keep it apples-to-apples. Also, when you shoot higher pressure loads, they expand more snugly into the chamber so they are a little wider before you resize them, which might account for some of what you are feeling on the first load cycle after firing the higher pressure loads.

If you look at Starline's web site they state explicitly that there is no difference except the headstamp in their .38 +P brass. They say:

"38 SPL+P has no difference from the standard 38 SPL, other than headstamp designation for load segregation. This is due to the fact that our standard case design will handle +P pressures with no problems"

Back when Elmer Keith was developing the .357 Magnum, though, he was just using standard .38 Special brass of the day to get to 40,000 psi or so, which is significantly higher than the +P (22,000 psi max) and +P+ (no official limit, but commonly not over 24,000 psi when measured) that .38 Specials are loaded to today. The +P and +P+ designations didn't yet exist at that time, and no special brass had yet been made for the magnum, so there was no other brass to choose from, yet the standard held up fine.

I suppose, trying to save brass cost, some makers may have thinned their standard .38 Special brass from what it had been back then. SAAMI only sets external case dimension limits, leaving internal case dimensions up to the manufacturer, so it's not impossible that some minimizing of wall thickness and thinning at the head has occurred. I'm just speculating here, and don't know it for a fact. If so, that would make such a manufacturer's brass lighter than the original was. In that case, I'd buy Starline or Top Brass, or one of the other brands which have not gone that route.
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  #18  
Old 10-26-2011, 10:28 PM
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Just used two boxes ,50 rounds of
blazer 38specials 125 grain hollowpoints +p thru my Rossi levergun "boy" they come out of there, I would hesitate to use them in a revolver. Yellowboy
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:12 AM
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I gave it a try. I load 4.4 grains of 231 with Western Nevada 38-148 grain WC. The cases are what ever I have, no specific brand. I loaded 2 rounds with Winchester 38 spl+p cases. They wouldn't go all the way in my Dillon case gage. They were loaded on my Dillon Square Deal B. They would not go in any chamber on my S&W model 67. This leads me to think the brass wall must be thicker on a +p than regular 38 spl. I have been using this load for about 20 years so it must be the +P case. It won't go in farther than the crimp. Rick
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:40 PM
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I have been experimenting with 357mag loads fairly extensively of late, using standard rifle primers. My most accurate load is 5.5grains of ADI APO7N at 1215 fps, without any problems so far, but I have been told I should be using magnum pistol primers as they burn powder more efficiently. Can someone please give me info on this subject in case I have trouble down the line?God Bless, Yellowboy.
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