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Old 11-27-2011, 10:20 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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38 special load for Henry Big Boy

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All my loading books that list hand gun and rifle loads seperatly do not list 38 special in the rifle section. I read a rifle will be about 150 feet per second faster but I know nothing about the pressure. I'm trying to find a 38 load using Unique or Bullseye since I have a lot of it on hand. I'm loading lead RNFP 125 grain bullets. I want to use the same load in my Ruger Vaquaros for cowboy action shooting. Loading for the henry should the powder stay about 1/2 grain less than the max listed for hand guns? I'm assuming the longer the barrel the higher the pressure. Don't want to hurt the new Henry.
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 55
Most 38 special reload data is very very mild. I would not worry a bit about hurting the Henry with any modern published data for the 38 special.

The current lyman cast bullets manual lists a max bullseye load for the 125 rn FP at 2.4 grns and the max load for unique at 5.3 grns (pg 255).

Since I normally shoot 5 grns with a 158 with unique, these loads seem reasonable and mild. My preference is that I would avoid Bullseye and use unique since it is harder (not impossible though) to double charge the case with unique.

Please independently verify my data and be careful, but don't worry about over stressing the 38 special. It is really been wimped back over the last 5 decades or so.
38 Super and the 38/44. Two great rounds still today.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:25 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: SC
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Velocity will be greater because the expanding gases will accelerate the bullet over a greater length of time, not because the pressure will be greater. If the load is handgun-safe, it won't hurt your rifle.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:58 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 675
Originally Posted by pisgah View Post
If the load is handgun-safe, it won't hurt your rifle.
Caveat: be wary of shooting light target loads in the rifle. Light target loads with Bullseye can leave a bullet stuck in the barrel. (Ex. 2.7gr BE with 148gr WC) With Bullseye and your 125gr lead bullets and a ~4.5gr charge you should be all right. (Please double check my data, it's just off the top of my head from the last time I used BE in .38 SPL... it's been a couple years.

Originally Posted by pme166 View Post

The current lyman cast bullets manual lists a max bullseye load for the 125 rn FP at 2.4 grns .
Please double check that... that seems way too low. Should be around 4.6-4.8gr.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:14 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Whitewater, CO
Posts: 508
And, a load when shot in a revolver does not have as much pressure, as long...once the bullet has gone about an inch or so. Once the base of the bullet passes into the bbl, the bbl-cylinder gap releases a bunch of pressure.

Last edited by stinky; 12-02-2011 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:48 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 13
Thanks all for the information. Must be time to purchase new load books. All mine are about 15 years old or older. I am looking at Laser-Cast Oregon Trail book published in 1998, page 68, 125 grain Truncated Cone. It shows BE at 2.9 to 4.6 and Unique at 4.1 to 5.7. I like the idea of using Unique, it will occupy more space in the case. Shouldn't be any difference between TC and RNFP, lead is lead. I'm trying to keep the loads on the soft side since my 100 pound girl friend wants to shoot cowboy action with me.
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