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I had another thread on a particular loading for the .357, reducing it down to say .38 +P++ levels.. But, why not the other way? If you are loading .38s in a .357, it is the 35,000 psi you care about. So, if you use a .38 case and fill a load that will give you 30,000 psi but load it in a .357, you won't harm the gun itself,, right? But what about the case? Other than the 1/8 inch in length, is the case for the .357 also thicker? What pressure is the .38 case rated for?
 

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As I commented in your other thread, you can always trim 357 cases down to 38 Special lengths. It's some work, but at least you get a headstamp that reflects your load pressure range. The simple Lee trimmer in a drill press would do it in a more reasonable time than a hand-turned trimmer.

Elmer Keith et al developed the 357 by working the high-pressure loads up in 38 Special cases. However, that was in the 1930s and cases may have been thicker then. They were in some 30-06, I know. Manufacturers trying to save money on brass could have lightened them some since then. About the only way to find out is to try, watching for pressure signs like loose primer pockets or case head expansion to tell you when the brass has taken all it can as you work the load up. My expectation is that you'll have no problems, though. For insurance, choose brass that has good, hard heads, like Starline.
 
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HArd to judge the styrength/structure of the barrss itself,but visually,by head thickness, and by volume it seems just the length.

That makes some logical sense. They'd only have to run two different operation to make.357's and .38's (head stamp and length)....logical doesn't mean that's how they actually do it, just how I would be cost-effective.

Not easy to judge pressure....the "signs"we read are a bit like fortune telling by tea-leaves.
 

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Oops (and that is appropriate for this post)….if there are any .38specail standard pressure rated revolvers about your place, could be a big "oops" waiting to happen.
 

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Oops (and that is appropriate for this post)….if there are any .38specail standard pressure rated revolvers about your place, could be a big "oops" waiting to happen.
Yeah. No, I have only owned .357s, even to shoot .38s. But that doesn't mean a round couldn't escape somewhere and make someone else's day unhappy. I'll just stick with .357 loads in .357 cartridges to avoid that remote possibility. It's just a theoretical question then. No .38 +P+++++.
 

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Like old guns as well as new.....one of the reasons I won't hot-load 45-70's.

NEVER a good idea to take old-old loading data too seriously. Back in Keith's day, there were some N-frame .38 specials....and some "hot" factory ammo. Sometimes called 38/44 loads back then.....were not a good idea for general consumption (and notice those "death's head" .38 loads exceed current .357 loading data).

Worth remembering as well, Keith blew up cylinders now and again.

Considering what Keith was getting from .38 cases and .44 specials cases, am thinking making that level of a loading in a case that would not chamber in .38's and .44's were the reason for the longer cases.
 

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People must have been smarter back in the day of Elmer Keith et al ... the ammo companies made and marked a round called 38-44 Special (I'm looking at Elmer Keith's 1936 book "Sixgun Cartridges & Loads ) this preceeded the 357 Magnum , these 38-44 Special rounds were intended for the big N-Frame S&W revolvers chambered in 38 Special .
Nothing prevented the 38-44 from being chambered and fired in any revolver chambered for 38 special . I guess after a few guns were damaged by careless shooters not reading the warning on the box ... they had to do something ...extend the case length... to keep them out of special chambers ... calling it a 357 Magnum was a marketing home run .
I have read , from a Speer lab worker , that Speer cases , regular 38 special , +P and magnum are all of the same basic construction ... the magnum case is not heavier...just longer . Now that was just Speer ... others ???
Back in early days cases were of "ballon head" construction and could hold more powder than the new "solid head" cases ...Elmer Keith said when using solid head cases to reduce your powder charge ... less volume = more pressure with the same amount of powder ... but he didn't say the ballon head cases were weaker they just had more internal volume .
Gary
 

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But balloon head cases are in fact weaker. That's what blew up in Elmer's S&W 21's when he was trying to not for the 44 special. The balloon heads failing bent the crane enough that sometimes the cylinder wouldn't open and/or bending the top strap. I still have a few balloon head 44 specials and if you look inside you can see where the weak spot is, right around the primer where now in modern cases is a much stronger web.

Elmer was many things, being full of BS and taking credit for the efforts of others are just a couple which is why you never read or hear anything about Charlie O'Neill and Don Hopkins anymore. Telling the same story ie fable or folk tale enough times that he believed it himself hence it became fact was another.

The 358429 (cast from linotype) was designed by Lyman, not Elmer, for the 38-44 to be used in 38 special cases. If you try and load/seat it where it was supposed to be crimped its too long for even modern S&W revolvers chambered in 357 magnum and must be seated deeper than the crimp groove. Bill Ruger took care of that problem with the Blackhawk and Security Six and all Rugers now have the longer cylinder. Except for maybe the LCR (?) I can't be sure about that one but maybe someone who has one can shed light on that fact.

Anyways, that's the facts as related to me by people who were actually there.

RJ
 

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I’m glad the OP clarified his question. And after decades of reading and researching his work (I read his G&A column every month) I have to agree that Keith was.....a great self promoter. He certainly deserves a lot of credit for magnum handgun development, but he was hardly all-knowing. Afterall, he stated repeatedly that the .30-06 was insufficient for deer hunting. His 400-yard (or was it 600 yards?) deer kill with a 4” M29 is hard to swallow, but then...I wasn’t there.




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What pressure is the .38 case rated for?
Well I haven't see a definitive answer yet, but the question comes around once in a while, for various reasons. Lots of answers too.

I like and load for the .38's in my collection, and virtually all of my .38 brass was acquired via "bucket buys" at a couple ranges, and off the floor, or outa' the grass. I have no doubt it's all a bit different, but not by much. Starline makes no secret about their +P brass, the only difference is the headstamp. I don't know if that's everyone's practice, but why wouldn't it be. ??

I've also taken .357 brass and trimmed it down to .38 size. Split necks mainly. Don't do that, as the necks split because the brass is tired and over worked, and will soon split again. What I've yet to do is trim new or once fired .357 brass to .38 to see how long it will last. .38 brass at .38 levels lasts a long time, some lasts for a VERY long time. I once trimmed a batch of .38 R-P for use in a slow fire league. Between league and practice I was shooting about 200 rounds a week. Same brass every week. It lasted 2 years with Red Dot and a DEWC loaded mild, (that league ran 2 months weekly in the winter, about 20 reload cycles). Then I pitched it. The same R-P brass loaded up to a +P recipe and used with a cast 160gr bullet and lots of Unique kicked the bucket in <10 cycles. That tells me that it wouldn't last very long loaded to 30Kpsi, but trimmed .357 might.

The only way to tell would be to give it a try. The trimmed .357 suggestion not only makes sense, but it would also let a user know if he was feeding grandad's old .38 poison.

Then, Bearbear, you could tell us how it worked :)
 

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If the case is completely supported by the chamber,
And if the chamber is rated to withstand the pressures of a .357mag,
Then the brass might not fail on the first firing.

But I suspect that you will have sticking extraction and the cases may stretch. If that happens you might get cases that separate at the head and then you'll have to deal with removing a stuck case body.
 

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Look at it this way....only Elmer's blow up cylinder would need to go to an auction house (it did).....anyone else, the scrap yard.
We are in the "anyone else" category.

Thinking that fire when he was a kid took out some pain receptors. .
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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More likely took out brain receptors.

A lot of people worship Elmer but having known Charlie O'neill's family I know the real Elmer, heck I even met him a couple times. Yeah he had a lot to do with the development of both the .357 and 44 Magnums but it wasn't really due to his ideas, it was more due to S&W getting tired of him blowing up their revolvers.

Charlie would take the best parts of two or three or four 21's and make one that functioned, tweeking a few things, beefing up others then give that one to Elmer for further destruction. My nephew has Dad's 21 that Charlie built from several ruined ones. Charlie added a ventilated rib and adjustable rear sights, but he passed away before he could finish it. I shot it plenty without the rear sight being done. Dad got tired of casting 429421's and reloading my ammo so at 11 he taught me how.

Anyways

RJ
 

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Reloading at 11?....like your dad....he understood kids and the philosophy: "If they ain't working for you, they're working against you.".

Probably wiser to just load the .38 specail cases to published +p levels with heavier bullets. Get at least some of the recoil of .357's for practice and not likely to screw up a standard .38 if one falls into the wrong chamber. Thinking the era of super-hot loading .38 cases should have ended in the 1930's.

Past that...it reminds me of belt-sander races.
 

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The trick to belt sander races was uh, an ah, uhm

Never mind

😉

RJ
 
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How about military brass? I have no intention of loading any hot 38s but this thread makes me wonder......
 

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Generally speaking, military heads are harder than commercial but less malleable, therefore. Makes them stronger but less tolerant of a multitude of loading cycles. The military isn't much interested in reloading.

I think if you section a case and look at your chamber profile you can get some idea. If the solid brass in the web around the flash hole extends past the lip of the chamber (as defined by the bottom of the recess for the ejector in a revolver), even when backed up against the breech, then you are unlikely to have a pressure issue with the brass unless you do something dumb like anneal the whole case.

For example, Starline says, specifically, there is no difference in their 38 Special and 38 Special +P brass but the headstamp. But in 45 Auto, where the web is not thick enough to pass the lip of some unsupported chambers, they put extra brass in the +P heads, cutting out a couple of grains of water capacity in return for limiting how pregnant the brass can get with warm loads.
 
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Which is why I'm beginning to phase out my older 357 brass for heavy loads in favor of Starline.

I reloaded one (Starline) 17 times with 158 grain XTP's and a Ruger load of H110 before it failed. I'm not saying the test is valid or that's what every 357 Starline case will do, just tried to see how far I could take a random case till it split.

RJ
 

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If the case says .38 Spl, then I only load .38 Spl.
If the case says .357 Mag, then I load .38 Spl to full power .357 Mag loads.
I have NEVER liked the idea of having a round sitting in a case labeled Whimppy clicker that has been loaded to Boomerwrecken levels (because their Super mega cannon chambered for some stupid reason in Whimppy clicker can take the pressure) and it finds itself in an innocent Whimppy clicker gun.
Just seems stupid when you could have gotten you Super mega cannon chambered in the appropriate mega cannon cartridge.
I love the .38 Super, it was still a stupid idea to bring it out with so many .38 Auto guns already out there. Today, with our younger citizens not even being educated enough to know the difference between their and there or why socialism had never worked and never can work, this sort of thing is asking for trouble.
 

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I shoot a lot of .357mag, thousands of rds in both my leverguns and my pistols. I've hot rodded .357mag loads to Elmer Keith levels (40,000psi) using new brass and then scrapping it. I've sectioned both .38spl and .257mag brass and the .357mag brass is thicker at base. The SAAMI spec for a .38spl is 17,000psi and a .38spl+P is 18,500psi. The brass is designed to handle those pressures, not the 35,000psi of a .357mag.

So, the idea of loading .38spl brass to .357mag levels is just plain stupid. Further, it dangerous to not only the fool who loads it but to everyone near him when he attempts to shoot it.

If the OP were to blow up his gun next to me at the range doing something that stupid, I guarantee he'd lose a lot more than his fingers or eyes. He'd lose every single penny he ever made because I'd sue the heck out of him for creating a bomb.

And whatever pistol he was shooting, the manufacturer would be there suing him as well because I'd drag them into the suit just to ensure that he went down, and went down hard for doing something so dangerous and stupid. Not because of himself, but because he posses a 'clear and present danger' to everyone around him.
 
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