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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As I'd rather ask a potentially dumb question here, than feel rather dumb because I damaged my new carry gun, here goes:

Is there any difference between brass stamped .38 Special and brass stamped .38 Special +P? I'm aware that the latter *load* is significantly more powerful, but is the brass beefed up for it, too?

In other words, will I need to adjust the load, when using the +P brass?
 

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I know that at least for Strarline Brass it is merely a means by which to identify your reloaded ammunition. So there is no difference except for the stamping. Probably the same for your barss as well.
 

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All I have ever read about it is just different head stamps to identify factory ammo, the demensions of the cases themselves are identical.

MIke.
 

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I'll fourth? that, its just a head stamp.

If you really want to check, you can do a number of things including:
Water Volume- Weigh the amount of water that each one holds
Weight - ...
Cross Section- Cut it in half from the 'neck' down and mic the case walls in different locations

You will find some variations between brands of ammo, even years and batches depending on how hard you look.

Again, there should be no appreciable difference, but like any time you are using MAX LOADS, "+P" or not, be careful, precise and watch for high pressure signs.

What is your carry gun?
 

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My Speer Lawman +P brass has thicker walls than any other .38 brass I have. I don't recall how thick, but it's thicker.
 

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I have read both. Different writers have cut and measured 38 and 38+P cases. Some writers report no difference, other say that the +P is in fact a bit thicker.

What may be the truth is simply mechanical tolerances between brass made on different machines. Conceivably, we might even find examples where regular brass is thicker than +P if it's due simply to wear of the forming dies or tolerances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
AVIVIII: It's a S&W 642. Just picked it up over the weekend.
Rocky Raab: Well, just to be safe, I guess I'll sort through and chuck (into the brass recycling can) the +P brass. I've *plenty* of brass.

Thanks for the responses, folks.
 

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Just load it separately. If you have a chrono, run a test batch of each with the same load. If there's no significant difference, use them as is. At the pressures we're talking about, it really makes little difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just load it separately. If you have a chrono, run a test batch of each with the same load. If there's no significant difference, use them as is. At the pressures we're talking about, it really makes little difference.
Well, I've got approximately 200 pieces of brass that isn't stamped +P, plus about fifty rounds of factory .38 Special in my cabinet, so it's not a big deal. I'll probably never have more than 100 rounds loaded up at a time, anyway.

While I was loading up a few test rounds, I decided to just keep the +P brass around, either in case somebody speaks up and wants it, or if I ever get it in my head that I should make some handloaded defensive ammo.
 

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What is the load you intend to use? If it's a target load, I think you'll be hard pressed to see any difference in accuracy even if the +P is thicker, and there certainly won't be a pressure issue.

The simple test is to weigh the stuff. If it isn't any heavier than your regular brass, the chances of it being externally different enough to affect internal volume significantly are very small.
 

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I do what Rocky says, except I don't worry about any pressure differences. A 38 spl is a MILD cartridge, and even if the +P brass had measurably less capacity, the pressure difference would be minimal . A 38 spl standard is 17000 CUP, +P is 18500. Even a 10% bump (very unlikely) in pressure over standard would be safe in your 642.

andy
 

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Comparing 38 Spec reg and +P brass....

I have shot a bunch of both and don't think there is any difference other than the stamp itself. I do find the +P or +P+ brass handy for segregating my loads relative to their pressure levels.
 

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Doesnt seem to be any difference between the +P and standard brass. I did notice that the +P+ govt load for the 38 special had cases that were 7 grains heavier than the regular brass. I heard that the +P+ were shortened 357 mag cases but cant confirm that info. For standard 38 special loads it shouldnt be a problem.
 

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Back in the 50's before the +p headstamps the higher pressure 38 special loads were marked 38/44 meaning the load was only to be shot in the S&W N frame revoler this was the load law enforcement used it was a 158 Gr Semi-Wadcutter HP it was called the Metro Load or the Chiago Load it was very good then and it's good up to this day. In the 70's SAMMI requried the higher pressure loads to be marked +P which enclued the 38 SPL & the Colt Super 38 Auto. Then in the 80's the 38 SPL got another upgrade that load was a 110 Grain Jhp at 1100 FPS or there abouts that was for one of the Federal Law Enforcemt acengy's i belive it was the US Postal inspectors and it is Law Enforcent only, it's headstamped +p+ The 38+p loads are to be used in handguns rated by the maker as such, or of all steel construction. The have found in difference in comerical brands of brass ive found differenct in the Winchester Mil-Spec 38 special brass headastamped WCC.
 

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FWIW. Several years ago I reloaded some wadcutters sized .358" in some +P cases. Deep seating these bullets caused a buldge in the +P cases while in standard 38 Spc. cases they didn't. I didn't go into measuring or any more research, I just saved the +P for my 125 gr jacketed loades.
 

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IMHO there is no difference except for the headstamp itself. I use the headstamp to my advantage to designate those reloaded rounds are +P or +P+ power level.
 
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