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Yellowboy,

If that's a typo and you mean AP70N, then that's what is sold here as Hodgdon Universal Clays powder which is a fairly fast flake powder. This stuff lights easily and isn't position sensitive that I've noticed, and it should not require a magnum primer. Magnum primers are mainly needed for slower powders that don't light easily (slow spherical propellants, for example) and that are position sensitive. The magnum primer's job is to increase start pressure in a large case or in a case where the powder charge doesn't fill the case well, leaving a large portion of empty space.

If you are concerned the empty space in the case is making velocity less consistent, then try your load with a magnum primer and see if it improves over the chronograph. (Knock the charge down to 5.0 grains first, as the primer may raise pressure, then work back up again if it doesn't.) But since the load is already accurate, it seems self-evident that any variation in muzzle velocity isn't significant to the range you are shooting it at. It's common for muzzle velocity variation to have little importance until you get to ranges long enough to have a lot of bullet drop. At 200 meters you might need to worry about it.
 

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Not to elaborate on the excellent info from some of these members, that obviously have done extensive research on this, but for a rule of thumb plus p loads for me always meant that I can load one step hotter than the charts. Again don't be doing this in a one dollar gun that your great grandfather bought.
 

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The answer is all 38 Special brass is made with the same machine the manufacturer has regardless of make...A 38 Special is a 38 Special..I have shot thousands of rounds of 38 Specital using Plus P Plus in a lwt. wt. Chief special just to see if that was rumor or fact. Your hand will break down before the gun does. I am sure that the load companies would not by design sell ammo that was dangerous or sell a gun that would not shoot such production ammo, those guys dread frivoulous lawsuits with a passion.

I have read that those rounds will ruin a Aluminum frame S&W Chiefs Special...I know too many LE officers who have shot that load many times in those guns...I have done the same with a Colt Commander Lwt. wt. 45 using very hot handloads.

Sometimes in the gun world, some gun scribe or self styled expert will make an statement off the cuff without fact, and he assumes it must be so because it makes since to him, and readers who like this bird will go fourth and say it must be so, and the masses will follow like sheep to slaughter! :rolleyes: and we the public get more BS..We are all guilty of that to one degree or another..I still believe everything Jack O'Connor said!:)
 

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AFAIK, in .38 Special cases +P is just a headstamp makers use so the finished load can be identified as higher pressure than .38 Special standard loads are. If you look at the information on Starline's site they state this about their brass, specifically. It's just a different headstamp. Note that this is not true of all +P chamberings. Starline says their .45 Auto +P brass has about 2 grains less water capacity due to making it with thicker brass walls just forward of the head.

A .38 +P load has a lower pressure limit than the minimum proof load pressure for .38 Special, so there's no way it should blow up any modern .38 Special gun in good condition. The often repeated complaint that the original S&W Airweight frames were gradually stretched by a steady diet of +P loads could have been started due to confusion. Some early version Airweights had aluminum cylinders as well as frames. Same for the Colt Airman. It turned out these guns wouldn't tolerate normal .38 Special loads for any length of time before the cylinders developed cracks. The Air Force wound up getting .38 Ball made with 130 grain bullets at 13,000 CUP for these guns.

Then there are also the non-standard (there's no SAAMI spec for these) .38 Special +P+ cartridges with a wide range of actual pressures that depend on the maker. Someone could have had trouble with a particularly high pressure version of this round and confused it with +P which does have a SAAMI standard.
 

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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
I've load both brass and loaded as regular .38. and shot them in same gun, I've found no difference, However as someone said earlier, It is good to load the +P's loads in +P case for Ident. purpose. I do know that +P's are a little rough to shoot in my S/W Airweight although the Airweight is marked +P. In a larger,heavier gun they would be fine. Since my wife may shoot the Airweight,I just load regular .38 spc. for it.
 

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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.
Add to that the S&W J frames. Never met an older S&W J that lasted using +P loads regular. Don't know about anything current since I don't trust S&W anymore.
 

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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.
The answer is all 38 Special brass is made with the same machine the manufacturer has regardless of make...A 38 Special is a 38 Special.
Old thread, but seems to have some life now and then

I've recently been seeing people discuss wadcutter brass. I'd never heard of it, but there seems to be quite a lot of folks that have. Its supposed to be double canelure cases, and they were used for the factory hollow base wadcutter bullets. Those bullets are longer, softer, and seated deeper (seated flush with case mouth) than regular bullets, so the case walls didnt get thicker til farther down. Not much of an issue with normal loads, but may be if one is pushing them towards the upper edge.

Perhaps someone can check the weight to see if theres a difference, or measure the inside of the cases? I realized after hearing of wadcutter brass that all the factory wadcutter loads I recall did in fact have double canelure cases.
 

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I've been reading the different threads concerning the 38 special brass, and have personally observed a possible answer to some of the issues. I used to shoot league with my model 10 Smith, and easily put more than 50,000 handloaded rounds through it. Though I mostly loaded target level charges behind wadcutters, I ramped up the 38 special for my carbine, but kept them all within the loading data from Hornady. Hotrodding is a very definate no-no for me. My experience is this; when I used factory brass from factory loads shot and then reloaded, I could typically get 6 to 8 reloads before case failure, usually from splitting at the neck even with annealing. I believe the constant hammering is squirming the brass lengthwise necessitating trimming, leaving thinner and thinner brass in the wall. But also primer pocket failures from cracks and also oversized pockets. I believe since the Heads were not getting annealed, the work hardening was detrimental to the head area. What was exasperating was when I tried new unprimed brass, I could only get 4 to 5 reloads, with as low a 2 reloadings even with annealing. The brass seamed to be more brittle from the start. Federal brass lasted the longest. Winchester lasted the least.
Also I kept all the brass separate for loading because Winchester brass loaded rounds shot differently than the Federal.
As far as the 38 special vs. P+ loads, I saw no difference in how long the brass lasted even when loaded to the low target round pressures. Just as a side comment; on a bet I hit the RAM at 500 yards 2 out of 10 shots with the 38 special target loads with wadcutters from my Model 10 Smith with a 4" barrel. What fun!
 

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38 special vs. P+ brass

I forgot to mention on the other reply; Even though the brass may be manufactured on the same machines, what varies is the quality of the brass from lot to lot. Quality control of the lots is probably done by test firing the various loads, but they do have a tolerance within certain parameters. Still the lots can be different enough to show up when reloaded. Factory rounds are not intended to be reloaded, but to be safe at the designed loadings for the weapons they are intended for. The unprimed factory brass that I tried didn't last as long as the brass from factory loaded rounds that were shot then reloaded. My thinking was the unprimed brass didn't pass the quality parameters and were rejected for production runs that would include the highest factory loadings. The unprimed brass could then be sold to reloaders without the liability issues. In any case I feel if loadings are kept well below the "maximums" a lot more enjoyment and less stress to equipment and mind will be realized.
 

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07-02-2004

Ralph McLaney
Beartooth Regular

Red Dot load now +P
Gentlemen:

Additional thoughts:

When I began loading handgun ammunition on a progressive press in the 1980's my favorite powder was then Hercules Red Dot. I loaded 12 bore skeet loads and .45 ACP practice and IPSC major loads with Red Dot, so it was only natural that my .38 SPL loads would contain the same powder.

My 12 gauge lauched its 1 1/8 ounce cloud of shot with 18 grains of Red Dot from a AA12 hull with wads and primers from WW as well. That 3 dram equiv. 1200 fps load remains popular today. The .45ACP practice loads used a 200 gr. H&G #68 LSWC with 4.0 gr. for a velocity around 740 fps and my match loads pushed a 230 gr. H&G #34 LRN to 790 fps with 4.7 gr of Red Dot. Both .45 Load shot to the same point of aim for me a 25 yards. All of these are currently published standard pressure loads.

Back to the .38 Special. The Hornady 3rd edition loading manual (1980) listed 3.9 gr. of Red Dot as a maximum Standard Pressure load with 158 gr. lead bullets. With 3.8 gr of Red Dot my 4 inch wheelguns averaged around 850 fps. A good useful top end standard pressure load - under the old C.U.P. standard.

Fast forward: After examining the latest Speer 13 manual I found my old 3.8 gr. Red Dot load is now listed as a Maximum +P load. Somewhere over the standard 17,000 psi but apparently less than the current 20,000 psi +P maximum.
Still a good useful, but now, top end +P load with Red Dot.

The pressure standards changed - the load didn't.

Interesting.

Ralph


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alliant .38Spl +P 158 grain Lead SWC Red Dot Data:

Alliant Powder: Print Recipe

After all these years, Alliant still lists 3.8 grains of Red Dot as a maximum .38 Spl. +P load. This was the publlished maximum load under the now obsolete SAAMI 18,500psi +P Standard. Apparently it has not been updated to conform to the current SAAMI .38Spl +P 20,000 psi standard - for what ever reason.
That being the case, I still consider this to be a moderate and useful load for most .38 Spl. revolvers. Above the 17,000 psi "standard" .38Spl. but well below the current +P maximum. Particularly so for those who continue to use Red Dot for shotguns and other handgun calibers.

Ralph
 

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Nick.

I wonder if straight rimmed revolver rounds were lubed as was once the practice in British proof testing would that allow the case to fit tight against the breech face and thereby reduce case stretching.
 

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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.
I have tried using small rifle primers in ammunition intended for my rifles. Unfortunately they do not always perform reliably in my revolvers. Apparently the primer cups in the SR primers are too hard to be crushed consistently by some revolvers.
 

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Changing to magnum primers will increase pressures, Usually the switch to magnum primers requires a commensurate reduction in powder charge.

I get my brass from Starline. They claim that their +P and standard .38 special brass is exactly the same. But their price is still higher for the +P cases. What I do know is that with other manufacturers cases, if you put two side by side that are exactly the same length, the +p case will hold a little bit less water than the standard case. This suggests that there is more brass in the base and the beginning of the side walls in the +P than in the standard. Giving it more strength in those critical areas.
 

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Back in the 80ties I was issued the +P+ government loading. It seemed the cases were a bit thicker. They averaged 7 grains more than the standard cases. Both Winchester and Federal.
 

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This stuff seems to vary a lot more these days than it used to. I think it is a combination of outsourcing and that some manufacturers use different alloys than others do. Olin (Winchester) sold its brass business off in 2007. Between 2004 and 2010 they moved their ammunition making from East Alton, IL to Oxford, MS. I believe they were having trouble reaching an agreement with the union at the IL plant. Regardless of the cause, though, when you move you usually lose some skilled talent, and that may be a factor in their brass changing.

For example, Winchester came up with their semi-balloon head rifle cases to provide extra case capacity for the '92 Palma Match 308 brass, which weighed about 150 grains. I bought a bulk lot of their bagged brass ten or fifteen years ago at Camp Perry, and it averaged 156.5 grains ± 3 grains (I was able to identify that it came off four different sets of tooling and was mixed afterward). But that was all before they moved from Alton, Illinois to Recently folks have reported buying some that weight 166 grains. So it just isn't the same over time. BTW, you find South African brass as heavy as 195 grains. 308/7.62 brass has long had a wide range of cases and capacities. 300 Win mag has even more. But those are the two least consistent common chamberings I've found.

The bottom line here is that you can't expect different makes to match or even a single make, like Winchester, to be the same over long periods of time. Materials and processes and plants and operators all change over time.

Both the 357 and 44 Magnums were developed by Elmer Keith loading up 38 Special and 44 Specials in heavy frame revolvers to those much higher pressures. No special cases were made for that work. So one would expect that if 38 Special cases made it to 357 Magnum pressures, you certainly wouldn't need anything different for a pressure increase as relatively small as going to +P pressures. So I do not think differences you see in brass is because of pressure considerations. It's caused by process changes, alloy differences, outsourcing resulting in tooling that's not the same, etc. But it's always hard to be sure.

Primer formulations and powder manufacturing plants have changed, too. Pressure measuring has changed significantly. Copper crusher results used to be reported as "psi" before SAAMI came up with the Copper Unit of Pressure, so if you see old "psi" data, take it with a grain of salt as it may actually be CUP. The military tech manuals, for example, continued to list copper crusher results as "psi" into the 1990's, causing lots of confusion about actual pressure differences in NATO and civilian ammunition, most of which turns out not to be real, with a few exceptions. But overall, modern pressure measuring is more consistent and reliable, so a modern maximum pressure determination is more reliable than an old one.

SAAMI has an example of 30 Carbine reference loads sent to a number of different facilities for copper crusher and velocity testing. Those labs got the same velocity within a 3.5% span, but the copper units of pressure varied over a span of 23%. The same thing done with 357 Magnum, but using modern piezoelectric transducers, only garnered an 11% peak pressure span among the labs testing it.

So, if you have books with old load data that is different, that doesn't mean pressure standards have changed. All the components will likely have changed in some way, and if the pressures were determined by copper crusher originally, it could be as simple as more accurate measurements being made now. Old load manuals from bullet companies often have information worked up only by watching for pressure signs in a production gun, but never had the pressures actually measured. These days many manual loads are still developed in a production gun while watching for pressure signs, but the maximum loads are usually tested. Liability concerns have likely caused that change. It's a good thing, though, as I've tried load data in old manuals that was punishing the gun at the starting load level.


I've found Starline brass to be of good quality and to have about half the weight variation of other brands I've measured, at least it does in 45 Auto. If you shoot a lot of light target loads, using a taper crimp instead of a roll crimp on the 38 Special makes case mouths last a lot longer, though it may not be adequate to prevent bullets from backing out in a light weight gun. It does prevent it in a target revolver, though. You just have to watch for it to find out if it's a problem for you.
 
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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
I doubt it is brass thickness. There are two other conditions, one is the bullet is larger in diameter or you crimp too much and bulge the brass.
My friend told me the same that +p was thicker but that is not so.
 

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"+P" is a NEW CALIBER marking. Don't use in guns not made for it. The same rules have applied to guns and ammo for many, many years. You wouldn't try to shoot a 222 Rem Mag in a gun marked 222 Remington would you?

Renaming cartridges of the same dimensions has happened before, but the +P brought it mainstream but it was NOT explained.

YES, you can shoot +P ammo in an alloy framed gun just like you can overload a Krag and get away with it....for a while.

'Unsafe ammo' does not disassemble the gun for you and hurt you on the first shot and maybe not on the thousandths shot, but that doesn't make it suitable for the gun.
 

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I have tried using small rifle primers in ammunition intended for my rifles. Unfortunately they do not always perform reliably in my revolvers. Apparently the primer cups in the SR primers are too hard to be crushed consistently by some revolvers.
I can tell you what happens. Too strong a primer will move the bullet out of the brass before a good burn happens, that increases air space with tricky powders like H110/296. You can get as much as 2000 PSI from a primer alone. That is enough to transverse the throat, forcing cone and enter the rifling. The powder might not even ignite.
I am mostly a SA shooter and any large caliber rounds that use a RP needs a 28# hammer spring, I do change mine out to 26# for LP. Any weak strike on any primer ruins accuracy.
I only use a Fed 150 primer in the .44 mag, mag primers are not as accurate in the small bottle with 296 due to movement too soon.
Crimp does nothing except hold bullets under recoil in the other chambers. Case tension is the thing to use.
Now I never found a huge difference between SP and SP mags, they are not drastic. A SR primer has way too much force.
Tests with various .454 revolvers using 296 at starting loads had failures to light off so I keep a brass rod and small hammer in my bag. Removing the cylinders showed the bullet in the bore with the full charge behind it. Hardly discolored from the primer. WRONG PRIMER, SR mag of any brand. Only at max did it become reliable. I cut pockets for a LP mag and then any load in the books worked so we went to cut down .460 brass and a Fed 155.
Then a .45 ACP revolver that sprayed targets. I looked at the brass and told my friend "too much primer." I bushed a bunch of brass for a SP and accuracy was were it should be. He bought 1000 SP cases. There was a small improvement in the 1911 too.
 
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