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Discussion Starter #1
Getting ready to load some 38 S&W for a nice old Regulation police I just bought. Some thoughts in advice

You often hear that the 38 S&W requires .360 bullets. Looking for a 360 mold with no sucess. They I went back to my old loading manuals. Real old manuals Sharpes, Matten and pre WWII Lyman handbooks. They all recomend .358 bullets. It could be the 360 information is one of the often repeated myths that has not been applied to the well made post WW I S&W solid frame revolvers. After all the S&W cartridge is very old and was intended for the 19th century top break guns. Am going to see what happens with regular .358 lead bullets

Powders recomended and loads in the modern manuals also reflect the many old top breaks. I don't need powerfull loads however would like to use Hodgen Clays not have to buy a can of Bullseye which is most often recomended. Some W231 data too which I have on hand but don't think of as a suitable powder for this small case. On quickness charts Clays is real near Bullseye just a bit slower and faster than W231 which gives me a bracket to consider. Am going to try real light loads of Clays working up carefully using the cronograph. Objective is to get modest velocity and a clean consistent burn. Guessing only it's going to be a near duplicate of the old manual Bullseye loads.

Anybody have actual experence with the cartridge would appreciate comments

Boats
 

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Boats if you slug your bore with pure lead, that should give you your answer. Also measure your forcing cones in the cylinder.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's good advice

Have not slugged have to get up some pure lead first. All I have that's pure is either sheet or .45 round balls. But have dropped a .358 158gr RN in the cylinder, forcing, cone and muzzle, Fits and amount they drop seem to be exactly like a same vintage M&P 38 spl side by side comparison.

I am guessing 360 was for the very old guns not post WWI vintage Smiths. Would not be real efficient to produce two freshly designed 38 cal revolvers with slightly different bore diameters. If S&W was worried about efficiency back then.

Will post results

Boats
 

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I have two revolvers in 38 S&W; a 1955 Terrier and a British Enfield military pistol. I load both with .357 bullets. The Enfield shoots crazy small groups with 125 grain LRNs loaded to around 750 FPS. Haven't shot the Terrier much but did try it with some 125 grain 357 JHPs at a clocked 950 FPS (from the 2" barrel no less and far exceeding factory 38 Special +P). Accuracy seemed OK at close range.

My reloading manuals from the 1960s and 1970s all use .357 bullets for loading this caliber. I think maybe you really aren't giving up a whole lot with the slightly undersized bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
SP thats thats the sort of hands on info I need

I don't have any great expectations for accucary. Just get the old girl up and running with some respectable loads. Our club may start a "vintage" revolver division at our monthly revolver only matches. That Official Police would be a good match shooter J frame speedloaders fit and it will also fit J frame holsters. Also have my eye on a nice Terrier if I can get the Offical Police to perform.

Set back a bit with no rotors for my Bonanza that will throw the light charges I need. Have some on order from Forrester now. You can weigh them all but it's slow and not easy to do at the range while working with the cronograph. Better to throw out of a measure.

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Discussion Starter #6
Had the 38 S&W out yesterday. 158 gr .358 Round nose with Hodgen Clays. 1.8 is a nice load mild recoil. 2.0 worked well too but no better than 1.8 2.2 was a fairly hot load. Primers started to get flat. Recoil with the 2.2 was more than I need in this small revolver. My objective is to come up with loads for our clubs "retro" revolver match, only need to punch holes in cardboard.

No sign of leading at all. It seems .360 for 38 S&W information is not applicable to the post WWI solid frame Smiths. No test of how accurate the loads are yet. Am going back with 100 rounds using 1.8 and test, as well as Cronograph the load.

Boats
 
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