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Thread: A more efficient .38! Step inside for some edjumacation!

  1. #21
    Lives to Enable Revolvers Stephanie B's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
    East 860 by South 413
    There's a guy in these parts who cut down a 686 cylinder to take .38 Short Colts and machined a barrel with an extension to the now-shortened cylinder. The picture I saw of the gun looked nice and I only met the guy one time over two years ago.

    (We chatted because I was the only one shooting a revolver at an outlaw IDPA match.)
    Living the fully-vaccinated life.

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by willie View Post
    Did you buy this brass because you can't find .38 Spl brass?


    I load and sell ammo to some folks and don't like to use used brass for liability reasons. Trying to find new .38 brass has been extremely difficult, as well as most other types of new brass. So when I saw that Starline had a good quantity of .38 Short Colt brass I jumped on it. Same story with the Russians.

    The majority of the people I load for are all repeat customers and just ask what I have. I inform them of the difference, tell them to clean their guns after use and come see me when they run low.

    Most the time I am doing specialty stuff anyways.

    I actually just finally got in a back order of .38 Special brass, and am about to do a run of 148 wadcutters. Probably starting tomorrow.
    “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  3. #23
    Site Supporter 03RN's Avatar
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    Aug 2017
    New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by Whirlwind06 View Post
    I have thought of trying out USPSA revolver Major with my GP100.
    Using 38SC brass on a moon-clipped gun seemed to be the way to go.

    Not sure about getting major PF out of it though.
    That's a 158gr @ 1050fps

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by WDR View Post
    Are you using (light) 9mm data? Or .38 Short data? I've been curious about trying this for lighter loads either with short Colt or long Colt brass... I do wonder how heavy of a bullet you can push at a reasonable velocity without making them uncomfortable to shoot in the light 2" J-frames.
    I have not pushed any heavy bullets but I believe it would be very easy to push a heavy bullet at a decent speed. Use powders that are optimized for 9mm, and seat the bullets further out. Obviously .38 SC data was developed in a completely different era and the powders we have today are not really applicable, so you have to put on your thinking cap. Plenty of people will be quick to tell you all the things you cannot do, but you will be quite surprised just what you can.

    Here is a pic of a 170 grain powder coated hollow point cast bullet seated long. Out of curiousity I tried and (just eyeballing by loading an empty case next to the cases I slid the cast bullets into) I got 4.5 grains of Titewad (not Titegroup) in there, which is 1.5 grains more than I use in the load I have posted. The punchline is that it looks like you could get a heavy bullet moving pretty good with some reasonable experimentation.

    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    I'm not shy. What's your recipe?
    I am using a 125 grain Missouri Bullet Company Cowboy #2 Truncated Cone Flat Point.
    3 grains of TiteWad (Not Tite Group)

    Now for Dillon guys, this is a good little tidbit here. It seems obvious when you think about it after the fact, but not knowing has caused a few guys some headaches in experimentation. Use a 9mm powder funnel in the powder station rather than a .38 special or anything else. I use a 9mm Lee crimp die on the 4th station to give the ammo a slight roll crimp.

    “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  5. #25
    Powder Potentate Borderland's Avatar
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    Feb 2019
    49th Parallel
    Quote Originally Posted by TiroFijo View Post
    38 spl shoots great out of a 357 revolver, accuracy wise.

    But when I shoot 38 spl in my 357 mag guns I do take care to clean the crud/lead deposits in the throat leades to seat the 357 shells without problems. I've had problems before with this issue (as do all my friends that shoot 38 spl in 357 chambers), that's why I do it.

    I have no experience with 38 short colt on 38/357 chambers, but it seems the problem would be at least the same.

    I've never used 44 spl or russian cases in my 44 mags, simply because around here they are obscure obsolete rounds and the 44 mag is very amenable to mild charges anyway.

    What is needed for snubby aficionados in search of a modern, powerful and efficient round, is revolvers chambered in 9 mm luger BUT with a short cylinder to take advante for the round's short OAL and be more size efficient.
    I don't have any problems loading my .357 cases with a fast powder like American Select for 38 spl. velocity. I would have to look at my notes for the load but I'm pretty sure I got it from the Alliant website. I understand you can do the same thing with 44 Mag cases and Unique but I've never tried it.
    Last edited by Borderland; 06-16-2021 at 07:28 PM.
    In the P-F basket of deplorables.

  6. #26
    @Lost River

    This is a stupid question:

    Does the 38 SC use the same shell plate on a Dillon as the 38SPL/357Mag?

    I may seriously give this a try in spite of the fact I have a good quantity of 38 SPL brass.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by okie john View Post
    On a slightly different note, what kind of velocity could you get from the 38 Short Colt in a 20" lever gun, and how many 38 Short Colt cartridges would fit into the magazine?

    Okie John
    Can't directly answer but I built a 9mm PCC carbine for USPSA because I thought it would be fun. When trying my pistol loads running about 132 PF they were consistently well into the 140's range at about 147 PF out of a 16" JP barrel. I eventually gave up trying to get them down to 130'ish PF. I use very fast shotgun powder (Alliant e3) and the charge would be so light the line to hit a stuck bullet just seemed way to narrow to worry about it. So my PCC loads run 147'ish PF in the gun I never really shoot. Remember this is a simple blowback action too. If you run a powder with a suitable 9mm burn rate like around AA#7, Unique, BE86, etc. I would think a 20" barrel would clock some nice velocities to the point that bullet selection would be pretty critical due to very impressive expansion. I'd definitely run a bonded bullet or one for .357 mag.

    Would a round that short even feed though?
    Last edited by Spartan1980; 06-16-2021 at 09:11 PM.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jared View Post
    @Lost River

    This is a stupid question:

    Does the 38 SC use the same shell plate on a Dillon as the 38SPL/357Mag?

    I may seriously give this a try in spite of the fact I have a good quantity of 38 SPL brass.
    It is the same shell plate.

    They are fun little things.
    “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  9. #29
    Lost River:

    "Earlier this month I visited with author John Taffin (and one of the last few living guys who is still writing that is truly a subject matter expert in his field) at his home in Boise, who was quite excited when I told him that I was loading .38 long Colts and shooting them in .38 Special guns. He chuckled when I told him that I had had a few people tell me " you can't do that" and "take care with leading" type comments."

    Several years before I retired, I was assigned a temporary duty mission in Boise. During my time there, I was able to break free from some of my LE chores and arrange a visit with Mr. Taffin. I echo your sentiments. Mr. Taffin is a true gentleman, was very humble and incredibly knowledgeable. It was a real treat to meet one of the folks whose byline I read in the American Handgunner. I will always have fond memories of that visit. His description of Colt's Single Action Army led me on a quest to shoot a real one, which I was finally able to do with the help of one of our mutual friends.

    Back to the 38 Short Colt, if I recall correctly, a gentleman named Dan Cotterman, who at one time wrote handloading columns/articles for the American Handgunner, experimented with a shortened version of the 38 Special. I don't recall all of the details, but his theory was a shortened 38 Special case was significantly more efficient with modern powders and he achieved some pretty impressive velocities. Mr. Cotterman was looking for better performance for defensive/hunting loads as I recall. You may be onto something with the 38 SC. It might be worth a look through the old Handgunner issues to see if you can find the article. Food for thought.

    Bruce Cartwright
    Owner & chief instructor-SAC Tactical
    E-mail: ""
    Website: ""

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan1980 View Post
    Would a round that short even feed though?
    Yep, feeding would be critical. If you could sort that out, then you could turn it into a damned Yankee rifle that could be loaded on Sunday and fired all week. It wouldn't be as versatile as a Colt 6920 but you could make a nuisance out of yourself for quite some time--and probably acquire a 6920 or two along the way.

    Okie John
    Last edited by okie john; 06-16-2021 at 11:08 PM.
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