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38special Question

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by HotRoderX, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. HotRoderX

    HotRoderX Gen4 BETATester

    Jan 15, 2011
    I got a question for you reloading guys. I was wondering can a 38special cartridge blow a solid built 357 like the Smith and Wesson 686 or Ruger G100. Is it possible to pack the round with enough powder to exceed the pressure of a 357mag? I know the 357mag came about because of people pushing the limits of 38special but if you compare the 357mag cartridge to a 38special cartridge there is a length difference. I know you can load a 38special cartridge to 357mag velocity just wondering if you can over charge it to the point of a kaboom. Might be a really stupid question if it is sorry.
  2. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    Whoo Hoo, Let's have some fun. KABOOM!

    OK, so I'm taking some liberty there, but I do believe you can overcharge a 38spl case with a fast powder, say BE, and create enough pressure that even the 357 L frame cannot handle it.

    I know the 9mm case, at a length of .754, will easily hold a double charge of 3.9gr BE. I do this check every time I begin loading my regular 125gr load, simply to refamiliarize myself with what a normal and overcharge powder level looks like in the case. A 38spl case is 1.15 in length, 50% longer than the 9mm, which should indicate that it could easily hold a triple charge, 11.7gr BE.

    For the lightweight 110gr GDHP bullet, Alliant lists a max charge in 38spl at 5.2gr, and in a 357Mag case at 8.7gr. So, if Alliant thinks the 357Mag is maxed out at 8.7gr and in theory you could load somewhere close to 11.7gr of BE in the shorter 38spl case, I don't believe the 357 cylinder could handle the pressure.

    I am not at home, and cannot actually measure the case capacity of BE in the 38spl, but believe the above fairly represents an accurate statement.

  3. XDRoX


    Jan 24, 2009
    San Diego
    I'm guessing also, but my guess is if you filled a 38apl case to the brim with a fast powder, then yes, it would surely Kaboom any gun.
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    You can totally destroy a Smith 'N' frame with a host of powders in a .38 case... not really something you want to experiment with.

    Conversely, a load that stresses the limit of an 'N' frame but causes no damage other than severe pressure signs will make scrap metal out of a 'K' or 'J' frame.

    You want more power, move up in caliber... that's why they invented the .41 and .44 mag.

  5. nitesite10mm

    nitesite10mm Dog Lover

    Jun 9, 2006
    North Alabama
    Definitely do-able, the .38-Special case can hold a double or triple charge and few revolvers are built to take that.
  6. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Yep, dbl TG or sim uberfast & it will likely exceed a proof load. Pressures are not linear, so a dbl charge is well beyond double pressures in the 38sp case.
  7. HotRoderX

    HotRoderX Gen4 BETATester

    Jan 15, 2011
    Thanks guys answers my question
  8. hoffy


    Jun 12, 2007
    I have seen a model 27 with the top of the cylinder and topstrap blown off with an apparent double charge with a 38 case and a hollow base wadcutter and BE. It was in a gun shop I worked at in the '80s and we showed that gun to people who bought reloading equipment for the first time to encourage to keep a mind of what they were doing.....
  9. dudel


    Dec 10, 2008
    Texas Hill Country
    No doubt. Too much of the right (or wrong powder in this case), and you could make a mess of the Smith. I can see lots of combinations that would do this?

    Of of curiosity, what brings this question up?