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Discussion Starter #1
I went back to a very long thread I had posted a while back and grabbed a post to set the stage for this discussion:

Circling back around to this since it’s been a while since I visited the .38 special. The last load I tried was 3.5gr of Trail Boss and it was barely enough to leave the barrel let alone hit the target. We found the one pictured above laying on the ground fully in tact.

A couple things I did different this time around. First, I broke out the chrono and baselines 3 GECO 158gr lead round nose.

Result:
View attachment 110006

Next I reloaded 3 using 5.0gr of Trail Boss and 158gr copper plated flat nose. While I was within max overall length, the did hang a little when cycling. Either I wasn’t cycling fast enough or it didn’t like the flat nose (or both).

Result:
View attachment 110008
So.... now my brother has an RIA 4” 38 Special and we have been playing around with powders.... and now my head hurts. I’ll post the new findings below in a few minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
We got to looking through published load data for 38 special. I already know that Trail Boss needs to be 5.0 gr or higher to be effective in the Henry, however, the load data says 4.2gr max. Given that the revolver we are using isnt the strongest gun in the world, we were going to try 4.0 gr.

For reference, the Geco factory rounds are running 1005 FPS from the Henry and ~650 to 700 from the revolver.

From the Henry (fastest):
118488


From the revolver:
118487


Given the above data, I could throw a rock harder than that bullet is coming out of the barrel. This basically tells me the powder is burning too fast and running out of steam before reaching the end of the 20” barrel. I needed a slower burning powder.

Next, we loaded 5.5gr of R Silhouette.

From the Henry:
118489


From the revolver (average):
118490


I could not believe the difference. There was so much unburnt powder fouling that it actually prevented the next round from dropping in the chamber. I tested 6 in each gun from random places throughout the run just to be sure it wasn’t something wrong in a section of the run.

In the Henry, complete powder burn. No unburnt powder left behind.

I then tried IMR Target in the revolver at 3.5 gr.
118491


I have not tried this in the Henry yet.
 

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I been running sport pistol for 38 special. I have the RIA 4 inch revolver too. But you can notice the time difference with it and my 6.5 inch pistols till the bullet hits the steel. That extra 2.5 inches does help the round make better use of powder.
 
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[sarcasm]
I probably contributed to the shortage by running so much Unique in a revolver. .38 Cobra, .357 M19, 442, etc.
[/sarcasm]
Henry? Never tried.
Is it just me, or is .38 revolver a different animal from a Henry?

-jb, apparently being not helpful
 

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Discussion Starter #5
[sarcasm]
I probably contributed to the shortage by running so much Unique in a revolver. .38 Cobra, .357 M19, 442, etc.
[/sarcasm]
Henry? Never tried.
Is it just me, or is .38 revolver a different animal from a Henry?

-jb, apparently being not helpful
That’s the point, we are looking for a load that’ll work for both. If factory ammo can do it, so can we.
 

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The concept of a common load for rounds used in pistols and rifles is an elusive one at best. It is easier to achieve with a longer barrel on the revolver and a shorter barrel on the carbine.

i tried for years to find a balance for a single load and couldn’t really find one that would do what I wanted to do. If you’re just target shooting then paper is relatively thin skinned. Hunting rounds are different and my efforts were sleet geared toward hunting.

I just started loading for each firearm separately and kept them marked and separate.

For just taking a walk then the pistol robs in both will work fine.

I use Unique, Bullseye. Red Dot, and Blue Dot with good results in both. In the rifle/pistol combos I load for 38 spl, 357 mag, 41 Mag, and 45 Colt.

Alan
 

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It is a lot easier to find a balance with .357 Mag or .44 Mag with revolver and carbine, but the length of barrel does create a challenge. With .38 Special, the lower pressure cartridge is even more challenging to find a load that is satisfying in both guns. I would suggest looking at Hogdon Universal because it will do just about as well as Unique, sometimes better in pistol cartridges, and is a bit cleaner typically. Also, you might try AAC #5 or HS-6; they are a little slower but work fairly good in either application also. As you already know, it is a trade off at both ends; the round that works pretty good in both guns will not be the best in either gun.
 

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Find a load that works well in the revolver and it will most likely work well in the carbine. If the revolver can handle a steady of +P loads try a couple of those, otherwise work up to a good load in the revolver. One of the most versatile handgun powders I've is WW231, I've used it from 38 cal all the way up to heavy 45ACP loads including light lead loads in 44 and 45 Colt.

Mike
 

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I carried AFAIK, a first edition LCR, .357 magnum (a five shot!) for about four months while delivering pizzas during some injury rehab downtime from concrete work. Once back to work, it was really too snappy (for me anyway) when loaded with magnum rounds, so I bartered it for some work on my truck.

I used OTS ammo, but I always wondered about having a friend load me some rounds for it. Thanks for the info OP.
 
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