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OT: .38 Super - .355" or .356" bullets?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by AveragEd, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    I received an order for 2,000 lead semi-wadcutter bullets for my .38 Super yesterday but the box is marked and the bullets measure .355"; the ones I used before were .356" in diameter as are most lead bullets intended for that cartridge. Has anyone used .355" lead bullets in their .38 Super? My concerns are leading due to gas leaking around the bullets and their accuracy.

    Fortunately, I can return them locally and have 2,000 of the other brand here on Friday but I'd prefer not to bother the dealer with a return if I don't have to. Yes, I know I could load and shoot some of them to find out for myself but I don't have the time for that as I'm working out of town and more hours than usual these days.

    Thanks!

    Ed
     
  2. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Can't answer the question without knowing the true dimensions of your barrel. HMB
     
  3. Jerry944t

    Jerry944t Well-Known Member

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    Slug the barrel and you'll know for sure. On lead bullets you want the bullet diameter to be about a thousandth more than bore diameter.

    .356 is normal for 38 Super if memory serves but it really is bore dependent.

    If you happen to have a factory jacketed bullet around you could measure that. If it and the lead are the same it will be safe but don't expect maximum accuracy.
     
  4. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    I actually had better results with .355 sized lead bullets in my .38 Super. I was trying to make major power with 160 grain lead RN bullets. The .355 sizing resulted in less barrel fouling and the gun maintained accuracy for more rounds than with the .356" bullets.

    If you really want to get around the leading issue entirely just use copper plated bullets or if you have the $ then jacketed. In any case, the .355" bullets work well. The bigger key to accuracy in this round is to make sure you are headspacing on the case mouth.
     
  5. JPSemper

    JPSemper Member

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    Ed,

    I shoot IPSC with an STI 38 Super race gun with a Nowlin barrel. I have always shot a .355 bullet that's plated or jacketed with great results. The bullets are always accurate but but my aim isn't as accurate. I've never shot lead bullets through the gun so I can't give you an opinion on their accuracy.

    Take care and safe shooting.

    John Semprini
     
  6. ccw1911

    ccw1911 Member

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    The original specs called for .356 bullets and you might find an old barrel that size, as Jerry said you'd have to slug it to be sure. All the modern 38 Supers I've seen have been .355 sharing the bore size with the 9mm para. You won't have a problem with .356 lead bullets in either case but be careful not to push them too hard or to crimp too tight as either will cause severe leading problems. FWIW the most accurate lead bullets I found for target loads in a 38 Super or 9mm were hard cast 122-124 gr truncated cone at around 975 fps.
     
  7. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    I lack the ability to slug my barrel or I would have done that instead of asking for opinions. I did call Kimber but they would not disclose what their nominal bore diameter for the .38 Super is.

    I guess I'll have to take the time to load some and compare their accuracy to .356" bullets. This gun is not as accurate as my Stainless Gold Match II in .45ACP so maybe the .355" bullets will improve that. I know the Gold Match features more hand-fitting and I would have bought another one if Kimber chambered it in .38 Super.

    I'll post the results after a load-and-shoot session this evening.

    Ed
     
  8. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    OT: .38 Super - .355

    Well, I loaded five rounds each of six powders and both bullets; 12 test loads altogether. The gun definitely prefers the larger bullets. But there was a surprise.

    Clays has always been my best accuracy powder for my .45ACP but this .38 Super seemed to care for TiteGroup a lot more when I first got it. Tonight, the Clays load with the .356" bullet put four in the same ragged hole at 50 feet off a rest. The fifth hole was way out of the bull but I attribute flyers to my eye and the powder charges were all hand-weighed, so I'm confident it was a typical case of what my right eye sees not being exactly where it appears to be.

    Anyway, I thought you guys might like to know the results.

    Ed