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I'm going to be reloading ammo for my 38 cal smith&wesson revolver. I called a reliable bullet company and was told the s&w called for .361 dia bullet and found it to be correct on data sheets. .358 bullets are the norm for other makes of pistols. I will be using my own fired brass.
I'm interested in anyones experience with loading this size bullet for the 38 s&w. Thanks ahead for your input. Ken
 

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Current Remington ammo uses .358" bullets. If you look hard enough you may find .361" pills.

Also, Remington 38 S&W ammo, despite supposedly larger dimensions, will chamber in some 38 SPL chambers.
 

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If you look in some older Speer manuals, you will find some pictures of loads usinig a 148 gr hollow base wad cutter bullet loaded out to about the normal S&W
length. They seem to shoot just fine. Most of these revolvers are not tack drivers anyway and many are not very strong. Like anything, there are exceptions to the accuracy and strength comments.
 

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Couple of thoughts here.

Will you buy bullets or cast your own? If you do cast you can get moulds at pretty much any size you want.

Two 'store bought' all lead bullets to look at are hollow based wad cutters - the skirt allows the bullet to flare (obturate) to meet the barrel walls and double ended wad cutters. Hornady made double enders in a 148 grain configuration - there are (were?) great - no need to orient them when loading and the lead was soft enough that good obturation occurred even at low velocities.

IF you load all lead bullets you'll need to keep an eye on velocity in order to prevent barrel leading (or use gas checks).

I kind of moved away from all lead bullets for this reason (I will admit I've dug out the molds and the pots given recent actions in DC - just to be sure I know what I am doing...). I found that smart purchasing of jacketed or gilded bullets ended up costing just a bit more (not sure if this remains true today). Velocities can be loaded to factory levels and practice was done using rounds similar to what one might shoot in a 'real world' situation.

Food for thought.
 

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Do a search on the Smith and Wesson Forum.
This question has been answered there a few times in the reloading section. Also V good information on your revolver if you have any questions about it.

We are using the under size lead in light loads for an older break top. They work well for plinking.
Not looking to start casting bullets yet.... But maybe soon.
Bob
 

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Here is my attempt to load a few several years ago. Had no 38 brass so I trimmed Special brass to length and seated HBWCs backwards.

 

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If your barrel is marked ".38 S&W Special," not a ".38 S&W," you should use .358" bullets. For target loads, a readily available lead hollow-base wadcutter is Hornady's. I use them with good results over 2.3 grains of Clays powder.

Most other wadcutters you can buy are bevel-base or double-ended and aren't able to seal to the bore as well. Bullseye shooters have preferred the hollow-base bullets seemingly forever. Hollow-base wadcutters have to be swaged where the others can simply be made by casting.

I your gun is a .38 S&W, I have no experience with that cartridge but Fred (sarge) probably does.

Ed
 
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