Getting Specific

Most of my early loading for my first .38 Super was done with two bullets. One was Speer’s 125-gr. JSP that I loaded to a full 1,300+ muzzle velocity using Unique. The other was my favorite .357 Magnum bullet, the Lyman/Thompson #358156 gas check design. These weighed right at 158 grains when gas-checked and lubed. For use in the .357 Magnum sixgun they are sized to .358", however for the .38 Super I size them down to .356".

I have used anywhere from 5.0 to 6.0 grains of Unique, finally settling on 5.7 grains. This load clocks out at 1,200+ fps from a Kimber Stainless Target II and a Wilson Custom, both with 5" barrels. It’s a high performance load and should be reduced a minimum of one grain of powder for a starting load.

Shooting cast bullets, especially heavier cast bullets, in the .38 Super is an interesting experience. A load shooting very well in one .38 Super may deliver shotgun-sized patterns in another — along with keyholes! If they work, they work well, and if they don’t it can be very frustrating.

One of my most-used heavier cast bullets in the .38 Super is the Lyman #358311, a round-nosed bullet originally designed for the .38 Special. My load of choice is 5.0 grains of Unique. In the Kimber Target II or the Wilson Custom it clocks out right at 1,065–1,075 fps with a 5-shot group at 20 yards of 1". Cast hard combined with the round nose results in flawless feeding in just about any .38 Super.