Heavier Loads

My bullets of choice are the Lyman/Keith #358429 at 170 grs., the Lyman #358477 at 155 grs. and very close to the original .357 Magnum bullet designed by Phil Sharpe, the Speer 158-gr. LSWCHP, and finally a 167-gr. powder coated, gas-check hollow point bullet supplied by my friend Dick Thompson. The Speer bullet is a swaged lead bullet and is phenomenally accurate when loaded over 10 grains of #2400. In my old .38/44 Outdoorsman it clocks out at 1,025 fps and shoots 5/8" groups. Powders of choice are about as standard as you can get being Alliant’s Unique and #2400 and Hodgdon’s IMR 4227. I did not limit myself to just full house .38/44 loads which will do well over 1,300 fps in most sixguns but also looked for loads in between this high-power loading and standard .38 Special loads.

I’ve been loading for the .38 Special for over 60 years. In the 1950s it was not easy to find .357 Magnum brass, however .38 Special brass was easily obtainable so thousands of these were assembled using Elmer Keith’s Heavy Load with his bullet. I later found the Thompson Gas Check bullet was much more accurate, at least in my sixguns. Today this load is still being used with the Thompson bullet and clocks out right at 1,350 from an S&W .38 Special Outdoorsman. I would warn against the use of this load in any .38 Specials except those which are heavy frame.