.38 S&W normally takes a bullet in the .359-.362 diameter range. My S&W slugged at .361″, and lately I’ve been using swaged 125gr./.361 wadcutters with great success… but not everyone can swage their own bullets, so yesterday I tried an experiment.
I loaded 50rds. of Aardvark’s 125gr. TCL ‘cowboy’ bullets. In my experience ‘cowboy’ bullets tend to be rather soft so they’ll splatter nicely on steel instead of ricocheting. I wanted to see if they would ‘bump up’ to bore diameter and stabilize properly over a modest load.
I used 2.7gr of Unique, a CCI 500 small pistol primer and a fairly serious crimp. At the range the results were just right; the load shot to point of aim and the targets showed no sign of yawing or key-holing, even all the way out at 25 yards. Recoil was mildly snappy but not unpleasant.
Guns vary; what works in one may not in another. But given the lack of bullets in .361, and that when you find them they are almost always 145-148gr LRNs, it might be worth trying a 125gr./.357 ‘cowboy’ or soft-cast bullet in your gun. Could make life just a little easier, and the lower recoil of the light bullet might help prolong the life of your antique revolver.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 27 December 2019