Sunday, April 26, 2015

A preface to my.38 Short Colt idea

Being a re-loader and a tinkerer one tends to look at how to get more versatility out of the tools he has at his disposal (even if there is no REAL need). Now there is nothing wrong with light .38 special loads, a light load of bullseye and a just about any bullet will give you surprisingly good performance out of a revolver or a carbine (bolt action, lever or single shot). But as we all know you have to experiment and see what else is out there and when looking at light loads for the .38 special the .38 short colt came up. It turns out shooters who get their .38/357 wheel guns cut for moon clips will use the .38 short colt in them as they load into the gun easier. Not something we're really worried about here, this is mostly just a educational venture but still fun. The .38 short colt is a case roughly the same length as the 9mm Luger, the similarities are very close except for the rim.  Most shooters are familiar with being able to shoot 38 special in a .357 magnum but few are familiar with the .38 short colt and .38 long colt being compatible in these guns as well, and for good reason. Both are obsolete except in specialized guns and the competitions those guns are used in.  My interest in the cartridge lies strictly with its physical characteristics. My thinking is the short stubby case takes up less room than a standard .38 special case (in a stock pouch like what I've put on my 77/357). I can also at a glance discern a light load from a magnum load. This is all theory right now of course, but it looks good on paper. I can carry one of my 5 round rotary magazines loaded with the .38 short colt loads and one with .357 magnum hot to trot loads. This could be the best of both worlds but only testing will tell. 

Its pretty obvious which magazine holds the light load and which holds the heavy one.

I decided to make 50 .38 Short colt cases out of .38 special brass just to try as a comparison to .38 special loads.  I'll post pictures of how I made the brass later but the use of a mini chop saw, a trimmer and a deburr tool is paramount to stress free case modifications. I've done the tubing cutter thing in the past and it was a lot of 4 letter and $1 words.
.38 Short Colt loads are not that easy to come by however it seems several people recommend using reduced 9mm cast loads as starting points so that is what I decided to go with. As the case has roughly the same dimensions  same  Going to my Lyman cast bullet book I decided to try a load of  3.5gr of Red dot under a ~92gr round nose. Round nose bullets are not what I would use "out in the wild" as they tend to over penetrate and not disperse there energy effectively. I plan on using a 105gr Lee semi wad cutter after I get a sampling of bullets cast, sized and lubed. For now I'll just play around with the 92gr round nose and see what kind of results I get with it. 

.38 Short colt brass and loaded cartridges made from .38 Special cases