.38 Super Bullet Diameter
Handloader|February - March 2022
"Most modern pistol manufacturers that chamber this round use 9mm Luger barrel stock, which makes it suitable to be used with .355-inch bullets."
By Brian Pearce

Q: I have a question regarding the .38 Super bullet diameter. I have found jacketed bullets for handloaders that are listed in both .355 and .356 inch. I also have a reloading manual that lists the bullet diameter as .355, .356 and .357 inches. Are all of these numbers acceptable? I normally purchase bullets that are listed specifically for the .38 Super and are .356 inches. Any insight that you can offer will be appreciated.

B.I., via email

A: You raise a great question. The .38 Super is specified to use bullets of .356 inches. However, today, most modern pistol manufacturers that chamber this round use 9mm Luger barrel stock, which makes it suitable to be used with .355-inch bullets. It should be noted that Hornady offers .356-inch bullets specifically for the .38 Super in its HAP competition line of bullets, as there are still many guns that are best served with bullets of the correct diameter. Regarding .357-inch bullets; they can be used but they will cause pressures to jump and may require a reduction in powder charges. Most .357-inch bullets (designed for the .357 Magnum) do not have the proper nose profile to function perfectly in autoloading pistols. If they are deep-seated to compensate for the incorrect nose design, powder charge weights will need further reduction.

.44 SPecial +P

Q: I have a question regarding your data published in Handloader No. 312 (February-March 2018) in “Pet Loads .44 Smith & Wesson Special +P.” I have a Smith & Wesson Model 624 with the 6½-inch barrel, which you list as suitable for your “Category III” handloading data that has a maximum of 25,000 psi.

I would like to know how and when these loads were pressure tested? Many of them are obviously old loads that have been tested many times, but others are not. Were these sent to a laboratory? Do you test them with personal pressure testing equipment, or is it a combination of sources?

Lastly, it would seem that Alliant Herco would be an ideal powder for the Category II loads based on its burn rate and bulk density. Herco was listed by you in Handloader No. 236 (August-September 2005) in a Category II .44 Special load at 22,000 psi, but you did not include it in the Handloader No. 312 Pet Loads article. Was this because Herco was found to be deficient in some way? The burning rate of Herco is slower than both Unique and Power Pistol. You list loads with those two powders with 8.5 grains or more, which is the maximum charge listed with Herco in your earlier article. Was Herco further tested and not published?

I appreciate this article very much. There are many useful loads in that article and it demonstrates the practicality and utility of the venerable .44 Special in the right revolver even today. Kind regards from a fellow handloader.

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