Reloading The .38-40 Winchester

Posted on: Wednesday January 6, 2021
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MD Smith

MD Smith


SWC= Semi-WadCutter, FMC= Full Metal Case, FMJ= Full Metal Jacket, JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet.

Loads for .38-40 Winchester:

Originated in the 1870’s, This cartridge has been around a long time. These are pistol loads and can be used in a rifle.

(Note: Most ARE MAXIMUM loads, you may want to use 10% less to start.) Light loads for older guns are noted. If your gun was originally for black powder, any smokeless load could be dangerous. Start with very mild loads and lead bullets.

(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)

Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.

Many are MAXIMUM LOADS: Start at 10% less and work up! Bullet size is .401″ in diameter.

150 grain JHP (Sierra)
AA 1680 24.8 gr. 1,096 fps
AA 1680 27.5 gr. 1,246 MAX
AA2015 BR 27.0 gr. 994
AA2015 BR 30.0 gr. 1,130 MAX
AA No. 2 5.8 gr. 1,015 (145 gr.lead bullet load)
165 grain lead FP
AA Nitro100 5.2 gr. 953 fps
AA No. 2 5.4 gr. 924
172 grain lead RN/FP (Lyman #401043 .401″ dia)
Bullseye 4.0 gr. 740 fps (mild load)
Bullseye 5.9 gr. 965 MAX
Unique 7.0 gr. 830
Unique 10.0 gr. 1,105 MAX
175 grain lead (Bull-X Round Nose/Flat Point) (Loads from “Shooting Times”, Nov. 96 by Mike Venturino)
Clays 5.0 gr. 854 fps
HP38 6.0 gr. 794
Universal 7.0 gr. 850
AA N100 5.2 gr. 795
AA No. 2 5.4 gr. 749

Do not adjust these loads.

180 grain JHP (Speer)
AA 1680 23.0 gr. 1,052 fps
AA 1680 25.5 gr. 1,196 MAX
AA 2015 BR 24.3 gr. 864
AA 2015 BR 27.0 gr. 982 MAX
180 grain RNFP Lead
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 694 fps minimum
Trail Boss 5.5 gr. 800 fps MAXIMUM
Universal 6.9 gr. 813 fps (Cowboy load)
Universal 7.5 gr. 955 max Cowboy
HP-38 5.8 gr. 747 (Cowboy mild)
HP-38 6.8 gr. 934 max cowboy
Clays 4.7 gr. 760 Cowboy
Clays 5.5 gr. 889 max cowboy
Solo 1000 4.5 gr. 700 (load from Chris Copeland and produces about 900 fps in rifle. Do not reduce)
185 grain LEAD RN/FP (Colorado Cast Bullet)
AA Nitro100 5.0 gr. 883 fps (pistol loads)
AA No. 2 5.0 gr. 884 (pistol loads)
AA 1680 21.2 gr. 964 fps (rifle loads)
AA 1680 23.5 gr. 1,095 MAX
AA 2015 BR 22.5 gr. 821
AA 2015 BR 25.0 gr. 1,095 MAX
200 grain LEAD FP
AA Nitro100 4.8 gr. 845 fps (pistol loads)
AA No. 2 4.8 gr. 811 (pistol loads)

These are ALL MAXIMUM LOADS unless noted or a lower amount is shown. Start at 10% less and work up!

Discussion: * Do not use old brass that may be of the old balloon head type. Be VERY careful if using an old gun. Some modern RIFLES can use heavier loads than those shown for the standard modern pistol above.

A bullet with a copper gas check or copper plating is best for INDOOR ranges to keep lead vapors out of the air.

*
Power Pistol, Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
N100, No. 2, No. 5, No. 7, No. 9, 1680, 2015BR, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company
WAP (Winchester Action Pistol), WMR, WSF, WSL, 760, 748, 231 and 540 are products of Winchester, Components Div.
References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company,reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.