Reloading The .38 Super Auto

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 Super Auto: *

These are NOT for the .38 ACP (same case length) and certainly not for the .380 Auto/ .380 ACP. (Note: These ARE MAXIMUM loads, you may want to use 10% less to start.)

(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.

These are ALL MAXIMUM LOADS: Start at 10% less and work up! Bullet size is .355″ (9mm) (jacketed or lead) in diameter. Some loads use a .356″ bullet.

Note, where you see HP-38 you can use Winchester 231.

They are the same powder (2009)

90 grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
HP-38 7.0 gr. 1,448
Universal 7.0 gr. 1,379
100 grain FMJ (Full metal jacket)
HP-38 6.6 gr. 1,374
Universal 6.6 gr. 1,342
115 grain JHP
No. 2 5.7 gr. 1,200 FPS
No. 5 8.3 gr. 1,321
No. 7 10.3 gr. 1,340
No. 9 13.0 gr. 1,395
Bullseye 5.5 gr. 1,240
Unique 6.6 gr. 1,265
HP-38 6.6 gr. 1,374
Universal 6.6 gr. 1,342
115 grain Lead
No. 2 4.8 gr. 1,133 FPS
No. 5 7.6 gr. 1,267
No. 7 9.8 gr. 1,320
No. 9 12.5 gr. 1,374
124 grain FMC
No. 2 5.4 gr. 1,163 FPS
No. 5 7.6 gr. 1,230
No. 7 9.6 gr. 1,263
No. 9 12.5 gr. 1,346
HP-38 5.6 gr. 1,109
Universal 5.7 gr. 1,177
HS-6 8.2 gr. 1,237
130 grain FMC
No. 2 5.2 gr. 1,116 FPS
No. 5 7.3 gr. 1,201
No. 7 9.2 gr. 1,209
No. 9 11.9 gr. 1,305
Bullseye 5.1 gr. 1,170
Unique 6.2 gr. 1,200
HP-38 5.3 gr. 1,004
Universal 5.5 gr. 1,142
HS-6 7.1 gr. 1,169
130 grain Lead
No. 2 4.4 gr. 1,1026 FPS
No. 5 7.0 gr. 1,185
No. 7 9.0 gr. 1,244
No. 9 11.5 gr. 1,257
147 grain FMC or JHP
No. 2 4.8 gr. 1,038 FPS
No. 5 6.5 gr. 1,075
No. 7 8.5 gr. 1,148
No. 9 9.7 gr. 1,111
Bullseye 5.0 gr. 1,095
Unique 5.8 gr. 1,105
Universal 4.5 gr. 961
HS-6 7.0 gr. 1,040
HS-7 8.1 gr. 1,114
158/160 grain FMC or JHP
No. 2 4.3 gr. 970 FPS
No. 5 6.2 gr. 1,026
No. 7 8.0 gr. 1,064
No. 9 9.7 gr. 1,121
Bullseye 4.8 gr. —–
Unique 5.8 gr. —–
Universal 4.1 gr. 811
158/160 grain LEAD
No. 2 4.5 gr. 1,025 FPS
No. 5 6.0 gr. 1,048
No. 7 8.0 gr. 1,115
No. 9 9.5 gr. 1,116
Bullseye 4.6 gr. 1,030
Unique 5.9 gr. 1,085
Universal 4.1 gr. 901
HS-6 6.2 gr. 1,064
HS-7 7.2 gr. 1,083
HP-38 4.5 gr. 904

These are ALL MAXIMUM LOADS: Start at 10% less and work up!

Discussion: * The 38 Super is a very high power version of the 38 Auto or 38 ACP. (Thanks to Ross for info on 38 Auto) The case is much longer (.680″ vs. .900″) and the powder loads are almost double in some charges. Since the 70’s, the 38 Super cases have been designated +P, showing they are more powerful that the .38 Auto (.38 ACP) that appears the same size. The 9mm Luger with a shorter case (.754″) matches the loads pretty closely, but 38 Super+P is still more powerful than the Luger. The .380 Auto is a shorter case(.680″) and should not be confused with this caliber.

Unique, Universal and No. 5 which are moderate fast powders are well suited to cases like the 38 Super Auto. Even slower powders with these big charges for this small round can produce higher velocities and lower pressures.

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.
No. 2, No. 5, No. 7, No. 9, #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.