Light loads for .38 Special


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whm1974
April 3, 2005, 10:37 AM
I just picked up a S&W model 36 snubnose last early last week and shot it yestiday. It hurts after shooting a few though it. Since it and my model 10 was made in the 60's, I would like to work up some light loads for them.

Currently I'm using 3 grains of Bulleye and 158 grain LSWC Bullet. I know with slow burning powders it isn't safe to use light loads. But what would be the smallist charge I can safely use with Bullseye?

Before telling me to use a diffente powder and/or bullet weight. I have over a pound of Bullseye and well over 1000 peices of 158 gr bullets. I want to use these up first. However I still would like to have the data.

-Bill

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The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 10:49 AM
whm1974...I'm an old guy. Memory and all that. Please refresh my memory please. Mod 36 is a .38 special or a .357?

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 11:19 AM
The model 36 is a .38 special subnose. The load I use has a good kick to it in this gun. Plus I want to prevent wear and tear in this gun as well as in my model 10.

My model 10 has a 5" barrel. I will shoot both guns, so I don't want a light load for the snubnose that will cause bullets to get stuck in the model 10.

So what would be the lighest charge of bullseye that I would want to go below? I'm thinking 2.5 grains.

I won't do this but what would only one grain of Bullseye do?

-Bill

The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 12:39 PM
.38 Special...That's what I thought. whm1974. I am not a Bullseye fan at all. Yes I know there are people that live and breath bullseyes. And they can have it. Now on the other hand I live and breath W-231. I also have three Mod 10s. One is a 2" and the other two are 4". The 2" is for my wife and has to be effective against intruders, but at the sametime low recoil. The other Mod 10s are mine and I load them at 5.3 W-231 and a 125 gr SJHP (A MAX +P LOAD) or 4.8 (THIS IS ABOVE A MAX +P LOAD according to Lyman and a MAX LOAD according to Winchester) under a 140 gr SJHP. On one of them I have Hogue grips which soften the recoil, the other one has stock grips. My wife's has Pachmayr grips. Even with the max W-231 load, recoil is very minimal. In fact I have to ask here. What recoil? .38 Special's have very little to be concerned with. Even in the +P group. But if you want to soften the recoil of a .38 Special...Change the grips to a better grip like those mentioned above.

Go below 3.0 grains of Bullseye?? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

THE ABOVE LOADS ARE AT OR ABOVE MAXIMUM. LOAD AT YOUR OWN RISK AND BE CAREFUL. FIREARMS MUST BE IN GOOD WORKING ORDER AND SOUND.

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 12:56 PM
Go below 3.0 grains of Bullseye?? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

When I started reloading last year, my starting load was 3.5 grains MAX was 3.6. After talking to other reloaders and doing research online I worked down to 3 grains.

From looking at reloading charts wadcutter loads start at 2.8 grains. If I was loading wadcutters I would go down to 2.5 grains to give me an margin of error.

I am thinking of switching to WC after I use up the bullets I have.

-Bill

The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 01:44 PM
Hummmm...Be careful. The lowest listing I have for a 150gr wad cutter is 3.1 grains of Bullseye.

happy old sailor
April 3, 2005, 02:42 PM
as the Bushmaster recommends, try some different grips before setting out on the search for the magic/perfect load. get too light and the round would not be effective for its intended purpose.

i once loaded 158 gr SWC bullets in .38 and kept going down in the charge until the bullets stuck halfway in and out of a pine board. i then put a 25 yd target on the another piece of the board. i took 10 light loads and shot them, up close, into the 10 and X rings on the target. i hung this on the wall over my reloading table and received numerous comments on it. i withheld the truth. i did not lie, i just sat there and nodded my head at opportune times. i had this for years until my house burned and it was lost. keep saying i will do another, but - - - - my magnums keep squalling to be shot so my reloading time goes to them.

try the grips and let us know your solution especially if it is a load. oh, on those super light loads, i held the muzzle up and whopped the K19 on the side to settle the powder near the primer. i was, and still am, afraid of stuck bullets. with sturdy loads, there is little doubt when you touch off a maggie.

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 03:02 PM
as the Bushmaster recommends, try some different grips before setting out on the search for the magic/perfect load. get too light and the round would not be effective for its intended purpose.

This would be for target shooting, not hunting. Not only do I want a pleasent load for shooting a J frame gun but also to reduce wear and tear on both .38s.

And yes I am planning on getting diffence grips.

-Bill

The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 04:30 PM
Aah whm1974...I have an old Mod 10 S/N D2344XX. It has never seen anything much below a max load and I have ran more then I wish to account for (Could probably buy a new pickup). Smith & Wessons are a tough breed. In particular the Mod 10. S&W has modeled .357 mags after the Mod 10. Don't be afraid to use that sucker...

My two Mod 10s with the 4" barrels are old also and carry Royal Hong Kong Police (RHKP) S/Ns on them besides the factory S/Ns

The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 04:47 PM
Oh By the way. The early S&W grip panels had a tendency to bite. So replace them.

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 05:30 PM
Oh By the way. The early S&W grip panels had a tendency to bite. So replace them.

Oh I plan to. What's a good clip on holster for this gun?

How hard is it to load wadcutters? As far as anything to watch for. I might order some from midway when I order the grips.

-Bill

Vern Humphrey
April 3, 2005, 06:14 PM
Quote:
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How hard is it to load wadcutters? As far as anything to watch for. I might order some from midway when I order the grips.
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The starting load in the Hodgdon manual (edition 26) is 2.7 grains of Bullseye behind a 148 grain wadcutter for target use. The max load is given as 3.1 grains. The primary danger in shooting these loads is when you use hollow-base wadcutters you can blow the bullet apart -- the front of the bullet will exit the muzzle, and leave the skirt of the wadcutter behind. This occurs with too heavy a load, not with too light a load.

If you are using bevel-base wadcutter, you should have little problems. But some wadcutters have a very square base, and you have to bell the case mouth a bit more than usual to keep from crunching the case when seating the bullet.

I like to use a taper crimp on light wadcutter loads like this, instead of a roll crimp.

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 07:45 PM
Thank for mention this. I plan on using bevel-base wadcutters and not HB or squared.

I never shot wadcutters before so how is the recoil? I can handle my Model 10 fine but J frames...

-Bill

The Bushmaster
April 3, 2005, 08:23 PM
whm1794...Why do I have a problem with you and recoil. I have no problem with lowering the speed of the bullet, but for excessive recoil? You just gotta get you some pachmayr or hogue grips. This will (I almost promise) solve the problem.

Vern Humphrey
April 3, 2005, 08:34 PM
Quote:
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I never shot wadcutters before so how is the recoil? I can handle my Model 10 fine but J frames...
-----------------------------

Recoil velocity is a function of the mass and velocity of the ejecta (bullet and gas). With a 148 grain bullet, low velocity, and little gas, actual recoil will be quite low.

Now, perceived recoil is something else. The most critical part of perceived recoil is your middle finger -- if the trigger guard bumps it, you'll think the gun "kicks" harder. Good stocks prevent this and make recoil seem softer.

whm1974
April 3, 2005, 08:36 PM
I can handle recoil in my model just fine, it's my snubnose....
I will get some pachmayr or hogue grips when I get the chance. Besides I would like to reduce wear and tear on my guns if I can. Not to mention save powder as well.

I do want to try other bullet styles however.

-Bill

griz
April 4, 2005, 06:56 AM
Not sure what the recomended minimum is, but I have used 2.7 grains of Bullseye under a 158 SWC. No idea how fast it was, but it is mild. Wadcutters are no problem to load. Just make sure the shape of the seating stem is close enough to prevent damage to the face of the bullet. You will get more velocity from wadcutters than you will with a regular bullet with the same powder charge. This is because the bullet reduces the case capacity so much. 2.7 grains of BE is a classic load for wadcutters.

mtnbkr
April 4, 2005, 07:29 AM
I've gone as low as 2.5gr of Bullseye with a 158gr SWC. My current load is 2.8gr (gives better accuracy). I shot these loads in my 36 as well, though I shoot more in my 4" GP100. IIRC, 2.5gr from my GP100 gave me right around 800fps.

Chris

Murphster
April 4, 2005, 08:47 AM
I once asked members of this forum for a light-recoiling .38 spl. load for my wife to use in her new two inch S&W. Got several responses. Here's the thread if you're interested:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=90451

We went with 148 grain wadcutter over 2.5 grains of Bullseye. I was surprised by this load. It's great. Light recoil and shoots to point of aim at all plinking distances.

LAH
April 4, 2005, 09:41 AM
Here's what I found. The Lyman 46 Edition Reloading Handbook list 2.8 grs. (Bullseye) as min. charge @ 10,000 CUP. My Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook shows the same. Going back one edition the 45th you will see listed 2.0 grs. as min. with the L-358311 or L-358156 for 519 fps.

I can understand you wanting to use this powder and bullets because you have them on hand. Personally I wouldn't care a bit to use the 2.0 gr. load but my advice to you would be call Lyman and get it from the horses mouth. I for one am not afraid of lite charges of Bullseye but some are.

My standard 38 special load is a 158 gr. cast RNFP and 3 grs. of Bullseye. I use this in a ole K-38. It's dirty but accurate.

Old Fuff
April 4, 2005, 10:09 AM
whm1974:

When all other things are equal the way to reduce recoil is to go to a lighter weight bullet. Thus with the same powder charge a 148-grain wadcutter will kick less then a 158-grain whatever.

However the real cause of the problem is that you're used to shooting a heavier model 10 with a 5-inch barrel and bigger stocks. When it comes to recoil the smaller size and lighter weight of the snubby works against you. Incidentally, the old 2.7 grains of bullseye with a 148-grain W.C. was designed and intended to be used in target revolvers with 6-inch or longer barrels so it is unlikely to get stuck in a 5-inch gun.

While the small size of the factory's handles make the model 36 easier to conceal they aren't the best for shooting. As soon as you fit your revolver with something bigger you'll find that the recoil is much easier to control.

whm1974
April 4, 2005, 06:22 PM
Thanks guys I'll get better grips when I get the chance. But I'll give the 2.5 grains a try.

-Bill

Standing Wolf
April 4, 2005, 09:53 PM
I've gone as low as 2.5gr of Bullseye with a 158gr SWC.

I've gone as low as 2.3 grains of Bullseye behind a 148-grain hollow-based wadcutter. Recoil was trivial; accuracy, however, wasn't all I'd hoped for. I had to go back up to 2.5 grains to 2.8 grains, depending on the revolver I planned to shoot with.

g56
April 5, 2005, 12:22 AM
Go below 3.0 grains of Bullseye?? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
I started shooting Bullseye Pistol in 1969 or 70, the standard load for 38 special was 2.5 gr of Bullseye with a 148 gr wadcutter, I have shot thousands of these with no problems at all. When I started shooting PPC with a 38 special revolver I switched to 3.1 gr of WW231, this seems to be a bit cleaner load. The most common load for target in 38 special is either 2.5 gr of Bullseye or 3.1 gr of WW231, they are accurate and yield about the same velocity.

whm1974
April 5, 2005, 07:00 PM
Well I ordered some pachmeyr grips from midway, and hopefully I get them by friday.

I might load up some 2.5 grain loads and see how they work out.

-Bill

whm1974
April 7, 2005, 05:57 PM
I got the grips. Does feel much better.

-Bill

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