How low can I go


April 28, 2008, 05:51 PM
Ok I'm new to reloading I have only made 39 rounds (yes thats all the brass I had whan I got the prass).I just got a S&W 66-1 and find I flinch a LOT I would like to make some low power 38 spl but all my manuals have are start load and max loads. if i go below that what would low can I go.
I use 231 winchester balll powder.
148gr hollow base WC
cci 500 small pistol primers


If you enjoyed reading about "How low can I go" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 28, 2008, 06:02 PM
Winchester's on-line data says down to 3.5gr 231:

I believe you can go lower than that, but how much would vary considerably between pistols.


Doug b
April 28, 2008, 06:17 PM
Mike going below suggested start is a bad thing.You could stick a bullet in the barrel and not realize it till you shoot your next shot.Rule #1 never shoot an obstructed bore.A better way to control a flinch might be, shoot with a friend and let that person load your revolver for you.Every so often have that person leave a chamber empty without you knowing which one it is.It won't take many times till you've tamed that flinch.

April 28, 2008, 06:50 PM
Search THR for "wax bullets." They're cheap and fun.
Get a .22, and shoot it a lot.
Wear eye protection and double up with plugs and muffs. It may give you a sense of security and will isolate the actual recoil of the gun as the sole sensory input of the shot.
If you're flinching with a 38 out of a K frame then you don't really need to make lower powered ammo, cause recoil isn't really your problem. Again, search THR for "flinch help" and you'll get your answer, which doesn't include potentially dangerous loads. Remember, it's all in your head. Even if the gun hurts to shoot, is loud, and has lots of blast, there is no real reason to flinch (unless your gun blows up or spits powder in your eye).

April 28, 2008, 07:07 PM
Starting loads are starting loads for a very good reason.

If you are flenching with starting load 148 grain wadcutters, you need to get a .22 and start over there.


April 28, 2008, 07:14 PM
A .22 will cure the flinch and allow you to shoot far more for much less. Good advice from rcmodel.

April 28, 2008, 07:43 PM
get a laser

it will show you exactly what you are doing and you can focus on the dot/ target

April 28, 2008, 08:10 PM
Relax when you shoot.

I used to be really bad about flinching. The results were ugly. I would have trouble hitting a barn at ten paces.
After lots and lots of rounds downrange, the only thing I've flinched on was follow-up shots with the 460 S&W. That's only because it's truely punishing in an Encore.

April 28, 2008, 08:23 PM
Agree with the .22, it helped me. I have a MKIII 22/45 with a red dot attached and you look pretty funny flinching with it. The 22 taught me concentrate on the sight picture more then worrying about the noise and recoil.

As far as low power loads; Alliant has some target loads listed using 148g LWC.

Heed their warning though and don't reduce these "target" loads!!!
The exceptions to this are the loads listed as "target" in the 38 Special and 45 ACP data tables.

You could have a friend load the pistol leaving a couple of empty chambers at random. You will see yourself flinching on a click. Dry firing can help too, just be careful not to have any live ammo around.

But, the best help for me was the MKIII. I shoot it during my sessions with my GP100 and my Springfield 1911.

April 28, 2008, 08:25 PM
What I do to control flinching is to focus on trigger pull - a nice slow squeeze. And if I start getting flinch nervous I put the gun down without breaking the trigger and try again. If I have to put the gun down 3 times in a row, it generally means I need to at least be done with that gun for a while. (This sometimes happens with the 44 mag Contender with the recoil enhancing stock grip).

Jim Watson
April 28, 2008, 08:31 PM
I shot 3.2 gr W231 and a 148 gr Speer HBWC for a number of years in PPC competition. Mild, accurate, and reliable.

Dryfiring will help on the flinch.
So will "Swiss cheese" loading. Get somebody else to load the gun and hand it to you. He will load it with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 rounds at random for number and order coming up. After you have flinched a while when the empty chambers come up, your nerves will begin to get the message that the noise and kick is not going to hurt you.

April 28, 2008, 09:44 PM
but all my manuals have are start load.

Are you sure about that? I'm guessing those are max loads you're seeing. Reduce those loads 10% for starting loads.

And I'm going to go the opposite way of the 22LR suggestion. Go shoot a 454Casull using a max charge of H110 and a 300gr bullet. Shoot that 18 times, if you're hand can handle it. As soon as the 18th shot is fired, pick up the 38 and fire it. It will seem like a pussy cat compared to the hand cannon you were previously firing. You'll think "And I was scared of this pea shooter? Hah!".

April 28, 2008, 10:31 PM
I have a 22 that I have shot for years.
I have a flinch because I got the gun from my dad who use to reload he sold me some of his loads I go shot one :eek:WOOOO I think 357s are a LOT more powerful then 22 mag .I shot all of them and give my self a flinch so bad I can't hit the target from 25 feet. (The guys at the range think its funny im 6 foot 1 250 pounds of muscle and I flinch like a 10 year old). I go to the gun shop get some 357 and what do you know 357 ant so bad if I did not flinch I could get them on the target I get some 38 and there you go all on target if I aim high and to the right. so when I got in to reloading I say to my self Iím going to fix this and load some low rounds. First rounds were 158 gr SWC and 4.0 grs of 231 lass flinch I heard that with hollow base WC I could make some low power load and work up.

May 1, 2008, 05:16 PM
Data from Winchester circa 1999.
38 Special
148 gr. Lead HBWC 231 2.9 690 12,400 3.3 770 16,100psi

I hope this helps.

May 1, 2008, 05:28 PM
If you're willing to try a new powder, give Trail Boss a try.

148 GR. HDY LHBWC IMR Trail Boss .358" 1.160" [starting]2.0gr 625fps 15,100 PSI [max]2.3gr 675fps 15,700 PSI

I used 2 grains to start my wife getting used to her S&W 642(Al frame). They come out of the barrel at 438fps. They're just fun to shoot in the .357 Vaquero too!

May 1, 2008, 06:22 PM
I'll reiterate the fact that out of a S&W 66 (that's a steel frame IIRC) you don't need lighter than standard 38 special start loads. I've found that I can do the flinch drill by myself just by leaving one chamber empty and then closing my eyes, spinning the cylinder, and closing the cylinder and not looking until I have the pistol up and aimed at the target.

One GREAT dry fire drill is to take a KNOWN and VERIFIED empty pistol (absolutely no live rounds should even be in the room with you) and a quarter. bring the pistol up to a shooting position and then balance the quarter (yes, other coins also work) on the front sight or on the top of the bbl. Practice squeezing the trigger ... you should be able to fire ANY pistol without the coin falling during the process. I only bring this up because I have seen some people that thought that they were flinching when it reality they were just pulling too hard on the trigger ... you won't flinch when you are dry-firing as there is no anticipation to cause it.

Remember that it is ALL mental, so you CAN fix it without any fancy and potentially dangerous reloads.

One note on the hazards of super light loads ... someone already mentioned the issue of getting a bullet stuck in the barrel. That is one hazard, but there is a phenomenon called "detonation" that can occur when there is too much empty space in a case ... as I understand it, when you have too little powder in a case, the powder ignites simultaneously instead of starting at the primer and building up pressure more slowly as designed. The result is a HUGE pressure spike that doesn't last too long, but its intensity is sufficient to cause structural failure of the chamber/barrel ... I know of a Springfield 1903 that fragged almost for sure a result of this (there was no way to double charge with the loads they were using, so a light charge was the only possible explanation).

Hope this helps.

Be safe,

May 1, 2008, 06:45 PM
good ear and eye protection go a long way to building confidence to reduce flinch. don't skimp on either. wear plugs and muffs and sturdy safety glasses. a lot of times you need to build confidence from the noise and the fear of something hitting your eye

May 1, 2008, 08:42 PM
Go get a can of Trail Boss, it is in a 9 ounce can but is less than a 1lb can.

Per once it costs more but it is worth it for what you need.

Trail Boss is shapped like a grey donut, and takes up a lot of room per weight.

I made puff ball loads for my wife's ladysmith, and have taken 148 gr wadcutters in a .38scp case all the way down to the lowest book load of 2gr (two grains).

That is one soft load. It smokes, but not as bad as a min load of 231, and it is softer.

Ida Noski
May 2, 2008, 12:07 AM
Lot's of good advice here. To sum it up, lots of dry fire practice helps create muscle memory. Double up on hearing protection. Use eye protection. Lot's of rimfire shooting is great for trigger control. Getting that nice smooth squeeze because you're not anticipating a nuclear explosion going off in your hand.
When you go to the range, start out with a .22 (if you have one) then move up to your bigger guns. After the big guns, go back to the .22. You will see the flinch more due to less recoil. Then you can again focus on smooth trigger pull.
The more you practice the more it becomes second nature. Keep shooting and keep us updated as to your progress. I'm sure you'll improve!

May 2, 2008, 12:15 AM
After you shoot a lot of .22LR ammo to fix your flinch and aid in developing good shooting habits try this .38 Special load. I charge 3.4gr W231 under a 148gr Double Ended Wadcutter. I use mostly Winchester or Federal brass and a Winchester SPP. That type of Wadcutter has a crimp groove just off the end of the bullet. I crimp in that groove and I find crimping the Wadcutter bullets aids in better consistency.

W231 is a great powder for the .38 Special. It's accurate and clean so why go elsewhere? (IMO of course)

May 2, 2008, 12:16 AM
To work out a flinch though, you need to dry fire your revolver as much as possible. I really don't believe light loads will eliminate it.
I don't like to load too hot either, but as someone else said, if you don't have a sufficient powder charge, you could definitely get a squib round. I did once in my Model 10. When I pulled the trigger, it just didn't sound or feel right. Luckily I checked the barrel and found a 158 gr LRN stuck about halfway down the barrel. Another round on top of that one and I would probably have been in serious trouble.

Mt Shooter
May 2, 2008, 12:21 AM give this a read....

May 2, 2008, 10:51 PM
trail boss is the best.

Ok i have a 50 caliber black powder rifle. I can maybe shoot 2 rounds through it. After that i find myself flinching when i shoot it. Its hard. the gun just has a heck of a punch. i find myself using a lot less powder as with full loads its really tough. All i can tell you is lesson the load or change the powder. So using trail boss your case is probably a good thing. That powder is great

May 2, 2008, 11:38 PM
+1 to saands's post. Looad 4 or five live rounds and 1or 2 empties. Spin it, and close the cylinder w/o looking. Concentrate on the font sight, and squeeze the trigger. A suprise break is what you are looking for. I worked for my 10 YO daughter!

If you enjoyed reading about "How low can I go" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!