reduced load 38 special?


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beachwalker
September 25, 2010, 09:41 AM
With my Wife and my encouragement her Sister just bought her first handgun, she chose a Ruger LCR in 38 Special.

She's about 100lbs, and although in good health otherwise, the recoil is more than she is comfortable with. She 59.

Is there a reduced power 38 special load on the market? I know it defeats part of the purpose, but it would be better for her to have something than nothing.

As a side, we tried to get her to consider the Glock 26, which we have and recoil seems much milder. She had trouble racking it and the auto made her nervous.

Thanks very much, Steve

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hardworker
September 25, 2010, 10:04 AM
Find some wadcutters. They're pretty tame.

griz
September 25, 2010, 10:07 AM
You can load target wadcutters or if you want even less recoil, find some of the 125 gr Cowboy action loads. They run only about 700 or 800 FPS so are very mild. To me that's an advantage of the revolver, she can practice with powder puff loads and stoke it with more healthy rounds for defence.

beachwalker
September 25, 2010, 03:13 PM
Thanks Griz. Will do.

Guess I posted in wrong spot, will be more attentive next time.

As a side her father wanted her to get a .22, so now I'm somewhat the bad guy if she doesn't like the .38 after all. Oh well!

Carl Levitian
September 25, 2010, 03:39 PM
This always happens when people insist on picking guns for other people.

Maybe she should sell the LCR and buy a Smith and Wesson 317. A .22 revolver that she's comfortable with, will be better than a .38 that she in not comfortable.
8 rounds of mini mags on target is better than 5 rounds of .38's in the walls.

Rexster
September 25, 2010, 03:58 PM
Make sure she holds high on the grip frame when shooting, and firmly. Try the target wadcutters or cowboy loads. Really, the light-weight small-framed snubby is NOT a good choice as a first handgun for most folks. I don't, however, recommend trading off the LCR. Try to borrow or rent a K-frame sixgun, with small grip panels on it, for the early learning process.

Edited to add: I can't emphasize the need for a high hold too strongly. If a revolver recoils too much, the shooter is often holding too low, because it feels more "natural" to hold low. Forget natural, and hold HIGH. The web of the hand should rise as high as the rubber part of the LCR's grip. Hold FIRMLY; not so hard the hand trembles, but just short of that point.

Edited again to add: I do not recommend the cowboy loads for defense; the target wadcutters would be superior for that.

Manco
September 25, 2010, 05:12 PM
You can load target wadcutters or if you want even less recoil, find some of the 125 gr Cowboy action loads. They run only about 700 or 800 FPS so are very mild. To me that's an advantage of the revolver, she can practice with powder puff loads and stoke it with more healthy rounds for defence.

In this specific case, I would recommend wadcutters for both practice and defense. For the recoil-sensitive, I think it is less than ideal to use for actual defense a load that they would be less proficient with. A 148 grain wadcutter moving at about 700 fps would penetrate plenty deep, and tear things up pretty well along the way.

Maybe she should sell the LCR and buy a Smith and Wesson 317. A .22 revolver that she's comfortable with, will be better than a .38 that she in not comfortable.

.22s are great because most people will always be able to put them to good use long after they've moved up in caliber for defensive purposes. In the meantime, .22 LR as a caliber can penetrate enough to kill people, and while it's one of the least effective calibers for that purpose per round, it may be the best option if you currently shoot it significantly better (faster and more accurately) than larger calibers because that matters more.

8 rounds of mini mags on target is better than 5 rounds of .38's in the walls.

True, and 8 rounds of CCI Velocitors should be even better, especially out of short-barreled revolvers.

wnycollector
September 25, 2010, 05:29 PM
Mastercast makes a 100gr wadcutter that lopes along at 800fps. It is VERY soft shooting out of a K frame. Out of a N frame if feels like a .22. I taught my wife and mother-in-law to shoot with these loads. With lots of practice over the years, my wife now shoots and carries a .357 (2.75" Ruger Security Six). Here is a link to the mastercast ammo http://mastercast.net/amo.htm

gdesloge
September 25, 2010, 05:53 PM
"her Sister just bought her first handgun"

Does she have any shooting experience? If not, maybe professional instruction is in order.

gd

jaholder1971
September 25, 2010, 07:54 PM
Try some factory wadcutters. Most are match grade and spendy, but Selliet And Bellot makes some that aren't. Good shooters, too.

If she can't handle a .38 and target wadcutters she probably won't be able to handle a .22 either.

Sauer Grapes
September 25, 2010, 08:00 PM
I have the same problem with my wife. Yes I bought the gun. {my bad} I got her a Sp 101 w\3"barrel to give it some wieght.
I aquainted myself with one of the bullseye shooter at the clubb that competes in a revolver competition. He's loading some 38 wadcutters that only move at 700fps. I'm hoping this works, otherwise I think I'll try a professional instructor.
I only mention this as another option for low recoil loads. She does ok with the 22s' I have. She loves the ruger, I hope I can get her comfy with the gun. I give her credit, she's trying. Next is a lighter hammer spring for that tank. I tried getting her to switch to my S&W 12, but she WANTS HER gun...lol.

btg3
September 26, 2010, 07:54 AM
What's the intended use? If CC, then the LCR might be the right gun, as opposed to one that gets left at home because of size/weight. If she's wanting a plinker or a house gun, the LCR might not be the right gun.

I ran into a friend at the range who had brought along his neighbor for her first shoot (and gun purchase). He only had a 642 -- sheesh! -- so I offered my Service Six for comparison. Minutes later, she bought a new 4" stainless SW .357 with .38spl ammo.

1911Tuner
September 26, 2010, 08:21 AM
While the .38 Special can be downloaded to a level that wouldn't upset our great auntie Flo, Wadcutters at 600 fps don't really make for good defensive rounds.

Several years ago, a rather burly aquaintence of mine was accidentally shot in the thigh with a target wadcutter while instructing his young son. We could see the base of the bullet, and "Big Jake" calmly walked to the house and literally popped the bullet out of his leg like a zit. He disinfected the wound...applied a dressing...and walked back to the group to resume the shooting session, a bit sore, but none the worse for being shot.

If practice is the object of the exercise, the target wadcutter is fine. 2.7 grains of Bullseye and a 148 grain double end wadcutter will provide about 600 fps from a 4-inch barrel. The velocity from a 2-inch barrel will be a bit lower, of course, but the recoil impulse won't...and in a light, snub-nosed revolver...it will still be fairly sharp for someone who is recoil sensitive.

Manco
September 26, 2010, 12:23 PM
While the .38 Special can be downloaded to a level that wouldn't upset our great auntie Flo, Wadcutters at 600 fps don't really make for good defensive rounds.

Several years ago, a rather burly aquaintence of mine was accidentally shot in the thigh with a target wadcutter while instructing his young son. We could see the base of the bullet, and "Big Jake" calmly walked to the house and literally popped the bullet out of his leg like a zit. He disinfected the wound...applied a dressing...and walked back to the group to resume the shooting session, a bit sore, but none the worse for being shot.

:scrutiny: It must have been some kind of fluke because according to the following test results 95 grain bullets at 741-794 fps, which have significantly less momentum than 148 grain bullets at 600 fps, can penetrate 16.0-21.8 inches into calibrated ballistic gelatin:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/380ACP%20ammunition%20performance%20in%20ballistic%20gelatin.pdf

That's more than most people want for defense even from more powerful calibers.

If practice is the object of the exercise, the target wadcutter is fine. 2.7 grains of Bullseye and a 148 grain double end wadcutter will provide about 600 fps from a 4-inch barrel. The velocity from a 2-inch barrel will be a bit lower, of course, but the recoil impulse won't...

Well, technically the actual impulse would be lower in proportion to the velocity of the bullet...

and in a light, snub-nosed revolver...it will still be fairly sharp for someone who is recoil sensitive.

...but it doesn't matter as much as the light weight of such revolvers, which makes any recoil feel much sharper, as you're saying. And if lightly-loaded .38 Special wadcutters are still too much, then .22 LR is better than nothing (.32 is a possibility, but ammo is harder to find, it might be difficult to find one to try out, and shot capacity will be lower).

1911Tuner
September 26, 2010, 12:34 PM
It must have been some kind of fluke

Don't know. The report was no different from any of the others, and I don't think he was willing to do it again just to see.

Well, technically the actual impulse would be lower in proportion to the velocity of the bullet...

Actually...no, it wouldn't.

Tilos
September 26, 2010, 12:56 PM
(I have found)
Ammo loaded for "Cowboy" shooting is about the lightest 38s available without loading something yourself.

MrBorland
September 26, 2010, 01:45 PM
You could try slowly introducing her to .38 spl power by starting with .38 Short Colt and .38 Long Colt, the predecessors to the .38 spl. Transition to Mastercast's 100gr wadcutter, then to 148gr Wadcutters, then to std .38 spl.

Bovice
September 26, 2010, 02:14 PM
I never knew .38s to have that much recoil to begin with, sounds like she's anticipating recoil, and the little bit she gets, she amplifies in her brain. Kinda like when you yell "OW!" and whatever it was ends up being painless. Instead of suggesting a trade-in for a .22, have her shoot more and get used to it. Sounds like she's outright afraid of the gun.

Steve C
September 26, 2010, 03:41 PM
The problem with new shooters is they worry about the recoil. For the most part it doesn't hurt them but they worry about it anyway. Personally I think new shooters should be started with a .22. It teaches them trigger control, sight alignment and has minimal recoil for them to contend with. After shooting the .22 for a while you introduce them to the .38 spl pointing out that they shoot the same way to hit the target. The recoil is something that happens after the shot and needs to be accepted, not fought or anticipated. Let the gun jump, just bring it back on target.

Too many times I've seen someone instructing a new shooter have that evil look as they hand them a .357 mag and tell them about the horrors of its recoil. Not a good way to put a NewB in the right frame of mind.

Light weight pistols recoil significantly more than a heavier gun. Your better off training with a S&W model 10 with some heft than with any snub nose, esp a super light one.

ArchAngelCD
September 26, 2010, 07:06 PM
It looks like it might be time to start reloading or find someone you know that will reload some Wadcutters for you. I make up some very light 148gr Wadcutters for plinking and target practice that are well under 700 fps but fun to shoot.

If not the above suggestions for buying Cowboy ammo are probably best since factory Wadcutters are usually very expensive. (not that Cowboy ammo is much cheaper)

Manco
September 26, 2010, 07:43 PM
Well, technically the actual impulse would be lower in proportion to the velocity of the bullet...

Actually...no, it wouldn't.

What is the impulse based on?

1911Tuner
September 26, 2010, 08:23 PM
What is the impulse based on?

Without going too far off-topic...

Rate of acceleration and the force required to achieve it. Recoil is nothing more than backward acceleration in response to the bullet's forward acceleration.

Yes. The gun is in full recoil before the bullet exits the muzzle.

With some fast powders fired in long barrels, it's entriely possible for the bullet to be moving faster before it exits the muzzle than at the time of exit...and it was proven some years back with a 26-inch .308 rifle by lopping off an inch at a time and firing different handloads with various powders at each increment.

Typical handgun powders hit peak pressure/force and acceleration rapidly... within a half-inch of bullet movement. Some really fast powders...like Bullseye...will do it before the bullet base has even cleared the case mouth.

Quick example, and using round numbers for simplicity.

If we assume 30 fps per inch of barrel gained or lost, and using a 4-inch .357 magnum revolver for the example...158 grain bullet at 1250 fps...we're getting 120 fps from the barrel. That leaves 1130 fps unaccounted for.

kludge
September 26, 2010, 09:45 PM
I started my wife on 158gr LSWC w/ 3.4gr Bullseye. Good enough.

SIGLBER
September 27, 2010, 02:02 AM
As others have said HBWC (hard base wadcutters) are the way to go. When the only rounds out their were 158gr. LRN alot of guys used wadcutters. And alot of the early JHP's didn't open anyways from a 2" barrel. The wadcutters were accurate, mild recoil, penetrate deep, and cut a full length channel through the body. Lots of folks still use them. Alot of people scoff at the idea but it's easy to hit with. A hit with a wadcutter is better than a miss with anything else.

ArchAngelCD
September 27, 2010, 02:06 AM
As others have said HBWC (hard base wadcutters) are the way to go.
Sorry but HBWC = Hollow Base Wadcutters.

tasco 74
September 27, 2010, 02:53 AM
you could try a different angle a let her try some mid range to hotter .357 mag loads a couple times........... then when she popped off the .38 spl it wouldn't seem so bad.... ????????

joe_security
September 27, 2010, 05:18 PM
What about the Federal HS 110 gr. non plus p? I still see this stuff on the shelves at the local shop.

Manco
September 27, 2010, 10:36 PM
Without going too far off-topic...

I suppose it's on-topic as long as it's relevant to determining the amount of recoil one can expect from barrels of different lengths.

Rate of acceleration and the force required to achieve it. Recoil is nothing more than backward acceleration in response to the bullet's forward acceleration.

Technically, isn't recoil defined instead as impulse, which is basically the momentum imparted by the bullet to the firearm and the shooter? It's more like a total of something as opposed to an instantaneous measure of acceleration or force, at least the way I was using the term. In that case, by the law of conservation of momentum, recoil would be the mass of the bullet multiplied by its velocity (applied in the opposite direction), meaning that shorter barrels would indeed result in less total recoil, all else being equal (and a louder blast from wasting more gas and energy).

Yes. The gun is in full recoil before the bullet exits the muzzle.

By "full recoil" you are apparently referring to the peak reaction force applied to the gun, which does indeed have a major effect on how recoil is perceived, but it is not recoil per se, as I understand it. We could say that barrel length has no effect on the "snappiness" of a particular load, if this is the effect of the peak force, but then again perception is complex, and for example higher actual recoil may combine with the same peak force to be perceived by some as being "snappier" even though it is not (.40 S&W versus 9mm may be an instance of such a phenomenon).

With some fast powders fired in long barrels, it's entriely possible for the bullet to be moving faster before it exits the muzzle than at the time of exit...and it was proven some years back with a 26-inch .308 rifle by lopping off an inch at a time and firing different handloads with various powders at each increment.

Absolutely, that's what happens when there is no longer enough gas to pressurize the barrel sufficiently to overcome friction.

Typical handgun powders hit peak pressure/force and acceleration rapidly... within a half-inch of bullet movement. Some really fast powders...like Bullseye...will do it before the bullet base has even cleared the case mouth.

That may true for the peak pressure/force and acceleration, but in typical handguns the bullet will still accelerate through the whole length of the barrel, and the shorter the two barrels being compared are, the more significant the difference in bullet velocity and recoil impulse will be between them.

Quick example, and using round numbers for simplicity.

If we assume 30 fps per inch of barrel gained or lost, and using a 4-inch .357 magnum revolver for the example...158 grain bullet at 1250 fps...we're getting 120 fps from the barrel. That leaves 1130 fps unaccounted for.

I think that's quite way off, even for a simplified example. Refer to the following tables for actual data:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html
http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/38special.html

As you can see, even the difference between 4" and 2" barrels (the lengths in your original example) is quite a bit more significant than you're suggesting (based on longer barrels, I realize, but the truth is the truth). Quite simply, the bullet is accelerated for longer and to a significantly higher velocity in a 4" barrel than it is in a 2" barrel, and therefore the resulting impulse is significantly higher (what I said originally) even though the peak reactive force should be the same (what you just said).

Now, how this difference is perceived by the shooter depends on the individual and is a complex subject, especially since even a couple of inches of barrel length can add substantial mass to the front of the gun, which also changes its balance. But I do think that recoil is lighter, at least in one measurable parameter--impulse, which normally defines "recoil"--when a gun's barrel is shorter.

zxcvbob
September 27, 2010, 10:50 PM
With the resurgence of old cartridges for CAS, how about .38 Short Colts? I mean for a training round.

Oyeboten
September 28, 2010, 01:36 AM
Possibly her issue is actually more in how she is gripping the Revolver, than that the recoil as such is bothering her.

With a correct and firm grip, she would probably be just fine with full power loadings.

1911Tuner
September 28, 2010, 07:02 AM
Manco...Not gonna get into an involved, off-topic discussion here.

But short form...yes to all the technical/scientific stuff...but the initial impulse at peak force determines it...not the absolute MV...which is realized when the peak force and acceleration has fallen off to about 10% of the top numbers. And...30 fps/inch is an average...not an absolute...that I've found to be pretty much correct.

Try this, if you think that barrel length and muzzle velocity are the "kickers." See if you can find an old revolver that's seen better days and is due for a new barrel. Unscrew the old one....and shoot it without the barrel. You'll find that recoil is equally lively whether the barrel is there or not.

To keep from cluttering up this discussion...and because it's a point of interest...I'll start a thread titled "Recoil and Barrel Length" in General Handgun. You're cordially invited. Look for it in about an hour.

1911Tuner
September 28, 2010, 08:39 AM
Manco...Here's a link to it. I've posted it here because it's related to the thread topic, and some of the subscribers may want to go have a look.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=6766334#post6766334

dashootist
October 1, 2010, 08:51 PM
First, lock the LCR in the closet and buy her a K-frame 38spl revolver and shoot light load. As she become more confident, like after a few thoursand rounds, she will be able to handle the LCR.

Dirty Bob
October 3, 2010, 09:48 PM
As an alternative to the K-frame, may I suggest the SP101? It's a small-frame revolver that's about double the weight of the LCR. The factory stocks are surprisingly good, especially for many women. Although heavy for a small-frame gun, the SP101 is lighter than K-frames and could even be used as a carry gun. If she used it for home and the LCR for carry, she'd have two very similar 5-shot revolvers. I suspect the SP101 would be quite tame with wadcutters.

I load the Lee 148-grain wadcutter and love it. I don't know the velocity, but I'm using data from the Lee manual and am using 3.0gr of Win 231. This bullet was fired from a 2-inch Airweight snubby and penetrated four 1-gallon jugs of water and was stopped inside the 5th. Recoil was mild. Here's the bullet:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=100911&d=1246743622

All my best,
Dirty Bob

147 Grain
November 2, 2010, 06:56 PM
My wife practices at the range using 148-gr. wadcutters in her LCR and upgrades to Speer Gold Dot 135-gr. Short Barrel ammo for SD.

zxcvbob
November 2, 2010, 10:04 PM
load the Lee 148-grain wadcutter and love it. I don't know the velocity, but I'm using data from the Lee manual and am using 3.0gr of Win 231. This bullet was fired from a 2-inch Airweight snubby and penetrated four 1-gallon jugs of water and was stopped inside the 5th. Recoil was mild.I just bought that bullet mold and cast a few hundred of 'em Sunday afternoon. Tried them tonight, over 3.0 grains of American Select. I love this bullet! Every shot went where I told it to. (now I gotta learn to do my part better)

W.E.G.
November 2, 2010, 10:31 PM
I load the Lee 148-grain wadcutter and love it. I don't know the velocity, but I'm using data from the Lee manual and am using 3.0gr of Win 231.

cat-sneeze load

http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd7/rkba2da/reloading/Quickload%20tables/38catsneeze.jpg

zxcvbob
November 2, 2010, 10:37 PM
You didn't set the cartridge length in your QuickLOAD calculation. Wadcutters are seated with almost the whole bullet inside the case (otherwise they won't even chamber)

147 Grain
November 2, 2010, 11:27 PM
FYI: A typical 148-gr. factory wadcutter load is advertised at 710 fps out of a 4" barrel.

BCRider
November 3, 2010, 03:38 AM
Without having read all the posts since there's so many I'll ask "Does she enjoy shooting for sport as well as having the gun for defense?". If so then get her to join one of the local shooting clubs and partake in some light duty competitions or take a self defense shooting course or two. The focus on actually shooting well and hitting the targets as well as the bit of extra pressure from having a timer or teacher behind her will encourage her to focus on the job of getting bullets accurately downrange and not to focus on the recoil. Also the control and judgement about if and where the bullets go could well avoid an accident at some point. An accident that may be due to her not wanting to draw the gun when needed or perhaps using it when it's not. I'm sure all will agree that a gun without training of the operator either through courses or competition where the shooter is forced to think and decide under pressure is a dangerous gun.

On the other hand if she got not just this gun but a gun at all because she was badgered into it then she'll never like it or any other and it's all for naught.

postalnut25
November 3, 2010, 12:54 PM
I've read some of these suggestions. I like the 38 long colts in my revolvers for my daughters to shoot. It's pretty mild, and they can handle it.

To go slightly off topic, I saw that 38 short colts were suggested. I was under the impression that those rounds had heel type bullets that were as wide as the cartridge case, making them too big for the bore on a 38/357. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. I have never shot, handled, or even seen a 38 short colt, so I'm honestly curious.

foghornl
November 3, 2010, 01:13 PM
If you don't "roll your own" ammo, either the 125-Gr "cowboy action" loads or the 148-Gr wadcutters previously mentioned should both be very easy shooters.

I also found some PMC brand (IIRC) 130-Gr full metal jacket rounds that were quite pleasant in my snubby.

withdrawn34
November 3, 2010, 02:36 PM
If she is not CCing it, maybe she could consider getting rid of the LCR, and buying a bigger, heavier .38 revolver. A longer barrel and more weight are two things the LCR was not designed for, but are things that reduce felt recoil.

By the way, how long has she been shooting for? If she's a first time shooter, just about everything except .22 maybe seem like a lot of recoil. Maybe once she shoot it more she will get used to it.

But again, if it's just for HD, the LCR wasn't a great choice. It is designed as a carry revolver.

cougar1717
November 3, 2010, 02:37 PM
She's 59
As a side her father wanted her to get a .22

It doesn't matter how old you get, your parents will always be your parents! :)

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