Duplicating .38Special factory loads


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RDub
April 5, 2011, 07:41 PM
Hello

Thought you guys might find this interesting.. I originally posted this over at the S&W Reloading Forum.

Last year I did a small expose on .38 Special 158gr Lead RN factory loads, dealing with what it would take, in charge weight, to duplicate the Remington UMC 158gr Lead RN factory load with a cast bullet of the same weight (Lyman #358311 sized .358”) with some of the more popular powders.
The Remington factory load, of a 158gr Lead RN; chronographed over my Oehler Mod 33 at 770 fps with a 4” S&W 686.
You can find that post here.
http://smith-wessonforum.com/reloading/124471-38-special-factory-load-duplication.html

My ultimate goal here is to demonstrate that Remington is using an extraordinary propellant in their UMC factory load, not easily duplicated with what is available to us.

This year I wanted to expand this effort a bit and do some things a little different.
Instead of using a cast bullet, since not everyone casts, I wanted to use a bullet that is more similar to the Remington bullet, that being a swaged lead bullet, and one that is readily available to everyone. For this I chose the Speer Lead 158gr RN.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/LoadedSpeer158gr.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Speer158grLRN.jpg


I have also accumulated more powders to test. A list of these and the recommended max loads for each powder with 158gr lead bullets can be seen here;

AA#2……….4.0
AA#5……….5.9
RS ZIP……...4.2
Bullseye…….3.6
Red Dot……..3.9
Power Pistol…5.4
Unique………4.7
Titegroup……3.9
W-231………4.3
HP-38……….4.3
Universal……4.5
700-X……….3.7
SR 7625…….4.5
SR 4756…….5.3

N-320………4.6
Herco……….4.5

In addition I threw in two more brands of factory ammo just for comparison;
Federal (American Eagle) 158gr Lead RN, and the old classic Winchester 158gr RN Lubaloy.
And just because I had some, (target #4) I threw in some Remington 200gr LRN 38 Special factory loads shot out of a 6½” barrel. Even that load has a very respectable velocity.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Rem-Fed-Win38.jpg

Here is how the American Eagle and Winchester rounds break down; The breakdown of the Rem load was done in last year’s post and can be seen in the link above.

The Federal American Eagle round is loaded with a 158gr lead RN bullet and is charged with 3.4-3.5 grs of something that looks very much like Bullseye.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Fed34grspowder.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Fedbulletweight.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Fedpowdersample.jpg

The Winchester round, the old classic 158gr Lubaloy RN is loaded with a copper plated lead RN bullet. This bullet weighed 158.3 grs.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Winbulletweight1.jpg

and is charged with a silvery flattened ball powder weighing 3.8 grs.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Win38grspowder.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/Winpowdersample.jpg

So, after months of nasty southern Oregon weather, I finally got a window of ‘decent’ weather and went out and shot. Except for an occasional sleet shower, the sun was shining. Temp was in the high 30’s °F and the wind was gusting fairly well making shooting fine groups difficult at best.

After an afternoon of shooting, here is the target. Conditions are noted top right.
I’m shooting at 25 yards.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/4-2-11Edited.jpg

So right off the bat I’m noticing some interesting things…

Notice that the Remington factory load, in an ambient temperature of 38°F clocked 763 fps; only a few fps slower than last years reading at 65°F ambient.



http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f218/rafswede/38%20Factory%20Duplication/38facdup1.jpg



And notice how slower the other two factory loads are at this temperature. It could be that Fed and Win load their ammo a bit slower... Have to wait and see.
Also notice the velocities of Bullseye, 700-X, Unique, Power Pistol, 231, and SR7625, as compared to last year. The well established ‘factory duplication load’ of 3.5 grs of Bullseye wouldn’t have come close to any factory load, as it is, 3.7grs didn’t make it.
When I shot the SR7625 and the SR4756 test loads, (targets 20 and 21), I was wondering if I neglected to put powder in the case before seating a bullet.. the report was extremely light. I noticed a lot of unburned powder in the cases.

So what I’m gathering from this is, most of the powders tested are somewhat to extremely temperature sensitive. Maybe even the Fed and Win factory loads are not at their best at 38°F.. I’ll have to wait.. and see when the weather here gets warmer and re-shoot this series.

Somewhat interesting also is the results with N-320. Note the very high extreme spread yet it produced an acceptable group.. one of the best of the day.
I’m also betting, that when I shoot again in warmer weather the groups and extreme spreads will tighten up and velocities will be higher. Again I’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. I’ll probably re-shoot this series May-June.

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