accurate plinking load for snubby


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civilian75
August 16, 2011, 05:13 PM
I recently acquired a J-frame for CC. I quickly learned one must practice a lot. I try to visit the range about 3-4 times a month. I shoot 100-200 rounds per session. And I'd shoot more if ammo cost would not bite so much.

I want to develop a mild but accurate load using Berry's 125gr FN on 38SPC brass. I already have Titegroup, Trailboss, Win231 and Unique. I hope to save in time and materials if anyone here can suggest a powder/load combo i can start with. I am finding it hard to find a mild and accurate load. So far the only very consistently accurate (ragged hole)load I've found is HOR 125gr XTP on top of 17gr of 2400 in a 357Mag Win brass and CCI500 primers. But that's hardly a plining load on a 13oz revolver (unloaded).

I noticed many seem to prefer heavier bullets for 38SPC. Does 38SPC tends to be more accurate with heavier bullets? Same applies to Snubbies?

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Old Fuff
August 16, 2011, 10:06 PM
Try 148 grain full wadcutters, seated flush with the case mouth, and 2.5 to 3 grains of Win. 231 powder. You can load in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum cases, but the high-end load (which isn't very high :D) will likely be better in Magnum cases. Velocity will be around 650 FPS out of a snubby, and I've found it shoots close to point-of-aim. Recoil is light.

Smith & Wesson's have a slow 1 to 18.7" rifling twist that prefers heavy bullets, but at snubby range (25 yards and under) it doesn't matter.

GCBurner
August 16, 2011, 10:21 PM
For cheap practice, I use cast 148gr. double-ended wadcutters over 3 grains of Red Dot or Bullseye; mostly Red Dot now, as it seems to burn cleaner. For carry and IDPA Back Up Gun matches with my 3" S&W Model 640, I use 158gr. hard cast Keith-type semi-wadcutters over 3.5 grains of Bullseye. It's pretty accurate, and still fairly inexpensive to load. In a 4" barrel, it clocks a little over 800 fps, so it meets the power requirement for shooting IDPA Standard Service Revolver classification, too.

civilian75
August 17, 2011, 01:48 PM
If I understand the comments, it seems I will have to:
1. drive the 125gr FN hard to get any decent accuracy,
2. switch to 148gr or longer/heavier for accurate milder loads.

But I don't still understand the "slow 1 to 18.7" rifling twist that prefers heavy bullets" comment. If I drive long/heavy bullets slowly with a slow twist rate I risk getting unstable bullets out of the muzzle and keyholed impacts, don't you think?

Old Fuff
August 17, 2011, 07:34 PM
You are right about the twist - but only up to a point. :confused:

Where S&W decided on the 1-to-18.7" twist way back in the late 19th century, Colt used 1 to 16" rifling, as did Ruger years later. Smith & Wesson revolvers firing light, mid-range .38 Special's with 148 grain full-wadcutters tend to have the bullet yaw as the velocity drops at about 40 to 50 yards, and it may tumble as the distance increases to say, 70 yards. The faster twist in Colt's, Ruger's and Taurus barrels tends to stabilize the bullet longer. But all this doesn't normally matter at usual snubby ranges or 25 yards or under.

I suggested the 148-grain bullet over a lighter one because it tends to shoot closer to point-of-aim when using a fixed sight model J-frame, but this is something you'd have to work out by experimenting.

As a side note: Back when the Police Practical Course (PPC) game was popular most contestants used .38 Special/148 grain/mid-range load at distances from 7 to 50 yards. Many had custom revolvers made up using barrels with 1 to 10, 14, and 16 inch twists assembled on various S&W K-frame platforms. The purpose of those faster twists was to get better accuracy at 50 yards, where X-ring groups were critical.

Fishslayer
August 17, 2011, 07:47 PM
Probably the most popular bullet for serious .38 shooters is a 148gr WC or HBWC.

I use 158gr LSWC myself because they are more available locally.

Tons of loading data available. Which one is best for your particular gun you'll just have to do a lot of shooting to find out. ;)

wlewisiii
August 17, 2011, 08:52 PM
I find cheap (magtech or whatever) 158 gr LRN .38 Specials to be good practice/plinking ammo for both my .38 special & .357 Magnum. It all shoots to point of aim and has negligible recoil & is about as cheap as centerfire pistol gets.

ArchAngelCD
August 18, 2011, 01:54 AM
Using the components you asked about I would load that Berry's 125gr FN bullet over 4.4gr W231 in .38 Special brass for a good and accurate practice load.

civilian75
August 18, 2011, 02:07 PM
Berry's 125gr FN bullet over 4.4gr W231 in .38 Special brass Excellent! Will do. Thanks. :)

(magtech or whatever) 158 gr LRN .38 Specials to be good practice/plinking ammoMagtech 158gr LRN has been really good. I am reloading its brass. I will buy more, it is just that I like reloading, too. :)

Probably the most popular bullet for serious .38 shooters is a 148gr WC or HBWC.That's what is have come to realize. The only problem I have is SD practice drills involves reloading with a speedloader. I have not yet figured how to do it quickly with WCs. I wonder how those guys in the PPC games do it...:banghead: My guess my HKS loader is the problem. Are the COMP1 any better with WC?

SlamFire1
August 18, 2011, 02:20 PM
You did not list any of the powders I used, however the velocities might be of use in your evaluation of loads.

Suggestions of using a 148 LWC is not a bad idea, it will just shoot a little high.

My S&W snubbies shot to point of aim with 125 grain bullets. The standard 158 shot high.

I got some very accurate loads with 125's and Bullseye and of all things, Green Dot.

Green Dot worked very well, so buy by price.


S&W M638-3 Airweight Bodyguard

148 LWC Lead 2.7 grs Bullseye thrown Mixed Brass WSP
18-Mar-07 T = 52 F
Ave Vel = 611.6
Std Dev = 22.04
ES 75.92
High 648.1
Low 572.2
N = 25
little high

158 LSWC 3.5 grs Bullseye Mixed brass WSP
18-Mar-07 T = 52 F
Ave Vel = 611.1
Std Dev = 9.64
ES 28.05
High 626.3
Low 598.3
N = 32
4-6" High accurate


S&W M637-2 2" barrel

158 LRN 3.5 grs Bullseye WSP Mixed cases
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel =679
Std Dev =16.48
ES 56.11
High 698.2
Low 642
N = 18

125 Lead BBRNFP 4.0 grs Bullseye Lot BE 532 Mixed cases CCI 500
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel = 763.9
Std Dev = 22
ES 78
High 806.5
Low 728.5
N = 15
Point aim OK

125 Lead BBRNFP 4.0 grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP
9-Apr-06 T = 59 F

Ave Vel = 760.4
Std Dev = 27.33
ES = 82.1
High = 798.9
Low = 716.8
N = 19


125 Lead BBRNFP 4.5 grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP
9-Apr-06 T = 64 F

Ave Vel = 827.9
Std Dev = 23.21
ES = 92.27
High = 879.4
Low = 787.1
N = 20


125 Lead BBRNFP 4.5 grs Green Dot Lot 178 Mixed cases CCI 500
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel = 813.2
Std Dev = 44.55
ES 176.5
High 903.3
Low 726.8
N = 24
v. accurate at 7 yards, POI at 25 yards, little leading

125 Lead BBRNFP 5.0 grs Green Dot Lot 178 Mixed cases CCI 500
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel = 867.3
Std Dev = 57.54
ES 178.1
High 966
Low 787.8
N = 21
v.accurate at 7 yds, 1-2" above POI at 25 yards, more leading

125 JHP (W/W) 4.5 grs Green Dot Lot 178 Mixed cases CCI 500
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel = 760.4
Std Dev = 68
ES 56
High 205.1
Low 885.4
N = 13


125 JHP (W/W) 5.0 grs Green Dot Lot 178 Mixed cases CCI 500
6-Apr-07 T = 48 F

Ave Vel = 808.9
Std Dev = 56.82
ES 95.46
High 914.2
Low 712.8
N = 20
25 yds accuracy OK, accurate POI @ 7 yds

blindhari
August 18, 2011, 08:16 PM
I have sort of a unique problem. Every time I go shooting with my brother-in-law he generally hands me between 3-500 rds of 125 grain lrnfp 38 special loaded to 38 +p with Clays. This would be great but my wrists just won't take the snap for that many rounds. My solution is simple, go home, pull the bullets, dump powder, reload with 2.5 grains of powder. There is still a good deal of snap, but this is my CC and intended for use so close, I really don"t use sights ( I am a point Shooter). When I load, I believe I use about 3 grains under a 125 grain lead moly lube round nose. Works great in a 357 mag winchester trapper also. Light load, little recoil, accurate in the rifle out to 100 yds, in the snub to 20 yds and never overly loud. CC carry is REM 158 grain JHP factory loads.

blindhari

OldCavSoldier
August 19, 2011, 05:53 PM
I like using either Berry's or Xtreme plated 125 grain FP (with cannelure) (light crimp) over 4.3 grains of Unique, lit off by a standard CCI small pistol primer, in .38 special cases. Works great in my M37, M60, and M642

Red Cent
August 19, 2011, 06:21 PM
They make and I use 90gr and 105gr lead cast. The 90 is a round nose and the 105 is a truncated cone. The 105 is a perfect practice round being light recoil and speedloaders and cylinders love it.
I use 3.2 American Select topped off with a 105gr in a 38spl case for 795fps. Same with the 90 and not much more fps. Good practice for rapid fire, double taps, and fast target transitions.
Good rollcrimp in the groove and you are good to go.

RevolvingGarbage
August 20, 2011, 03:10 AM
I use 125gr hardcast FN bullets over 4.0gr Bullseye in my RG40, and they shoot GREAT at all ranges I've tried them at. Thats an RG though, I have no idea what the barrel twist rate is on it so YMMV.

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