HBWC Starting to keyhole


January 5, 2012, 07:10 PM
I've been trying the Precision Delta hbwc with Match lube and having issues with them starting to keyhole at 50 yards. The regular lubed ones don't seem to have as much of a problem but gum up my dies. I have been loading them in federal brass, cci small primers and 3.1 gr of W231. With overall length of 1.16" and using Lee factory crimp. I'm shooting them out of a s&w 15-6 with a 4" barrel. My chrono shows about 740 fps. I'm getting about 6.5" groups with the match lube and 4.5" with the standard sticky lube. I would really like to make the PD hbwc with match lube work. I'm new to revolvers and reloading. I really need to get these dialed in at 50 yards for PPC. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Master Blaster
January 5, 2012, 07:23 PM
try 3.2 grains of 231 then 3.3 until the keyholing stops

January 5, 2012, 07:41 PM
Bump up the load.

Your load is to light to stabilize them at 50 yards as the velocity deteriorates.


January 5, 2012, 07:57 PM
I'll be at the range for the first half of the day tomorrow. I'll try working them up like you say. Thanks you for the fast replies. Is there a fps range I should be looking for?

January 5, 2012, 08:07 PM
Do not use the Lee FCD, it might size the bullet in the loaded rounds. Some yaw is normal in 38 special, makes a slight oval hole on target. http://www.nennstiel-ruprecht.de/bullfly/anom.htm 4.5" groups not to bad if from a sand bag rest or off hand. Not so good from a machine rest. http://spinstage.http.internapcdn.net/Spinstage/userdocs/products/l_164200025_1.jpg

January 5, 2012, 11:44 PM
Stop using the Factory Crimp Die and seat them flush with the case mouth. Use a slight roll crimp, just enough to facilitate loading into the chambers. You don't want to size the bullet again after it's seated, and that may be what's happening with the FCD.

I used to have a target that I shot from a Ransom Rest through my PPC revolver that was 1.75" for all ten shots at 50 yards. That was with Bullseye and 148 Gr. HBWC's. Without the rest, I could usually hold the 10 Ring off the barricade, with most going into the X-Ring at 50 yards. I can't shoot like that anymore, since I can't see the sights as well as I did 30+ years ago, but that's the kind of accuracy you're trying for. If I remember correctly, my best match score was a 597, but I don't remember the X count, but I believe it was in excess of 45.

At that time I was shooting an average of 1,500 rounds in practice per week, plus 360 rounds in matches every other weekend. All those rounds were loaded with standard RCBS carbide dies that I still use today.

Hope this helps.


January 5, 2012, 11:53 PM
Are you shooting an unsupported paper target or one with a stiff backer? Sometimes a unsupported paper target will give the allusion of key-holing when it really isn't. A charge of 3.1gr W231 should be fine as is 740 fps. That velocity is not low by any measure.

January 6, 2012, 12:48 AM
Thanks Fred, I just ordered a set of rcbs 38 special dies. I'm going to give your load a try. I'm trying to score above 540 consistently with stock s&w all though I haven't actually fired the course yet. I didn't see any need in wasting ammo until I get a 50 yard load dialed in. 1.75" is amazing. I can't imagine 1500 rounds a week. I don't think I can reload that fast. : - )

January 6, 2012, 12:51 AM
Don't use the FCD.

Get a Lee .38 oversize sizer die. It will size the case .002" less than your regular die does. The case will not distort the bullet when you seat it. Then, taper crimp slightly.

Don't increase the powder charge. 740 FPS is plenty to stabilize this bullet from your S&W.

January 6, 2012, 01:03 AM
Thanks ArchAngelCD, I'm just shooting cardboard with a 2" circle right now. I'm not 100% on the 740 fps. My numbers have been all over the place. I learned from reading another thread that I may have my chrony too close causing inconsistent numbers. I've only had it about 3' from the muzzle. I'm going to move it back to about 10' and see if that helps. One of my 6shot strings 732, 692, 678, 723, 751, 730.

January 6, 2012, 08:13 AM
My first thoughts on the problem is loose the FCD as suggested ,roll a slight crimp to accomidate loading .

If bumping the load up does`nt work & makes it worse ya could be blowing the skirts open if loading in 38 brass (some HBWC are finicky on this & varies from 1 style to the other, some have straigh walls some have progressively thinner)

But generally speaking if it wobbles ,speed it up a bit .

January 6, 2012, 05:17 PM
In most of my S&W 38 Spl revolvers, the 148 HBWC seems to stabilize best at over 750 fps.

During load development, I start low and keep increasing the powder charge in .1gr increments until I get the best accuracy at 50yds. Most generally this seems to be around 760-780 fps, but I don't actually check for the velocity until after I find what powder charge gives me the best accuracy.

My current standard load for all my various K38's and Model 14's is 2.7 to 2.8gr of WW WST under a flush seated Remington 148HBWC. I resize with a 38 Super die so as to not size the brass down too far prior to seating the bullet. I taper crimp just enough to remove the slight bell applied during the expanding step.

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