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158 gr Jacketed bullets for .38 Special

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Hondo 60, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    OK, I got one for the regulars on this forum.

    In the most recent issue of Handloader Magazine, Brian Pearce says,
    that he doesn't recommend 158 gr jacketed bullets for .38 special loadings.

    His reasoning is that he's seen some get stuck in the barrel.

    To me it sounds like he's talkin' out of his butt.
    I've used 1,000s of 158 gr jhp & the only time I got one stuck,
    is totally my fault for making a squib.

    So who should be flamed, Pearce or me?
  2. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Heck if I know. I have shot 1000's of 158 jacketed in my 38's, 4" barrel and snubbies. Sometimes it seems jacketed is a bit slower, but not always.

    I have read a post where a guy with a 357 loaded very light loads with 158 jacketed and experienced stuck bullets. I don't think it was the fault of the bullet, he was way below recommended charges.

    I guess if you are going to stick a bullet, a jacketed bullet would be the easiest to stick.

    I just got in 2000 158 JSP’s, and I plan to shoot them all, 38 Spl and 357.

    [SIZE="3"]Colt Detective Special			
    158 LRN 3.5 grs Bullseye mixed cases WSP (brass) 		
    23-Sep-07	T = 79 °F				
    Ave Vel =	705				
    Std Dev =	12.16				
    ES =	34.59				
    High =	723.5				
    Low =	688.9				
    N =	12				
    158 LSWC Hornady Factory 			
    23-Sep-07	T = 79 °F				
    Ave Vel =	700.8				
    Std Dev =	13.49				
    ES =	48.39				
    High =	724.1				
    Low =	675.7				
    N =	12				
    158 JHP 3.5 grs Bullseye mixed cases WSP (nickel) 		
    23-Sep-07	T = 79 °F				
    Ave Vel =	692.9				
    Std Dev =	30.74				
    ES =	80.67				
    High =	738.6				
    Low =	658				
    N =	12				
    S&W M638-3 Airweight Bodyguard  
    158 LSWC 3.5 grs Bullseye Mixed brass WSP
    18-Mar-07	T = 52 °F	4-6" High	accurate
    Ave Vel =	670.7		 
    Std Dev =	17.52		 
    ES =	65.4		 
    High  =	697.5		 
    Low  =	632.1		 
    N =	12		
    158 JHP 3.5 grs Bullseye Mixed brass WSP
    18-Mar-07	T = 52 °F	4-6" High	accurate
    Ave Vel =	611.1		 
    Std Dev =	9.64		 
    ES =	28.05		 
    High  =	626.3		 
    Low  =	598.3		 
    N =	9		
  3. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I have loaded 158's for 38 spcl. for decades and have never had a problem getting them out of the barrel. He must be using very light charges of fast burning powders that are intended for light lead target loads.
    HS6 and Longshot loaded according to powder and bullet manufacturer's data have worked quite well for me. But there are a host of other fine powders and SAAMI approved data, that will consistently function well with 158 jacketed bullets.
    Indeed, he is talking out his rear!
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    This all came about with the advent of standard and +P .38 Spl loadings years ago.

    Even Speer has stopped publishing 158 jacketed data in Standard pressure loads.
    One reason is, JHP won't expand at .38 Spl standard pressure velocity and they probably got tired of hearing people whine about their lousy JHP bullets every time they answered the phone.

    The other problem stems not from the average .38 Spl revolver out there.
    Or even the old 158 grain load data we all used when we didn't know better until they told us! :cuss:

    But couple a heavy jacketed bullet + a long barrel + an excessive barrel/cylinder gap + the less then Starting loads so many folks seem to be enamored with lately?

    You have all the ingredients needed for a stuck bullet.

    Brian Pierce is one of the last gun writers in the world I would accuse of that!

    If he writes it, you can take it to the bank.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  5. OldCavSoldier

    OldCavSoldier Well-Known Member

    I think Pearce is talking out his butt.....

    I have loaded 158 grain JHP and JSP bullets in .38SPL mid-range cartridges since 1974 and have never experienced a stuck bullet.

    The only time you will stick a bullet, any bullet, is if you charge less than the recommended minimum.....IMHO
  6. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    I have been loading 38 for longer than anything else I shoot, including shotguns. I have loaded a LOT of various makers' 158JHP and JSP bullets with no problem ever - all by following published data

    Sounds to me like yet another "pro gun writer" who doesn't have all of the facts correct
  7. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Well-Known Member

    I'm a cautious individual, and my first reloading book was the most recent Speer manual.

    I'm not going to try my luck; if it's risky enough that Speer deleted all such loads from their manual, I don't want to try it.

    Speer also has the best approach I've seen to magnum primers. (They used them only when standard primers produced erratic results.)
  8. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    Does he say anything else? He doesn't recommend 158 gr. jacketed bullets because they'll stick in the barrel? Is that all he said or was this comment taken out of context? Seems to me anyone writing for a publication would put a few more words in front of, and behind that statement...
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    That is the latest "wisdom", for all the reasons rcmodel noted. Not bad advise, just not the absolute last word.

    I use 158 Gr plated bullets in both .38 and .357 cases with light loads (700 FPS from a 4" barrel). They have been tested thoroughly, both "powder back" with the powder against the primer and "powder forward" with the powder against the bullet.

    I have stuck bullets in 6" barrels in the process.

    I am confident in the light 158 Gr plated bullet loads I use in .38 and .357 cases, but there are many powder combinations that can easily stick a long 158 Gr plated or jacketed bullet, especially in a longer barrel in a gun with a large cylinder gap.

    Be careful. AC
  10. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    I've never tried sticking one yet but I used to try to hotrod them as much as I could with bulllseye but that powder is to fast to get the bullets fast enough in my little snub to open with the gold dot flavor I used. You could dig them out of the burm & they still looked new except for the dirt. I went to the XTP(I think 125's) the gun stings the crap out of my hands about 2nd or 3rd shoot but they open up pushing +P+. I have more of thoses loaded then I even want so I didn't keep the data.

    I know doesn't have much to do with the question.
  11. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

    I only load lead in 38spl so my opinion about jacketed bullets is irrelevant, but this thread sparked my curiosity so I checked out Lyman's current pistol manual and there are 5 listed jacketed bullets with tons of data. 7 lead bullets too.

    I have heard conventional wisdom is to only load plated and lead through 38spl.

    I can't think of any cartridge manufacturers that currently sells regular pressure jacketed bullets for 38 spl. Tons of plated bullets though. YMMV
  12. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    Neither should be flamed.

    Mr. Pearce is writing for a national magazine that many folks of all different skill levels read. His comments are probably wise when you take that context. The mere fact that you are questioning his advice is not only wise, but shows that his comments are probably not really aimed at you. Also it shows a great deal of fortitude that you are thinking about what he is recommending and how your techniques and approach compares and fits with his.

    I know I am constantly evaluating my techniques, approaches, powders and everything I can about my sport/hobby to improve my loads and my skills.

    I for one rarely shoot jacketed bullets in 38 special but if I did, I would be loading them at the max level for +p data in 158's. If I am going to pay for a jacketed 38 special in 158 I might as well toss it out there fast and not worry about the sticking problem.

    Regarding Mr. Pearce's writing style, I feel he gives generally good advice and I read his articles carefully but I wish he would focus more the handloading and less on the guns, his hunting and all of the other "color" that he puts in his articles. It appears he is trying to write more like Elmer Keith and less like Ken Waters. Given the magazine (Handloader) I wish he wrote more like Ken Waters and took up the mantle of giving us that really detailed analysis of reloading a particular cartridge.
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    On the otherhand, I beleive Mr. Pearce, not too unlike like Mr. Keith at times, runs a cattle ranch in his real life.

    Mr. Waters must have ran a ballistics lab, or had some other source of income to pay for one?

  14. TonyT

    TonyT Well-Known Member

    If one reduces the velocity by a very significant amount one can get any bullet stuck in the barrel. I wonder why anyone would reduce the velocity of a jacketed bullet to that point. If one want mouse fart loads then Trail Boss powder and lead bullets is a great recipe for success.
  15. murf

    murf Well-Known Member

    imop, mr. pearce always "errs on the side of caution". he did not say, "DON'T use 158gn jacketed bullets". not using them in his tests sends a message to be very careful IF you use them.

    apparently, the risk is greater than the reward.

  16. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    I've loaded jacketed bullets of various weights in .38SPL and have not had any problems.

    But I've found that in .38SPL lead bullets are usually more accurate and much less expensive than jacketed bullets.

    So if one needs a reason not to load 158gr jacketed bullets in your .38, pure economics can be that reason.
  17. Renigeid

    Renigeid Active Member

    THAT'S why I croped ALL of my gun rag subs. Jim
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I am just getting ready to load 500 X-Treme 158 Gr SWC's in .357 brass at light .38 Spl levels. (Pre-sized and primed) These will consistently clock 700+ FPS from a 4" barrel with the powder back, 600+ with the powder forward, and somewhere in the middle powder level. This load will not stick a bullet in my 2 1/2"S&W 686, 4" S&W 586 or 6" Colt Trooper. (See post #9)

    Attached Files:

  19. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    I finally got ahold of some Speer Deep Curl 158 grainers I plan to shoot in my SP 101 3" revolver. I'm not going to load them @ 1400 fps, more along the line of 1150 fps, to see how these shoot in my piece for accuracy, and SD loads. I know this load isn't in the screamer range, but I've got a rifle for that.
  20. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    That sounds more probable. Disinformation to steer people away from a product.

    I only use jacketed to shoot the lead out at the end of the day. I

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