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158 grain vs 125 grain lead bullets out of a 38 Special.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Keith G, Jul 25, 2019.

  1. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    Was in the big city last week and picked up some lead bullets and accidentally got a 500 count box of 125 grain. I always shoot 158 grain LSWC’s with Bullseye powder. I can exchange them, but won’t be back in the city for a little over a month, so I’m trying to figure out if I can find a way to make them work since I’m always up for trying something new. Wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it was just 100.

    I generally shoot between 25 and 75 yards, so my concern is them shooting really low. The only powders I have on hand are Bullseye and Trail Boss. My revolver loves 3.4 grains of BE pushing a 158 grain LSWC. Any recommendation on how to make these 125 grain bullets hit to the same point of aim/impact with Trail Boss as the 158’s with BE? If not, I’ll just hang on to them and return them in a month.
     
  2. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Shouldn't be any trouble finding a 38Special load for 130gr and using that recipe. Don't expect the same results as the 158gr, but it will be a fun sideline adventure.

    As always, begin at the Starting Load and work up in small increments.
     
  3. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    I’m just wanting the 125 grains to impact at the same elevation as my 158’s. I’m thinking a lighter load so that the bullet spends more time in the barrel will get me close.?. Is that thought process correct?
     
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  4. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I'd agree with that process. Not sure which powders will do that for you though. Can't look up data at the moment.
     
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  5. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    I have some Trail Boss. I think the starting load for that bullet is 3.0 grains. I guess I could start a touch above that and see how it goes.
     
  6. joneb

    joneb Member

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    Not sure if a lighter load will help as it will lessen the recoil. Loosening your grip may help, I adjust my sight picture by dropping the rear sight. You may find the windage is different with the lighter bullet.
     
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  7. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have a number of fixed sight 38 Specials, sighted for 158's, and nothing I ever did made them shoot to point of aim with 125 grain bullets. The recoil impulse is too different. I did develop some loads with my Airweights, these were adjusted for 125's, not 158's, and 4 grains of Bullseye shot well.

    Code:
    S&W M637-2  2" barrel 
    
    125 Valiant 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
    
    More or less Point of aim ,Surprising recoil    
      
    
    125 Valiant 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
     
    
    Maybe a little low, Windage centered
    nQ5kk1P.jpg


    Personally, if I could swap 125's for 158's, that is what I would do. You pistol will shoot about four inches low at 25 yards if you use 125's, there is nothing you can do about it, and it is not worth bothering with if you can get the proper bullets. I prefer using and getting used to a 6 OC hold, or center of mass, as my purpose in practice is to train my brain when to pull the trigger, not to simply blast lead downrange. Having to hold off because the load won't shoot to point of aim, defeats my purpose.
     
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  8. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    I’m leaning towards just exchanging them for my tried and true 158 grain LSWC’s. I thought it might be a fun exercise to see if I could get them to shoot to the same POI as my 158 load, and if it was just 100 of them, it would be. But 500 is probably more than I care to experiment with.

    Slamfire, I agree about the recoil difference. Since I’m shooting them out of a 5.5” SA, I imagine the recoil would be almost non existent if I tried to load them really light to match the POI.
     
  9. Hanshi

    Hanshi Member

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    Like you I also prefer the 158 grns. But I like 5 grains of Red Dot behind 125 grn jhp for an easy 900 fps plus in a 4". I won't try and influence what decision you'll make gut only offer my personal load with 125s.
     
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  10. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Which, again, likely wouldn't work anyway. Yes, you'd increase barrel dwell time, but the barrel wouldn't be moving as much. Recoil is primarily a function of momentum.
     
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  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Like said, there is really nothing you can do unless you want to file the front sight! :evil:
    Sorry, I just had to... :uhoh:
     
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  12. joneb

    joneb Member

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    That's funny I have a Taurus SS 85 2" barrel that shot high with 158gr standard pressure 38 spl I took a bit off the front sight so that it is regulated between 135 gr +P and 158gr bullets with standard loads. This worked out well for me, as I knew the material removed could not be replaced.
     
  13. TfflHndn

    TfflHndn Member

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    According to Quick Load, about 4 grains of Trail Boss with a 125 grain bullet will give you comparable muzzle velocity to your BE load with a 158 grain load, about 750 f/s. Zeroed for 50 yards, the 158 SWC at 750 f/s will drop about 6.5 inches to 75 yards. The 125 will drop a little less, about 5.7 inches. These are approximations, of course, as bullets and guns are all different.
     
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  14. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    Thanks for that info, Tfflhndn!
     
  15. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    @Keith G , I know you don't want to change anything but in reality it's only 500 bullets. Just use them for short distance practice, maybe for fast shooting on metal plates or the El-prez drill. You will use them up before you know it.
     
  16. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    I would start with 2.8 BE and work from there.
     
  17. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    Where did you find that load data?
     
  18. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    2.8 BE under a 148 full wadcutter is a standard target load for bullseye shooting.

    It would be a powder puff load for a 125. You can safely load fast burning powders like BE lighter than normal starting loads.
     
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  19. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Once you ground your sight, I will bet it shot 158's even higher. And unless you have access to welding machines and grinders, the front sight will not grow any taller.

    Or, the option as presented in post 13, is to shoot your handgun at targets 75 yards or further. You know, I thought 50 yards was a long distance with a handgun.
     
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  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    @Keith G
    Lyman #50 lists a 120gr LRN bullet with BE. The starting charge weight is 2.8gr, the max is 4.6gr and the +P max is 4.9gr BE. The list the 4.6gr load as potentially most accurate. That data is 100% safe with your bullet.
     
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  21. mdi

    mdi Member

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    Why don't you give them a try? I have a Lee mod for a 125 gr RNFP dropping bullets at .358". They may not shoot to the exact point, but unless you are shooting for extreme accuracy, what's the harm? I use them for light loads, medium heavy loads for my 3" 38, and near magnum velocities in my 4" 357. I even use them in my 2" Taurus, fixed sight. I get good accuracy and they are fun to shoot. I have a few +P loads but keep them for a house gun...
     
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  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I gave up on 125s in .38 Spl for a couple of reasons, one being 158s shoot closer or right at point of aim, and with the added weight/friction/deeper seating depth they get a more consistent powder burn.

    I have worked up a few good loads with 125s though, and still have 1K or more of them laying around.
     
  23. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    Any of those loads with Bullseye or Trail Boss?
     
  24. joneb

    joneb Member

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    Sorry my bad, the 158's shot a bit low at 15yds it required a 6 o'clock hold. I did this mod about 20 years ago, the gun shoots POA at 15 yds with 135gr Federal Hydroshock's and I reloaded 140gr Rainier TCFP plated for practice. This seemed like a good compromise for this pistol.
     
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  25. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    I could never get them to hit to POA in my M10 snub even with light loads of TB. I got to the point I could hold top of the plates to hit center, but that was as close as I got. The old fixed sight .38s I've found prefer 158s. YMMV.
     
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