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.38 Special - 125 or 158 Grain?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Cokeman, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I despise casting hollow bases anyway. At least before the end of the world, Hornady's swaged 148s were affordable enough to keep me from firing up the furnace.

    I see that Buffalo Bore is still touting their .38 wadcutter load for self defense. I haven't shot anyone with it so don't know for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that it works.
     
  2. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    I like a 158gr bullet in my revolver. Both 38spcl and 357 mag shoot POA/POI through my 357 revolver, although (cough) factory 130gr also shoot and group well but I have to aim a bit different.

    chris
     
  3. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I can't imagine how having a .357 hole cut completely through one's body would improve one's health.
     
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  4. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I really load almost nothing but 140 gr. .38/.357 slugs. 125s are too light and 158s are just a little heavy for most of my snubs (and all of mine are my wife's snubs these days). I really like 180 gr. slugs from a 4 in. gun.
     
  5. spraay

    spraay Member

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    These days I load 158Gr LSWCs. I don't mind either weight as I use them primarily for target applications. I think 158Gr (as someone else remarked) is the classic bullet weight for this caliber.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  6. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

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    When in doubt, heavier is better. I don't go lighter than 158ish.
     
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  7. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

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    158 over Red Dot
     
  8. JimmyMac69

    JimmyMac69 Member

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    I like 158 grain for serious shooting but for plinking and pleasure 148 dewc
     
  9. Cokeman

    Cokeman Member

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    I am just starting to reload and will probably try both. I got Berry’s 125s but wanted to get 158s. I’ll get them next. I think I prefer heavier bullets in any gun. I am just going to the range and shooting targets. My gun is a 3 inch 686. My powder is Hodgdon HP-38.
     
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  10. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    I like the 125's for the lighter recoil, but when I can load 100 and 115 in .327, that starts to make the 125 less appealing. I still like 125 if I'm using Speer or Hornady hollow points, but for a solid bullet, I'm leaning towards 158 as Speer makes a LSWCHP for lower velocities and Missouri has a hard cast 158 meant for .357 velocities.

    If I want even less recoil, the 100 to 105 gr bullets work well too, depending on if the gun likes them or not. Was actually shooting some yesterday and in one it was shooting them great, then I tried them in my Rock Island snub and it shot them like crap.
     
  11. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I like 158gr and have also loaded some 147gr .356 bullets that I powder coated that shot good also. I've heard in the 357mag loads that you can get flame cutting with some 125gr loads so I never loaded them in anything.
     
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  12. Glockula

    Glockula Member

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    I n 4 different .357 mags 125 lead has been overwhelmingly more accurate. I load a lot of 158s too. The 125 lead shoots on a dime and has dang near zero recoil.
     
  13. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    These days, virtually all my 357 Magnum ammunition is 158 SWC loaded in magnum cases to about 900-950 fps from a 4" barrel.

    It has been 15 or 20 years since I last loaded full power 357 Magnum ammunition. I still have several boxes of it left.

    Virtually all my 38 Special ammunition is 148 wadcutters.

    I use both commercial and home cast bullets depending on how the casting spirit moves me.

    I keep threatening to buy a hollow base wadcutter mould but solid base wadcutters are sooooo easy to cast.

    A side note, I also have solid base wadcutter moulds in 32, 44, and 45 calibers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
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  14. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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    158 over Unique
     
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  15. Zendude

    Zendude Member

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    I like 125 grain plated bullets over a fast powder like Bullseye/Red Dot/A#2.
    I load them light for practicing with my lightweight snub.
     
  16. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

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    I like and load them both. 125 plated and 158 coated.
     
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  17. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I have a Lachmiller mold that drops a near perfect 160 gr SWC. It shoots accurately in my 2" and 3" 38s, and my 357 Mag loves it. Haven't shot any animals with them, yet, but I think I'd get good penetration and decent tissue destruction. If I want/need high velocity, expanding bullets, I'd go with 125 gr JHP in my 357...
     
  18. Mike L.

    Mike L. Member

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    I really like 125's over Sport Pistol for plinking. Sport Pistol is very clean-burning.
     
  19. JimmyMac69

    JimmyMac69 Member

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    Hey Zendude I’ve got some plated 9mm No lite 38s I’ve been loading them in 38 hulls I have some bullseye how light do you load
     
  20. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    With both .38 Spl or .357 Mag I’ll wander around the bullet spectrum and go with 125 RNFP lead or TCFP plated, 140 JHP, coated 146 RNL, coated or plated 148 DEWC or HBWC, 158 plated target HP or coated 158 SWC or coated 165 gr RNL.

    My on-shelf powders are Unique, Bullseye, IMR Target, HP-38, AA#5, H-110 (.357 Mag,,jacketed bullets only) Promo (haven’t used this yet) and Enforcer (.357 Mag, jacketed bullets only).

    My “close to full power” target .38 Spl. standbys are 4.5 gr Unique with either the 125 gr TCFP, 146 RN or 158 SWC. My pure target load is 2.9 gr Bullseye with a Wadcutter. For whatever reason the 4.5 gr powder weight with Unique under those three different bullets just seems to be an all-around sweet spot for me and my .38’s. YMMV.

    For lightweight beginner loads I’ll do the 146 gr RNL over 2.9 bullseye. Super soft shooting but still loads in the cylinder easily with speedloaders or singly for a Newby. :thumbup:

    369FC847-8549-4A76-97A6-03AA4D410562.jpeg

    Stay safe.
     
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  21. Zendude

    Zendude Member

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    Usually 3.5 grn. In a 2 inch barrel, I’ve loaded as light as 3.0 grn. I haven’t tried anything less than 4.0 grn out of a 4 inch barrel, so I don’t know if the lighter ones would stick or not.
     
  22. Bigdog357

    Bigdog357 Member

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    I am in the process of loading 1000 125gr cast over 3.8gr of TrailBoss, its what I prefer for plinking with my revolvers. I do have a bunch of 158gr that I need to load at some point. May load those for my lever action rifles.
     
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  23. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    My first .38 spl was loaded with Winchester white box 125gr LRN.
    Then I found a place that had cheaper PPU 125 gr.

    To reload I started buying 125 gr lead from Missouri Bullet Co.
    then plated from Berry's & HSM.
    Then I bought my own molds all 125 gr.
    I don't even have a decent 158 gr load worked up.

    I also have Zero's 125gr SJHP
     
  24. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    Because of covid-19 I cast with Lee 158 swc and load red dot powder. Cant any cheaper or easier than that out to 10 yards.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    148 usually.
    Light Taper Crimp on a Berry's 148 Gr HBWC In .38 Spl - Pic 1.JPG
     
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