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.38 Special small game loads?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by goon, Jun 10, 2011.

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  1. goon

    goon Member

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    I'd like to get an idea of what would be an appropriate starting point for a .38 Special small game load. Anyone using one for this purpose and what load are you using? I've long been a proponent of the revolver's versatility but I admit that I've never loaded one down quite this much.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I would guess a good place to start would be a 110gr bullet or even a 90gr lead bullet made for Cowboy Action. I would use W231 as a propellant.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    A standard old 148 grain HBWC / 2.7 grains Bullseye target load of is about the best performing small game load you could possibly come up with.

    It is known for match grade accuracy, and no recoil.
    The very low velocity will not blow small game into a pink mist with red chunks.

    And the full wad-cutter bullet will knock Mr. Rabbits socks clean off!

    rc
     
  4. Broker

    Broker Member

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    I use the same 38 Spl load for practically everything. I load a 158 gr hardcast SWC bullet over 5.0 gr Unique. Kind of a mild +P, if that makes any sense. Works for about any purpose a 38 Spl will work for. Will take small game through deer, not the best for any task necessarily, but will do the job if needed.
     
  5. THe Dove

    THe Dove BOOMER SOONER!!!

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    goon

    All the above listed recommendations are great. I would also like to add a couple to the recipe book.

    125 grain Hornady HP-XTP boolits with 4.3 grains of Tightgroup.
    125 grain Lead cast boolits with 3.5 grains of Tightgroup.

    These work well for me.

    The Dove
     
  6. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I'd use whatever load shoots the best outta my gun and make head shots. For me, I always just use a 158 gr. LSWC over about 4.7 grains of Unique.
     
  7. mbopp

    mbopp Member

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    5.0 gr of Unique pushing a cast 148 gr wadcutter.
     
  8. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    I like the 110 gr. XTP or the 125 gr. XTP with HS6 or Longshot. Go to Hogdon's web site and take a look at what they have. If you take a look at their loads you can get some idea of velocity and pressures that meet your expectations.
     
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Amen!

    That's what I use in my Colt M357, and it hits squirrels and rabbits like the Hammer of Thor. It also shoots cloverleafs at 25 yards.
     
  10. goon

    goon Member

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    Thanks. I just loaded some 148 grain WC's with 4.7 grains of Unique as my starting load to try out, so I'm heading in that direction as it is. This will be my first try I think... because it's what I have on hand. Don't know about using anything other than lead on small game though. It just seems kind of excessive to shoot a rabbit or a squirrel with an XTP - gives me this image of frothy pink mist with flying critter parts stuck to trees. Icky.
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    That's above the recommended max load for the 148 grain WCs and you may have problems with it. Hodgson lists 3.5 to 4.0 grains of Unique with that bullet -- I'd start with the lowest recommended charge and stick with it.
     
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Nothing wrong with using Wadcutters. I only recommended lighter (thus smaller) bullets to save meat.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1

    If you are using hollow-base wadcutters, 4.7 grains is WAY over MAX!
    Alliant says 3.2 grains Unique is MAx with a 148 grain wad-cutter!
    You run the risk of blowing the shirt off the bullet in the forcing cone and sticking it in the barrel.

    If you are loading solid base wad-cutters you might get away with it.
    But Lyman says 4.2 is MAX in .38 cases even with that bullet.

    But at any rate, that is certainly not a light small game load you said you were looking for.

    rc
     
  14. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    To give you some idea where you will be with this load, I loaded some 148 grain commercial "hardcast" Magma mold 148 grain solid WCs, with 5 grains of Unique. This load is from my 3rd edition Lyman "Cast Bullet Handbook", and gets 875 fps from my 3" Model 60. I seat the bullet to 1.295", which puts the WC shoulder well in front of the case mouth.

    On the other end, 3.2 grains of Unique and the same bullet seated flush with the casemouth gets a 640 fps avg from the same revolver, and would kill Bugs just peachy with little damage. One potential load that might do the least damage when you next buy components is a RN 125 grain bullet driven to 700-800 fps. In the same revolver, a 125 grain Lee RN bullet records 710 fps with 3.5 grains of Clays, 799 fps driven by 4.1 grains of Red Dot. Both are accurate enough for the task at hand, and would do very minimal damage.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    The kicker here is whether he is using HBWC or solid base WC?

    If they are HBWC, he is over Max by a fair amount.

    rc
     
  16. DWFan

    DWFan Member

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    The 125gr Lyman #35893 from Western Bullets looks all the world like an overgrown air-gun pellet and works well with 3.5gr of Titegroup or 4.5gr of Trail Boss.
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have never tried the lead 148 Gr HBWc's on game, but a lead 148 Gr DEWC over W-231 shoots great, will give you a little more power if you think you need it, and kills small critters graveyard dead. They cut a nice full diameter hole. In a small animal, a .38 diameter tunnel is plenty big.
     
  18. goon

    goon Member

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    According to my Speer manual, 4.5 grains of Unique is the minimum. My load is still way below the max, which I think is 5.1. My loads aren't HBWC's - they're solid, but not DEWC's. Made by Speer and a small part of the WC protrudes out of the loaded round.
     
  19. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    I'm with TheDove (post #5)

    Tite Group works very well in my guns.
    Low charge weight, so it economical too.
    (but you do have to watch closely for dbl charges)

    Stay Safe!
     
  20. LordDunsany

    LordDunsany Member

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    All these loads sound pretty good. My favorite for a long time has been a 158gr swc over 4.7gr Unique. Results on rabbits and other small game were basically through-and-through. They would bleed out freely but would sometimes tend to run a bit unless it was a head shot.

    Then as a whim I decided to try my standard target load - 148gr bevel base wadcutter over 3.5gr Bullseye - knocked them ass over teakettle. So nowadays this is what I use in my revolvers. When hunting small game with my 1894 Marlin I use the swc load listed above.

    These two loads do a great job on any small game, but are too puny for anything larger than coyotes.

    Ron in Texas
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  21. goon

    goon Member

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    After looking at my manual, I notice on the page opposite the data for the Speer BB wadcutter there is data for the HBWC. The charges are on average at least a full grain of powder lower across the board than for the WC's I'm using. I did check when I started loading them to make sure I was using the right bullet with the right data, but didn't look to check out the charges on the HBWC until today. Who knew there would be such a difference?!

    The minimum for the Speer BBWC's I'm using is listed as 4.5 and the maximum is 5.1 - but the load with 4.7 feels like a .38 Special and shoots point of aim, and I'm not going to face terrorists with it anyhow, so why burn more powder? I'll stick with it.

    Still, I appreciate you all looking out for me and trying to keep me from blowing my hands off.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  22. Bula

    Bula Member

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    I load both a solid 148g wadcutter and a 158g round nose flat point, both cast from Lee moulds- either makes a great small game load, but I lean towards the RNFP as my lever prefers them for the longer shots. 2.7g of Bullseye for the WC and 4.2g W231 for the RNFP
     
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