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38spl can’t get it right!!

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ohihunter2014, May 10, 2019.

  1. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    No matter how much I try by switching bullets and powder I can get my S&W 642 to shoot reloads! All over the place with be86 and HP38. Bullet is extreme 125gr FP. I ran some through another full size 38spl and same crap groups. Any recommendations?
     
  2. Livin_Cincy

    Livin_Cincy Member

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    Do your Xtreme bullets drop thru your Cylinders ?
    I found them to be sized like FMJ bullets and drop thru cylinders.

    I believe they recommend lead bullet reloading data over at Xtreme. This may not work in your gun. Since the bullets are sized smaller @ 0.357 this is less than lead ones @ 0.358+. So you may need to look for load data for a 125 grain FMJ and 125 Lead and see what will work in between the two. They may well want more powder.

    Look into Powder Coated bullets when you run out of Xtreme bullets.
     
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  3. Orcon

    Orcon Member

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    I had the same problem with my Ruger SBH in 44 mag. Finally I said "screw it" bought a 357 Smith. Wouldnt ya know it but it couldn't shoot worth a nit either. Turned out I was just not good at shooting revolvers. Spent a lot of winter hours in the basement just dry firing at half inch dots on the wall. Now my handloads hold 3 inches or less at 25 yards and I can free hand the 8 inch at fifty, single action anyway.

    Have you tried shooting them from a stable rest in single action?
     
  4. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    How much powder are you using?
     
  5. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Do you have the version with the cannelure?
     
  6. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    How does it shoot with factory Ammo?
     
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  7. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    I have run the 125gr Xtreme plated bullets for years in a variety of S&W revolvers. Have had good luck with 3.5- 3.6gr of Titegroup. Those hit a bit low in my fixed sight revolvers, but only maybe an inch at 50ft. I also load some Xtreme 158gr Semi Wadcutters with the same charge (3.5gr of Titegroup) and get decent groups and they hit my point of aim with my 638 and 64
     
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  8. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    +1 and in my experience, snubbies are very difficult, if not the most difficult revolver to shoot well. They have short barrels, are very light, and have compact grips. Takes lots of practice to get the hang of them.

    This snubbie
    3c4ymWs.jpg

    is just as inherently accurate as this Police Positive

    dRasAhw.jpg

    But that extra 2" of barrel on the Police Positive probably tightens the groups up 25% or more. I can regularly hit my 12" gong target at 50 yards with the Police Positive, offhand, but I really struggle with the Detective Special.

    I found that all my Airweights were adjusted to shoot to point of impact at 25 yards with 125 grain bullets. Older snubbies universally shot to point of aim with 158 grain bullets, but as per conversation with S&W, S&W adjusted the sights of new production revolvers for 125 grain bullets because these rounds are currently the most popular weights for self defense.

    All of my chronograph testing, which the target is at 25 yards, was conducted with a M637 or M638, because, I can thumb cock the things. My M642, is DAO only and I am a terrible double action shooter. I might have hit my chronograph!

    I have not included any Green Dot data, but that powder performed very well in the 38 Special.

    I decided that 4.0 grains Bullseye with a 125 LRN was accurate, shot to point of aim, and was good enough for practice loads.

    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


    Code:
    S&W M638-3 Airweight Bodyguard   
    
    148 LWC Valiant 2.7 grs Bullseye thrown Mixed Brass WSP
    18-Mar-07 T = 52 °F  
    
       
    Ave Vel = 611.6 
    Std Dev = 22.04    
    ES = 75.92    
    High  = 648.1    
    Low  = 572.2  
    N = 25  
    
    little high    
    
    158 LSWC 3.5 grs Bullseye Mixed brass WSP  
    18-Mar-07 T = 52 °F  
    
    Ave Vel = 670.7 
    Std Dev = 17.52    
    ES = 65.4    
    High  = 697.5    
    Low  = 632.1  
    N = 12  
    4-6" High, accurate    
    
     
    158 JHP 3.5 grs Bullseye Mixed brass WSP
    18-Mar-07 T = 52 °F    
    
    Ave Vel = 611.1 
    Std Dev = 9.64    
    ES = 28.05    
    High  = 626.3    
    Low  = 598.3  
    N = 9  
    
    
    4"-6" High @ 25 yards, accurate   
    18EWF3N.jpg

     
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  9. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    I can shoot k frames with factory ammo better than I do my semi auto. It’s hammerless so can’t shoot single action. I had someone else shoot it last night and it was wild.
     
  10. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    Yes I use a taper crimp.
     
  11. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    Shoots decent for a snub nose. I can put 5 in 6” shoot n c at say 20ft. Can’t even hit it with reloads.
     
  12. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    The bullets are listed at .357" diameter. The 125 gr has a short bearing surface. . I would change to .358" diameter & 158gr swc.
    M60M337PD001.JPG.jpg

    Firing single action does help accuracy. Your double action only makes it harder to shoot, but hand loads should match factory ammo, as you said.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    A short barreled revolver can shoot well with patience and good trigger discipline. This 686 is heavier than the OP's 642 and easier to shoot well.

    Berrys 148 Gr HBWC & 3.5 Grs of Competition (WST also works). Very light play around load. Use .38 or .357 brass, this was .357 brass.
    686 & Load # 181 Pic 1.JPG
     
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  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  15. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Before you condemn all reloads in your M642 try a lead, coated lead or FMJ bullet. Even though many reloaded like plated bullets I have not had good luck with them. I shoot mostly .38 Special ammo and I load cast bullets most times.
     
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  16. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I would start by finding something it shoots well then try and copy it with your reloads.

    What else do you have to try?

    JHP stuff is generally a good choice.
     
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  17. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    I bought 6K of these bullets back during the xtreme clearance sale madness. I also have 6K of their 38-125HP. I got good results with the HP version immediately but it took me forever to get the FP ones shooting right.

    I find the longer HP bullet works with a taper crimp but I have to roll crimp the 125FP to prevent crimp jump in light guns like your 642. Apparently the shorter bullet length of the FP reduces the overlap between the bullet and the case to the degree that a taper crimp doesn't cut it. Do you have a chrono? Have you checked these loads in this gun? In my 16oz gun the velocities decrease with each shot as the bullets move progressively out of the case when using a taper crimp.

    I have also tried some powders in this application. Titegroup is the best, AA#2 second (I am actually using Shooter's World Clean Shot, which does appear to be interchangeable in 38), but HP38 and BE86 also work well with a roll crimp. Even Alliant Sport Pistol works with enough crimp. With the case capacity and low operating pressure of 38special, ignitability becomes an issue with plated bullets, especially short ones. That's why all the suggestions for plain lead or coated bullets - they will seal up to the bore much better, creating more consistent ignition and pressure/velocity generation.

    You've not said whether you are loading to +P or not, but doing so will also help. Given the case capacity ignition will be more reliable the more powder you use due to better case fill. Titegroup is hard to beat, but if you roll crimp into the cannelure as aggressively as you can without causing plating failure I think all your stuff will snap around.

    Here's my chrono data from the last time I flogged this projectile.

    This is 5.0gr. of Sport Pistol (no plated load data, probably not +P)
    Description: 38 XT125FP SP 5.0
    Average: 818.8 FPS
    SD: 27.6 FPS
    Min: 774 FPS
    Max: 863 FPS
    Spread: 89 FPS

    5.2gr. HP38 (+P)
    Description: 38 XT125FP HP38 5.2
    Average: 821.5 FPS
    SD: 31.4 FPS
    Min: 777 FPS
    Max: 881 FPS
    Spread: 104 FPS

    4.6gr. of Clean Shot
    Description: 38 125fp CS 4.6
    Average: 870.7 FPS
    SD: 16.5 FPS
    Min: 846 FPS
    Max: 892 FPS
    Spread: 46 FPS

    5.0gr of Clean Shot (+P)
    Description: 38 125fp CS 5.0
    Average: 901.6 FPS
    SD: 12.0 FPS
    Min: 884 FPS
    Max: 921 FPS
    Spread: 37 FPS
    Shot/sec: 0.1
    True MV: 902 FPS

    4.6gr. of Titegroup
    Average: 880.4 FPS
    SD: 14.7 FPS
    Min: 858 FPS
    Max: 902 FPS
    Spread: 44 FPS

    5.0gr. of Titegroup (+P)
    Description: 38 125fp TG 5.0
    Average: 936.8 FPS
    SD: 8.6 FPS
    Min: 923 FPS
    Max: 953 FPS
    Spread: 30 FPS

    5.4gr of BE86
    Description: 38 125fp BE86 5.4
    Average: 859.5 FPS
    SD: 17.7 FPS
    Min: 837 FPS
    Max: 890 FPS
    Spread: 53 FPS

    These results were collected shooting somewhat downward into the ground, so they are essentially a worst-case 'power away' scenario that highlights the ignition concerns with this projectile. I was using a 3" 38 special LCRx. You can see from the SD the edge Titegroup has in ignitability. But the Clean Shot, BE86 and even HP38 loads still shoot just fine in normal use, with the 5.2gr. HP38 load proving rather accurate. But all of these should be good enough for snubby use if your bullet pull is high enough.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  18. sequins

    sequins Member

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    Are you overcrimping and obturating the bullets?
     
  19. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Try a different bullet. Better yet, try several different bullets. A good quality JHP would be a place to start.

    Some guns are finicky about what they like.

    Some plated bullets shoot well, other don't.
     
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  20. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Where are the misses going? high, low, left, right? Are all the misses in the same region? Is it just a point of impact difference instead of a horrible accuracy problem?
     
  21. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    I'm with Walkalong, starting with 148gr DEWC from Berry, MBC, or ACME will kill 2 birds with one stone. Since those bullets get seated and roll crimped flush with the case mouth, powder position and crimp issues are eliminated from the problem solving matrix.

    I'd be happy to send you a handful for your trials, if desired.
     
  22. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    There's no doubt going to lead bullets and wadcutters makes great results easy, for the reasons you've listed. But it is instructive to consider how well most factory 38 jacketed and even plated ammunition works. Usually the best plinking bullet is the one you already have, and when that's an xtreme 38-125FP you've got to maximize ignitability and bullet pull to get good results.

    Even so I've yet to find a propellant that fully equals the velocity of even some pretty ordinary factory 38 +P loads in plated reloads, with Titegroup coming the closest in addition having the best ignition characteristics - despite the worst case fill. I've tried the other powders looking for better case fill and cooling burning, but the case fill of the alternatives hasn't proven an advantage and even my +P load of HP38 puts a sheet of flame out the barrel gap that makes me think one probably should consider forcing cone life when using 125gr. plated bullets.
     
  23. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Forgot to mention this was all using CCI 500 primers and OAL of 1.425". Pretty aggressive roll crimp for a plated bullet, but recovered slugs show no plating failure.
     
  24. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Ray15, thanks for your comments, but I was suggesting the DEWC as a starting point, not as an end solution. A place to see if the OP could even achieve a group. I believe the answer lies somewhere along a line between ability and the Xtreme plated, which I consider to be a less than optimal bullet.

    I own the same pistol as the OP, and you are correct. It is capable of unbelievable accuracy at distance with the factory Speer Gold Dots carried in it.
     
  25. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking his test with factory ammo is showing the reloads aren't preforming. I agree 38-125FP is a difficult bullet in this application.

    It's surprising how much better their HP design works. I bought 6K of 38-125HP, liked them and wanted more. All they had left at that point was the 38-125FP, and I don't like it nearly as well. After beating both to death I get good results, but it's clear to me that most any lead or coated bullets would be easier to optimize and allow lighter loads than either in this application.
     
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