Lightest .38 Spl?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Buck13, Jun 19, 2017.

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  1. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    With her 686 pro series, the boss lady (who is VERY recoil sensitive) loaded 5 +p hornady factory loads and put em in a milk jug at 10 yds, and won't give it up! She also has some rn handloads that were given to her by a family member, I don't know what they are I'm sorry (yes I've tried to find out for obvious reasons) and she loves shooting that thing no matter what's in it so far, won't even look at my .22. We practiced the grip and aiming quite a bit before it was loaded the first time and I think that helped a lot, but I'll tell ya, a good safe load for a 38 (at or above min, but not above Max) with a 6" barrel and heavier frame, she'll have no trouble, even the children (younger and smaller framed) like taking a turn with "mommy's gun" if/when it's offered.
     
  2. Shaq

    Shaq Member

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    It would be risky to go below any listed charge. And it's even more risky to load plated or jacketed bullets light because there is much more resistance in the barrel than a cast bullet & you don't want a bullet stuck in the barrel - especially with an inexperienced shooter who may not sense what happened & fire another round with an obstructed bore.
     
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  3. Buck13

    Buck13 Member

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    Looking back over my notebook, I see that two years ago I loaded 15 rounds of RMR plated 125 gr over 3.1 grains Red Dot in .38 Special. I don't know why, and I had forgotten all about it. No idea where I got that load data, but notes say they shot well from the 19-3. None stuck in the barrel or I'd have noticed that. ;)

    I found the bag of those bullets with what looks like over 100 still in it, so if time permits I'll whip up a box of those and a box with the same weight of Trail Boss and see if I can't collect a little data on them.
     
  4. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    if recoil is an issue one could start with Speer plastic cases and bullets. Using only a large pistol primer they'd at least let her get the hang of the pistol and enjoy shooting it while working up on the recoil level.
     
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Load 12 of each and test them against each other. Shoot six each powder back and six each powder forward. See how they do on paper and FPS.
     
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  6. Matlab

    Matlab Member

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    If you're working up very light loads, be careful that you don't end up with squibs. Some of the lower end 38 SPL loads in one of my big-name reloading manuals are essentially recipes for squibs: the rounds go "pop/poof" vs. "bang". When working up light loads it's always a good idea to be sure the bullet has actually left the barrel and to have a "squib rod" (mine is a plain brass rod) and a hammer in your range bag. If there's ANY doubt that a round exited the muzzle, I stop, open the cylinder, and run my rod through.
     
  7. Matlab

    Matlab Member

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    Haven't used TB in 38 SPL, but in 45 LC it makes very reliable, very light (but still safe) recoil loads.
     
  8. Shaq

    Shaq Member

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    That's OK, but treat them with respect; they're more powerful than they seem. I fired one in my bedroom at a paper target a few years ago. It penetrated 1" into the wall.
     
  9. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    Shaq: Didn't know that Course I used an old gun digest as a back stop. Might try one or two as a solution for my snakes
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Shot 18 test loads today. 3.5 Grs Competition under an X-Treme 148 Gr WC loaded to 1.235 OAL with a Fed 100 primer. (I prefer the Berrys 148 Gr HBWC)

    Powder Back Avg = 758 FPS
    Powder Forward = 665 FPS
    Powder Level = 745 FPS

    Recoil in a 6" S&W Model 14-5 (Full underlug) was negligible. Gonna bump it to 3.6 and try again. It tried to shoot well today, but I wasn't very steady.

    Use data at your own risk. I have no data to back it up.
     
  11. redbullitt

    redbullitt Member

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    I shoot a lot of light 38s for plinkers. 2.5g of tite wad or 3.0g or red dot with a cast 105g SWC is my usual loading for that. Very little blast and recoil and pretty quiet. Never stuck a bullet or anything like that in 3 different revolvers and in 2 rifles, one with a 12 inch barrel and the other with a 16 incher.

    That red dot and titegroup should do the trick. Since you are using plated I cant say if my loadings would work well for you... Your best bet would be to load up a some shells and start at the "start load" and drop down a bit. Just be careful not to stick a bullet.

    I would think anything on the low end or a bit under will be mild enough to do the job.
     
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    A light lead bullet and a fast powder is definitely the best solution to the question. My preference on powders for very light loads in the big .38 Spl or .357 Mag cases are WST, Competition, or Clays because they show less FPS variation with plated than many(If not most) powders, and shoot well. Using lead it's not nearly as critical, as the FPS gap between powder back and powder forward tends to be smaller than with plated..
     
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    When looking to load very light .38 Special loads I also turn to Clays. It works well as long as you take care with the very small charges Clays requires and don't spike the pressures.
     
  14. docbrown

    docbrown Member

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    I have a load with Hornday 148 gr wad cutters that is either 3.2 grains of Unique or 2.5 grains of Titegroup. I found that if i went much lower than that, the skirt would not engage the rifling in the barrel and they would keyhole. That is a really light load and accurate too. Last time out, I did a five shot group of about 1 1/2" - would have been better than that if the last shot wasn't a flyer - the first 4 were a 4 leaf clover you could fit a nickel over. In all honesty, the flyer was my fault, as the gun (a Colt Model 357 6") tends to be much more accurate than I am!
     
  15. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    For uber light .38spcl loads, I run 4.5grn HP-38 under Rainier 125grn plated, or 4.0grn Bullseye under a 93grn Meister LRN. The Hornady 90grn CDL is a good factory option, but not as light as either of these reloads.

    35631720872_5dc476ee7b_b.jpg

    I upload the HP-38 load to 5.0grn for 357mag cases - the recoil impulse in my .357mag Redhawk's is about as great as the sensation of the hammer fall when dry firing.
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I bet. :)
     
  17. dbliz

    dbliz Member

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    I know this is a dead thread but for researchers like me................
    My wife's training load is: lead 115gr, red dot 3.5gr, 562fps. Couple hundred rnds through her 2" S&W mdl 60 no problems.
     
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