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Need VERY mild loads for S&W Model 36

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by sublimaze41, Jun 14, 2009.

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  1. sublimaze41

    sublimaze41 Member

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    I finally came into a small .38 that both my wife and I can shoot.
    My wife can shoot my Sig P230 in .380 and Sig P228 9mm, but the recoil bothers her. She is about 4' 6" and 95 pounds. No doubt she could fire either gun in a SD scenerio, but a steady diet at the range is a NO GO.

    Anyways, I am looking for the absolute mildest load for this small .38. Please give me any suggestions using and of the components below.

    Any other imput regading loads for a small .38 would also be helpful. The only time I have worked up loads for .38 was when shooting them out of my 686.

    125 SJHP
    158 SJHP

    AA#5
    Universal Clays
    231
    Bullseye
    Unique
    HP-38
     
  2. NVMM

    NVMM Member

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    Bullseye or Clays. (not universal)
    I'd forget the bullets you have and buy a box of 148 gr lead wadcutters and start with the lightest load in your load manual.
     
  3. jfh

    jfh Member

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    In dealing with the same kind of issue, I have backed up AA#5 recipes under a 105 or a 125 Lead bullet to do very mild loads for a friend to learn centerfire shooting with.

    I had no trouble with all rounds exiting from a 4" barrel, but I would not recommend you try jacketed bullets the same way. Because they were below-min recipes, I won't publish the information here--but take a look in the AA#5 manual for the minimum guidelines.

    When you try these out--do be sure to verify the bullet exits the barrel. It will be even less of a problem with a 2" barrel, but they are low-pressure loads, after all....

    Jim H.
     
  4. philbo

    philbo Member

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    I've been using a 95-100 grn LRN over 3.3 grains of Bullseye for getting new shooters used to a double action revolver. Low velocity, no recoil... might even break the skin and cause a nasty bruise if it struck someone. But, it has helped eliminate flinching in expectation of recoil. I know S&S Casting and others have a bullet like this for CAS.
     
  5. Boxerrider

    Boxerrider Member

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    I've loaded w231 at near minimum charges and it's a real powder puff, even out of a J frame. You might consider starting at min. then increasing loads in 1/2 grain intervals to find something she is comfortable with. My little S&W is pretty low mileage and leaded something awful with cast bullets. Until I can get that straighted out I'm sticking with the cheapest jacketed bullets I can find.

    Enjoy!
     
  6. Hutch

    Hutch Member

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    Another vote for 231. There are a lot of commercial casters out there making very light lead bullets for Cowboy Action shooting. These components should work well for you.
     
  7. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    One of the best target loads around for practice with the 38 Special is the lead 148 gr wadcutter bullet over 2.7 gr of Bullsye. I have shot at least 10 thousand of these loads in both my Colt Python and S&W Model 52 in bullseye competition and they are both mild and accurate. You may substitute 3.0 gr of 231 if you prefer that powder. Just remember to seat this bullet flush with the case mouth and just give your case a "kiss of crimp" to eliminate any case flare. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Do not use jacketed bullets below published loads specifically shown for jacketed bullets.
    It is quite possible to stick a bullet or even a jacket. I have seen it done.

    If wadcutters are still too much, a 125 gr cast bullet and a Tenderfoot Cowboy load will be even softer. Billy Bullets and Black Bullets International sell light weight moly coated lead bullets that will be good for the job. Look in Lyman for very light starting loads with lead bullets.

    I got a friend some of those X-Ring rubber bullets driven by primer only for use in a S&W 642 Airweight.
     
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep, no plated or jacketed at very low velocities. Light lead bullets and tiny charges of very fast powder.

    Jacketed would need to be 600 FPS plus to make sure they exit. They will work slower, but it can be chancy.
     
  10. Clarence

    Clarence Member

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    I second the 2.7 gr of Bullseye. I've shot thousands of them and they are ridiculously low in recoil.
     
  11. RVenick

    RVenick Member

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    I bought the wife a SW 642 airweight and using WWB ammo it was a bear so I loaded some 125g Zero JSPs with 4.1g of W231 it calmed it right down.
     
  12. fourdollarbill

    fourdollarbill Member

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    The 2.7 gr of bullseye is a fantastic low recoil with 158 gr bullets.
    I have used a few 38 SW recipes with fast burners for 38spl with soft lead swc's (heavy crimp helps) 600fps!
     
  13. kludge

    kludge Member

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    Bullseye and 125 SJHP at the starting load.

    +1 to all that said if you want lighter loads than that, ditch the jacketed bullets and get lead.
     
  14. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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    You might want to consider Trail Boss with a 125gr or 158gr cast lead bullet. Hodgdon has some very light starting loads that put out less than 160 ft-lbs of energy. The nice thing about Trail Boss is that it'll be virtually impossible for you to double-charge the case.
     
  15. D. Manley

    D. Manley Member

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    I know some, "good ole boys" that swear that 3.5 grains of Solo-1000 under a 125 grain cast is the schnitzel in .38 Special....;)
     
  16. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    I load 3.5 grs of Bullseye under a 125 gr plated bullet, the recoil is barely more than a .22 out of snub nose revolvers.
     
  17. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    I know you asked for 380 but: That P228 9mm with 'about' 4.3 grs of 231 under a 124 gr jacketed bullet is a nice light load too....1065fps...minimum flip....easy to shoot.
     
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Using those 125gr bullets with W231/HP-38 will make an accurate, clean and soft shooting round. If you want something a little hotter you can up the charge of W231 and it will also do well. All the powders you listed will work in the .38 Special but some will be hotter than others. W231/HP-38 and Bullseye will be lighter than Unique and AA#5 and you probably won't like the results you get with Universal. I like W231/HP-38 best for the .38 Special and I like AA#5 and HS-6 for my .38 Special +P ammo. (Longshot works well too with jacketed bullets)

    BTW, W231 and HP-38 are the same exact powders so there's no reason to stock both. Buy the one that cheaper at the time and you're all set.
     
  19. chriske

    chriske Member

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    I agree that jacketed bullets are not the best idea for very mild low velocity loads.

    For a super-mild, usually very accurate .38 Spl load (apart from the often mentioned 148 Gr wadcutter loads) you might try 3.5 Gr of HP 38 behind a 158 Gr LEAD bullet (roundnose, semi wadcutter, truncated cone, whatever).


    P.S. having used both W-231 and HP-38 extensively, I still don't believe they're exactly the same, and nobody can convince me they are.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  20. JimmyN

    JimmyN Member

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    I second the vote on Trail Boss. For really light loads and lead bullets it works great. After going through two of the 9oz bottles I bought a 5# jug since I will certainly be using it a lot.

    It is a very bulky powder (the typical 1lb size bottle only holds 9oz of TB) so it measures well, burns clean, and since it does a good job of filling the case it is not position sensitive and very consistent even with small charges.
     
  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Don't get carried away, though. There was a guy on the SASS Wire getting very poor loads by trying to undercut the already mild TB data with a very light bullet.
     
  22. Remo-99

    Remo-99 Member

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    Yes, you can some get fairly light loadings with TrailBoss in 38spl/357mag.
    I've been trying out some light target loads with it, but I'm finding that once you get under 'cowboy load' data with it, it starts getting dirty and groups start to spread out.

    imo Clays, Bullseye, Red Dot and some others make for better light target loadings.

    +1 on 2.7gr of Bullseye with 148gr wadcutters in 38spl, it's hard to beat that load for light recoil in target shooting or a light weight snubnose revolver.
     
  23. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    chriske,
    You can believe whatever you choose to believe but that doesn't change the facts. I personally wrote Winchester to complain about the lack of data for a Winchester bullet and W231. With all the litigation going on these days I highly doubt a powder company would say both powders are "exactly the same" if it wasn't true. Below is the answer I got from Winchester:
     
  24. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    125 grain lead bullets (round nosed or truncated cone will be easier to load in the cylinder) and about 3 grains of either Red Dot or Bullseye.
     
  25. chriske

    chriske Member

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    ArchAngelCD,

    Thanks for putting me straight on this.
    You've given me as close to absolute proof as one can get, I guess.

    I may be stubborn at times, but I'm not unreasonable (or stupid) to the point of denying facts.

    Still, can the noticeable difference I have obtained in POI and group size, between shooting W-231 and HP-38, everything else remaining equal (bullet, brass, primer, seating depth, crimp, even same gun) be caused just by minute individual variations in the componets ?
     
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