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New To .380: Seeking Input On Soft Shooting Load

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by otisrush, May 23, 2019.

  1. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    The first part of the title sets the stage: I'm new to loading the .380. In pistol I've been loading 9mm and .38 Spcl for a few years.

    The second part of the title is the question: What general input do folks have on creating a soft-shooting .380 load? Should I stay with the 95gr projectile? I was going to use HP-38 - because that's what I'm familiar with and have a good amount of. Is keeping it soft-shooting just a matter of staying at the low end up the charge range spectrum but with something that'll operate the gun reliably?

    The gun is a Colt 1908. I recently inherited it - and a few boxes of commercial ammo. The one box that was kind of painful to shoot (because of the narrowness of the 1908's grip) I shot up to get rid of it - but I threw the box out. :cuss: I don't recall if they were 95gr or not. The remaining two boxes are 95 gr - and they seem to shoot nicely.

    Does anyone out there have opinions? ( :) I'm saying that a bit tongue-in-cheek - I already know there are lots of opinions out there.)

    Let's hear 'em!

    Thanks.

    OR

    BTW - I didn't mention my intended purpose: I'm going to shoot this relatively infrequently. It'll be mostly for nostalgia and fun. I love the history of the gun and how it fits in the lineage of evolution of Browning-designed handguns during the early 20th Century.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  2. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Using factory Tula 91 gr FMJ's recoil as 10/10, X-Treme 100 gr RNFP plated bullet was used with W231/HP-38 in Taurus TCP 738. Although longer length passed the barrel plunk test, 0.945" OAL/COL was used for the test that reliably fed/chambered from the magazine.

    W231/HP-38 loads produced less snappy recoil:

    - 2.6 gr under 1" group (4/10 felt recoil)
    - 2.8 gr 1.25" (6/10 felt recoil)
    - 3.0 gr 1.25" (8/10 felt recoil)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    I have 2 380's that we shoot and I've been loading for. The only bullet I've used is also the Xtreme 100gr FP. One of the intentions of reloading these was to make a light shooting range round that could be used for long sessions w/o fatigue. I've used 4 powders; AA#2, AA#5, HP-38 and Silhouette. Of those I found the AA#2,which is a relatively fast powder, and the Silhouette, which is a medium powder, to produce the best results for me and the wife. Many load the HP-38 and like it. In my 380 pistols it just wasn't as consistent as the AA#2 or Silhouette.

    For the AA#2 I am loading at 2.8gr which is the published start up to 3.0gr with 3.2gr being the max. Wife finds these very pleasant to shoot so she practices more.
    For the Silhouette I'm loading at 4.0 because that is what will drop when using the Lee Auto Disk measure with the number 30 cavity. It is a slight bit hotter feel but because of the slower powder there is a different pulse feel to the recoil. Max for the Silhouette is 4.4gr. I have also loaded some of these with 3.8gr of Silhouette using the Auto Drum measure and those were very nice also.

    So far I have not tried any of the lighter bullets in the 380.
     
  4. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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  5. drband

    drband Member

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    This^^^^
    AA#2 meters like a dream. Work up from low to find a charge that fully cycles your pistol and you're there!
     
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  6. mstreddy

    mstreddy Member

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    I've loaded 100 gr plated, Xtreme and Berry's over 2.6 - 3.0 gr of Promo (Red Dot data) or Win231. From my LCP, Sig 238 and Beretta 84, the lower end were quite pleasant to shoot. I settled on 2.8 - 2.9 so they work my Glock 42 without issues. COAL was around .955 - .960 depending on the bullet style.
    If you search, Art Of Golf, and a few others, put up some good info in a few threads on reloading 380.
    Coincidentally, I was at the range tonight shooting some rounds through my Glock 42 and my buddy's Beretta 84.
     
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  7. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    AA#2 is great stuff for mild .380 loads,meter really well which is nice for small .380 charges.
    I haven't tried Silhouette yet for FP loads put CFE-P works well for the full power stuff.

    H-38/W231 should work well if that's what you have
    Here is of Hodgdons .380 data with HP38 and CFE-P
    90 GR. HDY JHP Hodgdon HP-38 .355" .955" 3.2 917 13,900 CUP 3.5 957 15,400 CUP
    95 GR. SPR FMJ Hodgdon CFE Pistol .355" .970" 3.7 822 12,000 PSI 4.2 986 19,500 PSI
    95 GR. SPR FMJ Hodgdon Universal .355" .970" 3.1 814 12,500 CUP 3.5 901 15,500 CUP
    95 GR. SPR FMJ Hodgdon HP-38 .355" .970" 2.9 802 13,100 CUP 3.2 884 15,400 CUP
    100 GR. HDY FMJ Hodgdon CFE Pistol .355" .980" 3.3 794 12,400 PSI 4 955 19,800 PSI
    100 GR. HDY FMJ Hodgdon HP-38 .355" .980" 2.9 819 13,800 CUP 3.1 843 15,400 CUP

    AA#2 data from Western
    upload_2019-5-24_22-11-55.png
    One thing to watch is neck tension, .380 brass seems to be all over the place thickness wise.
    (or at least the ones I have scrounged have been)

    For light loads I would start at the start charge and see if you get function.
    If every thing functions fine there you might still be able to get function .1 or .2 lighter than the start charge but that all depends on the gun.
    Some guns will not have 100% function with the start charges.
    My little Kahr P380 want's more that start charges to be happy.
     
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  8. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Pretty much what I've found too. Besides the lack of consistency with the HP-38 the other thing I didn't like with the 100gr bullet is it only gives you .3gr to work with between start and max loads.
     
  9. Ej3

    Ej3 Member

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    For my wife, shooting the LCP with factory ammo is too snappy for extended practice.
    I settled on a mild load using Accurate #2 and 100 gr poly coated RN bullets (2.7 gr, 0.980 COL & WSP). This is a soft shooting load, great for practicing.
    Chrono'd on a 60* F day. Avg 795 fps from the LCP (2.75" barrel) and 855 fps from a PK380 (3.66" barrel).
    Like has mentioned been a few times, Accurate #2 meters very well and in my opinion burns clean.

    For comparison, I chrono'd the following from the LCP: PPU 94 gr RN FMJ - 840 fps. And Hornady 90 gr FTX - 870 fps. Both much snappier than my load above.
     
  10. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Ej3 the Flat Point load a little shorter @ .960".. 2.8gr would cycle the guns flawlessly and the bump up to 3.0gr was hardly noticeable. We are shooting a Witness Pavona 380 and a S&W 380 EZ.

    The Silhouette with a full powder load, 4.3/4.4gr., isn't real Snappy but it will push the grip back into you hand pretty hard in the Pavona. Very accurate and controllable but I wouldn't want to shoot it all day. Again the 4.0 gr load is very pleasant to shoot.
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep, need a good sizer. W-231 & AA #2 were my go to powders when loading .380 years ago, but today we have so many more choices. Still, after getting another .380 after decades of not having one, I loaded up some practice ammo with W-231. I suspect Sport Pistol would be a good one to try.
     
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  12. Alec

    Alec Member

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    You can go a bit lighter than minimum load in guns with a fixed barrel like a 1903 or a PPK. I got mine as low as 2.3 grain HP-38 behind 95 gr bullet for a very soft-shooting load, and it would eject but not load a new round in a short-recoil pistol. Your mileage will most definitely vary. Watch for squibs. I wouldn't use this for quick shooting.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
  13. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    This is great and really helpful data. Thanks all!

    Hopefully I'll be trying out some tests in a couple of weeks. With the above info I'll settle on a bullet and get them ordered.

    Thx again!

    OR
     
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