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Rate the 158gr LRN as a general purpose load

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by w_houle, Nov 23, 2009.

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  1. w_houle

    w_houle Member

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    Has to be one of the most common loads of .38 spl that I know of and wanted to know how well it rates around here:
    I know for target shooting that I would like it to cut more and wipe less, but WC it is not.
    Lesser guns, Rossi, Charter Arms, et c, all have their place in the choir (as well as old guns). I always wondered if one of these revolver's lives could be extended if fed this load.
     
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The old 158 grain round nose lead bullet at 755 fps was the standard .38 Special load for years. (Revolver makers still sight their fixed sight guns for it.) I sounds anemic, but a lot of people shot with it died and did so without further ado. It also proved ineffective in some well-publicized cases. If armed with a .38 Special, I consider it adequate for defense but prefer something with more "smoke."

    For target shooting, most defense loads will have too much recoil, noise, blast, etc. That is why the loads we call wadcutter* were developed. With a bullet weight of 146 grains, and around 2.7 grains of Bullseye or something like it, wadcutter loads allow control in rapid fire, plus of course cut the clean holes needed for scoring. With low recoil and low noise, those loads can be fired literally all day without imposing any great fatigue.

    As for barrel life, any barrel through which only low velocity lead bullets have been fired will last longer than one in which high velocity jacketed bullets are routinely fired.

    *So-called because the bullet holes look like the holes made in paper by a wad cutter used to cut out wads for shotgun shells.



    Jim
     
  3. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    I use a lot of them, I cast Lyman 358311 and load it to 800+ Fps, accurate and easy to shoot. I like the RN profile, faster and easier to insert into chambers of revolver, whether doing it one at a time or with a speed loader.
     
  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    For fun shooting, I load .38 even lighter than that. If you want to extend the life of a revolver, and make shooting an ultralight carry gun much more fun, .38 can be downloaded and it works well.

    It's fun in a Marlin 1894C, also.

    I kind of like the RNFP for all-around loading and shooting.

    That said, "all-around" does not include self-defense.
     
  5. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Great target round, wholly inadequate for self defense in light of today's offerings.
    I say that and still carry 158 +P LSWCHP in my 38s. :)
     
  6. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

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    I used to reload 158 grainers, but it seems all I buy and reload now is 148gr cast lead wadcutters.
     
  7. David E

    David E Member

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    And a lot more people didn't....

    It would take a lot of shooting to wear out any gun beyond repair. If you're able to truly wear out a gun, consider yourself fortunate to have been able to shoot that much and go buy another gun and start over!
     
  8. evan price

    evan price Member

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    If you're gonna load .38's, don't bother with round nose. Go for the RNFP or the SWC in a 158 grain size. Flat nose equals better punch. I personally don't much care for full wadcutters but the 158-SWC is by far and away the most used .358" bullet in my inventory.
     
  9. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I don't even own a LRN bullet for the 38/357 rounds I make. I mostly load 158gr LSWC bullets over the past year or so and don't even bother much with 148gr DEWC's anymore.

    SWC bullets are good for targets loads and working ammo too so what's not to like?
     
  10. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Outstanding bit of knowledge there - I've always meant to find out the reason for that name. "Cutting wads" I had guessed - but never connected it to shotgun wadding. Thanks for saving me the (future) effort.

    And to the OP, I'm in the LSWC crowd. I prefer it for my .38 reloads.
     
  11. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    Fine for target work

    However, research show it not to be optimal for defense. There are much better ammo choices today such as Speer Gold Dot, Corbon, Hornady Critical Defense, Winchester loadings, the FBI load, and Magsafe that have proven in testing that they will work very well and expand sufficiently.
     
  12. zt77

    zt77 Member

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    round nose bullets punch straight through and leave smaller than caliber holes, bad for self defense.

    that said it works good for rabbits and crows.

    for an all around load a 150 grain swc works better
     
  13. 20nickels

    20nickels Member

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    My do-all boolit is a 158gr RNFP. Lee 358158 to be exact.
     
  14. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    LRN is too weak for defense but fun to shoot. Have a good lead solvent and brushs on hand and have fun. LRN wouldn't even penetrate the thinnest of sheet metal(old washing machine) at 10 paces. The 158gr LRN from a 4" barrelled Taurus balled up and dropped straight down.
     
  15. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have shot and reloaded case loads of 158 L 3.5 grains Bullseye. Most of my loads are LFP, but I have shot thousands of LRN and LSWC's.

    You will find that a lot of fixed sight 38's are regulated to shoot to point of aim with a 158 grain bullet. It has only been recently that some 38 Specials are regulated for 125 gr bullets.

    My load is exceptionally accurate and is one of the few loads that I can double action at a 12" gong target, and hit each time.

    Love my S&W M10-5. :D

    I have fired thousands of this load in pre WWII snubbies, and it does not bother them in the least. It is accurate in them, shoots to point of aim.

    For self defense, I would use a factory +p. But for the 99.99% of the shooting I do, a 158 at 760 fps is a great load.
     
  16. zt77

    zt77 Member

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    I don't know about all that.
    I wish my .38 special lrn loads would just "ball up and drop", instead of splattering into dust, inside my bullet box.
     
  17. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    zt77,I kept those balled up bullets for about 6 years before finally throwing them away. If a bullet is going to ball up and only dent 20ga sheetmetal at 20' it ain't going into my SD weapon. Better than a sharp stick though.
     
  18. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    It's not optimum, but it'll beat any .32acp load that ever existed, and probably most .380s.

    I handload, so practice ammunition prices are irrelevant to me. I load 148gr. LDEWCs and 158gr. LSWCs for practice.
     
  19. trickyasafox

    trickyasafox Member

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    I'm with armoredman 158gr LSWCHP in +P for a defensive 38 load. thats what is in my smith 36 as I type.

    As others have stated, I also like the RNFP in the 155-160 gr range. the rounded profile helps with loading from speedloaders, but the FP still has a wide enough meplat to cut paper cleanly, and even help dispatch game.

    so the 158gr LRN isn't really bad for most applications, and is light enough to offer really good service life in most any revolver.
     
  20. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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  21. cz85cmbt

    cz85cmbt Member

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    I really don't know what you mean by extend the life of the gun? Barrels take tens of thousands of rounds to wear out especially when we are talking hand guns. I've never heard of significant erosion in any handgun caliber. The only wear I've ever heard of is on the top of the frame near the cylinder gap and this I only heard about with the .357 maximum. If you could educate me on something new I'd like to hear it.
     
  22. zt77

    zt77 Member

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    what I meant to add in was penetration has much more to do with charge, not bullet profile.

    I use lyman 358311 bullet at 800-850 or so fps- pretty close to old factory load I believe- I don't know what it pokes through, but if it doesn't it isn't staying together. My load is still "lead round nose".

    Although it doesn't really matter, even if it DID have perfect penetration, the hole it leaves still is like 8mm in diameter.
     
  23. goon

    goon Member

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    I shot an electric skillet with a .45 ACP once out of a 5" 1911.
    I was about 20 yards away.
    The 230 grain FMJ bounced off, leaving a dent in the skillet.
    Just food for thought.
     
  24. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    goon,that 230gr FMJ would have passed completely through that washing machine. A .45acp FMJ does NOT equal a 158gr LRN .38sp. not even close. Thought fully digested. 20ga sheet metal is easily perforated by .22lr at the same range. I shot the same washing machine at the same distance with .30cal.U.S.carbine 115gr SP. The little .30cal passed through the entire machine(cabinet and tub).
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  25. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    zt77,I agree. The load I was using was Remington factory ammo. The LRN can be loaded to much more effective velocities. I don't reload hence my choice of more effective factory loadings.
     
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