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Special request, Lightest .38 load

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by sublimaze41, Dec 30, 2015.

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  1. Ditchtiger

    Ditchtiger Member

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  2. 300Whspr

    300Whspr Member

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    I know you say you don't load lead, but...

    I loaded up a bunch of 38 Specials with 120gr RNFP cast bullets over 3.0 grains of Bullseye.

    The wife loves them in her Smith 638 snub! More recoil than a .22, but not much!

    I don't think you'll be able to get light loads down to this level safely with jacketed bullets... the risk of sticking a bullet is too high.
     
  3. sublimaze41

    sublimaze41 Member

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    Thanks Sellersm for the Hogue suggestion, I wrote therir site for grip recommendations.

    "May want to take a look at the Hogue Tamer grips! They really reduce the recoil on the snubbies. Hogue Tamer Rubber Grips"
     
  4. sublimaze41

    sublimaze41 Member

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    Thank you Reloaderfred for the Missouri bullet suggestion, just placed a order for their powder coated bullets. The prices couldn't be beat and I horse traded some stuff to buy some bullets.:)
     
  5. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    You're welcome, and Happy New Year. I sent you an e-mail earlier today.

    Fred
     
  6. webrx

    webrx Member

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    second the grip recommendation.

    I put Hogue tamer grips on my wifes model 85 and it made a heck of a difference for her. I didnt mind the factory grips so much, but I was shooting a .357 sp101 at the time, but after the grip change I actually liked her little Taurus. I ended up selling it to get her an LC9S but that is a different story.

    d
     
  7. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    You want light loads not "squib loads" My understanding was a "squib" leaves the bullet stuck in the barrel


    I disagree, light .38 Special is a good place to start, and can be reloaded for not much more than the cost of 22LR these days. (you can load the .38 for about $6 for 50 rounds)
    Nothing wrong with starting with a .22LR but light .38s are a good choice because once the shooter becomes familiar with the pistol the rounds can be loaded heavier if desired.

    A lighter bullet in .38 105s or 125s will have less recoil. For practice look for coated lead or plated. I have had good results with Missouri Bullet Company bullets as well as Rocky Mountain Reloading bullets. Both offer THR members 5% discount with the code.

    You could also load the .380 lighter than factory ammo. Most start charges will be lighter and will usually function most semi auto pistols.
     
  8. Comrade Mike

    Comrade Mike Member

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    If you can get some 125 gn plated bullets you can push them with about a grain to a grain and a half of bullseye. Should be nice and easy on the recoil and have no problem making it out of a model 36 barrel
     
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Once upon a time, a "squib load" was a real powderpuff suitable for basement practice. Only the Internet Generation has redefined the term to mean a stuck bullet usually caused by careless loading practices.

    The old NRA Handloading book had a procedure for such ammunition.
    Reduce the load until you stick a bullet in the barrel. Knock it out and go back to the next heavier load that got to the target PLUS A SAFETY MARGIN. I think about a quarter of a grain over the least load that would hit a 20 foot target.

    Be extremely careful loading plated or jacketed bullets very lightly. It is possible to stick one with a mild load that would work with lead.
    It is possible to stick the jacket alone, the core hit the target, so there is little indication of a failure. The next shot bulges the barrel. I have seen it done.


    This is a good application for coated bullets if you think old tech wax lubed lead too nasty to mess with.
     
  10. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the correction JW:eek:
     
  11. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    Tightgroup - 3.5-3.9gr under a 158 gr FMJ would fit the bill.
    Especially if you keep it on the low end 3.5 - 3.7gr
     
  12. TimSr

    TimSr Member

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    This pretty much kills all of your best options.

    No can really determine her sensitivity to recoil based on her physical size, but I would suspect a new shooter that is not a kid any more might not hanldle it well.

    Small guns are harder to shoot well, have more felt recoil, and usually a heavy trigger pull if designed for carry. I'm sure you know this, and want to do the best you can with what you've got. That means loaded down 38's. lead bullets can run a lot slower without risking getting stuck. The jury is out on what caotings, if any, will make that possible. My 4'10" wife loves shooting my 6" GP100 with 3.0gr Bullseye under a 158gr SWC which feels like my Single Six that she also loves. Clenaup is no more difficult than with jacketed loads.

    Using plated or jacketed bullets, your starting loads will be in the +P range in most cases, except with very light bullets, so you pretty much need to go with the lightest bullets you can find, with minimum starting loads for non-lead bullet.
     
  13. Officers'Wife

    Officers'Wife Member

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    Not trying to sound corrosive here but your best bet is to find her a woman instructor that can teach her - among other things - how to rack the heaviest slide. I was "started out" with a ancient 32-20 Colt DA revolver. Dad had (among others) a 38 special available but he chose the lower recoil and more forgiving 32-20. Both Dad and my uncle tried very hard to teach me the "proper" method of cycling a 1911 and failed to the point I despaired I would ever be able to operate a semi- automatic. One weekend my cousin showed up and showed me how a girl cycles the weapon. She also introduced me to a devil's invention called a Desert Eagle and how to allow my physiology to handle the recoil.

    Think of teaching girls and guns they same way you do tampons. Some things are best taught by another woman...


    My name is Selena and I am a ranter.
     
  14. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    IMHO, if you can find Trailboss powder, try that. I've loaded some very light loads in 38spl using that. They advertise it for cast bullet use, but I've loaded up plated bullets with it, even in 45acp, and it worked great.
     
  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    While you are correct about lead being the best option for an easy to do very light load for .38 Spl, plated can be loaded fairly light as well (Not as light as lead of course.), you just have to be more careful about the powders you use. You don't have to be in +P range for most powders with plated or jacketed, you just can't go as low, and if you want to go real low, you powder choice is much more limited.

    AA #2, WST, Competition, or Solo 1000 are excellent choices for that.

    Trailboss, and the similar Vightavuori powder N320C, are erratic with plated.
     
  16. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Other than a powder sensor gadget on a progressive that had room for it, I am not sure how a person would verify that the case has Titegroup in it before placing a bullet. 38 Special is the most challenging (tall and skinny with little powder) to view the charge and is a candidate for the loftiest powders one can find among the faster burners.
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    The worst is .32-20. My neck complains every time I load it.
     
  18. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    148 grain wadcutter (you can get them in plated bullet and maybe plastic coated) and about 2.5 grains of Red Dot.
     
  19. elano

    elano Member

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    For the record if anybody finds this info useful... I tried loading alloy 158g lead bullets in 38 special ranging from 2.8-3.5 grains bullseye and constantly leaded up the forcing cones and cylinder faces of all my guns. A security six even locked up once lead built up between barrel throat and cylinder face. I experimenter with everything and couldn't figure it out. The old guys at the range kept saying I was loading them too hot... Well one day I started stepping them up towards mag loads and the problem went completely away. I tried lighter grain bullets and never had much problem, but the heavy 158s with modern bullet alloys have to be hot to get good accuracy and keep from leading up the forcing cone. I tried some OLD wad cutters which turned out to he the most accurate 38 special loads I ever shot. Well they were so hot that the shells were sticking upon ejection. I think that's the key to keepint the guns clean. Load them hot enough so that the shells get sticky in the cylinder. I havn't read any of this anywhere but wanted to put my experience out there in case someone ever finds this useful. By the way I was using missouri bullets as well as my own cast from range scrap "boolets".
     
  20. wbrco

    wbrco Member

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    ^^^^ +1 on Red Dot. Cheap, available, volumetric on the high side. After HP-38 it's #2 for my light 38's.
     
  21. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Is matching the bullet diameter to the throats and the alloy hardness to the pressure/velocity.

    You can load soft pure lead Hollow Base Wad Cutters very light and experience no leading. :)
     
  22. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

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    +1 on that, i know much more about lead bullets than i did a couple years ago but i couldnt get wheel weight bullets to not badly lead up my bore within 50 rounds of 38spl until i mistakenly loaded 500 with a max +p(lead data) charge of bullseye. Once i realized my scale was miscalibrated i worked up to that charge and fired them frim my 357 revolver. To my pleasure they had very minimal leading after 200rds. I then switched to softer eange scrap bullets for standard 38 loads. Shortly thereafter powdercoating became a thing and it stuck with me. Cleaner guns, much less smoke, not handling raw lead at the bench and the elimination of leading at velocities upwards if 2700fps made it easy to justify the extra time spent coating.

    Op- cant go wrong with a 105gr lead bullet. Its like shooting a 22.
     
  23. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I disagree with that. I have writings from the 1960s and 1970s talking about squibs being a bullet stuck in a barrel. Hardly the "internet generation."
     
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Wrong alloy for a light load. You didn't have to settle for hotter loads if you didn't want to, you just needed a softer alloy.
     
  25. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Use a generous load with plated, or you will stick them in the barrel. Ask me how I know.
     
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