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target load for .38

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by another okie, Dec 29, 2002.

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  1. another okie

    another okie Member

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    My brother-in-law got a reloader for Christmas.
    We both shoot in a pistol league that combines slow fire and rapid fire. He normally shoots an 8" S & W. I normally shoot a 9mm, but I also can shoot .38.

    Any recommendations for a relatively clean, accurate load, as light as possible? I was joking with one of the shooters and told him I thought his load has just enough energy to get through the paper target and fall down on the other side, but that is kind of the idea.
     
  2. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    Try the starting loads in a reputable manual like Hodgdon or Lyman, for Titegroup, HP-38, 231, Bullseye, Red Dot, and 700X. Use whichever one of these is most accurate in your particular gun.

    Many years ago, when I loaded light target loads, my favorite powder was HP-38 under 148 gr Remington hollow base wadcutters.

    For the last 15 or so years, I load only 125 JHPs or 168gr cast SWCs to +P and +P+ in .38 spec, using HS-6.
     
  3. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    One of my favorite light target loads in .38 Spl. is a 148-gr. lead wadcutter or semi wadcutter and 3.0 grains of Winchester 231.

    Gives about 750 fps.

    In my 6" Model 28 I sometimes wonder if the round went off.
     
  4. ARGarrison

    ARGarrison Member

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    I use HP-38 for my .38 spl target load. Topped with a 158 gr bullet, I find it accurate even out of my 4" 686.
     
  5. beemerb

    beemerb Member

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    38 spec case.2.5 or 3 gr of bulleye behind a 148 full wadcutter.
    Very accurate and lots of fun to shoot.
    Bob
    beemerb
     
  6. griz

    griz Member

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    Everybody pretty much covered it. I use about 2.7 grains of Titegroup behind a HBWC myself. I think you could back it down a little further than that, but that load is gentle enough for me.

    Most any of the fast powders mentioned would work well. I like Titegroup because it seems clean and consistent with light loads.
     
  7. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I use 2.7 to 3.0 grains of Bullseye under a Speer 148-grain hollow-based wadcutter with excellent results.
     
  8. WESHOOT2

    WESHOOT2 Member

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    Bullseye, and W231.
     
  9. Quantrill

    Quantrill Member

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    For .38spec. accurate target load, I use 2.5 700X with a 148gr wadcutter. Quantrill
     
  10. cobb

    cobb Member

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    2.8 gr of Bullseye, under 148 gr Speer hollow base wadcutter in 38 special brass. Works super in all my 38/357's.
     
  11. jim-alex

    jim-alex Member

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    I use the standard 2.7gr BE with a 148 Star match HBWC for accuracy but if you are competing and you have to do any fast reloads the HBWC can be a real pain. For those situations I like
    to use the 141gr SWC from National Bullets - its light, still cuts a nice hole in paper - still use about 2.7BE or 3.2 of W231 with the 141gr.

    Regards
    Jim
     
  12. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

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    2.7 grains Bullseye, 148 gr HBWC bulk-buys by Hornady or Speer (that order, though I don't know why - personal pref, I guess).

    Any case, any primer.

    Easily 90% of my .38/.357 shooting - target, small game.
     
  13. happy old sailor

    happy old sailor Member

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    all of the above.

    my fav is 2.8 gr. bullseye and 148 WC. accurate, pleasant, and 2500 loads per pound
     
  14. Blackcloud6

    Blackcloud6 Member

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    Similar to Mike Irwin's load. I use a 148 gr. DEWC with 3.0 gr. of Win 231.
     
  15. Thirties

    Thirties Member

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    different WC bullets

    Is there an accuracy difference between the different types of wadcutter bullets (i.e. semi-WC; beveled-WC; HBWC, etc.)?

    To put it another way, what is the best design of wc bullet for target (non-defensive) shooting?

    Thanks . . .
     
  16. braindead0

    braindead0 Member

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    I've found that SWC's require hotter loading in order to upset the bullet and seal in the barrel properly (ie: leading near the forcing cone).

    I prefer HBWC's for light loads, they seal very nicely and I've never had leading issues with light loads.

    as always, YMMV ;-)
     
  17. cobb

    cobb Member

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    Thirties, it is going to depend some on your gun, and I get one hole group with Speer HBWC over 2.8 gr BE off hand at 25 feet, so I see no need for me to look further. Above listed are probably all good loads, and a very good starting point, but you will have to see what your gun likes.

    I have a 44 mag, using H110, that gives me 4-6 inch pattern with Hornady 240 gr bullets at 50 yrds, but does less than 2 inch with 300 grain Hornady's at that range, go figure. Sometimes, you just have to test them yourself, maybe using what everbody has listed above to see what is best in your gun.
     
  18. Thirties

    Thirties Member

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    Wow, that was a fast reply! Hollow base wadcutters are the best for accuracy shooting, as well as for light loads, correct? Or are they just the best for light loads, while others may also be good for accuracy? Maybe I'm similar to you in that I am taking up reloading so I can have axccuracy _and_ light loads.

    Another question regarding WC -- do all commercially available .38 special WC bullets have the proper diameter; and is that .358"?

    Sorry for the beginner's questions, but I am a beginner (not yet started).
     
  19. jim-alex

    jim-alex Member

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    The most accurate 38 special ammo I have ever used was
    Remington Match. Problem was it cost too much. I took apart a round - it uses a 148 gr HBWC, fairly soft, lead bullet. The closest I have come is using Star swaged 148 gr HBWC (price is right). Theory is that the thinner lead of the hollow base (HB) expands as bullet enters cone and "grips" rifling better to seal while in barrel. I have tried bevelled bottom wc bullets but did not get as good results - but some folks swear by them. There is a bit less accuracy using the SWC, I feel because it does not have a skirt as does the HBWC. But if you need to do any quick reloads, the SWC is much quicker.

    Short answer is HBWC is most accurate and I feel the best choice if that is your only criteria.

    Regards
    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2003
  20. Thirties

    Thirties Member

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    Jim, is there a site which translates all the different bullet abbreviations . . . for exaple, what is a SWC? Is it a "straight wadcutter"?

    The reloading books I have seen assume you know what the abbreviations stand for, and only some are obvious to me, while others are cryptic.
     
  21. Fatelvis

    Fatelvis Member

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    Thirties, it stands for semi-wadcutter.
     
  22. Quantrill

    Quantrill Member

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    .38wadcutters

    Some folks think that the length of the wadcutter is important. The longer it is, the more bearing surface it has to the rifling - ergo- the more accurate it is. So if one has a 148gr wc and wants to make it longer, what better way than to remove a little of the lead from the center of the bullet thereby being able to make the bullet longer with the increase in bearing surface. If the metal removed can be at the rear of the bullet making the rear of the bullet better able to seal into the rifling, so much the better. Some other folks believe that a non-HBWC is just as good if not better and will argue about bevel bases compared to flat bases. As a few others have mentioned, it is what YOUR revolver likes and no one has figured out yet how to tell that without trying all the variables.
    The diameter of most "lead alloy" bullets are .358 for .38s and .357s. However this is liable to debate also. Schuetzen shooters of the past loaded their bullets as cast without resizing and think that this is the best way because the bullets are not distorted by the resizing die. So some bullets are loaded at .359 and even .360 ( these are light target loads now, not knucklebusters). Most shooters seem to agree that the size of the bullet should be as close as possible to the size of the cylinder forward of the chamber. In most cases, that will be .358 but different revolvers have been known to vary considerably. Quantrill
     
  23. Thirties

    Thirties Member

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  24. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

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    regards sizing diameter ...

    Worked up a couple dandy cast loads in my .308/.30-06 using a marked .309" sizer. Never even considered throwing a caliper/micrometer on 'em until I did a batch for a TFL friend. Turned out they're right at .3145"

    Haven't slugged eiether (of the 4-5 barrels), but did an honest 3-shot 1/2" group at 100 yards with 'em. So much for a lot of things I used to know. Might have to get an actual .309 sizer some day.

    & too, every load touted as the very best accurate might need some tweaking in your shooter - no matter what type, consecutive serial numbers, etc.

    I'd think that the HBWCs shoot so well is that they do take the rifling very well be dead soft lead & they are very long in relation to their weight. Works for short(er) ranges very well. I've never even checked for longer.

    Rifles will need a faster twist to stabilize the longer bullets of a given weight (see Barnes X bullet info especially), but revolvers are different - maybe. ;)
     
  25. zeke

    zeke Member

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    4.0 gns hp-38 under cast 125 gn lrnfp
    3.2 gns hp-38 under cast 158 gn lrnfp
    3.2 gns hp-38 under swaged 148 hbwc
    3.5 gns hp-38 under 158 gn swaged swc

    cast bullets sized to .358 for the older smiths, .357 for the newer ones (depending on cylinder throat size)

    Remington cases for the 148 swaged (hornadys)hbwc's
     
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