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Loading the .38 Special

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Dave Workman, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. Dave Workman

    Dave Workman Western Washington Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Well, it is now commonly known I have this new (well, used) Colt Diamondback that has proven to be a rather accurate little devil with my handloads (naturally, I've already had four old ones that were squibs, gasp!) so that I can consistently hit an empty tin can at 25 yards with a two-hand hold.

    However, I'm always looking for input. Goes with my job, I guess.

    My pet load is 4.7 grs of HP-38 behind a 125-grain JHP, but I'm giving serious thought to working up loads using a LSWHP.

    Anybody here fiddled around with this bullet in .38 Special, and what powder (type/charge weight) do you use?

    It can't be +P!!!
     
  2. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I have always found 3.5 Gr. of Bullseye ahead of a quality 158 gr LSWC to be the most accurate round I have ever shot in .38 Special. Bullseye is a very consistent and clean powder. I suspect however if you really wanted to drive tacks try some of the BBWC bullets intended for competition shooting. I plan to do that with my next .38 Special revolver I plan on getting.
     
  3. SAR1846

    SAR1846 Oregon Member

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    I've played around with a bunch of 158gr LSWC... I kinda like Unique... i use it for most of my cast lead pistol reloads.

    Alliant Powder - Reloader's Guide

    Alliant says max of 4.7gr, and I go a bit less. Groups nice, and works well for minute of soda can accuracy.
     
  4. Box13

    Box13 Beavercreek Member

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    I have a 4" diamondback and I also cast my own.I have 4 different swc molds and 2 different full wadcutter molds and the full wadcutters are the most accurate.But,I recently picked up a lyman 358311 mold,its a 150g round nose.It is way more accurate then the swc and right up near the full wcs.I was supprised.I always thought a rn was just a cheap factory bullet but theres a reason its still around.Very good accuracy and almost as much knock down as a swc.Its probably one of the best all around bullets for the 38 spl.IMHO...Robin
     
  5. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I'll agree. Recently I was out shooting and a friend of mine had just picked up a used, but very nice M-77 in .308 Win and i was pissing him off by my knocking off cans at 100 yards with my open ironed .357 Winchester Trapper faster than he could get on target with the M-77 BUT I have to admit he did not have much 'range time' on the M-77 at that point. I was using a load of 5.3 Gr. of Unique with 158 gr LRN Oregon Trail bullets and the little Trapper cycles the .38's faster than .357's.
     
  6. rodell

    rodell Newcastle, WA Active Member

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    I've had very good luck in the .38 with Hodgdon Clays. It is very clean, meters extremely well in my Redding measure and is not as position sensitive as some others.

    Bob
     
  7. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    You're on the right track with what you got, HP-38 performs great in that round. If you are looking for something more economical, you may want to try using one of the magma (the mold company) .357 130gr bullets (usually cast bullets are sized to +.001 bore diameter, but these perform better at .357 than .358) and maybe consider dropping the powder charge to about 3.0grs and using a magnum small pistol primer.

    I've been shooting that load in my ruger service six for nearly a decade, it's a real pussycat load, it's great after a day of shooting any of the big pistols, as it gives you a chance to get over any flinch you may have developed shooting 300gr bullets through a .44mag.

    Magma style bullets are availible from most of the big casting companies, I think oregon trail carries them, and so does Tru-Cast out of Coeur d Alene. I've used both OT and Tru-Cast, I prefer tru-cast, and last I checked they are a bit cheaper.
     
  8. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay North Carolina Active Member

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    LaserCast 158 LSWC with 4.5 grains of Unique.
     
  9. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    4.2gr of W-231 is what I prefer for 158gr LSWC in .38spl I would start at 3.6gr and work up.
     
  10. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    The .38 Special is pretty hard to mess up too badly :) My all time favorite target load is a 148 WC ahead of 3.0 grains of Bullseye. (2.5 grains of Bullseye works nicely for a very mild round) You can juice it up a bit by loading it ahead of 4.5 grains of Unique. I find both loads to be superbly accurate in a S&W Model 10 as well as in a Ruger Blackhawk. All the standard language applies... load at your own risk, start with lower charges, and work your way up etc etc etc.
     
  11. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay North Carolina Active Member

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    I just finished loading 250 rounds of Lasercast 158 gn LSWC with 4.5 gns of Unique. Was getting 900 FPS on the Chrono out of my 357 Blackhawk. Then noticed I was crimping too tight. Found this sight and it answered a lot of questions on the crimp.
    How much crimp? Lee FCD guidance sought. - THR. Mine look like "C" but the first test rounds that did 900 FPS looked like "D".
     
  12. Dave Workman

    Dave Workman Western Washington Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I have supplies of HP-38 and TiteGroup, so I believe I'll stick with those powders.
    However, I also used to load up a dandy .38 Special round using a 125-gr. JHP ahead of 10.0 grains of 2400.

    I have some 2400 on hand (about 2 lbs of the stuff!) and enough 125-grain Nosler JHPs to keep me off the street and at the bench for at least a day or two.

    Soooooo, I may just spend part of this evening messing around with things that go BANG!
    :D :thumbup: :D :paranoid:
     
  13. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    You like them moving :)
    I generally load .38 Spec on the sedate side, and switch to .357 as I get into the 900+ fps range. I'm sure yours go craaaack rather than boom!
    Most of my 2400 goes into .44 Mag rounds.
    It's a lot of fun in any regard.
     
  14. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    The C round looks about right. I use as little crimp as the load requires based on velocity. Just want them to stay put and not jump out of the cases under recoil. Not much normally needed with my powder-puff .38 Specials. ;-)