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Thread: Nice Quiet .38 Special Load

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Nice Quiet .38 Special Load

    Hi all! I am having a battle with a raccoon that keeps invading my wife's flowers. Two nights ago, I woke up at 0230 and heard him digging through her potted plants on our back patio. like the former Sniper I am, I stealthily crept from my bed and low crawled to my hide (actually, I stumbled, staggered, and bumped into a doorway or two). I grabbed my trusty Marlin Model 39A for this mission, and since I didn't want to wake up the entire neighborhood, I loaded it with a couple .22 shorts (shorts, by the way, were also the only thing I was wearing at the time of this engagement).


    So creeping out onto my back deck, I spotted Ricky on top of a table about 10 yards away. This was the first time I actually laid eyes on my adversary, and I have to say I'm not sure how the small table was supporting a creature roughly the size of a polar bear (OK, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration. Make him the size of a Shetland Pony). In any case, a sneer curled my lips as I thought how easy this shot was going to be.

    Thus, I shouldered my rifle (literally, since there was nothing between my bare shoulder and the butt plate), and BLAAAM! (actually, more like "pip."). I doubt the anemic .22 short bullet actually bounced off Coonzilla, but neither did it vaporize him on the spot. His reaction was to jump down off the table and amble to a spot behind the bench at the far side of our patio. From that point, he proceeded to make faces at me through the slats of the bench. So once more I leveled the barrel of my blued steel beauty, and again I let him have it with another THUNDERING "pip." (This really was a pretty good shot. Low-light, at about 40 feet between the slats of the bench.). Ricky shrugged off the second shot, gave me the finger and strolled off into the woods.

    I've had enough raccoon encounters over the years to know they are very hard to kill, and since these engagements usually take place late at night, I'm thinking a nice, quiet .38 Special load launched from my Marlin 1894 might be a better option for dispatching these rodent banditos. Anyone have any such loads you've developed?

    Howard

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    I have seen raccoons take multiple hits from .22 LR and not go down. Or even stop climbing the tree. Have heard reliable reports of them taking 3 or more from hits from a 9mm before being sent to that great corn field in the sky.

    Low power 38 isn't going to hit harder or even as hard as a typical 9mm so... Got crossbow?

    I know one friend who was having raccoons going after his chickens so he hung an ear of feed corn where the raccoon could reach it while standing up. Like maybe above your table? Then BMC with a 12 gauge buckshot dispatched Mr. Racoon. Of course he lived in the woods, his only close neighbor was his brother. One loud boom and done. That might be the choice you have. Also I think penetration is an issue with raccoons, same as bears. Lot of fat and muscle between the fur and vitals. Pointed bullet might be an advantage. Maybe something like this, which would be unsuitable for a tubular magazine due to ability to recoil strike a primer. Making a lever gun single shot.
    http://noebulletmolds.com/NV/index.php?cPath=35_417 To have multiple shots in the magazine better to have something with a SWC or RNFP profile that has a flat tip.

    I wonder a heavy vs. light bullet weight for your application also. I would think light could be less noise but slow and heavy can stay subsonic and still hit hard.

    Also beware hot brass and bare feet. Even a stone cold sober redneck can dance pretty well when a piece of fresh hot brass drops between his toes and gets caught there. With the prevalence of cameras in phones that could be a lifetime of embarrassment as opposed to an incident one has to just imagine.
    Last edited by RogerDat; 06-06-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    A .38 Special wadcutter loaded down with about 1.5 grains of Bullseye or TiteGroup in .38 Special brass or 2 grains in .357 brass will exit the Marlin barrel reliably and be almost silent. Velocity will be about 600 fps. Rifle will feed as a "two shooter" loading one round up the pipe, and only one past the loading gate into the mag tube at a time. If you try to fill the mag tube rounds shorter than 1.40" OAL will double-feed onto the lifter and jam the gun. Trick is to carry a spare loose round or two, and once you pop one, work the lever to eject and chamber the fresh round from the mag tube and only then insert the loose backup round into the mag tube.
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  4. #4
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    I use .22 Long CB caps, but for Raccoons even a fast HP can be marginal.

    How about 3.5 Gr Bullseye or HP-38 behind a 158-grain boolit? Might be able to reduce that charge somewhat, just watch for squib loads o'course! Pretty classic load.

    I'd be tempted to pop 'em with a 7MM TCU or the like, personally, if there was just one...

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I once defended the chicken flock wearing only tidy whiteys, glasses, and a Ruger mark II target model. The mink met a violent end. It was about 3:00 a.m. I truly miss that pistol. I took many squirrels with it in the late 70"s and early 80's. I could hit pennys with it at 20 yards. In an attack of stupid I traded it. Dumb.

    I think Outpost 75"s load would be the berries for your situation.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

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  6. #6
    Boolit Master BigAlofPa.'s Avatar
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    If you don't have cats outside. Put a bowl of green antifreeze out. The raccoon will drink it because it's sweet but toxic. Or get a box trap and relocate the coon.
    One round at a time.
    Member of Valley Gun & Country Club. Elysburg Pa.

  7. #7
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    I would go a little hotter than 1.5 grains of BE with a 148 WC. I stuck one of those in my model 14 S&W and had a good deal of trouble getting it out. I use 2.2 grains now. From a 20 inch Rossi, loaded single shot fashion, it is pretty quiet and exits the barrel reliably.

    Beware your back stop when shooting at masked bandits. I put a bullet hole in a garage door (my own) by failing to follow this precept.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thanks for all the help fellas! At this point, my fury nemesis has not returned, so maybe the .22 Short's did the trick after all. Even so, I want to be prepared in case any of his friends or family members decide to launch another offensive.

    Howard

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    A box trap would my choice. A lot less to go wrong in the 'heat of battle" ie the fog of night and sleep. I have been told Illinois law requires the release to be within 50 yards of the trapping location....just saying....

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Hrfunk - I would be inclined to go the other direction and use a standard velocity .22 LR with a flat point, like the CCI SGB. Or, if that proves to be supersonic, a Remington subsonic .22LR that you flat pointed.

    Raccoons are tough, no doubt about it. Short of using a suppressor, a rimfire .22 or a really slow bullet (like the 600 fps WC that Outpost mentioned) is going to be the quietest round.
    I killed a fair share of small game and varmints in my youth and I always found a flat point .22 to be far more effective than anything else when using the .22 rimfire.

    I would step up to a 40 grain CCI SGB [Small Game Bullet] or flat point a few Remington Subsonic cartridges and see if they are accurate and quiet in your gun. A .22 short is quiet but it's really anemic when dealing with something as tough as a raccoon.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    Dispatched several coons and possums with 158 swc over 3.4 of unique with a mag primer to prevent squibs(learned the hard way that standard primers sometimes unseat the bullet before ignition on light loads of unique). Unique and cfe pistol seems to have a much mellower report that bullseye or titegroup to me.
    "In God we trust, in all others, check the manual!"

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    +1 for live traps. Pellet rifle makes quick, quiet, work of captives.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    a live trap . . . an open can of tuna fish but make sure the can is all the way inn the front of the trap - I usually wired it in with some stove pipe wire . . . muskmelon or watermelon rinds . . . and eve a nice frosted jelly roll . . . . coons and woodchucks were y archenemies on the farm. I remember shooting them with 22 LR and they never even flinched and kept eating . . . I decided the "witness relocation program" was a much better route.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy gunarea's Avatar
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    Hey HR
    A CCI short solid, will dispatch a Racoon. Think heart lung shot for placement. Racoons are indeed tough and seldom fall dead in their tracks, even with fatal wounds. Your varmit has probably passed from the hits, just not where you could confirm. An old style baby bottle nipple pulled over the muzzle, with a "X" razor knife cut at the end will give very little report. They are also smart, get another and Racoon CNN will alert the others. Good skill to you.
    Roy
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  15. #15
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
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    I would try a bit different approach a 200 gr bullet with maybe 2.5 gr of bulls eye and i think old ricky will be gone for good. The british use to refer to this type load as a man stopper. A little ricky fat ain't gonna stop a 200 gr bullet. And these are surprising quiet out if a 2 inch revolver can't imagine it would be to loud out of a rifle.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    One more for a live trap a few years back I got 17 of them in about 5 weeks
    kids that hunt and fish dont mug old ladies

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy OldBearHair's Avatar
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    Some live traps are not escape proof when Mr. coon fights hard enough to turn the trap on it's side. I usually stake it down solid as do I stake down hog traps. I had a coon trapped in a foot hold trap and aimed for the heart to dispatch and he jumped as I pulled the trigger of my Bersa Thunder 22 and the bullet went behind the ribs and out near the back leg. My 30 lb rat terrier "Duke" ran in and grabbed the coon by the belly and shook him very violently from side to side. The coon was dead then. Skinned him out and looked at the carcass then at the dog and couldn't tell much difference at all in their size. Had there not been a trap and bullet involved the outcome would have been different. It seems to me to be bullet placement solves most of the problem. Oh, my advice to those who relocate coons, should first put a spot of Fluro Orange paint on their back, so you can tell how long it takes to come back home.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    Makes me wonder about the stories I heard about My Grandfather "jump shooting" Elk out of their beds in a cold Montana winter, during the Depression. Killing them with .22 Black Powder shorts out of an old Winchester 1890.
    Course My DAD told me that the Black Powder shorts from before WW2 were a lot more powerful then the High Velocity .22LR that are available today.
    I HATE auto-correct


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  19. #19
    I think the 38 wadcutter would be fine. No personal experience to back it up but my friend always carried a S&W revolver while coon hunting. His friends had issues with their 22s and he said the 38 with 2.8 grains or so of bullseye and a 148 wadcutter always did the job.
    I shot a 148 wadcutter with a light load out of a 7 1/2” blackhawk last night. That little wadcutter made a nice looking wound channel through ballistic gel and shot clean through the 16” block.

    My guess is depending on the load you will get 100-200 FPS more out of your Marlin. With 3.5 grains of Bullesye under a 358156 I gained about 200 FPS from the 4” 686 to the 16” 1894.

    Good luck sir! Keep the cool videos coming!

  20. #20
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    Just use a .358 DEWC when you release the Raccoon to help it along :P

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
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