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Thread: 38 special very light loads.

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold Fotis's Avatar
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    38 special very light loads.

    A buddy's spouse has a Ruger snub and she wants to start shooting it again. Problem is her arthritis is killing her and as much as she wants to part take in this endeavor she can not with regular 38 special loads.

    Now I do handload and I have brass dies bullets all sorts of powder etc.

    I was thinking of using 125 cast bullets with bullseye win 231 trail boss etc. Can you fellas suggest some loads. Basically all I want is NOT to have any squib loads. This will be practice and fun ONLY. Thank you!
    Last edited by Fotis; 08-27-2019 at 01:44 PM.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Burnt Fingers's Avatar
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    148 gr HBWC, start at 1.5 gr Bullseye. Bring a squib rod just in case.
    NRA Benefactor.

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    Flush seated DEWC 148 grain 2.7 grains Bullseye. I use AA No.2 2.6 grains with the same boolit.

    Deep seated wadcutters reduce case capacity, and allow small charges of fast smokeless powder to burn efficiently. 38. Special started off it’s life as a black powder cartridge. It was designed to replace the shorter .38 Colt. It has a very large case capacity because it was designed to be a black powder “Magnum” (the term “magnum” had not even been coined yet, “Special” meant bigger and better.)

    JM

    P.s. Your friend needs a bigger gun. 4” or 6” full size .357 revolver eats this load like candy. Better grips will also help.

  4. #4
    The lighter the bullet, the less recoil. Matt's sells wadcutters as light as 75 grains. I have used their bullets and can attest to their quality. With standard target charges of 2.7 WST or 2.8 BE, around 700-750 fps, these would be a pleasure to shoot and also quite accurate.

    https://www.mattsbullets.com/index.p...qpv3ij3oaaeat4

  5. #5
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I would recommend a WC style boolit, so when seated deep it will reduce powder capacity space.
    Below is a comment I made years ago about light loads in 38 spl.

    =======

    There is a great article in "The NRA handloaders guide" C1969
    "Minimum Loads in handguns" by William Dresser.

    He worked up a load of 0.75gr of Bullseye for a 146gr. WC specifically for a Smith & Wesson Chief's Special [38 spl] with 2" barrel. MV=195 fps

    The article goes into great detail on how to work-down to where the boolit sticks in the barrel and then work-up to a level where it will reliably shoot. Also mentioned was that Wad Cutters are best as they can be seated deep which then reduces powder capacity space, which would be desirable in this instance.

    I couldn't find any online free copies, but you can loan it from the local library, no doubt.
    Good luck,
    Jon
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...ight=lite+load
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    My missus has had both wrist worked on for carpal tunnel & some "trigger finger" work done as well so she wanted some lighter rounds to shoot.
    I downloaded 38Sp rounds for my missus in her .357 LCR snubbnose using Red Dot using both 148 gr WCs & 158gr SWCs..
    I started working up from 2.6gr to 2.9 gr.. The 2.9 was the most accurate load for both boolits with that particular firearm. I wrote down the next best accurate round weights, but do not have them in front of me & don't remember them so I cannot suggest them right now.

    I would have to go back to look for the chrony results as well, since I think I did them too, & will do so if asked, but I think it was in the mid to upper 600s at the low point & perhaps mid 700s for the upper end ones.. I just don't remember right now.

    Bullseye would be a comparable powder if ya have that in approx. the same range of weight.. I just used Red Dot as I wanted to try it since it was less expensive at the time.

    Anyway, G'Luck!
    2nd Amend./U.S. Const. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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  7. #7
    Boolit Mold Fotis's Avatar
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    Thank you guys!
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  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master
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    All good advice but if we are talking about an Airweight snubnose, we're already behind the curve in terms of recoil and shooting comfort.

    Normally I don't recommend installing large grips on a snubnose revolver because it completely defeats the reason for having a snubnose revolver in the first place BUT, if the gun is only used on a range and is not carried as a concealed weapon; bigger grips might be useful for someone with arthritis.

    Super light WC's start to resemble round balls when the weights get down to about 75 grains, so I'm not a fan of those either.

    The 148 Gr HBWC with a light charge of Bullseye would be my choice for low recoil, good accuracy and little chance of sticking a bullet in the barrel. (a short barrel is actually helpful here). The runner up would be a full WC of 120-150 grs and enough Bullseye to reliably get it out of the barrel.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Fotis

    The 125 gr cast bullet is a favorite with SASS (cowboy action) shooters. They load it way down for reduced recoil and velocity. I suggest trying 2.5 - 3.0 gr Bullseye under your 125 gr cast bullets before buying anything else. I've loaded a lot of those for use in SD training shooters (kids, woman and men) with their small frame 38 SPL revolvers with complete satisfaction. I just used 3.0 gr Bullseye.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  10. #10
    Boolit Mold

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    I’ll second the recommendation for larger rubber grips. Pachmayr are my favorite.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use a Lyman 358242 . I have the 92 grain version. With 3.5 grains of Bullseye it shoots about 600 FPS out of my S&W Body Guard.
    Low velocity low weight = very low recoil.

  12. #12
    Boolit Man
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    My grandkid load is the Lee 105 swc on top of 3.5 Unique or just a little more of HP-38. My precision pistol (aka-bullseye) load is the same bullet on top of 4.1 grains of HP-38. The unique load will hold the 10 ring at 25 yds. out of a 4 inch k frame. The 4.1/HP-38 will hold the x ring at 50 yds but the recoil is a little more.
    Nothing wrong with the wadcutter loads already listed but the 105 bullet is a lot less recoil and just as accurate. Out of a 1-7/8 barrel I assume your shooting in the 7 to 15 yds area so the 3.5/Unique should be fine for an accurate plinking load.
    I use a pretty tight crimp to help the Unique burn better.
    Tony

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    Lee 105 is very accurate and easy on the lead stash.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    I have shot 10's of thousands of the 125's. Loaded with 2.5 gr of Clays and never a squib. 10 shot groups of under 1.5" at 30 yards out of a Marlin 1894.

    W231 would do, but I would start at 3.0 gr.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold Fotis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    Fotis

    The 125 gr cast bullet is a favorite with SASS (cowboy action) shooters. They load it way down for reduced recoil and velocity. I suggest trying 2.5 - 3.0 gr Bullseye under your 125 gr cast bullets before buying anything else. I've loaded a lot of those for use in SD training shooters (kids, woman and men) with their small frame 38 SPL revolvers with complete satisfaction. I just used 3.0 gr Bullseye.
    I loaded 2 gr of bullseye with the 125 cast after watching a video on youtube. The guy was shooting a 1911 converted to 38 special with wadcutters. He started at 3 gr of BE and working down in 0.1 gr intervals. His slide stopped working (cycling) at 1.9 bullseye and finally got a squib load (stuck in the barrel) at 0.4 gr of BE. So I think I am good at 2 gr from a 1.75" tube.

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...D&&FORM=VRDGAR
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    My favorite light 38s are 3.5 to 4 grains RedDot and 130 rnfp from summers they shoot well in in all my 38/357s and my Rossi 92 I like both the hi-tek and plain.
    https://summersenterprisesllc.com/pr...58-900-ct-box/

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Wild Bill 7's Avatar
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    My favorite is 2.5 grains of Bullseye with the 148 grain w/c seated flush with the case mouth. Low recoil and very accurate to 15 yards. My wife has arthritis in her fingers and this load is easy on her with her Rossi in 38 special or the 686.

  18. #18
    Deleted 8-30-19
    Last edited by Alferd Packer; 08-31-2019 at 02:42 PM.

  19. #19
    Deleted 8-30-19
    Last edited by Alferd Packer; 08-31-2019 at 02:41 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Either .22lr or .32sw long or .32acp will significantly reduce both recoil and muzzle blast while teaching essential skills.

    My wife also has athrititus in both hands. For her I got her shooting a Ruger Mk III 22/45 with standard velocity loads.
    Eventually switched guns to one with a rail and put a red dot sight on it.

    With a couple of mags of practice she got where she could put 10 of 10 into a pop cap sized circle at 20 feet regularly.

    She does not go to the range often but she has her Ruger were she could get to it and use it if needed.

    I just kept telling her imagine that bad guys eyeball is a pop cap. You'd drill it first time.

    He "might" not be dead, but I suspect he'd be a bit self absorbed at that point. Not much of a threat. Good enough for me.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

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
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check