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Thread: A nice, low recoil practice load for 38 special.

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    A nice, low recoil practice load for 38 special.

    I decided I wanted a light recoiling load for practice in my 38 special/357 mag revolvers.
    I ended up using a Lee 358-125-rnfp. I have been loading these in my 9mm and at full power in 38 special.
    I was getting good groups but the POI was low at full power.
    I decided to just live with the impact point and loaded some of them with 2.8 grains of Bullseye.
    Talk about no recoil! These were about the same as shooting 22lr.
    Accuracy was superb. As an additional benefit, because the velocity was so low, the impact point was right on my point of aim.
    I fired these in three different revolvers and they worked the same in all of them.
    These loads are running about 650-700fps. Roughly the same as a 38 short colt.

    So now I have a great practice load that shoots to point of aim and produces good groups for about the same cost as 22lr.
    What is there not to like about that?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    lets see my silly notes for reduced power 38spl

    148wc, seated flush, titegroup, 1.3gr-350fps, 1.1gr-310fps, 0.9gr-250fps, 0.5gr-220fps. perhaps a bit less than recommended leaving the barrel minimum
    think I used about same as you when I was actually practicing. but i also went extra low for scientific purposes of course

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Good for you .
    I recently discovered a similar load looking to find something my wife would enjoy in her LCR for practice I used red dot and a 130 rnfp but had so much fun shooting them and they were very accurate in my sp101 and rossi lever gun I loaded a bunch more.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by tazman View Post
    So now I have a great practice load that shoots to point of aim and produces good groups for about the same cost as 22lr.
    What is there not to like about that?
    Sure... But unless they tumble those light practice loads will probably only do about 20" of penetration.
    Last edited by pettypace; 12-12-2019 at 07:25 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    JBinMN's Avatar
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    Yep. reduced loads can make for a lot of fun, with the addition of less expense as well as folks being more comfortable shooting for a longer period of time due to not as much hand fatigue, which is a "win win win" , in my book as well.


    Back when I got a .357 LCR a couple or few years back, for the missus, I worked up some loads for her using Red Dot & ran from 2.5gr. to 2.9 gr.. The best accuracy was at a tossup between 2.8gr, & 2.9 gr., then coming in third was the 2.6gr. "node" of accuracy. Less than full power, but pushing the bottom end of the load data range. ( Bullseye, as many know, is comparable to Red Dot/Promo in load data range & since I had more Red Dot at the time, that is what I used.)

    I did these tests after having her try loads at higher more "normal" velocity first, & that is when she aked me to see if I could "tone them down a little bit" for her. She has had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands and has a med. condition as well, & what I understand to be called by some, as "Trigger finger" that make some of her fingers basically locked in place. ( Not to be confused with the trigger finger one uses, usually the index finger. I have no clue as to why it is called that, because it doesn't seem to be a good description of what "we" call a trigger finger.) Having her med issues makes it difficult for her to retain a good grip consistently with a regular"diet" of full power loads, but the reduced loads make it easier to shoot, less recoil & thus more enjoyable to her.

    She will still shoot regular loads on occasion just to make sure she is OK with them, when/if she needed to shoot them, but prefers the reduced loads for the fun, as mentioned in the OP, "Like shooting a .22".

    BTW, I have a .22 handgun that she enjoys shooting as well( Ruger Mark III w/ bull bbl.), so the reduced loads in the LCR and the Mark III with regular loads make it more enjoyable for the both of us to go shooting together, & that in itself is makes the little bit of effort made to accommodate her worthwhile as far as I am concerned.

    I think it will also be helpful to my grandboys as they progress from BB gun up to using rimfire & centerfire firearms on larger platforms/calibers.

    So, many checks in the "Wins" column , the way I see it.
    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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    Restore the Republic!!!

    For the Fudds > "Those who appease a tiger, do so in the hope that the tiger will eat them last." -Winston Churchill.

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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    My wife also suffers from arthritis in hands, wrists. She's deadly with her Ruger Mk III 22/45 with a red dot sight on top.

    20 feet, standing, I have seen her put 10 into a group you could cover with a pop cap. None would have touched the sides of the cap.

    But she pays the price even for that the next few days. So she does not come often. She had no problems shooting .32sw long 90 gr with 2 grains of Red Dot.
    But without the red dot sight the group was bigger. So mostly I leave her be. I know if it comes down to defending family she knows where the rugers are.
    She knows eyeballs are her primary target. If she can hit a pop bottle cap at 20 feet she can hit an eyeball. She does not like to think or talk about it.
    But threaten family and she turns into momma Grizzly bear with no mercy and no back up in her. Her skills also make sure I treat her right.

    She can be one scary lady at times. She also has a stun gun and knows how to use it, keeps it charged. And she carrys a Ken Onion Scallon in purple in her purse. I'd hate to have her mad enough at me to start cutting.

    I believe in empowering the ladies in your life. Build them up, give them confidence, give them the tools to get the job done. Then let them roll. Let them decide what they want and how they choose to use it.

    I trust mine with my money, my home, my life. My sacred Honor, well thats my worry.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    I estimate I have loaded 40-50,000 using 125 or 130 gr bullet with 2.5-2.7 gr of Clays. Surprisingly accurate at 30 yards out of the rifles...which is where I tested for accuracy for CAS. My fiancÚ loves shooting them.

    But with .22's back down to under $2/box, I expect to load a lot less of them. I am not fond of tumbling brass, casting, sizing, lubing and reloading but will do all that work to save money. Plans for this year will be to see if she can shoot .38 level loads and likely .38+P. We have a pair of 686 Plus revolvers with 5" barrels (so decent gun weight for recoil) and three rifles we plink with. The revolvers are what she will use for home defense so I want the POI to be the same for defensive and target work. Will likely have to play with various bullet weights/loads to achieve that goal.

    I will keep a 1000 or so of the reduced level 130 gr loads around for the Colt SAA's as they are regulated for those light CAS loads. They are sweet shooters but wondering if I should get rid of them. Never shot them after we got the S&W's.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Been loading 160 gr pc boolit since last summer, practicing with contender like lawnsteel shooters, over 3 gr Bullseye, 820 fps. Very accurate, low recoil. Cheap shooting. They talk about raising gun up to get powder back by primer, I’ve never tested for results from this, shot forgetting to raise pistol up and all shot, but don’t shoot thru chrono, all the time. When you can consistently hit paint spray cans at 50 yards, sitting in a lawn chair supported with knees, that’s pretty good. Also 8# of B.E. Seems to last forever.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Mine is a Smith and Wesson Military&Police 4" from WW2. A paltry few grains of RedDot and a Lyman bullet has been the teaching handgun for my daughter and grandkids for years. When they were teenagers, several of my daughter's friends learned gun safety from me with this gun and load.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    That same load of Bullseye (2.8 grains) along with the two following boolits are also very accurate
    1.) Lee 356-120-TC
    2.) NOE 358-124-TC
    I use my 9mm Luger taper crimp die to crimp them in the 38 special cases , works like a charm .
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    JBinMN's Avatar
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    I did not in my post, but I should mention that those loads I mentioned in the post #5 were for 158 gr. SWC & 148 Gr. WCs.

    While I have 102 gr., 120 gr., 124 gr. boolits to cadt & use, I usually do not use those for 38 SP., or .357.

    I just wanted to clarify the weight of the projectiles with the load weights I mentioned earlier, since it appears as thoug others are using a lesser weight projectile than the ones I was talking/posting about......
    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."

    ~~ WWG1WGA ~~

    Restore the Republic!!!

    For the Fudds > "Those who appease a tiger, do so in the hope that the tiger will eat them last." -Winston Churchill.

    President Reagan tells it like it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6MwPgPK7WQ

    Phil Robertson explains the Wall: https://youtu.be/f9d1Wof7S4o

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy dimaprok's Avatar
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    You really want low recoil shooting cast some 105gr, i love this bullet of course with GP100 even full power 38 special loads are low recoil as confirmed by my 10 yo petite daughter.

    Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tazman View Post
    I decided I wanted a light recoiling load for practice in my 38 special/357 mag revolvers.
    I ended up using a Lee 358-125-rnfp. I have been loading these in my 9mm and at full power in 38 special.
    I was getting good groups but the POI was low at full power.
    I decided to just live with the impact point and loaded some of them with 2.8 grains of Bullseye.
    Talk about no recoil! These were about the same as shooting 22lr.
    Accuracy was superb. As an additional benefit, because the velocity was so low, the impact point was right on my point of aim.
    I fired these in three different revolvers and they worked the same in all of them.
    These loads are running about 650-700fps. Roughly the same as a 38 short colt.

    So now I have a great practice load that shoots to point of aim and produces good groups for about the same cost as 22lr.
    What is there not to like about that?
    What kind of revolver and barrel length are you using? Also, what primer?
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Model 15 Smith 4 inch and a 686 plus 6 inch
    Primers are cci small pistol

  15. #15
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Hmm, have the little 125 grain Lee mould, have BE, have too many 38 Specials, don't like tons of recoil myself and my wife likes it even less. Sounds like something worth trying. Might get away with some softer alloy too. No sense in wasting linotype to go 700fps..

    Like to find something quiet enough to shoot out of the 10" Contender inside a barn.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    For years, I loaded "regular 38s" as low recoil fun shooting ammo for 357 guns.

    Then I got a 3" Ruger LCRx 38 for the wife to shoot. Even the lightest (120 gr & ~ 4.2 gr Promo) of my "standard" 38s were causing problems for her in that light weight gun. I also noted that my 158 gr 38s had crossed over into the "not really fun" level of recoil even for me.

    I tried reducing the powder charge with the 120s, but did not find a "happy" load for her with the 120s.

    Then I tried out some BLL lubed 108s (out of the Lee 102). The gun shot well with the little boolit and all of the charges that I tried. I was not happy with how my powder measure was throwing the really small charges (2.8 - 3.2 grs) of Promo that were at the right power level. I swapped over to Tightgroup and ended up with 2.5 gr giving 630 fps.

    The load shoots to point of aim with the rear sight adjusted all the way up. The rounded noses make loading easy. The LCRx just "feels right" shooting DA and the low recoil makes "not slow" DA shooting fun, fun, fun.
    Last edited by P Flados; 12-14-2019 at 01:20 AM.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arlon View Post
    Hmm, have the little 125 grain Lee mould, have BE, have too many 38 Specials, don't like tons of recoil myself and my wife likes it even less. Sounds like something worth trying. Might get away with some softer alloy too. No sense in wasting linotype to go 700fps..

    Like to find something quiet enough to shoot out of the 10" Contender inside a barn.
    Sounds like a plan. Just one thing. This load wasn't quiet.
    I was shooting indoors at a range and didn't notice any particular decrease in noise.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    2.8 grains of Bullseye under a 148 DEWC was my competition load when I shot PPC. Loaded a bunch of them over the years, enough to fill a couple of 5 gallon pails with spent primers. Accurate and dependable in all my 38s.

    Kevin
    Knowledge I take to my grave is wasted.

    I prefer to use cartridges born before I was.

    Success doesn't make me happy, being happy is what allows me to be successful.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    For years I have shot target loads in my K frame M19, made up of 35891 as cast over 2.7-3 gr Red Dot. I always reserved the 358477 SWC mold for 357 mag, using slower powders. Just for fun I tried loading the 358477 boolit in the mag cases with 3.5 gr of Red Dot. It equaled or exceeded in accuracy the target loads I had used all those years, and recoil was negligible. Much to my surprise.

    Wayne
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    Venison is free-range, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free

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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
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