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Thread: Very light, yet still safe, load for .38 spl

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    I got my wife a 38 LCRx. The gun is very light and she was very displeased at the recoil from my first batch of ammo using a starting charge and 120 gr bullets.

    I played around a bunch and found a she was happy with my lightest bullet, a Lee 102 RN (mine drop at 108), pushed to around 615 fps using TG or Red Dot. Since I started loading them for her, I found them to be more than adequate for a lot of my shooting. This includes 4 different handguns and one rifle. I have loaded thousands of these and they work great.

    If you really want help, tell us the lightest bullet you are willing to use, and tell us the powders you have available. Someone will probably chime in with a proven load and/or someone like me will use Quickload to come up with something.

    Alternately, you may find a nice load at the link below. I saw some 120s and 125s with posted velocities under 600 fps.
    https://shootersreference.com/reloadingdata/38-special/
    Last edited by P Flados; 06-23-2022 at 12:30 AM.

  2. #22
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    I did some testing with Win231 and a 4" Model 15 and a 4" Model 67 and came up with these results:
    VELOCITY TESTING - 38 SPECIAL

    WIN 231-HP-38
    MODEL 67 4" - 2/24/19 w/ sky screens
    4.1 grains WIN 231 & 158 - 160 gr lead bullet SWC -
    803, 818, 769, 781, 770 fps - average 788fps

    MODEL 15 4"
    4.0 grains WIN 231 & 158 - 160 gr lead bullet SWC -
    average 792 fps

    BULLSEYE
    MODEL 67 4"
    3.8 grains Bullseye & 158 gr Speer swaged SWC -
    763, 782, 773, 774 fps - average 773 fps

    MODEL 15 4"
    3.8 grains Win 231 & 158 gr Speer swaged SWC -
    760, 784, 783, 792, 791, 749, 783 FPS - average 777 fps

    But like someone once said each revolver is a law unto itself. I am sure the above results will not be the same as you get in the Ruger. May shoot slower or faster due to chamber and groove diameters, etc.
    Britons shall never be slaves.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master
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    Years ago there was a controversy about the classic 2.7/Bullseye/148 gr. HBWC load "detonating" rather than burning, in .38 Spl. cases. I think the final culprit was ultimately found to be one or more double-charges somewhere.
    While I can see how it COULD be problematic to go far below recommended starting loads, I cannot imagine a case in which going 10% lower would buy you any trouble. There IS some risk of a load being so light that the projectile does not exit the barrel. This is a significant hazard for revolver shooters who drastically reduce powder charges (say, for indoor practice). Again, it is difficult for me to imagine this trouble from a 10% reduction below minimum, particularly when using propellants with a burning rate similar to Bullseye.

    Depending on the distances involved, you MIGHT also consider finding data for loading 000 Buck shotgun pellets over very light charges of HP-38. One of the old SPEER manuals had such data, and my "band of reprobates" tried some just for fun. They had essentially no recoil and were more accurate than most of us, out to 50 feet. Propellants like Bullseye, W231 (HP-38 by another name) and IMR 700-X were used, and no charge weight exceeded 2.0 grains.
    As I remember, we merely pressed the .36" lead balls into the belled (and pawder charged) case until they were flush, and then "taper crimped" them, as one would do with an auto pistol round. No significant amount of "roll crimp", as is commonly used in revolver rounds, was used in these.
    Just a thought.
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
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  4. #24
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    see post #8

    https://castboolits.gunloads.com/sho...ow-is-too-slow

    posted by Outpost75
    In my experience lubricated lead bullets will exit a rifle barrel down to about 600 fps, but jacketed bullets have greater bore drag and don't seal the bore as well, so require higher velocities of about 800 fps to be sure of reliable bore exit. In a 2" .38 Special revolver you can maintain reliable bore exit of lubricated lead bullets down to about 450 fps.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
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  5. #25
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    You have the answer with your Lee 95gr .380 bullet. I have the original Ranch Dog mold for that bullet and played with it in my K-38 some years back. Loaded over 4.5 grs of Bullseye it does 850fps out of a 6" bbl and benched 12 shot 50yd (Yes 50yd) groups avg 2-2.5". Recoil will be considerably less than 158's and you can always back down from 4.5BE for even less recoil. Good luck.
    PS. That 4.5BE would be about 5.2/231. That will give you the same speed (as my BE load) and you obviously can go lower as start for the 105 is 4.2/231.
    Last edited by fecmech; 06-25-2022 at 03:04 PM.
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  6. #26
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    For reduced recoil the easiest way is to reduce bullet weight.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  7. #27
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    I haave used 38 S&W loads with good success, by setting the bullet deep in the 38 spec. case to 38 S&W OAL
    BD

  8. #28
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    If you ever can, find a 95gr Lrn.. I make cowboy loads with them and shoot in a 38spl converted colt open top ( Richards Mason style ). I load over trail boss. About as mild as you can get.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    I worked up a load for a Lyman 358345 SWC, about 113 grns with my alloy. For a powder I used 3.2 grns of sr7625. It had the report and recoil of a 22lr! Unfortunately 7625 was discontinued about five years ago. I called hodgen and inquired what powder I could use in its place of 7625 once I ran out. The answer I received was titegroup. I have not tried titegroup, nor am I endorsing it as a replacement. If you can find this mold and don’t have Access to 7625 and want to try titegroup, I can’t emphasize enough proceed with caution! I do not assume for one second that is a one for one replacement! I’m merely posting this to let you know that their answer is out there. I believe Lee makes a couple lightweight 9mm/38caliber molds also. If I were you I would first try and find a mold or a bullet preferably semi wadcutter if not round nose of similar weight that I mentioned. Then I searched through any reloading manuals I had access to find any load data in 38 special for that weight bullet and work from there. If by any chance you could duplicate the mold and powder that I used, boy that load is the cats meow! My 9year old granddaughter has fired it with no problems! Except she has to use a sandbag rest cause she said, and I quote:”poppy this gun is awful heavy” it’s a Smith and Wesson model 10 with a 4 inch barrel LOL! I’ve even been asked who makes that 22? lol. Hope any of this helps
    Have fun and be safe
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  10. #30
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    Titegroup is snappy..i wouldn't download any of the pistol loads.. Cast loads are as low as it gets for tg. There are a few rifle reduced loads..like for 5.56..but it's rare.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master derek45's Avatar
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    3.0 CLAYS 120-130gr



    .


    NRA LIFE Member

    USPSA/IPSC

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
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    krh1326, the NRA reloading book had an article about low power loads in 38 SPCL and how to develop them. If you don't have that reference I can copy and snail mail it to you. The loads used Bullseye and were in the 1.25 range, but POA/POI were way apart with fixed sights.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundguy View Post
    Titegroup is snappy..i wouldn't download any of the pistol loads.. Cast loads are as low as it gets for tg. There are a few rifle reduced loads..like for 5.56..but it's rare.
    Any basis for the above?? I kind of get tired at people bashing a powder or saying it won't do something with no real basis.

    TG is fast burning, easy to ignite and meters great at very low charges. Red Dot / Promo are also fast burning and easy to ignite, but not as good about small charge metering. 700x, clays and other fast flake shotgun/pistol powders all seem to work about the same as Red Dot.

    I have used Promo and TG a lot while working down to mouse fart loads (pistol and bottle neck). I frequently have been well "off the map" with off odd little cartridges and/or very light bullets not in any manual for my rounds. Never once had a stuck bullet due to working down to light loads, or any other powder related problem with my mouse fart adventures.

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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