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

  1. #1
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    Very light, yet still safe, load for .38 spl

    Hello everyone!

    I am looking to make some very gentle loads, for my disabled FIL. As he says, he’s not done yet.
    The issue at hand, is his wrists. Very weak and extremely painful.
    He has a Ruger SP101 4” in .357 mag, which he runs .38 spl. The first thing I did, was to get him a Hogue full sized rubber grip, to replace the stock stubby.
    I then made up some Lee TL358-158-SWC over 3.1 grs ( suggested start ) of HP-38. He has been enjoying these loads, but I know I can do better… maybe.

    He is coming for a family visit, in 2 weeks and I would like to have some even better rounds, for him.
    Due to my circumstances , I am limited to the HP-38 ( same as w-231 ) and the molds that I have.
    I have the Lee TL358-158-SWC and will have Lee 356-120-TC ( for 9mm) and Lee TL356-95-RF (for .380 ) hopefully today or tomorrow.

    If I stay with the 358-158 , is it ever really safe to dip below the suggested starting load? This is a situation where he will visit, I’ll give him the rounds, he will go back home, and try them. I can’t have him squibbing, especially if I’m not there “to make sure”.

    Is there any load combo that I can use with either of the 356 molds, that would give him more confidence, and comfort ?

    I do powder coat my boolits, and on these special applications, I could apply multiple coats… as I would still run them thru .358 sizer.

    The Lyman Cast Boolit Handbook has a 120gr Lyman 356242 listed with a suggested starting load of 3.4 grs of 231. And they have a 90 gr Lyman 356242 ( possible misprint for these two molds ? ) listed with a starting suggested load of 3.5 grs of 231. They also have a 105 gr Lee 358-105-SWC listed, with a suggested starting load of 4.2 grs of 231.

    What would be my absolute safest, fail safe, most lightest comfortable combination ?

    Thank you all, for your time, and help!

    Edit: This man survived combat in Vietnam, survived prostate cancer, survived Leukemia (confirmed agent orange exposure) still battling GvHD from marrow transplants, and he gave me his daughter’s hand in marriage. There is NO WAY in hell, that I am just going to watch him give up something that he enjoys, so much.
    Last edited by Krh1326; 06-20-2022 at 10:56 AM. Reason: More info

  2. #2
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    ShooterAZ's Avatar
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    The Lee 105 SWC is a dandy little boolit, and works well for powderpuff loads in the 38 Special. I use mine with 4 grains of Clays powder, it's a surprisingly accurate load. Any fast burning pistol power will work well with it.

  3. #3
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, unfortunately I do not have that mold, and wouldn’t be able to swing it, in time. But that might be something I could do for him, down the road.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master
    rintinglen's Avatar
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    If that 120 grain boolit casts large enough, that would be your answer right there. A starting charge of 3.0 grains of HP-38 yields about 725 feet per second from a 4 inch vented barrel, according to my old Lyman 3rd Edition Cast Bullet handbook. That will be a very light recoiling load, and you have what you need to make them already on hand.

    I would load them to 1.4" coal and blaze away. They will shoot low, but a little Kentucky windage can help things out.
    Last edited by rintinglen; 06-20-2022 at 11:29 AM.
    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  5. #5
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    I thank you so much ! My concern, is just not sending him home with a bad batch.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy

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    You could go to Hodgdon website under Cowboy loads. Range of bullets with a selection of usable powders GW

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    I have shot many thousands of 158 grain cast over 3.0 Bullseye. Whatever amount of HP-38 that will equal that will give you what you want.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  8. #8
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    Thank you all, for the gold!

  9. #9
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    Char-Gar , I am working on that conversion…. Finding trustworthy data , to me , anyway, is sketchy plus I am not the best mathematician, lol…. But working on it, and I thank you. So far , if I have it correct : 3.8 gr of Bullseye yields 738 fps and 5 grs of 231 ( HP38 ) yields 753 fps. Now working on connecting the dots, lol

  10. #10
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    If you've got Bullseye you've got the beginnings of something good. Try 2.5 gr. under a 148 gr. wadcutter, the old PPC load. You can buy the wadcutter bullets commercially. Very accurate out to 50 yards, can shoot all day without fatigue.

    DG

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by rintinglen View Post
    If that 120 grain boolit casts large enough, that would be your answer right there. A starting charge of 3.0 grains of HP-38 yields about 725 feet per second from a 4 inch vented barrel, according to my old Lyman 3rd Edition Cast Bullet handbook. That will be a very light recoiling load, and you have what you need to make them already on hand.

    I would load them to 1.4" coal and blaze away. They will shoot low, but a little Kentucky windage can help things out.
    My thoughts exactly if recoil reduction is the main goal. Since the 9mm has no crimp groove, just a firm taper crimp on the bore riding section just under where the nose taper starts. If that mold will drop at .358. Same thing on the lighter boolit if it drops big enough.

    Looking into the future, as ShooterAZ points out a six cavity lee 105 swc is a great boolit. Well worth the investment.
    Tony

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krh1326 View Post
    Char-Gar , I am working on that conversion…. Finding trustworthy data , to me , anyway, is sketchy plus I am not the best mathematician, lol…. But working on it, and I thank you. So far , if I have it correct : 3.8 gr of Bullseye yields 738 fps and 5 grs of 231 ( HP38 ) yields 753 fps. Now working on connecting the dots, lol
    My load is 3.0 grains and NOT 3.8 grains of Bullseye. I think your 3.8 is a typo, as the velocity sounds right for 3.0.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  13. #13
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Char-Gar View Post
    My load is 3.0 grains and NOT 3.8 grains of Bullseye. I think your 3.8 is a typo, as the velocity sounds right for 3.0.
    I did get that… but searching the forums, I found someone using fps data to estimate, and their example was 3.8… I’m trying figure out that stupid ratio equation from math class sooooooo many years ago,lol.

    3.8 is to 5 as 3 is to ?

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    If you've got Bullseye you've got the beginnings of something good. Try 2.5 gr. under a 148 gr. wadcutter, the old PPC load. You can buy the wadcutter bullets commercially. Very accurate out to 50 yards, can shoot all day without fatigue.

    DG
    That is exactly the load I use in my Colt N,M. 38 special 1911.

  15. #15
    What about Titegroup with a light charge of 3.5gr 158gr RNFP?

    Sent from my ELS-NX9 using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master
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    2.5-2.7 of Clays with 125-130 gr bullets in .38 cases. Have fired over 25k in a variety of pistols and carbines. Never had a stuck bullet.

    Just over 1” groups at 30 yards in a Marlin 1894.
    Don Verna


  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    2.7 grs Bullseye and 148 gr HBWC (loaded flush) is a nice soft shooting load and is legendarily accurate.

  18. #18
    Boolit Man Krh1326's Avatar
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    I thank you all, so much.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy Sam Sackett's Avatar
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    Try 3.0 of HP 38 with your lightest bullet. Reducing bullet weigh directly reduces recoil. Then just Chootem!

    Sam Sackett

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub
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    If his hands are big enough (and fingers long enough) try some padded gloves too. Or, as simple expedient (to see if it works) put a couple of wraps of foam tape around the grips. Doesn't necessarily take a lot to soften up the impact quite a bit. Sometimes a little bit less feels like a lot less.....

    If you go with gloves, cut off the last half of the trigger finger, so its still finger on trigger, not trying to work through some mushy feeling...

    The wadcutter loads (like 2.7 w a 148) suggested above will be pretty low recoil. Just about as low as you can get before going to a .22..... and not a hot loaded .22 either. Pretty minimal recoil

    he could try a wrist brace as well, something to take up the slack, give some support so it doesnt all go thru his joints

    Anyways. its nice of you to take care of him like that, i respect that

    Edited to add -

    I just reread your post, i overlooked you were limited on powder type

    Heres one thing that can make a big difference when it comes to light loads. Big case and small charge of powder (relatively..... am speaking of when the case is only a little bit full, lots of empty space) if you're going on the light end, and worry about getting a squib / bullet that doesn't exit..... try seating the bullet deeper. It only takes a small reduction in space to really increase the pressure, burning, and get that bullet out of the barrel.

    Be careful tho, dont go too deep too quick, or bad things can happen. Pressure goes up quick! But with lead bullets it doesn't take that much to get them out of the barrel, as long as the powder actually burns, and you dont have a huge barrel cylinder gap, rough barrel, etc etc........... Just a piece of advice on loading that can be a useful tool
    Last edited by IridiumRed; 06-22-2022 at 08:24 PM.

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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