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mikejonestkd
May 12, 2010, 09:37 PM
Howdy folks,

I have some reloading experience, but am still an infant compared to most people. My experience is limited to mostly .223, .243 and .308 and own a lee cast press that I will use for .38s now that I am starting to reload pistol rounds too.

Just ordered lee carbide dies for .38 special and am looking for a good starting powder for plinking loads behind two different bullets - 1. Oregon trail 130 grain cast, and 125 Rainier plated flat points. I am hoping to get velocities in the 750-800 fps range, but no more.

I am looking at Unique, Bullseye and W231. From what I have read here and elsewhere each powder has their fans and I would like to hear your opinions.

Any thoughts/ preferences for a good starting powder and loads that work well for you? How important is the 4th crimping die for a straight walled rimmed case?

I'll be using the reloads in a smith 686, a security six, a smith M28 and a blackhawk


Thanks for your time.

Crankylove
May 12, 2010, 09:48 PM
3.8 grains of W231 or HP-38 with a 125 grain bullet makes for a very accurate load, with very little recoil in my 4"GP-100.

My favorite plinking load is 3.8 grains of the W231/HP-38 with a 158 grain cast SWC.........it gives blistering speeds of about 650-700 fps.

As far as the crimp, I do just enough to remove the flare from the case mouth after seating. Lightweight guns with heavy loads may require a heavy crimp to prevent the bullets from walking out of the case under recoil, but that has never been a problem with my GP-100.

WESHOOT2
May 13, 2010, 12:52 AM
Absolutely W231.
Or if more velocity is in the eventual cards, Universal.

I crimp ALL revolver rds with Redding Profile Crimp dies; I vary the amount and test for accuracy.

FEG
May 13, 2010, 01:11 AM
I've mostly used W231 and WST for light loads. I'd have to root around to find the actual charge weights for the various bullet weights. 3.8gr W231 with 125gr semi-jacketed sounds pretty familiar...

I like IMR SR4756 for +P loads, because it fills up more of the case than most other offerings.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that W231 (HP-38) and WST are ball powders and measure much better than Bullseye and Unique.

zippy13
May 13, 2010, 04:56 AM
For an old school plinking (and $$$ saving load), try 2.7 gr of Bullseye under a 148-150 gr LWC. It's a light load, but provides enough to cycle a S&W Model 52 Master.

Sevens
May 13, 2010, 07:21 AM
A couple of tips-- first, don't buy ANY Unique. I'm not sure if you are using a volumetric powder measure (as opposed to hand weighing each charge) but no powder measure that I've ever seen, heard or read about can consistently meter Unique worth a damn.

Unique is a VERY useful and flexible powder. Until more powders were introduced for handgun handloaders in the 70s and 80s and beyond, Unique was THE go-to choice for mid-range anything in handgun rounds. But with the powders we have available today, using Unique for anything is just asking for a hassle, IMO. There are probably a dozen powders you can use in .38 Special to good effect all while avoiding Unique.

My next tip is to not fart around with any horribly light loads with plated bullets made by anyone. The manufacturers all suggest you use mid-range lead bullet data for loading plated, and most of them all tell you to keep plated bullets at a velocity under 1,200 FPS, but my experience has been that if you get one stuck in a barrel by using a too-light load, it's nothing at all like a lead bullet to remove. It's a nightmare.

Given that you are building .38 Special to be launched from a bevy of .357 Mags, you've got a HUGE margin of safety to build proper loads with very little worry. So when it comes to building the plated bullet loads, you obviously shouldn't start at max -- but don't be over-cautious and make them too light or you'll get in to trouble.

ligonierbill
May 13, 2010, 07:58 AM
Look to Power Pistol--meters well and is very versatile. I load 5.0 grains under a 158 swaged SWCHP for 800 fps out of a 4" Model 64. Make it 5.8 grains for a +P at 940 fps.

briandg
May 13, 2010, 01:46 PM
i prefer 231 for a lot of reasons, and one is clean burn.

AlaskaMike
May 13, 2010, 04:12 PM
I agree completely with Sevens on Unique. Between 231 and Power Pistol, all my .38 Special needs are covered.

Same with Weshoot2's recommendation of the Redding profile crimp die. I far prefer that to using a standard seating/crimping die from a typical 3-die pistol set.

Mike

Sevens
May 13, 2010, 05:17 PM
I also use Power Pistol in .38 Special. I really doubt that it's the best choice in .38 (Power Pistol is really at home in a high horsepower round and .38 ain't) and it uses a fairly heavy charge weight, but I love it because it meters so well -- I know I'm getting consistent powder drops from it. Coupled with the fact that I use it exclusively in 9mm and 10mm, I buy it in bulk so I always have a lot of it.

So even though I love it in .38 Special, I don't tend to recommend it in .38 Special. I really doubt it's all getting burnt in there and it's a heavier charge weight than more obvious .38 powders, so it's not exactly the economical choice.

BigJimP
May 13, 2010, 05:29 PM
I like Hodgdon TiteGroup for .38spl and .357 mag ...

I buy bullets in case lots / so I use the same bullet - usually a 158gr JHP bullet from Montana Gold ( just to keep my life easy ) / but they make a 125gr JHP as well ...

I shoot .38spl / .357 mag in a bunch of different S&W revolvers ( model 19's, 27's, 686's ) and even a Henry Big Boy lever action rifle .....and I keep about 10 boxes or so in .38 spl for the younger grandkids to shoot / the rest in .357 mag loads ....for the older kids and me ...

But even the younger kids ( 10 and 11 ) like shooting loads from 900 - 1,000 fps ...with these heavier steel guns / it doesn't seem to be too much for them. Going lighter is ok / but it may not be necessary depending on the gun you want to shoot them in.

AlaskaMike
May 13, 2010, 05:33 PM
I also use Power Pistol in .38 Special. I really doubt that it's the best choice in .38

Yeah, it's not the best powder for standard .38 spl loads--I tend to use it for +P loads. He mentioned he was loading for strong .357 mag revolvers, so I mentioned it because of that. I probably should've elaborated though.

For +P loads I love it. I haven't experienced any unburned powder, even in non +P loads. About the only drawback I've noticed is the 'flashiness' of it, but for me that's not an issue.

Mike

mikejonestkd
May 13, 2010, 06:22 PM
Thanks everyone, I think I'll start with w231 and look at power pistol and also Clays in the near future. My youngest child like throwing big gobs of lead at targets on the range but doesn't like the recoil of anything over a 130 grain/ 800 fps combo. I'll check the load books but think I'll probably start with 3.8 grains under a 125 grain FP oregon trail cast bullet.

Now if I can just find it....browsing websites and making calls all over have resulted in nothing...

oneounceload
May 13, 2010, 06:54 PM
If you're considering Clays, look at Universal Clays - I like it better for 38/9mm/20 and 28 gauge than Unique as it burns cleaner

Tacoma
May 13, 2010, 08:52 PM
I like plain ole Clays in 38. 3.0 gr behind a 158 gr cast bullet shoots POA, has little recoil and is clean.
It's all I load for general purpose 38 shooting ( with Missouri 158 gr L RNFP).

Ksmoker
May 13, 2010, 09:02 PM
I've had good luck with HP-38

williamd
May 13, 2010, 09:55 PM
For an old school plinking (and $$$ saving load), try 2.7 gr of Bullseye under a 148-150 gr LWC. It's a light load, but provides enough to cycle a S&W Model 52 Master.

DITTO. Even down to 2.3g.

Jeff H
May 14, 2010, 11:04 AM
Now if I can just find it....browsing websites and making calls all over have resulted in nothing...

HP-38 is the same powder and is often cheaper and more available than Win231. You might have better luck with HP-38.

dwhite
May 14, 2010, 03:15 PM
I second Tacomas recipe. Same recipe I use and same results but I use a LSWC. It's a very accurate combination.

All the Best,
D. White

sk330lc
May 14, 2010, 11:06 PM
W231 or Unique

mikejonestkd
May 18, 2010, 10:55 AM
God back from the range and still have all my fingers and most of my eyebrows...

Tried two loads:

Loaded OT laser cast 125 with 2.8 gr of bullseye, OAL 1.450" and a light crimp.

Also loaded the same bullet with 3.4 gr of w 231, oal 1.450" and a good crimp.

Both ran about 700fps ( depending on the revolver ) and were nice to shoot and quite accurate. My Smith 686 shot the bullseye load within an inch at 15 yards, the security six liked the w-231 load the best.

One comment - the bullseye loads seemed to have a bit of fouling around the case in two of the revolvers, it went almost half way down the case. The w231 load didn't have this issue. I am guessing that the bullseye load isn't hot enough to fully expand the case. Would a tighter crimp help increase the pressure and reduce the fouling?

Thanks for all the help

zxcvbob
May 18, 2010, 11:02 AM
If you're powder measure can handle it, try 4.0 grains of Red Dot with those 125 grain bullets. (Red Dot is kind of fluffy, OTOH it's less sensitive than most to small variations in the charge weight.)

briandg
May 18, 2010, 11:11 AM
One comment - the bullseye loads seemed to have a bit of fouling around the case in two of the revolvers, it went almost half way down the case. The w231 load didn't have this issue. I am guessing that the bullseye load isn't hot enough to fully expand the case. Would a tighter crimp help increase the pressure and reduce the fouling?


Maybe.

It may need a tighter crimp, it may need another 1/10 grain of powder, a cleaner bullet lube, or just a change to an inherently cleaner powder.

I have heard and seen that bullseye is not the cleanest burning powder available. It is used in small charges, and it never reaches the conflagration level of a magnum load. Of course there can be a little more soot.

My advice is that if the load works, and you have a little soot on the cartridges, crimp a bit harder, add 1/10th of a grain of powder (if you are not already near maximum) and accept that your shells may just get a bit dirty using some loads. That is why you buy a tumbler, and why you clean your guns.

Thank god for smokeless powder.

Coffeeshop123
May 18, 2010, 06:16 PM
Yep, even though Bullseye burns VERY quickly, my guns get very dirty when I use it...It could be the Bullseye or the lube; I'm blaming it on the latter. Doesn't matter, really, I don't mind a couple of minutes' extra cleaning time.

My favorite plinking load (and this is VERY old-school) is 2.7 or 2.8 grains Bullseye and a 148-grain HBWC or BBWC, your choice. Very accurate and consistent, and at that rate a pound of Bullseye will last over 2000 rounds. I know that's not the bullet weight you're looking at, but it seems you're onto a good load based on your results. Just another one to consider.

briandg
May 18, 2010, 09:16 PM
In a dozen or more powders, I don't think I ever found one that was terribly clean in very small charges.

Trap 100? pooey.

jjohnson
May 26, 2010, 07:32 PM
Yeah, as some of the guys have mentioned, the problem with really light plinking/target ammo is that you often don't have enough pressure to cause complete combustion - the brass isn't forced all the way against the cylinder walls, so it doesn't really seal. That gives you the broad sooty streak down one side of the casing. Sometimes you can crimp a bit more and get that to go away, but that can be hard on the brass (and accuracy). If your loads burn dirty, start bumping up your powder charge (WITHIN published limits) one or two tenths of a grain at a time. When you hit the "sweet spot," it'll disappear.

Then... if you're a real tightwad like many of us, you can sit down and calculate what the extra powder would cost you. Figure out what your time is worth and how long it takes you to really clean your handgun. Compare the two. For my money, I figure .2 grain is a fair price for a cleaner burning load. Seriously - I've seen revolvers nearly seized from all the crud.