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Old June 17, 2001, 09:18 PM   #1
Chap
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38 wadcutters, WHAT'S WRONG??!!

I just got back from the range (Father's day is nice ) and tried out several new loads for the S$W 686+ 4" revolver. The 158gr JFP loads are accurate and consistent and at least match factory ammo at 2" group at 25 yds handheld with a sandbag rest.

The 148 HBWC (speer and hornaday both were used) on the other hand were horrible :barf: ! I obviously am doing something wrong here. 2.7 gr bullseye with the bullet edge slightly lower than flush. The tip of the bullet was slightly longer than the case. I roll crimped these with the same setting as I did the 158 JFP. (maybe too much?) Some of the bullets didn't even impact the 8 X 11 paper target at 25 yds!!!. They were all over the place! I'm not talking about point of impact, but groups of 8" or so. If pictures of the crimps would help, I can post them tomorrow. I didn't observe any lead shavings, and may have actually belled too much. These were loaded on a single stage press and powder throws were checked very frequently.

This is suppose to be a very accurate load, but I obviously didn't do something right. Since the 158 Speer JFP worked both before and after the HBWC, much of my technique is OK and my gun is OK. My first change will be modifying the crimp, but am I missing something? Obviously other people do well with this load. What would you suggest?

One option is to just shoot the jacketed flat points, but I'd also like to learn something here.

Thanks for your input.

The Chap
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Old June 17, 2001, 10:02 PM   #2
Big Bunny
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It all sounds OK to me Chap. A real mistery1

Try getting your barrel slugged and match to the commercial WC diam.

Try other brands maybe?


Or use Hollow Base ones and compare the group you get as these expand out to fit the barrel well.
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Old June 18, 2001, 12:46 AM   #3
Archie
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Really odd.

I've shot much the same load with excellent results. I firmly crimp even wadcutters and fast powders.

As the Bunny suggested, try hollowbase wadcutters.

What brand of bullets were these; perhaps a local brand?
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Old June 18, 2001, 02:18 AM   #4
ARshooter
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The following is the load I shoot out of my S&W Mod 14, 6".

Speer 148 gr. HBWC
Standard primers (any brand)
Win 231 powder, 3.1 gr.
Any brand case.

Moderate crimp.

I can get 11/16" groups off of a rest with this load at 25 yds. Any other powder charge, more of less, and the accuracy goes away.
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Old June 18, 2001, 08:28 AM   #5
labgrade
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Sounds odd - 'course you knew that.

You are shooting the exact load I use for WCs - Speer/Hornady HBWC, 2.7 grs Bullseye, any .38 case/any small pistol primer, crimp just enough to hold bullets under recoil = pretty light ....

But I don't understand this: "The tip of the bullet was slightly longer than the case." & this after saying that the bullet was seated just under flush ....

Belling "too much" wouldn't have any effect as that's removed when crimping - worse case would be problems chambering - same for way too much crimp causing partial case collapse.

This IS a very accurate load & should shoot very well. Something, but beats me from your description, ain't right.

Too good a load not to find out what's going on here ....
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Old June 18, 2001, 09:05 AM   #6
C.R.Sam
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A thought. Check the diameter of your chambers at the front of the cylinder. Might be on the tight side and causing the HBWCs to extrude rearward before entering the barrel, thus giving you a distorted bullet. I had a 686 that was way too tight and tossin some loads while tack drivin with other bullets. Friend had similar problem with a 29, opened up the chamber mouths and proplem went away.

Good luck with the mystery, Sam
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Old June 18, 2001, 10:32 AM   #7
Mal H
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We need more powder, Scotty!

I've used 148 HBWC's for years with excellent results. But I think 2.7 gr. of Bullseye is really on the light side. In fact it is below the minimum recommended by Speer. The bullets may not be stabilized enough at the current velocity. Raise the load a few tenths and see what happens.

My favorite load of that type is the Hornady 148 HBWC with 3.4 gr. of AA #2 - superior accuracy out a 4" barrel and the gun is usually cleaner than when I start the shooting session.
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Old June 18, 2001, 12:53 PM   #8
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Sounds like

The slugs are too small in diameter, and are keyholing........measure the O.D.
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Old June 18, 2001, 11:46 PM   #9
Chap
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I was hoping for an easy ammo problem, but alas, it may be a gun problem.

I purchased some winchester match 148 HBWC loaded ammo ($20!!!) to compare to my own, and the crimps are nearly identical. OAL is nearly identical, at the end of the 38 SPL case. I will go to the range in a few days with the factory ammo to see what happens.

As for my comment on overall length, the hollow base wad cutters have a little (tiny) bit of a round nose that just barely sticks out past the end of the 38 case. The sides of the bullet are flush or slightly below the case walls. Again, just like the factory ammo that I'm comparing it to.

Unfortunately, it looks like the ammo isn't the problem, but I have not tried it in a known good pistol.

So, to the bench to try your guesses on cylinder, bullet, and barrel diameter. (Note, I'm using the stated sizes of the bullets. My calipers are not good enough to get to 0.0005")

I drop a 9mm jacketted bullet (.355) through all 7 chambers, and they all drop through, but do slow down.

I drop a remington jacketed 158 HP bullet through the chambers (.357), and all stick at the front of the cylinder chamber and require a small push to get them through the cylinder chamber mouth.

I drop a speer jacketted 158 FP bullet (.357)into the chambers and no comfortable amount of pushing will get the bullet through any of the chambers.

Lastly, neither of the HBWC's (speer or hornady, at .358) would go through the cylinder chambers without deforming or shaving the bullet. I could not push a bullet through.

To the forcing cone.......

All of the bullets will enter the forcing cone, but stick in the barrel soon after they enter, leaving most of the bullet sticking out of the cone.

So.......

no concrete conclusions yet, but it looks to me like C.R. Sam may win the prize, and I win a repair bill. It definatly is NOT loose!!

Is what I describe above normal? What should the end of the cylinder chambers (mouth) measure? It looks like mine is right at .357". I'll shoot the factory ammo fist, before I complete the analysis.

I may be calling S&W on this one.

Thank you for your help. Any more input will be appreciated. I'll let you know what happens at the range trip.

I forgot the camera at work, but I may post the picture later.

Sorry for the length of the message.
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Old June 19, 2001, 12:17 AM   #10
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Chap - I'm kinda surprised you're ignoring the low powder amount and want to go ahead and mess with the gun first. If you chrono your present rounds, I'd bet you aren't getting 700 fps out of them. HBWC's have a ballistic coefficient of an easy chair, they have to spin enough to stabilize. What is "enough"? I dunno. But I doubt that you've reached it with that load. Where did the 2.7 gr. of Bullseye load data come from? Even though labgrade does get good accuracy from a similar round, he isn't using your gun. Small differences in guns can make big differences in results when you are on the hairy edge of stability, and neither gun is necessarily any better than the other.
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Old June 19, 2001, 12:32 AM   #11
Chap
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Mal,

Good point. I have not ignored it yet, but I just have not been able to test it yet.

The ABC's of reloading, Alliant, Speer #9, and Lee all list this load, but like you suggest, I have not chrono'ed it with my gun. Speer #13 and Hornady list the load a bit more at 2.8 to 3.1

You do give me hope. To the bench!

Chap.

P.S. I believe this load is quite good in the S&W 52, which does not have a cylinder gap to contend with. OK, OK, thanks for keeping me on track.
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Old June 19, 2001, 01:10 AM   #12
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Ah ha! The old #9, eh? Obviously, you don't want to get rid of that manual, it is a collectors item, but I wouldn't put much faith in the loads in it. Stick with more modern manuals. The biggest factor is that they (and Alliant) are using revolvers with 6" (and 5.6") barrels. Those 2" are going to make quite a difference in velocity. A few tenths more of Bullseye may just do the trick. Don't worry a bit about harming your 686+, it can take it in stride and ask for more.

The data on Alliant's site is very conservative. Compare their Red Dot and Unique loads with the Speer #13 and you'll see what I mean.
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Old June 19, 2001, 09:47 AM   #13
C.R.Sam
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Sounds like your chamber mouths are spot on.

My Lyman 41st also shows the 2.7-148 bull load. And under pet loads, they back it down to 2.5gr for 25yd target. Using .38spec cases.....

Wonder if you gettin enough pressure to expand the hollow bases.....would think so but....?

Sam
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Old June 19, 2001, 10:32 AM   #14
Mal H
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Sam - The 47th Lyman doesn't list the 148 gr. but for a 141 gr. WC, they have min/max of 3.0/4.1 for Bullseye.

Excellent point on the .38 Spcl cases. I think we were all assuming that is what is being used. If Chap is using .357 Mag cases, then 2.7 gr. is really underpowered. (Min/max should be around 3.0/6.8.)

So, Chap, which is it? Are you using .38 Spcl or .357 Mag cases?
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Old June 19, 2001, 11:17 AM   #15
C.R.Sam
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My 1904 Himmelwright doesn't show 148gr either. Just 123gr and 158gr with Bullseye.

Gotta get a current loadin book someday, when I'm older.

Some of the old powders are gone, and some still have the same name but are different in burn rate than they were.

Sam
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Old June 19, 2001, 12:42 PM   #16
Long Path
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Mal makes a good point, even if I've been told about the utter dependability of 2.7 of Bullseye since I was old enough to say "Bullseye".

2" bbl makes a difference, and why go messin' with a gun that otherwise is better than just adequate.

Great point on issue of .38 v. .357 cases. If they're .357 cases, that would make all the difference, wouldn't it?!? However, I don't think that's going to be an issue, given Chap's comments:
Quote:
purchased some winchester match 148 HBWC loaded ammo ($20!!!) to compare to my own, and the crimps are nearly identical. OAL is nearly identical, at the end of the 38 SPL case.
Chap strikes me as a little less dense than that, guys! (Then again, I've pulled some really, really dense stunts in my time-- this would be relatively harmless.)

Say, Chap-- you didn't state whether the bulletholes were perfectly round. There is no easier bullet in the world to discover keyholing with than wadcutters. Round holes equal no key-holing. Any degree of raggedness or off-shaped holes equal some amount of key-holing.

My money's on this being the case, but again, that's not the cause-- just the main symptom.

Best regards,
--L.P.
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Old June 19, 2001, 01:29 PM   #17
Chap
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Thank you Long Path.... and yes I'm using 38 cases .

The holes were perfectly round. Of course it took me a minute to find the hole on the next target, but they all looked just like they should.

I appreciate the discussion, this is a fun one. Believe me, I'm anxious to get to the range, but it probably won't happen for a week or so.

Chap
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Old June 19, 2001, 02:20 PM   #18
RON in PA
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People forget that if you shoot 38 special cartridges in a 357 you loose velocity(25-50 fps). Couple this with a light load and your velocity may be below the velocity needed to stabilize the projectile.

Also, before you blame the gun remember that you are shooting hollowbase bullets that should expand to fill the bore.
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Old June 19, 2001, 02:22 PM   #19
Southla1
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I was gonna stay out of this one but...... I use several different loads with 148 wadcutters and bullseye in .38 spl cases. Those that I use in my .357 I load 2.7 Bullseye with a small pistol regular primer. I seat the bullets if they are the lyman wadcutters that I cast in the crimping groove which leaves about 1/10 of an inch out of the case along with the little tit on the end of the wadcutter itself. Even in a 38 case in the 357 chamber and a 4 inch barrel these are EXTREMLY accurate (all in the X ring of a 25 yard standard pistol target IF I do my part.
If I am using that same cast wadcutter in my S&W Mod 52 I "up" the load to 3 grains (it helps the auto function) and reverse the wadcutter in the case and seat it flush.
If the Gods of E-bay are nice to me and I can get either Speer or Hornady 148 grain HBWC's at a good price I load these flush with the case mouth and with the same charges, as above 2.7 for the revolver and 3.0 for the 52.
Strangely enough there is not a lot of difference in velocity with the same loads in the different guns. About 650-700 for the 2.7 grains and 700 to 750 for the 3 grain load. I guess I could load em all the same but I kind of like the light light load for snake hunting from my boat in the spring.
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Old June 19, 2001, 02:39 PM   #20
Mal H
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Let's twist again, like we did ....

Long Path - We knew Chap was a 'telligent fellow. He's a TFL member and he reloads! It don't get any better than that! But we would be remiss if we didn't ask the question.

-----------------------------

Chap - A new thought on the matter - twist.
Since you are using a 686 Plus model, S&W may have slowed the twist rate to accomodate the hotter rounds expected. Can you check the twist rate for us? If they have slowed it somewhat, that would easily account for your results with a light load vs. the same load in a conventional .38 Spcl revolver.

You're right, this is a fun one. We all love mysteries, that is as long as there is a solution to be found.
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Old June 19, 2001, 10:32 PM   #21
labgrade
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Before you do anything with that revolver, shoot the factory loads as a sanity check. Should give you a good baseline/control group.

I load the 2.7 grs Bullseye & shoot 'em, in a 4" 15, 4" 19 & 2.5" 66 & they all shoot it exetremely well. Used to shoot like magic in an old 6" .357 Python.

I betcha the factories shoot just fine & something's amiss with those you put together. Nothing else makes much sense.

Would appreciate a good follow through on this one so we get to find out what's up.
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Old June 20, 2001, 08:16 AM   #22
Chap
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I promise a good follow-up, else I'll be banished to the dungeon of TFL backup files. I'll be away from the computer and shooting range for a few days, but I'm anxious to try some things out. Believe me, I hope a few tenths of a grain help!
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