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Old December 2, 2012, 01:04 PM   #1
doc540
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Powder Test Results - Advice?

recap: trying to find a heavier bullet for metal silhouettes that's as accurate as the Rem factory .38 +P 125gr SJC HP's.

Even factoring in my limited shooting skills and a low-budget rest, it doesn't appear to me that either of these two powders will work well with 158gr SWC's.

Back to the drawing board, I guess.





Setup


I'm open to any and all feedback.
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Old December 2, 2012, 05:20 PM   #2
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I coupe of clarifying questions:

1. Am I correct in assuming that the "Remington factory 125 gr SJC HP" ammo is loaded in the factory, and all other ammo in your tests was loaded by you with your die set-up?

2. Are your 158 gr SWCs swaged lead, cast lead, plated, jacketed cup-and-core (e.g., Speers old design), or "jacketed" with some sort of thick plating (e.g., "jacket bonded to core one molecule at at time") like Speer's new unicor/Gold Dot bullets?

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Old December 2, 2012, 05:49 PM   #3
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Yes, the Rem is factory


And the 158's are Missouri Bullets, lead SWC, Brinell 12
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Old December 2, 2012, 05:50 PM   #4
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I have shot a lot of Speer 158g SWC's for .38 special with 4.3g of Unique in my .357mag and they are very accurate out to 25yds. Don't give up on loading your own you will find what your gun likes just takes time.
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Old December 2, 2012, 05:51 PM   #5
doc540
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Thanks

I'm trying to find a load that's both accurate and will knock down steel at 50yds.
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Old December 2, 2012, 07:29 PM   #6
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Because you are essentially changing EVERYTHING about the ammo when you go from the factory loads to your handloads, I think it is premature to blame the powders you have tried with the 158 grain bullets.

First, I would suggest that you try some GOOD QUALITY 158 grain JACKETED bullets to be sure that you are not suffering from die adjustment problems, lead bullet to cylinder fit problems, etc.

If you can't get the 158 grain jacketed bullets to shoot about as accurately as the factory 125 grain loads, then I think that you need to address your die set-ups. But, you will need to check accuracy for a range of charge weights for each powder that you try, not just one or two.

If, on the other hand, the jacketed bullets shoot well, then I think you need to look into the aspects of the lead bullets that are related to their being exposed lead. There are many, probably starting with whether you have cleaned all of the copper fouling out of your revolver before you started shooting lead bullets. (I get the impression that you did not, given your pictures of single targets with holes from both types of bullets.) And, there are many other issues, to consider as well, which we can help you explore if and when they seem to be likely causes of your accuracy problem.

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Old December 2, 2012, 07:39 PM   #7
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I think your 4.3 gr of W231 shows promise. You seem to know how to shoot from a rest, so forgive me if I say things you already know. I would get the gun with the barrel on a sandbag and the frame shoved into it, and nothing touching the bottom of the grip frame. I would shoot at least ten, five-shot groups. Flyers are common for me in handgun testing, but after ten groups you will know how good the load is and if the flyers are always there, or perhaps just a result of your shooting technique.
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Old December 2, 2012, 08:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
I would get the gun with the barrel on a sandbag and the frame shoved into it, and nothing touching the bottom of the grip frame.
This is key regarding gun setup.

Still, your 125gr groups look good. Frankly, I would say the 158gr bullets are NG. You might try another 158gr bullet, or a different diameter. Powder, as long as you are choosing basically the right one, will be a smaller issue. Also, I did not check the loads. If these are mid range, I might try working up a load. Otherwise, get new bullets. . . .

Bullets will generally be the reason why groups are completely different.

With lead, bullet size (dia) and hardness can have as much impact as who made them.
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Old December 2, 2012, 10:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for the good info.

I loaded up some Speer 158 grain JSP's tonight using the Win231.

Might be able to test them tomorrow.

And I have been thoroughly cleaning the 686 barrel after each range session, using a Lewis Lead Remover kit, IOSSO bore paste, and Hoppe's #9.

Enjoying the journey so far.
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Old December 3, 2012, 08:30 AM   #10
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doc540,

If you need a Lewis Lead Remover to clean your bore after each range session, then I think you have a problem with your lead bullets. The LLR should be reserved for major lead fouling problems. A good lead bullet load should not require its use.

I am not familiar with IOSSO bore paste, but, if it is anything like other bore pastes, it will be slighly enlarging your bore and smoothing your rifling. A little of that done PROPERLY can be a good thing. BUT, if it is done in a manner that wears the bore or cylinder throats unevenly or out of alignment, then it is eventually going to damage the accuracy of your gun. That would be a shame, because your gun seems to shoot the 125 gr Remington factory loads very accurately right now.

Based on what you have told us so far, I think your probem is most likely due to using those lead bullets in less than optimal conditions. But, there are a lot of issues with lead bullets.

Before starting on those issues, it would be best to make sure that your die set-up and other loading parameters are working to avoid accuracy problems (e.g., bullets started straight so that they are not cocked in the cases when seated, case same length and mouths square so that crimps are uniform and not lopsided, etc.) That can be done with the jacketed bullets that you just loaded and any powder reasonable for the cartridge. But, you will have to do a load work-up with the powder to see what charge weight is the most accurate. Just picking one or two charge weights to test can easily miss the weight range that provides good accuracy in YOUR gun.

Another thought to consider: why are you going to 158 grain bullets? Most manuals seem to talk about using 180 grain bullets in the .357 Magnum when they are working up silhouette loads, especially for the rams. If it is more power for topling rams that you are seeking, then a heavy bullet moving as fast as possible seems like the goal. You can usually push hard-cast lead bullets faster than jacketed bullets of the same weight, but that isn't a good idea unless you can make them just as accurate as the jacketed bullets. That means good bulllets, good loading technique, and careful charge weight work-up for maximum accuracy.

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Old December 3, 2012, 10:49 AM   #11
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Thanks again for the good info.

I'm only using the Lewis Kit to make sure I have no lead or copper whatsoever, to make the tests as accurate as possible.

And I just run a patch with IOSSO through to do a final cleanup.

I'm using lead bullets in .38 Special because that's what was recommended by many of the other silhouette shooters.

Just got some .357 brass yesterday, so some time this week I'll load the Speer 158 gr JSP's and see how they shoot at mild .357 levels.

Thanks again for all info.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:37 AM   #12
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Agree with working up a broader range of charges for each powder. For handgun I typically load 4-5 sets incremented by 0.2 gr. both W231 and Unique usually give good accuracy but it will vary with the charge. You might also try Bullseye, Universal, Power Pistol, or AA5.
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Old December 3, 2012, 12:00 PM   #13
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When testing, I also load a range of charges, generally in 0.2 grain steps unless the min to max powder charge is close. I was somewhat surprised at how much the groups can open and close in pistol loads.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:45 PM   #14
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I'm not going to address the leading issue, that has been done.

For accuracy, don't give up on the powders you have.

I would try magnum primers if you haven't already, and using more crimp.

Even a +P load of powder in a 38 Special is going to have a lot of air gap in the case, getting positive ignition is key to getting good performance from any round.

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Old December 23, 2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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Reloaded with my new, Starline brass.

I think my load is set for silhouette matches at 50yds.

Now it's up to me to shoot more accurately.

4.5" target from a rest:
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