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Old May 5, 2001, 07:03 PM   #1
Glockzilla
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Join Date: September 10, 2000
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I recently purchased a pre-sellout S&W 640 in 38 spl, 5-shot with 2" barrel, concealed hammer, etc. I loaded up several different combinations using Federal +p nickel plated cases, Winchester small pistol primers, and Rainier 125 gr flatpoints. All the load combos used a starting weight of 4.7 grains of Unique. The only variance was the OAL. I loaded 10 rounds each at 1.500, 1.475, 1.450, and 1.440. All the loads were finished up with a Lee Carbide factory crimp die with a medium-heavy crimp.

What was interesting was that all the loads chronographed in the high 500 to low 600fps range, with a couple of oddball shots in the mid-300 fps.

However, what shocked me the most, was the large amount of unburned powder flakes in the chambers and in the barrel. I looked on my shooting notebook and there was powder everywhere!

Do I need a faster burning powder for the 2" barrel? A heavier crimp? Any help or advice would be appreciated.

This was my first attempt at reloading .38spl. Previously, I've been reloading 9mm for about a year and 40 S&W for about 6 months with absolutely no problems until now.
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Old May 5, 2001, 07:41 PM   #2
Nukem
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too light?

Is Rainer plated lead, not jacketed?
Sounds like you could be too light with the powder. Looks like you should be at or over 5 gr for a 125gr bullet. 5.2-5.3 is the *starting* load for a jacketed bullet, don't have data for lead, if you do, check to be sure.
As always, be careful.

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Old May 5, 2001, 07:41 PM   #3
Southla1
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I don't have any of my load manuals right at hand but that load seems on the light side to me. A lot light really. Unique is a dirty burning powder to begin wiht and a light load is even worse due to the incomplete combustion of the powder. I have always found that Unique is best on the warm side of all loads. My advice would be a tight crimp and start working up on the load staying within safe limits. If the 500 to 600 FPS velocity range is what you are looking for then a powder switch would be wise. A 125 grain bullet at 500 to 600 FPS range could be acheived nicely with Bullseye. That powder is not perfectly clean but is lots better than Unique.
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Old May 6, 2001, 03:22 PM   #4
WESHOOT2
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AA2, Bullseye, W231, heavy crimp from a Redding Profile Crimp die.

Throw away the Unique and switch to Hodgdon Universal Clays, its modern clean-burning easy-metering ballistic equivalent (but start .2g less when copying Unique loads).
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Old May 6, 2001, 06:00 PM   #5
Archie
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For 125 grain jacketed bullets and Unique

Speer #13 says 5.7 grains of Unique and "do not reduce".

All powders have to be at a certain level of pressure and heat to burn properly. It varies between one type of powder and another, obviously. Your load is under the minimal "proper burn level" for Unique.

And yes, Unique is somewhat dirty anyhow. Perfect burning rate for most autopistols... but dirty.
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Old May 6, 2001, 06:24 PM   #6
Cheapo
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Unique is supposed to be improved with a cleaner-burning version available in about a month.

Even for a 2-inch barrel, your velocities are quite low for a 125-gr bullet. If you want to have a practice equivalent of a defense load, the Hornady 125-gr XTP, for example, is rated for a minimum impact velocity of 800 FPS.

One of the gun rags ignored that last year when doing a big article on .38 Special loads for the 2-inch pocket guns. Depending on the powder, you may or may not be able to beat 800 fps with a 125-gr bullet, in a 2-inch gun.
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