View Full Version : Who's Gotta Smith & W Mod 52

December 25, 2004, 07:21 PM
Talk about one gun that's given me fits, whew. I have had this gun for about 15 years and just decided that I would spend the winter (Florida) trying to bring out tha best in it. To date this is what I have figured out:

A. She will shoot Bullseye, 231, #2, Unique and HP38 pretty good.
B. It's best groups will be one inch at 25 yards.
C. most of the time I'll get 1 1/2 inch groups.
D. Groups open up real fast after 30 shots or so if the barrel is not cleaned and the best groups will then go from 1 1/2 to 3 inches with the best loads like wham!

If I go to the range with a clean barrel and load that shoots good,
It will give me good groups. If I go back to the range a couple of days later with the same load and DO NOT CLEAN THE BARREL, the groups are like twice as large and you sit there wondering WHY?

Anything you wanna tell me about this Mod 52?

Jim Watson
December 25, 2004, 09:47 PM
What kind of bullets are you insulting it with? That makes a lot more difference than dinking around with different brands of powder.

December 25, 2004, 10:42 PM
I have a S&W Model 52-1, and I also am trying to work up some new loads. I had been shooting 148 grain Star HBWC with 3.0 grains of w231. They were consistanly giving me 1" groups, though I was getting some leading.

Star is supposed to be going out of business by the end of the year, so I decided to start casting my own, and picked up a couple of wadcutter molds. Now the Star bullet is a swagged bullet that measures .358, so I started out by sizing my self cast wadcutters to .358 and used 3.0 and 3.2 grains of W231. From a ransom rest at 25 yards, I got 5" groups. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was depressed.

I spent some time asking questions on a couple of forums an learned that a Model 52 has a barrel the measures closer to .356. I cast up a new batch of bullets and sized them to .357. Its a bit cold here, so I haven't been back out to the 25 yard range, but from a sandbag on the 50 ft indoor range, my groups dropped to 1". I'm not done testing, but I'm encouraged.

Let me know if you make any advances.

December 25, 2004, 11:40 PM
I've never fed my 52 nothing but Speer, Meister and Hornady HBWC bullets. I also have a book that I live by and it's called "The Pistol Shooter's Treasury" by Gil Hebard.

It has tons of advice form a host of past champion shooters. The chapter on the S & W 52 says that S&W asserts that all of their 52's average 2 to 2 3/4 inch at 50 yards. And that they keep the test scores on your gun at the factory. To find out what your gun shot when they had it, just call.

"Shoot ANY of the factory wascutters in this gun and worry naught. But handloads?-this could be a different story. 2,000 various handloads machine-rested through the 52 left me with the impression that the handloader is going to have to use ..........


Gil Hebert states that the 52 does not suffer from leading and that they did not clean the test guns at any time. And that they did have leading in the front part of the barrel but accuracy was as good at the end of the test as it was at the first part of the test?

Now Ken Walters sings a different tune. He states that in his tests with 38 wadcutters in four different guns, including a Colt auto target model that "accuracy goes out the window with leading".

Both Hebert and Walters state that it's very very hard to cast good 38 wadcutter bullets. And that one would be best served if you could find a good source of cast wadcutters and purchase a bunch of them. {I would love to learn to cast my own bullets}.

I'm also going to take my pistol home to Shreveport and talk to the boys at Clark Custom about it. THERE is a little side-to-side play in the top part of the frame. They weld a thingee on the bottom front of the frame and drill and tap a small hole on each side of it. Then they place a {allen} set screw on each side and when the slide goes back in battery, the two set screws cause the slide to lock-up in the same place every time. I think they call it an "accuracy enhancer".

One thing for sure, I am going to figure this gun out in the next 4 months or I'm going to get rid of it and purchase a Clark /Colt 38 Wadcutter conversion.

Oh' forgot to say that of all my guns, the 52 is the one I love the best. Followed by my Hi Standard Victor. They sweet as candy!

December 26, 2004, 09:00 AM
My load for my "52" is 2.5gr of 700X. It has always done better than I can shoot. I shoot my own hard cast wadcutter (Lyman 35891, 358495 or H&G#50). After casting, I dump the bullets from the mould directly into a bucket of cold water. The only time I ever got leading was when I loaded the wadcutters backwards (so as to flush them with the case trim instead of deep seating them so the little hump was even with the case trim). I have no idea why this happened but I have never done that again. Quantrill

December 26, 2004, 03:30 PM

What is your alloy composition, and what lube are you using. Also, what die do you use for sizing, and what's the actual size of the bullets after sizing.

December 26, 2004, 04:54 PM
Alloy is 50% bullet scrap and 50% Lino. Lube is NRA formula from GAR. Sizing die dia. is .358. I assume the bullet dia. is the same. Quantrill

December 26, 2004, 06:46 PM

Sounds like you are using a pretty hard alloy. I'm surprised you can do so well sizing to .358 (see my post above). I'm using 80% range lead and 20% Lino. It's already a pretty hard alloy at that ratio. I do use Magma's hard wax lube. It works great on my 45 loads, but I have had people suggest that I need to go with a softer lube for the 38.

December 27, 2004, 10:55 AM
I am of the "school", the harder and the bigger, the better. It usually works out for me. If I didn't have to load for the Python and the Dan Wesson, I would not size the wadcutters at all, just run them through the .359 sizer to apply the lube. When I first started, I used pure lithium grease that I bought at the gas station (as per an old NRA Handloader's Guide). It was too soft to use in a sizer so I just tumbled them (unsized) in a coffee can with a couple of spoons of the grease. A little smokey and a pungent odor but good for the accuracy. Quantrill

December 28, 2004, 11:02 AM
I have a 52-2 and a Colt/Clark bullseye 38 Wadcutter. I haven't wrung them out like Quantrill but enjoy shooting Georgia Arms wadcutters. Both are dang accurate, but again, I haven't shot them for record. One inch groups - I'm impressed!

I sent you and email LSUBOY. Cheers, all!

January 6, 2005, 08:29 PM
:) :) She shot good today. Real good....like one-hole 20 yard groups when I would do my part; However, I am inclined to agree with Ken Walters when he states that accuracy falls off with leading as per after about 50 to 60 rounds my groups opened up a bit. To which I cleaned the gun and pulled one of them lead removing screens thru her. There was a lotta lead in the barrel.

After putting her back together, accuracy went back to super. I used the Hornady bullet, and 3.2 HP38, 2.7 AA #2 and 2.8 grains of bullseye.

Damn, talk about noticing a difference, going from HP38 to #2 to bullseye was like being dropped off into the smoke. Never noticed how smokey/dirty it really is.....Eye do now.

My last test is to shoot 100 rounds in 5-shot groups of HP38 and the same amount in #2. I kinna feel that I will be using #2 because I won't worry about weighing each charge. That stuff flows goooooood!

January 9, 2005, 07:49 PM
All my standard 45 ACP loads are 4.4 #2 with a 200gr wad cutter. AAno2 is some good powder! Any time I push the bullet over 900 fps I start to get leading in the barrel. 4.4 no2 gives me around 850 fps. Shoot a thousand rounds and the barrel has no leading problems. I would lost without a chronograph. Do you shooters use a chronograph to check fps? I know what my books say and what the chronograph say are two different things. Sometimes it can be as much as 200 fps different. My accurate book says 5.2 will give me 826 fps! Yah right! I shoot 5.2 and it's lead city.

January 10, 2005, 02:29 AM
If you are leading significantly at those loads I would be suspect of a rough barrel somehow.

I had a 52 and it never leaded at all. none zilch

Do you have access to a bore scope or perhaps a jewelers loupe?

I had a Gold cup that leaded like mad, took a look inside with a bore scope and i was amazed at the condition of the rifling, it looked good to the naked eye but under magnification it was a gravel bed. I fire lapped it and it helped, but not till i got a new bar sto barrel was it eliminated.

There are a few ideas,
one: really look hard at the barrel every five rounds to see if you can see where the leading is starting.

two: swaged lead (hornady and speer) are really really soft. they can lead at 800 feet per second in some barrels. try a harder cast bullet just to see.

three: Laser cast bullets with a silver content seem to work for me.

four: if this does not work, try sending the barrel to SW and see what they say.

five: try to fire lap it (loading a few bullets with lapping compound instead of lube) and see if this helps. This really really helped a couple of Rugers I had.

January 10, 2005, 10:53 AM
So guntotinfool,

What was the load you used with your Model 52 and got no Leading??

April 24, 2009, 03:42 AM
I built a 1911 in .38 special and use my case double ended 148gr. wheel weight lead mostly sized to .357 and Tite-Group 3.5 grains. 50foot they all cut one hole. But in the 52 I cut the powder to 3.2 Tite- Group. I had a slight bit of lead build up after a 1800 bullseye match. It shoots better than I can.

T. O'Heir
April 26, 2009, 01:40 AM
Cast and swaged 148 grain WC's aren't the same.
"...Groups open up real fast after 30 shots..." No way 2.8 grains of Bullseye should cause leading.