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Old November 26, 2007, 03:04 PM   #1
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Join Date: September 25, 2005
Posts: 7
38 Special -What velocity for an accurate target load?


I am going to give the ISSF center-fire match a go with my new (2nd hand) S&W 586 .38/.357.

I was wondering if anyone could dig up some of there accuracy testing results and tell me what the best velocities were for accuracy with....

.38 brass and 148 grain Hollow based Wad Cutter projectiles (Hornady).

There is plenty of previous discussion regarding powders, but it's all Greek to me as many of the listed powders are not available here in NZ. (I will be using AP50N by ADI powders, an Australian manufacturer). So perhaps we could talk in average velocity's instead.

I am used to driving bullets around 800-900 ft/sec but realize that may be a bit faster than required for an ISSF match with these projectiles.

I would be interested if you had any accuracy comparisons shooting from at least 25m (27 yards).

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Old November 26, 2007, 03:31 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,051
The .38 midrange wadcutter has long been standardized at 750 fps for 25 and 50 yard shooting. Even a bit less in some handloads. There was once a "full power" wadcutter at 850 fps but that is more than you need for target shooting... unless your individual gun just happened to be enough more accurate with it to be worth the recoil.
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Old November 27, 2007, 10:34 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 5,261
Well I have some data for comparison. A “standard” target load in the 38 is a 148 grain lead Wad cutter with 2.7 grains bullseye. Mild and accurate. A factory equivalent, non +p load in the 38 Special is 3.5 grains Bullseye with a 158 Lead bullet. This kicks more but is very accurate.

I have data shot from different revolvers, of different barrel lengths. But it should give you something to shoot for! LOL.

S&W M66-2 4” barrel

158gr LSWC 3.5 grs Bullseye CCI 500 primers,
17-Oct-93 T = 65-70°F
Ave Vel =764
Std Dev =13
N =6

148gr LBBWC 2.7 grs Bullseye CCI 500 primers, Dillon Loads
17-Oct-93 T = 65-70°F
Ave Vel =704
Std Dev =18
Low= 685
N = 6

Colt Python Stainless Steel, 6" Barrel

148 gr LBBWC 2.7 grs Bullseye 38 SPL cases CCI500 24 Sept 1999 T = 78 F
Ave Vel = 710
Std Dev = 18
ES 72.02
High 746.1
Low 674
N = 33
shot fine at 25 yards, no leading, light recoil

158 gr LRN 3.5 grs Bullseye 38 SPL cases CCI500 24-Sep-99 T = 78 F
Ave Vel = 771
Std Dev = 12
ES 35.9
High 792.6
Low 756.7
N = 6

Colt Cobra 2" barrel

30-Jan-05 T = 42 °F
158 gr LRN 3.5 grs Bullseye thrown, Fed 100 primers mixed cases

Average= 696.6
SD= 20.49
ES= 72.93
High= 745.5
Low= 672.6
N= 13

148 gr LWC 2.7 grs Bullseye thrown, Fed 100 primers mixed cases
30-Jan-05 T = 42 °F
Average= 606
SD= 18.19
Extreme Spread= 56.64
High= 633.1
Low= 576.5
Accurate shoots 6" high and a little left
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