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Old September 28, 2012, 07:15 PM   #1
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Mid- range loads / .38 spl.

What are some good Mid range .38 spl. loads for a Ruger Security - Six and a 6" barrel Ruger GP100. Plinking and paper punching targets ?

My first venture into .38 Spl. revolver.

Thank you all for the info, oswald
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:26 PM   #2
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bullet weight?

Jacketed or lead?

Soft lead or hard?

Preferred burn rate powders?

With more input, you can get better feedback.
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:36 PM   #3
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I would recommend some cast 158's and some WW231. Cheap and accurate although so are a lot of other powders.
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:53 PM   #4
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148 grain hard cast DEWC over 4.5 grains of Unique
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:55 PM   #5
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Assuming you are not into reloading at this time, I recommend you find a shop that sells reloaded ammo - ask gun guys or call the gun shops listed near you. You should be able to buy bags of 50 reloads or boxes of several hundred rounds for relatively excellent prices - either wadcutters, which are flat across the top of the case (and can give you a crisp, clean hole in the paper target), or 158 gr. round-nose lead. Those will be cheaper than rounds with copper-clad bullets. If you can't find them for $10 or less for 50, then check around for cheap new ammo, also with lead bullets. Prvi Partizan sells for less than $12 for 50.

If you want a very light load - minimal recoil - you can look for reloads that are labeled as "Cowboy" ammo in either 122gr. or 158gr. For your purposes, new factory cowboy ammo would be needlessly expensive.

When in doubt, ask the shop owner.
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Old September 28, 2012, 08:04 PM   #6
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I have shot thousands upon thousands of 38 Special rounds using 3.5 grains of Bullseye with LSWC, JHP, LRN, LBBFPRN, etc. Point of aim between the bullets type is close enough that I cannot tell a difference between bullets. I truly think that my flinch causes more variation in impact than bullet configuration. Velocities are so similar it would take a statistical analysis, (perhaps Students T test?) to see if there is a velocity difference between a LSWC and a LRN of the same alloy.

I have shot that load in many revolvers, some I still own, some I do not. I have shot that load in 38 Snubbies, four inch barreled 38’s, and 357 Revolvers. It shoots very well. I have also tried a couple other powders, with 125 gr Bullets, all of which are below. And there are a few 148 LWC data in the mix along with factory rounds to give a reality check on my loads. This is real world data, not shot from pressure barrels.

The dumped charges are as similar as I can make them, given a Dillion progressive, there are variations due to which primers I used. Primer use is based on who was making the cheapest primer at the time of loading. Winchester has been the consistently low cost primer maker for a while, most loads are WSP.

I have never found a need to use the same case, so I am using brass that has been fired God Knows how many times and a rainbow of headstamps. All of which shoot fine.

I have shot other powders and other loads, but Bullseye is so constantly accurate and shoots to Point of Aim in the fixed sight revolvers, that I have standardized on that load and powder and see no reason to chase the “Powder de jour” . It also is close to the non +P factory ammunition I have shot in terms of velocity. So I consider this load equivalent to factory ammunition.

The 148 LWC with 2.7 grs Bullseye was a popular Bullseye load back in the day. It is very accurate and has very mild recoil. Shoots well in 38 Special chambers and in 357 chambers.


4" S&W M10-5 				
148 LWC Valiant  2.7grs Bullseye W/W cases WSP 		
19-Apr-09	T ≈  60-65 ° F				
Ave Vel =	696.2	 			
Std Dev =	12.04	 			
ES =	48	 			
High  =	721.3	 			
Low  =	673.3	 			
N =	32	 			
	v accurate, about 2" low, no leading, mild recoil	
158 LRN Valiant  3.5grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 		
19-Apr-09	T ≈  60-65 ° F				
Ave Vel =	758	 			
Std Dev =	22.86	 			
ES =	100.9	 			
High  =	810.5	 			
Low  =	709.5	 			
N =	32	 			
158 LRN  3.5grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 	Gamma Chrony	
5-Aug-06	T = 100 °F				
Ave Vel =	796	 			
Std Dev =	13.89	 			 
ES =	55.24	 			 
High  =	813	 			 
Low  =	757.9	 			 
N =	23	 			 
158 LRN  3.5grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 		
22-Dec-07	T = 52 °F				
Ave Vel =	768.6	 			
Std Dev =	15.58	 			 
ES =	48.52	 			 
High =	787.6	 			 
Low =	739.1	 			 
N =	18	 			 
125 Valiant BBRNFP 4.0 grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 	
9-Apr-06	T = 59 °F				
Ave Vel =	863.4	 		 
Std Dev =	30				 
ES =	70.78				 
High  =	907.5			 	 
Low  =	836.7			 	 
N =	6				 
Windage centered	accurate				
Elevation at least 4" low	
125 Valiant BBRNFP 4.5 grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 	
9-Apr-06	T = 64 °F				
Ave Vel =	945.6	 		 
Std Dev =	27.28				 
ES =	75.21				 
High  =	995.2			 	 
Low  =	920			 	 
N =	6				 
Windage centered	accurate				
Elevation at least 4" low

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	
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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38 Spec. reloads

I bought pounds and pounds of Accurate Nitro 100 on sale years ago and have been using it with great satisfaction in the 38. I use mostly 148 LWC and my charges range from 2.5 to 3.5 gr. of Nitro. Very accurate loads with any charges within the 2.5-3.5 range. The 158gr LSWC works equally well with Nitro. Incidently the 3.5 gr. charge also is my standard .45 acp load with 200 gr. LSWC slugs. Nice soft shooting easy on the recoil load.
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Old September 28, 2012, 10:57 PM   #8
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For 38spl I mostly use Bullseye and W231 with standard primers. These powders cross over well with other cartridges I load for, I'm sure there are other powders that would do the same but that's more time working up the loads and more powders on the shelf.

Last edited by joneb; September 29, 2012 at 11:17 PM.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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Any commercially available standard .38 special 125gr or 158gr factory ammo will fall within your specs. +p will be a tad mare potent and a tad more expensive. Whatever falls within your pocketbook range should should work for starters, but trying different types and brands will show you your guns preference. If you reload, any good manual will give you good starting to mid-range loads and some will even tell you those that should be most accurate. What I would avoid is bulk reloads by the bag by folks other than known reputable commercial reloaders. There are commercial reloaders that sell over the internet and some that even take your brass in trade if saving every little penny is a concern.

Last edited by buck460XVR; September 29, 2012 at 03:48 PM.
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Old September 29, 2012, 03:21 PM   #10
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WW 231 with any bullet you care to choose.

My standard "oh let's shoot some .38 Special today" load is a 158-gr. hard cast lead bullet with 3.5 grains of WW 231.

Churns out between 750 and 850 fps, I think, and is mild and fun.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:42 PM   #11
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Dinosaur vote for the 158 gr LSWC or LRN and 3.5 gr of bullseye. Been using it since 73 and have never had a reason to try anything else for target shooting or small game hunting.
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Old September 29, 2012, 08:05 PM   #12
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148g LHBWC- Rem or HDY over 3.1g Universal. Loaded flush with top of case, light crimp - just beyond removing the flare. Cheap and easy to load and shoot. In a M-10 or King Cobra 4 inch bbl the perceived recoil on these is like a similar sized .22 revolver for me personally.
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Old October 1, 2012, 03:48 PM   #13
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Oswald - do you reload ammo?
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Old October 1, 2012, 05:16 PM   #14
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I am using a nice clean burning round. I prefer Jacketed bullets for handgun ammo. I have used wadcutters in the past but now I don't need perfect holes to measure. My load probably is not even close to the cheapest good load you can make. It works for me.

Bullet - Montana Gold 158 grain hollow point.
Powder - WST (Winchester Super Target) 4.0 grains.
Roll crimp
Primer - Winchester Small Pistol
Any major manufacture's small pistol primer will probably work just as well.

WST is a faster burning powder than W231 is and gives a nice soft feel when shooting. It also does burn clean. WST measures very well in most powder measures.

If you think you need more speed you can use a slower burning powder like WSF or AA5. You will get more recoil and speed with them. I use the 158 grain jacketed bullet for .357 mag. It seemed reasonable to use the same bullet for .38 special. I like this load and is all I'm using now for specials.
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Old October 9, 2012, 01:24 PM   #15
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+1 to what Old Grump posted!!

I generally run between 3.2gr and 3.5gr of Bullseye with 158gr LSWC in my snubbies. Great loads, the kids don't mind shooting them either.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:30 AM   #16
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I load Speer 158 swaged SWCHP over 5 grains of Power Pistol: 800 fps out of a 4" Model 64. PP meters well.
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Old October 11, 2012, 10:51 AM   #17
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I've had some great luck with 148 HBWC over 2.3 of Trail boss, and 158gr SWC's over 3.5 grains of TB. out of my 6" GP100. the have been very clean and mild.
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Old October 11, 2012, 02:09 PM   #18
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I use 158gr LRN over 3.8 grains of HP-38 for my Ruger Service Six. Great plinking load.
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Old October 12, 2012, 03:26 AM   #19
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How are we going to make money on simple?

Thirty -eight..Target...Simple...What's happing here?

No killer-comando alley sweeper one shot tactical cammo ported military eagle night heads-up battiers included milspec double body count machine?
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:37 PM   #20
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I load a Speer 158 gr. LSWC with 3.3 gr. of Bullseye. Very soft shooting target load that I use for competition. Chrono's at an average of 652 fps, with a standard deviation of 21 fps out of my 6" Smith Model 10.

Hmmm... now that I read the title of the post again, it might not be what I'd call a "mid-range" load... but it's accurate.

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