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Old May 9, 2019, 08:28 PM   #26
flintlock.50
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Thanks for all the replies.

I'm going to try Win 231 for starters.

Someone mentioned trying copper plated bullets. Any experience with Extreme copper plated bullets? How about Berry's?

Thanks!
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Old May 10, 2019, 10:23 AM   #27
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231 is an old powder formulation (the 1960s?) with plenty of graphite. Many complain it is dirtier than Bullseye in target loads, though better in full power loads in .38 Special and .45 Auto. That's because it is a little slower so it burns more completely at higher temperature and pressure. Its main advantage among target shooters is just that it meters much more easily. Again, I would be looking for one of the newer non-graphited powders.
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Old May 10, 2019, 02:44 PM   #28
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I am a huge fan of using Trail Boss in the .38 Special.
I got some Trail Boss about 6 or 8 months ago. I have only loaded 50 rounds with it (happened to be 38 Special 148 DEWC's). They went 'bang' and seemed to be just fine. But that wasn't enough to make any real evaluations. I have other irons in the fire at the moment, but plan on testing it more this summer.

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It (38 Special) is a low pressure round. Most powders at low pressure burn dirty. So by nature .38 Special tends to be a dirty round to shoot.
This needs to be emphasized because sometimes we loose our "baseline." When one is shooting target 38's, one should expect a certain amount of soot. Goes with the territory. We wash our hands and clean our guns afterward.
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Old May 10, 2019, 03:04 PM   #29
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Any experience with Extreme copper plated bullets? How about Berry's?
I load/shoot a lot of plated bullets in 38 Special (and others). I give the nod to X-treme; but Berry's makes a fine product too.

I load a lot of their 125gn FP's. OAL 1.445". I use an RCBS taper crimp die as to not damage the plating. I have had excellent results using AA#2, W231, and especially TiteGroup.

As I already mentioned, TG runs hot and so I don't recommend it for lead bullets; but it really shines pushing plated bullets. Low recoil; low Standard Deviations; and high accuracy. And it's even better in semi-auto's. Economical too (not that economics factors into my propellant selection).

With the plated 125's, I move the power scale up above the target level, but still short of +P. This is where W231 really runs clean, btw. You can make some fairly snappy ammo with a plated 125, while still using the fast burners.

I have also loaded a good share of X-treme's 158 FP's and SWC's as well. With these, I will sometimes move into intermediate burn rate range propellants, such as AA#5, and Unique. But usually, W231 gets the call. In 38 Special, it's hard to beat W231 for its versatility.
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Old May 10, 2019, 03:16 PM   #30
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Regarding carbon, that is broadly true. But adding graphite doesn't help and a powder whose burn rate is controlled by surface deterrent coatings, like 231, will need even more pressure not to be dirtier.

On a couple of different occasions, I've done some high volume shooting with one of my 1911's, running 750 to 1000 rounds a day for three days without cleaning, shooting loads of about 5 grains of Bullseye behind 200-grain LSWC's. My hands would come away looking like I'd spent all day working in a pencil lead factory, and the gun had silvery graphite streaks spreading out from under the edges of the grip panels and over the Pakerizing and through the trigger guard and about anywhere else. Not carbon streaks, to the naked eye; just graphite. Apparently, graphite blows around more easily. Quite a mess.
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Old May 12, 2019, 07:34 PM   #31
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In my opinion, the powders are not what is so dirty, its the primers.

Switch to lead free primers and even the bullseye will look super clear in gun and case.
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Old May 12, 2019, 08:18 PM   #32
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Hmm. The problem is I've had super clean results with standard primers as I described for Trail Boss, above, and have shot Speer's primer-powered plastic cartridges without seeing appreciable fouling from the standard primers themselves.
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Old May 14, 2019, 12:00 AM   #33
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Can anyone report on their experience using Hodgdon CFEPistol powder in .38 special?
Not in 38spl but I do use it in 9mm 45acp and 357mag . Only reason not in 38 is because until last week I did not own a 38spl specific firearm . IMO CFE pistol is too slow and too hot a burning powder for the OP's specific use but think on the whole it would do well in full power or +p 38spl loads .
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Old May 14, 2019, 09:55 AM   #34
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My gun and my hands leave the shooting range looking like they've been wallowing in a coal bin. Any recommendations for a clean burning powder for light to medium .38 spl loads?
I covered the shooting table with a white towel, after shooting 44 Remington rounds through my Model 29 I lowered the barrel. It was then I noticed little black dots on the white towel. I repeated the test with my 38 Special etc., same thing. At the time I had a red eight pound keg of the powder.

There was nothing wrong with the accuracy, sound or recoil so? If I keep the lid tight on the keg it should last a short lifetime. And it cost money to replace it.

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Old May 14, 2019, 05:31 PM   #35
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I've loaded thousands of rounds of HB and DB wadcutters for target shooting. Bullseye was my powder of choice almost exclusively. I also like Red Dot a lot and have used it very successfully. While I've also had some 231 around, it never made it into the .38spl loads. Maybe Bullseye is "dirty" but that's not a issue with me; it WORKS.
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Old May 17, 2019, 08:21 AM   #36
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Another vote for Sport Pistol and American Select. I’ve not tried AA#2, but I’ve tried all the other powders mentioned in this thread in the target 38 special application and those two were the cleanest (and incidentally most accurate) of the powders i tested. Sport Pistol meters better than American Select.


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Old May 19, 2019, 10:04 AM   #37
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I've shot 3.5 grains of Bullseye under 158 lead cast bullets sense 1976 and never found it to be overly dirty. Now the old Unique was bad, but they've cleaned it up some I hear. I use Win 231 / HP38 in my 1911, with 230 grain cast lead and its not overly dirty either. light charges with any powder will tend to burn dirty.
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Old May 21, 2019, 04:37 PM   #38
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I bet others will disagree with me but when I started reloading I followed the sage advice of all the gun rag writers and started loading Unique. Plinking loads of Unique and lead/cast lead bullets are the nastiest combination available that I've ever found.

One of the *few* good pieces of advice I ever received at a gun shop was to switch to WW231(AKA HP38). Once I got through that last pound of Unique I've bought anymore.
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Old May 22, 2019, 11:29 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
Wbbh,

After reading this study, the ignition delays (see page 8) with lead-free primers pretty much discouraged me from using them. Since they exceeded lock time for many guns, it is plenty of time for a small disturbance in aim to change point of impact, especially if your follow-through isn't dead perfect. Have you noticed any grouping issues with them?
Interesting information, thanks for the link. I've used up several cases of them in 9mm and .38 Special target loads and not a found difference in performance from lead based primers. I use them with Titegroup powder, known to be easy to ignite and that may compensate for the delay. I also experimented with LF primers under Unique and had no problem with ignition.
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