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Old February 17, 2005, 03:36 AM   #1
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.38 special target loads

I am new to reloading. I would like to start with some nice light .38 special target loads.
My understanding is that this round can be a bit troublesome, due to the large case capacity. I have read that powder shifting in the case can cause dramatic pressure differences and effect accuracy.
What powder would you recommend that would come close to filling the case, so this problem can be minimized? I realize I have to stick to loads recommended in a manual, but I would appreciate a starting point, and not have to buy half a dozen powders to find one that would accomplish what I am looking for.
Another thought I had, (yes, I know thinking can be dangerous) is that using a magnum primer might help this situation, as it would more effectively "stir" the powder, or maybe just ignite more of it at once, and help reduce this problem.
I am considering 158 grain semi wadcutters as my bullet choice. Any other thoughts on that for a light recoil but accurate round?
Thanks for your help.

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Old February 17, 2005, 08:19 AM   #2
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Others may disagree, and I'm sure some will, but stay away from Unique. Many have found, including myself, that target loads of Unique can result in squibs.

I suggest you use the 148 grain Hollow Base Wadcutters for target loads. They have proven time and again to be the most accurate for light loads. As far as Powder goes, 2.7 grains of Bullseye, 3.1 Grains of Win 231, 2.8 Grains of Clays or 2.7 grains of 700X. Accurate #2 is also supposed to be very good, but I haven't worked up loads for that yet.
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Old February 17, 2005, 09:28 AM   #3
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All the loads mentioned sound good. I have used 2.5gr 700X for many years under a cast 148gr wadcutter (Lyman #35891, 358495 or a Hensley and Gibbs #50). THE STANDARD for many years in Bullseye competition was the 2.7gr of Bullseye under H&G #50 bullet. Quantrill
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Old February 17, 2005, 11:37 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for the input. In particular, the 148 grain hollow base is something I hadnt thought of or heard much about. The only thing I heard was a caution not to use it with heavy loads, or the "skirt" may separate. Since I have no intention of using it for heavy loads, I'll definately take your recommendation.

Thanks again.

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Old February 18, 2005, 05:44 AM   #5
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I use 231 in the wadcutter and 158gr semi wadcutter with standard primers. I have never had a problem with .38 target loads. I read a while back that for consistentcy; raise the revolver muzzle in the air before shooting to move the powder in the shells to the primer end.
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Old February 19, 2005, 11:41 AM   #6
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The above replys are right on target..pardon the pun..2.7/2.8 grains of bullseye with 148 HBWC is the standard by which all .38 special target loads are compared. Very little powder in the case, but it just doesn't seem to matter. I don't think any of the powders are going to fill the case much for target loads. I haven't personally tried Unique for .38's, but I've heard both good and bad reports for with it. It is great with LSWC in .357 magnum, I can attest to that! By the way, Hodgdon Titegroup was supposedly developed to work well in large cases where you are not using much powder.
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Old February 19, 2005, 07:14 PM   #7
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I've been using 3.3g TiteGroup over a bevel base 148g LWC lately with good results. TiteGroup seems to work well enough with excess case volume. With 6.0g under a 210 .41mag LSWC and standard primer I easily hit a target at 100yds and that case is pretty empty.

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Old February 20, 2005, 10:57 AM   #8
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I also have been using Titegroup in .38 but found that 3.0 with 148 HBWC is about as accurate as you can get.I did find when I went over 3.5 of Titegroup the HBWC would split in two (not all the time).Shoot once have two holes.In my .45 colt been using 6.0 it looks like there isn't anything in it.I also use Winchester 231 3.7grains is a nice load with 148 HBWC or even 158 SWC.But the biggest reason I stay with titegroup it's clean burning.But with the 158 SWC I have yet found a load I like with Titegroup so been stay with W231. The other day on the 18 yard range I shot 50 of the titegroup HBWC and 50 of W231 HBWC saw no difference.
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Old February 21, 2005, 04:28 PM   #9
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I shot 38 special wadcutters in competition for many years, 8-10,000 per year, my standard load was 3.1 gr of 231 with a 148 gr hollow base wadcutters, I have used 2.5 gr of Bullseye also, it's about the same performance with either load, I feel the WW231 is a bit cleaner than Bullseye, but shooting lead bullets is a pretty dirty business overall, the combination of powder residue, lead vapor and lubricant really gives you a dirty revolver.
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