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Old May 7, 2005, 04:52 PM   #1
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Best powder for light 38 loads???

What is the best powder for light 38 loads. I have tried 231 but was having problems with powder ignition so I bought some Unique, but it wont meter well thru my powder dropper. I've done some searches on the subject and it seems that when people have problems with 231 they're told to try unique, and vice-versa. I also found a thread about people having the same ignition problems with unique as 231. And that is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Is there another powder that meters and ignites well in a really light 38 load? I'm using Rainier 125 gr hp bullets and would like to shoot them around 700 fsp.

Chris P.
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Old May 7, 2005, 05:10 PM   #2
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Thought I'd jump in and out before the war starts. Been using Bullseye for years on 148 gr HBWC's in .38. 115JHP's in 9mm, and 200gr SWC's in .45acp.

Get some printed data,(load manuals), and start reading...
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Old May 7, 2005, 05:23 PM   #3
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I've always used 231 exclusively for years for my 45 and 9mm. 5 gr. in each behind a 200 and 115 gr plated bullet and never had any problems at all. I just got this revolver and all of a sudden all kinds of problems.

I would just load it hot and it would probably be fine, but my wife likes to shoot it with light loads. If I'm shooting I don't mind tipping the bbl up to position the powder before each shot, but I dont want to tell her to do that. I'm sure that she wouldn't want to shoot anymore if she had to worry about powder position and stuck bullets ect.

The loads I have tried are listed in the manuals that I have or have looked in at the store, but the powder just dosen't seem to burn right in the long cases. I'm crimping so tight that if I'm not careful I crush that cartridge and have to pull them apart and toss the brass.

What type of powder is bullseye? Is it clean? Does it meter well in small quantities?

Chris P.
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Old May 7, 2005, 05:50 PM   #4
Jim Watson
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I have not worked with any load lighter than a 148 grain wadcutter in .38, but the powderpuff .45 ACPs previously allowed in IDPA worked very well with Hodgdon Clays powder. And a friend loads 125 grain cast bullets and light loads of Clays for CAS with .38s.

Note: That is Clays, not International Clays, or Universal Clays, just plain Clays. There is a difference.

Clays is a flake powder but meters fairly well.

Caution: Watch out for stuck bullets. Copper-on-steel friction is higher than with greasy lead and too light a load won't clear the barrel. I have not had any trouble with sub-700 fps loads with .45 FMJ in my old S&W M25 but a friend has stuck several bullets with the same recipe in his 625.
Better you should load lead bullets. If you worry about fouling try moly coated. Precision was good but they no longer make .38s. I have some Bear Creek to try next.
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Old May 8, 2005, 03:47 AM   #5
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Two guesses.

If the same load worked in other guns, you have a rough bore and just maybe an excessive barrel/cylinder gap.

Second guess is that most measures do not do well with tiny charges. Even a fluctuation of plus/minus a tenth can cause problems. You can get a specialty measure, and I am looking for one myself, or you can go to a true ball powder such as AA-2.
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Old May 8, 2005, 08:01 AM   #6
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The word is Titegroup is not case sensitive in my .38 I use 3.0 grains with 148 HBWC in my .45 Colt I use 5.0 grains with a 185 SWC. But some like it some hate it some find that it plugs up in there powder drop.It likes to stick to plastic but never had a problem with my dillon or lee.
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Old May 8, 2005, 09:52 AM   #7
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On the wall behind me are a few old shooting medals from competition when I went to Texas Tech University. (1972-1977). All those contests involved either a Colt's Diamondback or Python shooting 2.6 grains of Bullseye behind a 148 grain HBWC bullet.

Thirty years later, my wife and son and I still love to take our .38s or .357s afield and plink with the same load. Some of my cases have got to be 20 years old!
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Old May 8, 2005, 12:30 PM   #8
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My two cents on the best powder for light loads is Bullseye or Titegroup. I think Bullseye is one of the best metering powders, works good for target loads in the 38 and is widely available. For really low power loads in large cases Titegroup is excellent. It is insensitive to position in the case,and never had a problem with ignition even with 3 grains in a 45 Colt case behind a 255 grain bullet.
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Old May 8, 2005, 01:34 PM   #9
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Another vote for Titegroup. For me it meters well and gives reasonable velocities for such small charges. I have used it with a 125 grain lead bullet as low as 600 FPS, but that is below the recommended minimum and is probably too slow for anything but soft lead.

Despite the claims about how insensitive it is to powder position, I find a shot with the powder up by the bullet, as it is when drawn from the holster, is a little over 100 FPS slower than the following shots with light bullet loads. That is only about average, some powders are better, some are worse.

Clays may also work well, but I have yet to use it in anything but lead bullet loads.
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Old May 8, 2005, 01:38 PM   #10
Peter M. Eick
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My one beef with tightgroup is that with such small charges it is impossible to visually check if you have double charged it for me. Maybe others can see better, but I am switching back to a more "fluffy" powder like unique for light 38 specials. Even bullseye is pretty hard to see if a double charge exists...
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Old May 8, 2005, 04:47 PM   #11
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I used to shoot a lot of 38 Special with 148 gr wadcutters using 2.5 gr of Bullseye, worked well, but when I got into volume reloading for competition I switched to WW231, standard load of 3.1 gr of WW231 behind a 148 gr HBWC, that is a very accurate load and 231 meters better and is more consistent through a powder measure than Bullseye.

I have never had any ignition problems with 231 and can't imagine what might be causing the problem unless you are going under the minimum published loads, if you load too light with any powder it can cause problems.

Rainier Bullets doesn't even list a 38 Spec load for the 125 gr HPs, if you want a light load for your wife you might want to be looking at loads for the 148 gr wadcutters. Winchester's reloading manual shows a minimum load of 3.0 gr of 231 behind a 148 gr BBWC, that load should give you 690 fps.
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Old May 8, 2005, 05:14 PM   #12
Jim Watson
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Agree with Peter.
Titegroup serves my needs very well as a propellant, but is hard to work with. It is dark, dense, and irregular. Hard to tell whether or how much is in the case with a quick look as I set the bullet. I am now loading with HP38 which is almost silvery and easy to spot.
I found Titegroup to be less position sensitive than 231 but worse than 700X. But 700X is a large flake powder and I have had trouble with its metering in light target loads. I am anxiously awaiting Trail Boss for Cowboy ammo.
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Old May 13, 2005, 04:59 PM   #13
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`148 gr wadcutters over 2.8 of Bullseye have been winning national championships for a century! "Nuff said!
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