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Old March 14, 2001, 04:40 PM   #1
Long Path
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Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: N. Texas
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Here's the deal-- I went and shot a steel plates match the other day, and had a blast. So the next weekend, I shot the next one. Okay, I'm hooked-- sign me up. I've been shooting my duty gun from my duty rig so far, which makes me something of an anomoly, as the only other guy there with anything resembling a practical carry rig was our own Johnny Guest, who wore a lightweight Commander in a Fobus Kydex holster behind one hip and a spare mag behind the other. Both of us were shooting 230g LRN .45 acp over a dose of 231 sufficient to get us up to abour 810fps.

Most of the other guys wore speed rigs with *&* 625's and 627's. Lotsa high-cap revolvers. Lotsa light loads.

And it kinda looked fun.

In this game, you don't have to hit things HARD, just hard enough to be heard easily so that you then move on to the next plate. I have even shot one of these matches with a Ceiner conversion kit on my Gold Cup to shoot .22, and it was worthwhile as a training excercise.

So I bought some (500) 130g fmj .357 bullets, and some extra primers (never can remember if we've got enough), and decided that I was going to load up a "cheater" load for my Officer's Model Special 6" HB .38 Special. I have in mind something that will reliably push those out at about 600-700 fps, with good accuracy and little or no smoke. Because we've got plenty, I'm thinking 231.

Favorite loads?
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Old March 14, 2001, 06:40 PM   #2
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Ah, the allure of the steel plates!

Long Path, I know from whence you speak. I got addicted to it, and even built a pistol to go shoot the Steel Challenge in Southern California. Then Uncle Sam said I had to move to Florida, and I never went to the shoot. Still have the gun, though. I was using the Berry's 148gr copper plated HBWC's, ahead of 3.1gr WST, but even with chamfered cylinder holes the wadcutters are a bit slow from speedloaders. It was a comfortable, accurate load, though! This is the same load I run through my S&W Model 52, which was another gun I wanted to try at the Steel Challenge. Now I'm running West Coast copper plated 158gr truncated cones ahead of 3.9gr of WST. Now the 25 yard plates lay down handily at my new local range, since they don't have the microphone timers to confirm a hit. I've converted all of my .38, 9mm, and .45 ACP to WST from 231, it turned out to be cleaner burning and less temperature and altitude sensitive than 231. But I'm still working on the remainder of an 8-pounder of 231 I bought a while ago, too. Clang away!

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Old March 15, 2001, 07:47 AM   #3
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I shoot cowboy matches and the requirements are exactly the same, make the target clank and it's a hit. You might try looking for reloading info under cowboy or CAS, many companies have it listed that way and load down to the velocities you need. I use Titegroup myself but 231 is also popular. I don't have the book with me but if you want I can quote you some recipes from the Laser cast book tomorrow.
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Old March 15, 2001, 10:55 AM   #4
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The key to reloading for steel is lighter bullet is better, but slower is not. You want to have the bullet traveling as fast as possible, 600-700 fps is way too slow. Fast bullets give you faster feedback. For instance it takes a 900 fps bullet 0.11 sec to travel the 35 yards for Speed Option. That's a long time when you are waiting for the sound before you take another shot. At 600 fps, 35 yards is covered in 0.175 sec, much too long. With matches that are decided in hundredth of a second, every little bit counts.

Your goal should be to use the lightest bullet to get the highest velocity with minimal recoil.
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Old March 19, 2001, 12:46 AM   #5
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Recoil is also increased with a heavier bullet (in the .45). I shot 155s out of my .45 ACP. I still have a few thousand of them. I want to get back into competitive shooting but the drive and scheduling is excluding me.
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