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38 Special load
Discussion regarding the reloading of ammunition and tuning of loads for accuracy
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tlo7mm
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: 38 Special load Reply with quote

I am looking at loading some 38 special for my wife and was curious what a good inexpensive peronal protection load would be. Before you say anything I am not loading for a 357 just a 38 special. If I had the option of a 357 at this time there would be no question. I am looking at managable load for her to shoot but that would work as a CCW.

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Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. - Napoleon Bonaparte
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PaulS
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:51 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

In the 38 Spl. a 140 grain bullet is nearly ideal. With +P loads it is ballistically equal to the 9mm with similar weight bullets. Neither the 9mm or the 38 Spl. are known for their deep penetration so there are those who say a heavier bullet is better but as weight goes up the velocity of the bullet drops - faster so you lose with heavier bullets. The 125 grain bullets are good for defense but I have experienced accuracy problems with the lighter bullets. every gun is different so try the light bullets first and work your way up - recoil will increase so it depends on what your wife can use or likes.
I have tested HBWC loaded backwards with gas checks (huge hollow point all lead bullet) and the expansion is really impressive until you get above the velocity where they just fly apart on impact. They do not penetrate enough, in my way of thinking, to be good for anything but small varmint loads.
I use a 140 grain JHC (sierra) with 13.6 grains of H4227 and a CCI 500 primer. The pressures are low (for a +P load) and the velocity is as high as I can get at the 38 spl. pressure limits. Hodgdon recommends not reducing this load and I never have - never needed to - if you want less velocity then you can use HS-7 or HS-6 or HP-38. all work well in the 38 Spl. +P.
Paul

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Vince
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:18 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

I tend to agree with Paul on the bullet weights. Lightest I would consider is a 125gn bullet, but I would be testing all weights up to and including a 158gn JHP.

Back in the day when I had a pistol and was loading for it, I used cast 124gn 9mm Conical bullets in my .357 for target shooting. Cast them up out of Lyman #2 or pure Linotype if you need a fairly hard bullet to increase penetration. It's been awhile since I loaded for these calibres so my data would be obsolete, but I really liked Bullseye back then...light loads and the Bullseye gave good accuracy. If you could still get it Unique was a great powder...or I would consider using 12 gns of H4227 / H110 with a 140 gn bullet as a starting load.

As with all loads, be safe and work up from 10% below max.

Cheers, Vince

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

I know you specified reloading, but you might want to look at Hornady's Critical Defense loads for the .38. They are a bit on the light side (110 grains) but performance is supposed to be impressive. You can see the demo for just a .380 round here:

www.hornady.com/store/...l-Defense/

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Bushmaster
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:24 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

140 grain Remington SJHP or 140 grain Hornady XTP over 5 grains of W-231 and either WSP or CCI-500 primers.

Keep in mind...This loading is just at the beginning of +P.

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Last edited by Bushmaster on Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Grumulkin
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:49 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

The load that works well in my wife's snubbie is:

Case: Whatever you wish to use. Head stamp not critical.
Primer: CCI 500
Bullet: Hornady 158 gr. HP/XTP
Powder: 4.5 grains of Unique.
COAL: To cannelure & crimped.

You of course are responsible for load workup in your own gun.

By the way, my wife is not recoil tolerance and if the loads is acceptable to her, it would probably work for just about any woman.
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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

Speer makes a 135 grain Gold Dot JHP designed for snubbies and has "short barrel" loads for it in their manual #14. I've got a box of the bullets but haven't worked up a load yet.

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tlo7mm
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:16 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

I really like Hornady and will probably go that route, well honestly I am not sure, I will have to see when I get that far. Right now all I have for bullets is Speer 148 gr HBWC. I thought I might do a workup for plinking with those. I do appriciate all the info and it gives me something to think about. I also need to invest in some powder for the pistol. I only have rifle powder right now, other then that I have everything I need to get started.

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"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." ~ The Dalai Lama
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. - Napoleon Bonaparte
The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality. - Andrew Jackson
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. - Mark Twain
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tlo7mm
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:23 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

Damn man, I like that critical defense ammo. I will probably buy a bock just for her for CCW. It looks very ideal for women and its something I would probably carry. Obviously I would want to test it myself but it looks promising.

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"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." ~ The Dalai Lama
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. - Napoleon Bonaparte
The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality. - Andrew Jackson
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. - Mark Twain
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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:20 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

You have the right idea...test it for yourself. Don't just trust that it will work for you until you try it. Note that this ammo is loaded with a low-flash powder which is critical for dim or low-light conditions. What ever you choose, remember that the important things are function and reliability, controlability, terminal performance and, a distant fourth, accuracy. Don't worry about where or how it shoots at 25 yards, that's immaterial. Concentrate on realistic distances of 0 to 7 yards. And don't stress too much about your chosen ammo shooting to point of aim. In a stress situation sights are often forgotten anyway. It will more likely be point-and-shoot. Practice that way. Body mass is a pretty big target so unless the point of impact is grossly different, a center of mass reference gives a lot of latitude.

And always hope that it's just for practice and never needed. Good luck in your quest.

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44marty
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

I load Hornady 140 gr HP/XTP bullets with 700X powder: 3.5 gr for plinking and 4.2 gr for carrying. The max standard .38 load listed is 4.2 gr. The +P load of 4.5 gr makes my S&W 442 a little "whippy" and I have to regrip the gun after the third shot to maintain accurate shots. The 4.2 gr load is noticeably easier to shoot. Below that, it doesn't seem any different. Oh, CCI primers and mixed Rem and Win brass.

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Bushmaster
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:48 pm    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

Yippeee...Another one for Hornady 140 grain HP/XTP..

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:02 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

for the lead 148HBWC 2.2 of WST or 2.7 of Bullseye is a tack driver to 25 yards for punching paper and getting familiar with the gun.

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stovepipe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:50 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

ALWAYS use factory ammo for CCW- there's plenty out there for snub's w/ reduced flash and recoil with projectiles that perform at lower speeds that won't over pentrate. NEVER use your own handloads for CCW. It's simply not worth it esp when there's soooo many good PD loads, from JHP to frangible to buck-n-ball type, from the factory for short barrled shooters that do the job better than anyone could hope to load for and wont overpentrate.

a LOT of small zippy JHP's like .355 and .357 +P's clog with wall board etc and act like ball rounds and keep on going...not good for many reasons- esp. in the dark- cuz everyone misses when under stress! The whole "wicked-fast and small" thing is way over-rated anywho... reasons of permanent wound channel to OP etc. abound but...some like it like that so who am I to argue about same...see some FBI testing for more info.

For plinking the sky's the limit, there's some good one's here, like Dawgdad's, and google .38spl bullseye shooters for some good proven recipes that dont lead up and have little or no recoil.
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Bushmaster
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:01 am    Post subject: Re: 38 Special load Reply with quote

Well I guess I'm in trouble again.

My self defense (CCW) round is:

Federal cases (.45 ACP), 7.8 grains of WSF under a 185 grain Hornady HP/XTP. Fired from a Kimber UCC II at 850 fps (I have a chronograph).



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