Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-20-2017, 11:29 PM
Practical Practical is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 500
Likes: 0
Liked 207 Times in 113 Posts
Default Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame

I had always shot lighter weight, lower recoil 38 special or 38 special +P ammo in Air-weight J-Frames.

I tried some Fiochi 38 special 158gr jacketed ball ammo and was shocked to find the accuracy at 10 yards to be right on.

It was more accurate than other rounds I fired but more than twice as dirty.

What bullet weights have you found to be the most accurate in the J-Frames?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-21-2017, 12:16 AM
sw282's Avatar
sw282 sw282 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: CSRA
Posts: 1,827
Likes: 248
Liked 1,103 Times in 556 Posts
Default

Fixed sight 38 Spec revolvers are regulated for 158gr Bullets..
Looks like you discovered the perfect weight for your J Frame..

CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Like Post:
  #3  
Old 02-21-2017, 12:48 AM
Penquin Penquin is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: North Texas
Posts: 162
Likes: 31
Liked 96 Times in 35 Posts
Default

I shot some 158gr SWCHP in my 642 last weekend and they were spot on at 10-yds.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #4  
Old 02-21-2017, 08:05 AM
OLDSTER's Avatar
OLDSTER OLDSTER is offline
SWCA Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 5,208
Likes: 2,867
Liked 1,836 Times in 598 Posts
Default

I've also found the 158 gr. lead "range loads", besides being the most accurate, to have less felt recoil than the 130gr FMJ.
__________________
SWCA 2952
John
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #5  
Old 02-21-2017, 08:30 AM
ContinentalOp's Avatar
ContinentalOp ContinentalOp is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,901
Likes: 2,970
Liked 2,005 Times in 806 Posts
Default

A few years ago I asked S&W customer service and they said the fixed-sight J-frames were regulated at the factory for 158gr loads at 7 yards.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #6  
Old 02-21-2017, 08:48 AM
Phish's Avatar
Phish Phish is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Lake shore, Ohio
Posts: 99
Likes: 439
Liked 55 Times in 37 Posts
Default

I put one big hole in the target using 158 lswc last weekend in my 642. The 110gr. Hornady critical was worse so changing defense ammo to 158gr. I also noticed a wee bit softer recoil.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-21-2017, 09:23 AM
steamloco76's Avatar
steamloco76 steamloco76 is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,684
Likes: 1,770
Liked 3,626 Times in 1,231 Posts
Default

The three air weights I've owned were/ are all most accurate with 158 grain loads, standard and +P. The Winchester Ranger 135grain bonded hollow point load agrees with them too. Never had great luck with any 110 to 125 grain ammo in any S&W .38 Special revolver model, J or K frame.
__________________
Virtue,Liberty & Independence
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-21-2017, 07:13 PM
Bill In Texas Bill In Texas is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 1,824
Likes: 1,969
Liked 478 Times in 395 Posts
Default

I agree with all my compadres, 158 grain. Even though the Speer Short Barrel 135 grain +p's seem to do ok also.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #9  
Old 02-21-2017, 08:15 PM
sjs sjs is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: SC
Posts: 110
Likes: 208
Liked 33 Times in 23 Posts
Default

158 gr. work best in mine also.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-21-2017, 08:45 PM
DevilDog72's Avatar
DevilDog72 DevilDog72 is offline
US Veteran
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Mansfield,Texas
Posts: 911
Likes: 5,974
Liked 1,582 Times in 516 Posts
Default

I have found the 158 gr loads the most accurate in my 640 and 642 as well, that said, the 135 +P SB Gold dots are close enough that I use them as my first load and the speed strip reload is 158 grain SJHP.... call me crazy no real reason for this at all. Go figure.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-21-2017, 10:12 PM
camsdaddy camsdaddy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: GA
Posts: 219
Likes: 51
Liked 94 Times in 52 Posts
Default

I find my j frames also prefer 158's. The thing I prefer the most about the 158 vs 135 Speer gdhp is a availability
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-06-2017, 11:04 PM
Practical Practical is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 500
Likes: 0
Liked 207 Times in 113 Posts
Default

Thanks, I am going to shoot up my old carry ammo in lighter weights and move to 158grain. I may try some 135 but I don't see much around here.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-06-2017, 11:32 PM
ameridaddy ameridaddy is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: central Virginia
Posts: 456
Likes: 813
Liked 651 Times in 251 Posts
Default

By most "accurate", do you mean hitting closest to point of aim, or tightest groups?
My Gold Dot 125 gr +P shoot about 1.5" low at seven yds., group at ~1.5 - 2", my handload 148 gr HBWC's group maybe 1.25"-1.5" (probably should be better, but it's my fault they don't), very close to POA, but as others said, the standard velocity 158 gr go right to POA, and may or may not group as well, depending on the components used.

For grouping, take the range out to 25 yds. to get a meaningful test. There, 148 gr HBWC with about 2.7-2.8 gr Bullseye is hard to beat.
However, a 2" barrel gun is hard to group well at 25 yds. with any load for most shooters, compared to a longer barrelled gun, and a 148 gr HBWC at ~750 fps is not a famous man stopper, but is probably the best accuracy load for bullseye shooting in 38 Special..

Last edited by ameridaddy; 03-06-2017 at 11:39 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-07-2017, 12:11 AM
Skydog67 Skydog67 is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Liked 10 Times in 9 Posts
Default

What is a good 158 grain SWCHP +P to carry for self defense? I just got a 642 last week - haven't even had a chance to shoot it yet - and this is my first .38 revolver. What is the advantage of the SWCHP style of bullet?

Is there a consensus on what the best .38 SD load is?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-07-2017, 12:13 AM
kthom kthom is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: West Texas
Posts: 1,327
Likes: 1,504
Liked 1,897 Times in 779 Posts
Default

First, may I make a suggestion, please? There is accuracy, and there is shooting to point of aim. You can shoot a one hole group, but if it's six inches low and five inches to the right of point of aim, AND if you own and shoot a fixed sighted revolver, well that accuracy won't do you a lot of good!

Most of my J Frames have fixed sights, especially the ones I like to carry most, and especially for EDC. Now some distances involved with why we choose to carry every day are close enough that accuracy and point of aim are not as critical as longer distances, but we don't get to choose the distances for serious social encounters, do we? And I seriously doubt that you intend to use your J Frame for competition target shooting, unless maybe you are shooting in a match with others similarly equipped.

I like an accurate gun with cartridges that will shoot in that gun as accurately as possible and as close to point of aim as possible. At the same time, for my personal needs, if my gun and the fellow that's shooting it can keep every shot in the bottom of a small paper plate from every distance I shoot it and allow me to do that quickly, it's plenty accurate for my EDC needs. I've had the opportunity to be involved with investigations of shootings much more than I would have preferred, but I do not recall many where the shooter had the luxury of time and a perfect stance to deliver any rounds. Of course, perfect practice toward perfect bullet strikes will help get hits as close as they will probably get under the duress of that kind of shooting.

As has been said, most S&W revolvers were designed to hit somewhere close to point of aim with 158 grain bullets. Some will also do fairly well with 135 grainers and most will also do very well with 148 grain full wadcutters. But different brands and different bullet styles usually shoot differently in different guns. Just because I have found one that shoots like I want it to shoot in my J Frame doesn't guarantee that it will do the same in your gun. But then again, it might be a good place to start.

Today we are fortunate to be able to find a well constructed bullet in several different brands of ammo today. MUCH better ammo is available today than when we only had two or three choices. Since I "grew up" in those times, the primary goal was to be able to deliver whatever you had or got issued to the most important place to do serious damage. Guess what? That's still the most important thing to be able to do.

So my suggestion is that you start by buying three or four boxes of good quality semi wadcutter style cartridges with the same bullet weight and test them for accuracy. Ain't it nice to know that all of them will go bang in our revolvers! So point of aim and then accuracy is what you will be looking for. Of course, if you can afford to do so, you can also try some different bullet weights and see what happens. But while you are doing this shooting, take care to practice being able to fire all those bullets as consistently the same from round to round so you can really tell what potential those bullets may have. Then your search will get a bit more expensive. Remember there are several worthy premium loads, so pick what you like among them and try them. If they shoot to suit you, you probably don't need to worry over much about another brand. Then you need to shoot enough of those rounds so you can send 'em where you want them to hit! Keep it simple. Don't complicate things. Shoot the same gun with the same bullets a LOT and you will be or become someone who can get the job done.

Best part of all, it's a fun trip to take, and when you are done, you will be more familiar with your revolver and you will have developed the confidence in it, in your loads, and in yourself to be able to shoot well ....when you are not under severe stress! But don't lose heart, this is a work in progress, it takes time, and consistent dedicated practice. Just don't give up and don't quit. This situation will work itself out with a bit of time.

I hope I haven't bored you, and I hope at least a bit of what I've said is of some value to you. If it's not, I will not be offended if you just ignore it. But I still say the answer to your question is not as complicated as we all sometimes try to make it. Go shoot some rounds till you find one you can shoot well. You can shoot up the rest of the ones for practice, even if they don't shoot to point of aim. But keep your point of aim where it needs to be and let 'em hit the target where they hit it, hopefully in a decent group at that location! You will know where the rounds will go that shoot to your revolver's point of aim! Good luck, Sir!
__________________
So long ... Pudge

Last edited by kthom; 03-07-2017 at 12:25 AM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Like Post:
  #16  
Old 03-07-2017, 12:20 PM
Nevada Ed's Avatar
Nevada Ed Nevada Ed is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Reno Nv
Posts: 6,107
Likes: 171
Liked 3,269 Times in 1,707 Posts
Default

I have tried all the standard lead bullets in my J frame snub nose.
From X-lite to +P loads and only the 148gr HBwc was accurate and at POA.
The jacket bullets were about the same in accuracy and POA except for........
the 140gr XTP bullet that was accurate and at POA.

Ok, so "My Gun" likes the 140gr over the 158 lead........
you just have to shoot them to see what happens.

Good luck.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-07-2017, 12:24 PM
Jingles's Avatar
Jingles Jingles is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Murrieta, CA
Posts: 537
Likes: 68
Liked 858 Times in 297 Posts
Default

I reload so have tried many different combos, but as others have suggested the 148 gr wadcutter or 158 gr semiwadcutter works best for me. My go-to round is a 158 gr LWC in front of 3.0 gr of bullseye.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-07-2017, 12:35 PM
Nevada Ed's Avatar
Nevada Ed Nevada Ed is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Reno Nv
Posts: 6,107
Likes: 171
Liked 3,269 Times in 1,707 Posts
Default

Your J frame must be a lot tighter than mine................

3.3grs of Bullseye with a 158gr Lswc with a medium crimp out
of my M49 only gets 650fps.

This is a long cry from the 800fps loads in a +P loading.
Unless that is your target loading.
Just saying.

Last edited by Nevada Ed; 03-07-2017 at 12:44 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-07-2017, 01:13 PM
Rpg Rpg is online now
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Denver area
Posts: 2,720
Likes: 5,161
Liked 3,684 Times in 1,452 Posts
Default

I use hard cast 158 gr swc exclusively in my M 38's.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-07-2017, 01:48 PM
Rpg Rpg is online now
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Denver area
Posts: 2,720
Likes: 5,161
Liked 3,684 Times in 1,452 Posts
Default

I use hard cast 158 gr swc exclusively in my M 38's.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-07-2017, 02:27 PM
gwpercle's Avatar
gwpercle gwpercle is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Posts: 2,961
Likes: 1,300
Liked 2,104 Times in 1,167 Posts
Default

The bullet weight will have no bearing on the powder burning dirty or clean. The type of powder the manufacturer used is the culprit.
The industry standard for 38 Special is 158 grains, this is what fixed sighted revolvers were regulated to shoot.
I have found the lower cost ammunition sometimes burns dirtier than the good stuff. But a cleaning will take care of any dirt..
Gary
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-07-2017, 03:00 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,062
Likes: 2
Liked 670 Times in 397 Posts
Default

I seldom shoot anything but cast bullets in any handgun. Jacketed bullets really offer little if any advantage over cast in handguns and well-fitted cast bullets of the right alloy are at least as accurate as the best jacketed bullets.

I've had good results in .38 Special J-frame and small Colt snub-noses using the Henlsey & Gibbs #51 158 grain SWC (actually the original .357 Magnum bullet). Other 155 - 160 gr. SWCs should do as well. I won't get into load data as the books are full of that, but I can usually get a muzzle velocity of around 725+ fps from a 2" gun and remain within the standard pressure realm rather than +P. Such loads will generally shoot quite close to point of aim at 25 yards, the most worthwhile distance for accuracy testing.

Once the shooter learns how to shoot these guns, they find how accurate they are. This may interest those who cast bullets and they may already be aware of my belated discovery. While testing some loads recently in a well-worn Model 60 purchased new in the late '70s, I discovered to my amazement that .357"-sized bullets shot noticeably better than .358" bullets. Granted, this is with one gun only, so I have more work to do.

Some light bullets, jacketed or cast, are accurate in the snub nose guns, but point of impact is often 6" or more low at varying distances up to and including 25 yards.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-07-2017, 09:07 PM
Lostaro Lostaro is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SW VA
Posts: 126
Likes: 46
Liked 181 Times in 78 Posts
Default

My 442 seems to like 125grn jhp.....I carry 158grn Buffalo Bore standard pressure in my M36 and they shoot great, no so much in the 442.

I really like the BBore but it just doesn't group as well in the Airweight. Tends to shoot a bit high and the group opens up....same with Rem 158grn LHP.

125grn Win+p sjhp (white box) groups great and is dead center at 10yds
in the 442....maybe not the best performing round but can't argue with the accuracy.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-11-2017, 10:01 AM
Fox4506 Fox4506 is offline
Member
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 214
Likes: 766
Liked 130 Times in 80 Posts
Default

I too have found that 158 grain bullets shoot to POA out of my 642's. 135's shoot well to so I carry Gold Dot SB's as my carry load.

I don't reload as of yet, so I buy Freedom Munitions new or reloaded 158 grain's. They're pretty cheap and shoot well. An added bonus to this is that Freedom Munitions also sells a 158 grain Hornady XTP load, new not reloads. I use these as my backup to the Speer Gold Dot's since the GD's can be hard to find. Scuba Oz did a test on the Hornady 158 grain XTP. They did expand out of a snub nose, so I think it's a pretty good carry round....especially if it shoots to POA in your gun.

Fox
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-11-2017, 02:42 PM
camsdaddy camsdaddy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: GA
Posts: 219
Likes: 51
Liked 94 Times in 52 Posts
Default

I have shot thousands of freedom munitions 9mm and it's been great. However I couldn't carry their 38. I have had multiple boxes of their 38 with squib loads and had to drive them out of the barrel
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 03-11-2017, 03:17 PM
badge 851's Avatar
badge 851 badge 851 is offline
US Veteran
Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame Most accurate bullet weight in a Airweight J-Frame  
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 415
Likes: 39
Liked 155 Times in 86 Posts
Default

I concur with the majority here that the 158gr bullet is the way to go in fixed sight 38 Special revolvers. I have one J frame however that is an anomaly. That is a BODYGUARD BG38 with Crimson Trace® Laser that I bought new in November 2014: M&P(R) BODYGUARD(R) 38 Crimson Trace(R) | Smith & Wesson

For some particular reason, that gun is regulated to shoot to point of aim (using the iron sights) at 10 yds with the Hornady® Critical Defense® 110gr FTX® Standard Pressure (#90310). It is spot on at that distance. I have since regulated the laser so it sits atop the front sight blade. Thus the gun is dead on at halitosis range with either sighting system.

The only thing I did to the gun was to replace the factory grips with the Hogue® Tamer™ to get a better purchase on the firearm.

What ammunition do my fellow BG38 owners shoot in their guns?
__________________
David
CW3 USA (Ret) 1968-1990
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Shield- Accurate bullet weight? Houser52 Ammo 14 07-13-2014 09:57 PM
Published bullet weight vs. actual bullet weight safearm Reloading 29 03-26-2013 05:45 AM
An ACCURATE 180 44 mag bullet? Smokepole60 Reloading 19 11-17-2011 10:02 AM
J-Frame Airweight with more weight than air Knightrider03m S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 11 04-18-2010 11:27 PM
Bullet weight vs Pistol weight oldracer Reloading 13 01-21-2010 03:13 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:36 PM.


© S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2015
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)