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  #1  
Old 10-06-2009, 10:26 AM
kci-mia kci-mia is offline
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For me the most enjoyable load for the 38 Special is as follows:

Any high quality 158 Cast SWC bullets
I prefer Federal brass but other commercial brass will do
3.5 grains of Winchester 231
Winchester or Federal small pistol primer (Wolf works well too)
The velocity will be in the 750 fps range in 4" revolvers

This load is mild enough to shoot in older non +P rated revolvers but has enough power to feel like a center fire ammo. It will reach out to 50 yards with good accuracy.

What is your favorite 38 Special load?
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2009, 10:31 AM
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148 HBWC
2.7 grains of Bullseye
Federal Brass
Federal primers
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  #3  
Old 10-06-2009, 10:36 AM
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125 Gr. Copper Plated (X-treme) bullet
4.2 Gr. of Unique
Winchester Brass
Winchester Magnum Primers

A little dirty after 200 rounds or so but soft shooting and accurate to about 50 yards (in my hands).

Regards,
Arkdweller
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  #4  
Old 10-06-2009, 11:25 AM
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A nice full power practice load: 158g cast Flat point, 4.8g Universal WSP primer.
In .357 brass its 5.1g. Very accurate, full-power without being excessive.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:34 AM
Wayne Dobbs Wayne Dobbs is offline
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Here are a few that I like a lot:

1. 158 SWC or FP (love the Laser Cast 158 LFP); 4.0 grains WW231/HP38; great standard pressure load for general purpose shooting in any .38 Special revolver.

2. 168 Keith SWC; 5.0 grains Unique; an old classic load of Elmer's that new sources say is +P, but it will shoot forever in a K-frame or equivalent without undue wear.

3. 168 Keith SWC; 4.5 grains WW231/HP38; a load suggested by Brian Pearce in a Handloader article a few years back; shoots extremely well in all my full sized .38 Special revolvers.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:43 AM
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158gr LSWC, 6.0gr AA#5, Winchester .38 case, any primer -- fills the case better than lighter charges of faster powder, develops good accuracy at 50 yards, maybe close to +P velocities according to my manuals. It works better than W231 or Bullseye or AA#2 Improved in my .357 Magnum-chambered revolvers. The lighter charge/faster powder combinations work better in my .38 Special-chambered revolvers.

And any of:
148gr HBWC, 3.1gr W231, Winchester .38 case
148gr HBWC, 2.7gr Bullseye, Winchester .38 case
148gr HBWC, 2.8gr AA#2 Improved, Winchester .38 case
in any .38 or .357 revolver.
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2009, 12:15 PM
kci-mia kci-mia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Dobbs View Post

1. 158 SWC or FP (love the Laser Cast 158 LFP); 4.0 grains WW231/HP38; great standard pressure load for general purpose shooting in any .38 Special revolver.
Wayne,

This is my second favorite load for the 38 Special with the SWC bullet. It will do anything and everything that can be done or needs to be done with a 38 Special cartridge. Truly a great general purpose load.

Have you chronographed your load?
From a 4" revolver I'm getting about 810 fps.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:23 PM
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My favorite .38 Special target load is with a bullet cast from my H&G #251 mould:



This is a double ended wadcutter intended to be shot in the S&W Model 52. In the Model 52 - 3.0-3.2 grs of Bullseye works VERY well.

In my revolvers, I use the same bullet with the first band seated out, taper crimp on the trailing edge of the first band and use 3.5 grs of Bullseye. This is a superb load for NRA Bullseye and edible small game.

Dale53
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  #9  
Old 10-06-2009, 12:39 PM
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My favorite is close to or the same, as others have already posted:

158 grain LSWC
4.0 grains of W231
Federal cases
Winchester SP primers

This is a very accurate load out of my .38's

Thanks,

Rick
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:47 PM
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Lightbulb I have two!

My first choice for any kind of competition shooting is a 160gr LSWC from my H&G #290BB:



Over 3.5gr of Bullseye. This is a standard type of round that develops right at 800fps from my 6" M686.

The second one is "THE LOAD" from the Speer #8 with the same bullet.

I cast mine out of pure wheel weights most of the time even when shooting "THE LOAD" and that develops right at 1200fps from the same firearm. It gives me the experience of what the old "38/44 HiVel" loads were like. Nostalgic!

Hope this helps!
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  #11  
Old 10-06-2009, 01:12 PM
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158grn. LRN, 4.7grns Unique, Federal Gold Metal SP primer, and roll crimped to the point there isn't a rough spot anywhere.

Drops out of speedloaders into cylinders, like butter sliding off of a stack of hot pancakes. Also, it's high enough pressure to burn most all of the Unique and not leave too much crud behind. Shoots in one hole in my 10's at 15 yards.
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  #12  
Old 10-06-2009, 04:52 PM
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Sgt Preston here. I use Berry's 158 grain SWC (flat point) copper plated swaged bullets. I load them with 4.0 grains of Win 231. I set the overall length to 1.450 & taper crimp them to .375 / .376 dia (at the end of the brass). I shoot them out of a Ruger GP100 x 6" Stainless Revolver & out of a new S&W 686 SSR. They fly very well. Hope this helps. Sgt Preston USMC LLA
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:02 PM
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3.1gr 231 with a flush seated DEWC (see Dale's post). It shoots so well in the model 52... I use it in my other .38/357's for any paper punching out to 25yds.
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  #14  
Old 10-06-2009, 06:12 PM
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Lets see, I really like to load the .38 Special, so I can't pick one favorite. I really like:

-200 grain RN 358430 w/ 4.3 grains of Trail Boss & Federal Primer

-200 grain RN 358430 w/ 9.5 grains of 2400 & Federal Primer

-173 grain SWC 358429 w/ 12 grains of 2400 (Magnum guns only) & Federal Primer

-158 grain SWC or RNL w/ 6.5 grains of HS-6 & Winchester Magnum Primer
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:45 PM
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speer 158 gr swaged swc powered by 4.7 grs. of unique. great target or small game load out of my model 14.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:10 PM
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I use a 158gr cast swc and 4.0 to 4.5 of 231.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:04 PM
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Terrific target load:

Lyman 358311, cast from wheel weights, sized to .359.

3.3 to 3.4 grains Titegroup.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:06 PM
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I'll play...

2.8 grains of Bullseye and hollow based wadcutter

3.0 grains of Bullesye and a Lyman 358425 wadcutter

3.6 grains of Bullseye and the RCBS 38-150 SWC

3.6 grains of Bullseye and Lyman 358439 (yes, 439). It's the HP version of the 358429.

5.2 grains of Unique and the RCBS 38-150

5.0 grains of AA#5 and the RCBS 38-150

for whatever reason, I never have found a recipe for the 358429 that would shoot less than 3" at 25 yards. I've tried it in a K-38, my Outdoorsman, and my Blackhawk.
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:09 PM
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158-gr cast LSWC
5.0-gr Unique
Federal 100
Roll crimped in the groove

Shoots great from all of my steel .38 revolvers. I just don't shoot them out of my 442.
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:27 PM
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Used to be:

148gr HBWC, 2.7gr Bullseye

a few years ago it became:

148gr HBWC, 2.8gr Vihta Vuori N310

The N310 is much cleaner burning than good 'ol BE, and just as accurate. Costs about $5 more than a pound of BE, but when you divide that by 2000+ loads per pound, it doesn't make much difference in the long run.
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:59 PM
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150 gr wadcutter, cast soft from my SAECO mould, ahead of 3.0 grs of W 231. Accurate and easy to shoot.
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:11 PM
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For pure enjoyment out of any of my 38/44 N frames I use a 358156 cast HP with a gas check over 11.5 grs of 2400 with a mag primer. Comes out just a little over 1,000 fps out of most 5 to 6.5 inch barrels.

This is only for N frame 38 Special S&Ws.
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:12 PM
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158gr. SWC & 5.5grs. of Unique. Speer #11 list it as a +P. in my model 10-8 HB it gets 1058 fps, from my Chrony. accuracy is excellent. no pressure signs & no leading (Ga. Arms bullets) older Speer book shows a +P at 6.0grs. Unique

Last edited by bogman; 10-06-2009 at 10:14 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:41 AM
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3.6 grains of PB driving 150-160 grain cast bullets-a very clean light load.

5 grains of Unique with 158-173 grain cast SWCs.- A full power .38 Special loading that is NOT +P

5.9 grains of Power Pistol with a 150 grain Wadcutter (Lyman 358432-a WC with a reduced diameter nose and a crimping groove giving same powder space intrusion as most 158grSWCs) This one is +P and pushes that WC to about 980fps from a 4 inch revolver barrel
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Old 10-07-2009, 03:16 AM
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A dose of SR-4756 that many forum members are familiar with, under a 358429 home cast bullet.

It's definitely a .38/44 load.
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Old 10-09-2009, 12:24 PM
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158 gn cast, 5 gn universal clays, cci 500 primer. great all around load with good velocity and accuracy.
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Old 10-09-2009, 02:33 PM
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3.5gns Bullseye, any cast 158gn bullet design, any brass, any SP primer.
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Old 11-02-2009, 10:28 PM
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Does anyone have a load for a 125gr. hard cast flat point with Accurate #5?
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:55 AM
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Lee tumble lube wadcutter and 3 gr. bullseye. Extremely accurate in my model 14. These molds are inexpensive, so it doesnt cost much to give it a try. This is the most accurate bullet I have ever loaded in 38 special.
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:46 PM
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What no Clays???
I used to use W231 (and before that Bullseye) but
3.0 of Clays under a 158Gr Round Nose Flat Point is my hands down favorite these days. Clean, accurate, shoots POA in fixed sighted guns, works well in speed loaders yet makes a more defined hole in your target. Same load with a 158gr Lead SWC or a 148gr BNWC with 3.1gr of Clays under is it also nice for pure paper punching. Nice side benifit is that you can get 2300+ rounds out of a single pound!
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:08 PM
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3.7 Unique with a 125 TCFP hard cast bullet.
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:17 PM
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Since the mid-70s, a 158 grain lead SWC over 4.8 grains of Unique for 858 fps from a 4-inch barrel. This has been my all-purpose field load and I've fired of 10s of thousands of rounds of it.
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:57 PM
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148 gr wadcutter & 2.7 gr of Bullseye

I wish I had a dollar for every round I sent downrange with that load.
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:03 PM
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158 gr. SWC over 5. gr of Unique with a Fed 100 primer
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:27 AM
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For general all purpose I like the TVB 158 swc over 4.5 of Unique. For +P I like the same bullet over 5.4 grains of Unique. These two loads will do anything and everything for me in this caliber.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:03 AM
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148 Gr LHBWC & 3.1 Gr W-231
148 gr DEWC & 3.3 Gr W-231
158 LSWC & 4.3 W-231
Once tried some 158Gr LRN & 3.5 Gr HP38 from a friend: worked very well, too.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:19 AM
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For me its either American Eagle or Magtech 158g round nose for practice. Thats if I can get some. If I am using reloads that would be 158g round or sometimes LSWC. What ever I can get now because of the ammo shortage. I don't have the equipment to reload and have to depend on somebody else.
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:36 PM
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I use either Winchester or CCI SPP.
I use Win, Rem and Federal brass.

3.2gr W231 under a 148gr HBWC
3.5gr W231 under a 148gr DEWC
4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC
6.4gr HS-6 under a 158gr LSWC

I have a few others but those are my favorites. As usual, don't blame me or this forum for mistakes in posting numbers. User be aware...
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:36 PM
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158g round nose. 3g bullseye
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:04 PM
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Default My Favorite .38 Special Loads

Both loads use the Lyman 358429 CB, crimped in the crimping grove. The bullet is cast from wheel weights with 2% Tin (by weight) added. CB's are air cured. Brass is trimmed, Federal small pistol primers are used. Brass is partially resized (1/3rd the OAL case length.
Loads:
4.0grs W231
5.0grs Unique
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:47 PM
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150 - 160gr (they usually weigh 156-158) cast LSWC over 3.5gr of Bull.

Dennis.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wee Hooker View Post
What no Clays???
I used to use W231 (and before that Bullseye) but
3.0 of Clays under a 158Gr Round Nose Flat Point is my hands down favorite these days. Clean, accurate, shoots POA in fixed sighted guns, works well in speed loaders yet makes a more defined hole in your target. Same load with a 158gr Lead SWC or a 148gr BNWC with 3.1gr of Clays under is it also nice for pure paper punching. Nice side benifit is that you can get 2300+ rounds out of a single pound!
I use 3.1 and may venture up a couple of tenths more when I get a chronograph. Those would be reserved for .357's. After a point, pressure rises very rapidly with Clays and if you need a lot more oomph, you need a different powder.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:15 PM
cocojo cocojo is offline
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I found 4.4 grains of WW 231 and 158 SWC or RN is very accurate in my guns, more so than 4.5 or 4.3 grains. Velocity is 775 from a 2 inch S&W, and it's non +P but right at about 16,5000 to 17,000 foot pounds.
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:57 PM
reuters reuters is offline
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Default 38 Spl. favorite loads

Quote:
Originally Posted by kci-mia View Post
For me the most enjoyable load for the 38 Special is as follows:

Any high quality 158 Cast SWC bullets
I prefer Federal brass but other commercial brass will do
3.5 grains of Winchester 231
Winchester or Federal small pistol primer (Wolf works well too)
The velocity will be in the 750 fps range in 4" revolvers

This load is mild enough to shoot in older non +P rated revolvers but has enough power to feel like a center fire ammo. It will reach out to 50 yards with good accuracy.

What is your favorite 38 Special load?
Hi kci-mia,
My # 1 load is Hensley & Gibbs # 73 cast SWC at 140 grains sized to .358 and a US made blue stiff lube that I unfortunately don't know the brand of. Loaded with 3,5 grains of Vihtavuori N310 in Norma brass and CCI small pistol primer. Moderate taper crimp applied, crimped in crimp groove. This load travels 870 fps and it is accurate at least out to 80 yards.

My # 2 load is LEE WC TL cast bullet 145 grains sized to .358 lubed with liquid Alox. Loaded with 2,5 grains of Vihtavuori N310 in Norma brass and CCI small pistol primers. Moderate taper crimp applied and bullet protruding 1/24" out of case mouth.This load travels at 740 fps and it is a typical bullseye target load accurate out to 40 yards then the bullet gets a tendencey to make oval holes. Accurate range can be improved by switching to VV N320 and increase the load to 3,0 grains.

Both loads are within pressure limitations and safe in J-frames. For some reason they are no longer listed with N310 in the VV reloading manual but they used to be in the 80-90's.

My old K38s loves them, these are used at competitions and I annualy reload approximately 4000 of these all together.

Good luck

Reuters
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:13 PM
running iron running iron is offline
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Just tried 4.9 grs. of Auto Comp with the 158gr. Hornady XTP. All holes touching at 15 meters using a snub nose model 85. Book say 865 fps.
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:40 PM
JakeB JakeB is offline
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Are you all seating to the crimp groove on the bullets or some other specific OAL?

OAL would be nice to know on some of these loads.
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:48 PM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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Good point, Jake.

Mine are to the crimp groove. I posted WAY on back there, the time tested load of 3.5gr of Bullseye under any 158-160gr LSWC. Mine is an H&G #290BB that was designed by Phil Sharpe. Great bullet and fun to cast.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:57 PM
Bearcat74 Bearcat74 is offline
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I load 3.5grs of Bullseye and a Berry's Plated 125 HP, it is accurate from my 686, probably not as loud as a .22.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:03 PM
hogblue hogblue is offline
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3.5 bullseye + 158 LSWC.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:20 AM
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valkyriekl valkyriekl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeB View Post
Are you all seating to the crimp groove on the bullets or some other specific OAL?

OAL would be nice to know on some of these loads.
For my hollow-base wadcutters (2.7gr Bullseye, 2.8gr AA#2, or 3.1gr W231), I seat to 1.186" OAL--it's not exactly flush; a little bit of the bearing surface/driving band sits outside of the case, and then the nose of the bullet adds a little more (I use Remington 148gr .358" swaged Hollow Base Wadcutters, and these have a little nose on them). For HBWCs, seating them "flush" would do just fine. I use a light roll crimp on these.

For my semi-wadcutter loads (5.8gr AA#5), I seat my bullets (Remington 158gr .358" swaged LSWC) to 1.440" OAL. The swaged bullets I use don't have a crimp groove, so I seat them on the first driving band. I use a light-to-medium roll crimp on these.

I don't change anything when I use cast bullets (Valiant 158gr .358" cast LSWC), but they seat a little longer at 1.443" OAL. This is just within the crimp groove on bullets. Not that it matters too much--I don't shoot the cast bullets for accuracy past 50 feet; they're too inconsistent. I use a light-to-medium roll crimp on these, too. I've been using 5.8gr AA#5 powder behind these cast bullets, but I could probably substitute something like 4.0gr of W231 and get away with it, since I'm not shooting these for accuracy (these would be more of a self-defense practice load).
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357 magnum, 442, 686, bullseye, chronograph, crimp, hornady, k-frame, m686, model 10, model 14, model 52, model 686, nra, outdoorsman, primer, rcbs, remington, ruger, sig arms, universal, wadcutter, winchester

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