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  #1  
Old 10-08-2011, 01:12 AM
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Default Win. 231 .38 Special loads

I have load data for 158 gr. LSWC that varies from 3.7 to 4.5 gr.for the top end. Just curious about what others are shooting in this combo ?
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Old 10-08-2011, 01:18 AM
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I've been shooting 3.8 gr of 231 with a Laser Cast 158 LSWC in my K-38. It's way more accurate than I am, so it's good for pointing out my technique problems.
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Old 10-08-2011, 01:53 AM
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I load 4.5grs for a ballistic duplicate of Winchesters standard load using 158gr LSWC or LRN and 4.7 grs to duplicate their +P load with 158gr LSWCHP's. This data was from Winchester and not Hodgdon's. Velocities are within normal variation one would expect from different handguns vrs the factory published, IE. +/- no more than around 25 fps and varies up and down depending up on the particular gun of the same barrel length used.
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Old 10-08-2011, 01:55 AM
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In my experience there isn't any wrong answer in that range. Since I'm loading to a specific power for ICORE and IDPA, I'm loading 4.3.
Ran out a batch yesterday on the Dillon.
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Old 10-08-2011, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pipeliner View Post
I have load data for 158 gr. LSWC that varies from 3.7 to 4.5 gr.for the top end. Just curious about what others are shooting in this combo ?
The W-W 14th Ed. reloading manual provides the following data for W-231 in 38 Special:
158 gr. Lead SWC
4.0 gr. W-231 = 745 fps = 12600 psi
4.5 gr. W-231 = 830 fps = 15800 psi
4.7 gr. W-231 = 860 fps = 17100 psi (38Sp +P load)
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:36 PM
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When we talk about W231, we're also talking about HP-38. I use 3.8 grains with a 158 grain SWC. Does anybody have some actual chrono results?
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Old 10-08-2011, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GyMac View Post
When we talk about W231, we're also talking about HP-38. I use 3.8 grains with a 158 grain SWC. Does anybody have some actual chrono results?
Here are some of the ones I've ran over my Chrono:

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Old 10-08-2011, 04:54 PM
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The Lyman 47th edition Reloading Handbook shows a max of 5.0 grains with a 358156 155 grain bullet. I've used a lot of it at 4.7 and various 158 SWC with the following results:

Gun: Model 686/4"
Load: 4.7/231 + 158 SWC
Average velocity: 837.7 fps
Extreme spread: 72.86
Standard deviation: 30.61

Gun: Model 15
Load: 4.7/231 + 158 SWC
Average velocity: 868.7 fps
Extreme spread: 23.38
Standard deviation: 10.44

Gun: Model 60/2"
Load: 4.7/231 + 158 SWC
Average velocity: 789.3 fps
Extreme spread: 61.38
Standard deviation: 25.55
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:00 PM
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I don't have a chrono but I load alot with this powder in the 4.0-4.4 range 158gr RN and they make for great target fodder out of my 640.
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:17 PM
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For .38 special, 158 gr LSWC (Penn's Bullets), I have tried 3.6 gr W231 and 3.0 gr of Bullseye. At 25 yds, the Bullseye load gave the tightest groups. These were swaged, match grade bullets. The pistol was a S&W, K-38, Target Masterpiece.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:02 PM
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I always enjoy seeing those actual chronograph results and comparing them with what the manuals say. Thanks very much for posting.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:57 PM
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Been using 4.2 gr for years to load this combo.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:30 AM
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I was in a group buy for a custom mould that duplicated the Lyman 358156 bullet, but without the gas check, and with the lube groove moved to center it between the new plain base and the first crimp groove. This bullet has dual crimp groove design, so part of my curiosity/interest was trying this boolit in all of its loading possibilities.

To that end, I grabbed a box of 1x-fired 38 brass which I had previously fired as factory loads in the same revolver about 15 years ago. They're nickle-plated Federal 38s. Sized, primed (WSPs all from same box), and flared the brass, and decided I'd add some Winchester brass in 357 (all from their own same lot) for a full-length loading option and prepped them the same way as the 38s. All the boolits were sized .358" and lubed with 50/50 alox/beeswax only in the lube groove. Alloy was WW +2% tin air-cooled.

I chose 2 loads, both with W231 (all loads loaded out of the same can of powder); 4.4grs & 5.6grs. I loaded both charges in the 38 cases at both the upper crimp groove (loaded short) and the lower crimp groove (loaded long). I also loaded the 5.6gr load at the upper crimp groove (loaded short). Here's how the COALs worked out:
38 Spl (loaded short): 1.442"
38 Spl (loaded long): 1.527"
357 Mag (loaded short): 1.5865"

The test gun is my S&W 686-3 "Midnight Black" (blued stainless) 4"-barreled former duty sidearm. This gun has shot perfect scores with issue factory reloads, so I have confidence in its accuracy abilities. I recently gave this revolver a thorough cleaning in the cylinder to get rid of carbon ring build-up.

The results were interesting. I tried to do accuracy testing simultaneously, but a problem with targets came up (I forgot them...), so only chrono data for now.

38 Spl (loaded short) w/ 4.4grs gave the following velocities (FPS): 875, 900, 895, 882, 877, 890. The average was 887 fps with an ES of 25.

38 Spl (loaded long) w/ 4.4grs gave the following velocities (FPS): error, error, error, 818, 849, 831. The average was 833 fps with an ES of 31. (The errors came from a swarm of tiny insects I didn't notice hanging around the stop screen until the third shot...)

38 Spl (loaded short) w/ 5.6grs gave the following velocities (FPS): 1069, 1095, 1062, 1085, 1079, 1075. *The average was 1078 fps with an ES of 33. (This is NOT a safe 38 load - it's only for use in 357 Magnums!)

38 Spl (loaded long) w/ 5.6grs gave the following velocities (FPS): 1036, 1027, 1026, 1035, 1035, 1018. *The average was 1030 fps with an ES of 18.

357 Mag (loaded short) w/ 5.6grs gave the following velocities (FPS): 1020, 1067, 1046, 1055, 1049, 1053. The average was 1043 fps with an ES of 47.

Note that this is all very consistent with conventional wisdom, with the exception of the 357 with a longer OAL giving higher velocities. My only thoughts are that the Winchester Magnum brass has less capacity, even with a minimally longer COAL.

Although I didn't have targets, I did notice the 5.6gr loads were noticably less accurate than the 4.4 loads. Didn't matter whether it was long- or short-loaded or loaded in the 357 case. I personally believe this has more to do with the powder than anything else. W231 doesn't "like" higher-pressure loads. It can certainly be safely loaded hotter, but accuracy tends to suffer. I've seen this same characteristic in 44 Mag and 10mm Auto loads too (but curiously, not so much in 9mm, where 231 works fine at ~30k psi).

I've used a couple hundred pounds of W231 and have noticed that ocassionally, the burn rate varies wildly in particular lots. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster. I recommend strongly that you use a chronograph, and load to about 800-850 fps, and call it good in the 38 with a 158gr bullet.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pipeliner View Post
I have load data for 158 gr. LSWC that varies from 3.7 to 4.5 gr.for the top end. Just curious about what others are shooting in this combo ?
One of my favorite loads, if not my favorite load is 4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. It shoots well for my in all my 38/357 revolvers.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
One of my favorite loads, if not my favorite load is 4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. It shoots well for my in all my 38/357 revolvers.
This is where I'm headed. I have some cast from the Lee 358-158-RF loaded over 4.0 HP-38 waiting for me to test.

Tried 3.5 of Bullseye under the same and they were just OK. Not as good as 4.3 or HP-38 under Lee's 358-140-SWC out of the same 4" M&P.

Thinking about trying some Trail Boss too since these tiny charges of powder get swallowed in the .38 case.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
One of my favorite loads, if not my favorite load is 4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. It shoots well for my in all my 38/357 revolvers.
I just loaded up a batch of those this afternoon...
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD
One of my favorite loads, if not my favorite load is 4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. It shoots well for my in all my 38/357 revolvers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottJ
I have some cast from the Lee 358-158-RF loaded over 4.0 HP-38 waiting for me to test.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Sheep
I just loaded up a batch of those this afternoon...
Hey, great minds think alike!!! LOL
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
One of my favorite loads, if not my favorite load is 4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. It shoots well for my in all my 38/357 revolvers.
Now that my adjustable charge bar is on the way, I'll be trying the 4.0 grain load. My standard is 3.8, as that is what my disc gets me. With 4.0 grains, can I expect to be getting around 775-800 fps with a 158 grain SWC?
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:54 PM
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In all the recipes I've ever loaded over the decades in the cast 38 range, anything from 126g to 158g in any configuration has always proved more accurate that I need or can reliably demonstrate.

My last few years I've grown fond of the 128 conical RNFP, the 148 DEWC, and a 158 RN.

I have taken to avoid the SWC simply because in my 8 shot 627 the moon clips don't insert into the cylinder as easily as the others, and far more of my shooting is with the 627 Vmag than any other 38 special.

It also has come to seem that regardless of powder, any load up to a few grains short of whatever the maximum of THAT powder may be, gives me as good as I need, so I've almost quit searching for "best/most accurate" load.

For now.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GyMac View Post
Now that my adjustable charge bar is on the way, I'll be trying the 4.0 grain load. My standard is 3.8, as that is what my disc gets me. With 4.0 grains, can I expect to be getting around 775-800 fps with a 158 grain SWC?
I'm fairly sure you will get right around 750 fps from that load. Amazingly enough with all the 158gr rounds I've fired I have never sent any over the Chrono, sorry...
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:15 AM
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My records show 4.0 grs of 231 under a 158 gr cast RN bullet averaging
799 fps in my 4" md 10 S&W.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:03 PM
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Thanks for the chronograph input on the 4.0 Win 231 load. I'm always curious about my load speeds, but I've never been able to justify a chronograph. When it comes to bullets and powder or a chronograph, I've always chosen the former. Plus, I've never felt the urge to push the edge when it comes to velocity.
Chris
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Old 10-12-2011, 03:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GyMac View Post
Thanks for the chronograph input on the 4.0 Win 231 load. I'm always curious about my load speeds, but I've never been able to justify a chronograph. When it comes to bullets and powder or a chronograph, I've always chosen the former. Plus, I've never felt the urge to push the edge when it comes to velocity.
Chris
I bought a chrono but not because I like to push to the edge but for accurate load development. When you are trying to duplicate M1 Garand 30-06 ammo you need to know when you get to 2700 fps with a 150gr bullet so you can stop adding powder to the load. It's nowhere near the top end for a 30-06 round but it is just about perfect for an M1. That's just one of many examples why a chrono is a good tool to have when you are reloading.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:55 AM
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Shooting Chrony's are all I have ever owned. Son #2 took one out with a .30/06 and drove right to the gun shop and bought me a new, better one. I have the blue one, Beta?, I don't know. I should get the remote for it. Not because I am lazy abut because I can retrieve data without hollering "Going down range!" and making everyone else stop shooting!

The are the ONLY tool we have to tell us anything about pressure. Oh, they won't tell us that we have excessive pressure BUT they will tell us that we are pushing the envelope. A load with xxgr of powder should give us xxxxfps from a 4" barrel with xxxgr bullet and we are getting xxxxfps +200fps, we are in a bad area. Your gun ain't gonna be that fast unless it has a bunch more barrel than the recipe was developed with.

It will also tell us what kind of performance we can attain from certain powders. Which are more consistent, which perform better in light load or heavy loads.

Again, wouldn't be without one. The cheapest ones are right at $100. Well worth th investment!
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Old 10-12-2011, 03:45 PM
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I'm using a PACT Model 1 XP. I like the fact the chrono itself sits on the bench out of harms way while the sensors are the only parts in the line of fire. When you shoot them, and you eventually will, you only have to pay for the sensors instead of a whole new chrono. (don't ask how I know lol)
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Old 10-16-2011, 06:22 PM
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Did some chrono work this morning. I tested out a load of 231 at 5 gn with a 158 gn RNFP. 4" 686. Out of 10 string average 924 fps. I would to see if I can get a load to break 1000 fps with SWC, and HP.
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Old 10-18-2011, 05:00 PM
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I loaded up 5 test rounds with 4.5gr of W231 and gave them a whirl in my model 10 Sunday. I was quite pleased with the results, one ragged hole at 7 or 10 yards can't remember. Just to be sure that the performance wasn't some kind of anomaly, I loaded up 100 more to get a more thorough idea of it's accuracy potential.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:15 PM
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4 grains of HP-38 under a 158 LSWC shot great out of my 642 this weekend. No chrono data, though. I may go up and down a few grains to see how that affects accuracy.
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Old 10-19-2011, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerdown77 View Post
4 grains of HP-38 under a 158 LSWC shot great out of my 642 this weekend. No chrono data, though. I may go up and down a few grains to see how that affects accuracy.
That load is my favorite .38 Special load bar none. You can play with the charge weights but i have a strong feeling you will come right back to that load.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
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That load is my favorite .38 Special load bar none. You can play with the charge weights but i have a strong feeling you will come right back to that load.
I guess I should have said "up and down a few TENTHS of a grain". A few whole grains would be a totally different ballgame

On the other hand, they do say whole grains are good for your heart...
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
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I'm using a PACT Model 1 XP. I like the fact the chrono itself sits on the bench out of harms way while the sensors are the only parts in the line of fire. When you shoot them, and you eventually will, you only have to pay for the sensors instead of a whole new chrono. (don't ask how I know lol)
Been there a couple of times. Last week a wind gust turned my Pact just enough that I took out one of the skyscreen uprights. I don't think I could have hit it "edge on" if I was trying.
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:13 PM
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Oddly enough I've wound up settling on the same load of HP-38 (comes out of the same spout as 231 remember) for my 358-158-RF as I use with the 358-140-SWC.

4.3gr. Gives 859fps with the 140s and 786fps with the 158s.

I was really hoping for 800 with the 158s but probably won't get there without going into +P pressures and I don't want to do that. They actually weigh closer to 161 on average.

Either way my old M&P seems to like that loading the best with either boolit.

I might later on have a look at something slower like Unique, No. 5 or Power Pistol to get into the 800fps range. But for now I need to cast and build a bunch. I find I tend to run through .38 faster than anything else.

Last edited by ScottJ; 10-19-2011 at 07:20 PM. Reason: added additional thoughts
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:48 PM
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Just got back from testing my W231 loads with the M10. I fired 100 rounds of 4.5gr W231 under a TVB 158gr SWC. For comparison I brought along 100 rounds of my old standby load of 4.6gr Unique and the same bullet. All shooting was conducted standing and in SA slow fire at 10 yards. While the W231 load was accurate I found the Unique load to be more so. The W231 loads created more smoke than Unique which at times would waft back in face on the indoor range. The recoil impulse was snappier with W231 for some reason too. The recoil impulse of the Unique loads resembled more of a pleasant push.

I really enjoyed spending more time at the range with the M10 today. I hate it at times though as it is much more accurate than I. Often times showing my horrible habit of thumbing while shooting, which would push my shots to the right. However once I buckled down I could place 5 rounds dead center of the B-24 target at 10yd. It certainly showed me that we need a lot more range time together. Now I have to go de-prime 200 cases.

Last edited by 336A; 10-20-2011 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
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The recoil impulse was snappier with W231 for some reason too.
Faster powders tend to snap more than push. W231 is faster than Unique.
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:58 PM
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Huh, did not know that about the faster powders, thanks scott I learned something today.
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 336A View Post
Just got back from testing my W231 loads with the M10. I fired 100 rounds of 4.5gr W231 under a TVB 158gr SWC. For comparison I brought along 100 rounds of my old standby load of 4.6gr Unique and the same bullet. All shooting was conducted standing and in SA slow fire at 10 yards. While the W231 load was accurate I found the Unique load to be more so. The recoil impulse was snappier with W231 for some reason too. The recoil impulse of the Unique loads resembled more of a pleasant push.
It's possible the recoil is snappy on the W231 round because of the charge weight you're using. According to Hodgdon the Max charge weight is only 3.7gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC bullet. Of course that's too low according to the older data but even the older Winchester data stopped at 4.4gr W231. Your charge is clearly in the +P range while the Unique load isn't. (Alliant's data lists a max of 4.7gr Unique under a 158gr LSWC bullet)
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:34 AM
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According to my Lyman manual the load I used today is within standard pressures.
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Old 10-21-2011, 04:33 AM
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According to my Lyman manual the load I used today is within standard pressures.
I'm not doubting you but I'm curious, which Lyman manual? The 2 current Lyman manuals (#49 and Cast #4) list 4.0gr W231 as the max under a 158gr LSWC bullet.

BTW, they also list that load as potentially most accurate and IMO it is!
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:55 AM
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I have my Lyman Pistol and Revolver handbook in front of me. For the #358156 SWCGC (155gr-158gr depending on alloy) the data is 3.5gr-4.7gr for a standard load, 5.0gr for +P. For the #358311 160gr LRN standard pressure loads go from 3.5gr-4.9gr, +P is 5.2gr.

I looked at the data in the in the 4th edition cast bullet handbook at my LGS. I wanted to see if the data for .38 SPL had changed, it hasn't it is the same as I have in front of me.
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:06 PM
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There is so much variation in the published data for Win 231/HP-38. And then there's what people get on their chronographs. My Speer Number 11 shows Win 231 4.0 - 4.4 grains with a 158 grain bullet producing 792 and 878 FPS, respectively.
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:06 AM
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For dispute settling between manuals with any Hodgdon, Win or IMR powder I go here: http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

Here's the 158gr data for 231:
158 GR. CAST LSWC Winchester 231 .358" 1.475"
3.1 782 11,900 CUP
3.7 834 14,600 CUP

158 GR. HDY XTP Winchester 231 .357" 1.455"
3.8 661 12,600 CUP
4.3 779 15,900 CUP
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  #42  
Old 10-23-2011, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottJ View Post
For dispute settling between manuals with any Hodgdon, Win or IMR powder I go here: http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

Here's the 158gr data for 231:
158 GR. CAST LSWC Winchester 231 .358" 1.475"
3.1 782 11,900 CUP
3.7 834 14,600 CUP
I recently bought a box of 158gr Cast LSWC and loaded them for the first time (I usually stick with the 148 DEWC (3.2gr) and HBWC (3.0gr). I use W231 and, in researching for a load, found recommendations from 3.1 to 5.0. Settled on the Hodgdon data (mentioned above) and 3.5gr. Shot both DEWC and the LSWC. No difference in accuracy and no leading from either. And a little trimming brings a Lee Dipper to 3.5 gr.
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Old 10-23-2011, 03:01 PM
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And I'm sticking with the 4.3 I'm using because it's still non +P for the jacketed.

As a matter of fact the cast 158 I loaded it under actually weighs 161 lubed and yields almost exacly the same velocity as Hodgdon got with the XTP.
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  #44  
Old 11-09-2011, 10:49 PM
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I usually shoot 38 Spc in a 357 mag revolver. For me, a 158-160 grain bullet is very accurate with 4.2 grains of 231. I have tried 4.8 grains of 231 powder...that load is okey, but not as accurate as the 4.2 grain charge. Also a 158 grain bullet with 4.0 grains of Bullseye is a good load for plinking or target practice.

Last edited by bamacisa; 11-09-2011 at 10:52 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-04-2013, 12:19 PM
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I worked up to 4.5 grains of 231 under a 158 LSWC in .38, starting from 4.0 grains.

4.0 was noticeably dirty, 4.2 was still dirty, 4.4 was definitely better but 4.5 got the velocity I wanted from my 3" M10; it clocks at 804 fps average for 12 shots, making a 125 power factor.

My 4" M15 routinely gets 75 fps faster velocities, but I haven't checked this particular load.
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:03 PM
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w231 works well in all my 6" revolvers with the 158gr lead bullets of all types............. in these long barrel 4.7grs with a cci500 primer gives me a solid 890fps and poa with tight groups.

It did not work out to well in my snub M49 with the 158 Lswc
and FBI Lhp style bullets. I ran from a target load of 4.0 up to a maximum of 5.0grs and did not find a load that was accurate or near poa, with this weight bullet, with light to heavy crimps.
I sure it works well in other snubs, just not mine.

Too bad since it meters well and is one of the cleaner powders for the 38 special.
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Old 06-04-2013, 03:23 PM
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I've been loading 4.5-W231 behind a hardcast 148gr DEWC or a 158gr soft SWC-HP. I loaded up a batch of 158's over 5.0-W231 but haven't gotten around to shooting them yet. Those might be a bit warm...the max load shown for that bullet in speer book #10 is 4.4 W231, but they show up to 5.4-W231 as a +P load for the 158 gr jacketed bullets so I think it'll be OK.
I like to use my Little Dandy measure for handgun loading instead of my bigger adjustable measure, but the problem is then you're stuck with whatever the next size larger rotor throws. I have drilled out a #12 rotor to create a #12-1/2 but didn't want to mess with that again. I think the 4.5 charge (#7) is probably enough so probably won't load any more with the #8.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:57 PM
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Thumbs up W231

I shoot 4.gr w/158SWC always. Matter of fact, might be time to load up some more. Down to about 4 boxes left on the shelf.
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Old 06-05-2013, 03:37 PM
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Default W231

My .38Spl target loads are 3.2gr W231 under a 158gr LRNFP in my Dan Wesson 15-2 6" .357. It consistently produces 2-3" groups at 15 yards in my old, shaky hands wearing trifocals.
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:30 AM
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LOL, another 2 year old thread makes a grand comeback!
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Reloading Thread, Win. 231 .38 Special loads in Ammunition-Gunsmithing; I have load data for 158 gr. LSWC that varies from 3.7 to 4.5 gr.for the top end. Just curious ...
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