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Old 05-17-2017, 02:21 PM
kornax kornax is offline
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Hey all,

Not sure if this is the right forum, but thought I would start here for this.

Today I took out my 52-2. I have only had for a few years, and have fired a handful of times. As I am slowly getting better with different firearms and reloading, I noticed an issue today that I thought was odd, and wanted to get peoples input.

For anyone who doesn't know, a Model 52-X is a target pistol that is very similar to a 1911, however it only fires .38 special Wadcutters.

Anyhow, the issue I noticed, was an awful lot of muzzle flip/recoil. What I thought was interesting, I was firing what I believe should be relatively light loads. The rounds were 148gr. Wadcutter and the boxes were marked 2.7gr. Bullseye. I did not reload these rounds, they were reloaded by a relative many years ago. I am just trying to run through some of the old reloads. I just thought for a relatively heavy firearm, with these loads, it should be pretty relaxed. Maybe its the 52-2, maybe its the loads?

Interested in thoughts.
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:08 PM
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First of all you have a gun I have great interest in owning someday soon, so I am a bit (a lot) envious

I would set aside the 'hand loaded rounds' and perhaps pull one apart and weigh a load and if you have any Bullseye on hand compare the power in looks. I am not thinking that a 2.7 load of Bullseye should give much recoil at all but I have not shot one of these guns yet.

Karl
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ontargetagain View Post
First of all you have a gun I have great interest in owning someday soon, so I am a bit (a lot) envious

I would set aside the 'hand loaded rounds' and perhaps pull one apart and weigh a load and if you have any Bullseye on hand compare the power in looks. I am not thinking that a 2.7 load of Bullseye should give much recoil at all but I have not shot one of these guns yet.

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Old 05-17-2017, 04:55 PM
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The loads you have been given (2,7BE and 148 HBWC) are the only loads that should be used. Those and the 52 are inseparable for good shooting. If you find the recoil excessive then get used to it. You might want a set of fitted Herrett grips to feel more comfortable.....could help. You're fortunate to have the finest target .38 pistol that has been made and now discontinued because it was too expensive to produce,
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Old 05-17-2017, 05:27 PM
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The gun is actually based on the M 39 and not really "like" a 1911 other than single action and has a bushing.

Anyway, the loads you state are the correct loads if indeed the powder is actually the weight indicated.

Here are some links:

Smith & Wesson’s Model 52 .38 MasterGuns Magazine.com | Guns Magazine.com

Model 52 loads
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:56 PM
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I would be very cautious of anyones, relatives included reloads. If I didn't make them, I wont shoot them. Buy factory, or make your own. Shelve those and start fresh.
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:39 PM
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As a former owner and shooter of a 52-2 I will attest that the 2.7 Gr Blsye load is the "standard" loading. It is not an overly heavy handgun, and there is a slight muzzle flip with it, but a firm grip controls it. The fastest it needs to be shot is 5 rounds in 10 seconds (normal bullseye Rapid Fire), so a little muzzle flip is very easy to control.
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:54 PM
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2.7g Bullseye is my standard load with a 148g HBWC for my 52-2. The muzzle flip is very slight, and easily controlled with a good grip. I would be suspect shooting someone else's reloads. If you can break one down and measure the load, and look to see if it is Bullseye.
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Old 05-18-2017, 02:27 PM
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I'm in the "if I didn't make 'em, I don't shoot 'em" camp when it comes to reloads. As suggested above, put the reloads on the shelf, buy a few factory rounds, shoot a few to get the "feel" of the gun, then start reloading with known good components and load data...
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:02 PM
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In my gun, 2.5 grs. Bullseye is slightly more accurate than a heavier charge. This is probably minimum and I wouldn't load any lighter. I use a H&G #50 WC sized to .3575" (.358" die).

Recoil feels differently to everyone, but I never thought the 52 had much. The only handguns I have that kick less are probably .22s.
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:38 PM
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Many good loads . Best for your's will be found by careful testing . 148 HBWC , best are Remington or Zero . Seat flush with a slight crimp . Std SP primers . I vastly prefer 3.1 W231 or 2.7 WST to Bullseye . Barrel weight will help with muzzle light feeling & allows a steadier hold .
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Kornax wrote:
...the boxes were marked 2.7gr. Bullseye. I did not reload these rounds,...
I would suggest you pull the bullet from a few of these rounds and weigh the powder. My guess is that the charge may be a little different from that indicated.

I'm largely in the "if I didn't load it, I don't shoot it" camp. You just don't know what the person who loaded the rounds did or did not do. There have been people on this very forum who have said that they think reloading data is intentionally reduced for liability reasons, so it's okay to exceed published maximums by at least 10% - maybe even more. Would you really want to shoot that guy's reloads?

I have a good friend that I learned to reload with when we were teenagers. We developed our technique - including written reloading procedures and a checksheet that accompanies each batch - together. So, if the checksheet was with it, I'd shoot a box of his handloads and vice versa, but no one else.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:08 PM
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I appreciate everyone's comments/suggestions.

The reloads I do trust. They were reloaded by my father in law and grandfather before they passed. They were competition shooters for many years. I will definitely take a load apart to see how it weighs.

I did not mean to make it seem the 52 is uncontrollable, just noted that it was more than I expected out of this. I have other 38's that shoot just fine.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:18 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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I used to own one 52 no dash.Sold it.Another mistake that's being put in the ''getting more experienced with age and mistakes''drawer.
2.7 Bullseye is the recommended load for HBWC.If cast solid base,2.5 is more like it.
I'd also pull the bullet on one and try to ID the components just to be on the safe side.
Qc
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:33 PM
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Might also try a fresh recoil spring.
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:09 PM
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Did it come with the frame weight? Some folks always shot with the frame weight attached.
1) Buy a box of factory ammo and try it.
2) Never trust someone else's reloads
3) If firing L-HBWCs, be sure velocity is under 800 fps. Above that, and I get consistent separation of the skirt from the rest of the bullet and either get two holes in the target for each shot or I have a barrel obstruction left in the barrel. L-HBWCs are by far the most accurate, but you MUST keep velocity down.
4) If/when you decide to reload, I'll let you know the tricks I found to equal factory ammo for accuracy.
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noylj View Post
Did it come with the frame weight? Some folks always shot with the frame weight attached.
1) Buy a box of factory ammo and try it.
2) Never trust someone else's reloads
3) If firing L-HBWCs, be sure velocity is under 800 fps. Above that, and I get consistent separation of the skirt from the rest of the bullet and either get two holes in the target for each shot or I have a barrel obstruction left in the barrel. L-HBWCs are by far the most accurate, but you MUST keep velocity down.
4) If/when you decide to reload, I'll let you know the tricks I found to equal factory ammo for accuracy.
My only choice for this Model is wadcutter. It is all it will fire.

I won't fire it all that much unless i potentially get into competition shooting. I was more or less just interested to hear others experiences.

Again, I appreciate all the comments and suggestions.
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Old 05-19-2017, 01:29 PM
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Most factory 38 special 148 HBWC ammo runs 700 to 800fps . Good advise not to exceed 800 . Swaged will give best accuracy within the above velocity envelope . Stay away from plated as accuracy will suck & you have to bump powder charges so you won't stick one in the barrel . I watched a fella blow the extractor out of a 52-2 with 3.5 Bullseye & Berrys plated HBWC . Gun was designed to shoot mid range HBWC loads in the 8 - 10,000 psi range . Exceeding that limit will stress & batter / wear gun . Can offset this to a degree by changing main & recoil springs , but why take a chance . Parts are expensive & getting harder to find .
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:23 PM
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It's the reloads!
I shoot a lot of 2.7 Bullseye / wadcutter loads and it is a classic light recoiling target load. I would pull a bullet and weigh the charge...I would bet money it's not 2.7 grains.
Don't risk damaging your fine target pistol...shoot them out of a 357 magnum if you must .
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Old 05-20-2017, 01:56 PM
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Or perhaps shoot them in a good +P rated revolver? I'm pretty sure the Mod. 52 isn't delicate, but I'd hate to mess one up with "bad" reloads...
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Old 05-21-2017, 03:43 AM
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The M52 is made for "mid range" wadcutter only ammo.
It is NOT made for standard .38 Spl loads and will bulge a case before normal pressures are even reached. It has what is called "an unsupported chamber."
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:30 AM
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In my M52-2, Remington factory 148 grain wadcutters ejected empty cases between 6' and 8' from my right hand shooting one-handed. My cast bullet reloads ejected fired brass 2' to 4' from my hand, and the accuracy was as good as factory ammo.
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Old 05-21-2017, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kornax View Post
I appreciate everyone's comments/suggestions.

The reloads I do trust. They were reloaded by my father in law and grandfather before they passed. They were competition shooters for many years. I will definitely take a load apart to see how it weighs.

I did not mean to make it seem the 52 is uncontrollable, just noted that it was more than I expected out of this. I have other 38's that shoot just fine.

Thanks again!
Curious....what other 38 autos do you own? If you are talking about revolvers, that's not a good comparison.
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Old 05-22-2017, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee's Landing Billy View Post
Curious....what other 38 autos do you own? If you are talking about revolvers, that's not a good comparison.
No other 38 semi autos. Only a 14-3, and the 52-2.

Really, I had hoped more comments about what I experienced. Again, its not uncontrollable, and it shoots quite accurately as it should. I just personally didn't think it would have as much muzzle flip/recoil as it did out of a 38. No big deal, was just wondering what others might have thought.

I own other semi-autos. Shield 9mm, 459, Colt Govt Model 70, etc etc.

The 52-2 is a sweet shooter, don't get me wrong. I just thought it was more active in the hand than I had expected. I almost wonder if its not the fact that the loads are too much, but that the loads are weak in general, and don't do enough to offset the action of the slide.

Again, appreciate the comments from everyone. I will continue to enjoy it!
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:04 AM
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Look at the high barrel line on the Model 52. Its going to want to jump, just by its design. Shoot it a lot, and it will feel fine.
Modern pistols, like the Pardini HP have a low barrel line that pushes back more than flips.
Still, the 52 is capable of high scores due to its accuracy. Years back I shot a 52 well, but used to practice it a lot.
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:25 AM
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Rule No.1 = Never, ever shoot someone else's handload!
There are way too many people who have no idea what they're doing and even really experienced shooter/handloader makes mistake every once in awhile. Start with fresh components and make your own as precise as you could.
Remember. You only have one set of eyes and hands.
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Old 05-22-2017, 11:56 AM
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The Colt Mark I,II and III National Match was another Semi Auto made to shoot 38spl 148gr HBWC ammo.

I liked this pistol for Center Fire matches better than my two Model 52-2 because of the grip design

EDIT: there was also a parkerized 45 conversion chambered in 38spl 148gr HBWC only done buy/for the military shooting teams and sold for a very short time to civilian shooters at Camp Perry in the mid 60s.

I didn't own one but my good friend,Stake Out Unit member,Distinguished Pistol shooter Bill Allard did have one and wouldn't part with it no matter what I offered.
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Old 05-22-2017, 01:16 PM
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If you reload.......

You might see if Bullseye at a lighter load at just 2.5grs will work the action.
A second choice is 3.1grs of W231 if you have this powder........
that with a 4" barrel should be around 788fps, pew Winchester data.
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StakeOut View Post
The Colt Mark I,II and III National Match was another Semi Auto made to shoot 38spl 148gr HBWC ammo.

I liked this pistol for Center Fire matches better than my two Model 52-2 because of the grip design

EDIT: there was also a parkerized 45 conversion chambered in 38spl 148gr HBWC only done buy/for the military shooting teams and sold for a very short time to civilian shooters at Camp Perry in the mid 60s.

I didn't own one but my good friend,Stake Out Unit member,Distinguished Pistol shooter Bill Allard did have one and wouldn't part with it no matter what I offered.
Not to be nit picky, but the Colt .38 special wadcutter pistol was never called the MKI, II, or III by Colt. Colt named it the "Gold Cup National Match" chambered in .38 Special Mid Range. In actual fact there was never a "MK I" but collectors/shooters refer the MK I to the original barrel offered in the pistol. Colt added "MK II", "MK III" to the revised barrel designs that they installed in this pistol and collectors/shooters continued calling the pistol MK II, MKIII. Just sayin, no offence intended.

Last edited by 824tsv; 05-23-2017 at 08:03 AM. Reason: Added info + Spelling
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 824tsv View Post
Not to be nit picky, but the Colt .38 special wadcutter pistol was never called the MKI, II, or III by Colt. Colt named it the "Gold Cup National Match .38 Mid Range". The MKI, II, III are what shooters/collectors refer to the versions of barrels that Colt installed in these pistols. Just sayin, no offence intended.
Nit Picky = yes,I agree

Well I'm a shooter so It's OK then.It's how I and many other shooters referred to them.

I done like to use Gold Cup for this fine pistol because there's another called Gold Cup in a different caliber that's not so fine.
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Old 05-23-2017, 07:28 AM
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I'm even nit picky to my own post as I've revised it...

"I done like to use Gold Cup for this fine pistol because there's another called Gold Cup in a different caliber that's not so fine."

Both Gold Cup National Match pistols were catalogued together.

O.P. Sorry for the thread drift.

Last edited by 824tsv; 05-23-2017 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Added info
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
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O.P. Sorry for the thread drift.
Its all good. Conversations are meant for just that.

To be honest, the post went a little sideways from the get go.
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:05 AM
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One other thought as to the perceived muzzle flip, just consider that when you fire the Model 14 you feel the immediate recoil impulse to the bullet leaving the barrel and that's it, nothing else happens.

With the Model 52-2 the bullet moves, the slide unlocks, cycles open, hits the end of its travel, moves forward, picks up a round and locks into battery. A lot of commotion causing the muzzle to waggle that you don't get in a revolver. Perhaps what you are experiencing is the action cycling rather than the recoil.

With a light Mid-range load the action cycling might almost be more obvious than the recoil impulse. Just a suggestion as I've not shot a Model 52 myself.

As an aside, I'd go with most advice here and not use someone else's reloads unless I really knew the loader and had broken down some rounds to confirm their make up and also put them over a chronograph.
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
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One other thought as to the perceived muzzle flip, just consider that when you fire the Model 14 you feel the immediate recoil impulse to the bullet leaving the barrel and that's it, nothing else happens.

With the Model 52-2 the bullet moves, the slide unlocks, cycles open, hits the end of its travel, moves forward, picks up a round and locks into battery. A lot of commotion causing the muzzle to waggle that you don't get in a revolver. Perhaps what you are experiencing is the action cycling rather than the recoil.

With a light Mid-range load the action cycling might almost be more obvious than the recoil impulse. Just a suggestion as I've not shot a Model 52 myself.

As an aside, I'd go with most advice here and not use someone else's reloads unless I really knew the loader and had broken down some rounds to confirm their make up and also put them over a chronograph.
This is exactly what I thought is happening. The motion/cycling is really what I am noticing. All other semi autos I wont have a more powerful round with higher pressures that I expect eats up or otherwise counters the recoil I am feeling. I mentioned something similar on this post the other day.

As for the reloads, I do trust them. But have taken the advice and took one apart. They weigh as marked.
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  #35  
Old 05-23-2017, 09:47 AM
Krell1 Krell1 is offline
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I had a 52-1 that I recently passed on to my son. When I shot it the load I used was also 2.7 grains of Bullseye. I believe I increased the load slightly to eliminate jams and stovepipes. I never really noticed any excess recoil and thoroughly enjoyed shooting that gun. As stated before, it's one of the best target guns ever made and could compete with any custom gun. The trigger on mine was outstanding.

Although 2.7 grains of BE is most common, that's not to say other powders also work well. With the recent powder shortage, I switched to another, found the right load and never had a problem.

Everyone I've allowed to shoot the gun, including my son, have all ended up with a big smile. I usually get a big "ME LIKEY"!

I'm 72 now and remember drooling over the gun back when it originally was produced. I believe the original price was $650 but not quite sure of that. It was priced above what I could afford so never bought one. Later in the mid 80's I found mine at a local gun shop. It was pristine and in the original box. I offered $400 for it and my offer was accepted. I've cherished it ever since and now my son is using it. I hope he can pass it on as well.
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  #36  
Old 05-29-2017, 09:01 AM
Kevin G Kevin G is offline
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From my limited experience with my 52-2, ejected brass from a proper load falls in a nice pile practically right next to my feet.
If brass were ejecting differently I would suspect a possible hot load. Not saying this is a hard and fast rule but it could be an indication.
Kevin
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  #37  
Old 06-02-2017, 11:58 AM
Sclays Sclays is offline
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Both National Match Mid-Range and the 52 are among the finest target guns ever made.
Be aware that many 52 parts are near impossible to find. Especially the bushing.
Take good care of your gun.
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