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Old 07-04-2017, 03:51 PM
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Default .38 special, how to improve accuracy?

Dear all,

I have a .357mag with all signs on green to perform on top levell.
Cilinder gap is .1mm on all chambers, the forcing cone is a fresh cut 11degree checked with a go/no-go gauge from Brownells.
I shot some tests resting on a sandbag aiming with a laser on a small white sticker on a black background.
Groups seems to be the same size whatever ammo used. Except my match ammo, these cases are shortened to 23mm.
I leave them out of this discussion, I will fix this after I learned about the standard .38.
See attached picture with several groups.
Groups are shot on 12m.
Can I reduce the group by halfe?

Like to hear from you.

Best regards HP
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:03 PM
Wee Hooker Wee Hooker is online now
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First, I'd suggest you turn off the laser. Your focusing on the wrong thing.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:05 PM
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I don't see any pictures. Have you recut the muzzle crown? Are all chamber throats the same correct size? Does every chamber line up correctly with the barrel?

What gun are we talking about? What weight and type are the bullets? How fast are they going?

If you are getting 1-1/2" to 2" (38mm to 50mm) groups at 50 meters, you're there. You can't tell much about accuracy at 12 meters. Just about anything will work at that distance.

My main match gun will shoot 3/8" (9.5mm) groups at 25 meters and 1-1/4" (32mm) groups at 50 meters. It is a S&W 686 with 6" barrel shooting 38 Special with 125 gr. JHP at 1100 fps.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:06 PM
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Aside from practice you're pretty much dead on with this sentence...

"Groups seems to be the same size whatever ammo used"

Different ammo WILL have different results. Different powders, different weight, different primers,...etc...etc... Will all cause different results

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Old 07-04-2017, 04:10 PM
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Many Questions come to mind... What is the firearm, its barrel length. Has the bore been been slugged, if so what are the dimensions of the lands, grooves. What is the diameter of the bullet(s) you are shooting. Jacketed, plated, cast lead bullets. 12 meters is 12x40" roughly 480 inches or 40', no offence but groups should be MUCH tighter.

And just how did you guys defeat the Spanish navy in a dry field?
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:12 PM
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Maybe I expect less from my revolvers but 3 out of four of those groups look pretty good to me even with the odd flyer which is usually the shooter not the gun. Only my 14-2 with 148gr HBWC will out preform what you have going there.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Wee Hooker View Post
First, I'd suggest you turn off the laser. Your focusing on the wrong thing.
Plus one on this.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:13 PM
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Bullet weight is where I would start. Most of my 38s shoot well and consistent with either 148 WC or 158 RN. I tried 130 (round nose plated as I remember) and it all went to hell. It was like starting over with a new gun and caliber. Never bought those again.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:18 PM
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I'm seeing a lot of flyers, which is an indication that you need to work on your trigger skills. BTW, don't be insulted by my statement because I have had the same problems. Back in 2008 I got it into my head to see how accurate my tensioned barrel model 620 was and it took a 2 power scope and practicing twice a week for 6 weeks to get under an inch at 50 yards from a sandbag rest. Two things I learned from that experience. One was that releasing the trigger perfectly was NOT as easy as many think it is. The second was that consistent management of the recoil is critical.

Sum it all up and shooting a handgun with real precision is not nearly as easy many assume it is. It takes constant and regular practice with lots of ammunition expended. Actually more time and money that I am willing to expend so I am quite content with simply shooting "well".
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Old 07-04-2017, 05:11 PM
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Yes you can.
You seem to have extracted all the guns mechanical accuracy and worked out accurate loads the gun shoots well.
Now comes the hard part , eliminating the human variations that go on when shooting. Some excellent shooters are born with the God given talent and have a leg up on the rest of us. I have seen fellow shooters who could stand one handed at 50 feet and shoot groups covered with a quarter, they trained and practiced for years. I always had some talent for it but never the driven dedication to practice three times a week and then compete on week ends like they did. One fellow shot for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit...shooting was his job and he was good at it. He gave me a few pointers that I would have never figured out on my on .
Two things that helped me, a professional target trigger job (Clark's Custom Guns) not a DIY spring swap job. And learning proper trigger control...triggernometry, the AMU marksman taught me the proper way to use the trigger ...these two things really made a big difference in my group size.
A good coach really helps, he can spot things you are doing or not doing and help you get there faster. Hard work and practice, no magic formula or pill , just a good instructor and a lot of shooting. I got lucky and had a shooter in our club that could shoot and was glad to help me and the others...maybe there are still some fellows out there that can help you.
Gary

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Old 07-04-2017, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
I'm seeing a lot of flyers, which is an indication that you need to work on your trigger skills. BTW, don't be insulted by my statement because I have had the same problems. Back in 2008 I got it into my head to see how accurate my tensioned barrel model 620 was and it took a 2 power scope and practicing twice a week for 6 weeks to get under an inch at 50 yards from a sandbag rest. Two things I learned from that experience. One was that releasing the trigger perfectly was NOT as easy as many think it is. The second was that consistent management of the recoil is critical.

Sum it all up and shooting a handgun with real precision is not nearly as easy many assume it is. It takes constant and regular practice with lots of ammunition expended. Actually more time and money that I am willing to expend so I am quite content with simply shooting "well".
If I were OP I'd take this gentlemen's advice.
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Old 07-04-2017, 11:42 PM
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"Groups seems to be the same size whatever ammo used."..... quote

First off, glad to see things are working out for you and the new weapon.

Second: that ammo.... same weight bullet or different weights?
You can shoot a box of 110 and 125gr JHP bullets that are jacketed and
then try 148 or 158gr Lead bullets if you can get them to see if your revolver
likes any over the others.
Over here the 125 JHP and 158gr lead are the cheaper factory loads and
both will work for target practice.
The new kid on the block is a 130gr flat nose plated/copper bullet for target use.

Most .357 magnum owners shot 80% 38 special to magnum loads, unless
you are young and full of "P and vinegar".

Have fun.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:31 AM
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Default GROUP SIZE, OR WHERE THEY ARE?

A one hole group is good IMO & the first goal. Next would be getting that good group where you want it. (X ring) I feel the shooter is the weak link & would suggest not worrying so much about the mechanical minutae and do some freehand shooting at differing ranges then re-evaluate. Tweaking the load/shooting technique would "most likely"??? be the next step??? With todays tech, filming yourself shooting may have some issues that stand out to you.

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Old 07-05-2017, 10:40 PM
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>Groups are shot on 12m

That just tells you how you are shooting. Try a minimum of 25m, and 45-50m would be better.
What are the throat diameters? What is the barrel groove diameter? Are the chambers aligned with the barrel and is the cylinder tightly locked?
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Old 07-06-2017, 12:00 PM
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With the gun producing 3 out of 4 very good groups, (if at 25 M or more), the gun itself is capable, I would look at the loads. Start with new matched brass, uniform the primer pockets, trim the flash holes, trim the brass all to the exact same length and start playing with the crimp. If using a full WC bullet, you might want to use (recommend) a taper crimp, and I would set the crimp at .003". If you are using a RN or SWC bullet I would recommend a roll crimp and make sure it crimps just exactly at the base of the crimp groove of the bullet. I would start with a medium crimp and tighten it up about .002" each test run and see what works best.

Then look at the bullets you are using. Not all bullets are created equal. If using lead, (recommend), be sure and get from a best quality source. In paper punching loads, swagged seems to group best for me. As you increase velocity, cast bullets will probably be needed at some point (around 850 to 900 fps you may start getting a little leading with swagged). Make up 20-25 rounds of test loads for each batch, and when shooting shoot off a sandbag rest, and make sure the barrel doesn't touch the rest, only the frame.

Persevere, and you will find that magical load .
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
One fellow shot for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit...shooting was his job and he was good at it. He gave me a few pointers that I would have never figured out on my on .
Two things that helped me, a professional target trigger job (Clark's Custom Guns) not a DIY spring swap job. And learning proper trigger control...triggernometry, the AMU marksman taught me the proper way to use the trigger ...these two things really made a big difference in my group size.
Tell us more about this proper use of the trigger, please.
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:12 PM
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Dear all,

Excuses for the late reply, thanks for helping me out.
I am always overwhelmed by how many time you are willing to spend on a total stranger. Even at the 4th of July! Thanks!

I had to read your posts a couple of times to get an overview of what is standing there. Some very motivating groups! Nice goals to go for.
I realize I ran in quite naive, I am going to improve the circumstances, on all fronts.

I will try the loads mentioned, or something close with the same characteristics, something to start from. If you have a favorite load too: let me know!

Besides that I still have some, more general, questions:
- For instance: how big is the influence of the velocity on the accuracy or is it mainly the bullet that determines the quality of the ammo? (assumed that the brass is checked)
- Any idea how to create a reproducible steady alignment with the target without a laser taped to the barrel and without a scope (just don't have one). Is a rock solid wooden gutter were I can lay the barrel in an alternative?

Best regards

HP

Oh, and about the Spanish guys. We kicked them out, but it took 80 years, and I don't wanna wait that long! ;-)

Extra info:

The gun is a 6" N frame with a full barrel underlug, pre-lock, pre-MIM. Barely shot but to be sure I had the barrel refitted. The conus is re-cutt at 11degrees and it is crowned, precisely. The barrel is .357, in mint condition. The mouths of the cylinder seem the same, no large deviations. The main spring is full on, factory standard, all primers should ignite evenly. Till now I don't know how to check alignment of chamber and barrel. The endshake of the cylinder is nill, it locks up tight too.

For the ammo I just grabbed some components (no mixed, but new brass) and made some combinations, just to see what happens. I always use Vihtavuori powders. It is a tubular design with a progressive burning rate. I think it is a good quality powder. For the slower powders I always go to the max of the 38spec table, just to make sure it burns right. A 357mag can handle that. I use Federall primers N100. The bullets I used are all copper plated, dia .357. No crimp grove. I do apply roll crimp to prevent bullets moving out. I don't want to try lead bullets because of my tight cylinder gap and lead build up on the front of the cylinder.

The ammo made me start this thread. Because all the groups seem to be the same they don't give a hint which direction to go with developing. 158gr Round nose P+ load, 158gr flat nose target load, 148gr hbwc target load, all .357, all the same results.
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:47 PM
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Experimenting with different reloads can help, as many have stated.

Way back in the 1960s, I was shooting in Bullseye matches competitively. I was using a Colt Match Target Woodsman at the time, which back then was widely used by many Bullseye shooters for the .22 stage. I had a friend who had been a Bullseye shooter for many years and was very serious about the sport. He even traveled to other in-state and out-of-state matches almost every weekend, and had accumulated several shelves of trophies. Using my Match Woodsman, he shot much better scores than I ever could, and almost as high as he shot with his custom Clark Hi-Standard pistol, and sometimes better. So there is something to be said about the value of practicing a lot to reduce your group size.

I will pass on one other piece of advice. 10-shot groups are far more sensitive indicators of group size performance than 5-shot groups. You might not believe this, but the shots in a single 10-shot group can be arranged to produce 252 different 5-shot group combinations. I have previously stated on many occasions that firing a minimum of five 10-shot groups and taking the average extreme spread of all five groups is by far the best and most optimal way to reliably judge the performance of any ammunition and gun pairing, and I have proved that by statistical analysis. Firing more than five such groups improves statistical confidence in the results. Anything less is folly, as is using 5-shot groups.

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Old 07-13-2017, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDC5109 View Post
- For instance: how big is the influence of the velocity on the accuracy or is it mainly the bullet that determines the quality of the ammo? (assumed that the brass is checked)
Velocity is usually not a great indicator of accuracy. For instance, some of the loads capable of producing great accuracy (2.8 grains of Bullseye under a 158-gr LSWC produces horrible velocity standard deviations, but excellent accuracy).

Me, I think that a consistent pressure wave--which may not result in consistent velocities--is what produces good accuracy, presuming that the gun is happy with the bullet, and the bullet is happy with the pressure and velocity. But more realistically, the more I learn the more I realize I know nothing and accuracy is voodoo and luck.

If I were trying to produce really great match ammo, here's what I'd do:

--Start with matched brass. That means brass of a consistent length (inconsistent length = inconsistent crimp, which = inconsistent pressure waves), with an identical headstamp at least, or preferably from the same lot. And I would want that brass to be factory-fresh or at most, once-fired, because brass loses its elasticity the more it's reloaded and fired, which again, changes the pressure wave.

--Sort my bullets. First, throw any bullet with a visible imperfection into the practice bin. What's the point of two bullets that weigh the same, if one has a giant pour mark and the other has a huge casting seam and a messed-up lube ring? Then weigh the bullet and sort by .1-.2 grain.

--Individually-weigh charges. This is nowhere near as important as the first two steps.

But realistically, I'm not going to do that, and you shouldn't either. I would do that if I were shooting centerfire bullseye, and even then, I would only bother with the ammo I was using on the long line (50 yards, as opposed to 25) in matches.

For more casual accuracy, it's about the effort you're willing to put into it. I'm not going to sort bullets for the bulk of my ammo, so I don't test accuracy like that. What's the point? If a given load is only going to produce great results when I individually weigh charges, it's no good to me. So I take a bullet, pick a charge, and go for it. If that doesn't work, I don't even bother running through all possible charges of a given powder--I just try the next powder.

"Not working" can mean many things. Maybe the SD of the charge weights is so huge I don't feel comfortable loading it without weighing each charge. Maybe it's inaccurate, or doesn't cycle reliably, or is exceptionally dirty. It's all up to me.

Quote:
- Any idea how to create a reproducible steady alignment with the target without a laser taped to the barrel and without a scope (just don't have one). Is a rock solid wooden gutter were I can lay the barrel in an alternative?
I would actually rest your wrist, rather than the gun. It's easier on the gun, and easier to shoot steady groups with.

On the flip-side--why bother? If you can't figure out which load is better shooting normally, what does it matter if one is more accurate than the other from a rest?

Unless you're resting from a Ransom rest or similar--in which case, what's the point of a load that shoots well from a Ransom, but which you can't shoot as well as another load that did better in the Ransom--then there's not a huge point to resting.

If you're concerned about shooting well in a match, pick two or three likely loads, make a box or two of each, and try shooting them on different days, in different conditions. Declare a winner, and stop worrying about it. Especially if you've selected a powder that's known to perform well in .38 Spl at the velocity you want.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:04 PM
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Two points that have not been discussed are:
1 Sandbags. Make sure that you are resting your hands or wrists on the bags, not the gun. That gives me the best groups.
2 Trigger. It seems weird to do but learn to feel the triggers break and know how much further you have to pull to get there. Then do not pull on the trigger unless your sights are on. This means you might wiggle for a time with the same tension on the trigger.
2A. Triggers method 2. Sorry I have another. Everyone wobbles, no one can hold straight. Train your wobble to be a tight small circle. Pull the trigger only as the gun approaches the bullseye, not as it leaves it.
One of those two theories should help.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:57 AM
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No mention of grips. I felt more control after changing my grips to allow more fingers in contact with the grip.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:21 PM
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There is something to be considered regarding using grips which fit your hands properly. People have hands of all sizes, and a gun which has grips which fit large hands well may not perform very well for a small-handed shooter, or vice versa. It's a little more complicated than that, but I'll leave a more detailed discussion for another time. Sort of similar to shooting a shotgun. A top trap shooter or skeet shooter will have his shotgun stock dimensioned (drop, length of pull, cast-on or cast-off, etc.) to fit his body properly and provide a consistent hold and target picture. Stocks provided by the factory are made to fit the "average" shooter reasonably well, not so much larger or smaller shooters.

Regarding shooting a handgun from a bench, I always shoot over sandbags. I use a two-handed hold for maximum steadiness and rest only my wrists on the sandbags, not any part of the handgun itself. With some practice, one can shoot about the same size groups as can be fired from a Ransom Rest. I have used those also. Sandbags are far cheaper.
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Old 07-19-2017, 03:42 PM
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Hi,
Thanks for the new tips.
I always thought that not resting the barrel was for long guns only. Learned again....
Regarding the wobbling: I already am a practitioner for years. It works great!
The range is closed at the moment for holidays but I cann't wait to try again.

You say that shooting groups from a sandbag can be as precise as from a ransom rest. Does this count for iron sights too? Do you have a trick to aim with iron sights?

Anyway, about the grips. The N frame actually is a bit large for my mediate size 9 hands. I really have to wrap my hands around the grip to have a good reach for the DA trigger (when shooting single handed). Even with the Hogue finger groved round butt I have installed. Off factory these grips still cover a small part at the bottom of the back-strap. I grinded this off too following the contour of the frame. The grip now has a "egg" kind of model which prevents it to slide up or down. Besides that, I use ProGrip, this combination works fine for me.

The only issue I have is that the gun is sometimes a bit rotated when I pull from my holster. I don't blame the grip for this, I have to train to get this straight. But..... if you know the ultimate grip preventing this......... Any thoughts on a Knill grip size small?
Attached a picture of the current grip.

Oh, something comes to mind regarding precision: a very tight adjusted trigger stop. I experienced a gain of 3 to 4 points on a score of 225 out of 240 points. BTW the original S&W is not my favourite. I use to drill a set screw through the frame right behind were my finger touches the trigger. (were S&W places their little knob)

Best regards

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Old 07-19-2017, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
Regarding shooting a handgun from a bench, I always shoot over sandbags. I use a two-handed hold for maximum steadiness and rest only my wrists on the sandbags, not any part of the handgun itself. With some practice, one can shoot about the same size groups as can be fired from a Ransom Rest. I have used those also. Sandbags are far cheaper.
I have a Ransom & find this true. Out to 25yds benched, I can do about as well as my Ransom, just not for every string. That is the huge diff in the Ransom, it removes pretty much any human error & can do it all day.
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:05 PM
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.38 special, how to improve accuracy? .38 special, how to improve accuracy? .38 special, how to improve accuracy? .38 special, how to improve accuracy? .38 special, how to improve accuracy?  
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Default Use a true target load....

An HBWC with a a light charge of fast powder like Bullseye or Titegroup is almost a universal recipe for the most accurate target rounds.

Speer and Hornady make good 148 gr HBWCs and if shot between 700 and 950 fps are the easiest way to make accurate ammo. If you find that load lacking, work from there.

I use this combo even in .357 cases for use in my .357 mag guns.

There are limits to velocity in that leading is more likely at higher velocities and that higher pressure can blow the skirt's off HBWCs.
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