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Old 08-02-2018, 10:09 AM
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Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels? Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels? Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels? Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels? Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels?  
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Default Commercial powders more appropriate for short barrels?

Like most reloaders, I have started with recommended loads, tweaked them to my specific firearm, then stuck with the tweaked load. Rarely have I been adventurous. That is changing!

As I venture into the world of 3" revolvers for CCW, I plan to practice until I am quite comfortable with the load and arm both strong and weak hand. The problem is defense ammo is expensive on a fixed income. Therefore, I plan to replicate my carry ammo.

For use in a 36-6 and a 686+, I am leaning towards the Federal Micro HST load, which looks like a 148gr HBWC seated flush with the case mouth. I realize that a HBWC does not lend itself to a rapid reload.

I am looking at loading a Berry's plated 148gr HBWC (inverted) with a target velocity of 900 fps for practice. What powder would you recommend for this load in a 3"?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:27 AM
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I would lean towards either Bullseye or W231. Have use BE in my 2" model 36 for close to 40 years now.
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:29 AM
Marshal Kane Marshal Kane is offline
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I follow the powder recommendations found in the reloading guides for like bullets that you intend to reload. I do this because the loads have been tested and deemed safe. I did this when I was a new reloader and, fifty years later, still do this.
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:30 AM
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I like Accurate 2. Fast ball powder that meters great, burns clean, and is low flash.
The Western load guide only lists a wimpy target loads for 2 and 148 gr wadcutters, but interpolating from similar weight cast bullets it should be straightforward to get 900 fps and stay within 38 +P. Will be a very soft shooter from the 686 that's for sure.
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:38 AM
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Any medium burner from w231 on the fast side to aa#7 on the slow side will work.
Personnaly, a ful wc is a really poor choice for a rapid reload, no matter how much you practice. If you like the federal load, carry that, but your reload wants to be fast & reluable. A round nose jhp, even a lswchp will be a lot faster.
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:52 AM
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I try to always stay within the reloading manual recommendations.

What prompted my question was when you read the product description for short barreled ammo, it always seems to identify "powders specially formulated" for use in short barreled guns. I was wondering if any commercially available powders have been identified by their manufacturers as being better suited for short barrels.

I do believe in rapid reloads, but unfortunately, when you find yourself in a defensive situation at bad breath range, a reload opportunity is highly unlikely!
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:46 AM
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(1) You're reading marketing. If anything, the "special formulation" is probably a flash suppressant. Everybody decided "short barrel formulation" was the new hotness to stick on a box. Gotta do something to justify "defensive ammo" pricing.

(2) Just focus on duplicating the PF. Use either a 125-gr RN or a 158 LSWC.

(3) If you're worried about price, why are you selecting a defensive round that costs $1/round from the biggest mainstream hype-masters in the ammo business? Speer Gold Dot has been around much longer, with far more actual field use, and it costs less than half what the HST goes for.

(4) Powder-wise, nothing special--stuff that's on the slower side for .38 Spl. Universal, Unique, Power Pistol, HS6.

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Old 08-02-2018, 01:50 PM
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With that Berry's plated 148 gr HBWC reversed , start out with
3.5 grains of Bullseye , this will give approx. 800 fps and gives the optimal load for an unplated lead HBWC when reversed .
If the plated bullet doesn't expand enough, slowly work up to a max. load of 4.0 grains of Bullseye. Do not exceed 4.0 with the reversed HBWC , accuracy starts to go to pot .
Gary
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrrifleman View Post
I try to always stay within the reloading manual recommendations.

What prompted my question was when you read the product description for short barreled ammo, it always seems to identify "powders specially formulated" for use in short barreled guns. I was wondering if any commercially available powders have been identified by their manufacturers as being better suited for short barrels.

I do believe in rapid reloads, but unfortunately, when you find yourself in a defensive situation at bad breath range, a reload opportunity is highly unlikely!
That is the point though. If you need a reload something has gone very wrong & you will need that extra ammo sooner than later IMO.
As to special powders, what the ammo manuf are talking about are powder with lower flash than something else. The VV line of powders & the AA line offer flash retardant powders. For practice e ammo though, who cares? You just need something that feels about the same & hits POA/POI as your carry ammo.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Wise_A View Post
(1) You're reading marketing. If anything, the "special formulation" is probably a flash suppressant. Everybody decided "short barrel formulation" was the new hotness to stick on a box. Gotta do something to justify "defensive ammo" pricing.

(2) Just focus on duplicating the PF. Use either a 125-gr RN or a 158 LSWC.

(3) If you're worried about price, why are you selecting a defensive round that costs $1/round from the biggest mainstream hype-masters in the ammo business? Speer Gold Dot has been around much longer, with far more actual field use, and it costs less than half what the HST goes for.

(4) Powder-wise, nothing special--stuff that's on the slower side for .38 Spl. Universal, Unique, Power Pistol, HS6.
Actually the HST in any caliber are probably a bit cheaper than SGDHP.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
With that Berry's plated 148 gr HBWC reversed , start out with
3.5 grains of Bullseye , this will give approx. 800 fps and gives the optimal load for an unplated lead HBWC when reversed .
If the plated bullet doesn't expand enough, slowly work up to a max. load of 4.0 grains of Bullseye. Do not exceed 4.0 with the reversed HBWC , accuracy starts to go to pot .
Gary
For practice ammo, loading the HBWC backwards offers nothing. For a SD load, well the HBWC loaded backwards was always an iffy choice. I certainly wouldn't go that route today, too many good bullet choices out there. In 38sp, the 158grLSWCHP is still hard to beat.
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
I am looking at loading a Berry's plated 148gr HBWC (inverted) with a target velocity of 900 fps for practice. What powder would you recommend for this load in a 3"?
The powder that delivers the best performance and velocities in a 4" barrel will do so in a 3" or 2" barrel too. Concentrate on accuracy, not a few extra fps.

I use a lot of W231/HP-38 in the .38 Special, it works well for me in a J frame, K frame or L frame.

Quote:
What prompted my question was when you read the product description for short barreled ammo, it always seems to identify "powders specially formulated" for use in short barreled guns. I was wondering if any commercially available powders have been identified by their manufacturers as being better suited for short barrels.
Much of that refers to added flash suppressant and of course good marketing. Find an accurate load and go with it, you will do fine.

If your SD ammo actually does generate 900 fps in a short barrel W231 might not getting there. In that case I would go with a slower powder like AA#5, HS-6, Silhouette, True Blue or maybe W572 instead of W231.
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:16 AM
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The "short bbl" in the name isn't for having low flash. It's for having a bullet the expands/functions at low velocity in the "short bbl's".

Federal micro hst is a 130gr bullet that does a whopping +/- 840fps out of 2" bbl'd 38spl revolvers.

You're going to have a hard time finding 130gr wc bullets. Any 125gr/130gr cast bullet turned backwards will work (loaded flat base out). Most medium burn powders will get +/- 840fps with a 130gr bullet/38spl/short bbl's.
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Old 08-03-2018, 08:45 AM
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I have those plated hbwcs and have a load running 920 with American Select. Do not shoot them slow. If you stick a plated bullet in a barrel they are next to impossible to remove. I thought Berry's dropped production on them.

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Old 08-03-2018, 10:46 AM
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Try Unique. I like it better than Bulleseye and it is versatile if you decide on something else. It should get you where you want to be plus give you more options.

I'm assuming recoil is an issue hence the full wadcutter loads. If you have hand issues that isn't a bad choice. I would spend extra practice time on reloads. Make some dummy loads w no powder or primers. Mark the bullet noses and case heads w red nail polish for safety. Make you some empties as well. Dry fire the empties then dump them and reload the dummies. You can do that at home whenever you have time. Costs next to nothing and is good practice when you can't actually shoot.

Final thoughts- You might want to carry a reload of a JHP. I understand why you're looking at target wadcutters as your primary but if you ever really need a reload you'll probably need it really really badly and you'll probably need it really really fast. At that point the slightly different POI and increased recoil is probably way down the list of things to worry about. For that matter see what the POI difference is between a good factory JHP or LSWHP load and the target wadcutters is. Out to 15 yards may not be much. A couple of inches up or down isn't much compared to a man's chest at short range. Practice w lite target loads to save your hands and money then buy and carry a box of premium carry ammo. I would bet if you ever have to point a gun at a person the extra recoil between your inexpensive practice loads and factory premium 38 Special won't be a factor like it will be when you're practicing. At that point it isn't a NRA Bulleseye match and almost no defensive shootings happen at long range. Practice w the carry load would be ideal but ideal isn't necessary.
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Old 08-03-2018, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
For practice ammo, loading the HBWC backwards offers nothing. For a SD load, well the HBWC loaded backwards was always an iffy choice. I certainly wouldn't go that route today, too many good bullet choices out there. In 38sp, the 158grLSWCHP is still hard to beat.
What he said! The FBI load used since back in the '70s was that blue colored Nyclad™ bullet in a nickel plated case with a +P charge. They ran them in all sorts of 2" and 3" guns with great effectiveness, right up until bottom loader madness took over. That's what rides in both my 2" Baby Chief and my 3" Model 60-4 and "Yea though I walk through the valley of evil..." For practice, a good cast or swaged LSWC over a recommended charge of 231 will give close enough performance to let you develop the proper familiarity and feel. Oh yeah, they load well out of speed loaders if that is a concern!

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Old 08-03-2018, 05:32 PM
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Popular belief is slow powder for long barrels and quick powder for short ones.It just ain't so;slow powder will give best velocity even in shorties(and the most flash too).
For your application and in the .38 spl case capacity,I'd say that Unique is about the slowest and best you can have...and with less flash than many others.
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Old 08-03-2018, 05:33 PM
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I'd recommend a complete rethink.

The effects of fear and the fight or flight response are all too often ignored when selecting arms and ammo.
In a calm and well centered state of being, the fine motor functions of the human body are impressive.
Think of guitar playing. Fingers sticking the landing on 6 strings with not much more than .25 inch spacing with effortless speed and precision. Its truly a marvel of creation that this is possible.
but when the pucker factor has kicked in and your intake and exhaust valves are coming close to being one in the same, that near super human ability is stone gone baby.
When your life is really in danger, your motor skills diminish to crude motion with no real precision. You could put your eye out trying to scratch the back of your head in this state.

That said ... do not count on reloading a revolver.
The advantage of a revolver is power. It can supply this in abundance over any auto.
if your load is not ballistically superior to an auto of similar bore. find something else.
But in the event that you have to try to reload a revolver in a real defensive scenario, work to make this easy for yourself. accept no liabilities here because everything shape shifts under pressure. a 38 spec round is like a gnat egg in your pocket that turns into a 105mm shell when you try to put it into the cylinder. Likewise, the charge holes of the cylinder shrink to carburetor jets.
thus, a TCHP or similar design will always be favored for its tendency not to add difficulty to an already challenging situation.
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:55 PM
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If I had a 3" revolver.........

Forget about the 148 for SD and move up to the lead 158 gr.
You can go plated or coated if you need a "Clean barrel" after 500 rounds of shooting.

It is just a better bullet for SD work in a 3" barrel.

Even the little 125 gr JHP will work in a 3" with Factory ammo
but it will cost you a little more for the +P carry ammo.
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
Actually the HST in any caliber are probably a bit cheaper than SGDHP.
I actually checked on Lucky Gunner. On Target Sports, Micro HST .38 Spl is going for $1/round, while Speer Gold Dot is selling at $0.40.

Personally, absent a proper hollowpoint for legal reasons, or if one was working under the assumption that a JHP wouldn't expand properly--what about a 200-grain lead bullet with a flat nose, either LSWC or RNFP? If I remember correctly, the .38 Spl deer hunters like it (the ones that don't use 158s, anyway), and it would maximize momentum.

Of course, if a hollowpoint isn't possible for legal reasons, then it goes without saying that a reversed HBWC would be questionable to possess, at best.

RE: reloads, I don't believe there's any rule anywhere saying your reloads have to be the same bullet as your loaded carry ammo. So one could carry the chambers loaded with full wadcutters, and then have their speed loaders/strips filled with roundnose or semiwads. Presuming, of course, the carrier in question believed full wadcutters offered an advantage.
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Old 08-04-2018, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forrest r View Post
The "short bbl" in the name isn't for having low flash. It's for having a bullet the expands/functions at low velocity in the "short bbl's".

Federal micro hst is a 130gr bullet that does a whopping +/- 840fps out of 2" bbl'd 38spl revolvers.

You're going to have a hard time finding 130gr wc bullets. Any 125gr/130gr cast bullet turned backwards will work (loaded flat base out). Most medium burn powders will get +/- 840fps with a 130gr bullet/38spl/short bbl's.
The OP said the advertisement mentioned "powder specifically formulated" for use in short barrel guns, not the bullet like in the Speer Short Barrel ammo.
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Old 08-04-2018, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
The OP said the advertisement mentioned "powder specifically formulated" for use in short barrel guns, not the bullet like in the Speer Short Barrel ammo.
Actually this is what the op said:
"What prompted my question was when you read the product description for short barreled ammo, it always seems to identify "powders specially formulated" for use in short barreled guns. I was wondering if any commercially available powders have been identified by their manufacturers as being better suited for short barrels."

A generic blanket statement. (Words like any, their & manufacturers are a clue)

Any time a ammo mfg comes out with a high performance product like of sd/law enforcement ammo, it's all about the bullet. More important it's all about bullet design & skiving.

As far as powders go, 90+% of the handgun powders out there will drive a 130gr bullet 840fps +/- out of a 2" bbl'd revolver in 38spl cases.
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Old 08-04-2018, 08:33 AM
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I've loaded a lot of rounds with Alliant Power Pistol. It is a very good powder. It measures well and I can get some pretty impressive accuracy and velocity. The only drawback is that it has a large flash. If I were going to try to get the same results with a lower flash today I'd use Alliant BE-86. I'll probably switch over if and when I run out of Power Pistol.
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:23 PM
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The only drawback is that it has a large flash.
Drawback?
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Old 08-05-2018, 03:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forrest r View Post
Actually this is what the op said:
"What prompted my question was when you read the product description for short barreled ammo, it always seems to identify "powders specially formulated" for use in short barreled guns. I was wondering if any commercially available powders have been identified by their manufacturers as being better suited for short barrels."

A generic blanket statement. (Words like any, their & manufacturers are a clue)

Any time a ammo mfg comes out with a high performance product like of sd/law enforcement ammo, it's all about the bullet. More important it's all about bullet design & skiving.

As far as powders go, 90+% of the handgun powders out there will drive a 130gr bullet 840fps +/- out of a 2" bbl'd revolver in 38spl cases.
Why do you always do this? You contradict someome, you are incorrect, then when called on it you come back with something that has nothing to do with your mistake.

I said powder, you said bullet, then you put up a quote verifying it was powder but then make it look like you didn't make a mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes, own it and move on.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:36 AM
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Default In the case of 135 gr. Speer Gold Dots for short barrels....

It's the BULLETS themselves that are designed to expand at lower velocities (between 800-900 fps).

Short or long barrel, slower powders get the higher velocities. Not wanting to get into magnum powders in the .38 special, good results can be had with medium powders like Power Pistol Unique and Acc #7.

I decide what defensive ammo I'm going to carry, then match up a cheaper reload that approximates it for practice. I know people that say, "Train with what you carry." but they must have a lot of money. I shoot enough of the expensive stuff in practice so as to be familiar with it.

I don't want to start a debate about reversed HBWCs as defense rounds, but bullet makes have improved their projectiles to make them very effective. Gold Dots and Remington Golden Sabers have nice big hollow points that simulate the hollow base of a wadcutter but the behavior (expansion, penetration, weight retention) is predictable at proper velocities and proven in the field.
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
Why do you always do this? You contradict someome, you are incorrect, then when called on it you come back with something that has nothing to do with your mistake.

I said powder, you said bullet, then you put up a quote verifying it was powder but then make it look like you didn't make a mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes, own it and move on.

My bad!!!
I read the op's statement as a generic/blanket statement about powder.
I also read the op's question about a specif ammo.

In my simple mind I viewed the questions as 2 separate questions and tried to give informative answers. Guns & ammo did an article on the line of ammo in question, their tests results.


With my limited knowledge of reloading/testing ammo in short bbl'd 38spl's & 357's I've found that darn near any combination of powders/130gr bullets will do 840+/-fps mirroring the op's ammo in question.

Being simple minded and knowing this ^^^^, darn near any powder with a flash suppressant will mirror the op's ammo in question. Hence the "special powder" is nothing more than a sales ploy as others have stated.

The meat and potatoes of it:
The op asked about a 148gr bullet!!!! The ammo in question uses a 130gr bullet. Hence my post about hard to find 130gr wc's but any 130gr bullet turned backward will work "practice ammo" per the op's 1st post.

Any "short bbl'd ammo" has a bullet specifically designed for lower velocities. The bullet's design comes down to 2 main things, the core & the jacket.

The core:
Testing of different alloys and either a mechanical hold or is bonded. The hst ammo uses a mechanical lock.
The jacket:
Also known a skiving will have different thicknesses along with specific pleats/depth of pleats.

What federal has done:
Used a low flash powder (heck AA#5 would work but seeing how the company owns alliant, my vote gets BE-86). They used a light bullet with a hp design that opens into pedals. The pedals allow for deeper penetration/less resistance then a standard round hp. The fbi measures the widest point of the open hp. The core has a mechanical hold/fit. This allows the skiving to support the core/slow the opening process. Both skiving and core have to open separately.

2 years ago I did similar testing with a 265gr hp for the 44mag. I wanted a bullet that would be effective down range +/- 100yds.


Oddly enough the bullet I came up with had a short nosed hp with short pleats. The core had a mechanical fit/hold. The skiving/jackets was hard (bonding anneals the jacket). It took 5 or 6 tries to get the performance I was looking for, the end result.


Anyway I'm sorry, I'm totally wrong and I didn't mean to ruffle yours or anyone else's feathers. Sometimes I forget I view things differently than other people.

I guess I should of posted the "special powder" is BS and you should be looking at 130gr bullets to mirror the performance/recoil/poi of your choice in sd ammo. Turning them/loading them backwards/leaving enough of the base of the bullet above the case mouth will let practice with your speed loaders. Personally I'd be looking for a 130gr bb bullet.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:01 AM
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I appreciate the spirited recommendations. Unfortunately, I fear that I must share more than I would like. I really don't wish to post something that could ever read like premeditation in the event that I ever have to use a sidearm for self defense.

Living in the SSRNJ, I can't have a loaded magazine in my car, it adds to the felony charges. At the re-entry points for the part of the state I live in, there just isn't any place safe to park and empty magazines from a day trip, but it is easy to dump a cylinder and put the ammo and revolver in a car lock box.

Applying what I learned in preparing for handgun hunting, the larger the metplat the greater the induced shock. Shock can be as much of a stopper as rapid blood loss. Theoretically, a wadcutter should cut a cleaner hold for bleeding than a wound from a bullet that pushes away flesh before it begins to expand.

Unless someone is shooting at me from a distance, any defensive use of a handgun is going to be limited to had breath distance (21 feet off less). I am disabled, I can't run to save my life due to significant leg injuries. I still face the prospect of losing my leg from complications resulting from injuries induced by an accident 11 years ago. I have a bum arm (very little strength) due to complications from a shoulder injury.

Recoil is not an issue, but my 36-6 is not rated for+P. Just as a point of reference, in NJ, possession of hollow points CAN result in a felony charge. Theoretically, it could be more efficient at times to just have wadcutter loads.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:22 AM
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You guys can select the tiny 90 gr or the soft target lead 148gr
or any of the bullets out there.

Just remember on thing.

Not all of the bad guys are going to be wearing just a "T" shirt
or give you a perfect straight on center mass shot.

Are you using the "Best" ammo for your protection?
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Old 08-05-2018, 01:32 PM
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Default Nyclads....ahead of their time..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
What he said! The FBI load used since back in the '70s was that blue colored Nyclad™ bullet in a nickel plated case with a +P charge. They ran them in all sorts of 2" and 3" guns with great effectiveness, right up until bottom loader madness took over. That's what rides in both my 2" Baby Chief and my 3" Model 60-4 and "Yea though I walk through the valley of evil..." For practice, a good cast or swaged LSWC over a recommended charge of 231 will give close enough performance to let you develop the proper familiarity and feel. Oh yeah, they load well out of speed loaders if that is a concern!

Froggie
What is a polymer coated semi wadcutter hollow point with a +P loading in a nickel case. Back in the 70's it was a Nyclad. A very good round but kind of expensive.

Today, I call it a 'reload'. Polymer coated SWCHPs are easy to obtain. The Nyclad coating was nylon, but I'll bet that today's coatings are at least as good.

So even though Nyclads are gone. (I have a few for old time's sake) They are actually common. Is there any factory made polymer coated SWCHP defense ammo now?

Besides, the SWC shape is more amenable to reloading an empty gun. Do you use speedloaders?
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