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Old 09-24-2018, 08:09 PM
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Default Vintage Gun 38 SPC Load recommendations

Have a 1920 Colt Army Special 6" bbl (know its not a Smith, but getting into the older revolvers, both Colts and Smiths). Casting 148 WCs, 158 grn SWCs and 164 grn RNs. What loads are you using with like bullets? Nothing but a fun gun to kill paper with. Anything that is paper accurate and won't beat the old gun up, but will let me enjoy shooting it. Thanx
PS: I have a lot of the manuals, and Load Data subscription. Just looking for personal loads that you have found to work well.

Last edited by Oscarflytyer; 09-24-2018 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:20 PM
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If it were me, I'd be using Alliant Bullseye. With the Wadcutters... 2.8-3.0 grains. I'd use 3.4-3.6 grains with the 158gr LSWC.

The heavier slug is one I'm not familiar with, I'd probably start 3.3 or 3.4 grains.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
If it were me, I'd be using Alliant Bullseye. With the Wadcutters... 2.8-3.0 grains. I'd use 3.4-3.6 grains with the 158gr LSWC.

The heavier slug is one I'm not familiar with, I'd probably start 3.3 or 3.4 grains.
have a start load of 3.2 BE to try for 158-164. Easy to work up to 3.6. Yet to really look at the WCs. The 164 RN mold I have is unmarked maker, but casts well and shoots well. Thanx!
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:33 PM
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My guess is that you'll find the Wadcutters so pleasing in every way that it'll be hard to want to look at anything else.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:37 PM
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which means I have to buy another mold (for 32 - have a pair for the 38)! Dang, HATE when that happens! lol! And DO love those pretty holes the WCs make!
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:44 PM
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148 grain cast wadcutters : 2.7 grains Bullseye (this is a classic accuracy load and is pleasant to shoot)

158 grain cast SWC: 3.5 grains Bullseye.

I shoot these in my Colt Police Positive Special .
Load safe,
Gary
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:52 PM
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I use 4 grains of Unique, with 148 HBWCs for pre WWII K Frames and 5 grains of Unique with 158 SWCs for later K Frames. For the HBWCs I don’t seat them flush with the case. However off the top of my head I can’t recall the exact overall length, somewhere around 1.30 I believe.

Don’t take my advice as gospel, verify against published data.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:00 PM
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I switched all my shooting to 'Blue Bullets' in the calibers they make. No clean up, no leading, no barrel wear.

for 38 spl I use 147 gr RN with 3.1 gr. Titegroup.

Light and crazy accurate.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:35 PM
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2.8 grains of Bulls-Eye under 148 grain hollow-base wadcutters for rewarding range work.

4.8 grains of Unique under 158 grain semi-wadcutters for a "field load" for "general purposes" in all the .38 Special revolvers, old and not-so-old.

I also have a favorite personal defense load using max charges of Unique with 158 grain lead semi-wadcutters, but don't habitually use them on oldie revolvers.
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:00 PM
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I get a lot of great use out of Titegroup in numerous places, but I simply hate it for use in .38 Special revolvers.

It runs ridiculously hot and the cylinder becomes too hot to handle, and I wrap my hand around the cylinder for ejecting spent brass.

Because of this, no more Titegroup in .38 Special for me.
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:28 PM
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Once again, Thanx All! Exactly what I am looking for! Appreciate it!
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:14 AM
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Mild loads with a 158 gr SWC or RN for vintage revolvers try these;
3.0 grs Titewad
3.4 grs Titegroup
3.3 grs 700X
3.5 grs Bullseye
3.6 grs Win ST
3.8 grs W231
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Old 10-01-2018, 04:31 PM
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I`ve been loading 4gr WW 231 with a 158gr LSWC for my 1943 Victory .38 Special with excellent results. YMMV.
Jim
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:15 PM
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The long-time old standard target load for .38 wadcutters is 2.7-3.0 grains of Bullseye (or 700-X). For 158 grain RN or SWC bullets, you can go up to 3.5 grains. You can go a little higher, say 4.0 grains but no need to. The Colt Army Special is a little beefier than the S&W K-frame and will handle higher pressures with relative ease.
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:46 PM
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My favorite .38 Special loads are safe in all revolvers in good condition.

148gr HBWC over 3.2gr W231
148gr DEWC over 3.4gr W231
158gr SWC over 4.0gr W231
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:06 AM
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For punching paper I use 3.5 grains of W231/HP38 under a 158 grain LSWC. Very mild and gives me 2,000 rounds per pound of powder.
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Old 10-03-2018, 01:16 AM
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With a 38 shooting 148 or 158 lead bullets you can't go wrong
loading either Bullseye or w231 for your target loads.

I have found a great powder for lead in the old pistols and revolvers
and it is accurate and has very low pressures with maximum loads
that are still in the light target range.

If you can find it........
Trail Boss with the 148gr lead starts at 2.6 grs at poa in my 6" and
with the 158gr lead wc design, I start out with 3.5grs at 700fps
that is a light target load.
In my 6", it max's out at 770fps with a full load of powder.

Have fun.
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Old 10-03-2018, 09:19 AM
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For target shooting , the above mentioned wadcutter loads . For all around use , 158 gr swc on top of 5.0 grs of Unique . Skeeter Skeleton called that last load , " the working mans load " . You won't go wrong with either , have fun . Regards, Paul
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Old 10-03-2018, 09:37 AM
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I use some different powders than some. I like Ramshot silohuette with 4.5 grains under 148 hbwc or dewc, also CSB1 or Universal is very cheap for me to get -and 2.9 to 3.8 under hbwc. For 158 lead CFE pistol 3.5 to 4.5 works good. Enjoy
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:11 AM
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38 Special is a pretty long case for ultra-light loads of fast burning powders. I almost exclusively use Trail Boss today for about all vintage guns. First, no possibility of double charge. Secondly, very low SD, along with good accuracy. Third, an almost full case of TB delivers under 800 fps.

Whatever you decide on loading, please use a chronograph to check your speeds. I usually load vintage 38 Special to 700 fps range and find plenty of accuracy and low felt recoil.

The problem with the 3 grains and under for many low bulk fast burning powders is excessive SD due to these light loads being position sensitive. The last Handloader magazine has a good article about low bulk powders in large capacity cases by Mike Venturino. He also compares those loads to Trail Boss and high bulk powders.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddio202 View Post
I use some different powders than some. I like Ramshot silohuette with 4.5 grains under 148 hbwc or dewc, also CSB1 or Universal is very cheap for me to get -and 2.9 to 3.8 under hbwc. For 158 lead CFE pistol 3.5 to 4.5 works good. Enjoy
What speed are you seeing with that Ramshot load? Reloading manual shows near 1000 fps with a similar load? I would suggest this would be way too fast for vintage S&Ws.

Load Data for Ramshot Silhouette
148 (L) LC WCDBB 4.5g 925fps - 4.9g 1,006fps 16,940psi
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Old 10-03-2018, 01:30 PM
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As a note on above data loads..........

Sketter shot a K or N frame revolver most of the time.........
that would withstand 5.0 grains of Unique powder with a 158gr bullet.

I don't think he used a 1920 Colt?
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Old 10-03-2018, 02:21 PM
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You've been given options for several acceptable light target loads in 38 spl by the membership. IMO: There's no reason to load anything stouter for routine practice and target shooting. These are easy on recoil as well as being easy on your wallet!
Jim
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