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Old 03-11-2020, 08:52 AM
ptf18 ptf18 is offline
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Default Very mild 38 special load

Fellows. Looking for a very mild 38 Special load using 125gn Berry bullets. I've noted that most reloading manuals do not go much lower than 3.8gns of WW231 (the powder I have on hand as well as Solo 1000) BUT the velocities are still around the 800fps range.

Could I "safely" drop the powder...say to 3gns? Or could this lead to "problems"?
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:36 AM
rockquarry rockquarry is online now
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Going below the minimum might work, but it's probably best to stick with the minimum recommended charge weight. Pressure may be too low for efficient burning of the powder if you drop the charge weight too much. Could result in a dud, unburned powder particles, or poor accuracy. It might be worth it to try two or three powders.

800 fps with a 125 grain bullet is a pretty light load as is.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:45 AM
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You want to google for an old article from the NRA magazine, about using super-low 38 special loads. I think they described such a load that was less than 1 grain of Bullseye, for use in 2 barrels only. Interesting article.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptf18 View Post
Fellows. Looking for a very mild 38 Special load using 125gn Berry bullets. I've noted that most reloading manuals do not go much lower than 3.8gns of WW231 (the powder I have on hand as well as Solo 1000) BUT the velocities are still around the 800fps range.

Could I "safely" drop the powder...say to 3gns? Or could this lead to "problems"?
If you want the lightest load with what you have on hand, the only choice is to drop down to around 3.0 grains of 231 and make sure they exit the barrel as they will be moving real slow

As rockquarry mentions, accuracy will probably suffer because the projectile will not develop proper spin

I you want a "light load", I would change the projectile to a 75 grain cast wadcutter (commercially available from Matts) on top of 2.7 grains of 231 and you will move the little guy out at about 600+ FPS from a 4" barrel and with decent accuracy .

The reduced weight of the projectile will do more toward making this a "light load" than reducing the powder charge
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:07 AM
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I have gone as low as .6 grains of Bullseye, but that load will only work in a snubbie. IT WILL STICK in a 4 inch barrel. You can see the boolit going through the air.
I call it my slingshot load because it replicates the trajectory of a rock out of a slingshot. For powder I tape off all but one cavity of a primer tray then use that for a dipper.
Good load for tossing objects in the air and trying to hit them in flight. (Wear a big hat.)

If you want a "standard light load" use a heavy bullet for the caliber. Otherwise your bullet will shoot way below POA, making it hard to hit anything. I would use around 3 grains of Unique and a 148 or 158 grain bullet for a 38.

Last edited by max503; 03-11-2020 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:20 AM
reddog81 reddog81 is offline
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Going lower than the minimum load and you'll start getting dirtier and more erratic ignition. Certain powders are worse than others, but W231 should work OK. Once you get below 600 FPS is when you start seeing erratic velocities and should start watching out for a squib. Load up a couple different powder charges slightly less than the 3.8 and see what happens.

The biggest concern is to make sure the bullet leaves the barrel. It also helps to make sure you unload the revolver correctly Have the muzzle pointing up and when ejecting the cartridges so all the unburnt powder falls out and doesn't get stuck in under the ejector.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:21 AM
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I shoot a 148 dewc with 3.1 bullseye out of a model 10 4 inch barrel. Sweet liitle load for the range girlfriend sure likes it. Pretty darm accurate.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:55 AM
MyDads38 MyDads38 is offline
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2.7 grs Bullseye under a HBWC is as light as I load. Check the Hodgdon website and see what it recommends for your bullet weight. I personally wouldn't go much below listed minimum...
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:00 PM
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I also load the 2.7 grain Bullseye load with good accuracy and light recoil and I really wouldn't go much lower. 231 is a good powder, but for squib loads you'll want to invest in a pound of Bullseye powder.

I once saw an old S&W Victory barrel fully plugged with a cylinder full of the old M41 military 38 Special load. That was a very light load with a jacketed bullet. The take away on that was if you are loading light, skip the jacketed or plated bullets and use soft cast projectiles with a good lubricant. They slide down the barrel easily compared to jacketed bullets and if you stick one, they are easy to push out.
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:46 PM
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I loaded the 125gr lead bullets ( FN,RN ) for my snub nose J frame for light target use.
However, too light of a load could squib, which is not a good thing.
In my test, the slowest loads that I logged in my test were around 531fps but faster loads shot with better accuracy.
Slower loads were not logged do to safety for the shooter.

Bullseye loads... 627 to 786fps
Red Dot ........... 533 to na
w231 ............... 566 to 776
Green Dot ........ 570 to 690
Trail Boss.......... 543 to 676
Universal........... 583 to na

My best accuracy load was T Boss at 3.3grs that shot at POA.
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Old 03-11-2020, 02:10 PM
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Just a couple thoughts; first I wouldn't use a 125 gr plated bullet in a revolver. Even with light loads no crimp groove can be problematic. Also, there must be a strong reason for trying such a light bullet with ultra-light loads (recoil management in a light revolver?), and for recoil sensitive shooters perhaps a better solution would be a smaller caliber.. The only light loadings I would trust to be consistent and safe (squibs) would be the tried and true HBWC over light (2.7-3.0) charges of fast powders...

Last edited by mikld; 03-11-2020 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 03:56 PM
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Default Mild 38 Load

Fellows: Thanks for the input. I'm looking for a very mild load for the wife's M65 that she absolutely loves. NO interest what so ever in trying a semi. She shoots the gun once a year (meaning not very often) at very close range (3 yards) so super accuracy is not a concern. I'd like to see her get proficient with the gun....basic marksmanship stuff.

I'll try the 3.8gn of WW231 and see how she handles it. Previously I loaded 125gn JHP with 4.3/4.6gn of WW231 and she did OK with it....at least no complaints about "recoil".
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:25 PM
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Try trail boss
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Old 03-11-2020, 06:57 PM
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...count me in using 148 gr HBWC and 2.7 grs of Bullseye. Light recoiling and one of the most accurate loads ever developed.

Some also recommend this HBWC loading for defense to recoil sensitive shooters.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:35 PM
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^^^^Yes. To avoid problems, you may want to try the lead full 148 g. wadcutters over published light loads of Bullseye or Win-231 (plus or minus around 3 grains). This should be almost like shooting 22s in that M-65, accuracy will be outstanding, and little chance of a stuck bullet. When shooting steel plates you have to wait for the ping I've had plated bullets stick with too light a load.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:30 PM
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I load coated 148gr. BNWC's with 2.6 to 2.7 grains of WST. Nice soft rounds out of J frames and fun in a N frame 627.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:58 PM
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My lightest target loads in my 21 oz. J frame have the following recoil;

125gr lead at 600fps ........ R 1.90 ft/lbs
148.............. 630 .............. 2.61
158 ............. 570 .............. 2.61


A factory 148 at 690fps has around 3.20 ft/lbs of recoil.
A factory 158 at 740fps has around 4.28 ft/lbs.
The FBI load at 861fps can get up to 5.92 ft/lbs of recoil.

Ouch !!

Safety note;
I do NOT use these light target loads in longer barrels.

Last edited by Nevada Ed; 03-12-2020 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:12 PM
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Default I'm old school......

As long as you make sure the bullets leave the barrel reliably and not get stuck, you are good. Fast to medium powers will work. I pretty sure that I experiments with Bullseye and Unique but 231 probably has a good mix of properties.
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Old 03-12-2020, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanWales View Post
I shoot a 148 dewc with 3.1 bullseye out of a model 10 4 inch barrel. Sweet liitle load for the range girlfriend sure likes it. Pretty darm accurate.
100%

I've been loading Missouri PPC #2 148g DEWC over 3.1-3.3g of Tight Group (whatever my Dillon throws). I'm getting 803 fps ave from my 627 4". They are super fun to shoot, like you stated, very accurate and easy going.
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Old 03-12-2020, 08:48 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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Like SAA said;if you really want to decrease felt recoil,reducing weight of the bullet is the way to go.A 75 or 90gr bullet will generate less recoil than a 125gr;but I must admit that it is pushing it to the limit.
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Old 03-24-2020, 08:26 AM
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I like Accurate #2 with 125 grain plinkers and 148 wadcutters. Nice light loads for my wife and daughter to use at the range.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:36 AM
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When reducing felt recoil ...it all adds up .
Light bullet & light powder charge do make a difference .
Lee Makes a mould that casts a 105 grain .357" dia. bullet . In a 38 special case with 2.5 to 2.7 grs. Bullseye it's one of the lightest recoiling loads you can put together .
Try your 125 gr. plated bullets with a light (2.5 to 2.7 grs) charge of Bullseye.
If the bullet has no crimp cannelure (smooth sides) use a taper crimp die from a 9mm Luger die set to apply a crimp...it will hold .
The best move I ever made was to buy a container of Bullseye,,,it's just the ticket for the 38 Special and light loads...
I have discovered no powder that beats it... Trust me !
AA#2 comes close but Bullseye has so much more load data available and AA#2 still hasn't bested BE in my revolvers and loads ... but if that's all you can get AA#2 and Red Dot are good " Light Load" powders and good to have on hand.
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Last edited by gwpercle; 03-24-2020 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 03-24-2020, 11:00 AM
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I know you said you want to stick to the 125 grain Berry's, but if you're really looking for a light load that's an excellent shooter, why not 148 grain hollow base wad cutters over 2.7 grains of bullseye. That's a published and well known load and you're not going to have to go below minimums.

(I generally advise going outside the manual ranges in either direction, we pay people to figure that stuff out for us for a reason)

Roze Distribution sells 1000 for 77 shipped.
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