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Old 05-14-2020, 03:13 PM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Default .38 Special LSWC keyholing

Hello all,

I noticed some interesting effects with one of my .38 Special handloads. Hornady 158 grs LSWC HP and 5.2 grs VV N340, chronoed 833 ft/s from my Model 27 4" tends to keyhole. I don't think this velocity might be too much for the swaged bullet, so what might be the reason? The load is keyholing as well from my 27 5" and my 13 3". Some impacting sideways with the 13 even at short distance...

on the other hand: Speer 158 grs LSWC HP and 5.8 grs Vectan Ba9, chronoed 879 ft/s from my Model 27 4" behaves as it should. I can't imagine the bullet being much harder than the Hornady as it is swaged as well (AFAIK).

Is there something I should have missed about the bullets or the
propellant or the guns?

regards from Germany
Ulrich
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Old 05-14-2020, 03:47 PM
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You might try a few medium loads with 330 or 320 powder if you have any
to see if the keyholing will stop.

Hard to tell if it is bullet fit or speed that is doing it, until you
try out a few different things, to narrow it down.

Sorry that 158 bullet is not behaving.
Good luck.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:43 PM
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Load no 1 keyholes in 3 different guns and shoots straight with load no 2.Problem not with the guns.
Check if any difference in diameter of the 2 brands of bullets.
While I'm not familiar with Vectan powders,it might be a different rate of combustion changes the behavior of the bullets.I'd try as suggested by Nevada to make sure.
Depth of hollow point,if much different changes the lenght and balance of the bullet.Too long a bullet might not stabilize well in the long twist of the S&W(1:18 3/4'').So check total lenght of both bullets.
Please feed us back on what you find as it might help other shooters.Good luck.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:00 PM
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The Hornady bullets are swaged lead and are very soft. It is possible that you are loading them hot enough that they are not engaging the rifling and just going down the barrel like it was a smooth bore. I had that happen with some lead 9mm bullets years ago.
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Old 05-14-2020, 10:00 PM
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Bullets stripping in rifling. Soft alloy snd too much pressure. Try to recover a fired bullet and look at the rifling engraving.
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Old 05-15-2020, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RodD View Post
Bullets stripping in rifling. Soft alloy snd too much pressure. Try to recover a fired bullet and look at the rifling engraving.
Thanks everyone for your input, really appreciated. I checked a bullet I retrieved some time ago, rifling engraving seems not to be existing consitently. I tried some photographs, sorry for the quality.

regards
Ulrich

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]


[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:45 AM
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IMHO the Hornady bullets are too soft & / or undersized for your gun . The Speer bullets are harder than the Hornady believe it or not . To acertain what the problem is I would : 1) Measure cylinder throats as they need to be larger than bore diameter . If not they need to be honed or reamed . In a revolver bullets are sized to cylinder throat diameter . 2) Slug the bore . Drive a greased pure lead ball or fishing sinker thru barrel . Take the sized slug & check cylinder throats . It should pass thru all throats with no more than light finger pressure . If not cylinder throats are too small & need to be opened up as stated above . S&W have 5 groove barrels & one needs special tools to accurately measure bore diameter . 3) Check barrel for tight spots / bore restriction , if present for best results tight spots should be lapped out . If all that checks good I'd either get different lead bullets or jacketed & see how they shoot . Soft lead swaged bullets are for mild lower pressure loads . If sized to fit & with a good lube they should be good at velocity of your VVN-340 load . I use swaged lead bullets ( Zero brand ) in my 38 special ( 148gr HBWC ) & my 45acp target 1911's ( 200gr SWC ) . My loads run around 720fps for the 38 & around 780fps for the 45's . I hope this helps . Personally I do not use either the Speer or Hornady swaged lead bullets as they cost more than the Remington , Zero or Magtech swaged & usually do not shoot as well . Does your 27 have a newer EDM barrel ? Because of rifling design they do not shoot lead as well as the older vintage broach rifled barrels . They do just fine with jacketed .

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Old 05-15-2020, 12:29 PM
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in post #6,
the marks on the bullet looks very light, which makes me believe that this brand might be just a little undersized for your barrel?

Here is a picture of two lead bullets at target speeds out of my 38 J frame snub nose.

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Old 05-16-2020, 11:20 AM
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I agree with Nevada Ed, the lack of engraving says undersized bullet, especially since you get the same results in different revolvers of the same caliber.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:46 AM
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Years ago I experimented with Viht N310 and Hornady 148 HBWC. They were impressively accurate but very sensitive to the load. At 2.7 gr, they worked great. Much higher and they started to wobble much more than with Bullseye. I suspect pressure spikes much more quickly than with Bullseye.

I have never used N340, so I don't know if it behaves the same, but you might try reducing the load and see if the bullets stabilize.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:57 PM
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Thanks everyone,

I guess I have to check other retrieved bullets for rifling marks, but as far as I remember they looked quite ok to me. Hornady LSWC are the only bullets I have problems with keyholing, so the idea of them being undersized might point in the reight direction.

But how can that happen? They are advertised as being .358 in diameter. Cast SWC 158 grs with .357 diameter don't make any problems in my 3 .357 revolvers (27-2 5", 27-3 4", 13-2 3") nor do Speer LSCWHP 158 grs .358 or H&N copper plated SWC .357 158 grs, no matter if they are pushed a little bit harder (the Speer chronoed from my 4" is 879 ft/s, thus faster than the Hornady, but shows no tendency to keyhole). They all seem to have the correct diameter as advertised.

regards from Germany
Ulrich
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:15 PM
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Check the dia of your bullets. Keyholing is almost always a bullet too small or a base with a serious defect. I nly shoot harder cast bullets, but at your vel, the alloy should be fine, susoect bullet size.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daimler1989 View Post
Thanks everyone,

I guess I have to check other retrieved bullets for rifling marks, but as far as I remember they looked quite ok to me. Hornady LSWC are the only bullets I have problems with keyholing, so the idea of them being undersized might point in the reight direction.

But how can that happen? They are advertised as being .358 in diameter. Cast SWC 158 grs with .357 diameter don't make any problems in my 3 .357 revolvers (27-2 5", 27-3 4", 13-2 3") nor do Speer LSCWHP 158 grs .358 or H&N copper plated SWC .357 158 grs, no matter if they are pushed a little bit harder (the Speer chronoed from my 4" is 879 ft/s, thus faster than the Hornady, but shows no tendency to keyhole). They all seem to have the correct diameter as advertised.

regards from Germany
Ulrich
It happens all the time, a mis aligned piece of equip & a run gets done wrong. I have had this happen with plated bullets. Simple, just slap calipers on a few & see.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:17 AM
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How do you crimp your loads? Did you notice which shots out of the cylinder went sideways? I had some similar Hornady bullets and remember them being slippery in the case, and if not crimped they could be pushed in by hand. I suspect a slippery bullet could be pulled out by recoil and you'd have less pressure and velocity for that bullet, causing the wobble. You can check for that by looking at your remaining rounds after 3 or 4 shots. However, if wobbling occurs even on first shot then it must be caused by something else.
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:15 PM
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I have always had problems with that bullet as fred338 said...
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:24 AM
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Groo here
INCREASE the load to similar speed of the one that works.
The soft bullet should be able to swell up to fill the bore IF
the pressure is correct.
Bullseye is good for this as it "hits" [pressure spike] fast and
this allows the bullet to swell.
Also , many think that such a load need not be crimped ,,WRONG....
Use a good heavy crimp to allow the powder pressure push the bullet
from the case,,,not the primer.....
Ever see a factory Match round NOT crimped???????????????????????
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Old 05-25-2020, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max View Post
The Hornady bullets are swaged lead and are very soft. It is possible that you are loading them hot enough that they are not engaging the rifling and just going down the barrel like it was a smooth bore. I had that happen with some lead 9mm bullets years ago.
Yep, "skidding" on the rifling can happen easily when driving a soft, swaged bullet......
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Old 05-25-2020, 12:27 PM
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N340 is one of my favorite powders. I loaded some 44 mag with it last night. Slow it down to 750 fps? If you have some alox give it a coat and let set over night. Lee is the best. I have tried that bullet years ago but found something I liked better but I never went over 750 fps. I use a medium roll crimp in my 38 wheel guns with that style boolit.

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Old 05-25-2020, 01:03 PM
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I've shot a lot of Hornady 148 hbwc bullets over the years.. Never had one keyhole. I do see some wobble, can tell on the target that they don't always hit it dead straight. I don't shoot at high velocity, they ain't made for that. I shoot a light load of 231, keep velocity below 750, use a light crimp. The old bullet lube Hornady used seemed better but I haven't had any leading problems with the new stuff.
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Old 05-25-2020, 03:48 PM
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I shoot a lot of the Hornady wadcutters and never had any issues.Out of my 14-3 with a 8 barrel it is a tack driver at 25 yards with 2.7 grains of Bullseye.
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pistolpete10 View Post
I've shot a lot of Hornady 148 hbwc bullets over the years.. Never had one keyhole.
I too have shot thousands of the Hornady HBWCs with no problems

However the projectile in question is the Hornady SWCHP

Daimler1989,
You mentioned that the recovered projectile you have photographed is an old one. Is it from the same batch of projectiles that is giving you trouble? Did that load also keyhole?

If not, looking at one of the current, keyholeing projectiles would be a good idea.

And you need to measure the diameter of those projectiles.
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Old 05-26-2020, 11:45 AM
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I guess I missed that they were SWCHP. I recently bought some to load for my 642 revolver. So far I've gotten bullet jump on the 5th bullet almost 100% of the time. The bullets measure .357, just not tight enough in the cases. Last I fired were loaded in GI cases, they are a little tighter, still got a little jump on some of them. This being said, the bullets were accurate and hit the target perfectly straight, no tilt or keyhole what so ever. Out of the 2" bbl they prolly weren't doing 700 fps. I didn't shoot any over the Chrony. They do have healthy recoil in the 642.
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pistolpete10 View Post
I guess I missed that they were SWCHP. I recently bought some to load for my 642 revolver. So far I've gotten bullet jump on the 5th bullet almost 100% of the time. The bullets measure .357, just not tight enough in the cases. Last I fired were loaded in GI cases, they are a little tighter, still got a little jump on some of them. This being said, the bullets were accurate and hit the target perfectly straight, no tilt or keyhole what so ever. Out of the 2" bbl they prolly weren't doing 700 fps. I didn't shoot any over the Chrony. They do have healthy recoil in the 642.
Pete,
If you have a set of 9MM dies on hand, try putting that expander plug into your 38 special die. This may be too small but does not alter parts

My preferred solution would be to reduce the diameter of your 38 special expander by about .001.

This should greatly improve your case tension on the bullet
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:11 PM
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Hi,
thanks everyone again for new input. I slugged the barrels and chamber throads of all my .357 Magnum revolvers, but the batteries of my caliper are empty and need to be replaced. So no exact data at the moment.

BUT: I went the easy way an tried to pass several bullets through the chambers. Interesting. Speer LSWCHP and a hardcast SWC I regularly use don't pass through. Both advertised as.358 diameter. The Hornady LSWC HP FALLS through. Altough it should have .358 diameter as well...

I have no possibility to use a new Hornady as they are all loaded. I used a bullet I pulled off by inertia bullet puller. So far, I suspect the Lee Factory Crimp Die I used to use to be the scapegoat - recalibrating the bullet to less than .357 diameter. I will go and try the other bullets with a dummy cartridge and the factory crimp die, then pass through the chambers again. See what will happen.

regards
Ulrich
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:33 PM
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Your final crimp die will only reduce the bullet at the end of the brass.............
and not the whole cylinder of the bullets shaft.

The crimp ring inside your die is not the problem.

If that bullet falls through the cylinder........
that is where the problem lies.

Maybe they will work in a 9mm load as a large 147gr bullet ? !

Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:03 AM
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The Lee FCD can swage the bullet to an undersized diameter and that might be the problem. I have yet to have a need for such a die, I use a roll crimp die for revolver ammo, a taper crimp die for semi-auto pistol ammo.
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Old 05-27-2020, 01:34 PM
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And if manufacturers delivering bullets with different, inconsistent diameters isn't bad enough, our handloading can mash them as well.

If you want that seater die not to swage down a bullet, you might try a Lyman "M" die that makes a little nest of the correct diameter for the bullet to seat in.

I am continually seeing my seating swage down my bullets that I had so carefully chosen for correct diameter. My normal expander die wasn't leaving a large enough diameter case. The M die concept can help with that.

The small bell/flare at the top of the case, is completely different. That is made to be able to sit a bullet on the case top and stop scrapping when seating.

I believe the keyholing is because the bullet starts wobbling through the cylinder exits. The diameter of the cylinder exits and the bullet must match. If exits are too small, it must swage down the bullet to enable it to pass through. If exits are too large, wobbling is continuous.

If using soft cast bullets, that diameter after leaving the exits should be .002 over the groove diameter. .001 over for jacketed and plated.

Another issue is using a strong profile crimp die that swages down the brass and bullet too much.

All of these require you to build a round and then use a puller to get the bullet out and measure it with some good digital calipers. You have to do this after each step in handloading to determine where the issue is.


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Old 05-27-2020, 04:47 PM
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"Another issue is using a strong profile crimp die that swages down the brass and bullet too much.

All of these require you to build a round and then use a puller to get the bullet out and measure it with some good digital calipers. You have to do this after each step in handloading to determine where the issue is."............ quote

or you can just push the bullet down into the case....
open up the belling enough for the bullet to fall out, but ....
this will kill the case and it will need to be tossed out.
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:32 PM
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Any bullet that will fall through cylinder is undersized for that gun . If it takes more than finger pressure or a pencil to push a bullet through a cylinder it's oversized . Under will lead , over will raise pressure somewhat but better than undersized . Will the slug you pushed through the bore pass through cylinder throats ? If so that's good , if not cylinder throats are undersized & need to be opened up . Also too small a throats will lead every time as bullet has been sized down before it hits the bore . Gas bypass flamecuts bullet base & you got big time leading . The Hornady bullets fall through they're undersize for that gun . If throats are larger than bore a bullet sized to throats with a good lube won't lead . We've all bought bullets that weren't sized as advertized . I'm hoping throats are good & all you need is correctly sized bullets .
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:41 PM
pistolpete10 pistolpete10 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colt_saa View Post
Pete,
If you have a set of 9MM dies on hand, try putting that expander plug into your 38 special die. This may be too small but does not alter parts

My preferred solution would be to reduce the diameter of your 38 special expander by about .001.

This should greatly improve your case tension on the bullet
I'll give that a try. I'll note that there isn't much resistance when seating the bullets.... It won't take much if I use the GI brass. They are accurate and no leading, soft lead, .357 instead of .358, may have to shoot them in the heavier guns.
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:50 PM
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Default This is a wild shot.....

Make sure it's not the target paper that you are using. I've had some tear in little rectangles instead of holes and I thought it was keyholing.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:05 PM
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Make sure it's not the target paper that you are using. I've had some tear in little rectangles instead of holes and I thought it was keyholing.

Yep, or


For the OP how is your target paper hanging? Is you target paper just hanging by a clip attached to the top (like an indoor range) or is it firmly stapled or taped to a backer board of cardboard.
Target paper just swinging in the breeze will give distorted holes.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:33 PM
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Hi,

first of all let me say how thrilled I am with all those thoughts and answers where the problem might lie and how it could be solved. Just as a side note: I'm living in Germany and German internet forums are a often melting pot of narcisstic morons who not only try to insult you, but turn every thread into a short fused bursting charge for everyone who has another opinion. Here in Germany I probalby would have got the answer that I should not shoot a handgun if my hands were so shaky that the barrel would wobble when I pull the trigger. Thumbs up for you all, Gentlemen, for your advice and ideas, for your time and effort put into your answers to my posting. Thank you.

I try to explain what I found out so far, in addition to what I described earlier. I put another lead bullet with a dummy round through the Lee FC die, and as presumed earlier, it didn't fall through after having been pulled out of the case. So, the FC does not seem to swage the bullet down so far that diameter might be severely concerned. I loaded the Hornady bullets some time ago, after that (for completely different reasons) I switched to a tight roll crimp. I never had keyholing issues with any other handload, no matter which bullet I use. It's only the Hornadies.

Target paper is not the scapegoat as I use many different types and targets. And this keyholing effect is so severe, that there are bullets going completely sideways into the target at 10 meters. No matter which paper...

I have to admit that the effect is more often noticable with my 13-2 than with my 27-2 and 27-3. This might be the case because of some timing issues the gun has. BUT: Even at 25 meters accuracy of the 13-2 is such that I can hit a 12x8 " target with each of 30 rounds - as long as I do not use Hornadies.

I will try to contact the dealer where I bought the bullets and ask if he had any complaints comparable to mine. Interestingly I bought some 230 flat nose lead bullets for my .45 ACP 625-4 to load some auto rims - those bullets advertised as .451 diameter are indeed to small to sit tight in the Starline .45 AR brass even with a strong taper crimp. You can press them down by thumb. How common is shrinkage with lead bullets? Or how common might too small sizing occur by the manufacturer?

regards
Ulrich
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:18 PM
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Default Thanks for the detail....

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Originally Posted by Daimler1989 View Post
Hi,

first of all let me say how thrilled I am with all those thoughts and answers where the problem might lie and how it could be solved. Just as a side note: I'm living in Germany and German internet forums are a often melting pot of narcisstic morons who not only try to insult you, but turn every thread into a short fused bursting charge for everyone who has another opinion. Here in Germany I probalby would have got the answer that I should not shoot a handgun if my hands were so shaky that the barrel would wobble when I pull the trigger. Thumbs up for you all, Gentlemen, for your advice and ideas, for your time and effort put into your answers to my posting. Thank you.

I try to explain what I found out so far, in addition to what I described earlier. I put another lead bullet with a dummy round through the Lee FC die, and as presumed earlier, it didn't fall through after having been pulled out of the case. So, the FC does not seem to swage the bullet down so far that diameter might be severely concerned. I loaded the Hornady bullets some time ago, after that (for completely different reasons) I switched to a tight roll crimp. I never had keyholing issues with any other handload, no matter which bullet I use. It's only the Hornadies.

Target paper is not the scapegoat as I use many different types and targets. And this keyholing effect is so severe, that there are bullets going completely sideways into the target at 10 meters. No matter which paper...

I have to admit that the effect is more often noticable with my 13-2 than with my 27-2 and 27-3. This might be the case because of some timing issues the gun has. BUT: Even at 25 meters accuracy of the 13-2 is such that I can hit a 12x8 " target with each of 30 rounds - as long as I do not use Hornadies.

I will try to contact the dealer where I bought the bullets and ask if he had any complaints comparable to mine. Interestingly I bought some 230 flat nose lead bullets for my .45 ACP 625-4 to load some auto rims - those bullets advertised as .451 diameter are indeed to small to sit tight in the Starline .45 AR brass even with a strong taper crimp. You can press them down by thumb. How common is shrinkage with lead bullets? Or how common might too small sizing occur by the manufacturer?

regards
Ulrich
...obviously you are conscientious about what you are doing and serious forum member appreciate that. And you are right, this is one of the best forums on the web thanks in part to really knowledgeable members and the moderator and staff which keep a very tight lid on content.

One thing that clued me into the 'fake' keyholing with the targets was that each hole tore vertically rather than random directions like actual keyholing would do.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:19 AM
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Daimler1989, I strongly suggest that you put a fresh battery in your caliper and measure the diameter of the Hornady bullets.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by stansdds View Post
Daimler1989, I strongly suggest that you put a fresh battery in your caliper and measure the diameter of the Hornady bullets.
A micrometer is better than calipers for measuring bullets, I wouldn't trust the electronic ones anyway.
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Old 05-30-2020, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by pistolpete10 View Post
A micrometer is better than calipers for measuring bullets, I wouldn't trust the electronic ones anyway.
I'm not a fan of battery powered calipers or scales. Just like the issue the OP is currently experiencing, the batteries eventually fail and the instrument becomes an expensive paperweight. I'm older, I like the reliability of mechanical instruments.
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Old 05-30-2020, 12:29 PM
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Just looked thru Horn 6th edition . With that bullet they are showing a max load of 4.5grs VVN-340 . 800fps , Hornady brass , Winchester Small Pistol Primer , oal 1.455" , shot from a S&W 15 4". You already know your bullets are undersized , plus you're pushing a soft swaged bullet too fast . Classic recipe for leading / inaccuracy . Whats happening is pressure of your load is exceeding the yield strength of the bullets alloy . Even if bullets were sized correctly this is still not the way to good results . Two choices assuming you have correctly sized bullets : Reduce powder charge or go with a harder alloy . 38 special you don't need harder than BHN 8 to 10 . Two rules of thumb if you shoot cast bullets : must be of correct size for the gun & alloy must match load pressure . You'll have much better luck if you follow these .
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:35 PM
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It might just be the powder that you are using?

You stated 833fos with the 158g bullet with a 4"...................

Unique powder in my J frame snub nose will get 861fps with a Speer bullet.

Better luck with the next box of bullets.
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Old 06-02-2020, 02:25 PM
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Recent post on Bullseye-L forum , guy had some Hornady 158 RN swaged & was having problems . Turns out they are also undersized . I've only bought their HBWC . They shot OK but were pricey . Remeber being able to buy a case ( 2,000 ) of the excellent Remington or Winchester 148 HBWC for what I'd pay for 900 Hornady . When the Winchesters became unavailable I got the Rem as they both shot well . 3rd place went to the old Star's that came in plastic tubes .
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