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Old 06-22-2020, 08:44 AM
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Default Haven't Loaded Any .38's For 12 Years (back to 45's)

I still have plenty of loaded rounds on the shelf, but nothing new since 08. I have loaded thousands of .45's and bought thousands of 9mm in that interval. The rounds I have look hot compared to today's recommendations from Hodgdon. I am loading coated 158gr swc's to teach a new shooter. I am thinking 3.8 to 4.0 grains of 231.

Does this seem reasonable?

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Old 06-22-2020, 08:58 AM
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The Hodgdon website shows a starting load of 3.1 grs 231 and a max load of 3.7 grs for 38 Special. They don't show 231 for +P loads.

My Go To load uses Bullseye-3.2 grs. with a 158 gr. SWC.

Hope this helps :-)
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:02 AM
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The Lyman 46th edition gives the following data for .38 Special 158-grain cast using 231 and standard primers:

Start: 3.5 grains, 675FPS, 9600CUP
Max: 4.9 grains, 906FPS, 16800CUP

+P: 5.2 grains, 956FPS, 18500CUP

Your stated goal of 3.8 to 4.0 grains should be a relatively mild load for a new shooter to learn with.

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Old 06-22-2020, 09:16 AM
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Here's some of my chronograph results from my 2" 642 and 4" model 15 using 231/HP38 and a cast 158 grain LSWC:

642 2"

3.5 grains - 645 FPS
4.2 grains - 721 FPS

Model 15 4"

3.5 grains - 756 FPS
4.4 grains - 840 FPS



And just for the heck of it, the 3.5 grain charge under the same 158 LSWC in magnum brass clocked at 910 FPS out of the 18.5" barrel of my Marlin 1894C
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:56 AM
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RCBS Cast Bullet Manual shows a starting load of 3.7 grs. (744 fps) with a maximum load of 4.2 grs (810 fps) with 231 / cast 158 gr, SWC in the 38 Special ... therefore .... 3.8 to 4.0 of 231 should be a winner .

I use 4.0 grs of HP38 which I am now told is the same (or similar to) 231 with very good accuracy .

I say run with your proposed loads ... they should be just the ticket !
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Old 06-22-2020, 01:58 PM
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Means 12 years since I changed calibers and primer size. I am making some rookie mistakes.
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Old 06-22-2020, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
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Means 12 years since I changed calibers and primer size. I am making some rookie mistakes.
Dust off and get back up on that horse ... not a lot has changed , It'll all come back soon ...
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Old 06-23-2020, 12:16 AM
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I use 3.2 grains of 231 with a 158 SWC for a nice soft shooting load.
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Old 06-23-2020, 07:48 AM
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My chrono results were very similar to Goldstar's:

From a 3" S&W M65-5 shooting 158 gr coated SWC (Bayou Bullets) w/ 3.9 gr W231; average of 10 rounds each @ 694 and 703 FPS. Very pleasant to shoot as I recall. -S2
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:11 PM
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Most of the 38's I recently loaded have been fine. However, today I had a squib for the first time in many years. It was a swc and the nose just barely poked out of a 4 inch barrel. I don't think there was any powder in it, as it went pfft when fired. I knew instantly what it was and immediately unloaded and took a look. We tried to pull it out, but couldn't get a good enough grip. It was driven back and out. When cleaning the gun, I did notice some odd colored powder flakes in the cylinder. Maybe there was just a small amount of powder in the case.
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max View Post
Most of the 38's I recently loaded have been fine. However, today I had a squib for the first time in many years. It was a swc and the nose just barely poked out of a 4 inch barrel. I don't think there was any powder in it, as it went pfft when fired. I knew instantly what it was and immediately unloaded and took a look. We tried to pull it out, but couldn't get a good enough grip. It was driven back and out. When cleaning the gun, I did notice some odd colored powder flakes in the cylinder. Maybe there was just a small amount of powder in the case.
I've had one squib in over 30 years of loading but had a very odd thing happen a few weeks ago. I was working on new loads doing some chrono work for a new Henry 357 rifle and had what I thought was a squib. The chromo though indicated the bullet left the barrel and crossed the chrono at 86 ft/sec. I'm loading my 38/357's for now on a Rock Chucker and look in every case and weigh about every 4 th or 5th. The only thing I can conclude is my RCBS powder measure threw a light load and I simply didn't see there wasn't enough powder in the case.
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:51 PM
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I use HP38/W231 for 38 special as well and have been through these same inconsistencies. I was loading at 3.5 grains for an RCBS 358-150 SWC bullet and this last session of a 1,000 rounds I bumped up to 3.8 which seem to give me very consistent results and no noticeable recoil increase. YMMV
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:16 PM
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Default Starting load!

Standard velocity for 158 Grn, LRN, 38 Spl is 755fps! Why is this important? If you are shooting these in a fixed sight revolver and vary from this too much your POI will be higher or lower than POA!

3.1 grains of W231 is indicated as the starting load and about 780 FPS! According to the Lee and Hodgdon reloading manuals!

Smiles,

Last edited by jjfitch; 07-08-2020 at 07:24 PM. Reason: Syntax
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:28 PM
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I thought I was throwing 4.0 grains of 231. However, the last time I used those dies (12 years ago) I was loading 357's. I had some difficulty adjusting the die so that it would throw a full load and not over bell the case.

I am confident I have it all sorted out now, but have about 30 suspect rounds.
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Old 07-08-2020, 08:33 PM
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If I have lead bullet loads that are over ten years old I fire them and reload the cases.

My 38 +P 158 FBI loads tend to oxidize and turn gray after a
long time in the box, not that it hurts the bullet but the lube dries out.

I tried cleaning the bullets up but it is a hassle and not worth my time.

However I served in the US Navy and we were trained that "Scroungie" stuff, was not acceptable.
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Old 07-12-2020, 04:52 AM
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I just tried a coated 158 rn over 4.5 gr. Unique--lots of unburned powder and sooty cases. I may try out 5 gr. Unique or just go with the 148 gr. hbwc over 2.8 gr. Bullseye--I really only punch paper anymore.
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:38 AM
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You will like the 5gr Unique loads better than the 4.5.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:16 AM
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I've done piles of ~2.8 Bullseye behind a 158 LSWC. Totally mild in a steel gun, in an Airweight a new shooter would want bigger rubber grips at least.

What gun are you starting them with?
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:21 AM
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She bought a Ruger SP101 with a 4 inch barrel. I have taken her to the range once and she shoots very well for a beginner. She had shot some with a cousin previously.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikerjf View Post
I've done piles of ~2.8 Bullseye behind a 158 LSWC. Totally mild in a steel gun, in an Airweight a new shooter would want bigger rubber grips at least.

What gun are you starting them with?
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Old 07-13-2020, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjfitch View Post
Standard velocity for 158 Grn, LRN, 38 Spl is 755fps! Why is this important? If you are shooting these in a fixed sight revolver and vary from this too much your POI will be higher or lower than POA!
You can't use velocity as such a rigid metric. 755 came from a nearly 8" bbl.

These W231 numbers from a 4" 686 at 7,800' and 83F (MBC 158 SWC BN 12, Fed 100, Starline):
  • 3.4 gr, avg 639 (soft)
  • 4.0 gr, avg 780

Loadbooks USA - Hornady: 158 SWC, W231, 3.2 gr - 4.4 gr.

I would reduce your proposed 3.8 - 4.0 gr for a softer round for a new shooter. That SP is a light gun. May be a bit more dirty but who cares. Bump the load once she's got her sea legs.
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Old 07-13-2020, 04:10 PM
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I load a lot off 38 ammo.

My favorite loads are:
4.0gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC
3.4gr W231 under a 148gr DEWC
3.2gr W231 under a 148gr HBWC

I have probably shot a dozen or more other combinations but those are my best loads.

IMO W231/HP-38 is a match made in heaven for the 38 Special and 45 Auto.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:33 AM
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I finally got everything straightened out. I took the lady back to the range yesterday and all 50 rounds were perfect. She is shooting very well and is taking a beginner's class on Sunday.

I loaded 3.8 of 231 over a 158gr SnS coated swc.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:39 AM
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4.0 gr of W231 under a cast 158gr SWC has been my go-to load for decades. Commercially cast bullets are a bit too hard at times and often need something more than minimum charges.
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Old 07-23-2020, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max View Post
She bought a Ruger SP101 with a 4 inch barrel.
.38 Spcl loads for the various 158gr LSWC bullets are all over the place. Bullet hardness, seating depth, primers, brass, etc. all play into pressures up and down.

If your friend has a SP101 4", (.357), it won't make any difference what load you pick, but the shooter/owner needs to understand that what is fine in her SP101 may be a kiss of death to an older Featherweight, or a revolver not rated for +P.

FWIW, I put a set of Pachmyar Diamond Pro's on my SP101 4", $17 from Midsouth. Much easier on the shooter than the OEM grips, especially if she transitions to .357 ammo at some point.
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:42 PM
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She bought the same grips. She is taking a class this weekend and got 2 boxes of PPU fmj rn factory loads.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TMan51 View Post
.38 Spcl loads for the various 158gr LSWC bullets are all over the place. Bullet hardness, seating depth, primers, brass, etc. all play into pressures up and down.

If your friend has a SP101 4", (.357), it won't make any difference what load you pick, but the shooter/owner needs to understand that what is fine in her SP101 may be a kiss of death to an older Featherweight, or a revolver not rated for +P.

FWIW, I put a set of Pachmyar Diamond Pro's on my SP101 4", $17 from Midsouth. Much easier on the shooter than the OEM grips, especially if she transitions to .357 ammo at some point.
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:50 PM
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It was June 22 that I changed the Dillon back to 38's. It has been a relearning period and at times, difficult adjustment. I am happy to report that I just changed everything back to 45's. I did notice it has been since September of 18 that I loaded a .45, but I don't expect the stress the previous switch caused.

My pupil finished her class yesterday with flying colors. I have been shooting some .45 lately and need to build the supply back up.

Thanks for all of your assistance.
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:25 AM
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158gr LSWC bullets out of my 686 6" revolver with\
4.7grs of w231 powder does 890fps with a F100 primer.

However other powder that get this lead bullet down to 755fps are a lot more accurate at 15 yards.

Nothing wrong with that Ruger for those 38 special loads.
Have fun.
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