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Old 07-17-2015, 09:52 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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Default Handloading for Model 52

We have had a handful of active threads on the classic 52 lately so please forgive me starting yet another, but it was either new thread or drift another one. Also, I chose HERE rather than the handloading area of the site because the Model 52 is so far from ordinary and I need the hands-on experience of not just handloaders... but of classic Model 52 people specifically.

With that said, I am actively on the hunt and in the market for one-- my first. Have handled but never had the pleasure of shooting one.

When I get mine, I will also shoot it outdoors where most of my fun happens. But for the genuine target work that it was built to do, that is something I do on indoor ranges. And I am sure that there are none left near me that allow lead bullets. Jacketed or plated only if it's center fire.

So that's my big question, after all that pre-amble!

Who has experience and success with plated full wadcutter slugs in a Model 52?

I love and use lots of Alliant Bullseye. 2.8gr is the classic target load... for the classic swaged 148 wadcutter. But what if you are running plated?

Unlike a revolver, this ammo needs to do more than just exit the barrel. It has to have enough hair to operate the pistol, but I cannot bear any chance that it beats up the pistol.

Help and experience please!
If I have some fantastic luck, maybe my 52 comes home tomorrow. If not, I sure hope it's before December.
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Old 07-17-2015, 11:21 PM
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Sorry no experience with plated bullets in the 52. Only 148gr Hollow Base Wad Cutters. 3.0gr of W231. Here is a picture of the results. Rested at 10 yards.

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Old 07-18-2015, 12:18 PM
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Check with your ranges first.
Our club only allows lead/plated & limits velocity to prevent damage to the angled steel backstop. Hand loads / reloads allowed.
A new shop / range near me requires normal factory loads (lead or jacketed) on their new range with a snail trap... hand loads / reloads not allowed.
Both use HD exhaust systems & air filters. (The new one claims the air coming out is cleaner than the outside in the street.)
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:56 PM
Kevin G Kevin G is offline
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Default Handloading for Model 52

FWIW,
Lead 148gr HBWC, 3.2gr Win 231
Berry's plated 148gr DEWC 3.4gr Win 231.
IIRC, plated HBWC weren't available at the time. Furthermore, I question whether plated HBWC skirts would expand out to further engage the rifling. Seem rather hard. I welcome any thoughts on this.
Good Luck, Kevin

Last edited by Kevin G; 07-18-2015 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Not completed
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Old 07-18-2015, 10:22 PM
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I need the "kick a rock" smiley...

I did not secure for myself a Model 52 today.
But the chase is half the fun I suppose. I did see three of 'em though.
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Old 07-18-2015, 10:57 PM
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The Model 52 and soft swagged HBWCs are the ticket to ultimate accuracy

Hard cast HBWCs or DEWCs along with plated wadcutters will all work, but not as accurately. The truth is 95%+ of all shooters are probably not capable of reaching the same level of performance as a model 52 (me included).

However, every little extra helps make me look good.

Have no fear of a proper load for the model 52 to "beats up the pistol" this will never happen.
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:31 PM
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Okay! But when you have a -known- (legendary) load that the world agrees upon (148gr swaged over 2.8gr Bullseye) and you swap out soft lead for copper plated, it simply will NOT be the same load.

So the answer for ultimate 52 goodness has long been known, but the charge weight of Bullseye under a 148gr plated full wadcutter that makes a 52 happy... this seems to be the million dollar question.
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:54 PM
Bodiebadman Bodiebadman is offline
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I wish I could help you. I have the opposite problem - bought a 52-2 through a friend in the 1980's who worked for Lear Zigler (when they owned Smith & Wesson). He was not a gun guy but could get some small amount of guns through the company at extremely good pricing. I got the 52-2 (serial TAS73XX) and a 48-4 (AAN19XX) 6" and have never shot either!! I think he was there 3 years and could get one a year. Ah, those were the days!
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Old 07-19-2015, 01:24 PM
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A buddy used to work for Colt... He bought one gun... a Comander in 45acp, all he could afford at the time...
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:59 PM
tschiemer tschiemer is offline
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My reloader is using 2.8 gr Bullseye and I just ordered 500 more but wonder: would you go lower than 2.8 - or is that best: the case clears the ejection port by under a foot and recoil is very light. i read some use 2.7 gr but ask as I do not know personally.

Here is mine.
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Last edited by tschiemer; 07-21-2015 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:41 AM
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Only had my 52 for a short time and a single range trip. I had 5 different powders all using Speer 148g HBWC. Plus some 3D police practice ammo 148g DEWC.

2.8g BE @ 731fps really is as good as advertised.
3.0g N320 @ 657fps was close if not equal but week cycling.
3D DEWC@ 736fps was not far behind
Some cowboy action loads were tried for the fun of it.
3.3g N32C (VV Tin star) @ 673fps very accurate also

The difference in accuracy between the best and worst N310 @ 635fps with cycle problems was minor.
Most accurate for me was 5 shot nickel size groups 10 yds With a good bench rest.
Least accurate would go to quarter size generally with a single flyer.
If I was going to load for plated I would look to push it in the 730 to 750 fps range also. Seems to be most consistent for cycling and accuracy.

It would be difficult to find a gun that is more fun to shoot
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:37 PM
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I do not own a 52 at the time but have owned a couple. I own 3 -38 special autos & one is a Colt NM which shoots the same load as a 52. A 9mm .356 RN jacketed 147 gr. turned around & seated flush will work plenty good with 3.2 of American Select. I have some of these wad cutters that are .358 but I resize to .357 in my automatic. The copper puts more drag on the barrel so you have to add about 2 tenths more powder. When I shoot lead I can back off a little. I like my brass to eject around 2 1/2--to 3 feet.
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Last edited by 4barrel; 07-26-2015 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 07-26-2015, 08:24 PM
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That is definitely a neat idea with the 9mm slugs inverted. And if it's like all the 9mm slugs I've worked with, it's a thousandth slimmer in diameter.
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