Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >

Notices

Smith & Wesson Semi-Auto Pistols Other Smith & Wesson Semi-Automatic Pistols from the 1950's to Present


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-07-2021, 01:38 PM
tatume tatume is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 61
Likes: 4
Liked 61 Times in 27 Posts
Default Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?

Hello Folks,

I've been shooting Bullseye with revolvers, but I'm beginning to transition to semi-auto pistols. Due to not wanting to reload for an additional cartridge, I'm considering a used Model 52 in 38 Spl. wad cutter for the center fire stages.

Is the S&W Model 52 in 38 Special still considered to be competitive?

They used to have a reputation for being finicky. Are they in fact touchy and difficult to maintain for reliable function?

Thanks, Tom
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-07-2021, 01:47 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,794
Likes: 4
Liked 4,051 Times in 1,985 Posts
Default

Not at all finicky once you get the right load, OAL, and crimp. I don't shoot competitively, but would guess 52s to be more accurate than most, maybe all revolvers.

Good to hear that some still shoot Bullseye. I thought the gunfighting games had taken over everything.

Last edited by rockquarry; 04-07-2021 at 06:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #3  
Old 04-07-2021, 01:52 PM
waffles waffles is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 593
Likes: 27
Liked 1,053 Times in 301 Posts
Default

Had and sold a model 52-2, it was far and away the most accurate pistol I've had the pleasure of shooting. Wish I'd kept it, but didn't want to reload and ran through my stockpile of midrange wadcutters.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #4  
Old 04-07-2021, 01:58 PM
AJ AJ is online now
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Central East Coast of Flo
Posts: 2,396
Likes: 552
Liked 3,270 Times in 1,310 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
Not at all finicky once you get the right load, OAL, and crimp. I don't shoot competitively, but would guess 52s to be more accurate than most, maybe all revolvers.

Good to hear that some still shoot Bullseye. I though the gunfighting games had taken over everything.
You should be very competitive with a Model 52. Most seem to like 2.8 grains of Bullseye and a 148 grain Hollow Based Wadcutter, seated flush with the case mouth.

I learned to shoot in the Corps Bullseye Style(one handed hold with non-shooting hand in my pocket). Then I learned IPSC styled shooting, when I went to work for the USMC Security Force Battalion (our instructors were taught at Gunsite by Cooper & Crew). Now that I am a tad older it is back to bullseye at my style (two hands and only trying to impress myself). I guess you can say I compete against myself.

AJ
__________________
USMC 1969-1993
Reply With Quote
The Following 6 Users Like Post:
  #5  
Old 04-07-2021, 02:01 PM
jkallner's Avatar
jkallner jkallner is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Upper NYS
Posts: 63
Likes: 104
Liked 66 Times in 34 Posts
Default

You will be more than competitive with a 52. Mine has not been finicky at all and personally, I like the unique sound a 38 casing makes after ejecting - weird, but it makes me smile. Go for it, you will love the trigger for sure.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #6  
Old 04-07-2021, 02:19 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,794
Likes: 4
Liked 4,051 Times in 1,985 Posts
Default

A bit off subject, and this is based on results from a sample of one 52...don't assume the oft-repeated Bullseye load of 2.7 or 2.8 grs. is the best. My gun is notably more accurate with 2.5 grs. than heavier charges. Regardless, with a new gun, I'd shoot groups with at least four or five different charges. I've had best results with bullets sized in a .358" die, but some shooters find better accuracy with other sizes.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #7  
Old 04-07-2021, 02:30 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Ohio
Posts: 5,679
Likes: 5,967
Liked 9,273 Times in 3,401 Posts
Default

The 52 has no problems running all the time and being accurate enough for competition... if you are shooting 25 yards or less.

It isnít what serious top level competitors are using anymore and hasnít been for years. Many have come to the conclusion that the barrel twist rate is not optimal for distances beyond 25 yards and that longer targets will show bullets that yaw. Clark Custom has recently (within the last 1-3 years) produced a 52 replacement barrel with a different twist rate to address this.

Most top level bullseye competitors are using custom 1911 pistols in .45 Auto for the bullseye game.

With all that said, I have three 52ís and I love them dearly and I shoot two of them often. Had my 52-1 out on Easter Sunday. Itís one of my absolute favorite handguns. I run the long discontinued Star 148gr HBWC and 2.7gr Bullseye with a very light roll crimp. My feed, function, extract and eject are literally 100%.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #8  
Old 04-07-2021, 02:30 PM
4barrel's Avatar
4barrel 4barrel is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: OVER the hill in TEJAS
Posts: 2,378
Likes: 11,956
Liked 3,803 Times in 1,538 Posts
Default

Some are more accurate than others. The sights on a 52 are hard to beat. I don't own one but get to shoot one regular enough. You should be able to shoot a higher score with a sa pistol overall. If I look too long the sights start to fade. The 52 trigger is better unless you have a good trigger job. I bench a lot to find the perfect load and then shoot one hand to see the results. Bullets are more handy for a wheel gun. I keep looking for a more accurate load than 2.7 of bullseye with a hbwc but haven't found it yet but some powders are close. My wheel guns like American Select with a bnwc. Anything under 1 1/2'' is what I strive for on the bench with 10 shots at 25 yards with open sights. My NM Colt uses 2.5 of Bullseye. My 1911's 38 specials need 3.1 of Bullseye because of the heavy slide.

Last edited by 4barrel; 04-07-2021 at 02:36 PM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #9  
Old 04-07-2021, 02:52 PM
6string's Avatar
6string 6string is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Clinton, SC
Posts: 1,215
Likes: 1,625
Liked 2,616 Times in 874 Posts
Default

Hi,
Are you planning on shooting it in 2700 outdoor matches, ie: at the 50 yd line for slow fire? If so, you will need to very carefully prepare and test your loads. Just saying "use this powder with that bullet" is not load development. You need to sort cases by make and even lot number. Trim length is critical, as is primer choice and seating depth. Your choice of dies (internal dimensions) is critical. The exact bullet and it's exact alloy and lube is critical.
A lot of people make claims about accuracy without having done exhaustive and/or objective testing.
The M52 can be very accurate. But, don't expect it to be so, especially with handloads, without doing a lot of work.
I posted a very enlightening (and rigorous) test done by Gil Hebard back in the 1960s. He loved the M52, but did not sugarcoat things. (See post #3):

So, What's Up With Clark's Replacement Barrel for the Model 52-2?

A very good friend of mine used his M52 in 2700s for all the years I knew him. He could never get out of Sharpshooter classification because his CF scores were always 50-100 points less than his 22 and 45 scores. In part, this was (I always suspected) due to his reloading practices. He usually used Zero swaged HB WCs, which is a great bullet, but used mixed brass. In part, it may have been the difference between the crisp trigger on his 22 and 45 vs. the roll trigger on the M52.
One more thing, give some thought to spare parts. The M52 is, after all, long out of production.
They're beautiful guns, feel great in the hand, and have nice sights. Just keep the questions in your OP in mind.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #10  
Old 04-07-2021, 04:01 PM
SlamFire SlamFire is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 11
Likes: 2
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

If you can use the irons and find the magazines, there is no particularly reason not to shoot your M52.

I have been competing in Bullseye Pistol for the last five to six years, and I don't recall seeing one on the firing line. I think there are several reasons.

1) the M52 is a collector's item. Where do you get parts?

Magazine, discontinued

Smith & Wesson Mag S&W 52 38 Special Wadcutter 5-Round Steel Blue

2) Ultradots, Red Dot type sights are the most common aiming equipment around. Old geezers like me can't see the sights and the target anymore, and even young shooters do better with optical sights. It cost me $100 to have a 1911 drilled and tapped, I suspect a M52 is in that ball park, if you can find a base.

Sight base, discontinued

Aimtech Base S&W 52 Target Matte

3) It is an extra pistol to clean. 2700 Bullseye is a 22lr, centerfire, and a 45. Most competitors fire a 22lr and a 1911.

4) Different ergonomics. The best shooters use a 22 lr conversion on top of a 1911 frame so they don't change anything related to grip and trigger alignment. Even though I am not one of the best, I can tell I have to relearn how to grip my 1911 after firing a M41 or a Ruger MKII.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #11  
Old 04-07-2021, 04:33 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
SWCA Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: VA & SoFL
Posts: 6,352
Likes: 299
Liked 3,750 Times in 2,154 Posts
Default

Hello Tom, not if you buy but when you buy, do not be afraid to pay more if you get a handful of spare mags. The mags are getting pricey and may scare you.
__________________
Mike 2796
SoFo Bunch member
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-07-2021, 06:47 PM
jrm53 jrm53 is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Rogers Arkansas
Posts: 1,685
Likes: 2,637
Liked 867 Times in 370 Posts
Default

I have read the tests on the 52, if it will not shoot from a machine rest at 50 yards and meet their standards it is returned and reworked until it does meet the standards. This article was in a Gun Digest back after the 52 first came out, the accuracy improved the more they were shot and covered four pistols. Jeff

Last edited by jrm53; 04-07-2021 at 06:48 PM. Reason: spelling
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-07-2021, 07:46 PM
Model52guy's Avatar
Model52guy Model52guy is offline
SWCA Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Haslet Tx
Posts: 645
Likes: 1,202
Liked 1,098 Times in 304 Posts
Default

The model 52 is always competitive,,,,,,,, sometimes the shooter isn’t. I own 7-M52’s, including the no dash, -1 and -2’s. They all are very reliable and are accurate. The common thing for all of them is the 38 wad cutters I load exactly the same every time. 3.2 gr of W231 behind a 148 gr LHBWC.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #14  
Old 04-07-2021, 07:58 PM
Rowlf Rowlf is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 135
Likes: 10
Liked 120 Times in 61 Posts
Default

I like a European 22 when shooting 22 in NRA Precision Pistol (Bullseye), international events and CMP Excellence In Competition, but if I am competing in an NRA 2700 a 22 conversion on a 1911 frame and a 1911 for Center Fire and 45 is how I chase points. The main argument is that a CF pistol may help you in CF points but you still have to shoot a 45. I notice the military teams will often shoot 9mm Service Pistols on the CF stage. I'll also note that in seven years of competition twice a month I have never seen any M52s other than my own.

My M52-2 is set aside for the occasional 25 meter Center Fire events that come up.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-07-2021, 10:59 PM
Troystat Troystat is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: CA
Posts: 1,380
Likes: 467
Liked 575 Times in 366 Posts
Default

These days you can shoot a 45 for the CF part of the 2700 match and so you only need two guns a .22 and a .45. With a well tuned 45 you can shoot some pretty mild loads (mine shoots a 185 grain lead SWC and 3.7 grains of bullseye) my 45 is an X ring gun at 25 yards even if I am not. The other advantage of the 45 over the .38 is a bigger hole so you some times get a 10 instead of a 9 etc. That being said I would like a model 52 or if I wanted to spend some serious money a custom 1911 in .38 special.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #16  
Old 04-08-2021, 10:22 AM
Rowlf Rowlf is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 135
Likes: 10
Liked 120 Times in 61 Posts
Default

Wasn't the whole point of shooting 38 Special wadcutters in pistols was that nobody had figured out how to set up an 38 Super chamber to be as accurate in the 1950s/60s? 38 Super is easier to set up magazines for reliable feeding and now there are good bullets/loads, different twist rate barrels and tighter chambers for 38 Super.

I can see 38 Spl WC in a Sig/Hammerli P240 for countries that may restrict 38 Super as a police caliber.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-08-2021, 02:40 PM
tatume tatume is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive? Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 61
Likes: 4
Liked 61 Times in 27 Posts
Default

As usual on this forum, responses to my question were thoughtful, well-informed, and helpful. Thank you for every one.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Like Post:
  #18  
Old 04-08-2021, 03:32 PM
SlamFire SlamFire is offline
Member
Model 52 38 Spl still competitive?  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 11
Likes: 2
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowlf View Post
Wasn't the whole point of shooting 38 Special wadcutters in pistols was that nobody had figured out how to set up an 38 Super chamber to be as accurate in the 1950s/60s? 38 Super is easier to set up magazines for reliable feeding and now there are good bullets/loads, different twist rate barrels and tighter chambers for 38 Super.

I can see 38 Spl WC in a Sig/Hammerli P240 for countries that may restrict 38 Super as a police caliber.
Last year at a CMP Regional, the Match Officials were desperate to have enough shooters to add an additional leg. I am not Distinguished, and it turns out, because of my awfulness, I am loved.

I wanted to go home, I can't shoot irons, but the Match Director convinced me to shoot and he let me shoot a 900 point match for free, and gave me a 38 Super M1911 with ammunition to shoot. How could I say no?

The 38 Super had a very mild recoil, went bang, the bullet went downrange more or less in the direction of the target. I don't know why the Match Director does not shoot it more often, but he shoots his 45 ACP Rock River 1911.

Incidentally, he had a squib load in February. He was shooting an outstanding score in practice, concentrating really hard, when he was distracted by individuals who wanted to go down range. He had a failure to eject, but did not inspect the tube. Then, to get that last shot off, quickly, he aimed, pulled the trigger, and bulged his barrel.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
10 yr old competitive shooter BaaBaa Smith & Wesson Competitive Shooting 2 10-17-2014 11:31 AM
Competitive Shooting aaorb104 Smith & Wesson Competitive Shooting 2 12-21-2013 11:14 PM
competitive shooting in the Panhandle of Fl Mr. P Smith & Wesson Competitive Shooting 3 07-25-2012 11:35 PM
competitive price for S&W model 41 wpshooter Smith & Wesson Semi-Auto Pistols 18 04-21-2010 09:00 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:46 AM.


Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.42 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)