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  #1  
Old 04-20-2009, 04:09 PM
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Target Load for 38 Special


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I am looking for a good, stable target load for the 38 special. I will be shooting this using a K38 six inch barrel.

I am currently working with a 158 grn semi wad cutter with 3.2 grains of Bullseye. While this is a good load, I wonder if there is a better load out there. Before I go out and load up on stuff I dont need, I figure I would try to pick the brains of the forum members.

I will be shooting at 25 yards plus, hopefully getting good enough to enter some competitions.

Beyond the 158 grn semi wad cutters, I would like some advice on wad cutters and how they have worked for others. Bullseye is my preferred powder, however, I am open to moving to others.

Let me know what your experience has been.

Thanks for the help.

Brad S
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  #2  
Old 04-20-2009, 08:40 PM
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What kind of competition? I load a target 125 grain Lead RNFP with 3.0 grains of Hodgdon Clays for Steel Challenge.

Nick and I worked up a bunch of loads with Red Dot, because I got a good deal on an 8lb keg of it, it works for 9mm, 38, 40, and 45.
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  #3  
Old 04-20-2009, 09:03 PM
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I shot a K-38 6-inch competitively for some time, I used a 148 gr. full wadcutter and 2.5 - 3 grs Bullseye standard primer, and a roll crimp in the crimp groove.....believe it was a Lyman mold, cast them myself....dead bang accurate.....
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  #4  
Old 04-20-2009, 10:15 PM
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A swaged 148 gr. hollow base wadcutter (HBWC) propelled by 2.7 gr. Bullseye, seated flush and lightly roll crimped, ignited by a standard small pistol primer is capable of shooting tight groups out to 50 yards. This is the standard .38 Special match load for NRA Bullseye shooting used for years. Give them a try, it'll be hard to find a better load.
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  #5  
Old 04-20-2009, 10:57 PM
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38 Special loads....

For the best accuracy with lead bullets at target velocities (say under 800 fps) it's hard to beat full wadcutter bullets in the 38 Special. Lots of bearing surface for the bullet which also provides better loading density even with the small charges of fast burning powder used in target loads. Bullseye is still a good choice for powder and that's what I used years ago for PPC matches. If I were going at it again I would accuracy test several powders with the bullet (for me the bullet mold) I would be using. Hodgdon Clays, Titegroup, W-231, , 700-X, and several other contenders might provide better accuracy in your K-38 (what I used by the way) and would likely be cleaner burning. In many cases you will find a taper crimp die (more associated with semi auto cartridges) will provide better accuracy than a roll crimp with these loads. Good luck and God Bless....
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  #6  
Old 04-21-2009, 03:48 AM
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The wadcutter/BE load is the classic. I had good luck with the 158 gr SWC with 4.3 gr WW231. About 700 fps from a 6 inch and would shoot ten ring groups easily.
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  #7  
Old 04-22-2009, 12:10 PM
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I used to shoot combat pistol competition with a .38. I used 158 gr SWC or round nose and 4.5 gr of red dot. I stopped using bullseye because it was just too darn east to double charge cases. Also the early loading manuals tended to have too hot of a load listed for it in some calibers. Red dot gave me good performance and economy as it was usually a bit cheaper than other normally pistol oriented powders were.
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  #8  
Old 04-22-2009, 01:18 PM
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I have a K38 that never shot exceptionally until I tried Lee Tumble Lube wadcutters in it. They cut its group sizes in half over what I got with swaged wadcutters or with commercially loaded wadcutters, like Federal match. It was my first experience with the TL design. I got the 6 cavity mold and have never looked back. Same 2.7 grains of Bullseye mentioned earlier. Federal primers.

It's yet another example of handloading making it possible to do what commercial loads cannot.
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  #9  
Old 04-22-2009, 03:29 PM
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Thats like the Remington 125 grain JHP 38 Special +p out of my 6" GP100... nothing even comes close to it in accuracy.

Now, its also $.30 per round, my handloads are just $.07 each.
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  #10  
Old 05-13-2009, 07:38 AM
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DEWC , bevel base, cast. 2.8 bullseye. 3.5 unique. 2.7 700x. diameter of the bullet is important. the older the S&W the fatter the bullet needs to be. you can get commercial casters to make bullets unsized for old S&W revolvers. do you have a S&W 52 as well ???
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  #11  
Old 05-26-2009, 04:22 PM
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A 148 grain flush-seated hollow base wadcutter bullet and 2.7 grains of Bullseye is the classic target load for the .38 Special, and has proven itself over many decades of use. You cannot go wrong with that combination.
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  #12  
Old 05-26-2009, 06:47 PM
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I use exactly what wildhobbybobby said above.

Works great for me.

Daryl
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  #13  
Old 05-27-2009, 05:51 AM
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In my revolver, the hollow base WC's shoot groups twice the size of the shorter, solid Tumble Lube bullet. The bullet weight is the same, but the shorter shape needs less twist to stabilize, and that may be where the difference is in my gun? It also may not. It could be the fatter TL bullet is just sealing better. I was never careful to see how the leading compared, which would have been a clue. The HBWC's shoot fine from the 6" tube on my Dan Wesson, though.
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  #14  
Old 05-27-2009, 01:15 PM
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No matter how well the wadcutters shoot, I just can't warm up to them 'cuz they're so dang ugly. So, I use SWCs.

Either a WC or SWC is best for competition ( assuming paper bullseye targets ). Round noses make too raggedy a hole, so are difficult to score.

.
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  #15  
Old 05-27-2009, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
No matter how well the wadcutters shoot, I just can't warm up to them 'cuz they're so dang ugly. So, I use SWCs.
I have a fondness for wadcutters that I can't even explain; or, maybe I can.

I'd hate to try to count the number of jackrabbits and cottontails I shot as a teen-ager, using a S&W model 10 and a Ruger blackhawk loaded with .38 wadcutters.

They're compact, and shoot good. Not much else for a reason for me to like them, other than they're fun to shoot.

Daryl
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  #16  
Old 05-27-2009, 09:00 PM
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I used Lazer-Cast 148 grain wadcutters with 2.8 Gr IMR PB. Very comfortable, and ****ed accurate.
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