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Favorite .38 special load (Choose one)

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  • Favorite .38 special load (Choose one)

    148 grain DEWC/coated bullet with 3.0 grains Bullseye.
    158 grain RNFP/coated bullet with 5.0 grains Unique.
    Other.......
    Last edited by caz223; 06-15-2019, 01:36. Reason: Edited eleventy jillion times for speeling, and conciseness.
    I\'m not just a gun, I\'m YOUR gun. (Hold me!)

  • #2
    My experiment with 125 grain bullets and power pistol were a dismal failure at best, and unsafe/inconsistent/dangerous at worst.
    Lots of split cases (Maybe 5%), loads feel OK sometimes and WAAAAAAY hot sometimes, and at the end of the day, a squib. I'm done. (Barrel obstruction)
    I have about 15k 125 grain JHPs left, and am ready to move on to another bullet weight/type to see if there's something better.
    I'll save what's left for .357 magnum.
    If you have a pet load with WSF, HS-6, Herco, or something that would work well in my Henry lever gun I'm all ears.
    Last edited by caz223; 06-15-2019, 01:42.
    I\'m not just a gun, I\'m YOUR gun. (Hold me!)

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    • #3
      For decades, I've carried 148gr DEWC 2.7gr BE for air weight and 3gr BE for steel, I've loaded coated, but not for 38sp. The 158gr RN load is better in 4" to 6" revolvers, (old highway patrol load) coated would be even better. Classic 5gr unique load, is now considered +P. Is "new" cleaner burning unique faster or just better testing?
      Columbia Falls, MT
      If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
      Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?


      NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers

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      • #4
        Originally posted by caz223 View Post
        158 grain RNFP/coated bullet with 5.0 grains Unique.
        I've fed my .38's Speer LSWC's, LSWC HP's, and RNL, and 4.5gr of Unique for decades. It shoots to POI with my fixed sight revolvers every time out to 25yds.
        My remaining crop of .38's are all S&W "J's" with 2"/3" barrels.

        Experience is what you get, when you don\'t get what you want ;-)

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        • #5
          158 grain LSWC/ 4.2 gr. Unique and 5.0 grains Unique are both accurate loads for me. The lighter load is great for DA practice.
          3.8 gr. W231 has been exceptionally accurate in my revolvers, especially with the dead soft Hornady 158 gr. SWC.
          Whats odd with the Hornadys is they mic at .3565-.3570, which is underside, and they should lead the bore and be very inaccurate, but they shoot pretty good in my revolvers. I think they “bump up” when fired.
          Even though they are accurate I won’t be buying any more though.
          I play Choctaw bingo every Friday night.

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          • #6
            2.7 Bullseye or 4.6 Unique work for both weights for me. I have one gun that prefers 3 Bulleye with 158's but it's not worth changing my setup for it.

            I love coated bullets but don't mess with them until speeds are over 1000 fps.
            Endeavor to persevere.

            Call sign: Limp Wrist

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RobertMT View Post
              For decades, I've carried 148gr DEWC 2.7gr BE for air weight and 3gr BE for steel, I've loaded coated, but not for 38sp. The 158gr RN load is better in 4" to 6" revolvers, (old highway patrol load) coated would be even better. Classic 5gr unique load, is now considered +P. Is "new" cleaner burning unique faster or just better testing?
              Better testing.

              The metal crusher system, especially at low pressures, was bad about under-reading fast powder loads and over-reading slow powder loads.
              Crushing metal slugs took time, fast powders like Bullseye didn't give enough time, really slow powders (Blue Dots and similar) took "too much" time, moving metal more than it should have.

              The modern electronic system has exact per-microsecond traces of pressure levels, making it more accurate. This is what has changed data since the 80's, ESPECIALLY in low-pressure ammo, the old low-pressure handgun ammo and shotgun shells.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Damannoyed View Post

                Better testing.

                The metal crusher system, especially at low pressures, was bad about under-reading fast powder loads and over-reading slow powder loads.
                Crushing metal slugs took time, fast powders like Bullseye didn't give enough time, really slow powders (Blue Dots and similar) took "too much" time, moving metal more than it should have.

                The modern electronic system has exact per-microsecond traces of pressure levels, making it more accurate. This is what has changed data since the 80's, ESPECIALLY in low-pressure ammo, the old low-pressure handgun ammo and shotgun shells.
                Agree 100%. Many blame the lowering of data on lawyers and fear of lawsuits, not on advances in technology. They are wrong.

                As for the question on favorite loads, I like SAECO's 158 grain SWC over Unique.
                Last edited by Charley; 4 weeks ago.
                "The fact that guns can kill another human being is the whole point. That\'s why they are so darn good at deterring violent criminals". Ann Coulter

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                • #9
                  Well I would have to go with "other" plus have to ask, "For what purpose?"

                  For target and plinking a 148 gr. wadcutter over either 2.7 gr. Bullseye or 3.1 gr. W231, the latter actually being the more accurate in my guns.

                  For small game a 150 gr. semi-wadcutter over 5.0 gr. of Unique.

                  For serious social intercourse the 158 gr. gas check semi-wadcutter over 5.5 gr. of Unique, that is if I did not have some Plus P factory ammo on hand.

                  Frankly, I trust my handloads more than what the factories put out. My normal carry gun has Federal 125 gr. Plus P hollow points in it but if I happen to shoot them up in practice and have none on hand, I'll stick my handloaded ammo and not worry about it until I can replace with fresh factory ammo.
                  Paul B.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paul B View Post
                    Well I would have to go with "other" plus have to ask, "For what purpose?"

                    For target and plinking a 148 gr. wadcutter over either 2.7 gr. Bullseye or 3.1 gr. W231, the latter actually being the more accurate in my guns.

                    For small game a 150 gr. semi-wadcutter over 5.0 gr. of Unique.

                    For serious social intercourse the 158 gr. gas check semi-wadcutter over 5.5 gr. of Unique, that is if I did not have some Plus P factory ammo on hand.

                    Frankly, I trust my handloads more than what the factories put out. My normal carry gun has Federal 125 gr. Plus P hollow points in it but if I happen to shoot them up in practice and have none on hand, I'll stick my handloaded ammo and not worry about it until I can replace with fresh factory ammo.
                    Paul B.
                    This seems to be the consensus, so it looks like I have some cases to prep.
                    Thanks, all for your help. I have plenty of Unique and Bullseye on hand, so it looks like I'll start there.
                    I\'m not just a gun, I\'m YOUR gun. (Hold me!)

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                    • #11
                      I used to reload a lot of shotgun shells when I was on a trap team so I always had Clays powder on hand. I loaded .38 Special with a 158 grain DEWC using 2.8-3.1 grains of Clays. My wife liked the 2.8 Clays when she started shooting and thought the 3.1 was too hot for her. 2.8 today, 2.9 next week, I got here up to 3.1 over time and she never new the difference.
                      Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

                      Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi

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                      • #12
                        See you made a decision. Good. Personally, I don't care for JHP'S in a 38. Don't have the speed to open up right. .357Mag's a different animal. Lead in a 38 is just fine. Power Pistol powder acts up with some lighter bullets in some cases. With 158 coated ACME Bullets SWC and 5.4gr it was perfect for the 20" levergun I have. Very consistent and accurate. Didn't bother with jacketed stuff, just lead. Still had good results with cast 140gr RNFP RCBS cowboy bullets, but that's as light as I go in a .38Spl.

                        Good luck with the Unique and Bullseye in your Henry. Can't go wrong with a moderate dose of Unique in a 38. 4.8gr to 5gr should be magic with a coated 158 SWC. Look forward to hearing of your success!
                        Remember, the last thing a man wants to do is the last thing he does.

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                        • #13
                          When I posted my reply, I neglected to add my choice of bullets which I home cast myself.

                          148 gr. WC Lyman #358495 2.7 gr/ Bullseye or 3,1 gr. W748

                          150 gr. SWC Lyman 358477 5.0 gr. Unique

                          158 gr. SWC with gas check Lyman #358156 5.0 gr. Unique

                          Paul B.

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                          • #14
                            Lyman #2 (approx.) alloy 150 gr. cast DEWC over a 4.4 gr. charge of W231. Works quite well in my 3" 38 for one of my house guns. Tied a lot of PCed bullets, but my cast don't lead the guns and are accurate.....
                            I\'ve learned to stand on my own two knees...

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                            • #15
                              Guess Elmer Keith's writings influenced me too much. he was no fan of gas check design bullets in revolvers, I've usually followed that idea myself.
                              "The fact that guns can kill another human being is the whole point. That\'s why they are so darn good at deterring violent criminals". Ann Coulter

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