Anybody a 38 SPL reloading expert?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by The Count, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    I have the following issue with my 38 SPL reloads. Used in a 6 shooter up to a max of 25 yards, no problem. Used in a Henry Big boy at 25 yards, hits within a 2-4 " group. BUT, when I shoot out to 50 yards the hits can be up to 10 inches away from where they should be. out of 10 shots maybe 1-2 are within 3" of the target, 5-8 will be 6-8 inches a away and maybe 1 even 10 inches off.

    my load data is: 158 grain lead SWC or 158 grain RN copper plated. 3.1 grains of clays or 3.6 grains of bullseye. (i use the same load for lead as for plated 158)

    results at 50 yards have been crummy with any of the above combinations. an old timer at the range said the those 158 grain bullets out of a 38 SPL are basically inaccurate and that 125 grain bullets are much better. is this true? should i make my loads hotter? weaker? what to do.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  2. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Count, I am sure not expert but I regularly shoot .38spl. in my S&W Model 19 w/ six inch barrel. My loads are 2.9grs. of Bullseye behind Hunters Supply 158gr. lead FP. This load will bang the six inch gong at 50 yards all day long. At 25 yards or less it is pretty much a large one hole group. I am suspecting some thing is going on with that Henry. Have you shot any factory loads in the Henry?
  3. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    Yep, I thought of shooting some factory ammo through it next week just to see how it compares.
  4. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    The Count:
    I have over 50 years of experience reloading but I have never used such a fast burning powder in a rifle as you are doing. As for 125 grain bullets being more accurate than 158 grain could be true in a particular gun but I doubt that is your problem. Get yourself some Alliant 2400 powder and find a loading in your manual (mine says 10 grains) that will shoot a 158 grain bullet out of your hand gun at about a 1000 fps and I would bet money your rifle and you will love them.

    Ron
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    I gotta second muddobbers advice. Rifles require slower powders than pistols because theres 5 times more bore, therefore a slower burn rate is required so your charge isnt running out of energy before the bullet is half way through the barrel. Id bet your clays/bulleye loads are slower form the rifle than they are from the pistol, which is probably why youre all over the place at 50 yds...
  6. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    Let's see if I understand this right. 38 spl is basically a pistol round. So the loads in the manuals are obviously for that. But when shot in a rifle the bullet is not getting enough 'push'... So for longer distances I would have to load something like H335? With a small rifle primer? Never heard anything like this before to be honest.
  7. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    OK,said I was no expert. I have never shot or loaded handgun rounds for rifles. But thanks to to Dober and JLA I am learning right along with you Count. Thanks fellows.

    Todd
  8. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    Count: I have carefully read all the post and I cannot see where anyone suggested using small rifle primers or H335. Alliant 2400 is a relatively slow burning pistol powder that is sometime used in small capacity rifle cases like 25-20 and 22 Hornet. It is an excellent powder for all magnum revolver loads. 2400 is not the choice for auto loaders because it does not burn as clean as some others. Also do not use rifle primers only because historically they have a thicker skin and may not ignite in your hand gun.

    What JLA explained in his post is exactly what is happening to you when using Clays or Bullseye in your rifle.

    Ron
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  9. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    OK, now i get it. I have some Power Pistol at hand which is much slower than Bullseye or Clays. (on the Hodgdon Burn rate chart 2400 is at #54, Clays at #10, Bullseye at #13 and Power Pistol at #33.)

    I just found this very interesting page where a guy experimented with several powders to duplicate a Remington factory load.

    http://smith-wessonforum.com/reloading/124471-38-special-factory-load-duplication.html

    Look at the picture with the hits at 25 yards (pistol)! My hits at 50 yards (rifle) are somewhat worse but I am surprised how at 25 the groups are poor for most powders, even #6, the factory load. So maybe 50 yard accuracy with 38 SPL is just not great, regardless....
    Wonder if that will make a difference.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  10. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    Just looking at the 'math' it would seem that being 2"-4" off POA at 25 yards 'could' make being 8"-10" off at double the distance 'normal' with that particular loading? I am presuming you are firing from a rest, not standing offhand?

    I would also agree that working up a load from a known reference point could simplify things, so try some factory ammo first.

    I shoot the same reloads in my 9mm pistols and my 9mm carbine and find that the carbine works quite fine and retains accuracy.
  11. mikld

    mikld Member

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    If I were faced with this same situation I would try some 158 gr. +P 38 Special factory loads. Also I'd suggest only published loads (the manuals will list the slower powders for .38 Special) and some manuals have pistol cartridges listed for rifles.
  12. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Not quite, youre thinkin too extreme. What i mean by using a slow powder for your .38 loads is using a suitable powder on the slow end. Sierra lists both rifle and pistol data for many pistol rounds as does the Lyman manual and others...

    And you never wanna use small rifle primers in the .38 spec case, no matter what you load it in...
  13. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    Today I called Henry customer support because I figured who would no better than the gun manufacturer, right? Big disappointment. As to my question which factory ammo is best for the Big Boy in 357 I got a 'all ammo is good' answer. And then to the second question if 125 grain bullets would be more accurate than 158 grain, which an old timer told me, a similarly useless answer like 'thats one person's opinion'.

    Lastly, which reloading powder/bullet combinations they might recommend. Answer was we don't test reloads nor factory ammo for accuracy. Can you believe this? Thats all the info one gets for an long time rifle manufacturer?

    WHAT A BUNCH OF CLUELESS ROBOTS! First and last Henry I will ever get.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  14. mikld

    mikld Member

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    Kinda tough on Henry, IMO. Firearms manufacturers aren't in the reloading business and for safety's sake don't recommend any reloads. Put yourself in their place and some new reloader calls and asks for reloading info. What would you do? Not tryin' to be a smart a$$, or condemning...

    There is no "one load/bullet fits every gun" no matter what the oldtimers tell you. If you're reloading for a .357 rifle, why don't you work up light accuracy loads in .357 brass? I know it would be convient to try for a load for both guns, but a compromise usually isn't perfect for either one. I have the same situation but different caliber; .44 Magnum. Some .44 Specials are accurate in my Ruger, but not in my Dan Wesson. Some bullets are good in my 629, but I get "patterns" in my Puma, and my Contender only shoots good with hot loads under a 250gr. SWCGC. The way I worked this out is concentrated on one gun to find the best bullet for each gun (265 gr Ranchdog @ .432" for my Puma and Lyman 245 gr. 429421 @ .430" for my Blackhawk). I can get loads that shoot "fair" in most of my .44s, but not "good" in all them.

    Hey, jes my $.02:D
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Here ya go count, imma try n help ya get it on the path to shootn good at 50 and even 100 yards...

    These loads are plucked straight outta my lyman 49 book (pistol data).

    .38 special

    125 gr jacketed (hornady XTP to be exact) @ 1.470"
    Power pistol - 5.4 start / 6.0 MAX (6.4 = +P)
    Blue Dot - 7.6 start / 8.5 MAX (I think this powder will yield the best results for this bullet weight in your rifle)

    158 gr jacketed (also a Hornady XTP) @ 1.480"
    power pistol - 4.3 start / 4.8 MAX (5.3 = +P) (I think this is a little fast for this bullet weight in a rifle)
    Blue Dot - 6.0 start / 6.7 MAX
    2400 - 8.4 start / 9.4 MAX (I think this powder will yield the best results in your rifle for this bullet weight)

    If you load lead I can post lead data...
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  16. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Heres some .357 mag data (for .357 mag cases of course), which i feel will be better suited to accuracy in your henry..

    Cartridge: 357 Magnum
    Load Type: Rifle
    Starting Loads

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Maximum Loads

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bullet Weight (Gr.) Manufacturer Powder Bullet Diam. C.O.L. Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon H4227 .357" 1.590" 18.0 1955 34,400 CUP 20.0 2122 42,000 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon H110 .357" 1.590" 21.0 2205 38,400 CUP 22.0 2276 41,400 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon HS-6 .357" 1.590" 9.8 1538 34,400 CUP 10.9 1724 42,100 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Universal .357" 1.590" 7.1 1423 34,900 CUP 7.6 1526 39,600 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon HP-38 .357" 1.590" 7.3 1454 33,800 CUP 8.5 1622 42,700 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Titegroup .357" 1.590" 6.8 1461 36,500 CUP 7.5 1586 41,200 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP IMR IMR 4227 .357" 1.590" 18.0 1955 34,400 CUP 20.0 2122 42,000 CUP
    125 GR. HDY XTP IMR SR 4756 .357" 1.590" 6.0 1593 18,600 PSI 7.8 1537 30,600 PSI
    125 GR. HDY XTP IMR SR 7625 .357" 1.590" 5.8 1258 19,000 PSI 7.5 1481 33,800 PSI
    125 GR. HDY XTP IMR PB .357" 1.590" 4.5 1123 19,600 PSI 5.9 1333 32,900 PSI
    125 GR. HDY XTP IMR 700-X .357" 1.590" 4.5 1173 18,300 PSI 6.4 1479 30,400 PSI



    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon H4227 .357" 1.580" 14.5 1578 34,600 CUP 16.0 1668 42,600 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon H110 .357" 1.580" 15.0 1619 28,600 CUP 16.7 1757 40,700 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon HS-6 .357" 1.580" 8.0 1181 28,000 CUP 9.5 1427 41,900 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Universal .357" 1.580" 5.8 1059 32,100 CUP 6.3 1147 39,300 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon HP-38 .357" 1.580" 6.2 1095 33,700 CUP 6.9 1214 40,000 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Titegroup .357" 1.580" 5.4 1035 32,600 CUP 6.1 1184 41,900 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP IMR IMR 4227 .357" 1.580" 14.5 1578 34,600 CUP 16.0 1668 42,600 CUP
    158 GR. HDY XTP IMR SR 4756 .357" 1.580" 5.0 976 17,500 PSI 6.5 1216 29,900 PSI
    158 GR. HDY XTP IMR SR 7625 .357" 1.580" 4.3 892 16,700 PSI 5.8 1145 29,600 PSI
    158 GR. HDY XTP IMR PB .357" 1.580" 3.7 827 18,800 PSI 4.9 1064 31,700 PSI
    158 GR. HDY XTP IMR 700-X .357" 1.580" 4.5 1019 21,900 PSI 5.7 1219 31,200 PSI
    158 GR. LSWC Hodgdon H4227 .358" 1.610" 10.5 1288 15,400 CUP 11.5 1382 17,800 CUP
    158 GR. LSWC Hodgdon HS-6 .358" 1.610" 6.0 1083 12,900 CUP 7.0 1224 15,500 CUP
    158 GR. LSWC Hodgdon Universal .358" 1.610" 5.5 1214 23,300 CUP 6.7 1380 34,600 CUP
    158 GR. LSWC Hodgdon HP-38 .358" 1.610" 3.5 901 8,400 CUP 4.5 1059 16,200 CUP
    158 GR. LSWC Hodgdon Titegroup .358" 1.610" 4.5 1157 19,300 CUP 5.0 1220 24,900 CUP


    NEVER EXCEED MAXIMUM LOADS
  17. The Count

    The Count New Member

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    @JLA

    Thanks for all those loads. I consulted a Hornady book on 38 SPL and it says for best accuracy in this caliber stay at about 800 fps and the 148 grain HBWC is the most accurate bullet. You would think that a gun manufacturer would have at least this kind of information and much more. I just had my Ruger Vaquero repaired under warranty, best customer service experience ever. Expert trouble shooting over they phone. When it became clear it needed to be sent in they arranged for a free UPS pickup and shipping. Returned repaired after one week.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  18. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    The HBWC bullets are one of the most accurate designe ever made, but may not feed at all from the magazine of your henry. and after about 50 yds they begin to tumble so the best results youre gonna get with them is at 25 yds with a revolver...
  19. carver

    carver Moderator

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    The Count
    Like these others are telling you, there is no one load that is best for all guns. A .38 pistol load will not shoot as well in a .357 chambered rifle, they are different loads. A load that works well in your pistol, might not work well in mine, and probably won't work all that well in your rifle. On the other hand, a load that works well in the rifle won't nessarally work well in the pistol. I reload & shoot .44Mag in pistol & rifle, and I use the same load in each, that combo works well. I also reload and shoot .44Spcl. When I shoot the .44Spcl in the rifle things are different, but acceptable. My present .44Spcl is a Bull Dog DAO, not much in the accuracy department, but these loads perform adequately in the rifle. I used to own a Bull Dog that would out shoot the rifle in .44Spcl. I hope you understand what I am trying to say here. Things that are different are not the same! Work up a good load for the pistol in .38, and one for the rifle in .357. Shoot either in the rifle, and live with what you get. You won't be using the rifle in a SD situation if the pistol is handy with good loads, and you won't be hunting with it, the .38 just really isn't enough for big game. You might use the rifle in a SD situation, and the .357 ammo you have built will work well in it for either SD, or hunting. Now you can shoot .38's in the .357 Rifle, but don't expect that both bullets will perform the same, they are not the same.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  20. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Another reason accuracy suffers from shooting .38s in a .357 chamber is because youre simply using a shorter cartridge in a longer chamber. you have created a long leade situation which short pistol bullets rarely resond well to. basically the bullet is completely clearing the case in a loose portion of the bore before its ramping up into the throat of the bore unsupported by the case and the chamber. Most likely its entering the bore slightly crooked and distorting which causes erratic flight and consequently wont group well on paper. If youre dead set on .38 spec loads, try loading .38 spec levels in .357 mag cases. This will correct the long leade problem and should shrink your groups considerably...
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