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Charlie Harley, #14153

38 special gallery loads?

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I’m looking for lightest loads possible to safely function in a .38 special revolver. No need for lever gun cycling. I have a new shooter getting used to a J-frame and a Colt SAA. 

 

Trail Boss powder or Bullseye?  Other choices?

 

.360 lead round ball or 110 grain lead bullet?

 

Thoughts?

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The classic .38 Special load for bullseye competition is a 148 grain wadcutter over 2.7 grains of Bullseye powder.  Hard to find a .38 revolver that does not like this combination.  I have had decent results with 125 to 158 grain lead bullets over 2.7 grains of Bullseye powder.  Mild recoil and quite accurate.  With bad arthritis in both hands, I put these in my J-Frame for EDC.  Yeah, I know, I'm inviting disaster by not carrying +Ps or a .357, but if I have to shoot, heaven forbid, I will know where the bullets are going.

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You might try 105gr cone bullet, over 2.7gr of Bullseye. 

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In the past I liked a 105Gr Truncated Cone cast lead bullet (available everywhere) over 3 to 3.4Gr TightGroup.

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Posted (edited)

The very absolute lightest I've calculated is a 90 grain LRN, 3.0 grains of 700-X, CCI 500 primer in 38SP.
Recoil in an old model Vaquero is 0.63 ft-lbs.
Same bullet, 2.5 grains of Clays, 3.5 grains of 231, or 3.0 grains of Trail Boss.

I opted for the 105 grain LTCFP, 2.7 grains of Clays, at 0.70 ft-lbs,
3.0 grains of Trail Boss works with this bullet as well.

Edited by bgavin

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So my next question becomes...

 

Where can I buy these 90 grain pills?  Would love to support a SASS vendor. 

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As a "general rule", the faster the powder, the sharper the recoil for the same velocity.

 

So I find titegroup to be an excellent powder but it has a louder bark and snappier recoil.

 

I found 2.5 grains of Clays to work well with 105 grain bullets.  I had to increase powder for 90 grain but it has been years since I used them.  With the powder increase to get reliability, the felt recoil was about like the 105's and the 90 grain.

 

The softest recoil for me was Unique since it is a relatively slower pistol powder.  I'll have to check my data for low end loads.  Perhaps The Original Lumpy Gritz can fill us in since that is one of his favorite powders and he has done great research on it.

 

Of course, the risk with going lower is a stuck bullet in the barrel.  Each powder has it's own characteristics as you get to the low end and nearly all become unreliable or inconsistent in velocity/pressure - thus stuck bullets.

 

Have them start with .22 revolvers - great for learning basics and eliminating fear.

 

Then go to the SAA as they are excellent with recoil design.

 

The J frame should be last once they are comfortable with the others.  As you know the little revolvers with light weight are relatively more punishing.

I call my snubbies (especially light weights) fire breathing dragons.  For such small guns they have a lot more fire, bark and snap.

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I have never loaded .38 Special lighter than 3.2gn Unique and a 148gn flush nose wadcutter bullet for my S&W model 52.

That's a mild load IMHO.

OLG 

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Posted (edited)

The best load you can do that will not gum up the works with unburnt powder or worse experiencing Secondary Explosive effect (SEE) because you are way too far below minimum charge for the powders you are using.  

 

38 short colt case.

.358 round ball ( about 69 grains) seated so that the widest part of the ball is just past the case mouth. A 360 ball will be too big and will over expand the case.

Enough trail boss to  just reach the bottom of the ball.

Apply a good roll crimp.

Edited by Sedalia Dave

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Unique is my favorite soft recoil powder.  I don't load anything that doesn't have a 4 in it but would choose a 105 gr pill from one of our supporting vendors over 3.0-3.2 grs of Unique.

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Terms have different meanings for different people. In the wayback "gallery loads" meant loads developed for crowd control. For 45/70 it meant a little less powder and at 2 RBs with some shot in between them much like a shotgun. Very effective at close range for multiple targets.

kR

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