This is a discussion on Why a heavy bullet for "light plinking load"? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; For sake of the question/numbers, I'm talking about .38 Spl here. Why, when discussing light loads (to be used for plinking, target), people tend to ...
For sake of the question/numbers, I'm talking about .38 Spl here.
Why, when discussing light loads (to be used for plinking, target), people tend to mention the heaviest bullets (like 158gr, etc). I understand that the powder wt also plays in, but I would think you need a minimum of powder no matter what, and then you get the lightest bullet possible. A lighter bullet would result in the greatest bullet speed with the lowest recoil, right?
What am I missing here?
Thanks. I've learned a lot from you guys already.
I guess first of all, I have to ask where these people are that say to use the heaviest bullet?
For my .357, I always tend to use a 158 gr bullet, both for plinking and for my hunting loads.
That being said, since the wife has just got a 642, I am going to load her up some light 125 gr ammo to practice with this weekend. The ammo I purchased for her to carry is Hornady Critical Defense in 125 gr. Had I not picked up 1000 pieces of lead when I got the gun for her, her practice loads would have been 158 gr because that is what I have laying around.
I try to keep my practice load bullet weight the same as my carry or hunting weight bullets. But that is just my personal preference. Others may do things differently.
Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
Texas CHL Instructor
Texas Hunter Education Instructor
For instance, my carry load in .45ACP is a 230 grain Winchester Ranger SXT. It goes for $35 or more a box of 50, so practice with that is way too expensive on a government flunky's salary. I can, however, load a 230 grain LRN to the same velocity as the 230 grain SXT and get the same recoil and point of impact.
Since you asked specifically about .38 Special, my fixed sight revolvers shoot point of aim with 158 grain bullets and generally not with lighter bullets. Plus, I shoot almost exclusively cast bullets, and 158 grain is a common weight with a lot of selection. From my source 158 grain cast are only $4/1000 more than 125 grain cast, they shoot point of aim, and they are much easier to push past the 125,000 power factor threshold for IDPA than 125 grain bullets in .38 Special.
"The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them" -Felix
As for recoil try this calculator:
But for putting the round on a target I go along with Landric's line of thought with respect to bullet weight. My pistols will generally keep the same weight bullets on point of aim but lighter bullets will need adjustments.
My practice loads for the .38 Spl use 125 grain bullets. I normally carry Speer 135 gr +P or 158 gr LSWHP +P in my 642.
I do not load my practice rounds to max, and the POI is not enough difference at close range to worry about.
Load your 125 grainers and with lighter loads for practice, and plinking. Check the POI compared with your carry ammo.
The 125 gr bullets are cheaper also. I don't like lead bullets and the 125 gr plated bullets do fine.
I once found Rem 125 gr SJHP at a good price and bought a supply. I still have some left, and if needed they would do OK loaded hot for SD out of the 642.
148 gr wad cutter and 2.7 grs of bullseye. Cheap and accurate.
160 gr wad cutter and 3.2 grs of bullseye. Cheap and accurate.
If you load ammo cans of 38's for your various revolvers these loads are cheap and accurate.
Used gang moulds are easily found and most any soft alloy will work.
When I scrounge lead and use my free range brass, the cost is less than 22 rimfires. The more varied weights (125gr -140gr etc) dont come in as many gang moulds and you must use two cavity moulds. Takes more effort to get 1000's cast.
So I load heavier 38's because I have the ability to cast the heavier bullets with less effort.
PS: If you ever need defensive rounds, (your go to bullets not available) cast some hollow base 148 gr wadcutters and load them in backwards. Use a soft alloy and 3grs bullseye. This is a very effective close range defensive round and will open up to .60 caliber even at low velocity.
I use a lot of wadcutters loaded pretty soft for practice....as long as you know your point of aim/impact with the different bullet weights you use, practice with anything....especially if it is cheaper!!
"Never advance cheerfully on your late opponent without reloading. You may have used your last round, and he may not be properly dead and still spiteful."
Major Hugh Pollard
NRA Endowment Member
Thanks for all the replies. I'm not into reloading yet, but am seriously considering it. I haven't shot my 642 enough yet to evaluate POA/POI with different rounds, and would not trust my results yet anyway... I'm a lousy shot at this point. I guess after a while I'll get a feel for this and will be able to hone in on a good practice round.
Sometimes I plink with 125gr sjhp, which I load a lot of.(IIRC they cost about $7 per 100) I load them becuase loaded hp rounds are good to have in my stockpile, these bullets also perform well in my .357, and they don't lead my barrel.
That being said, I also practice a lot with 158 wadcutters becuase I pick them up from a local guy who casts bullets and sells them at a gunshow. I think I last paid $5 for 250 of them, so they are much cheaper. The only reason I use the wadcutters is to keep costs lower.
Point of aim - point of impact does not vary enough to make a diference at self defense distances, IMO.
When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts & minds will follow. Semper Fi.