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.38 Special Loads

740 Views 28 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Henry9008
I had mentioned in another thread that I picked up some X-treme 158 gr Plated flat points for .38/.357 loads. I don't have a dedicated .38 yet, but I occasionally use the Windicators for .38 shooting. Given that I anticipate possibly acquiring a J-frame sometime, I went ahead and started testing some loads.
Load data:
158 gr Plated Flat point.
AA#5 - various loads, starting at 5.1 grs, working up to 5.5 grs.
CCI 550 Primer (Yes - magnum primer, which is why I am working up slowly)
All fired cases have been examined, with no signs of excessive pressure - as I expected.
All shots were at 5 yards, DA. It was close to 50 degrees out when I tested.

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I'm favoring the 5.3 and the 5.5, but I may go ahead and run some at 5.6, just to see. I can imagine that 5.5 might be a bit stout in a 17 ounce J-frame, so that is a consideration, as well. Anyone else have experience with Accurate #5 loading in a snub?
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The bottom 3 targets look really good, along with your 50f weather.
Yeah, I'm not sure if the first two were a function of the powder or the shooter, as they were the first two groups I shot. I considered re-doing those two loads and shooting them over, but decided it wouldn't be worth it, as I'm going with the higher loads anyway.
 

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If I run across some AA5 I certainly wouldn’t pass it up….
With the "score whatever you can" availability of powder, I have been using 2400 for snub and four inch .38 revolver loads. It actually works better than I anticipated, seems to get a complete burn with magnum primers and accuracy is good. Not long ago I acquired some Ramshot ZIP powder. Will try it soon.
 

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The only issue I've ever had with AA5, or any of their powders, is the granules are so small that a bar style powder measure gets messy. On a 550 it was an aggravation, on my 1050 it would be a real pita. 5.8 is listed as maximum for a 158 jhp, plated usually are close. With Magnum Primers I'd go with the heavier load that's the most accurate, which looks like the 5.5.
 

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Yep AA powder in rather "fine".....but it sure meters better than RED DOT by a far margin. Running RED DOT thru a lil' dandy or a LEE auto disc is probably like throwing a cinder block into a wood chipper and feeling/listening to all the chewing, cutting, hitching, and grinding....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yep AA powder in rather "fine".....but it sure meters better than RED DOT by a far margin. Running RED DOT thru a lil' dandy or a LEE auto disc is probably like throwing a cinder block into a wood chipper and feeling/listening to all the chewing, cutting, hitching, and grinding....
Dad used to use Green Dot way back when. I've never used Red Dot, but your description gave me the perfect visual! :ROFLMAO:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The only issue I've ever had with AA5, or any of their powders, is the granules are so small that a bar style powder measure gets messy. On a 550 it was an aggravation, on my 1050 it would be a real pita. 5.8 is listed as maximum for a 158 jhp, plated usually are close. With Magnum Primers I'd go with the heavier load that's the most accurate, which looks like the 5.5.
That's my intent, but I think I am going to run a batch at 5.6 and at 5.7, just to see if the bite is worth the bark. In the end, I'll probably settle for the 5.5, as this will be intended for a lighter snub than my 26 ounce Windicator. Shooting these .38 loads is not much different than wadcutters in an all-steel snubby.
 

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Dad used to use Green Dot way back when. I've never used Red Dot, but your description gave me the perfect visual! :ROFLMAO:
RED DOT is one heck of a fine powder for the 38......won several matches with that. Miserly and accurate.
But you had best have a LEE dipper to make life a whole lot easier.....and plenty of patience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Okay, I had 5 more casings with CCI 550 primers in them, just asking to take the load up a notch. So I did. These are with 5.6 grains of AA #5. I think the snubby likes this combination. They hit low, because I was aiming low, and ignore the flyer up by the 10, that was operator error and had nothing to do with the gun/ammo combination. I'm just not sure how painful they would be to shoot from a J-frame. I have no idea of the velocity, as published values are for a 7 3/4" barrel. The Rainier round nose listed is a plated bullet, so I can guess that my velocities will be closer to those values than the Hornady XTP. The Rainier load maxes out at 943 fps / 16,900 psi with 5.7 grs.If everything is linear, I'd be looking at 925 fps out of a 7 1/2" barrel. Without a chronograph, however, what I actually got would be mere conjecture. Additionally, their loads are done with Winchester WSP primers, not CCI 550, but it is my understanding that Winchester primers are a bit hotter than CCI, anyway.

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was finally able to run some 158's through the Cobra. I tried a couple of days ago, but ran into a slight issue (a squib) caused by insufficient crimp. That derailed my testing for a minute as I tried to come up with the best solution for me. The chambers in the Cobra are milled to very tight tolerances, just like my Python. The Windicator, not so much. So a load that will just plop into the Windicator may have too much crimp for the Cobra. The problem is/was a complex one. The Xtreme 158's, while sized to .358 and labeled for .38/.357, have only a pseudo-cannelure, which presents a slight problem for a roll-crimp. Then I did some digging and found that others who have had similar issues with the Xtreme products would use a taper-crimp. I also found that my Hornady New Dimension 9mm die, which uses a taper-crimp (because 9mm headspaces on the case mouth vice the rim) can be used for applying a taper crimp to .38's.
So before doing up a whole batch and then finding out that it didn't work, I made a small-enough test group to satisfy myself and then went at it.

Here are my targets. All shot at 5 yards, double-action, 5 rounds each. While it looks like there are only 4 holes in this target, there are actually 5. I had to look very closely to figure out where #5 went.
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Next was the 5.4 grains
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And then 5.5 grains
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And finally, for fun, I ran some 148 gr wadcutters (3.1 gr TiteGroup/CCI500) rapid-fire - probably about 2-3 seconds for all rounds.

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All-in-all, I think it's a no-brainer to use the 158's with 5.3 grains of AA#5 using CCI 550 primers.

Recoil was manageable this time as, for a temporary solution, I wrapped the Stag grips in a couple layers of self-vulcanizing rubber tape. It helped me hold my grip, and minimized (but did not completely eliminate) the toll on my hands for the small batch of shooting today.
 
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