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.38 SPL accuracy load for a .357 magnum Colt SAA

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Stimovsky, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    You can't really get a good inside measurement on throats with a dial caliper. If the bullets are a tight slip fit to your throats, your golden, whatever the throats measure.
     
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  2. Stimovsky

    Stimovsky Member

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    Thank you, I didn't really know if those information meant anything. I'll just stick to those bullets.
     
  3. Stimovsky

    Stimovsky Member

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    Here are the results of my testing session.
    10 rounds were fired at each target from a sandbag at 25 yds. Point of aim is the is 2in diameter orange dot.
    Tests.png
    This is pretty clear: my Colt despises weakness and doesn't care for .38SPL.
    If I try to feed it anything else than full power .357Magnum, it made very clear it will not hesitate to shame me if front of the whole line.

    Also, it definitely shoots left of POA.
    Maybe a gunsmith would be able to screw the barrel in a little further to try and fix it or should I live with it?

    I would listen to advises on both accounts.
     
  4. forrest r

    forrest r Member

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    You might not have another firearm to test your 38spl reloads in but you do have a set of calipers. My 38spl & 357mag reloads measure .3795" when loaded with .358" cast/coated bullets. The empty cases measure just under .379" using a micrometer.

    Too bad you don't have/use a chronograph. You're targets have a lot of vertical stringing. A chronograph will easily pickup on if it's the reload or you.

    I'd try using federal primers and see if some of the vertical stringing goes away.

    Could you post pictures of a couple of your reloads. Kind of interested in what your crimp looks like. Some reloaders use minimal crimp or no crimp, I guess it's a brass life or afraid of bullet distortion thing. Myself I use a good medium heavy crimp, it aids in the short start pressure of the reload making a more consistent/complete burn of the powder. What my crimp looks like on 38spl cases with a .358" 158gr cast coated bullets along with what the 6-shot groups look like @ 50ft.
    AL4WBux.jpg
     
  5. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I doubt if the accuracy of the gun will be fairly tested unless using 357 brass and at least a 38+p load where data is available for the powder/bullet combination. My understanding from internet lore is that using brass shorter than the chamber compromises accuracy and is fine for close range and pie plate size groups.
     
  6. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    I found a good shooting load for my Colt King Cobra with a six inch barrel.

    I use .38 spcl brass, 3.9 gr of W231, and a 158 gr Sierra jsp. I do use a medium/heavy crimp and don't worry about brass life. My gun does like 158 gr bullets in a .357 diameter.

    I've also found a .357 load for the same gun using W231. Same 158 gr bullet in .357 brass.

    How does it shoot with factory ammo? Different brands and different weights? Shoot a few and if you find something that shoots well, take some measurements.

    Also, your Sierra groups look a little tighter, maybe try some different bullets... lots to choose from.

    chris
     
  7. Stimovsky

    Stimovsky Member

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    Here are my reloads, .357Magnum brass :
    1.jpg
    I'd say those are "mildly" crimped. The crimp is noticeable but does not bite the bullet.

    I only loaded 20 rounds of each variant for my testing session and shot all of it. I usually measure bullet speed only with validated recipes to evaluate consistency within a batch and from one to the other. So no chrono data available yet.

    I'll make a new batch with 158gr HT-LSWC and Bullseye, and change to Federal primers with a heavier crimp.

    I only shot factory ammo with this gun just before I bought it. Shooting one-handed bullseye-style and not familiar with the sights, I got shot a 5" group, 5" from POA at 7 o'clock. I don't think it means anything.

    I'll be back.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
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  8. Airman Basic

    Airman Basic Member

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    Short of another gun to test, try some factory loads. If that solves the problem with accuracy, your reloading technique is suspect. Check with a fellow loader you trust and go from there.
     
  9. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I don't know of any merit to a light crimp, when the bullet has a crimp groove. I use the model of the crimp having a distinct roll into the groove, while under magnification there is no apparent damage to the case mouth.
     
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  10. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    I agree with RealGun about the crimp. I looked at your pictures and it looks like your crimp may be too light. Try a heavier crimp.

    chris

    More crimp should result in a more complete burn, less residue on your mat, more consistent results on target, etc....
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
  11. JohnB-40

    JohnB-40 Member

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    Chris. What weight of W231 do you use in your 357 load?
     
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Like this.
    [​IMG]

    Or this.
    [​IMG]

    Or this.
    [​IMG]
     
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  13. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    My .357 load is as follows according to my notes (always verify your data and work up carefully):

    case: Sig .357
    primer: Federal smp #200
    powder: Winchester w231 6.8gr
    bullet: Sierra 158gr jsp #8340
    col: 1.568 ~ 1.570
    crimp: roll into cannelure

    notes: accurate, moderate recoil, fairly clean burning

    I also use this same load in some Federal .357 cases as well with the same results. I have kept notes on every batch of ammo made, and the ones I like I put on a 3x5 index card.

    I've also got a true .357 mag load using h110. Under max load but a handful nonetheless.

    chris
     
  14. Waterboy3313

    Waterboy3313 Member

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    Not trying to hijack this thread but thanks to the OP for posting it and thanks to walkalong for the crimp pictures. I think my crimping has been a little light as well.
     
  15. Stimovsky

    Stimovsky Member

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    1.jpg
    I ran a new series of tests with factory ammo and a friend's reloads.
    I will test some reloads based on Bullseye and Federal primers next weekend.
     
  16. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    I would suggest you slug the bore of your barrel. Oversized barrels aren't unheard of and they won't be accurate with a standard sized for caliber bullet. It might save you some money experimenting with loads.
     
  17. Stimovsky

    Stimovsky Member

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    I did just that a few weeks ago, and it turned into quite an adventure!
    After running my HiTek lead bullets through the cylinder throats (see this post https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...r-a-357-magnum-colt-saa.861445/#post-11354154), I inserted one of those (.358", 13 brinnell) in the barrel from the front and pushed it through using a wooden punch.
    I couldn't get it past 3 inches. I had to find me a small and long enough drill bit inserted in a screwdriver to carefully remove material from the center of the bullet to be able to push it through the whole barrel.
    The experience lasted for a couple hours of terror, but at least it proved the barrel isn't oversized, right ?
     
  18. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    Yes, it does but I didn't see any mention of you doing that.
     
  19. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Have you fired any factory ammo in this revolver? If so, how did it shoot?

    Where did you get your projectiles? To what diameter are they sized? Have you slugged your barrel to see what it’s diameter is? Could be your bullets are too small by a thousandth or two.

    I’m my experience from shooting local steel matches is that 231/hp38 are the best for low charge weight, heavy bullet rounds.
     
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