.38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

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.38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Kermit Workman on Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:06 pm

There is another post on this subject but instead of replying to it I started a new thread to talk about my experiences.
 My pistol is a S&W Model 14-6 with the underlug barrel. I have shot in only 2 Distinguished Revolver matches and they were when factory ammo was required. My pistol liked the Mag-Tech 158 LRN. I placed second in one match with a 274,IIRC. I have been out of the sport for several years. One of my goles in getting back in was to earn my DR badge.
 I have been trying to come up with a reload for my revolver that is accurate enough for competition. I had been very unsuccessful up until recently. I tried BE, Unique, WW231 and Solo 1000. I am using my cast 158 SWC from a 2 cavity NEI mold. This mold has one grease groove,one crimp groove and a round base. Yes the base of the bullet has a  radius and not a true bevel base. I have not seen this design on any other bullet mold. My bullets are sized .358.
 With loads of 3.0 to 3.5 gns of BE the groups were terrible,like 5-6-8" at fifty. Same thing with 3.3 to 3.8 of WW231. Solo 1000 at 3.3 gn. was promising but was not consistent.
 *I found success at 4.5 gns. of WW231. The group was 1 5/8 X1" at 50 Yards. The BE load of 4.0 was 2  1/8 X 1 3/8". These velocities are around 830-840 FPS. If you can not get the accuracy needed for DR matches you may need to bump the speed of those 158 grains SWC up. I could not get them to shoot at lower velocities. Thanks to W. Murphy for putting me on the right track.

Kermit Workman

Posts: 51
Join date: 2011-06-11
Age: 59
Location: Lenore, WV

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Rob Kovach on Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:04 pm

Thanks for that.  My slower 158 LSWC rounds are great at 25 yards but don't even group up at 50 yards....like all over the paper.  Literally a loose 5 ring group!

I've been shooting factory loads for the long line, but I was waiting to make a batch of faster loads to see how that would work.

Rob Kovach

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Age: 41
Location: Brooklyn, WI

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Kermit Workman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:54 am

I was brain locked on the old WC load of 2.7 gn. of BE with the 148 gn. wadcutter. I thought the 158 bullet would be slightly higher but not near what it took to get the bullet to shoot.
 I had tried several other powders with the same dismal results at lower velocities. Like you those groups were terrible. It took getting the velocity up for the bullet to group.
 I think that other people with the slower velocities are relying on 25 yard  off hand or sand-bagged groups and not Ransom rested 50 yard groups.

Kermit Workman

Posts: 51
Join date: 2011-06-11
Age: 59
Location: Lenore, WV

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by john bickar on Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:53 pm

I know that some people enjoy reloading as a hobby, and that ammo is difficult to get right now. However, I approach DR as something that I shoot 30-60 rounds of per year, so I just buy ammo for it. I'm honestly surprised that people reload for DR.

Federal Champion 158gn LRN has been good to me recently, and reasonably priced. If you are patient, you can still find it for sale (I got some earlier this year from surplusammo for $25/50). I've also had luck with the American Eagle in the past.

time=money, and I would rather train than load ammo, especially for something where 500 rounds is a decade's supply.


john bickar

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Kermit Workman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:54 pm

I see your point and there is nothing wrong with that at all. My situation is that I am disabled and have some time available to reload. Also my funds are limited so every penny I can save goes to match fees and costs associated with shooting.
 Also I need some practice and I am burning through some ammo to get competitive. I shot 60 rounds of DR ammo at my last practice.
Same for me Time=money, I got the time so I can reload to save money.

Kermit Workman

Posts: 51
Join date: 2011-06-11
Age: 59
Location: Lenore, WV

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Rob Kovach on Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:49 pm

time=money, and I would rather train than load ammo, especially for something where 500 rounds is a decade's supply.
500 rounds sounds like training rounds to start winning DR points.

I don't have time to search for factory DR rounds.  They just don't exist in the stores near me, and I can make them for <$15/100 rounds.

I have been using the last of my factory loads for the long line at DR matches.  There isn't any left though and I can't wait to try Kermit's load.

Rob Kovach

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Location: Brooklyn, WI

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by john bickar on Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:38 pm

Rob Kovach wrote:
time=money, and I would rather train than load ammo, especially for something where 500 rounds is a decade's supply.
500 rounds sounds like training rounds to start winning DR points.
Counterpoint: I made DR (#100) without shooting more than 100 rounds of training with the revolver. I shot enough to get sighted in, and probably enough to figure out whether to shoot DA or SA, but other than that, only matches. In fact, I got DQ'd from my first DR match for showing up with the wrong ammo (158gn SWC).

After getting DR, I ran out of DR ammo, and looked into loading it, but I also waited and looked for factory to become available again. It did, I bought it, and now I have enough to last me through possibly 2020 (although probably not because I'll end up giving it away to non-distinguished shooters that I drag onto the line to have enough people to make a leg).

If you know how to shoot (and you do, Rob), you can get DR without spending time loading (let alone buying the dies, setting up the press, tinkering, farting around, Random Resting, throwing the rejects into the reject bin, etc.) a caliber that you hardly ever shoot.

time=money, and money=time (as Kermit has confirmed).

My time is valuable. If your time is at a premium, my recommendation is to spend your time dry firing or training other bullseye guns, and don't dick around with making .38 loads if the only time you shoot .38 is DR.

If you enjoy reloading, or money is short, or your free time is otherwise fungible, by all means have fun reloading the .38. My point is that many newbies get sucked into the "if-you-shoot-bullseye-you-must-reload-every-caliber" trap without considering that their time is worth something. And then they've spent $500 at Midway and an entire weekend to end up with $100 worth of junk ammo.

But yeah, I've fired more than 500 rounds in my lifetime Smile

john bickar

Posts: 119
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Location: Menlo Park, CA

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by john bickar on Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:46 pm

Also, sorry for derailing your thread, guys. Carry on! Very Happy

john bickar

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Re: .38 Special Distinguished Revolver loads

Post by Rob Kovach on Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:04 pm

No problem John!

It's still going to take me some time and practice to start winning DR points, and I like shooting the revolver.  I'm still shooting mid 230s with the DR, and most DR legs are going in the mid 260s.  It wont be a bad thing for me to crank through the DR ammo I make.

I definitely agree the economics lean toward buying the ammo.  I probably would have went that route if my revolver didn't include 2000 rounds of .38spl reloading components.

Rob Kovach

Posts: 1594
Join date: 2011-06-13
Age: 41
Location: Brooklyn, WI

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