Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

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Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 7/29/2016, 2:11 pm

First topic message reminder :

I've been unofficially shooting Bullseye for as long as I've been shooting.  Really enjoy trying to be as accurate as possible.  This started in the 1980's, and I'm now almost 73.

I know that accuracy is by far MOST dependent on the shooter, not the gun, but having a good gun helps.  I've now got a Les Baer Premiere II, and a S&W Model 41, and while I'm no expert, I like that the results continue to improve.  For reference, at 15 yards I'm typically shooting just under a 3" group with the 45, and a bit better with the 22.

One of the guns I've become very interested in, is a S&W Model 52, and what I've read about it on this forum just reinforces my desire to have one - not to "collect", but to shoot.  I can reload, so the precise ammo should be OK, and I realize buying one now means spending between $1200 and $1800.  They're findable on Gunbroker, so once I make up my mind, I'm pretty sure I could make this happen.


However, here are some things I've been thinking about.  I really wanted to get a Colt Python, but found out that there aren't that many people nowadays who are capable of working on that gun, maintaining it properly.  That, and there are so many collectors wanting one, that the price seems to be way out of line.  I'm not convinced that it would shoot any better than my S&W Model 28, especially with me shooting it.  I've read that the Model 52 is similar, in that it is a very unique gun, and if it needs work, that might become a problem.  I don't know if parts are readily available, and it might be difficult to find a gunsmith to do the work.


So, it's now 2016.  I know this gun was specifically made for target shooting, but are there other guns available that are "just as good"?  I assume that the bullets that are shot in the Model 52 will work in other guns.  The lighter recoil spring can also be replicated.  I know it's a very precise gun, with everything maxed out for performance, but is this a difference that an "average" shooter will even notice?  

To be useful for shooting, not collecting, I know that I need more than one magazine, and the special bushing wrench made for this gun.  Are there other things that are necessary, that I don't even know about yet?

(A relative of mine owns one, and I got to shoot it once.  I liked it, comparing it to my larger guns, but I don't know that it would shoot "better" than another 38 Special if I had one there to compare it to.  I also know it has now developed some kind of problem, and he's not sure how to go about getting it repaired.  As I said earlier, if I get one, it's to shoot it, not to "collect" it.)


Having said all the above, is this a gun that I should be trying to buy, or are there better choices now?
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/19/2016, 8:33 pm

both methods work fine..
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2016, 2:56 pm

I finally got to try to set up my reloading dies on the RCBS Pro2000 press.  The dies are #18212 which is a 3-die set, with the seating die and roll crimp in one die.

I tried to make them like a photo posted earlier in this forum, with the bullets slightly inside the shell, and a nice roll crimp at the end of the shell.  Every time I did that, there were slivers of lead at the end of the bullet.  I can post pictures, but I think this is because I'm doing seating and crimping in one die.

The cases are 38 Special, G.F.L.
Case diameter is 0.3735
I was trying at first to expand the end of the shell to 0.3885.
Bullet diameter was 0.359.

I reduced the lead slivers slightly by increasing the expansion about 1/8 turn, and also reducing the amount of crimp, but there were still a few slivers, and the end of the bullet looked ugly in my close-up photos.

I got out my box of Winchester 38 Special 148 grain Super Match Target bullets (thank you Jon, for selling me those!!), and noticed there was hardly any crimp.  So, I re-adjusted the seating and crimp settings, so the bullet was just a hair's width below the end of the case, and my crimping looks similar to what Remington uses.

One of the frustrating things, was on the RCBS die sets, trying to loosen the adjustment for bullet expansion or seating usually meant the die tried to screw out from the die plate - so I needed a wrench on the die lock, and another on the locking nut on top.  I need to buy one of the special wrenches for tightening the die locking nuts, as the dies are so close together, my crescent wrench is difficult to use.

Here's a photo - Winchester on top, and my bullet from Magnum on the bottom.  If you guys think this is reasonable, my next step is to set up the powder drop, after which I can make a few bullets to test out.

(Anybody know if one of the hammer type bullet pullers will allow me to get my bullets out of the ten or so cases I've used so far in trying to set this up?)

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by dronning on 8/20/2016, 3:57 pm

mikemyers wrote:  I can post pictures, but I think this is because I'm doing seating and crimping in one die.
I gave up on seating and crimping in one station long ago.  Some do it successfully but I make much more consistent ammo when I use a separate operation.

I now use competition seating dies exclusively for my seating dies.  They allow me to make quick micrometer adjustments when I change from a JHP to a SWC in my 45 rounds.  They also seat using the shoulder not the tip of the bullet, probably overkill but it works for me.  Full wadcutters use a special seating stem. 

- Dave 

One thing to be aware of when loading HBWC is if you run too hot a load you run the risk of having the base separate from the rest of the bullet and stay in your barrel, the next round you shoot will put a nice bulge the barrel.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2016, 4:01 pm

The recommended powder load for Bullseye seems to be 2.8 grains.
My "gut feeling" was 2.6 grains would be good for a starting point, shooting at 15 yards.

Any better recommendations from you guys on where to start?  Is 2.6 grains reasonable?



(....and just for reference, where do people go to get replacement barrels?)
(And do people buy the standard barrel twist, or something faster?)
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2016, 4:58 pm

dronning wrote:

.......I now use competition seating dies exclusively for my seating dies.  They allow me to make quick micrometer adjustments when I change from a JHP to a SWC in my 45 rounds.  They also seat using the shoulder not the tip of the bullet, probably overkill but it works for me.  Full wadcutters use a special seating stem. ....
 
This, from Redding?

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by dronning on 8/20/2016, 5:17 pm

mikemyers wrote:
(....and just for reference, where do people go to get replacement barrels?)
(And do people buy the standard barrel twist, or something faster?)

Replacement barrels don't exist, or are very rare.  I've been looking for a spare for a year.  A couple on Gunbroker went for way too much, now I wish I would have bought one of them.

I don't use Bullseye so I won't comment.  I use 2.5g of Clays.

Yes I have several of the Redding dies and a couple of Forsters (I use for rifle).

- Dave
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by C.Perkins on 8/20/2016, 5:29 pm

I have taken it a step in another direction in my M52 reloads.
Trim Remington cases to 1.130" (this removes about .025").
Inside primer pocket/flash hole chamfer, (taken from my rifle days).

2.8 grains of Bullseye, bullet shoulder seated to 1.150", (.020" of lead above case mouth).
Roll crimp to .370" (always used roll for revolver and taper for auto pistol).

Just something that I do which may not make any difference but not an alibi since.
Soft lead compared to mild brass being forced up a feed ramp into a chamber at an angle and to end up straight with no hang ups/stoppages.

As for a kinetic hammer, yep, good to go, they come in handy.
Make sure you beat it on concrete and not on carpet or wood, (it softens the blow/takes away the kinetic energy).

I seat and crimp in separate dies and also now use an "M" die.

No need to look for another barrel, the one you have will last a lifetime and then some as long as you do not mess up.

Pic's of my Remington 148gr HBWC reload compared to a vintage 148gr Western Super Match.





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What NOT to do

Post by mikemyers on 8/21/2016, 8:45 am

Before I gave up on the idea, I thought my goal was to push the bullet in slightly below the end of the brass case, and then use the roll crimp to "bend over" the end of the brass case.  After about an hour, I gave up on that idea, at least for doing the seating and crimping in the same station.

My guess is that what the following photo shows, is the result of crimping the bullet too early in the process, so instead of bending the end of the case over the bullet, it starts scraping off lead as the bullet is being pushed in.  I think I was also trying for too much crimp - just learning what to do, with all the time in the world to figure things out.

What I thought I was trying to accomplish was this text:
"I use a rather heavy roll crimp to give the case mouth a nice rounded shoulder to aid in feeding."

....in this discussion:
http://www.bullseyeforum.net/t6021-first-time-loading-ammo-for-sw-model-52-on-dillon-550

That's what I was trying to do, before I gave up, and instead tried to just match the Winchester factory rounds.

I was going to delete all my old photos, but decided I should post one here anyway.
(I'm a photographer - I take photos of everything, including things that didn't work as expected. )

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Starting load using Magnus bullets and Unique powder

Post by mikemyers on 8/21/2016, 8:53 am

Back to the real discussion here, not my mistakes.

From what I've read here, the recommended amount of Bullseye for best accuracy is 2.8 grains.  With Magnus bullets, what is the minimum amount of powder that can reliably be used with the M52 ?

Using the RCBS Pro2000 press, and testing using the RCBS digital scale, it seems like my powder charges have been +/- 0.1 grains.  This was from weighing 20 or so rounds of 45 ACP rounds I was loading a few weeks ago.  If you guys suggest 2.7 grains, that means my bullets are likely to vary from 2.6 to 2.8 grains, with most being 2.7 - I'd like to start with the minimum.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Virgil Kane on 8/21/2016, 9:28 am

I can shoot as low as 2.6 of Bullseye w/ Magnus or Remington HBWC in my M-52 IF I don't limp wrist it. If I do limp wrist it I will get FTF/FTE. So I stick with the often recommended 2.8 of Bullseye.

To tell the truth I shoot my 45 ACP Clark LS 1911 w/3.6 of Bullseye and Magnus 801 much better and with about the same amount of recoil as I do my M-52. I bought my M-52 as my first true match pistol to compete in BE matches but it has been retired to a novelty item to shoot in practice. Lack of parts and my ability to shoot a 1911 better have lead me to that decision. Not that I'm against the M-52 but I do get unexpected flyers with called shots at times, something I don't get with the Clark and unexplained flyers are something I have never figured out about the M-52. Some people shoot them well, I don't.


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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by 454Gene on 8/21/2016, 12:35 pm

How can I acquire a trigger shoe for my 52 from Froneck? Also I have 500 cases from Federal gold medal match ammunition that has longer straight case ID that I reload for the 52. Is all Federal brass made like this? When I measure a pulled bullet it is .357 dia. except for the last 1/8 which is tapered .355 to .352. I'm guessing the skirt of the Star 148 HBWC will expand enough to prevent leading with 2.8 of BE.

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by C.Perkins on 8/21/2016, 12:47 pm

This is where I purchased my trigger shoe from.

http://www.djprecision.com/product/s-w-52-products/trigger-shoe
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/22/2016, 3:00 pm

I don't think this is going to be much help to me, unless I suddenly change from "average" to "champion" overnight (ha!!), but while searching for barrel twist information, I found many people talking about how they damaged a barrel, and were struggling to find a replacement.  I also found references to Clarks as a possible source.

I called Clark Custom Guns a few minutes ago, http://clarkcustomguns.com/ ,  and spoke to Clay.  He tells me that they are getting close to finishing that project, and custom barrels with a 1 in 10" twist rate should start to become available early next year - interested people can leave their name and phone number.

I asked Clay if I could post that here - he said sure, word of mouth is how they get much of their business.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 9/12/2016, 6:24 pm

Just a quick "thank you" to wrap up this discussion.

I went to the range last Thursday with 20 of my own reloads.  The rounds cycled through the gun nicely, with no problems.  I think shot 10 more or less just paying attention to the gun.  Again, no issues.  I then shot the remaining 10 rounds carefully, and got a bit under a 3" group at 15 yards, which is reasonable compared to the best I can do with a Les Baer Premiere II...   ...but not as good as what I can do with a .22 (yet).  

So, the gun looks brand new, shoots fine, and I just need to practice and dry-fire a lot.  The ammo worked perfectly, so I can start loading a lot more.  

Without the information learned from this thread, none of this would have happened, at least not as easily as it did.  There are so many of you that I'd like to pass on a big Thank You to!
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

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