38 Special WC Loads

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38 Special WC Loads

Post by messenger on 6/21/2017, 5:22 pm

I came across a Colt 1911 38 Special WC I just couldn't pass up. The only problem is I know nothing about it. I'm sure it had an Ultradot on it but I plan on running an Aimpoint micro H-1. Go up a pound or two on the recoil spring? My main concern are the loads. I've talked to a few people and have heard loads running between 2.7-3.0 grains of Bullseye. The seller said he ran 2.5 gr Clays. I don't have any Clays but I have lots of Bullseye, WST, and 231. All said to leave a little of the WC exposed above the brass. Roll or taper crimp? The seller sent quite a bit of brass and some Zero HBWC's. Any advice would help.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by cdrt on 6/21/2017, 6:31 pm

For my Clark Heavy Slide, I load 2.7 grains of Bullseye, with either a Zero, Hornady or Remington HBWC.  I seat the bullets just below the rim, so there is a fine line of brass showing, which is what Remington does with their target loads.  I taper crimp mine for the Clark, but I have also slightly roll crimped them; both work.  I use a 7 pound spring. Note, any higher powder charge and my groups open up at 50 yards and I get some leading in the chamber.  Try not to bell the case too much.  Just use enough to allow the bullet to seat correctly, too much and the case will not size correctly at the case mouth, no matter how much you roll crimp it.
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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by james r chapman on 6/21/2017, 10:05 pm

Match a Remington/Winchester factory length and crimp. 2.5-2.7 be, 2.8 wst, 3.1 ww231

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by dsandula on 6/22/2017, 5:58 am

I run 2.7 of Bullseye, WST or TiteGroup under a 148 grain HBWC with an Ultradot on the slide and a 6lb spring.  Works great if I do my job.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by messenger on 6/22/2017, 5:04 pm

Thanks for the insight guys. Time to start loading and testing. 

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by noylj on 6/23/2017, 4:28 am

This is what I found for a S&W M52:
1) DO NOT go above 800 fps. The skirt of the HBWC will separate and you'll either have two holes in the target or a barrel obstruction.
2) I found that I had to OVER FLARE significantly to get the bullet "seated" far enough in the case so it would stay in position. Seating a wadcutter is like trying to control a barge without being tied to it from the rear--it want to move to the side.
3) I tried every crimp die I could find and the BEST, by far, was the Redding Profile Crimp die. It is sort of a combination taper and roll crimp. You want just enough roll crimp that there is a slight curve to the case mouth. Buy a box of factory wadcutter ammo and see what it looks like and match it.
4) Best accuracy comes from NOT sizing the cases and allowing the slide momentum to close the action. At the most, I use a Lee .38 FCD as a "sizing" die--and even that produces less accurate ammo than NOT sizing at all, but sometimes you must.
5) Pull a seated bullet and make sure that the OD has NOT changed. You will probably need a slightly larger expander. The bullet must still be held tight, but it MUST NOT be sized down at all.
6) Remington wadcutters were far and away the most accurate I found, but they have apparently stopped making them.
7) I tried trimming cases to the same length for consistent roll crimp and found that is made NO difference in accuracy. You can try it, but it will probably be a waste of time.
Cool Folks worry about over flaring and case life. Well, before I started over flaring for accuracy, I would lose 1-2 cases out of every 200 round fired. Since over flaring, I am losing 1-2 cases out of every 200 rounds fired. I load for accuracy and would STILL take an increase in case loss for accuracy, but I just haven't seen it.
Note: by over flaring, I mean that the case mouth rubs the seating die body going it--OVER FLARING
9) You'll have a hard time beating factory ammo for accuracy.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by messenger on 6/23/2017, 7:08 pm

cdrt wrote:For my Clark Heavy Slide, I load 2.7 grains of Bullseye, with either a Zero, Hornady or Remington HBWC.  I seat the bullets just below the rim, so there is a fine line of brass showing, which is what Remington does with their target loads.  I taper crimp mine for the Clark, but I have also slightly roll crimped them; both work.  I use a 7 pound spring. Note, any higher powder charge and my groups open up at 50 yards and I get some leading in the chamber.  Try not to bell the case too much.  Just use enough to allow the bullet to seat correctly, too much and the case will not size correctly at the case mouth, no matter how much you roll crimp it.
What seating die and stem do you use. I have a Redding die and it won't go deep enough.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by cdrt on 6/23/2017, 9:29 pm

messenger wrote:
cdrt wrote:For my Clark Heavy Slide, I load 2.7 grains of Bullseye, with either a Zero, Hornady or Remington HBWC.  I seat the bullets just below the rim, so there is a fine line of brass showing, which is what Remington does with their target loads.  I taper crimp mine for the Clark, but I have also slightly roll crimped them; both work.  I use a 7 pound spring. Note, any higher powder charge and my groups open up at 50 yards and I get some leading in the chamber.  Try not to bell the case too much.  Just use enough to allow the bullet to seat correctly, too much and the case will not size correctly at the case mouth, no matter how much you roll crimp it.
What seating die and stem do you use. I have a Redding die and it won't go deep enough.

Bill
I'm using a Star press with their standard dies; that really doesn't help much, does it?
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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by LenV on 6/24/2017, 12:35 am

messenger wrote:
cdrt wrote:For my Clark Heavy Slide, I load 2.7 grains of Bullseye, with either a Zero, Hornady or Remington HBWC.  I seat the bullets just below the rim, so there is a fine line of brass showing, which is what Remington does with their target loads.  I taper crimp mine for the Clark, but I have also slightly roll crimped them; both work.  I use a 7 pound spring. Note, any higher powder charge and my groups open up at 50 yards and I get some leading in the chamber.  Try not to bell the case too much.  Just use enough to allow the bullet to seat correctly, too much and the case will not size correctly at the case mouth, no matter how much you roll crimp it.
What seating die and stem do you use. I have a Redding die and it won't go deep enough.

Bill
I had same problem. So I use a RCBS 44 die that I swapped out the insides to a .357 seating stem. I also ground the cup off the end to make flat. I crimp on separate stroke so case never touches the die.

Len
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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by dsandula on 6/24/2017, 5:52 am

You can turn this in to a very complicated situation, but don't need to.  I've had good luck on my Dillon 550, with Dillon dies, CCI primers, Delta Precision 148 Gr HBWC's and 2.7 of Bullseye, WST or TiteGroup.  All shoot dirty because of the small charge loads.  I use a single brass brand and never trim them.  This charge weight works fine with a slide mounted Ultradot and a 6lb spring on a 1911 Clark custom.  I'm now shooting in the mid 270's if I do my job.

Once you find a mild load combination that works in the gun, hold firm and focus on the trigger.  Repeat 5,000 times.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by Colt711 on 6/25/2017, 4:53 pm

When I set up to load for my 2 .38's I did as Jim Chapman recommends; set the seating die up to match a factory round. I am using WST right now but have used BE in the past to good effect. Clays powder split 2 or 3 out of the 1st string w/ mixed brass cases. The load was 2.6 gr. developed using all nickel cases which gave no trouble. The loader is a star w/standard star dies.
The suggestion to try leaving out the sizing step sounds interesting? At this point in my shooting career these "small touches" make little difference but I have developed an addiction to all this!
By the way why are we group that has to surrender our name at the whim of the NRA?

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by messenger on 6/25/2017, 4:59 pm

Colt711 wrote:When I set up to load for my 2 .38's I did as Jim Chapman recommends; set the seating die up to match a factory round. I am using WST right now but have used BE in the past to good effect. Clays powder split 2 or 3 out of the 1st string w/ mixed brass cases. The load was 2.6 gr. developed using all nickel cases which gave no trouble. The loader is a star w/standard star dies.
The suggestion to try leaving out the sizing step sounds interesting? At this point in my shooting career these "small touches" make little difference but I have developed an addiction to all this!
By the way why are we group that has to surrender our name at the whim of the NRA?

Ron Habegger
I prefer WST to Bullseye. What is your WST load? As a mater of fact I have about 500 nickle plated cases.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by james r chapman on 6/25/2017, 6:06 pm

WST usually 2.4-2.7. indoor/outdoor loads
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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by messenger on 6/25/2017, 10:23 pm

Thank you all for your advise. 

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by Colt711 on 7/3/2017, 10:43 pm

james r chapman wrote:Match a Remington/Winchester factory length and crimp. 2.5-2.7 be, 2.8 wst, 3.1 ww231

I use the BE & WST loads Jim mentions. I tried Clays . It required 2.5 BE to run. Developed the Clay load using nickel, proceeded to load  for practice using brass and 100% of the 1st string split. Abandoned Clays for the Auto and shot it up in a rev.

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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by james r chapman on 7/4/2017, 6:24 am

I used ClayDot, a clone of Clays, for awhile, shot great, But, would throw one occasionally, found that 1 out of 10 were light loads from inconsistent powder drops. Shot fine in .45
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Re: 38 Special WC Loads

Post by USSR on 7/17/2017, 11:56 am

noylj wrote:
7) I tried trimming cases to the same length for consistent roll crimp and found that is made NO difference in accuracy. You can try it, but it will probably be a waste of time.
Cool Folks worry about over flaring and case life. Well, before I started over flaring for accuracy, I would lose 1-2 cases out of every 200 round fired. Since over flaring, I am losing 1-2 cases out of every 200 rounds fired. I load for accuracy and would STILL take an increase in case loss for accuracy, but I just haven't seen it.
Note: by over flaring, I mean that the case mouth rubs the seating die body going it--OVER FLARING
While trimming may not result in increased accuracy, it will prolong the life of the brass by removing incipient case mouth splits.   Get them before they turn into big splits.

Don

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