38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

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38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Thu May 10, 2012 8:43 am

Does it make sense that my 148 grain Lyman 358495 target bullet moving at 775 f/s, which groups off of bags at 25 yards in to less than one and a half inches, would become so unstable at 50 yards to open up to 6-8 inches?

It's my fault for not practicing much at fifty yards and discovering this earlier, but I really don't need this problem three weeks before my first BE match.  I don't want to have to be doing 'load development' any more this season, but I'm glad to have discovered this now.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by BE Mike on Thu May 10, 2012 10:22 am

I don't know what gun you are shooting this out of, but if I were in your shoes, I'd use a swaged 148 gr. hollow base wadcutter, like the Zero or Remington for my 50 yard shooting. Your velocity looks good. Most folks seem to like Bullseye or Winchester 231 powder. Another option is to buy some Winchester, Federal or Remington match wadcutter ammo and shoot it at 50 yards until you get a good load worked up. If you are shooting a S&W model 52, your work is cut out for you, if you want to match the accuracy of factory ammo.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Thu May 10, 2012 1:01 pm

I am shooting a Smith Model 14 / K-38 Masterpiece.

Good tip; I think I saw Speer tumble lubed HBWC's on the local gun shop shelf. If you know for sure that imbalance is not the culprit then I will not abandon the design. I can't figure it out; an awesome load at 25 yards. My loading notes are very detailed however so nothing could have been missed, and perhaps accidentally different a month later with the same batch of bullets. The one thing which is certainly different is the time between the two range sessions; about three months and I've heard that wheelweights with enough tin and antimony can age harden. It's unlikely but nothing else is except this and range conditions (40 deg before and 60 deg now) is different.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by SMBeyer on Thu May 10, 2012 6:51 pm

Apparently something magical happens at about 49yds. A lot of guns/loads shoot great at 25yds but not at 50.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Fri May 11, 2012 8:32 am

Good idea Scott.

I'll move up a yard this afternoon and we'll see Razz

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Virgil Kane on Fri May 11, 2012 8:55 am

Maybe try upping the velocity of your cast bullets and see what happens? Don't forget that the S&W has a 1 in 18 3/4 " twist to it. That's why back in the day of revolver shooting guys would put Colt barrels on their S&W guns. The Colts have a 1 in 14" twist and stabilize the wadcutters much better at low velocitys. With my model 52 I shoot 2.8 grains of Bullseye with Remington 148 HBWC. In my S&W Model 14 I shoot Magnus 148 gr. DEWC with 3.2 grains of Bullseye. If I shoot my load for the 52 in my M-14 I get terrible accuracy past 25 yards. With the heavier load and DEWC in the M-14 I can match the 50 yard accuracy of the M-52. The twist is the same in both guns but I have no idea of why the same load wouldn't work in one and not the other but that's what I have found out.



Just a thought. YMMV



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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Dave C. on Sun May 13, 2012 5:13 pm

An inch and a half at 25 yards is not a good load. Keep looking.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jerry Keefer on Sun May 13, 2012 7:12 pm

inthebeech wrote:Does it make sense that my 148 grain Lyman 358495 target bullet moving at 775 f/s, which groups off of bags at 25 yards in to less than one and a half inches, would become so unstable at 50 yards to open up to 6-8 inches?

It's my fault for not practicing much at fifty yards and discovering this earlier, but I really don't need this problem three weeks before my first BE match. I don't want to have to be doing 'load development' any more this season, but I'm glad to have discovered this now.
The other posters mention the 148 HBWC.. This is the way to go for 50yard groups. Rem 148 HBWC lead bullets, Remington once fired brass, (no nickel), federal primers, 2.7 to 2.9 of WST should give you 2 inches and maybe less out of any good S&W. Every gun has a sweet spot, but most usually shoot the best some where within that weight range.This load was a real winner for many years in PPC. Keep your HBWC in the 700 to 720 fps range.. There is a reason that factory match ammo 148 HBWC is 710fps from all major manufacturers. Shoot your cast DEWC at 25 if you wish, but it is not likely they will ever perform well at 50 yards.. 231 is a good powder, in " some " Lot#s..Bullseye powder is a waste of time in the .38 We never found any thing that exceeded WST..You can also squeeze out some extra reduction in group size by having the barrel Taylor Throated, by a smith that specializes in that modification. Such revolvers with a good 10/14 twist match barrel will group under 1inch at 50.. The 18 twist stock barrel will go 2 and sometimes less.
Goodluck
Jerry


Last edited by Joe Fobes on Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:33 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by BE Mike on Sun May 13, 2012 7:39 pm

I chrono'd my S&W model 52-1 a while back. It shot a velocity of 755fps with factory Federal Match .38 SPL, 148 hollow based wadcutter. On the same day, my reload of 2.8 gr. of Alliant Bullseye with Zero 148 gr. HBWC ran 730 fps.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Sun May 13, 2012 9:18 pm

I'm going the route mentioned by Jerry.

Not because I am giving up on my own cast DEWC's but more because I've fired enough groups now that if I keep repeating the same process and expecting different results, then as Einstein said, that's just insanity.

A friend had some Speer HBWC's so I loaded up some just shy of touching the throat of the cylinders and with a light roll crimp, with 2.8 gr Bullseye (and another couple dozen with 2.5 gr Clays). These are likely a bit hotter than your recommended velocity Jerry but I loaded them up before I actually read your post here.

I also ordered the Remington version but if they don't show up in time for this upcomming match, I (hopefully) have a back up in the Speers; we'll see tomorrow at the range.

Dave, I'm not sure I was clear with my statement of group size; at least I don't believe I was given you response. One and a half inches is off of bags but still out of my own hands so when you subract out the inch or so that I can see my sights move while firing the group this leaves half inch groups comming from the gun by itself. That's why I call this load accurate.

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FPS of Factory Match 38 HBWC

Post by Jerry Keefer on Sun May 13, 2012 11:07 pm

inthebeech;

Just checked the factory stats to make sure I am not misleading you, by qouting from memory; I am getting old:)

Federal lists their 38 HBWC at 690fps. At one time, 2.9 gr. of 231 approximated this velocity, I, and numerous competitors shot this load, until the WST load was discovered.

Blackhills makes excellent 38 HBWC and is listed at 700fps.

Winchester lists theirs at 710 fps.

I was unable access Remington data. But I am quite sure it is 710 also, unless they have changed it..In the day we studied and researched the 38 HBWC striving to perfect it's accuracy. 690 to 710 is the sweet spot for that projectile. Remington bullets produced the best groups. Stars were OK but produced leading..Precision Delta were good. I burnt 25 to 30 thousand rounds a year for many years. Practice, testing and every major competition we could find..

Mike, the 52 has a tighter bore dia. and may be responsible for the higher velocity/pressures. I personally think tight bores are a disadvantage, by disrupting the integrity of the projectile, and are the reason most 52s are not super 50 yard guns..

Jerry

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jack H on Mon May 14, 2012 1:46 am

Jerry
Does this WST SW 38Spcl load you describe also favor the Colt OMM?
Jack H

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jerry Keefer on Mon May 14, 2012 12:30 pm

Jack H wrote:Jerry
Does this WST SW 38Spcl load you describe also favor the Colt OMM?
Jack H
Hi Jack;

I don't know from actual experience. But, Colt used 14 twist in the Python, I am not sure about the OMM, but if it is 14 twist, it should shoot that load quite well. Many Shilen and Douglas barrels in the 10 to 14 twist range would go under and inch @50.. The very best groups I ever RR tested were from a Shilen 12 twist.. that's not to say 12 is the magic number, but that gun was an awesome shooter..Smile

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by BE Mike on Mon May 14, 2012 1:01 pm

Jerry Keefer wrote:inthebeech;


Mike, the 52 has a tighter bore dia. and may be responsible for the higher velocity/pressures. I personally think tight bores are a disadvantage, by disrupting the integrity of the projectile, and are the reason most 52s are not super 50 yard guns..

Jerry

Thanks Jerry. I had never considered that.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by davekp on Tue May 15, 2012 7:53 am

Jerry,

What do you suggest for OAL and crimp?

Thanks!

Dave

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jerry Keefer on Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

davekp wrote:Jerry,
What do you suggest for OAL and crimp?
Thanks!
Dave
Dave;
Approx. 1.175 OAL and a taper crimp of .372 worked very well. I liked a little bit of exposed lead, for the taper crimp to nestle into and grasp.. Initially used 5 degree forcing cones as opposed to the factory 11 degree for a gentler, less disruptive transition. Later I settled on Taylor Throating with a 1-1/2 degree leade, which is by far, the best set up..
Jerry

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Tue May 15, 2012 1:46 pm

I had an OMM for a while and wished I could have hung on to it. When I slugged the bore and measured the cylinder throats and found out I had .359 cylinders but characteristically tight groove diameter (.3535-.3540) I knew it would never shoot cast very well. Sad.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jack H on Wed May 16, 2012 12:00 am

The off the shelf 38 OMM I had in the 70s was the best X ring shooter I ever had. Of course I was better then too.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Thu May 17, 2012 3:16 pm

The load that is doing poorly is right at 700 ft/sec. That's not necessarily disappointing. Although I can't explain how others are getting great loads with the S&W, I am now wondering if my 18 inch twist bbl needs the bullet to be moving faster. There is some actual, hopeful data to support this. On a whim I loaded up some 600 ft/sec HBWC's as well as the 700 ft/sec load and those disappointing, eight inch groups turned in to twelve inch groups. So maybe faster is the trick. This might also explain why my 25 yd groups which were all I shot long ago to (mistakenly) label this as an accurate load, did fairly well- the bullet had not yet slowed down enough to become unstable?

So the emphirical data right now at least does not exclude the possibility that in my revilver I need to be moving faster, although it does still leave one wondering how anyone else ever got good accuracy out of other model 14's at 700 ft/sec.

I'm bringing some 800 ft/sec and even some 820 ft/sec HBWC's to the club today and we'll see what we see.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Dave C. on Thu May 17, 2012 5:44 pm

An unstable bullet can be caused by the bullet going to slow. The rifling is to slow or the bullet is to long.

So try speeding it up some. or using a shorter bullet. (solid WC instead of a HBWC) And if money is no problem get a barrel with a faster twist.



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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Fri May 18, 2012 12:40 pm

I tried 3.1 and 3.3 gr Bullseye with the Speer HBWC which are moving at 800 and 825 ft/sec respectively with, sad to say, similar results - twelve inch groups.

However, that order of Remingtons came in yesterday so I also brought a few of them. Oddly enough just a different brand of HBWC and I am back shooting groups that are respectable; and there is no ambiguity here that needs hundreds of rounds to confirm. The 50 yard groups were half the size-and that's with a load that is likely outside of its sweet spot. I now think the slow twist was not the culprit since the Remington and Speer HBWC's are the same length. And since I just used the same 800 ft/sec load to check these out, the Remmys might do even better dialed down in to their sweet spot. There is also a bit of leading which will hopefully also disappear when they're down at 700-710 ft/sec.

I wouldn't mess with putting a faster barrel on Dave only because the only reason I am monkeying with this Smith, is because my Colt 1911 is not back from the pistolsmith. Watch the 1911 shows up now.lol!

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by inthebeech on Wed May 23, 2012 7:46 am

You guys were right on the money with your velocity recommendations and the Remmy 148 HBWC; the 800 f/s loads showed promise and I just got back from the club after shooting a new batch of these bullets with the classic 2.7 gr BE load which comes in at 690-725 f/s in my 14. Fifty yard groups under three inches and twenty-five yard groups of under an inch and a half - taking out my arc of movement since this is only a "supported" off hand shooting technique and not fully supported on bags or in a machine rest, I think this is in the range of a one inch/25 yd and two inch/50 yd load; and the leading at this velocity completely disappeared.

Thanks everyone for your help and none too soon; my first BE match is two weeks away.

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by Jerry Keefer on Wed May 23, 2012 8:23 am

inthebeech wrote:You guys were right on the money with your velocity recommendations and the Remmy 148 HBWC; the 800 f/s loads showed promise and I just got back from the club after shooting a new batch of these bullets with the classic 2.7 gr BE load which comes in at 690-725 f/s in my 14. Fifty yard groups under three inches and twenty-five yard groups of under an inch and a half - taking out my arc of movement since this is only a "supported" off hand shooting technique and not fully supported on bags or in a machine rest, I think this is in the range of a one inch/25 yd and two inch/50 yd load; and the leading at this velocity completely disappeared.

Thanks everyone for your help and none too soon; my first BE match is two weeks away.



SmileSmile

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by james r chapman on Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:06 pm

I know this is a bit late, but, My experience with s&w revolvers is they want SOFT bullets. any of the HBWC's with enough velocity to expand the base to seal the cylinder throats will work. The hard DEWC's won't expand and you get melted bases and blow by.

the K-38 and M-14 have been shooting great scores for decades with those soft bullets.

Jim Chapman
Hell, Michigan

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

Post by hunter3705 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:47 pm

I know that wadcutters loose their stability before the 50 yard mark. I've read articles that talk about "smudges" from the rear of the bullet at 50 yards, and even "keyholing." But I've never read or heard anything about that pronounced of a group degradation between 25 and 50. That is, indeed, very odd. I would try the same ammo in a different gun, then try varying the load a little bit. Have you used these bullets before? How did they work in earlier uses?

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Re: 38 Special Full Wadcutter stability?

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