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Reload for S&W #442 airweight 2-inch

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Reload for S&W #442 airweight 2-inch Empty Reload for S&W #442 airweight 2-inch

Post by OL-Smokey Tue Aug 29, 2023 5:07 pm

New here and just stumbled on the forum.. "HI!"
Quick background: Reloaded for 60 years and at one time was on the State Police pistol team and still hold dear my mod#64 PPC custom slab-side .38 spl revolver.  I moved away from my ranch and firing ranges so working up a load is not convenient as it once was.  That said:

I have been 'fiddling' for years with 148gr. HBWC bullets ran thru a sizer-lubricator with the HB up.  A .44 cal semi-W/C nose punch will put a neat taper down to the first bullet roll groove where the case roll-crimp wil engage.  The main advantage to this is to make a slight protruding bevel to facilitate easier reload under stress.  There is a rather wicked H/P cavity but effective expansion from a 2" airweight is not going to happen at the velocities obtainable.

I have been doing some reading about 2" 'snubby' pistols that point out (reminds me of) the fact that the H/P varieties of ammunition safe to shoot in a 2" .38 special will NOT achieve necessary velocities to make the various ammunitions/bullets perform satisfactorily.  The viable option would be to just 'accept' a conventional W/C for the self-defense role.  A rounded-style bullet even with a gaping H/P at low velocity will probably stop within the target, unexpanded or at best drop out the back side with a nice straight punch-hole.  Where a wadcutter will make a punched hole and disrupt more tissue, most probably stopping within.  Although this is 'theory', I personally subscribe to what they say. So:

My thoughts are loading the HBWC worked as I described over a fast powder with a heavy crimp.  I am thinking of 3.0gr BE as my pet load is 2.7 and have commonly gone to 2.8gr.  An option would be maybe 231 as a powder that would burn within the 2 inch barrel would obviously give the best velocity and less flash/blast.  ..Being careful not to overcharge soasto defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Anyone have chronograph or pressure data on fast powders behind 148 gr wadcutters?

Apologize for the blab, but needed to 'splain why? I had such a goofy question.. Thanks

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Post by BEA Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:23 am

To answer your question, I have no fps or psi info for snubby loads.  I do have a SW 642 for carry purposes.  Due to the anemic velocities obtained from a 38 snubby, I recommend that you carry factory +P loads for defense purposes and use your lead bullet loads for practice.  I have a Bullet Bunker bullet trap and there are times when a 38 special HBWC load will fail to fully penetrate the rubber backing at 25 yds.  I will say that the backing is very tough stuff but never the less, for defensive purposes you need all you can get out of a 38 snubby.  I know that at least Federal offers loads designed for this type firearm.  They are typically lighter weight bullets with lower flash powder and squeezing all the fps out of them they can safely achieve.  Advanced bullet technology allows for reliable expansion at a range of velocities through various materials.  However, the beauty of a 38 snubby, like the models we have (hammerless) is their concealibilty and ability to be fired out of a coat pocket if need be, not the horsepower they produce.  Another plus is they do not eject casings.  They are truly for up close and personal encounters.  I carry my 642 when the clothes I am wearing dictate it.  Other than that and a vast majority of the time, my choice of carry is a polymer frame 9mm.  Good luck and have fun experimenting with your 442.

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Post by USSR Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:58 am

BEA wrote:...I recommend that you carry factory +P loads for defense purposes...

Agree with the above statement.   I also would suggest you use what was known as "the FBI load".   I duplicate it using a 158gr lead SWCHP in front of 7.0gr of HS-6 for 900+ fps out of my 2.5" barrel Model 19.

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Post by DA/SA Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:08 am

USSR wrote:  I also would suggest you use what was known as "the FBI load".   I duplicate it using a 158gr lead SWCHP in front of 7.0gr of HS-6 for 900+ fps out of my 2.5" barrel Model 19.
In an Airweight J frame .38 Special?

Your 19 is .357.
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Post by USSR Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:17 am

My bad.   Saw him talking about his model 64 and was thinking it was that.   Still, the load I recommended is a .38 Special +P load, and would be safe in any gun that can handle +P loads.

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Post by DA/SA Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:20 am

I was looking in the Lee manual and it shows the max load for HS6 with 158 lead is 6.3 for .38 Spec.

That's why I questioned it.
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Post by USSR Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:40 am

Yeah, load data varies from one loading manual to another.   I've got an old Winchester manual from 1994.   It lists .38 Special +P loads, including a 158gr. lead SWC with 7.1gr of W540 (HS-6) as a load.   HS-6 is W540 with the Hodgdon label on it, as both are made at St. Mark's Powder Plant in Florida.

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Post by Wobbley Wed Aug 30, 2023 8:45 am

I wouldn’t shoot the FBI load in ANY “air weight” revolver.  Not on a steady basis.  Even other +P ammo for that matter.  For practice, I’d find a 125 Truncated Cone (Berrys makes a plated one) and develop a load that matched the impact at 10 yards of the factory ammo selected.  For the carry ammo I’d look at Hornady Critical Defense (NON  +P) in 110 to 125.  Even if you get caught flat footed and only have your Truncated cone reloads, in a pinch they’ll work better than HBWC seated backwards.  The HBWC either fragment or they expand so rapidly they don’t penetrate.  A TC bullet will penetrate but the flat nose creates a hydraulic shock wave in the body that disrupts much more.
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Post by LenV Wed Aug 30, 2023 12:20 pm

I would just stick with my 38 Special accuracy load. Which for me is a no brainer since i have hundreds of them already loaded. It's also a perfect snubby load. I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm. There are a lot of different powder choices to obtain that same velocity. Faster powder is best for snubbies.

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Post by BEA Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:02 pm

Going off topic just a bit in this conversation...My 642 uses full moon clips.  In my experience, unless you have a roundish nose bullet of some type, it is hard to get all 5 rounds fed into the cylinder at once.  As stated earlier by Wobbley, a truncated cone design may be good.  So, my first 5 shots are Speer Gold Dot +P.  My extra "clip" is 5 rds of a 158 gr lead RN because they drop right in.  If I try to reload with a flat nose HP type, at times it would be faster to load them 1 at a time rather than in the moon clip.  In reality, if you have to defend yourself (heaven forbid) and you expend all the rds in whatever gun you are carrying necessitating a reload, you are probably in very deep doo doo.  Just my thoughts.

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Post by S148 Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:55 pm

LenV wrote:I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm.

Len

Twice the punch? A 9mm produces about 330-340 ft lbs of energy from a 4" barrel. Your 38 load produces 600 + ft lbs of energy?

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Post by LenV Thu Aug 31, 2023 12:01 am

S148 wrote:
LenV wrote:I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm.

Len

Twice the punch? A 9mm produces about 330-340 ft lbs of energy from a 4" barrel. Your 38 load produces 600 + ft lbs of energy?
That's what I said. The key word in that sentence is "about". A perfectly good word that has a lot of meanings. In this case about meant somewhere between 1.76-1.81 times the power. Even closer than that if that 600+ is actually closer to 660 ft lbs. I think about twice is a good fit.
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Post by S148 Thu Aug 31, 2023 5:43 am

LenV wrote:
S148 wrote:
LenV wrote:I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm.

Len

Twice the punch? A 9mm produces about 330-340 ft lbs of energy from a 4" barrel. Your 38 load produces 600 + ft lbs of energy?
That's what I said. The key word in that sentence is "about". A perfectly good word that has a lot of meanings. In this case about meant somewhere between 1.76-1.81 times the power. Even closer than that if that 600+ is actually closer to 660 ft lbs. I think about twice is a good fit.

Where are you getting your "twice the punch" numbers?  Your load (4.2 Bullseye and 110 grain XTP) produces about 850 fps in a 4" barrel according to Hornady. That yields 176 ft lbs of energy.  It looks like the 9mm has twice the punch of your 38 Special.

Seriously, what does your statement mean?

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Post by LenV Thu Aug 31, 2023 8:59 am

S148 wrote:
LenV wrote:I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm.

Len

Twice the punch? A 9mm produces about 330-340 ft lbs of energy from a 4" barrel. Your 38 load produces 600 + ft lbs of energy?
Where did I get 1.7-1.8 times? I used your numbers above. 330 vs 600+. Those are your numbers.

I will admit I have not found any 2" barrel 9mm data to compare it to.
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Post by Kp321 Thu Aug 31, 2023 9:48 am

Use caution when loading HBWC’s with a heavy crimp, forward or backwards. The soft swaged bullets are prone to shooting the center out or otherwise shedding the skirt when loaded heavily and/or crimped heavily.

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Post by S148 Thu Aug 31, 2023 10:00 am

LenV wrote:
S148 wrote:
LenV wrote:I load 4.2 grains of Bullseye behind a Hornady 110gr XTP. Fast, light recoil, full expansion and still packs about twice the punch of a 9mm.

Len
Where did I get 1.7-1.8 times? I used your numbers above. 330 vs 600+. Those are your numbers.

I will admit I have not found any 2" barrel 9mm data to compare it to.

Okay, let's use your load data and Hornady's velocity from a 4" barrel, as noted above. That produces 176 ft lbs of energy. From a snubby it will be less. let's say it runs at about 800 fps from a 2" barrel. That now means 156 ft lbs of energy. 

9mm ballistics from a 2" barrel revolver easy exceed that.  The weakest load in the article below from a 2" Taurus 9mm revolver produced 265 ft lbs of energy. Four other loads tested exceeded 300 ft lbs of energy. The 9mm from a 2" barrel produces "about" twice the power of your 38 Special load from a snubby. 

https://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/gun-reviews/taurus-905-review-9mm-revolver/

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Reload for S&W #442 airweight 2-inch Empty Speedily reloading a J-Frame can be a 'bear'

Post by OL-Smokey Thu Aug 31, 2023 10:41 am

BEA wrote:Going off topic just a bit in this conversation...My 642 uses full moon clips.  In my experience, unless you have a roundish nose bullet of some type, it is hard to get all 5 rounds fed into the cylinder at once.  As stated earlier by Wobbley, a truncated cone design may be good.  So, my first 5 shots are Speer Gold Dot +P.  My extra "clip" is 5 rds of a 158 gr lead RN because they drop right in.  If I try to reload with a flat nose HP type, at times it would be faster to load them 1 at a time rather than in the moon clip.  In reality, if you have to defend yourself (heaven forbid) and you expend all the rds in whatever gun you are carrying necessitating a reload, you are probably in very deep doo doo.  Just my thoughts.
You are 100% correct when reloading a J-Frame with a 5-shot reloader.  ..My main motivation for reworking the reverse-HBWC. (which by the way I'm not trying to 'sell' to anyone).

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Post by 96wa6 Mon Sep 04, 2023 1:28 pm

I occasionally carry a S&W 642 (5-shot alloy-framed, internal hammer airweight .38 Sp 2") and have sold dozens for defense (when I worked in the LGS).

I ALWAYS recommended to others what the grey-hairs at the shop and pistol league recommended to me: Standard full-wadcutter target loads. 

They have less recoil, muzzle flash and blast, and the bullets are full-caliber flatnose that have some pretty devastating effect. The old guys said, "It's already expanded."

Since old guys are sometimes given to Old-Guy Tales (like "old-wives tales") and defense is a pretty serious affair, I tested them. 

I shot some large fruit with JHPs, +P JHPs and Remmy factory target full WCs out of my 642. Range was about 10 feet. The JHPs were load and obnoxious, but pretty much just plowed through, occasionally fracturing the fruit with some hydraulic action. The wadcutters consistently left a visibly larger channel and even had some impressive visual effects. 

Do I have any real-world experience? Just varmints, but ...

a) My brother was plinking with my target reloads out of a TC Contender. A big New Mexico jackrabbit wandered into my brother's field of vision at about 60 yards. My brother sent me a photo of the jack virtually cut in half, held together by a strip of hide, and the brush behind it painted with innards.

b) Another fellow used my reloads for plinking but saved 6 for his tackle-box gun. When a large snake swam towards his boat, he was able to hit it in the body. The next time he saw me, he said, "What ARE those things? I ended up with 2 big pieces of snake and a lot of little ones!" 

Granted this runs against all the "Use as much gun as you can!" and "Use the fastest, hottest, meanest ammo!" talk, but IMHO, at 10 feet out of a snubby, I believe target Wadcutters at target velocity will do just fine.

Of course, as I mentioned, defense is a pretty serious affair, so do your own testing and make your own decisions. (The testing is kinda fun ...)

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Reload for S&W #442 airweight 2-inch Empty Very Informative work of +P development and SWC

Post by OL-Smokey Thu Sep 07, 2023 2:11 pm

https://revolverguy.com/all-about-the-38-special-p-and-38-special-p/

Read and Learn maybe?

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Post by Wobbley Fri Sep 08, 2023 12:57 pm

Here’s a video on point.  In both a 4 inch and 2 inch snubbie.  

https://youtu.be/XYpHbF4nCoQ?si=WwIg9vGFMmk_UAX-
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Post by Cmysix Tue Sep 19, 2023 3:26 am

I had an air weight 2 inch, I just loved it! It would disappear in a front pants pocket, the problem was I could never find anything that was accurate in it, everything went down and too the right , fast slow light heavy, nothing shot well, got rid of it.
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