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Posted: 1/26/2014 2:37:51 PM EDT
So today's range test was 38 SPL, SWC vs Plated. The bullets were different weights as this was a last minute curiosity thing. My plan to test rifle loads was postponed so I decided to do some pistol work on trigger control. As such, I figured I might as well shoot 50 of each kind I have and see what happens.

Revolver: S&W 66, 4 inch bbl


Load 1: 125g plated over 4.1g Bullseye


Load 2: 158g SWC over 3.9g Bullseye


Primers and cases for both were CCI 500 and Winchester.


Both loads had been worked up and tested previously to determine they were the most accurate for the respective bullet type with this powder/primer/case combination.


I alternated back and forth between them, six shots at a time. No more than 24 shots total without at least a two minute break.







The accuracy results were pretty substantial. By 30 rounds the SWC had already shot out a hole. The plated didn't get there until around 40. Even then, it was "just barely". Almost half the SWC were "unaccounted for" due to the hole. Total pattern sizes were identical, but the SWC were much more concentrated. It was just about 10 that were outliers. Likely shooter error. Looking at the targets there is no question which is more consistent.







So, my questions:


Is it normal for SWC to be that much more accurate than plated? If so, that may make me rethink the issues with the SWC being so dirty. Granted, it washes off, but it is not favorable for the wife. Then again, it was pretty significant.







Would 158 grain plated yield results closer to the SWC?







Thanks in advance.

 
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 3:01:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/26/2014 3:08:22 PM EDT by 243winxb]
I alternated back and forth between them,
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 Not how i would test.  When changing bullet types or even different lubes, clean the bore. If you dont, it may take as many as 10 shots before groups  settle in. If going  from ball to stick powder, clean. Even  22 lr brands with different lubes/coating need a good cleaning when changing. The test might be different using bullets of the same weight and bearing surface??    158g SWC over 3.9g Bullseye in 38 spec. is listed as a  +P maximum load. Alliant no longer has data for a 158  gr jacketed bullet in 38 spec.  
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 3:13:26 PM EDT
Old Elmer Keith did a lot of experimenting with different bullet shapes and he settled on his swc  because of it's accuracy out to long range.
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 4:37:14 PM EDT
The SWC may be a better made bullet, and the results are not surprizing to me.  I shoot 130 plated RN and they are not quite as accurate but accurate enough and no leading to clean up.  125 gr JHP are very accurate bullets, but of course more costly.
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 4:59:14 PM EDT
The powder load with the SWCs makes that load pretty light, which helps with accuracy.  I used to load wadcutters with about that and got extremely comfortable one-hand shooting loads that were perfect for trigger practice.

The plated bullets are an unknown quantity, since you don't say whose plated bullets you used.  It doesn't take a huge investment to set up to plate bullets, but some manufacturers are much better at making consistent, reliable plated bullets than others.  So some of your modestly lesser accuracy could have come from the bullets themselves being less consistent.

Further, the load you used wasn't even as "hot," as the SWC load.  Some bullets need a minimum velocity to stay stable, and that's possibly the most important variable in this comparison.  Alliant's site shows a recommended load of 4.5gr of Bullseye behind 125gr bullets, while they recommend 3.5gr behind 158gr SWCs; your chosen load was lighter than their recommendation for the 125gr but hotter than their recommendation for 158gr SWCs.  

I know that "plated bullets are supposed to be loaded more like lead bullets," but at the end of the .38 SPL velocity spectrum we're talking about, there is no real difference; those are all essentially lead bullet loads.  So while your results were not as good with your plated bullets as with your lead SWCs, they weren't too shabby to start with, and while you worked up the loads appropriately, there are a few variables you didn't control for.

Finally, as others have mentioned, I'm not keen on your testing method.  It's better to run all of one type of load, then all of the next, then...etc. rather than alternating between different loads for a number of reasons.  Anticipation, more than anything else, can cause both/all of your loads to look poorer than they might.  And you want to also consider a light field cleaning between different loads, both to allow the shooter to rest between loads and to have the gun as close to the same as possible for each load you test.

In short, consistency is essential, both in loading and in testing processes.  Not that you were doing precise measurements, but you could have gotten a better idea of each load's potential by using a set procedure for testing each load you test.  Which, I think, is more fun anyway...
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 6:30:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/26/2014 6:37:29 PM EDT by Landshark9025]
Thanks, all.


CORRECTION: Double checked my box and journal. The plated were loaded at 4.2g of Bullseye.










Yeah, the testing method was not ideal and a spur of the moment thing. Was more of a curiosity and really didn't feel like firing 50, field cleaning, etc. Now that I have seen this, I may have to do it for real just to make sure shooting the SWCs weren't hindering the plated.


The plated bullets were Xtreme, so they should be counted as quality. The SWC were Berry's, so the same there.










GHPorter, I am reading Alliant's website as 4.5 as a max load for 38 spl and Lyman lists 158g max at 3.3, so i am vonservative. I could have gone another .6 grain to the top of +P at 4.8 for that too as per Alliant.  I have no pressure signs, but also no intention of going over max loads, but I may try a little more. Thanks for the observation.










I am more curious to know if others find SWC more consistent than a plated bullet.


 
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 6:42:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/26/2014 6:43:00 PM EDT by TerryC]
My 66 is consistently more accurate with 148-160 grain bullets than lighter weights regardless of bullet shape or construction.
And lighter weight bullets do not shot to the same POA.

You need to even up your comparison somewhat.

Link Posted: 1/26/2014 7:11:25 PM EDT

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Originally Posted By TerryC:


My 66 is consistently more accurate with 148-160 grain bullets than lighter weights regardless of bullet shape or construction.

And lighter weight bullets do not shot to the same POA.



You need to even up your comparison somewhat.



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Originally Posted By TerryC:


My 66 is consistently more accurate with 148-160 grain bullets than lighter weights regardless of bullet shape or construction.

And lighter weight bullets do not shot to the same POA.



You need to even up your comparison somewhat.




Agreed. Looks like my next order of plated will be 158g FP. That said, I usednthe same POA on both to mcut down on confusion and the overall POI was about the same. Will find out what the 158s do.




 
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 8:57:51 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 3:42:50 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Landshark9025:
Thanks, all. CORRECTION: Double checked my box and journal. The plated were loaded at 4.2g of Bullseye.

Yeah, the testing method was not ideal and a spur of the moment thing. Was more of a curiosity and really didn't feel like firing 50, field cleaning, etc. Now that I have seen this, I may have to do it for real just to make sure shooting the SWCs weren't hindering the plated.The plated bullets were Xtreme, so they should be counted as quality. The SWC were Berry's, so the same there.

GHPorter, I am reading Alliant's website as 4.5 as a max load for 38 spl and Lyman lists 158g max at 3.3, so i am vonservative. I could have gone another .6 grain to the top of +P at 4.8 for that too as per Alliant.  I have no pressure signs, but also no intention of going over max loads, but I may try a little more. Thanks for the observation.


I am more curious to know if others find SWC more consistent than a plated bullet.
 
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I stand corrected.  I didn't read the Alliant page thoroughly enough and misstated.  I haven't loaded with Bullseye for ages, and moved to Unique quite some time ago.  Rechecking my numbers and my manuals, I see that memory wasn't as good as printed data.  My appologies.

However, the point about plated bullets is still all about velocity, not whether they're wimpy or super-hot loads.  Low velocity loads, in the 800-950 fps range, should not give plated bullets any problems.  I'm looking at getting a butt-load of plated .451" 230 gr bullets for some .45ACP loading, precisely because the velocity is not a consideration in selecting the type fo bullet.
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 6:53:08 PM EDT
Thanks for the followup, GHPorter. To make sure I am understanding correctly, are you saying that essentially plated bullets do not see as much accuracy degradation at lower velocities (light recoil loads) as lead bullets do?



One more question if I may, what was your reasoning for switching from Bullseye to Unique and what have you found? I have a pound of Unique on the shelf to try next but am considering just getting another can or two of either Bullseye or 700x and just shooting and refining those for awhile as they are both known quantities to me.




Thanks.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 4:17:16 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By Landshark9025:
Thanks for the followup, GHPorter. To make sure I am understanding correctly, are you saying that essentially plated bullets do not see as much accuracy degradation at lower velocities (light recoil loads) as lead bullets do?

One more question if I may, what was your reasoning for switching from Bullseye to Unique and what have you found? I have a pound of Unique on the shelf to try next but am considering just getting another can or two of either Bullseye or 700x and just shooting and refining those for awhile as they are both known quantities to me.

Thanks.
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I'm saying that the most common caveat about plated bullets is to "load them to lead bullet velocities," which is essentially what you are already doing.  Some plated bullets don't have much copper over them, and higher velocities seem to wipe it off, exposing lead and leading to leading.  Lower velocities with any bullet, as long as the velocity is within the caliber's envelope, are fine.  It's when you push the envelope at either end that the accuracy degrades substantially.  Trying to push a 125gr bullet at less than 800fps out of a 4" or 6" .38 is probably asking for oddness at the target, just as trying to get 1500fps with anything out of a .38 is asking for trouble.

I shifted from Bullseye because a) I ran out and b) I'd been having issues with loading .357 and getting to .357 velocities.  To me, Bullseye is a bit hot for the .357, while slower powders like Unique and others (I used Red Dot for a while) gave me more elbow room and still got me the velocities I wanted.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 6:07:01 AM EDT
Thank you. That was very helpful.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 6:28:45 AM EDT
How about a plated semi wadcutter?  I am going to order some of them from xtreme one of these days and give them a try.    I am not sure how much time and energy I should invest in accuracy coming out of a short barreled SP101.
Link Posted: 1/29/2014 7:37:58 AM EDT

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Originally Posted By MRBLACK947:


How about a plated semi wadcutter?  I am going to order some of them from xtreme one of these days and give them a try.    I am not sure how much time and energy I should invest in accuracy coming out of a short barreled SP101.
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Originally Posted By MRBLACK947:


How about a plated semi wadcutter?  I am going to order some of them from xtreme one of these days and give them a try.    I am not sure how much time and energy I should invest in accuracy coming out of a short barreled SP101.

Nice idea. Next month I may order some of those and give that a whirl. One thing you might lose would be the sealing properties of the lube. I have read on one of the "read this first" links on a cast bullets forum where Alox lubed bullets don't seal as well as wax lubed bullets. Worth looking into for sure.




 
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