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Posted: 4/29/2011 2:20:48 PM EDT
I'm looking into a load for a S&W 442

I'm considering a 158 grain LSWCHP, a soft lead version or the Barnes 110 grain XPB, my goal is to try and duplicate the FBI load and the Corbon 110 gr. DPX load.

Barnes has data for the bullet on their site, which I figure I'll start with and I have manuals to supplement.

I'd try and load up the Speer 135 gr. Gold dot, but I've pretty much given up on Gold dots for the time being due to the lack of availability.

I wanted to toss it out here to see if you guys' had any other suggestions or favorites for 38 snubs.
Link Posted: 4/29/2011 3:38:10 PM EDT
I prefer DPX.
Link Posted: 4/29/2011 4:08:09 PM EDT
IMI cases

CCI-550 Primers

9.0 Gr to 10.5* Gr of 2400

158 Gr. Hornady, Speer, or Zero SWC-HP

COAL: 1.480"

Start with 9.0Gr and work up.

When I got 860fps + out of my 3" Model 13, I stopped.

I no longer own the Model 13 and I use .357 Magnum cases to shoot the load out of my SP-101.  Different powder charge there.

Never tried to load for the XPB bullet.

Link Posted: 4/29/2011 6:17:54 PM EDT
There are two loads I would trust in a .38 special.  One is the old standby:  a SOFT 158 lswchp, preferrably in a +P load.  The other is the Speer Golddot short barrel.

The little 38 doesn't generate a whole lot of velocity out of 2" or shorter barrels.  Low velocities typically mean traditional JHP bullets don't open reliably, especially when the cavity is plugged with denim and other fabric. If speed won't cause expansion, then the only other opportunity for bullet expansion is to use a very soft bullet.

The remington 158 LSWCHP is apparently one of the softest available.  I've never run a Brinell tester on one, but I can vouch that these are dead soft.  You can deform them with bare fingers.  These DO open at snubbie speeds.  These can be hard to find (not sure if rem sells them as a component) but SPeer's LSWCHP is also a good choice.

Most of the jacketed holow points need to work reasonable well in everything from a 38 to a 357.  That is asking a lot.  It seems like most work okay in 4" 38's through 6-8" 357's with the huge velocity range that implies.  They don't work great in the snubbie 38.  Bullet makers have started making caliber specific bullets.  A decade ago remington started selling .358" Golden Saber bullets for the ,38 and a separate (harder, smaller cavity) bullet for .357 Mag.  Speer has followed suit, and their 38 Gold Dot Short Barrel bullet is not only caliber specific it is also velocity (barrel length) specific.  It is designed, engineered and manufacturered to operate reliably in your snubbie.

Take your pic.
Link Posted: 4/29/2011 7:38:39 PM EDT
Nyclad or wadcutter.
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 6:34:40 AM EDT
I was on Midway last night, I can't recall exactly what I was looking at right now but the soft 158's were 500 at a time and out of stock. Thanks for the tip on the Speer Bullets I'll have to dig around and see if I can find them. I have some hard cast 158's and I think I'll work them up in the warm range just to see how I control the recoil. Rimrock bullets has a 158 they claim is the one used by Buffalo Bore and they sell them in 100 packs.

I can do the same with some 110 Hornady XTP's just to get a feel for them as I could do with an available 125-130 grain bullet to simulate the Gold Dot load.

Doc Robert's indicates the Corbon 110 DPX load is effective even out of the 1 7/8's barrel, I don't know if I can hand load a Barnes 110 to Corbon velocity though, and the same with the other bullet weights.

I've done a lot of "internet researching" and it usually comes back to the "FBI load" being the "best" for the 1 7/8" snub, the trick being able to get a soft bullet going in the 800-850 fps range, with faster being better. Lot's of positive remarks for the 158 grain Buffalo Bore the plus P load looking like it might be a bit much for the Airweight 442.

The 135 Gold Dot load appears to be a good one, but probably out of my price range even if I could find them...and forget about practicing with it.

Practice makes perfect and especially so with this little gun, so I want to be able to duplicate hand loads to whatever load I choose to go with, no way can I afford to put a lot of lead downrange at factory prices.

Red, thanks for the load info.

Right now I have a small quantity of 125 Nyclad and some old 129+ Federal Hydro shocks for CCW, but not enough to practice with.
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 8:56:49 AM EDT
I load the 158gr LSWCHPs to 750fps out of my 2" model 60.

Link Posted: 4/30/2011 7:20:14 PM EDT
The remington 158 grain LSCWHP +P load runs about 850 fps from my 2.25" ruger. I can handload that bullet to 1000-1100 from the same gun, but I really don't recommend it. Around 850-900 fps is plenty to make that soft bullet expand reliably.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:46:31 AM EDT
machinisttx, what powder are you using?
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 6:58:40 AM EDT
I've loaded the speer 148gr lead hollowbase wadcutter backwards (hollow base forward like a huge hp) that shot pretty decent out of my 3" j-frame, it was pretty impressive on small game when I could hit them, never shot anything larger with it though so I don't know how well it'd work/penetrate for sd purposes.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 3:43:36 PM EDT


machinisttx, what powder are you using?

You will not find any current load data from manufacturers for velocities in the upper range I listed, at least not from a 2" barrel. Alliant lists a load with Unique at 919 fps from a 6", and another load with Power Pistol at 1,037 fps from the same barrel length. I used 2400.

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