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Discussion Starter #1
I have looked around and Jonesy here offered a suggestion but I thought I would put it here. Doesnt seem to be a lot of information on the web. I have load data but I am looking for some personal experiences

I dont have a ton of options but here is what I have .. of course if there is a really compelling reason I could buy something else but would love to use what I gots.

I have
HP-38
Titegroup
Longshot

and

158gr coated LSWC
Some 125gr semi jacketed HP

I am using a lee perfect powder measure and a single stage press

What do you think is a good softish practice round .. Not powder puff but not killing my aluminum gun and what would you use for defensive carry. I would like to use my 158's for defensive carry but I am way open to suggestions having never owned a super light weight gun before.

(well I did own a ruger LCP for a hot minute that I couldnt hit a cow with at 3 paces)

Thanks everyone!
Alex
 

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I have used HP38 in 38 special loads for years.It is what it is made for (use Hodgdons data) Longshot is better for 357 mag and it is LOUD.
I will not discuss TG I have no need for Tite Boom!;) If I want a faster powder I like Bullseye for target loads
 

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My go to load for the j-frames is a 148 grain hbwc bullet above an appropriate published light load of HP-38. Seat the bullets as advertised to "Almost flush" with the case mouth. I like to leave about a fingernail width sticking out. These are light recoil and very accurate out to 25 yards. With a good tail wind and some luck they will even sometimes carry to 50 yards!
 

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I have loaded 158gr plated semi wad cutters and coated 158gr RNFP bullets with from 3.2 up to 3.8 of Tite Group. 3.2 is a real powder puff load, 3.4-3.5 is a nice practice round from an alloy frame J frame, and 3.8 is a full power load. I have shot thousands of the 3.5gr load through my J frames and they shoot pretty darn close to the point of aim. You can stand to shoot 100 rounds in a session without taking a beating. Most midrange loads should give similar results.
 

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hp38 is the same as w231.

i have used bullseye, but found it runs dirty as compared to w231.

i have no need for stout +P .38spl loads for such a lightweight gun and the 74 year old behind the trigger.

i load both light and medium for my 642 using w231 and SWC and RN bullet weights of 160, 158, 150, 125, and 100 grains.

all bullets are polymer hi-tec coated which means no leading and less smoke on firing.

for a light and accurate practice load, it's 3.2 grains of w231 under a 125 gain coated.

for a medium self defense load, it's 3.5 grains of w231 under a 158 grain coated bullet.

two finger bobbed hogue 60020 stocks, for better pocket concealment ...


full three finger hogue 60020 stocks, before shortening ...
 

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As said, Hodgdon site for both HP-38 and Titegroup. I do prefer Titegroup for the coated 158 grain as they seem to be accurate and manageable on the recoil.
 
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I have run a variety of loads out of my 442. I haven't run HP38, but have run Winchester 231 and have had good luck with it, with what I think are good extreme spreads and standard deviation numbers, at least relative to some other combinations I've tried.

This load isn't too snappy for me in the 442, and out of it runs:
Average speed: 671 fps
Standard deviation: 17 fps
Extreme spread: 42 fps

Brass: Federal
Primer: CCI 500
Powder: 4.0 grains Winchester 231
Bullet: 158 grain SNS LSWC seated to 1.480" oal

This is 0.3 grain above the max load data for W231 in 38 Special on the Hodgdon site, so appears to be a little bit into 38+p territory. It is however right at the max load for W231 and a 158g LSWC 38 Special in the Lyman 49 manual.

I have loaded up to 4.3 grains of W231 with that bullet and run them in the 442, but it starts getting a bit snappy on the recoil for me. Average speed 775 fps, St dev 11 fps, ES 34 fps.

I have loaded down to 3.4 grains of W231 with that bullet and run them in the 442, and of course it was less snappy, but I do not have chrono data for that load.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks guys! I loaded up 158gr lswc coated from DG bullets with 3.5 gr of hp38, 3.5 gr of titgroup, 4 gr of hp38 and i already have a bunch with 4.5 gr of hp38 which is my regular practice round out of my 3" gp100 and 3" 686 and i may give a couple a go when I hit the range on Monday just to see what they feel like from the little gun.

I figure either the 3.5 titegroup or hp38 for practice rds.

So ... I am thinking 4-4.2 gr hp38 with those same bullets would make a very fine SD round .... no?
 

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I am thinking 4-4.2 gr hp38 with those same bullets would make a very fine SD round .... no?
In my 442 on a recent 55 degree afternoon:

Brass: Starline
Primer: CCI 500
Powder: 4.2 grains Winchester 231
Bullet: 158 grain SNS LSWC loaded to 1.480"

Average speed: 744 fps
Standard deviation: 13 fps
Extreme spread: 33 fps
 

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Discussion Starter #11
In my 442 on a recent 55 degree afternoon:

Brass: Starline
Primer: CCI 500
Powder: 4.2 grains Winchester 231
Bullet: 158 grain SNS LSWC loaded to 1.480"

Average speed: 744 fps
Standard deviation: 13 fps
Extreme spread: 33 fps
Thank you P! That sound like just the ticket for an around town round! That should get some nice penetration without landing up down the block. I have had 100 pcs of brand new starline brass sitting in a bag for 2 years now.

I must have watched more than a dozen videos and read at least as many reviews and even the bullets that ate better expanders out of the short barrel dont seem to do so reliably so I have been really considering just using my lswc's
 

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Just an FYI, I do get some leading around the forcing cone and front of the cylinder with 4.2 grains of W231 and uncoated LSWC 158s. I haven't tried coated bullets yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Just an FYI, I do get some leading around the forcing cone and front of the cylinder with 4.2 grains of W231 and uncoated LSWC 158s. I haven't tried coated bullets yet.
Thanks brother! I am using these

https://dgbullets.com/product/38-357-158-gr-swc-bb/

They are cast pretty hard and I have used them in my Mildish .357 loads using 7.3-7.5 gr of Longshoot without any leading in my 686.

I once had it written down but if memory serves the DG bullets are at 16bhn.
 

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Boriqua being you have the S&W 642 Airweight Centennial which is fine revolver, but does have it drawback. (1) that small J Frame, (2) 1 7/8’s inch barrel, (3) it’s allow construction. Now my suggestion to work around those drawback are (1) stay with standard pressure loads 110-125 Gr JHP’s. (2) the 158 Gr loads will result in more recoil in that light weight revolver, it’s tuff to master the recoil in an all steel J frame as it is. My suggestion in the powders that you have on hand would be HP-38 or Titegroup. Best of luck to you
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Boriqua being you have the S&W 642 Airweight Centennial which is fine revolver, but does have it drawback. (1) that small J Frame, (2) 1 7/8’s inch barrel, (3) it’s allow construction. Now my suggestion to work around those drawback are (1) stay with standard pressure loads 110-125 Gr JHP’s. (2) the 158 Gr loads will result in more recoil in that light weight revolver, it’s tuff to master the recoil in an all steel J frame as it is. My suggestion in the powders that you have on hand would be HP-38 or Titegroup. Best of luck to you
Thanks Law_order and everyone else for the advice. I did try a few different loadings and documented it in my first range report.

https://www.smithandwessonforums.com/forum/s-w-revolvers-1945-present/202901-first-day-out-642-a.html
 

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In my 642, I have used, Titegroup, Bullseye, Universal, TiteWAD, 231, Clays all with 158 gr bullets from LSWC, JHP, plated HP, plated SWC and even some swaged Hornady 148HBWC; the same loads I use in my 19 and 66. 2.7-2.9 of Bullseye under a WC will be soft shooting (well, as soft shooting as can be expected in a gun under 1#). I can tell you I do NOT like shooting +P in that gun, even with the rubber grips pr the Delta ERGO ones - too snappy and my accuracy is terrible. Find a load your gun likes and stick with it. No need for uber speed at close range SD distances if you can't hit what you're aiming at.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Has anyone got any experience with the 50 grain 38 special loads from Liberty Defense?

https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/liberty-civil-defense-38-special-hp-50-grain-20-rounds?a=1741641
I dont have personal experience but I do like this gentlemans videos. He used to participate on our local board and is a straight shooter

https://youtu.be/Ymq6KXOm1_8

Kind of irks me in that in their own promotional video they state something about the human body being only 12 inches. That is just silly. That relies on a perfect shot on a target standing still, naked and presenting straight on which could happen but is unlikely.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kPpoRD_8bU

Personally i would stay away.

The fed hst looks like a nice round out of the snub and I found its recoil very very manageable. My 63 yr old 125lb wife handles it fine. Im going to stick with 158gr LSWCHP .. maybe a bit more recoil but it wont depend solely on expansion.
 
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