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lowest powered 38 special loads

19118 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Boats
I own a 357 and was wondering, whats the lowest powered 38 special round out there. I dont reload so it would be either win, rem, or fed. store rounds, does it matter bullet weight ? and also ive heard something about leading in barrels, does that meen the cheeper ammo will do this ? thanks all.
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The 146 grain lead full "wadcutter" load intended for 50 foot target shooting is the mildest factory load I know about.

Why do you want the weakest possible 38 load? A 22 would be cheaper.

You need to start reloading if you want to be serious with center fire handgun shooting.
Saxon, to use for plinking and can killing, i figured why not the lowest powered 38 special, if its just for fun.
Ohio guy said:
Saxon, to use for plinking and can killing, i figured why not the lowest powered 38 special, if its just for fun.
The 148 gr wadcutter would be the lowest load I know also. Be VERY careful of the reloads that you can buy. In fact I would stay away from them altogether.
In factory ammo, target wadcutters cost at least 2X what 158 gr. lead RN ammo costs - a waste of good $$, IMO. CCI/Blazer aluminum case loads w/ 158gr. bullets are about the cheapest factory-made .38 Special loads around here. They are pretty weak, too, so that should satisfy you for plinking.

If you try to shoot too low of power ammo, you also run the risk of sticking a bullet in the bore. :shock: :-ss :( If you fire another round with one stuck in the pipe, you'll not be too happy with the bulge in the barrel that will be there when you get the obstruction out. That is, if you don't split the barrel! :-o
Leading in barrels is usually not that much an issue. There are some bullets and loads that will certainly clog up the rifling. But the better bullets are cast with alloys that won't really cause leading issues. 100 pounds of lead and 13 pounds of tin is a pretty good one, anything close to that should be okay. I for one, don't have a clue what the big factories use for slug alloys. You may be better off by finding a commercial reloading company and using their loads for your gun. Look for a large public range that shoots a lot of 38 special, and has in house reloads to buy. You want to find out where those reloads come from and buy direct. If you can spring for a thousand at a time, or more, often those reloading companies will be happy to load what ever you wish for slugs and powder.
Low velocity is no guarantee of no leading. On the other end of the spectrum, the Keith bullets, properly cast, lubed, and loaded at magnum velocities, are known as bullets that don't cause leading issues. There are other lead slugs that shoot cleanly too. All said and done, you can make a habit of firing off a few hundred lead slugs and then fire a couple of full cylinders of jacketed bullets-that will scrape out the lead quite well at the end of a session. When you clean the bore, use something good like a CLP, and let is soak for a few hours before using the bore brush.
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You can make a pretty inexpensive and fun load by pushing primed cases into a block of paraffin wax.

A little messy in the clean up but all you are out is the cost of the primers....

Here's how it's done: ... i?read=700

Accurate enough for Bill Jordan and I've used them across the length of my basement.
so why the wax bullet? Any problems with wax staying in the barrel? Are they any good at very basic plinking for 20ft? seems rather interesting in a way.
Hey Greg!

Yes, you do get wax in the barrel, but it comes out pretty easily.

I used to use a stainless 681 for this and after I peeled the grips off it went into the dishwasher..... alone, with nothing else. Came out slick as a hounds tooth and after I hit it with a generous dose of Break Free it was ready for storage.

Wax can be fairly accurate.... better than runner bullets in my opinion. we were shooting at 50' of so.

One thing we learned was that if you opened up the primer pockets with a drill it eased seating of the the primers and reduced set back against the recoil shield. Cases so modified were notched and never used again for anything else....

Cheap, quiet, fun and relatively safe as wax won't ricochet....
reminded me of the time I went on a service call for a dishwasher that was full of wax. Seems the lady of the house decided she wanted to clean a bunch of fancy candles and ran them through a full set of cycles. She never thought to turn off the heat dry cycle and the candles melted and ran into the motor and then cooled. Of course there was another dishwasher that just looked bad bacause a guy decided he would wash the hub caps of his car in the machine. It had black 'stuff' all over the plastic liner and racks. He wanted a replacement dishwasher. I pointed out the "normal use" clause in the warranty and asked him to show me in his car's manual were washing hub caps in a dishwasher was listed. He was a tool
I haven't shot wax loads much but have shot a lot of the old Speer plastic red shells and the black plastic bullets powered by the Large pistol primer that fits into the red plastic shell. Changing primers is easy. They are reasonably accurate at 15 feet or so but do not shoot to the sights. I used to mark a aiming point. Making a bullet trap with a cardboard box and a piece of carpet or blanket is quite easy. The shells will last a long time and you usually can get a lot of shots out of each black plastic bullet. Warning these are not harmless!
I think the wax loads have an edge in accuracy over the Speer plastic ones. I still sometimes use wax loads in the basement. Do as Drew stated and enlarge the flash holes to keep the primer from backing out, grab an old manual priming tool and you're good to go. The used wax slugs can even be gathered up and re-melted, but if you do you have to skim the crud off the top before you pour the wax into the cookie sheet.

It still sounds promising. And I even have a couple stainless revolvers.

But the idea of sending them through the dishwasher sends shivers down my spine. Do you have to pull the side plate off and totally strip? or just remove the grips and toss it in?

I never used to pull the sideplate... the particular 681 in question had seen dunkings worse that that dishwasher....

However it is possible to get the gun just as clean by spraying it with WD-40 after shooting with wax. WD will disolve the wax but you still have to wipe and swab a little.

Think if the residue left in the bore and cylinders by Bullet Lube.... same sort of thing, just a little more of it.

Shooting Wax is alot of fun and everybody should try it at least once just to say they have.... :)

I can see myself using WD. Not my favorite for guns, but down the barrel shouldn't be bad.

Got a smile on my face thinking about it. definitely bringing it back as a possibility.

Handloading lightest pratical load I use is a 125 Gr Cast Flat nose pushed by either 4.5 of Unique or 4.1 of W 231.

About 750 fps and recoils like a rimfire in full size revolvers. Very shootable for training with J Frame Smiths. Anything less accucary suffers.

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