Good powder for "wimpy" .38 rounds

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JonB

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
3
I am about to start reloading some .38 rounds for my wife (she adopted my LCR). She does a good job w/factory loads, considering that the LCR has a lasergrip, but I want to make some softer-shooting target loads for her. That way she will be able to practice her form with less worry about recoil.

What I am looking for is a powder that will be ideal for light target loads with the .3cc Lee dipper and 125gr Rainier bullets. I have a decent amount of factory ammo, so I will not be reloading other loads for awhile. When I start, I will probably load with the .5cc dipper.

I would like it to be something commonly available. I was thinking Unique or Bullseye. I am only reloading .38 for now. I just want some expert advice before starting.

Thanks in advance.
 

Jayhawkhuntclub

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
1,120
Location
Kansas
I've never used a dipper so I can't say on that. But the two powders that spring to mind are Unique and Trailboss. Trailboss is only for lead bullets (non-jacketed). It might work for copper coated bullets too (call Hodgdon if you want to be certain). Trailboss is the easier to use of the two because you don't need to worry about double charges due to the low desity of the powder.
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,367
Location
Butte, MT
+1 Trail Boss. You just can't go wrong with it for light 'lead' loads. Just don't compress it. If you shoot jacketed bullets then Unique should be used as TB is not recommended for jacketed. Oh course you can use Unique with 'lead' too. It is just Trail Boss is king of the light load powders in my opinion. I use both.
 

JonB

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
3
Thanks for your advice. I have jacketed bullets, so I got Unique.
 

Jimbo357mag

Hawkeye
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
10,227
Location
So. Florida
Good choice for mild loads. You can adjust your dippers by putting a little cardboard or similar in the bottom to bring the powder charge up to the top. It takes quite a while to be able to dip a consistent charges. Be sure to weigh a lot of them at first and load a block of cases so you can look down on them with a flashlight and compare the powder to make sure they are all the same.

My technique for dipping uses a small bowl of powder and I scoop from the side to fill the dipper, then shake it till the powder levels with the top of the dipper. Some folks use a card to scrape across the top to level the powder. :)

...Jimbo
 

Aqualung

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 17, 2005
Messages
707
Location
Philadelphia, PA, USA
My target load in .38Spec is Unique in the .5cc dipper behind a 158gr cast SWC. Nice load for my Blckhawk and SP101. Weighs out to darn close to 4.6gr.

Aqualung
 

Pal Val

Buckeye
Joined
May 30, 2006
Messages
1,548
Location
S.E. PA, USA
+1 to Trail Boss. You don't want to drive the Rainier bullets too hard. They shed the copper in flight and make a mess of your target if you do. Trail boss does the job better than pipsqueak amounts of Unique or Red Dot, and you reduce the danger of a double load.

Only disadvantage of Trail Boss is the cost. Trail Boss is sold in 9 oz cans, but it costs better than half as much as Unique. Caveat emptor.
 

btrumanj

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
490
Location
Louisville Ky
Another vote for 231. FWIW, I don't care for extremely light loads in any caliber. 4 grs of 231 under a 158 gr bullet is a nice easy shooting load and accurate, but is as low as I go in the .38 Sp. Like old Elmer, If I want something less I get the .22s out. :)
 

JonB

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
3
As long as I'm getting such good advice, I have another question. I'm using Lee dies, and the set came with the crimp die. Should I bother using it? I can't imagine the bullets moving much with such a mild load. Should I use the crimp die anyway? Are there other reasons to use it?
 

Jimbo357mag

Hawkeye
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
10,227
Location
So. Florida
Yes put a crimp on the bullets. With Rainier bullets you should feel just a little squish right at the end. A medium crimp is necessary to get good pressure build-up before the bullet starts moving. The powder will burn much cleaner and no chance of the bullet shifting in the case.
edit to note: nickel cases are 357mag.

PowderLoading.jpg


...Jimbo
 

WESHOOT2

Hunter
Joined
Mar 19, 2005
Messages
2,124
Location
Duxbury, Vermont, USA
Tested (for accuracy): Bullseye, and W231.
Still the ultimate choices for 38 accuracy.

I use mostly W231 for real wimps, and Universal for a bit less wimp.
 

VictimNoMore

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 31, 2010
Messages
15
Location
WV
TiteGroup (by Hodgdon) also makes for nice wimpy-to-medium-hot loads in .38 special. I use 3.4 grains behind a 125 grain Rainier bullet for a very, very "mild" load.

3.8 grains of Tite Group behind the same bullet is "just about right" in my book. Compared to 158-grain factory loads (American Eagle), they are downright pleasant and fun to shoot.
 

Jeff H

Bearcat
Joined
Jul 9, 2009
Messages
60
Location
Cincinnati, OH
Bullseye is what I use and it performs great. Red Dot and 231 (HP-38) should work equally well. Basically any fast burning powder should do well in lightly loaded 38spec.
 

mrkti

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
13
Odd man out here ... I use Ramshot True Blue from .380 up to light .357 loads. Really good reason too ... bought two lbs to load 5.7x28, then got nervous about loading that round so I have to use it up ... :?

I will go back to W231 when this stuff runs out, but TB actually works pretty well and meters great ... fine ball powder.

John
 

ftlupton

Single-Sixer
Joined
May 24, 2009
Messages
237
Location
Colorado
I use 231 a lot and like it but had a bunch of Clays for my trap gun. I now use 3.1 grs of Clays and my wife shoots the heck out of her LCR. She keeps my Lee loader spinning and her groups match mine most of the time. She ain't no slouch with my .45 either with pretty stiff loads.
 

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