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Thread: Problem: Trail Boss in .38 Special

  1. #21
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    Well, it's progress, but not perfect...

    I shot 15rounds, and they all fired. (I would say "they all went "bang," but they really make a "pfft" sound, like a Hollywood silencer.)

    My ES is less extreme, but still 179fps (346-525fps). My SDs for the two strings (one of ten, one of five) were in the 40s.

    Raising the rear sight all the way actually made POI the same as POA, or even a little high (so I could come down a notch or two).

    I shot ten into a silhouette at 6-7yds, and they made a group smaller than a credit card, which is good, given that I was shooting offhand and mostly worried about blasting my chrono.

    IMG_0124.jpg


    Now I have a new problem: Several cases are bulged around the base, so much so that they wouldn't easily chamber. (I didn't shoot them.) I'm guessing this is a sign of TOO MUCH crimp. Argh.

    In the meantime, I'll load up some more with 4.0gr of Trail Boss, which should give me a 70% full case.

    I won't get to shoot those until the week of the 26th...

  2. #22
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    Trail Boss should be position independent, but you may want to try the same load with a consistent powder position. Point the pistol up and then slowly come down on target after each shot.

    Case bulges after crimping is normally an indication that you are about to collapse the case. Can be a die thing. Some guys crimp better than others.

    I know you've already committed to trail boss, but 38 is the classic case for using bullseye and other fast powders.

    I prefer unique, and shot a ton a very accurate light target loads in 38 as a kid. There is a reason the wadcutter loads are so popular. I think you would do better with a little bit heavier bullet.

    With one of the classic loads there is no reason to be having to roll crimp that hard, and they will shorten your brass life. And recoil is minimal.

    If you are having to do Magnum type crimping to deal with the internal ballistics I'd be looking at another bullet/powder combination. But would try some wad-cutters first.

    I shoot a lot of light/blooper loads in other calibers and it's possible to find combinations that work very well. The universal 16g of 2400 service rifle loading is amazing and fun in old mausers.

    It's counterintuitive but you can also find combinations that shoot the same point of impact as full power loads, at least at short distances. This has to do with the lighter loads leaving the barrel later.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinzgauer View Post
    Trail Boss should be position independent, but you may want to try the same load with a consistent powder position. Point the pistol up and then slowly come down on target after each shot.

    Case bulges after crimping is normally an indication that you are about to collapse the case. Can be a die thing. Some guys crimp better than others.

    I know you've already committed to trail boss, but 38 is the classic case for using bullseye and other fast powders...

    Thanks for this... I wouldn't have committed to Trail Boss and 95gr bullets, except that Hodgdon said it would work!

    I do like the idea of using Trail Boss, because bigger charges don't make much of a difference in pressure/velocity... a half-grain either way shouldn't make much difference, unlike a half-grain of Clays. This makes it all the more ironic that I'm seeing such big velocity variation.

    I'm going to do the "70% test" later today... I'm guessing the answer is more than 3.0gr.

  4. #24
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    OK, so I measured ≈ how much Trail Boss fit below where I'm seating the 95gr bullet, and came up with 6.1gr or so...

    So, figuring I wanted to start with ≥70% of a full case, I'm now loading a batch with 4.5gr of Trail Boss.

    EDIT: I backed the crimp die off 1/6th of a turn, too. Backing off 2/6ths was still a tanglible crimp (I could feel it, working the press's handle), but left the top of the cases looking "open."
    Last edited by Bimmer; 08-20-19 at 12:22.

  5. #25
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    Since you posted in the 55 gr FMJ thread it reminded me to ask you how the .38 spl light bullet TB loads are going.

  6. #26
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    I loaded and fired 30rnds with 4.5gr of Trail Boss, and velocities were still all over the place (550-780fps). ESs and SDs were even worse than with 3.0gr and a heavier crimp.

    So, I've backed the powder charge down to 4.0gr (I don't want/need more than 500-600fps) and turned the crimp die back down a 1/6th of a turn, and then loaded two batches:

    1. 20rnds with the round-nose bullets facing out.

    2. 20rnds with the round-noses facing, so they look like wadcutters.

    The guys on CastBoolits have just about convinced me that these light bullets are NEVER going to work with the .38 Special's big case, so #2 is a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt...


    If this doesn't work, then I'll buy some 105s and 125s to load in .38Spl, and I'll load the 95s for my SIG P230. (Yeah, I know .358" bullets aren't ideal for a .380ACP, but they'll work.)


    EDIT: I won't have a chance to shoot these until next week...

  7. #27
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    The guys in the gun games (3gun, USPSA etc.) swear that heavy bullets at lower velocities give lower recoil impulses. I personally never noticed the difference, but it might eventually wind up that way for you. Maybe a 125 over 3.0-3.5 gr.

  8. #28
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    That's what the guys on CastBoolits say, too...

    The physics numbers never make sense for heavier bullets, but a longer, more drawn-out recoil impulse WOULD "feel" like less than the sharp recoil impulse of a faster-accelerating lighter bullet.

    One of the guys in my USPSA squad shoots 290gr SWCs (slowly) through his .45ACP, and he says it "just rolls, doesn't kick." On the other hand, his bullets were key-holing last weekend...


    In any case, I might be able to get heavier bullets to be consistent around 500fps, which would be much better than having lighter bullets wildly varying from 500fps to almost 800fps.

  9. #29
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    Since alternatives were supplied on the Castboolits thread, apply those suggested. If deeply seated light bullets equivalent in seating depth to wadcutters do not give low spreads give up on Trail Boss. I pointed out the clues in Hodgdon’s data that indicated light bullets of similar weight were inconsistent. The suggested fix is the last thing for you to try.

    If it doesn’t work, move on. Make sure the cases are suitable in wall thickness for deep seating.

    Do not seat bullets backwards as that is undesirable. Apply my suggestion instead.
    Last edited by johnnyrem; 09-07-19 at 09:14.

  10. #30
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    What are the clues in the Hodgdon data?

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