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38 Special Thoughts

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by adv, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. adv


    Oct 2, 2009
    Houston, TX
    My SP101 (2.25" barrel) shoots 38 Special rounds a little low, maybe 3-4 inches at 7 yards (130 Gr range ammo), the 357 mag (158 gr range ammo) is pretty spot on.

    I'm learning about reloading and would like some input on what would your thoughts be on building a load to overcome this. Would you initially look at the issue from a bullet weight perspective or building a hotter load or a combination of both, or something else altogether.

    Basically I'm trying to get into a reloading/ballistic mindset and to see what your thoughts would initially be and how you would proceed to overcome such issues. Not necessarily looking for specific loads (though all these would be gratefully received) but more to the thought process involved.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Short barreled revolvers, (1 7/8 to 3 inches) typically shoot to point of impact with a heavier bullet... the 155 to 160 grain range.

    Since they are not intended to be used as 'bullseye target' guns the variance in point of aim versus point of impact is not generally of great concern. Proper range time develops muscle memory and muzzle awareness that easily overcomes low impact.

    As long as the majority of training is done with consistent bullet weight it becomes second nature to place rounds to the intended point of impact.

    Various guns, the 2 1/2 inch barreled S&W model 19 or the Colt Python for example have adjustable sights so it is a simple matter to raise the rear sight, thus raising point of impact.

    With non-adjustable sights the choice is filing down the front sight, (low front sight, higher bullet impact... high rear sight high bullet impact), or simply switch to a heavier bullet which in turn will raise impact to correspond with point of aim.

    Then again you could always use a shotgun and not worry about it. :supergrin:


  3. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Faster heavier rounds are always going to impact higher. If you want to get them closer, load a heavier .38 special, like a 158 grain and use +P data if your gun allows, then load a lighter .357 mag round... 125 grain and keep it on the low end of the data.

    Just my guess... I've never loaded towards a goal of similar POI.


    Dec 20, 2002
    Actually it's slower and/or heavier rounds impact higher (at ranges under 25 yards anyway).
    The longer the bullet spends in the bore, the more the muzzle climbs before the bullet exits, giving a higher initial trajectory.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  5. mitchshrader

    mitchshrader Deceased

    Jun 14, 2005
    In any case, Smiths like 158 grain ammo, I can't see any reason Rugers wouldn't.

    I'd load 'em +P too, and expect that'd work fine.
  6. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Most 38sp/357mags are regulated w/ 158gr ammo. My Sp101 also shoots about 4" low @ 7yds w/ 135grSGDSB or 125gr magnums. SO I practice w/ 158gr 38sp+P equiv & carry the 145grSTHP, which hits closer to POA.
    Not jut bbl time, you are forgetting recoil impulse. If you think a 158gr bullet @ 800fps is going to hit higher than a 158gr bullet @ 1400fps, you haven't tried it. It's why lighter bullets hit lower most of the time than heavier bullets, especially in short bbl guns. Try this, shoot a 125gr bullet @ 1000fps & then a 158gr & tell me which one shoots higher, both have the same bbl time.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  7. dudel


    Dec 10, 2008
    Texas Hill Country
    Does it shoot low from a rest? Sometimes the shooters technique is what pulls the round low.
  8. adv


    Oct 2, 2009
    Houston, TX
    Thanks for the input guys, before your help I would have naturally thought that a lighter bullet would shoot higher, now I know better and slowly my ballistic/reloading knowledge grows.