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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,
I've been loading 158gr swc for my 6" GP100 for the last few years and I thought I would give loading wad cutters a try. I have some Speer 148gr HBWC that will be arriving tomorrow from Cablea's.
I'll be using Trail Boss ( have the Hodgdon data ), but I'm wondering if there is anything special that I need to know about crimp/ no crimp or what ever.
My equipment is pretty basic. Lee single stage with Lee dies. Digital micrometer, scale.
I'm just looking to make some fun short range plinking ammo.
Thanks,
Roger
 

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I like to crimp all my loads. With the wadcutter style, you may want to make up a dummy round crimped in the crimping groove to see if it will fit in your chamber. The .357 chamber is no problem, but in a .38 it can be too snug to fit. The remedy is to crimp over the front of the bullet.

You may want to try the .357 brass, too. It will give the bullet less of a jump to the throat of the cylinder, resulting in better accuracy.
 

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My favorite 38 load is for Berry's 148gr HBWC. Great bullet.

I load with W231 powder.

I use a OAL of 1.18" which is just a little higher than flush with the case, and put a light crimp, mostly just to get the expansion out that the powder die gives it so you can seat the bullet.

I've heard of others seating them flush, but haven't tried it so can't comment on it.
 

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I have used those bullets for PPC. They shot well enough, but they didn't cut clean holes. Very accurate though. I used to crimp (1/2 turn on Lee Die too) but now I just close the bell by running it through the Lee FCD with the crimp plug all the way up. It just re-sizes it.
I have always set the bullet flush with the case mouth.

Have fun!
 

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When loaded properly, 148gr HBWCs are probably the most accurate bullets you can find. These bullets do have some quirks. First, they are the only bullets available where the nose is heavier than the base. Because of this, HBWCs are more sensitive to "spin rate" than other bullets. Spin rate is a combination of your rifling twist rate (typically 1:18.75 for a 38/357) and velocity. If HBWCs are not spun fast enough (velocity too low), they tend to lose stability and tumble (keyhole), which is traditional for all bullets. If they are spun too fast (velocity too high), they will also lose stability and tumble. This phenomenon is unique to HBWCs. The velocity range for best stability is between 700 and 800 fps.

Because Speer HBWCs are very soft (BHN 10) the skirt expands with chamber pressure and forces the bullet to seal tightly in the bore. This is good for accuracy and minimal bore fouling. If HBWCs are driven too fast, the skirt can separate from the body and remain in the bore. This is very bad because the obstruction can blow the gun up when another round is fired. If you stay within the 700~800 fps limits, you will never have a problem, however if you try to run them hot, you risk damage to your gun plus accuracy will be poor.

HBWCs have the aerodynamics of a brick so velocity and spin rate slow down a lot in short distances. At 25 yards, they will be very stable and not drop much but at farther distances, they drop like a rock and get unstable. It is not unusual for HBWCs to keyhole at 40 yards and will drop several inches so don't expect them to work well at extended distances.

To get the best performance from HBWCs, you need a light charge of very fast burning powder. This will generate enough chamber pressure to force the bullet to obturate without developing too much velocity. The best powder available for these bullets is Bullseye. 2.8 gr in a 6" revolver or 3.0 gr in a 4" will get you the best accuracy with minimal fouling. I have never tried Trail Boss because my manuals don't list loads for 148 gr HBWCs. If you can find a reputable load that will deliver the above velocities, it should work OK.

The proper way to load HBWCs is to seat the bullet flush with the case mouth then apply just enough crimp to remove the case mouth bell. Do not over crimp or the bullets will foul the bore. Because these bullets have a long case-to-bullet contact, there is no need for crimp at all but you do want to remove the case mouth bell so they will chamber properly. Lee FCD crimp dies are not recommended for soft lead bullets because they do a total case resize after the bullet has been seated. This will actually squish the bullets down from .358" to less than .357", which can also cause bore fouling.

For at least 30 years, the pet load for my 6" S&W Mod 14 38 Special has been a Speer 148gr HBWC with 2.8 gr of Bullseye. For my 4" 357 Mag revolvers, I increase the powder charge to 3.0 gr and get about the same velocity. These loads will blow the 10X ring out of 25 yard target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
https://picasaweb.google.com/112092915629874502149/November30201202?authkey=Gv1sRgCJO3kOfn8sHZeQ#5816667282577794274Thank you everyone for your replies.

Iowegan. This is the data that I found on the Hodgdon site.

148 GR. HDY LHBWC IMR Trail Boss .358" 1.160" 2.0 625 15,100
2.3 675 15,700 PSI

So, it could very well be that Trail Boss is not the optimal powder for HBWC loads as the velocity seems lower than ideal. As a starting point I'm going to load a few dozen and see how they perform.

Thanks again everyone,
Roger
 

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Roger, Yes 675 fps is a tad on the slow side but should work OK up to 25 yards. Let us know how they shoot.
 
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The best powder available for these bullets is Bullseye. 2.8 gr in a 6" revolver or 3.0 gr in a 4" will get you the best accuracy with minimal fouling.
I absolutely concur with Iowegan regarding his recommendations. That's a load with a long pedigree that had been winning competitions for many years before I began bullseye competition, and was the one I loaded by the thousands for our department for a number of years on our old Star Universal before we went to commercial service loads. Wonderful accuracy, and powder lasts forever. As with all quick powders, you must adhere carefully to loading procedures that absolutely preclude double charges. We did some worse-case testing with 2.8 grains of Bullseye to see if an accidental double charge would blow the S&W Model 10 heavy barrels we were using in those days, and they held together. However, the same charge in a beautiful Model 14 Combat Masterpiece that we had gotten from Evidence resulted in a slightly bulged barrel 2-1/2" ahead of the forcing cone. Oddly, that gun still shot great, and won a number of police matches, but it confirmed what double charges of Bullseye can do with a hollow base wadcutter.
 

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For at least 30 years, the pet load for my 6" S&W Mod 14 38 Special has been a Speer 148gr HBWC with 2.8 gr of Bullseye. For my 4" 357 Mag revolvers, I increase the powder charge to 3.0 gr and get about the same velocity. These loads will blow the 10X ring out of 25 yard target.
Are the Speer bullets lead, jacketed, or plated?

I may have to try some flush ones, although I am pretty happy with the accuracy of my current loads. I rarely shoot over 25 yards. I'm a W231 guy myself, but do have some Bullseye around.
 

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andybothel, The Speer LHBWCs are swaged (not cast) naked lead ... no plating, no jacket. They are coated with a dry lube.
 

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rogerzz I tried your links and got ...

Sorry, that page was not found.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I loaded up a few rounds and did some testing. The shots were taken offhand at 12 yards. Single and double action.



This is the only way I could figure out how to post my pictures.



 
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