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.38 loads for USPSA poppers


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#1 PatJones

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:31 PM

I shoot a S&W 627 in USPSA production class. I am scored minor and would prefer not to shoot magnum loads.

I have been competing a couple times a month this summer, but not untill Sunday did I have a problem with steel not falling. The first popper just _barely_ fell with a 9 after I challenged the calibration, so after it failed on a the next guy shooting .40 major it was re-adjusted and I got a reshoot. The steel was set pretty firmly for the whole match, and it did cost me some time. I understand that there will be occasional problems shooting minor with poorly set steel, but what loads do you folks shoot to minimize these problems?

I have been loading a 125 gr Berry's over 6.1 grains of Unique in Remington .38 special brass with Federal primers. It chronographs at 1080 out of my revolver for a power factor of 135. It was in the 50's Sunday, a little cooler than what I've been shooting in all summer, but it should not have made a huge difference. I bought 500 158 grain bullets on the way home from the match as I was told these drop steel a little more reliably. I also picked up a pound of clays as this is what most of the ICORE locals are using. Anyone have any thoughts? It's awfully frustrating to nail all the poppers in a stage only to have to go back and shoot them again.

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#2 warpspeed

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

I think you are on the right track with the 158s. I'd still load them to the 135 pf level + or - .

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#3 Carmoney

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:32 PM

Sounds to me like they had the steel set too heavy that day.

How were all the Production guys with semi-auto pistols doing? Most of them are presumably shooting loads which were very comparable to yours.

I'm assuming you confirmed that you were getting good hits (not way low or off on the edges) on the poppers, and they still weren't falling reliably.
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#4 bikerburgess

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:11 PM

I run 170g bear creek molly's over clay's in my 38 specials, the charge is in the low 3's but I don't remember exactly off the top of my head. shoots nice and soft out of my 4" 66. that said the steel should go down with any load that makes PF.

Mike

#5 Ty Hamby

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:40 PM

I run 170g bear creek molly's over clay's in my 38 specials, the charge is in the low 3's but I don't remember exactly off the top of my head. shoots nice and soft out of my 4" 66. that said the steel should go down with any load that makes PF.

Mike


I run this load as well ^^^Not necessary for poppers but because it it soft shooting an accurate. 170gn Bear Creek .358 RN (173gn actual) on top of 3.5gn Solo1000 in Long Colts. This load makes 128 on a cold day on the coast and 132 in 100+degree summer day @ 2000' elevation out of a 6.5" barrel. Same velocity with 3.1 of Universal Clays but not as soft feeling.

If you are making power you will knock over poppers. Factory 38's only makes 110-130 depending on brand, so I suspect either a soft load or tight poppers. Double check your power because if you make pf on properly set poppers, your troubles will go away. I run my 627 in L10-minor just for the cool factor of beating the 10round major guns.
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#6 PatJones

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:43 PM

Some of my hits were better than others, but all were in the calibration zone. I like the extra velocity I get with the 125 gr bullets and selected the load because it should be very similar to what the 9mm guys are shooting.

Some of the other shooters exprienced a couple problems too, but I think only two other shooters in my squad were shooting minor.

While I'd like a load that drops steel more reliably, how do you handle things when the steel is set too heavy? None of the local matches here use chronos and I was getting a few looks. I used a chronograph to develop my load and I'm confident I was making minor.


-pat

#7 Fried Chicken Blowout

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:59 PM

That was interesting, I was standing right behind you as you drilled one of the targets 3 times with good hits on the classifier stage. That stage was a little slow to fall even for my 180gr .40 Major load. The best reaction I saw from those targets was from a shooter that shot all of them at the very top edge of the target. My hits will all in the center of the circle but the delay in them falling was not enough to make me doubt the hits. I think the distance could have been a factor. According to the stage layout it was 57 feet to the back targets.

http://www.uspsa.org...fiers/99-57.pdf

#8 alecmc

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:06 AM

158gr with 4.5 n320 is what I've used at knockdown events for the stages with full size poppers

#9 GOF

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:35 AM

158 grain LRN, 3.4 Clays in Long Colt Cases and 3.7 in .38 cases is a soft shooting load and handles properly set steel well. You may have to bump that a bit to make 125 PF (need 793 fps minimum) from a four-inch barrel gun, but it will make it from a 6 inch gun.

I've seen lighter bullets, even at 125 PF, have problems with steel.

#10 Carmoney

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 08:06 AM

I used to think that heavier bullets were more effective on steel, other factors being equal.

Now I believe it's all about power factor. For the last couple years, I've been running a 9mm load that is a bit unconventional--a 95-gr. MG JHP at around 1350 fps. I've shot many thousands of rounds of this load through my XDs and my 9mm Single Stacks. I really like the load because of the fast cycling and the way it handles.

This year I shot two USPSA area matches, the Western States Single Stack Championship, and the Pro-Am Steel match, using this 95-gr. load. At any match where the steel is calibrated even remotely reasonably, this load has worked perfectly fine in taking down the steel.

It's a bad situation when local matches won't make the effort to calibrate the steel. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be a problem.
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#11 pskys2

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:06 AM

Well Mike I seem to remember waiting thru, what was it 3 reshoots on one course for Steel at A3 with those 95 grain bumble bees? Which I would point out were all valid and you finally had a good run. A feat unto itself, how many can hold it together for a single reshoot, let alone multiples.

With all things being equal and Poppers square to shooter, I'd agree with Mike. The differences are minute and PF variances due to velocity spreads can be as much a problem as bullet weight.

But , in USPSA all things aren't equal and if I remember correctly all those standing steel were from large angle shots. Which in freestyle shooting are a given for us gamers! And the more off square the shot the more problems are created. And with those the heavier the bullet the longer the dwell time on the target, which means the longer the round has to work on the steel to move it.

So a good competitior like Mike can make those light bullets work. But if you can't call a center hit every time, the lighter the bullet the less options you will have.

Edited by pskys2, 21 November 2012 - 11:08 AM.


#12 toothguy

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:47 AM

Well Mike I seem to remember waiting thru, what was it 3 reshoots on one course for Steel at A3 with those 95 grain bumble bees? Which I would point out were all valid and you finally had a good run. A feat unto itself, how many can hold it together for a single reshoot, let alone multiples.

With all things being equal and Poppers square to shooter, I'd agree with Mike. The differences are minute and PF variances due to velocity spreads can be as much a problem as bullet weight.

But , in USPSA all things aren't equal and if I remember correctly all those standing steel were from large angle shots. Which in freestyle shooting are a given for us gamers! And the more off square the shot the more problems are created. And with those the heavier the bullet the longer the dwell time on the target, which means the longer the round has to work on the steel to move it.

So a good competitior like Mike can make those light bullets work. But if you can't call a center hit every time, the lighter the bullet the less options you will have.


Dave, Out at Tri-county with those 5' poppers I could knock them over with my .38 125 grain Bianchi loads if I hit them on the top edge. Chuck West had some very mild loads with 170 grain 38's that he cast, they worked well. I gave up on the 38 for steel out there, and never had trouble with the mild 185 grain loads from the 625.

Edited by toothguy, 21 November 2012 - 11:52 AM.

The drive to want to win is only an asset when it pushes you to practice better/more and develop your mental game. When you let it make decisions for you in a match it is never your friend. It will sing the siren song of shooting beyond your skill sets with predictable unpleasant results. The skills you bring that day are the only skills you have. No amount of desire will change that. Shoot your own game. Let the results sort themselves out after the match. My bet is that not only will you do better but you will enjoy the sport more. Rick Korzep.

#13 DWFAN

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 01:26 PM

I loaded 3.8 clays and a 158BBI for my 686SSR(4inch) to meet the old IDPA power factor + buffer. It made 134-136, shot clean, and pretty soft for a 135pf load. Right after I loaded 1k of them, they changed the PF. Gee thanks.


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#14 revoman

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:03 PM

With my S&W 500 at 647 pf and a 350 gr bullet going at 1850 fps there isn't steel rack, star or pepper popper that it won't take down.:-):-

#15 toothguy

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:49 PM

With my S&W 500 at 647 pf and a 350 gr bullet going at 1850 fps there isn't steel rack, star or pepper popper that it won't take down.:-):-


And the elephant carrying them. :)
The drive to want to win is only an asset when it pushes you to practice better/more and develop your mental game. When you let it make decisions for you in a match it is never your friend. It will sing the siren song of shooting beyond your skill sets with predictable unpleasant results. The skills you bring that day are the only skills you have. No amount of desire will change that. Shoot your own game. Let the results sort themselves out after the match. My bet is that not only will you do better but you will enjoy the sport more. Rick Korzep.

#16 Bubber

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:48 PM

The lighter faster bullets seem to dissapate a lot of energy, at least more than the heavier relatively slow bullet. The fast bullets seems to disintegrate upon hitting the steel while the slower projectile will transfer more to the popper. Just a thought. rdd
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#17 PatJones

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:12 PM

With my S&W 500 at 647 pf and a 350 gr bullet going at 1850 fps there isn't steel rack, star or pepper popper that it won't take down.:-):-


Believe me, if I had enough speed loader holders for my belt and a couple more speed loaders I'd show up next month with the 629. 240 gr lead at 1200. You think 288 PF would put them down?

I might be a wee bit tired at the end of the day though.

-pat

#18 R112mercer

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:42 PM

The lighter faster bullets seem to dissapate a lot of energy, at least more than the heavier relatively slow bullet. The fast bullets seems to disintegrate upon hitting the steel while the slower projectile will transfer more to the popper. Just a thought. rdd


I'm with Bubber. This is a physics thing, and granted, it's been a few years since I was in Mrs. Fadl's Physics 101 class (which I had to re-take a couple times) but what the poppers need to go over is momentum. Longer (i.e. heavier) bullets have more dwell, which helps in imparting more momentum to get the popper to go over.

IHMSA shooters use long heavy bullets to insure reliable knock downs on the metallic critters they shoot for the same reason. This is why a crappy hit with a minor load won't knock a popper down but you can push the same popper over with one finger, which has nowhere near as much pf.
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#19 TonyT

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:38 PM

158 gr. Berry's with 3.2 gr. Trail Boss or a 158 gr. LRN with 2.8 gr. Trail Boss have always knocked down the poppers for me. Both a very light loads.

#20 Cd662

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:45 PM

"158 gr. Berry's with 3.2 gr. Trail Boss or a 158 gr. LRN with 2.8 gr. Trail Boss have always knocked down the poppers for me. Both a very light loads."

You should post your OAL. I experimented with Berry's 158 grain Round Nose and Trailboss in the past and it only made 100 PF. I personally would load up something in the 130 - 135 PF range to guarantee reliable falling on poppers (we're talking about full size poppers here, right?) Right at 125, they can still be sluggish to fall when hit in the calibration zone.

#21 PatJones

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 08:54 PM

I second the question of what length you seat your 158 gr Berry's at.

I started with 3.1 grains of Clays under a 158 gr Berry's seated at 1.500 in .38 brass and I only got 575 fps over the chrono.

-pat

#22 ben b.

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 12:30 PM

I'm another who likes the 170 gr Bear Creeks with Solo1000 at about 775 fps = 132 PF for soft shooting but reliable steel smackdown power.
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