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The best 38 ammo

Notes by Donald K. Burleson

September 2011

The best 38 ammo

Every 38 has different ballistics, and you must test to see what ammo is "best" for your specific 38.  In general, factory ammo is good enough, but competition shooters will find that hand-loaded 38 ammunition is better than factory 38 ammo.

To see what ammo is best  for your 38, I recommend conducting real-world tests, using different ammo and different hand-loads.

I tested several combinations of factory ammo, and hand-loaded bullets and powder charge weights.

For test-re-test consistency, please note that for the two bullet test groups, light (125 grain) and heavy (158 grain), I loaded each cartridge with the exact same amount of powder, regardless of bullet weight.

This weight was determined by the Sierra and UCSP loading tables.

Experiment 1: August 28, 2011, using a Ruger 357 revolver at 25 yards with a bench rest.

Scoring: Best 10 out of 15 shots:

10 points = 3 inch bullseye
9 points = 6 inch circle
8 points = 12 inches

 

Brand

Bullet Grain

Powder Grain

Score

Avg. Grp. Area Sq. In.

Avg. Grp. Elevation In.

Avg. Grp. Windage In.

PMC (Janet)

132

3.6

94

36

6

6

PMC (Don)

132

3.6

93

12

6

2

Winchester (Janet)

130

4.1

91

27

5

5.5

Winchester (Don)

130

4.1

94

20

5

4

 

Powder

Bullet Grain

Powder Grain

Score

Avg. Grp. Area Sq. In.

Avg. Grp. Elevation In.

Avg. Grp. Windage In.

Unique

125

5.7

96

22

5

4.50

Unique

158

5.7

89

27

6

4.50

Bullseye

125

4.5

86

33

7.20

4.40

Bullseye

158

4.5

93

21

5

4.25

Titegroup

125

4.4

90

42

7

6

Titegroup

158

4.4

95

27

4.50

6

American Select

125

4.3

92

7

3.50

2

American Select

158

4.3

97

10

4

2.50

 

Conclusions:

American Select powder stood-out in all tests.

The hand-loaded ammo out-scored the factory ammo for these cases:

·         Unique with heavy bullets (96)

·         American Select with heavy bullets (97)

·         American Select with light bullets (92)

It may be that lighter powder charges (4.3 for American Select) led to better accuracy at 25 yards.

For the next trail, the manufactured PMC and Winchester ammo will be range tested against these loads:

·         Sierra 158 bullets with Unique 5.7 and varied lighter powder charges

·         Sierra 158 with American Select using 4.3 and varied lighter powder ranges

 

·         UCSP 125 grain bullets with Unique powder ranges

·         UCSP 125 with American Select powder ranges

 

 

Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright ? 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.