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I have a S&W 38 4" barrel and it key holes.I have reloaded using 4.5 grains of universal powder. What causes this.
 

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My .380 will do that if the barrel isn't thoroughly clean, but it's a 2" semi-auto.
 

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Assuming this is a new symptom, first look at a severely fouled barrel. The next is to look at the load. What bullet? I am presuming you mean Universal Clays powder?
 

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Bullets are to heavy (I doubt this)

Fouled barrel (High On my list)

If using lead bullets maybe wrong size (Sized wrong).
 

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If you mean, why the keyholes, rather than why you use Universal powder, probably:

1. Bullets are too soft for the speed, so the rifling strips out.
2. Bullets to small in diameter, so they get gas cut to a smaller diameter and the rifling stips out.
3. Bore is so lead foulded it sizes the bullets down too small, crating both conditons listed in 1 & 2.

Try firing one straight down into a 5 gal. bucket of water and retrieve it. Take a look at the rifling grooves, bet there ain't none.
 

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Lewis lead remover, but I'm not sure they even make them any more.

Brass/bronze brush and Shooters Choice bore solvent. Scrup repetedly to loossen it up.

Lead free cloth (the yellow ones) cut into patches and forced through the barrell with a tight patch spud. You should see chunks of lead stuck to the cloth.

Repeat.

Check that the bullets are not .356 diameter rather than .358. .002 makes a HUGE difference.

125gr FMJ's? Sounds like .356 bullets or plated bullets. Are you trying to push the plateds to max velocity? I don't think the plating is going to take that.
 

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+1 on the Lewis De-Leader. Bronze screen over a leather plug, T handled rod, use one to de-lead a S&W Mdl 66 after shooting a LOT of real soft wadcutter. You can SEE the little bits of lead on the screen. When bore gets fouled, bullets not spinning. Acurracy sux, but stopping power of bullet increases!:D BTW, if you can't find a Lewis, use good solvent, bronze brush, stroke all the way thru and back about 50 times, or until elbow gives out. If you can find it, product called KROIL- a super penetrant- slop in bore, let set overnite, THEN use bronze bore brush. Stuff can actually get under lead/copper fouling and loosen it up.
 

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you didn't say whether it was a ,38 S&W or a S&W .38 special. These two calibers do not use the same bullets, I think the .38 S&W uses a heel based bullet. In the past there was alot of interchanging , the most famous example was the gun that Lee Harvey Oswald used to murder Officer Tibbits. I have never seen one that was so used but can guess a .357 sized bullet might yawl in a oversize barrel. CD
 

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38 loads

I have a S&W 38 4" barrel and it key holes.I have reloaded using 4.5 grains of universal powder. What causes this.
+1 For Bill M. After through de-leading process, use ONLY .357 dia jacketed bullets-ONLY .358 dia cast bullets. Have good acc. with both in my 4" S&W 681. As said before don't load too hot. Try the mid-range listings in your load book/chart.:)
 

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you didn't say whether it was a ,38 S&W or a S&W .38 special. These two calibers do not use the same bullets, I think the .38 S&W uses a heel based bullet. In the past there was alot of interchanging , the most famous example was the gun that Lee Harvey Oswald used to murder Officer Tibbits. I have never seen one that was so used but can guess a .357 sized bullet might yawl in a oversize barrel. CD
i study firearms and ammunition and the 38 s&w is not a heal type bullet however they USUALLY have a .360 groove diameter. the instance you refered to about oswald i have never heard before. can you explain. sounds fasinating. i had just heard he used a 38 revolver.
 

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Oswald Gun?

i study firearms and ammunition and the 38 s&w is not a heal type bullet however they USUALLY have a .360 groove diameter. the instance you refered to about oswald i have never heard before. can you explain. sounds fasinating. i had just heard he used a 38 revolver.
30-30, Just googled it .38 Colt Cobra was used by Jack Ruby to shoot L.H. Oswald. It was up for sale last year (March 08) by some Fat Cat Fla. real estate devel. Did not bring the $1Mil. reserve he had on it. Must be some GOOD Colt. Cane will probably buy it, if it comes up again:D He REALLY likes Colts!:eek::eek:
 

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Lewis Lead Remover

Brownell's sells them. It's THE most useful cleaning accessory I've bought in 40 years. No point in trying to remove lead with chemicals - the Lewis will physically scrape that stuff out. Done deal in a 20 minute job. Unbelievable what you can scrape out of a bore you thought was either "clean" or "shot out."
 

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why would he clean the lead out??????????????hes using 125 gr jacket.
Most 125 gr FMJ's are .356 diameter intended for 9mm apps. Could easily key hole through a .357 barrel

If they are not actually FMJ, but plated they might be getting pushed too fast. Plated bullets cannot hold up to the same kind of velocities as jacketed.

After thinking about this situation, I am leaning toward undersized bullets being the cause.
 

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I can refer you to a March 2009 edition of Gun World in the questions and answers by Jan Libourel. He states that the case diameter of a 38 special is .379 whereas the case diameter for a S&W .38 is .386. According to him many of the conversions were made from S&W victory models from WWII. And yes the most famous of these was the revolver that Lee Harvey Oswald used to murder Officer Tippits during the manhunt after the Kennedy assassination. CD
 
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