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What loads are you using?

What is the overall condition of the barrel of the .38 (i.e. the rifling and whatnot)?
 

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keyholing

It sounds like you're using wrong loads-likely lead round nose. Try using a jacketed bullet load and see how they shoot. You have to experiment with different loads and stick with what shoots best.
 

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What weapon, and what cartridge? Have a S&W Mdl 36 that will make 5 shot cloverleafs at 50 ft with wadcutters- and have seen an RG that bullets must have left the muzzle traveling sideways.
 

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If the gun is from a quality maker ie. Smith and Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Taurus and to some degree Charter Arms, I would say you have a severely fouled/leaded barrel. Clean with a Lead free Cloth cut into patches to remove the fouling. Be very careful on blued guns as the cloth will remove bluing.

If you have a gun from someone like RG, Rohm etc. you can probably put it into service as a light weight boat anchor.

I have seen a Colt Trooper that appeared to have a smooth bore barrel. No sign that there was ever rifling in it. Not lead fouled, just an oops. Even the good guys make mistakes.
 

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I have a snub 38 That keyholes at about 20 feet.Is there anything that can be done to correct that problem . Rick
Follow the advice you've read in this thread, but don't lose sleep over keyhole 38's. If it hits the target somewhere close to POA you are in good shape. A tumbling .38 is devistating to vitals...
 

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I would also check for severe lead fouling, and address that first. If for some reason you are using heavy for caliber bullets, that may be a significant cause as well.
Not to sound confrontational, but devastating or not, hitting close to POA and keyholes at 20 feet are somwhat concerning to me. I wouldn't lose sleep, but I would either fix, or get rid of, the gun. Either case, keeping it for defensive use is unsat.
 
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