New to loading 38 spl

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by buster40c, May 3, 2016.

  1. buster40c

    buster40c Well-Known Member

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    I am new to this reloading experience and I wonder what you experienced reloaders think.
    I am using 38 spl cleaned brass. CCI small primers and Hodgdon Clays powder. Rainier Ballistics 38cal/125FP bullets. Rainier says use load data for lead bullets or full plated bullets.
    In my Lee book the data says 125 gr lead bullet under Clays powder says start load is 2.5/max load is 3.5. Data says use Lee powder disc at .37.
    What do you all think, would I be okay starting out using the 2.5/.37 disc load?
    Yeah I am still reading the Lee 2nd edition book. I really want to get the powder charging at correct measures. Geeze there is a lot to learn.
     
  2. VThillman

    VThillman Active Member

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    Lee is probably using Hodgdon data (they don't do their own testing). Must be they measure the volume of a recommended load, and see if they have a disc that matches it.
     

  3. Tommycourt

    Tommycourt Tommycourt

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    Buster,

    Sometimes I have concern over the Lyman's loading data when it comes to reloading. Personally I don't think they keep up on various powder loads and especially when it comes to the new prowders than are starting to appear on the market. When it come to Power Pistol I checked my Hodgdon loading book and it failed to mention Power Pistol, so that left me scratching my head. What I would recommend is to start at the lower end, not at the lowest but I don't think that .2 grains make that much difference, however that is MY opinion. Another consideration is the type of bullet you are using. If you are using cast lead, be careful as you don't know what and how much different alloys were used in creating that bullet. I used to load .38 special however it has been so long since I have done it, (stupidly I didn't log it sufficently) to give you any good advice. I BELIEVE I was loading a .158 grn. flat nose lead but please don't quote me on that. I do remember I stayed in the middle of the Lyman's book for powder and bullet size just to be safe and they were pre-lubed. It had the 3 groove bullet and the last groove was used for my crimp. Sorry for being so vague but the old memory just doesn't work like it used to.

    Tommy
     
  4. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Same here Buster,

    Its been a long time since I loaded 38.

    I'm sure if you stay within the specs of the manual , you will be OK.

    I can tell you this....that the factory sights are set for 158 grn bullets.
    So you may have to do some adjusting to get the POA and POI .

    38 is fairly flexible . load some on the low side then increase it slightly and watch your brass for indicators, and your POI.



    Jim
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  5. buster40c

    buster40c Well-Known Member

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    The bullet is 125 gr. flat nose all plated and the plating is very soft. Rainier says if crimping then use a minimal crimp.
    I primed and sized almost 300 today and perhaps I will finish only 5 rounds with 2.5 gr minimum to see how they do. I read a guy's post that 3.2 gr. gave best groupings for him.
     
  6. Pancho_Villa

    Pancho_Villa Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like ya got some sound advise already. Anyway, I was a long time loader of the .38 spl. I used the old Speer manual that I got back in the 70s and an old Hornady that my F in law got back in the 60s. Those books had pics of the types of bullets, and a later Hornady that I got in the 90s did not. All of those had loads using the old shotgun pwders like red dot, green dot, & 700X. I still use them cause that was what I was use to. There were occasional references to using the same powder charge for lead bullets and jacketed. If I had any quiestion about pressures, I would start on the low end and fire them in a .357 mag firstc check for signs of pressue, then try them in a .38 spl caliber pistol if thtere were no pressure sighns. Guess is ya ain't got a .357, that won't work. Loaded alot of .38 spl, .358, & .44 mag back then. About half of it was .38 spl. People were not into the auto pistols around here except for the .45. That was the only auto pistol I loaded then and will probably be the only one I will ever reload for Now I lose all my auto pistol brass cause I can't see well, so I just buy cehap ammo and reload the revolver amm..
     
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  7. greg_r

    greg_r Well-Known Member

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    I'll add my 2¢. Never tried Clays in the 38. Don't see why it wouldn't work. My go to bowder has always been unique. Lately have been using Titegroup. Bullseye, I think is the classic powder for the 38. Like Pancho, I use data from the older manual. Specifically non +P cast data from the Speer #13 manual. Used to load 158 grain, but switched a few years back to the 125 cast. The 158 grain shot high for my fixed sighted revolvers, the 125 are right on. Odd, because they are supposed to be regulated for 158, or so I'm told. I wonder if they were regulated for the 100 grain ball ammunition the military used???

    Anyway, you are correct about not roll crimping plated bullets, you can cut the plating causing the plating to separate. Make sure the case gets a good hold on the bullets though. They can pull under recoil causing your revolver to jam.
     
  8. Tommycourt

    Tommycourt Tommycourt

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    I will add my 02 cents worth. You do need to taper crimp the .38 caliber though. It takes just a light crimp but according to most loading manuals, they all encourage you to taper crimp them. You can check your crimp by loading a dummy round then take the projectile out and look to see how much lead was scratched or not.

    Tommy
     
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  9. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    ^^^ I was under the impression that the dies for revolver cartridges are set to roll crimp though. Unless that's just the optional factory crimp die? Now I've confused myself. I know that my factory crimping die (lee 4 die set) does a roll crimp. I almost always use the optional factory crimp die and not the bullet seating die to crimp. On the plated bullets I always try to only flare the case so it will just barely accept the bullet. And then use an extremely light roll crimp. Seems to work well.
     
  10. Pancho_Villa

    Pancho_Villa Well-Known Member

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    Hey greg,

    Glad to see ya here. I get lost from here sometimes like on the Bersa forum. But I find my way back.

    I have read about some horror stories on the jacket separation. I have hot had it happen.....yet. I always load my .357, 41, and .44 magnums with a heavy crimp. I usually use hardcast home made bullets and jacketed. I have to with the Blackhawks cause I load them hot. They WILL jump the crimp if I don't. not as much on the .38 spls.

    I have read of some horror stories about the hollow base, solft lead, target wadcutters used in the .38 spl. If they are loaded too hot or with excessive pressure the front end of the bullet can pop off. That leaves the hollow base in the barrel causing an obstuction and possible kaboom. I quit using those. I stick to the solid base wadcutter and semi0wadcutters now for low pressure target loads and I can also load them hot cause they don't have the hollow base.

    I have also read a few hrror stories of the crimp on type short copper bases used on lead bullets causing some problems. They are crimped on during the sizing & lube stage to reduce leading in the barrel. However, if they are undersized or not fitted corectly, they can peel off the base of the bullet and cause and obstruction. Next round is a possible kaboom.

    Another one was the factory made half or 3/4 jacketed, solft lead semi0wadcutters that were suppose to be good for expansion and reduced barrel leading in the old days. I used them in my .41 alot . Ya had to keep those at high velocity to push the jacket along with the bullet. If loaded to lower velocities, the jackets could stick in the barrel from friction and the bullet core would keep going. The jackets did not go over the front of the bullet cause of the SWC style being sqare at the corners. There was NO cannelure to lock the bullet core to the jacket. They were ceeaper too. I only used them for magum loads then. I have not seen any in a while. I stick to the ones with the full jacket now except at the tip. I assume that heavy crimp at the cannelure creats the same condition once the jacket is cut.

    I haven't had it happen.......yet.
     
  11. buster40c

    buster40c Well-Known Member

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    I finished loading around 300 rounds of 38 spl today. I goofed up two rounds. I was thinking this was so easy and screwing up would be actually hard to do. About that time something distracted me and got me out of my mode. Was I about to double charge? I dumped the shell to be sure. Yeah it is easier than I thought to possibly have a screw up.
    One screw up I pushed the bullet all into the casing. So much for a 1.445 oal minimum. I figured I better not try shooting that round. I noticed my casings are showing heavy powder residue and wondered is that because of not a good enough crimp?
    I shot about 30 rounds total using three different guns. My LCR, Rossi M68, and my S&W 627-5. As I figured the S&W had the best groupings. The ammo overall is holding fairly good groupings and no zingers so I am pleased with the reloading results.
     
  12. MagBlackhawk

    MagBlackhawk Patriot

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    You know you can drill a hole part-way into the bullet then use a self tapping screw to pull the bullet with vice grips.
    "Part-way" is important, don't know what would happen if your drill made it to the primer! :eek:
    I've never loaded .38's, so that's all I got.
     
  13. greg_r

    greg_r Well-Known Member

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    Blow-by. Caused by not enough pressure to seal the case against the chamber.
     
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  14. buster40c

    buster40c Well-Known Member

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    So what is the remedy for this^^^^?
     
  15. VThillman

    VThillman Active Member

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    It your intent is light duty paper punching, use a fast burning powder - Bullseye, Vihta N310 or N320, HP38/W231. There'll probably be some soot, but not so much. .38 Spc is a fine cartridge, but it is somewhat handicapped by being a black powder design (extra case capacity). Remember those paper/cotton wad posts awhile back?
     
  16. reloader550

    reloader550 New Member

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    3.5 gr. IMR 700x 125gr gold dot works very well for me.
     
  17. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    The most accurate .38 spl load that I've made was a 125 grain Berry's over 4.7 grains of Universal. From a rest with my blackhawk I would get 5" groups at 50 yards.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  18. Carl Crosby

    Carl Crosby Member

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    Buy yourself another manual...2 references are better than one. Personally, I would avoid Lyman's 50th. Little update here..I didn't realize that this was a 2016 post. Some good info here, though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  19. buster40c

    buster40c Well-Known Member

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    I was just remembering it has been probably two years since I reloaded any 38 spl. I seldom shoot my 38/357 guns anymore since my going to the 44 spl. It has probably been a year since I reloaded the 44 even. Seeing how my last loading was of 500 might be the reason also.
    Lately I have been shooting mostly 9mm and I don't reload them.
    I wasn't impressed with the Lyman 50th compared to the Lee manual. The Lee actually has more loading specs.
     
  20. MagBlackhawk

    MagBlackhawk Patriot

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    Hodgdon provides free loading data online for Hodgdon, IMR and Winchester powders.
    Hodgdon makes all three powders these days.

    Tons of data here: http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/