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  #1  
Old 04-02-2020, 11:08 AM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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Getting started on 38 Specials

Some may know but I'm not new to reloading but have stuck to 45/9mm up to now. I've decided to start loading 38/357 and shoot a couple revolvers now and then.

I'm checking, looking for tips/techniques/lessons learned type information.

I ordered dies/shellplate etc from Dillon for my RL550C and a clamped CNC toolhead from Uniquetek.

Checked load data on Hodgdon and will start with 125gr Brazos Truncated Cone coated .358 diameter. Hodgdon data recommends .358 and I have plenty of Titegroup and CCI small primers.

A few questions in particular I have.
Are the 38/357 bullets the same diameter? From my measurements both jacketed bullets appear to be.
P+ loads, standard .38 casings OK to use?
Are small pistol primers adequate for .357 or magnum primers needed?

Thanks in advance.
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Last edited by GySgt 7291; 04-02-2020 at 11:58 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-02-2020, 12:17 PM
CT911 CT911 is online now
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They are the same diameter.
Regular primers are fine.
Standard brass should be fine.
Small pistol for both.
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  #3  
Old 04-02-2020, 12:24 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GySgt 7291 View Post
Checked load data on Hodgdon and will start with 125gr Brazos Truncated Cone coated .358 diameter. Hodgdon data recommends .358 and I have plenty of Titegroup and CCI small primers.

A few questions in particular I have.
Are the 38/357 bullets the same diameter? From my measurements both jacketed bullets appear to be.
P+ loads, standard .38 casings OK to use?
Are small pistol primers adequate for .357 or magnum primers needed?
You can certainly load .38 Special with Titegroup and 125 gr bullet. Titegroup is a dense powder and a double charge will fit the old black powder case so you must be careful that the Dillon is running right and you do not double shuck the handle or fail to advance the plate.

Nominal bullet diameter for both .38 and .357 is .357" jacketed and .358" cast. There is a good deal of variation, though.

Yes, you can load .38 +P in standard cases. Starline even says there is no difference in their cases except the head stamp to identify the heavy loads. Skeeter Skelton, famous for his heavy .38 loads said he would only use cases three or four times for heavy loads and then relegate the brass to target loads.

Primer choice depends on the powder. A Mild Magnum with fast or medium burning powder would not require a Magnum primer. No 2400 does not require a Magnum primer. Most of the other powders you would use for full power Magnums will do better with Magnum primers.
Hodgdon kept it simple, all the loads they show for .357 Magnum are with Magnum primers, whether the powder is fast, medium, or slow.

Note: Be very careful if you load Magnums with top loads of Titegroup, a double charge of .38 target level TG might not hurt a Magnum revolver, but a double dose of a Magnum Power load would demolish it. The only gun blown up on my home range was a .357 that almost certainly got a double charge of a near maximum load of fast burning Bullseye.
I just don't do it and stick to slow powder like 2400 for Real Magnums.
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  #4  
Old 04-02-2020, 12:35 PM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
You can certainly load .38 Special with Titegroup and 125 gr bullet. Titegroup is a dense powder and a double charge will fit the old black powder case so you must be careful that the Dillon is running right and you do not double shuck the handle or fail to advance the plate.

Nominal bullet diameter for both .38 and .357 is .357" jacketed and .358" cast. There is a good deal of variation, though.

Yes, you can load .38 +P in standard cases. Starline even says there is no difference in their cases except the head stamp to identify the heavy loads. Skeeter Skelton, famous for his heavy .38 loads said he would only use cases three or four times for heavy loads and then relegate the brass to target loads.

Primer choice depends on the powder. A Mild Magnum with fast or medium burning powder would not require a Magnum primer. No 2400 does not require a Magnum primer. Most of the other powders you would use for full power Magnums will do better with Magnum primers.
Hodgdon kept it simple, all the loads they show for .357 Magnum are with Magnum primers, whether the powder is fast, medium, or slow.

Note: Be very careful if you load Magnums with top loads of Titegroup, a double charge of .38 target level TG might not hurt a Magnum revolver, but a double dose of a Magnum Power load would demolish it. The only gun blown up on my home range was a .357 that almost certainly got a double charge of a near maximum load of fast burning Bullseye.
I just don't do it and stick to slow powder like 2400 for Real Magnums.
I did notice how little space that load would take up in a case, I'll will watch that closely. Any other powders that perform well and take up a little more case volume?
What about the crimp? I've not loaded anything but taper crimps, what am I looking for there?
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Last edited by GySgt 7291; 04-02-2020 at 12:48 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2020, 12:57 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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I am sure there are other suitable powders with greater case fill.
I use HP38 which is not one of them, just taking care.

The Brazos bullet has a crimp groove. I would load it with a roll crimp into the groove in the seating die. No reason not to taper crimp it for Specials, but I would want a hard roll crimp for Magnums.
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2020, 01:31 PM
mikld mikld is offline
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One hint; I started reloading revolver ammo way pre web and I just used the instruction sheet from my Lee Loader (1969). I seated the bullets, jacketed and cast, to the crimp groove or cannalure and disregarded "book" OAL. I continue to seat to the groove/cannalure for all my revolver handloads and have had zero problems and make some very accurate and consistent ammo (38 Spec., 357 Mag., 44 Spec., 44 Mag., 45 Colt). I always use a roll crimp, from light for my light 38 loads to heavy for my Magnum loads (or Redding Profile Crimp for my Magnums, and a Lee Collet Crimp for my heavy 44 Mag. loads)...

I have used a variety of powders from Bullseye to WC 820 and the only magnum primers I use are with WC 820 and H110. And with my loading methods, I look in every case before I seat a bullet to make sure there is a powder charge and check for a double charge.

The 38 Special is a very "forgiving" and easy cartridge to reload using many powders and many bullet styles and weights, everything from mild (Wadcutters with minimal loads of fast powders) to "barn burners" with 125 gr +P and up to 200 gr. LRN bullets. (one of my favorites is a 125 gr, LRNFP cast from 11-12 BHN alloy). The fun factor for reloading the 38 Special is a 10+...
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Last edited by mikld; 04-02-2020 at 01:40 PM.
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  #7  
Old 04-02-2020, 02:36 PM
jjfitch jjfitch is offline
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All the above with a few further tips!

Follow the load data in you favorite reloading manual for your powder and bullet.

.357-.358 is just fine for lead and plated bullets. .357 for FMJ!

Load 357 magnum exactly according to the reloading manual for W296, H110 and any other MAGNUM powder!

If the recipe for any powder calls for MAGNUM primers use them. The longer bricense may be necessary for effecient ignition!

Your 38/357 revolver crimp die should have instructions for establishing the proper crimp. The crimp is essential in revolver full power loads to prevent revolver lock up due to bullet "jump" during recoil in adjacent cylinders.

Smiles,
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Last edited by jjfitch; 04-02-2020 at 02:38 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-02-2020, 02:54 PM
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Adding Hornady One Shot case lube will make resizing that long case much easier.
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Old 04-02-2020, 03:20 PM
Frank Vaccaro Frank Vaccaro is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Freeman View Post
Adding Hornady One Shot case lube will make resizing that long case much easier.
I'd invest in carbide sizing die. That makes sizing a lot easier.
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  #10  
Old 04-02-2020, 03:34 PM
Nitro.45 Nitro.45 is offline
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You're gonna enjoy shooting the wheelers!
Great advice from these guys.
The accuracy from a Special and a DEWC with a touch of HP38/231 is something to be reckoned with.
Belching out a fireball with full house 357 magnum loads is equally entertaining! By the way Win 296 and H110 are identical and were used in the original Winchester factory magnum loads.
Heed the recommendations from the others about the use of these slower magnum powders. A solid roll crimp and magnum primers are absolutely a best practice.
We used to have little shoot outs back in the good ole days. The smart alec's would be up there blazing away with massive loads for show. Me and a couple other guys would get up to the line and pop, pop, pop with bunny fart .38 Spl DEWC loads. The smarty pants would obviously go home empty handed!!
Have fun, I have a soft spot for wheelers!!
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  #11  
Old 04-02-2020, 03:58 PM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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Originally Posted by Frank Vaccaro View Post
I'd invest in carbide sizing die. That makes sizing a lot easier.
The Dillon dies are carbide. I also run the new or wet tumbled brass through the walnut media for a while which keeps it from sticking.
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Old 04-02-2020, 04:04 PM
markm markm is offline
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You mentioned Uniquetek, did you get their powder die? I've fallen in love with them as finally a square/straight start to bullet seating.
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Old 04-02-2020, 04:33 PM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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You mentioned Uniquetek, did you get their powder die? I've fallen in love with them as finally a square/straight start to bullet seating.
I use their custom powder funnel for 45s and it is a great improvement, bullet seats easily and no shaving coatings or lead. I also use the Arredondo powder bar with micrometer, makes settings very repeatable.
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Old 04-02-2020, 05:31 PM
robertrwalsh robertrwalsh is offline
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Wheel guns make it easier to recover your brass also.
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Old 04-02-2020, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Vaccaro View Post
I'd invest in carbide sizing die. That makes sizing a lot easier.
I get it.

I realize almost all straight wall pistol dies are carbide these days.

But, if you add case lube like Hornady One Shot to your brass, it will resize even easier.

It is like when you come across a case that has already been resized and it feels really easy compared to a non resized case. That is what it feels like when you add lube.
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Old 04-02-2020, 06:02 PM
Schlitz 45 Schlitz 45 is online now
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When I started loading for 38/357 I made the decision to buy all 357 Magnum brass and have the option of loading from mild to wild, minimized die adjusting, & no cylinder powder ring issue some have when switching from shooting 38ís to magnums. Have fun
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Old 04-02-2020, 06:04 PM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Freeman View Post
I get it.

I realize almost all straight wall pistol dies are carbide these days.

But, if you add case lube like Hornady One Shot to your brass, it will resize even easier.

It is like when you come across a case that has already been resized and it feels really easy compared to a non resized case. That is what it feels like when you add lube.
I have it on hand but don't use it often, a little messy but maybe I'm using too much. I'll give it another go on the new brass. I ordered 500 38s from starline today.
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Old 04-03-2020, 03:12 PM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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When I started loading for 38/357 I made the decision to buy all 357 Magnum brass and have the option of loading from mild to wild, minimized die adjusting, & no cylinder powder ring issue some have when switching from shooting 38ís to magnums. Have fun
I use simichrome to remove powder ring on cylinders, doesn't harm the bluing.
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Old 04-03-2020, 03:22 PM
jjfitch jjfitch is offline
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One of the best benefits of shooting revolvers when shooting double action is learning to "steer" the front sight during trigger press. Knowing the exact point during the press when the trigger/hammer break is magical, once learned. Doing so transfers to the semi-auto world. Fighting semi-auto demons when sight alignment and trigger control seems to get lost I stop and go back to my favorite revolver for a awhile.

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Old 04-03-2020, 04:28 PM
flashhole flashhole is offline
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Give Trailboss powder at try. You can't overfill the case.
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  #21  
Old 04-03-2020, 05:43 PM
Schlitz 45 Schlitz 45 is online now
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Originally Posted by GySgt 7291 View Post
I use simichrome to remove powder ring on cylinders, doesn't harm the bluing.
I was referring to the inside of the cylinder that can get a ring of powder residue at the depth of a 38 Special case that can cause a hang up when going to a longer 357 Magnum. As long as the gun will take a 357 I donít see any reason to use 38ís if your reloading. I use Flitz, pretty much the same as Semichrome, to polish Ďem up.
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Old 04-03-2020, 07:11 PM
45acpskng 45acpskng is offline
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Use Federal primers, you'll have more reliable ignition in your revs, they're softer. For powder, I use 3.0grs Bullseye under 148gr LWC's with excellent results, in both my 38spl's & 357mags. Have fun, 38spl is still the most versatile and fun cartridge around!
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Old 04-04-2020, 09:54 AM
Nitro.45 Nitro.45 is offline
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Originally Posted by Schlitz 45 View Post
I was referring to the inside of the cylinder that can get a ring of powder residue at the depth of a 38 Special case that can cause a hang up when going to a longer 357 Magnum. As long as the gun will take a 357 I donít see any reason to use 38ís if your reloading. I use Flitz, pretty much the same as Semichrome, to polish Ďem up.
I pretty much do the same. You can dial a 357 back pretty low and make some super accurate stuff. Thatís the bulk of what Iíll shoot when itís wheeler time. When bragging rights are on the line, I will bring out the Specials with the DEWCís as mentioned earlier. Itís pretty tough to beat if you do your part.
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Old 04-04-2020, 10:26 AM
GySgt 7291 GySgt 7291 is offline
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I'm killing some time researching 38 special load data while waiting on dies and bullets, both arriving tuesday. Starting with Brazos 125gr coated bullets.
I have Bullseye and Titegroup on hand so I'll start with that.

Lyman 50th lists a 120gr LRN Bullseye min/max 2.8-4.6 1001fps Alliant doesn't list any 125gr lead data for Bullseye so I'll hold off using that for now.

Hodgdon data 125gr cast lists Titegroup 3.2-3.8 985 fps. Considerable differences with the Lyman 120gr data 3.8-4.3, lighter bullets use more propellant but that sounds like a huge difference.

Alliant load data recommends BE-86 for cast 125gr. It's listed as an extruded flake, was wondering how it would meter and if anyone uses it. I searched on here and found some references.
I'm also going to try HP-38 eventually.
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Last edited by GySgt 7291; 04-04-2020 at 10:41 AM.
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  #25  
Old 04-05-2020, 09:37 AM
Nitro.45 Nitro.45 is offline
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Just be careful using the Lyman data. They have more loads for grain weights that you canít even buy than for standard, commonly used projectiles. I have mentioned it before and even contacted the author because of wide discrepancies in charge weights compared to everyone else. There was no good answer one time when I asked why they used a test fixture with characteristics of no commercially available barrel. It seems like some of this load data was in a vacuum on Mars. Always check several references with a new load.....but you know that. Lyman is usually the oddball!
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