So I'm gonna reload....


July 9, 2007, 11:47 AM
Should I start with 9mm or 38Spl? I want to learn one first, get to know exactly what I'm doing and then move to the other. Any comments about which one is a better starting-out load would be appreciated. Thanks!

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July 9, 2007, 12:01 PM
Welcome to THR 358minus1

Both are easy. Start with the one you like. :)

Prof. A. Wickwire
July 9, 2007, 12:07 PM

I found starting with .38 Special easier than a semi-auto caliber. Revolver calibers just seem a little more forgiving with over-all length (OAL) and bullet seating depth (BSD). Semi-autos are exceedingly sensitive to OAL & BSD.

Once you can get good, consistent loads for a revolver, moving up to a semi-auto is easier.

Just my $0.02.


Prof. A. Wickwire

July 9, 2007, 12:54 PM
.38 Special is much easier to start with. It is not sensitive to light vs. heavy loads like a 9mm is. Also, the .38 Special is a lower pressure cartridge and is not very sensitive to OAL affecting the internal pressure as much as say a 9mm. The 9mm has such a small casing and is such high pressure already, if the bullet is seated too short it can cause a compressed charge etc.

July 9, 2007, 01:05 PM
.38 Special is much easier to deal with, for all the reasons he listed.

Jim H.

July 9, 2007, 08:29 PM
What kind of press and powder measure are you going to use?

July 10, 2007, 07:34 AM
Not sure. I haven't bought anything yet. Any recommendations on types, brands, etc...?? I belong to a pistol club with some very experienced reloaders and many say Dillon presses are excellent. Sounds like most of the manufacturer's have pretty decent stuff.

Matt Dillon
July 10, 2007, 07:52 AM
I too agree, that starting with .38 special is the way to go, but I would caution you that depending on the powder you use, you can get a lot of powder in a .38 special case. In other words you could easily double, triple, or quadruple charge a case and still have plenty of room left.
That's why it is so importing to develop reloading procedures that incorporate safety checks and QA in every step. For example, once you have dropped powder in your cases, holding the loading tray up to a light and look up and down the rows of cases. Look at the level of powder, and if a case varies even a tiny amount, pull it and weigh it before inserting the bullets. Concentration is important!

July 10, 2007, 08:28 AM
It is hard to double charge on a progressive press (such as a Dillon 550). That would mean a round has 2 bullets on it also.

My only warning from personal experience loading 38 special is that some powders have position sensitivity. If the powder is bunched around the bullet (tip the muzzle down then raise to firing position), it is harder to ignite than if the powder is stacked against the primer (tip the muzzle up, then lower). Light loads of Win 231 have this issue; supposedly Hodgdon Titegroup does not.


July 10, 2007, 08:29 AM
used revolver brass is also in better shape....usually. ;-)

Get a turret press or you'll spend so much time reloading that you'll start disliking it.... not to mention how easy it is to switch between calibers.

July 10, 2007, 09:51 AM
I just started reloading last week myself. I would see if any of the experienced shooters/loaders at your club have old equipment. I was able to get a like new single stage RCBS setup for very little money from an older gentleman that was retiring and moving to florida.

Books are helpful, but having an experienced loader show you the ropes is also a good thing. Many clubs periodically have classes, or if you ask around, I am sure that someone will show you the ropes. The gentleman from which I bought my setup, asked if I had ever reloaded and gave me a thorough walk through on the process. He helped me configure the dies and learn the process and procedures. It was all topped off by making a live round and shooting it out back his house. Seeing that I could do it successfully gave me a bit of confidence and helped ease some of my concerns.

I've also really enjoyed loading 38 over a moderate charge of unique with 158 grain LSWC. Just take your time, develop good habits, and be consistent.

July 10, 2007, 10:01 AM
I did.
Like everyone else said:
With a revolver you don't have to worry about the bullet feeding or ejecting.
Once you are comfortable with your success in the revolver move on to autoloader.

July 10, 2007, 10:59 AM
just to go against the crowd, components for 9mm are cheaper in most places:evil: especially 1x brass. though not much cheaper.

July 10, 2007, 11:41 AM
I started with .38spl and .357 Mag on a Hornady LnL AP press. I don't know if you want a progressive, but if you do, compare the Hornady and Dillon offerings, I love my Hornady and the worst thing I hear about Dillon is that they're overpriced. Hornady is offering 1k bullets free with the press and 100 with each set of their dies until the end of the year, which is one of the factors that swayed me to get the Hornady.

July 10, 2007, 12:17 PM
In other words you could easily double, triple, or quadruple charge a case and still have plenty of room left.

I started with Trail Boss - it's extremely "fluffy", designed so that you cannot get a double charge into a case. A double charge overflows. I verified this with 45 LC, but I think it's supposed to be true for 38s as well.

As for equipment, a friend gave me a Lyman T-Mag with a powder measure that fits in the (expander?) die. I bought a Hornady hand primer on a good friends' advice, and a scale. Check midway for any of the single stage kits. They all looked pretty good to me.

The same good friend suggested that I not start with a progressive - there are a lot of views about that.


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