How snug a crimp on .38 Special?


January 3, 2008, 11:47 PM
I'm pretty much a tenderfoot when it comes to reloading. I gave the first batch a shot tonight & had a couple a questions. I've read an reread a couple of manuals and all the documentation for the equipment, but still not sure on the crimp.

I'm using Hornady 110gr. XTP -has a cannelure. I'd read here on THR about not over-crimping so set the die with a bit more than a snick of a crimp. Looked OK but I was able to push the bullet back down in the case by squeezin between thumb an finger. Did take a pretty darn hard squeeze but did move.

Two, a few of them were a mite shorter than the others ~1.38 to 1.40 vs. 1.45 to 1.46. Cases are the same but the bullet was seated a few thousandths deeper. How does that happen if the brass is same-same?

I only plan on loading the following for the moment so any crimp advice would be appreciated:

.38 Super 125gr. hard cast RN
.38 Special 110gr. XTP
.38 Special 148gr. HBWC
.357 125gr. XTP
.45 ACP 230gr. hard cast RN


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January 4, 2008, 12:19 AM
For me the powder and bullet weight or type play the biggest part in the kind of crimp I use, finding the right crimp is part of the fun :) The crimp plays a big roll in giving the powder the best environment to burn efficiently.

Grandpa Shooter
January 4, 2008, 12:32 AM
If you are using your loads in a revolver then the ability to seat the bullet deeper with a hard push is not a really big deal. If you are using them in a tubular feed magazine rifle then you have a real problem. I use a seating die that actually crimps the case securely into the cannelure so that I don't get a lot of set back. If your bullet seater is pushing the bullets in with considerable differences then I would wonder about two things 1. the quality of the bullets you are using, and 2. the type of dies you are using.

The .45 ACP should be seated snugly but not with a crimp that bites into the bullet. A good taper (roll) crimp should be all you need.

Out of curiosity what loader and which dies are you using?

January 4, 2008, 12:43 AM
Lee Reloader Press & Lee Die sets. Only bullets I'm using right now are Hornady XTP's. Yep it's revolvers. I'm still waiting for the bullet order to show up.


January 4, 2008, 12:49 AM
.45 acp should get a tapper crimp (no cannelure) .38 needs a roll crimp
Ive been using the LEE factory crimp die on my .357's, it makes a nice tight crimp.
In a tube mag they could push in but in a revo they could walk out under heavy recoil
diff caliber but watch this aneyway

January 4, 2008, 12:57 AM
You did resize the cases, didn't you? I think there should be enough neck tension to prevent you from pushing the bullets into the case by hand -- if you are using the right bullets. Are you using .355 or .357 bullets in the .38 Special and .357?

A tight crimp is more important in the .357 than in the .38 because it (.357) has more recoil to make the bullets jump.

BTW, you can use the .38 Super crimp die if you want to taper crimp your .38's and .357's.

January 4, 2008, 01:02 AM
.357 diameter & yep did resize the cases. I could push them in, but did take a pretty good amount of squeeze.

Thanks for the info...Funnel

January 4, 2008, 01:27 AM
What kind of brass ? Amer.?

Steve C
January 4, 2008, 02:40 AM
Generally you only want to roll the end of the case so that it touches the side of the bullet in the cannelur or crimping groove. If you start getting a flattening of the case mouth against the bullet you've added more than needed crimp. Too much crimp will colaps the case or bulge it. Once you do it you'll know that you need to back the crimping die out a turn or so. A good rule of thumb is to screw the die down on a empty non flared case till it touches, back out the ram and add a 1/4 turn in. Adjust in more to get the desired level on the first round if needed.

When you crimp your first load compare it to a factory round with similar bullet. When you duplicate a factory round you will have it right.

January 5, 2008, 12:27 PM
S&B Brass. Looks to me like most types of factory ammo aren't crimped at all (at least not on the case neck). Thanks to all for the help I'll keep tweakin til I get it right.


January 5, 2008, 12:48 PM
Looked OK but I was able to push the bullet back down in the case by squeezing between thumb an finger.That ain't right.
You should not be able to push bullets deeper in the case, even without a crimp. You might possibly do it by pushing against a workbench or something, but it should hurt too much to do it with your bare fingers.

Sounds to me like you have an oversize expander plug.
Take it out and chuck it up in a drill and sand it down a thousandth or two.

Neck tension alone should be high enough without a crimp that you can't push bullets in deeper bare-handed!

The Bushmaster
January 5, 2008, 01:30 PM
Lee FCD solved the poblem on my .30-30 and .38 Special. Had the same problem with .38 Specials..

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