Did I make a mistake (.38spl wadcutter load)


March 10, 2008, 04:01 PM
Loaded 50 of 148g LWC using the Lee Dipper, Unique powder, and the reloading data that came with the dies.

Afterwards, I looked at the Unique website and it listed a lighter charge for the 148g lwc.

Are these loads safe to shoot?

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March 10, 2008, 04:08 PM
Solid base or hollow-base wad-cutter?

What do you think you put in them with the dipper?

What gun are you shooting them in, .38 or .357?

Anyway, you are good to go with a .38 Spl. gun & solid-base WC anywhere from 3.8 to 5.0 grains of Unique, although leading might be a problem at the higher charge.


March 10, 2008, 04:14 PM
You're probably okay if you will be shooting these reloads out of a L-Frame Smith and Wesson, or a Ruger GP-100.

What sized dipper did you use? Is it the one that comes with the .38 Special Lee die set?

March 10, 2008, 04:42 PM
Load data in various books almost never agree.
How close was it exactly ?

March 10, 2008, 04:57 PM
Sorry, I left out some important info.

Gun is a J-Frame .38spl S&W

I used the .5cc dipper from the Lee Set.

Solid base wadcutter bullet

I'll weigh a few dipper charges tonight but it normally pulls around 4.5 Unique with each pull through the bowl

March 10, 2008, 05:28 PM
That should be perfectly safe with a 148 grain bullet.

I shoot a lot of .38 Spl. 158 grain loads with 5.0 grains Unique and its a good load in a J or a K S&W.

If you've already got scales, you might want to investigate getting a powder measure though!
I never did trust dippers too much!


March 10, 2008, 06:23 PM
Measured a few pulls from the dipper and was pulling about 4.1, 4.2 Unique.

March 10, 2008, 08:25 PM
I think you are good to go. I loaded King Kong shotshells and hot rifle loads for decades and used homemade dippers for powder because they were more accurate than the Mec Reloader thrown charges and I didn't own a measure. Also made dippers for nickel plated shot out of 20 gauge AA casings. Dippers can be very accurate if you concentrate on a consistent methodology. Of course a powder measure is soooo much easier.

January 26, 2009, 12:18 AM
I don't normally bring up old threads, but I loaded up about 50 cartridges which I believe to be the same as the OP stated. I used the .5 CC dipper that was included in the Lee die set with Unique and 148gr Hard Cast DEWC bullets. Crimped into the groove on the bullet. Hopefully I can get to the range this week and shoot some of 'em. BTW this is my first shot at reloading but I had a 'veteran' reloader helping me out since I was using his press :)

Steve C
January 26, 2009, 12:35 AM
4.5grs of Unique will be fine for a bevel base or solid base wad cutter. With a solid base WC you can go up to 5.0grs according Lyman. A 4.5gr load should push the bullet out a 4" barrel at around 850 fps around 750 fps for a 2".

Do not use this much Unique with a hollow base wad cutter as the pressure may be too high causing skirt separation resulting in a bore obstruction. HBWC loads using Unique is generally around 3.8grs or less.

January 26, 2009, 12:52 AM
I've heard that one before. The main reason I chose to use DEWCs is because I could use them in both .38 and .357mag, and I got them from a local shop at a good price since they're cast by a company in-state. I got these hard cast bullets for the same price I would have paid for swaged HBWCs from Midway including shipping.

Edited to add: This load should also be fine in my 1988 mfg. S&W 64-5 then as well since I normally shoot 158gr plated flat points @ around 800fps so a 148gr cast bullet at 850 should be no problem.

February 6, 2009, 06:40 PM
Got to shoot the reloads today. Very accurate and recoil on par with the 158gr standard pressure loads I normally buy. A bit smokey though but that's not an issue for me.

February 6, 2009, 06:44 PM
A bit smokey though but that's not an issue for me.

Part of that could be the bullet lube, and that's half the fun of cast bullets. Sometimes I double lube just to smoke the place up. :D

February 6, 2009, 09:26 PM
Didn't bother me since I figured it was a combination of the Unique powder and the bullet lube on the cast bullets. I think the guy next to me moved another lane away from me after a few minutes :D

February 7, 2009, 09:33 AM
Well, glad to hear you're getting some help from an experienced loader.

It's all too easy to make mistakes handloading - if your friend still has all his fingers and both eyes, he should be helping with the safety stuff, too. Never take loading lessons from a guy nicknamed "Stumpy." :eek:

I guess this is a good case in point - minor mistake, not dangerous, but worth doing a "post mortem" on. I've been loading for nearly 40 years and still find a dud now and then - :scrutiny: - which is annoying and on a couple of occasions, loaded handgun ammo with a double charge :what: which is more than annoying - it's "exciting." :what:

I'm not picking on you or anybody else - it's great that you figured you should get some advice here or otherwise.

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