Opinion wanted on .38 Semi Wadcutter bullet


January 16, 2009, 12:15 AM
I was looking for a light .38 Special bullet so I could (1) conserve lead (2) conserve powder (3) create light loads for my 15 oz airweight snub for enjoyable extended practice sessions, (4) punch nice holes in paper.

I came accross this mold in 2 and 6 cavity molds, and wonder if it would be a good choice. I haven't cast bullets before (only fishing sinkers). I hear the 2 cavity molds are easier to learn on, but the 6 cavity mold is very tempting since once the knack is acquired, production would be much faster.

Can these be lubricated in a pan as I read some bullets can? Do they have to be sized after molding, or can they be used 'as is' from the mold?

Lee 2-Cavity Bullet Mold 358-105-SWC 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 38 Colt New Police (358 Diameter) 105 Grain Semi-Wadcutter
By the way, I keep hearing about gas checks. What are they for? Does this bullet require them?


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January 16, 2009, 12:36 AM
I have a Lee #90387 mold (120 grain truncated cone) that drops bullets a little big, and they work very well in .38 Special as long as I don't load them too light. (4.0 grains of Titegroup is an accurate load. 3.5 grains and I can't keep all the shots on the paper, much less inside the 6 ring) I tumble lube them with Rooster Jacket, load them without sizing, then crimp into the lube groove. The flat nose punches nice holes in the paper, although it punches a 1/4" hole with a gray ring around it rather than a clean .36 hole. Still, much better than the torn holes you get with a round-nosed bullet.

I haven't tried sizing them and lubing with wax and loading in 9mm yet -- which is the reason I bought the mold in the first place :rolleyes:

January 16, 2009, 02:37 AM
By the way, I keep hearing about gas checks. What are they for? Does this bullet require them?

Gas checks are usually used when you want to push a lead bullet fast with minimal leading to the barrel. The copper check protects the bottom of the bullet from the hot gasses so it doesn't melt. You can only apply gas checks on bullets made with the correct mold which makes a bullet that will accept the gas check.

January 16, 2009, 02:53 AM
I shoot the 105 grain SWC bullet in the .38, and it's just what you're looking for. It's accurate, punches clean holes, and there's very little recoil in light revolvers, depending on the load. I do size mine .358" and lube with Magma lubricant. I get no leading to speak of, other than a little in the forcing cones of my revolvers, which I remove with the Lewis Lead Remover.

As you've surmised, casting with a 6 cavity mold isn't much different than casting with a 2 cavity, except you're getting 3 times the number of bullets with each cast. Be aware though, that you will have to buy handles for the 6 cavity mold, since they don't come with it. The handles are roughly $14.00 +/- through Midway.

Hope this helps.


January 16, 2009, 01:33 PM
I think I'd have to suggest a first time bullet caster get at least one single or double cavity mold to learn on.

A six cavity gives me more wrinkles and partial fills until you really master casting with one.

I think the learning curve would be way less steep with a smaller mold at first.

Also, I have never timed it, but I got to wonder if a pair of two cavity molds can't be about as fast as one six cavity. I fill one, set it down and fill the other one while the first one is cooling off enough to cut the sprue.

Seems I get a 6-cavity too hot, too often, because I get impatient waiting for it to cool off between pours.


January 16, 2009, 02:32 PM
I use a Lyman 358480 double cavity mould that casts 133gr SWC's for light loads. Not sure if Lyman still offers it, but it is a great bullet for snubbies and light weight revolvers.


Dave B
January 16, 2009, 07:19 PM
I have that same 6 cav mold. I haven't had a lot of luck with it so far. I've tried several different loads in several different guns. I Have had much better luck with the 125gr RF Lee mold. It shoots much better at longer ranges and also will feed in a Marlin rifle. Due to its shape it fills out well when cast. It doesn't use much more lead either. Get a 6 holer.

January 16, 2009, 07:39 PM
Well, hey, you know this is my favorite forum, but if you're really interested in casting your own, I know a lot of guys here on this forum would take no offense for me suggesting http://castboolits.gunloads.com/ as another good place to get information. After all - cast bullets is what that forum is for. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you post doesn't belong here, I'm just suggesting it as an additional place to find experienced casters.

I'm in the process of doing my winter loading, and I asked a caster (I don't cast, but plan to get into it soon) if he could cast me some lightweight bullets for just the purpose you're outlining. If all I'm going to do is show my kids how to shoot targets with a handgun, the lightweight SWC is a great place to go.
It's also plenty powerful for putting small game in the pot. A shot with one of these won't destroy all the meat :what: in a rabbit.

I think almost as important as saving your shooting bucks, if you take a pile of light target loads to the range to shoot, shooting will be pleasant enough to work on technique and marksmanship without a bad case of flinch. :eek:

January 16, 2009, 07:40 PM
I understand your rationale, but I'd start with a 140 or 158 grain SWC double mold made by Lee, and use wheel weights. Might want to try their TL style for the 158 grain, tumble lube and use as cast. These can be loaded to 650-700 fps and still be very accurate, very little recoil and very easy on powder. I have used several 125 grain cast bullets in .38 Special, but never found them to be as accurate as a 148 WC or 158 SWC bullets with their much longer full diameter shank.

The 105 grain mold you are looking at does not take a GC or the 140/158 grain bullet I mention.

January 16, 2009, 10:39 PM
Seems I get a 6-cavity too hot, too often, because I get impatient waiting for it to cool off between pours.

RC--I always run all my molds hot. The trick too not having to wait forever is have a wet rag (an old wash cloth is great) and after you pour the cavities watch the spru until it sucks in slightly(a couple seconds afer the pour). Place the wet rag on top of the spru for 1 or 2 seconds, this will harden the spru so it does not smear when you cut it. Once you get the hang of it you can easily fill and dump a 6 banger 3 times a minute! Another item that works well to eliminate smearing is Bull Plate Lube http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=3412 A light coat of this on the top of your mold and the bottom of the spru plate works great. Cheap and effective.

Also from numerous posts on the cast boolit board the 105 Lee SWC gets rave reviews.

January 16, 2009, 11:39 PM
I favor Mr Galil5.56 comment for bullet weight suggestion.

As for the number of cavities, ask yourself this. Would you rather cast/make 75 or so bullets in an hour or 300 per hour. (These numbers were randomly picked btw, but you get my point.

Another point, how much time do you really want to devote to just casting bullets. Especially if you shoot a lot. Myself, I enjoy all facits of the hobby, dearly.

If you're going to spend some bucks, why not get a 4 or 6 cavity mold be it, Tumble Lube or Grease Groove. Why buy something you're gonna out grow in a couple outings. If you do go the Lee 2 cavity route, now theres a learning curve for ya.

All molds have their own characteristics, you'll find the sweet spot. All you have to do when you have issues is just...ask.

One more suggestion... to find out about the various bullet types, what works best for you and or in your gun, ask around for some samples to try. You may be suprized in what you find here.

January 17, 2009, 11:24 AM

I have both the 2 and 6-cavity versions of this bullet. I ususally try the 2-cavity version of the bullet to see if it's one I like, then I'll get the 6-cav. if I intend to make a lot of them.

YES, you can simply cast, tumble-lube, and load these in the .38spl.
Same reason I got mine.

However, it takes more powder to reach a given velocity than a heavier bullet will.

Secondly, they will shoot below the Point of Aim for a small, fixed sighted revolver such as you mentioned. For your stated purpose, I've found that the 148gr wadcutter is best. But, shooters/casters have know that for about 100yrs...

October 7, 2009, 04:22 PM
I just came accross this thread that I created early in the year, when I hadn't started casting/loading, and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who responded. The information was very helpful toward getting me started sucessfully. The internet is a great tool!

Since then I've cast and used a few thousand .38 and .40 tumble lube boolits . Found that I had leading in the .38 until I sized to 358. My .40 are feeding well after some experimentation, but still leading my Lone Wolf barrel, but I think that sizing them to 401 should take care of that problem.

I wish I had started this pasttime years ago... always enjoyed shooting, but always was .22's. Shooting a larger caliber is much more fun, and not really that more expensive when you scrounge for lead and brass.


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