Lee Loaders for 38Spec and 357Mag?


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ojh
October 2, 2003, 06:38 PM
Lee offers separate Loader kits for 38 Special and 357 Magnum. What is the difference between these kits? Can a 357 kit be used for loading 38 ammo, or vice versa? In a loading bench, 38 and 357 can be loaded with same dies - why are the Loader kits separated?

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Brian Williams
October 2, 2003, 06:52 PM
The 357 dies will resize and decap and expand but will only crimp 357s, but the 38s can be adjusted out to do both 38's & 357's
RCBS includes a spacer ring that raises the die so you do not have to adjust them out as much.

lee n. field
October 2, 2003, 09:15 PM
The 357 dies will resize and decap and expand but will only crimp 357s, but the 38s can be adjusted out to do both 38's & 357's

The Lee Loader is different from a regular die set. It is a complete reloading kit all by itself. "Just add hammer." Yes you can crimp .38 cartridges in the .357 Lee Loader body die. Crimping is done quite differently than in a press mounted seating die. _Everything_ is done differently with a Lee Loader.

I have a .357 kit I picked up for testing purposes. You can reload .38 Special with it. Just get ahold of Lee's load chart and the right powder scoop.

The biggest problem w/ the Lee Loader (IMHO, of course) is it's inflexibility. If you want to safely do anything beyond what Lee's chart shows, you need a lot more stuff (scale, powder trickler, load books, etc).

The writeup I did: http://www.doingfreedom.com/gen/0503/reloading.html .

As to why Lee makes 2 seperate kits -- dunno. Maybe they don't want to have 2 powder scoops in the kit and risk somebody putting a .357 load into a .38 case. Maybe they wanted to makes things as absolutely simple as possible.

Okiecruffler
October 3, 2003, 03:47 PM
I've got a .38sp loader (anybody want the bloody thing?) and while I haven't tried it, I don't think it would resize the full length of a 357. I think a 357 loader would work for 38's, but you may have to use something else for a base when you crimp. Neat little tool, but just loading one box wears you out.

444
October 4, 2003, 12:01 AM
I have loaded many rounds on a .38 Special Lee Loader. It was my first handloading experience. I was about 18 at the time. I had a S&W Model 14, 100 brass, and a Lee Loader. Every evening that permitted, I would go out and shoot my 100 rounds. I would then return home and sit in the basement and reload the 100 rounds.
A couple years ago, I got into old surplus military rifles. I decided to buy a couple Lee Loaders for nostalgia sake. I knew I wasn't going to be shooting thousands of rounds out of them and I thought the neck sizing would extend the life of my brass, especially in .303 British.
Lee Loaders work great. They are very slow and I wouldn't trade any of my presses for a Lee Loader, but they do work.

caz223
October 4, 2003, 07:56 AM
I used to do the exact same thing in .41 mag years ago.
Shoot 'em up, and load 'em up in the same evening, usually in the winter.
Except that it took a half-hour to shoot 'em up, and two-and-a-half hours to load 'em up.
Not really that much slower than a single stage press.
I would assume the difference between the .38 and .357 kits is the load data, the scoop, and the seat/crimp 'tube' part of it. (Prolly powder selection, too, now that I think of it...)
I found that a lee loader, lee dipper kit, a couple of load books, a scale, powder funnel, trickler, plastic hammer and block of wood are all one needs to make good loads, along with a meager supply of brass, and a little patience. Another thing that helps is the slider chart from lee that comes with the dipper kit.
For a younger person who has a little more time and energy, and a very expensive caliber handgun, a lot of good ammo can be had for a very small amount of money.

WESHOOT2
October 5, 2003, 07:04 AM
WEAR a glove when seating primers (I too started with the LEE kits).

ojh
October 5, 2003, 04:25 PM
Thank you all, you have given me lots of good information. I'm planning to start reloading for a 357 Mag revolver, but shoot mostly light target loads. I had found Mr Field's excellent article "Low End Reloading" before, and that's where I found the first hint that it might be possible to load both 38s and 357s with the same Loader kit. Actually it's not a dead-serious question - I just happen to have a lot more 38 brass than 357 brass.

444
October 5, 2003, 04:56 PM
Give it a try. I can't see where anything dangerous would happen. It can certainly deprime the .38 case. It can certainly re-prime the .38 case. I don't see why it wouldn't size correctly. The only problem might occur if you can screw the bullet seating device down far enough to seat a .38 bullet to the correct length. I doubt that would happen. Then you have to crimp. You try to crimp. If the bullet isn't crimped then you know you can use that Lee Loader set. See if you can move the bullet or turn the bullet in the case. If you can't, you are good to go.
If all this doesn't work out you might have to shell out another $15 for a new Lee Loader.

lee n. field
October 5, 2003, 07:48 PM
WEAR a glove when seating primers (I too started with the LEE kits).

Wear hearing protection when seating primers. I had two go off during my experimentation w/ Lee Loaders. It wasn't dangerous, but was pretty darn loud.

lee n. field
October 5, 2003, 07:51 PM
I can't see where anything dangerous would happen.

Lee's sold them for at least 40 years. I've got a guns annual type publication from the early '60s that has purchase information for Lee Loaders. (more calibers then than now). If it was significantly unsafe I doubt they'd have sold them for that long.

444
October 5, 2003, 08:06 PM
Lee, I was talking about loading a .38 Special in the .357 Lee Loader. My point is this: I don't know if it is designed to do that or not, but I can't see how you could get yourself in trouble by trying it.

Okiecruffler
October 5, 2003, 11:08 PM
For just a few dollars more you could get a lee hand press and a set of lee 38sp dies. Personally I use my hand press more than anything else.

444
October 5, 2003, 11:19 PM
I have a hand press also. But it isn't just a few dollars more because you also have to get a set of dies.
If money isn't a real big issue, the hand press is a great tool to buy. You can use it for years even after you buy other more exotic equipment.

Okiecruffler
October 5, 2003, 11:25 PM
I guess it would be more if you bought new, I always buy my stuff used if I can find it. Paid 5 bucks for my hand press and about 12 for my dies IIRC. Then you still need a primer. But you don't need a hammer, but you probably already have one of those, not a steel hammer by the way, that would just be silly. Never mind my suggestion.

444
October 5, 2003, 11:30 PM
I consider that hand press to be the perfect way to get into loading. It uses standard dies, which you can still use if you end up buying a bench press. You can slowly buy yourself a Lee Auto Prime tool, a scale, calipers etc a little bit every pay check and it will all be stuff you need and use for the rest of your reloading days.
Then the press itself is something that you will continue to use. I took my handpress to work and sized .223 brass for awhile. I have also sized cases in front of the TV. You can develop loads at the range. It is a very handy and useful piece of equipment.

alex9328
September 18, 2006, 01:12 PM
(Lee offers separate Loader kits for 38 Special and 357 Magnum. What is the difference between these kits? Can a 357 kit be used for loading 38 ammo, or vice versa? In a loading bench, 38 and 357 can be loaded with same dies - why are the Loader kits separated?)

This Posting got me to thinking. I had to find out for myself, so I got a used set off an auction site, item and shipping $15.00. I have seen the at gunshows for $10-$20, usually as an item set off to the side. I go a 357 mag for $10 and a 44 mag at a pawn show $8, so realitively cheap.

The older 38 Special set has a note that it can be used to reload 357 mag, but that you would need the charge table for 357 mag. You need the loading data for 357 mag. I guess you could load the 357 mag case like a 38 Special, but it would be a very light load and the pressure created in the case might be higher, but I am not sure if it would not be safe, I let the experts comment and provide guideness.

Brian Williams
September 18, 2006, 01:15 PM
Using 38 data will give a lower pressure load than the original 38 load, might even be slower. The 38 spec reloader will do 357 but not the opposite.

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