38 Super reloading question(s)


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USA
December 3, 2009, 10:41 PM
Hey all, just joined the site.. been looking on the net for some info on reloading 38 super and can't find what I'm looking for. Just got my reloading equipment all set up, minus the dies, should be in by tomorrow though.

Anyway...

1. Every load I've seen for 38 super call for Remmington brass (I have a Lyman manual and a manual by Hodgon that came with my press). I have about 400 clean cases of Federal/Winchester 38 super brass. Can I use it? Any mods to use it?

2. Is there a crimp involved with the cartridge, if so, what kind and how to do it best?

3. General reloading question here, but how do I measure how deep I've seated the primer? Manual says it should be .004" below flush.

Thanks

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atblis
December 3, 2009, 10:59 PM
You can interchange brass for the most part. What you need to be careful of is the difference in internal capacity. This is a problem if you're running a full tilt or hot loads, and then switch to a difference case. This can cause the pressure to change (generally increases with a decrease in capacity). Most of the time it doesn't matter, but the wrong combination can result in over pressure. Some powders are more sensitive about such things.

I've never bothered to crimp.

Seat the primers fully and forget about it.

bullseye308
December 3, 2009, 11:02 PM
1 Any brass will work, that is just what they used for the numbers they got. Always start 10% below listed max and anytime you change a component, drop back down and work your way back up.

2 To crimp or not to crimp. It's kind of a personal thing. Some do, and some dont. I personally crimp everything. If you are shooting it ia a semi you shouldn't have to crimp if you have sufficient neck tension. You can still crimp if it gives you warm fuzzies though(I do). :p

3 Run your fingertip across the case and do it by feel. It will feel just slightly under flush.

USA
December 4, 2009, 12:14 AM
Thanks guys. I have a Lee press and afaik they have a separate die for crimping, which I'm sure not if my shop ordered for me. But by tomorrow I should have everything I need except POSSIBLY bullets, hopefully they have them. It's being fired out of a Taurus PT38S btw...

Walkalong
December 4, 2009, 12:20 AM
Any case.

A light taper crimp, but, as posted, neck tension is the important thing.

As long as the primer is below flush, you will be OK. It is much harder to crush a primer than to leave it high. Don't be too gentle with them. If you want to measure how far below flush they are, you can use your dial caliper. The little "stick" looking piece (http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=107858&d=1256420903) that comes out of the end works for that. I just run my finger over the case head to make sure they are below flush.

Welcome to THR

ArchAngelCD
December 4, 2009, 12:34 AM
If you do get a separate crimp die from Lee it will be a factory crimp die. I like the FCD and like said above, it will be a taper crimp.

Welcome to the forum and enjoy your new hobby...

soloban
December 4, 2009, 12:37 AM
Watch the videos on the Lee website on how to set up the die it makes it much easier than trying to decipher the directions.

USA
December 4, 2009, 10:00 PM
Back again, set up my dies, seem to work well enough. Don't have the components but am prepping my cases.

Question

I don't know if this is a problem, but the bottom end of the case near the rim is .385" and the top end is .381" after expansion... is this something I should be worried about?

Walkalong
December 4, 2009, 10:11 PM
Nope. Technically the .38 Super (http://www.handloads.com/articles/cartridge.htm) is straight walled though. I just checked some of my loaded rounds and they are .380/.381 at the case mouth.

USA
December 4, 2009, 10:17 PM
That sounds weird considering we put .355 bullets in them, and secondly I was wondering if the extra .004" toward the rim meant possibly there was too much pressure..?

I absolutely cannot wait to get the components tomorrow.

rfwobbly
December 4, 2009, 11:51 PM
Welocme to THR !!

A great way to check all the dimensions on auto pistol rounds is to get a "cartridge gauge" from Dillon, Midway or others. (About $12.) If the finished round will fall into the gauge using only its own weight, then it will load in your gun without issues. After using it to adjust your dies you can use it to spot check 5-10 of every 50. That really helps.

If you're at .380 OD after sizing, and your case walls are .015, then you have .380-.030 or .350 ID to hold the .355 bullet. That's a .005 press fit. That should hold it just fine, but the case has to be flared or "belled" to get the bullet in there. Sort of like a shoe horn for tight shoes.

The taper crimp is purely to clean up the case from the belling which was required to seat the bullet. So you'll just keep adjusting the crimp in tiny increments until the finished round will fit the cartridge gauge, and you're there!

I love 38 Super, but it's a high pressure cartridge and you'll need to be careful. You might want to stick to loads at the lower end of the load range until you refine your process. Maybe even re-spring your gun especially for low pressure target loads.

With all that pressure, bullet seating depth becomes critical. Make sure you get a caliper and don't guess at the OALs.

Enjoy!

USA
December 5, 2009, 12:19 AM
I'm just going to go with the starting loads listed in the manuals. Of course I have a caliper, that's how I measured the case opening. Safety first, right?

Why crimp though, first guy to answer said he doesn't crimp, and the post before yours says the guy loaded rounds with .380/.381 width at the top. I'm only reloading to shoot target for cheap really, 38 super around here is near $30 for 50.

Walkalong
December 5, 2009, 11:12 AM
If you're at .380 OD after sizing, and your case walls are .015, then you have .380-.030 or .350 ID to hold the .355 bullet. That's a .005 press fit. That should hold it just fine, but the case has to be flared or "belled" to get the bullet in there. Sort of like a shoe horn for tight shoes.
That handles the math question.

Here is a pic of a loaded round with a light taper crimp. Neck tension is needed to keep the bullet from getting pushed back into the case. No sane taper crimp will make up for poor neck tension. The round headspaces on the case mouth, so we can not over crimp. All that is needed is to remove the bell and a hair more. 5.4 to 5.5 Grs of N320 gives around 1200 FPS in my pistols. Nice light, accurate load.

Light Taper Crimp on a Zero 125 Gr JHP

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=110407&d=1260029136
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=110408&d=1260029142

atblis
December 5, 2009, 02:11 PM
Why crimp though, first guy to answer said he doesn't crimp, and the post before yours says the guy loaded rounds with .380/.381 width at the top. I'm only reloading to shoot target for cheap really, 38 super around here is near $30 for 50.

All that is needed is to remove the bell and a hair more.

Yep. I don't crimp because for whatever reason, after seating the bullet, I don't have much/any flare at the case mouth. I do use a Lyman M die to flare to get the bullets started easily. I've found that the Lyman M die lets me get the bullets started easily, but doesn't flare in such a way that I need to use a crimp to remove the flare later. I adjust it to the bare minimum amount of flaring.

rfwobbly
December 5, 2009, 02:51 PM
Why crimp though, first guy to answer said he doesn't crimp, and the post before yours says the guy loaded rounds with .380/.381 width at the top.

Every maker of reloading dies that I know of provide a "crimp" function somewhere in the process. In a "3-die set" the crimp is at the end of the bullet seating stroke. In a "4-die set" the 4th die is a stand-alone crimp die. Whatever brand of 38 Super die set you might have now or in the future, they're going to use a "taper crimp".

The guy that said he doesn't crimp is probably using a 3-die set, and A) doesn't know that the function is there already, B) has purposely raised the third die by 1/10" to omit the crimp function, or C) actually means that he doesn't use a 4-die set with the stand-alone crimp die. However, if he bells (flairs) his brass to seat the bullet, and the finished round fits into the chamber without using a hammer, then somewhere along the line the round is getting a taper crimp.


Now, with all that being said... see that dimension in your reloading manual at the case mouth that says .384" ? That's the maximum dimension. You should set your dies to deliver .382" and every cartridge will hop into the chamber just as happy as a pig in slop. You see, failure to remove the case belling is probably the #1 reloading issue with auto cartridges. It's a real "fooler" and catches a lot of people unaware because you can't see it with the naked eye, you have to measure it.

Hope this helps! ;)

rfwobbly
December 5, 2009, 02:58 PM
Here is a pic of a loaded round with a light taper crimp.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=110407&d=1260029136


Walkalong -
That round's so shiny that I used it to comb my hair.

:D

Walkalong
December 5, 2009, 03:47 PM
I've found that the Lyman M die lets me get the bullets started easily, but doesn't flare in such a way that I need to use a crimp to remove the flare laterWhile I am a big proponent of the two step Lyman "M" type expander, I still crimp afterwards. On that .38 Super round I used the Redding version of the "M" die. I adjust it so the second step goes in the case just enough to start the bullet, but I do not adjust it down enough to put the part of the expander in the case that will bell it like conventional expanders.

It's a real "fooler" and catches a lot of people unaware because you can't see it with the naked eye, you have to measure it.I have to use magnification to see my light taper crimps.


The first step is under bullet diameter, the second step is slightly over bullet diameter, and then the third step will bell conventionally.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=110425&stc=1&d=1260046208

USA
December 6, 2009, 11:08 AM
I'm using RCBS dies on a Lee press. Are you telling me after bullet seating the same die auto crimps? (When you referenced the seating die crimps on the same stroke)

Walkalong
December 6, 2009, 01:08 PM
Yes. All but a few specialty seating dies have a crimp built in. Your RCBS dies do. See the directions for easy set up.

Auto calibers are among the best for seating/crimping in the same step because the bullet moves so little while the light taper crimp is applied as the final bit of seating occurs.

Not all crimping can be done while seating. A heavy taper crimp on a plated or jacketed bullet (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=5942202&postcount=37), for instance, would have to be crimped in a separate step because the bullet would move so much during the crimp.

A lead bullet with a good crimp groove (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=5873477&postcount=32) can be seated/crimped in the same step because even though the bullet moves a good ways during the crimp, the crimp groove allows for it.

rfwobbly
December 6, 2009, 03:18 PM
Yes. All but a few specialty seating dies have a crimp built in. Your RCBS dies do. See the directions for easy set up.

The proof of what Mr. Along is saying is that the crimp is done with he body of the die, so in your die setup there will be instructions on how to adjust the body up and down on the 7/8-14 threads, ending with "now lock the body in this position using the lock ring." That first adjustment should result in your finished cartridges measuring right at ~.382" at the case mouth, as we discussed yesterday.

Then the second part of the die set up instructions will be adjusting the bullet seater height that goes down the center of the die. That's how you adjust your OAL. Everyone is aware of this last adjustment, but forgets about the first.


Not to complicate things, but just as a way of explanation.... guys who are using a progressive press with 4 or more positions sometimes do the taper crimp in a separate 4th die. This allows them to adjust taper crimp diameter without upsetting OAL adjustments.


Come on over and I'll demonstrate. :)

USA
December 14, 2009, 03:24 PM
Hey boys I'm back here. I just got all my components on Saturday and began reloading yesterday. About 25 or so cartridges I attempted to reload but kept messing up on overall length. I *think* I know how to adjust the dies to get it right... I think anyways... I have 2 acceptable cartridges and one borderline (the rest were duds). The borderline is .001" too short according to my manual. Can this be fired or just forget it? I think my problem is I need to manipulate the seater plug instead of the die body to get a more accurate COL. Any tips on getting good COLs?

Walkalong
December 14, 2009, 03:48 PM
.001 is nothing. Shoot it.

You adjust the die body to get your taper crimp set up, and adjust the seater stem to get your O.A.L.

O.A.L. may vary as much as plus or minus .003 from your target O.A.L. Then again it may be less. Depends on the consistency of the bullet and how well the seater stem fits the bullet.

Duds? What is wrong with them?

atblis
December 14, 2009, 03:48 PM
The seater plug is for adjusting the OAL.
The die body is adjusted for the crimp.

1) Start with the seater plug adjusted out.
2) Put a case with no bullet in place, raise the ram to full extension, run the body down till it contacts the case, back it off a half turn (this is assuming you don't want any crimp). Lock the body in place.
3) Now put a bullet in place and seat it.
4) Keep adjusting the seater plug down, till you achieve the OAL you want.
5) Lock seater plug in place.
6) Seat another bullet to check that nothing moved during the process of locking everything down

If you want crimp, you would adjust the body die down more in step 2. Threading the body down with a case already in place lets you find the point at which the crimp portion of the body starts to contact the case. By doing this you can ensure that you are apply no crimp by backing it off from that point, or it provides you a good starting point if you do want to crimp.

I'll also add that the OAL can vary if your bullets vary. The plug does not seat off of the tip of the bullet, but that's what you're measuring to for the COAL. You are not using the same reference point for seating and measuring.

USA
December 14, 2009, 04:08 PM
Duds? What is wrong with them?

Seated waaay to deep, or the brass was crushed because I tried seating a bullet with the case mouth expanded too little.

1) Start with the seater plug adjusted out.
2) Put a case with no bullet in place, raise the ram to full extension, run the body down till it contacts the case, back it off a half turn (this is assuming you don't want any crimp). Lock the body in place.
3) Now put a bullet in place and seat it.
4) Keep adjusting the seater plug down, till you achieve the OAL you want.
5) Lock seater plug in place.
6) Seat another bullet to check that nothing moved during the process of locking everything down

I do want a little crimp, and I'm getting it fine. The case mouth is always .381-.382 or so. The length is my problem but I think the way you explained it helps. The instructions with the die weren't really that great.

But on that OAL tip, I guess the .001" or so variance is okay so I won't be too picky if I'm a little above or below.

Thanks.

atblis
December 14, 2009, 05:03 PM
Are you loading cast lead bullets? 0.381" to 0.382" is a little on the large side IMO.
I flare and don't crimp at all, and mine come in at 0.379" or a tad less at the mouth.

jr_roosa
December 14, 2009, 05:37 PM
The downside of not enough crimp isn't lack of neck tension. There's plenty of neck tension without any crimp.

If you don't crimp enough, you'll have feeding issues because the case mouth will be just a shade too big for your chamber. My 1911 likes a pretty solid crimp, so much so that I crimp in a second step so I don't get a little ring of copper or lead scraped off the bullet.

I just seat a batch with a washer under the lock ring to keep the die body a little high, then pull out the washer, back out the seater and crimp the whole batch. Unless I'm loading over 100 rounds with the same bullet, it saves me time compared to getting the die set up just perfectly.

When I'm rich I'll get separate seat/crimp dies for each of the bullets I shoot and leave them set up.

Ahhh...to be rich...

-J.

Walkalong
December 14, 2009, 06:01 PM
Once you set up your die, you should never have to fool with it again as long as the press remains the same. It takes 5 minutes or less to set up a seater/crimper for an auto caliber.

There is so little crimp, and bullet movement while crimping, going on in .38 Super and other auto calibers, that there is absolutely no reason to crimp separately unless you just want to.

I am using a Hornady seater for .38 Super, which I like a lot, but it has a little ledge inside that looks like a roll crimp ledge which is poor for taper crimping, so I crimp in a fourth step. (Maybe that ledge is just a stop and not meant for crimping...dunno)

The RCBS seater/crimper has a nice taper crimp built in and will do a fine job of crimping while seating in auto calibers that nee only a light taper crimp.

USA
December 14, 2009, 06:35 PM
atblis, I'm loading Hornady 115gr FMJs. I believe the case mouth max dimensions listed in my manual is .386". .381" is what I'm getting around and Walkalong already replied he's getting .380"-.381".

I'm going to try loading a few more rounds tonight and see if I can get that seater straight. I have quick change dies so I can set it and forget it once I get my COL right.

atblis
December 14, 2009, 06:41 PM
I was thinking 9mm. Yeah, that's fine for 38 Super.

Walkalong
December 14, 2009, 07:14 PM
PM sent. AC

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