38 Special Bullet Seating Crimp?


June 17, 2010, 12:22 AM
Hello everyone.

I've been reading my lyman 49th edition and can't seem to locate something.

I'm trying to figure out if i need to do a crimp or not on my 38 special loads when im seating the bullet. I'm using a lead 158 gr RN bullet. Anyone load 38 special that can help me out with this if i need to crimp or not?


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June 17, 2010, 01:08 AM
I would say you do need a good Crimp for .38 Special, no matter what Arm it is going to be fired in.

A good Crimp keeps the Bullet from being pushed 'in' too far if bumped or pressed, and, it keeps the Bullet from creeping out from recoil of the other rounds being fired...so, it is a 'win win'.

Maybe for some of of the Autoloading Target Pistols, which use flush-with-the-case-mouth wadcutter .38 Specials, one relies on a tight Bullet to Case fit, and does not do a Crimp...I do not know.

But aside from that, anything else, any time the Bullet is to be sticking out of the Case, a good Crimp is best.

June 17, 2010, 01:31 AM
Yes, crimp it. Any revolver cartridge that headspaces on the rim should be crimped.

June 17, 2010, 06:16 AM
I have found that most commercial lead bullets (I use Laser Cast) have a crimping groove cast into the bullet. Just adjust your seating/crimper die to crimp in the middle of this groove. You just need a light to medium crimp to keep the bullet from moving. Too much may crush your case.

June 17, 2010, 06:59 AM

Old timers here: I would suggest that one of you who know how to write (better than me) and knows his stuff to put a sticky about crimping. THis is ne of the most asked question and one of the hardest for some people to graps....

I know...I was one of those but now crimping is as easy as breathing for me... :neener:

Thank you

June 17, 2010, 07:18 AM
I use anything from a light taper crimp to a good sturdy roll crimp on .38 Spl loads, depending on the bullet and application. I would roll crimp into the crimp groove on those .158 Gr lead bullets.

Something like this (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=5871460&postcount=30). Or this (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=6257173&postcount=50), or this (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=5873477&postcount=32).

June 17, 2010, 05:31 PM
Thanks everyone.... I have my carbine rcbs 38 special dies coming soon from midwayusa. I hope there is a crimp die lol

June 17, 2010, 05:32 PM
The seater will have a roll crimp ledge built in to it.

June 17, 2010, 05:38 PM
Does the 38 special rcbs carbine die set come with a crimp die?

June 17, 2010, 05:56 PM
Do you mean Carbide?

I looked at Midway and it seems they sell a three die set (http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=136436) (seater stem seems to be missing in the pic) with a taper crimp built into the seater as well as the old standby three die set (http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=485205) with the roll crimp built into the seater.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
June 18, 2010, 04:39 AM
Does the 38 special rcbs carbine die set come with a crimp die?
I believe you can get the Taper Crimp (I believe, indicated as TC on the die), or roll crimp (I believe, indicated as RC on the die).

I would think you want a Roll Crimp and crimp into a cannelure to prevent bullet jump of the remaining bullets in the cylinder due to the inertia of recoil.

Myself, I use the RCBS three-die set and the third die ONLY for seating the bullet, then I use a Lee Factory Crimp die to perform one last stage of actually putting the crimp on the mouth of the case. I find this one extra step with the Lee FCD to be an excellent way to ensure all the crimps are precise and just the way I want them. If you do it the way I just mentioned, it doesn't matter which seating/crimp die you have as you are going to back that die out nearly all the way and only use that as your third of four stages to only seat the bullet!

You will then, finally, run all the cartridges through your press one last time with the Lee Factory Crimp Die. It is then when I go from the cartridges in a tray to putting them into the reloading cartridge plastic boxes - to indicate the cartridges are finished. You will find with the Lee FCD, that you hardly need much crimp to secure the bullet - and you will find that it is extremely EASY to go too hard on the crimp which may deform the bullet. You will also find that the Lee Factory Crimp Die makes a perfect crimp when properly adjusted!

June 18, 2010, 07:00 AM
here: (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=469815)

Walkalong was far too modest, IMO...he has produced an outstanding set of pictures (and others have contributed as well.)

scroll through the posts--
pick a crimp style / type you need
print a copy of the related picture
set your dies to produce a close appoximation.

Note that these pictures show good crimps; this thread is not a discussion of the (Lee) FCD post-sizing feature. It's assumed IOW, that one has properly-sized bullets, selected and tweaked brass, and is interested in learning how to build good ammo.

Jim H.

June 18, 2010, 10:22 PM

Question for you.. I ordered the old standby three die set. The second set of pics that you posted earlier. So i should be able to use the roll crimp that is on the seater die?


June 18, 2010, 10:26 PM
Yes. If you are using lead with a crimp groove or jacketed with a good cannelure (not just roll marks) you can easily seat and crimp in one step with it.

June 18, 2010, 10:32 PM

Thanks, i have some lead RN 158gr bullets and they have a groove in them just behind the RN. So i can seat and crimp them in the same step cool.

Is it ok if i message you if i have any questions on reloading my 38 special ammo? I'm just starting this and have read 2 books, hornady and lymans 49th ed so far. I got my rcbs press, scale and powder measure in this week and i'm waitting on the dies, tumbler and a few other things from midawayusa, hope to get them on monday or tuesday.

June 18, 2010, 10:43 PM
I use SWC and a nice roll crimp to hold them in place. It works wonderfully

June 19, 2010, 05:27 AM
stodd says:"Is it ok if i message you if i have any questions on reloading my 38 special ammo?"

Just a tip--if you put questions up here (i.e., in a post in this forum), you can gain access to several other experienced reloaders. There are several in this forum who are willing to speak up and lend their expertise.

Jim H.

Maj Dad
June 19, 2010, 09:47 AM
I showed a 125 Gr bullet on top of a scrap .38 Spl case next to a .357 case with the bullet seated & crimped so one can see the crimp groove vs the crimp.

That 38 configuration is the old poor man's 357 load without the 357 brass. Skeeter Skelton used to talk about it, and I reloaded a pile of them back in the 70's when I was, shall we say less sophisticated? Worked fine, but obviously crimping was an issue lacking a taper crimp die; 357 cases work much better...

June 19, 2010, 12:35 PM
Thanks JFH!!

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