Seating Depth - 38 S&W


September 17, 2010, 11:39 PM
So, I have been loading both 38 S&W and 38 Spl for a while now, using Suter's Choice lead bullets from Graf & Sons. I have tried a few different bullets in 38 Spl, and have the 145 Gr .361 dia. LRNs for 38 S&W. My powder for both is Bullseye.

I have loaded a few starting load rounds of 38 Spl bullets in 38 S&W using Lee and Lyman 47th data, and the .358 dia bullets are shooting pretty well for me. However, since the Lyman data has specific bullet numbers and the Lee manual just references XXX Grain Lead Bullet, I do have a concern about how to determine proper seating depth for the 38 Spl bullets. I used my caliper and a little basic math to find how deep the LRNs are seated in the case.

For Suter's 125 Gr RNFP seated to the cannelure the seated length of the bullet almost matches the depth of the LRN (which has no cannelure). No worries.

A 148 Gr DEWC or a 158 Gr SWC will significantly reduce the case capacity if I seat them to the cannelure. There are loads listed similar to these bullets, but what should I use for a seating depth? I'm not sure if a published COL should be used for a different design lead bullet of same weight. Should I calculate a COL based on seating the bullet into the case the same depth as the original bullet?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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September 18, 2010, 12:50 AM
Sorry but I'm not sure which caliber you are asking about with which bullet. Both calibers will require very different seating depth for all the bullets mentioned. If you can make a post for each caliber with the bullet you're asking about there will be less chance of confusing the data.

In the .38 Special I would seat to the cannelure but would not with a .38 Special bullet in the .38 S&W.

September 18, 2010, 10:29 AM
I have always seated DEWC bullets "out" when loading .38 S&W rounds. Speer recommended this in their manuals when I started reloading in the 1970's. I would crimp enough to hold the bullet in place during the mild .38 S&W recoil. The Speer swaged HBWC and 2.5 gr Bullseye was a very accurate load and cast DEWCs and SWCs worked well too.

September 19, 2010, 12:21 AM
Thank you gentlemen, that is just what I wanted to hear!

Jim Watson
September 19, 2010, 01:29 AM
What Starter says. Speer shows their 148 gr bevel base wadcutter crimped in the top lube groove in .38 S&W. I think they loaded their swaged SWC and RN to the crimp groove, at least the OAL is the same for four different lead bullets.

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