Revolver lead bullets and COL


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16in50calNavalRifle
October 26, 2011, 12:09 AM
Started to load first test/dummy 38 special rounds tonite, but immediately came up against a big question (probably easy): using HP-38, Missouri Bullet 125 grain LRNFPs, the COL in the Hodgdon data is 1.445.

Seating my very first bullet to start the process of adjusting to desired COL, it is clear that if I seat the bullet so that a roll crimp can be applied where the groove on the bullet is located, my COL will be quite a bit shorter than 1.445.

In a thread two years ago, several of the experienced reloaders here answered a question from a newby concerning 38 special bullets, COL, and crimping groove/cannelure. rcmodel wrote (others wrote similar answers):


Revolver bullets have either a crimping groove if lead, or a cannelure if jacketed.

You seat to that, and crimp them.

That is your OAL for that bullet, and you don't need to measure them to get it right.


So in revolver ammo there is no question about pressure and COLs shorter than provided in the data, if needed to line up the case mouth with the crimping groove? And I should just set the seating die so that this MBC bullet takes a roll crimp in the groove?

I certainly like the idea of just seating so that that the case crimps nicely into the groove, regardless of recommended COL. Just wondering if that is something to do only in low and middle-range loads - don't plan to do a lot of max loading, but obviously I want to be clear on the fundamentals here.

The Hodgdon online data, like some others, maddeningly lists a COL without specifying whether it is "minimum" - unless I missed something.

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Jim Watson
October 26, 2011, 12:26 AM
Betcha a dollar Hodgdon did not use Missouri Bullets and your quote applies. The crimp groove sets revolver bullet seating and determines OAL with the particular bullet. Very much the usual case, the exceptions are rare and peculiar.

I'm not going to load a revolver with a generic bullet hot enough for differences in seating depth to matter. If I'm loading .38 Poleece Specshul with the fine old 158 grain bullet at 850 fps in a 6" or longer barrel, it makes little difference which bullet I use.

If I want a maximum magnum load, I will be more selective with the data and get a tested load with the same or very similar bullet and seating.

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