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.380 problem

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by hardworlder, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. hardworlder

    hardworlder New Member

    Oct 4, 2011
    Hello all, first post here, this forum seems like the best place on the 'net to barrage with stupid questions, so here goes:

    I have been reloading for a year now but am still a newb. For my last batch of .380 (fed to a S&W ppk/s) I opted to reduce the charge, from 4.0 gr Unique to 3.8. I had no problems with 4.0 other than that the recoil seemed excessive compared to factory ammo (rws, wwb, and various SD rounds). Here is the recipe:

    3.8 gr Unique
    Rainier 100gr plated RN
    Mixed brass, mostly winchester
    Federal primers
    OALs between .960 and .985 (I tested in .005 increments)

    When I fired these rounds I had terrible accuracy and noticed some unignited powder. On the occasions that I could see the bullets progress (very bright sun that day) I could definitely tell it was not heading towards the point of aim. My first thought was that 3.8 is too low, although I have seen loads online go as low as 3.2gr of Unique for the same bullet. Is this indeed the most likely cause, or could I have screwed something else up? Too much/little crimp? Bad primers? Light primer strikes? It's driving me nuts!
  2. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Sep 10, 2008
    SW Arizona
    What exactly is the problem? Recoil, dirty burn, or accuracy. You said you could see the bullets and they weren't going in the direction of point of aim. Wouldn't the target tell the accuracy story rather than watching the bullets flying through the air?

    What ever the problem is unless it includes a failure to ignite(mis-fire), light primer strikes or bad primers won't be part of the cause.

    What bullets are you loading, jacketed or lead, and what weight?

    HOWARD J Senior Member

    Mar 8, 2010
    S/E Michigan
    I use the same load
    100 gr Berry plated bullet with light taper crimp
    3.6 gr Unique
    CCI 500 primer
    Mixed cases
    .980 col
    This load works fine for 3 .380 pistols incl. PPK that I have.

    Darken your bullet & make sure that it is not jamming against
    the lands.
    Start your target shooting at 5'-then 10' , etc. this will show if
    the sight on the gun or you are off base on target shooting.
    Good Luck
    Find a good steady rest to shoot from.
    If all fails use factory ammo.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  4. GCBurner

    GCBurner Participating Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    I like Unique for a lot of pistol loads, but it's a slower burning powder that works best with heavier bullets in a longer barrel. For the .380, I like something a little faster, like Red Dot or Universal Clays.
  5. hardworlder

    hardworlder New Member

    Oct 4, 2011
    Gamestalker, let me clarify: These are 100 grain copper-plated lead roundnose bullets. The issue with this new load is incomplete powder burn and horrible accuracy. The only range that lets you bring ammo is only set up for 15 yards, where normally I get 6" groups but this time got 12" groups, if you could call it that, with some flyers out even further.

    Howard, I colored in the lead with a grease pencil and did not notice anything untoward. I will hit the indoor range tomorrow and make sure factory ammo works. I'm pretty sure it's not me though, I didn't even have coffee that day!
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    I shot one 250 count box of Berry plated RNHB 100's in my P3AT with perfect functioning.
    I loaded 3.8 grains Unique, seated .975" OAL.

    As far as accuracy?

    Plated bullets generally will not group as well as high quality jacketed bullets like Hornady XTP's, at least for me.

    But it is pretty hard to tell with a P3AT!! :D

  7. redbullitt

    redbullitt Active Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    Morgantown WV
    I am using around 3.6 grains here. .965ish oal with a 95g fmj.

    Seems to work just fine.

    3.8 should not be too low at all... Some manuals would list that as too hot lol. I have shot down to 2.5 in my kahr with it still functioning.

    Remember that the crimp here is not like on a revolver. It should be just enough to get all the bell out of the case. Try dropping them into the barrel. They could be free and not hanging up.

    The shooter can do crazy things to groups : P trust me i know lol

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