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Anyone load .380 ACP?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Matt Dillon, May 16, 2006.

  1. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    Folks, a friend of mine may be purchasing a CZ83 in .380ACP in the near future, and wondered what components should be used for working up some target loads.
    I reload for him, and in pistol calibers, I load .32ACP, .38 special, .357 magnum, and .40 S&W. I like using Lee dies, and does anyone know whether or not a Lee factory crimp die is available in this caliber?
    What are your favorite components and dies for this caliber?
    I thought about using National Bullet company's 95 grain .355 lead round nose bullet, but what are your favorite powders, dies, etc. for those of you who have actually loaded for this caliber? Thanks so much in advance, Richard
  2. Branspop

    Branspop Active Member

  3. loadedround

    loadedround Well-Known Member

    Matt: Will your friend really shoot enough to justify the price of dies and brass? Some of that white box generic ammo is really cheap in those mail order catalogs i keep receiving.
  4. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

    A) I have an old 1903 Colt type blow back pistol in 380 that I load hotter than 357 magnum.

    B) I have a new Kel-Tec P3AT locked breech .380 that I cannot hot rod up to the level of 9mm, because of:
    1) low slide mass
    2) poor case support
    3) thin chamber walls

    But becuase the Kel-Tec is 10 ounces loaded, it is what I am carrying right now.
  5. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    I load my .380acp to 'normal' levels. I use Oregon Trails' Laser Cast 95gr. bullets, over 4 grains of Unique, lit by a CCI small pistol primer.

    Works fine in my P-3AT.
  6. StrikeEagle

    StrikeEagle Well-Known Member

    I reload .380 by the thousands... in fact that's what's set up on my Dillon right now. I don't shoot cast bullets in this caliber... I most always go 95grn FMJ.

    My load is 3.2 of Bullseye, and it chronies 900ish out of my PPK/S.

    It's easy to reload... the only annoying thing is that 9mm brass sometimes gets mixed in and is tough to spot. No biggie.

  7. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Well-Known Member

    How cleanly does the Bullseye burn? Does it meter well? I'm about to load about 1000 rounds of .380 for my PPK/S (as soon as the shell plate I ordered shows up). I've never used Bullseye, but my local shop has plenty of it and they're all out of W231.
  8. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much, folks, for all your great replies. Anyone care to share your favorite dies, or any other tips for loading for this caliber? Thanks again, Richard
  9. StrikeEagle

    StrikeEagle Well-Known Member

    It seems to burn pretty clean for me... cleaner than Unique (which I dearly love). Meters well, too. It's been a standard for many many years. You surely won't go wrong with it. :)
  10. StrikeEagle

    StrikeEagle Well-Known Member

    I use RCBS dies in this caliber. But I'm sure that any of the Major Players can supply a very decent .380 set.

    Just make sure you have a dedicated crimp die (taper of course) and don't attempt to crimp in the seating die. That's about it. :)

  11. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    I lean toward Lee dies, as I use them for most calibers, and really like the factory crimp die for .40 S&W. I have several pounds of Unique, and will try a load, up to 4.2 grains, underneath one of those National Bullet lead pills. Thanks again for all your help. I figure of I can load .32ACP (the most problematic of my handgun loads) I should be able to load .380 without too much difficulty. The problems I have with .32ACP are due to the tight chamber of the CZ70, and the profile of the National bullet company's round bullet. The CZ70 feeds and eats S&B .32 ACP best, but I have to crimp my loads just right and just the right length in order for them to feed well in a CZ70. I do have the right formula down, and have made several thousand rounds, but it took awhile to get it to feed just right in that gun. Thanks again so much!
  12. dleong

    dleong Well-Known Member

    I recently purchased a Bersa Thunder 380. The pistol is exceedingly accurate with commercial ammo (in this case, the Winchester 95 gr. 100-round "value pak" stuff), but my first attempts at reloading for it were... less than successful (as chronicled here).

    Since then, I loaded up a new batch (same recipe as indicated in the link, except I upped the Unique powder charge to 3.8 gr.) and shot it last night. According to the chrono (which was placed far enough away to not be affected by any unburned powder spewing out the barrel), the projectiles were averaging about 880 fps, with accuracy equalling the commercial Winchester ammo. The problem, however, was the recoil, which was pretty snappy and painful.

    I would also be interested in learning about some 380ACP recipes that are clean-burning and accurate.
  13. halvey

    halvey Well-Known Member

    CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

    I've used Bullseye for most of my pistol reloading and it meters great. I've used anywhere from 2.5-3.8 grs of Bullseye with 100 gr Berrys bullets, mixed brass and Win primers.

    I've also used up to 2.8 of Clays with the same bullet. Just cooked up that one on my own.

    I've settled on 3.3 grs of Bullseye which is max in one book, but over max in 2 others. I use it in my Kel Tec, and with it being an under 8 oz pistol with a thin grip, can be snappy. But everything is in that gun.

    Once my 3000 rounds I have loaded up are shot up, I will buy factory .380 because:
    1) the Kel Tec dings up the brass so much it makes the brass only last a few reloads, thus cutting my savings
    2) I normally recover less than 1/2 my brass
    3) for the cost of factory .380, to me it's worth it just to buy it
  14. greg531mi

    greg531mi Well-Known Member

    I had good luck with Clays, tite group, AA#5, and Winchester 231....I shoot 88 gr Remington HP's and 102 gr. Golden Saber's....That's the nice thing about reloading, you can shoot premium bullets at a non-premium price.... One word of warming, do not use Speer's maxium loads....they are way too hot in some cases....I always have two sources when I reload a new load, and compare the max loads, to see if they are close..... Have fun and work up the load from starting load, with pistol's that's .2 grains at a time, and don't load too many, I try to keep it at 5 per powder weight...
  15. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    Well, folks, my trip to the range today to test my new .380 ACP load was just boring!:D I mean, the new CZ83 just shot a hole in the middle of the target, no failures to feed eject, or any other problems with the new pistol and 4 mags.:D
    My dies came in last night, along with Meister cast 92 grain lead bullets,and brass purchased off of eBay, so I loaded up a box of .380ACP this morning and wanted to test it out. Shot well, and I'm a happy camper!
    I ended up using 3.9 grains of Unique, Winchester small pistol primers, S&B brass, and a COAL of .970".

    Warning! Use this load data at your own risk. I am not responsible for anyone else's load; always check load data from 2 or more reliable load sources (e.g. Speer and Sierra).

    This is the first new load that I have worked up in several years, and I really enjoyed it.
  16. facedown

    facedown Well-Known Member

    I load 3.1 gr of HP-38 under a Berry 100 gr CPRN, AOL 0.975. Shoots great and pretty clean.
  17. marlin.357

    marlin.357 Well-Known Member

    Been using 3.2 gr of HP-38 under the Remington 88 gr HP and 95 gr Rainier plated bullets and using the Lee FCD. Accurate and relatively clean in my Bersa.

    I think you will find that the blow back pistols will get a little dirtier than the locked breech designs.
  18. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    Folks, one thing that I don't like about starting to load for a new caliber is that it takes so long to prepare my initial brass. I trim and chamfer it, clean out the primer pocket flare and prime each case, of course, before starting to load. At this point I only have a single stage press, and I really kind of like loading on it. I do all the brass prep in the living room (so that I can stay in the air conditioning), but whenever I start loading a new caliber I like to stock up ~2000 rounds for it. So that entails processing a lot of brass.

    :confused: Question, which I'm sure to find differing opinions, is, how important is it to trim all of the once fired brass that I'm processing? I always trim, as I like a consistent crimp. I am using Lee dies and a Lee factory crimp die, and I have ALWAYS trimmed the thousands of rounds that I have loaded for other calibers, but is this necessary for .380? Thanks in advance, Richard
  19. StrikeEagle

    StrikeEagle Well-Known Member

    When I hear numbers like 2000 rounds of reloads, I think Pistol rather than Rifle.

    Well, I don't trim pistol brass, ever. Try NOT trimming a batch. Then compare the way it shoots with trimmed brass reloads. I don't think there will be any difference.

    And I *certainly* would not trim .380.

    With taper crimp dies, exact length or the case is not important.

    My experience. :)
  20. Nhsport

    Nhsport Well-Known Member

    The .380 has some slight problems when reloading. Cases are so small that the caseholder prevents a full resize and some oddball brands of cases may not cycle well in your particular gun . Watch case brands and chuck the odd stuff. Pretty much need to use a fast powder Bullseye is what I mostly used,231 and hp38 are used by some. Most 380 guns (excepting the colts) are blowback and power of the cartridge must be within a fairly narow range to work well. Very short cartridge so OAL is very critical to good operation. Case volumn is very small so changeing OAL will greatly change power of reload. Don't know about the lee factiory crimp die (I like them for some rifle loads) I would stick with the taper crimp.

    The bottom line for me is much like the 9mm ,I don't bother reloading the .380 because the white box stuff is fairly reasonable and my time (never seem to have as much as I need!) is beter spent on my .44mag and 45/70. I own all the gear to do it (just because) but I don't bother much any more.

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