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crimping moly coated black .38 bullets

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BiknSwans, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. BiknSwans

    BiknSwans Member

    I'm having trouble getting a good crimp using 147 grain moly coated .38 caliber bullets I bought from blackbulletsinternational.com.

    I have loaded a few thousand 9 mm rounds using Precision moly coated bullets and like them very much. I used the Lee 4 die set including the Lee factor crimp die (FCD). I was very careful setting up the crimp and adjusted the crimp to get little or no damage to the coating or compression of the bullet. I like the moly coating for the usual reasons, low cost, clean dies, little or no leading. When I decided to load .38s, I wanted moly coated bullets and found them at blackbulletsinternational.com.

    I bought 3000 of them, so I need to make this work. I first tried the Lee FCD .38 die set. The bullets do not have a cannelure, but there is a grease ring without any grease in it. They are round nose flat point. I'm using a pretty light load, 3.8 grains of W-231. I tried crimping just past the almost flat part and then in the flat part using several different degrees of crimping up to visibly compressing the bullet and cutting through the coating to the lead. When I loaded a revolver (S&W Model 15 K-frame, 2 inch barrel) with six rounds, shot 5, and removed and measured the OAL of the last round, the OAL always increased as the bullet is being pulled out by the recoil. Increases of .008 to .032 were measured for three different crimps. The crimp was excessive for the round whose OAL only increased .008 and I doubt it would be accurate.

    When I use a bullet puller, it only takes a couple of moderate strikes to remove the .38 bullets. For the 9mm, it takes a dozen.

    I had read that I would get better results using a taper crimp, so I bought a Redding .38/.357 taper crimp die. I thought I could get a tighter crimp without damaging the bullet. I haven't gone to the range to test these yet, but I can easily pull the bullets with 2 strikes, 3 for a overly crimped bullet. The bullet was reduced by .004 in diameter to .353 for the overly crimped bullet test. I don't see any significant improvement using the taper crimp die.

    I can't think of anything else to try. I may just use a light to moderate crimp, practice with them and see if they actually cause any problems by getting too long.

    Any suggestions?
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Maybe your expander is too big?

    Maybe moly coated bullets are a bad idea because they are too slick?

    But I would suspect the expander, especially if you are using a Lee powder-through die.

    Measure it and see if it is .355" or so.
    If it is bigger, turn it down with a drill and emery paper until it is.
    That will give more/proper case neck tension and help the crimp do it's job

  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    They are lead bullets coated with their Moly "mixture". The 147 ".38" bullet they sell is really a 9MM bullet. Unsized and "moly" coated it must be a suitable size for .38 (Hopefully, measure them). It has one lube groove (unlubed) with no crimp groove. The 158's have a crimp groove that you can roll crimp in.

    Get a 9MM or .38 Spl taper crimp die and taper crimp them, or try seating them deep enough to lightly roll crimp over the start of the taper.
  4. BiknSwans

    BiknSwans Member

    Thanks rcmodel and Walkalong. I measured the expander (it is a Lee powder-through die) and it is .358 increasing to .372 at the end of the flare. The bullets measure .358. Pushing the bullet into a casing that is .003 smaller should help. There isn't a lot of material to grab onto because of the grease ring which wipes out about half the contact length. If I seat the bullet much deeper, I'll have a larger gap at the mouth between the bullet and the casing.

    Get a 9MM or .38 Spl taper crimp die and taper crimp them, or try seating them deep enough to lightly roll crimp over the start of the taper.

    I'm now using a .38 Spl taper crimp (Redding) and tried the roll crimp before. I did try seating them deep enough to lightly (and heavily) roll crimp over the start of the taper. The blackbulletsinternational.com website is down now, but I think I wanted to buy the 158 grain bullets, but didn't, perhaps because they were out of stock. If so, maybe I should have waited.

    I'll try to turn down the expander with a drill and emery paper and will let you know how it turns out.

    Thanks for your help.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Well that's your problem right there!!

    You would have NO neck tension with .357" jacketed bullets.

    I really don't know why Lee continues to do this??

  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

  7. BiknSwans

    BiknSwans Member

    My friend has a small lathe. He reduced the expander to a diameter of .355 using 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper. The resulting finish was very smooth and shiny. I adjusted the expander setting to get a minimum bell that allowed me to insert the bullets.

    I tried another set of crimps going from light to heavy and can't tell any difference in the neck tension or feel any difference when seating the bullet. Reducing the expander diameter must have helped, but not enough. The bullets were easily pulled in all cases. Even with an excessive crimp that reduced the bullet diameter in the crimp region by .003, I could pull the bullet with three easy swings hitting a small brick. I tried seating the bullet so that the crimp was on the flat and on the shoulder, but neither worked.

    Right now my conclusion is that these bullets are somewhat undersized and that there is insufficient contact length between the bullet and casing. The grease ring makes the bullet more flexible too. The result is insufficient neck tension. I don't think changing to a third crimping die or a different expander die (and powder measure) will fix this problem.

    Perhaps I can use them as 9mm bullets instead.

    If anyone has used these bullets successfully, I would love to hear about that.
  8. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Well-Known Member

    I once tried the precision bullets and found that the vapor from the coating made my throat sore and irritated my lungs. I later found out I was breathing Molydisulfide. Not good. These days I use plated bullets, or lee liquid alox tumbled cast.
    It's your health, make sure you have really good ventilation when you are shooting these as you really don't want to breath the coating.
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    147 grain .357 bullets are unsized 9mm bullets, regardless of what the bullet seller cares to call them.


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