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Reloading .380, costs and process?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Wayne02, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Wayne02

    Wayne02 Well-Known Member

    I have put off getting the keltec or the Ruger .380 for sometime now, in part because of the ammo availability and cost situation, and I'm a bit ocd about keeping the number of calibers to a minimum for simplicities sake. However, after trying a bunch of pocket pistols the keltec or the Ruger is the one for me, so I need to get over this ammo issue and get on with it.

    I have become very spoiled with having a stock of components or bulk commercial ammo available that support my shooting, including through the recent shortage years. After re-entering the reloading game several years ago following some time away, I find I have little patience for running around trying to obtain difficult to find ammunition at retail stores or online.

    My assumption going into this is that it would be better for me to buy the necessary dies and components required to reload .380 on my LNL vs. purchasing bulk commercial ammo, but I want to check that assumption and get the general 411 on reloading .380.

    - How is the availability of .380 reloading components these days? (assumes I will need to buy once fired or new brass since starting out with nothing)

    - How about the cost of said components, are they trending along with the price of loaded ammo? Comparable to 9mm components or much higher?

    - I have to check the load books yet but was curious if the .380 uses some of the same powders as the 9mm, or maybe the .45, both of which I currently reload?

    - I shoot a lot of cast bullets in almost all my guns for cost savings. For the carry guns I attempt to get as close to a factory load as possible for practice, and then carry commercial ammo. Is there much availability of cast bullets for the .380?

    - How long does .380 brass last?

    - What about the process of reloading .380 on a progressive, is it much different then 9mm other then the components being smaller?

    - Any other quirks with .380?

  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Out of a P3AT it lasts about one shot.

    Because the empties are ejected in a random low earth orbit, and you can't find them.

    I doubt the Ruger copy of the P3AT would be much different in that respect, but I don't know for sure.

  3. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    I use Win 231 = HP38 for my pistol reloads. No big negative issues about the .380 once I switch the powder measure to the micro-disk from the adjustable charge bar I use on the larger calibers.

    .380 components are just as hard to come by as any other size I reckon. They use the basic small pistol primer (I've found Wolf available). I have the P3AT and a Bersa Thunder in .380. The Thunder is MUCH more comfortable to shoot at the range than the hand biting KelTec, but the P3AT is not intended as a range gun, just a close-in BUG or easy to conceal small primary. It is really meant to be carried a lot, and shot a little.
  4. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Mine does that too, and I wrote to Keltec about it and they said it was normal. (I was afraid it was beating the slide stops to death) I wonder if an aftermarket heavier spring would help?

    I use 4.2 grains of Unique with 95 grain hard cast bullets. The recoil is fierce; each shot is about like a firecracker going off in my hand. At least after I polished the trigger a little it's more like a ladyfinger instead of a normal firecracker. :) 3.0 grains of International Clays with the same bullet is a good load that's a little easier to shoot.

    Components are not all that expensive, but once-fired brass is almost as hard to find as practice ammo.
  5. Byron

    Byron Well-Known Member

    The .380 is easy to reload for. Lately, I have been using the 95 grain cast bullet from Missiouri Bullet Company. It is accurate. I live in Middle TN and a small gun store in the country is having good luck at getting Winchester and CCI primers, all types. The prices are more than fair. I use data from Hornady maunuals using 231. Byron
  6. Roccobro

    Roccobro Well-Known Member

    Using old stock W231 I've had great luck with the .380 for some Ruger LCP's. Brass lasts and lasts. Finding them is the harder part. Lower charges puts the brass a few feet away.. instead of about 20-30 with factory power level! MB bullets like Byron, and about to try some of LongDayJakes plated HP's.

    Hardest part was getting some dies once all other components were ready. But that is over now and I can find them online in most brands easily.

  7. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    Midway has Rem Golden Sabre 102gr .355 in stock if you need jhp. they shoot great in my BDA over Power Pistol.
    Mike at 'mastercastbullets.com' has good cast rn 95gr I load over 'Red Dot' for medium strength plinker loads. good groups.
  8. longdayjake

    longdayjake Well-Known Member

    I sell the 95 grain hollow points on my website www.rmrbullets.com if you are interested. They are more expensive than regular 9mm for some reason, but they are still fairly reasonable. My bullets were mentioned earlier, but i had better let everyone know that the .380 are not plated. They are jacketed.
  9. LightningMan

    LightningMan Well-Known Member

    You should have no problem loading the .380acp I bought the dies from Lee ( $38 not cheap but they will pay for themselfs in short time). I buy 92 grain RNL from S&S castings about $23 per 500 & any small pistol primers I can get my hands on will work. I don't buy any brass as the rifle/pistol club I belong to, I am always finding .380 range brass & with 4.5 grains of AA#5 makes a nice plinking load. About 780 fps.
    Bullets 5 cents apiece, Primers 3.5 cents apiece, Powder 1.5 cents, Brass Free, Loaded round=10 cents or $5 a box of 50rds. Thats if I did the math right. LM
  10. Ryder

    Ryder Well-Known Member

    I reloaded for the 380acp for a few years.

    I don't recall ever wearing any brass out. They are so small that I lost them in the grass before that could happen. Handling them during the reloading process was an excercise in frustration for me, more often than not I'd knock them over and dump the powder onto my bench by trying to pick them up. I don't have unusually large fingers.

    Be aware that due to their small case capacity they are sensitive to seating depth. I've read a difference of .04 inches below minimum published OAL can double internal pressure. I believe it. I quit reloading it after firing a shot one day that felt like it was from a 357 magnum. Very cold day, not sure if that contributed to setback or if it was simply a weak crimp on my part.
  11. Randy1911

    Randy1911 Well-Known Member


    Out of a P3AT it lasts about one shot.
    Because the empties are ejected in a random low earth orbit, and you can't find them.


    I shoot a Sig/Sauer P232 380 and it does the same thing. Other than that I love the pistol.

    Reloading the 380 is no more harder than loading the 9mm. I load it on a Hornady LnL with no problems. It uses shell plate #16, the same as .223 Rem.. Components are no more harder to find than any other caliber.
  12. 50calshooter

    50calshooter Active Member

  13. Roccobro

    Roccobro Well-Known Member

    Sorry Jake. :eek:

    For the price I ass*umed it was plated. :D

  14. Seedtick

    Seedtick Well-Known Member

    Hey Wayne02,

    You need to jump on these OF 380 brass at $65 per K down in the Trading Post.

    You'll be hard pressed to find a better deal. IMHO

  15. longdayjake

    longdayjake Well-Known Member

    is $65 the going price these days? Dang, I knew the bullets had gone up but for pistol brass thats just crazy.
  16. Seedtick

    Seedtick Well-Known Member

    Hey Jacob,

    That's as good a price as I've seen in a while in the trading post. That is 1K shipped too. Those 380 have been hard to come by lately.

  17. Iron Sight

    Iron Sight Well-Known Member

    I load 380s for my Walther PPK/S, Hornady 90g HPXTP, 3.3 g Win 231, OAL
    .965. They function very well in my gun.

    Have to concentrate a bit to get the projectile correctly started in the case during bullet seating.

    I have some Missouri lead 95g I am looking forward to trying.
  18. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    I had a time getting anything for the 380. I ended up ordering dies from Cableas, which came in a month. I ordered 100 grain bullets from Berry's, which was the only place I could find any. Yes there was a wait for those too, but not too bad. Primers I had on hand, luckily. I am loading 380 with Titegroup powder and liking it. I have not found any brass. I just use what I get from factory loads.

    It certainly seems worthwhile to me to load this caliber when you see how much they want for factory loads, that is, if you can find any.
  19. Nate1778

    Nate1778 Well-Known Member

    I load for it as well. Unique is a good powder, I cast the 95g with a Lee mold and pan lube. Casings I pick up at the range. I don't shoot my .380 much but your right, the price of the caliber has skyrocketed and become impossible to find.
  20. Beelzy

    Beelzy Well-Known Member

    The 380 is a easy round to load. I use Sierra 115gr JHP over 3.2gr Unique.

    The bullets actually expand at .380 velocities, making it a good SD loading.

    The only thing less expensive about loading the .380 is the powder, you use less.

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