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.38 Long Colt

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by spook, Feb 15, 2011.

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  1. spook

    spook Member

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    Can the .38 Long Colt be loaded using .38 Special dies? A shooter using this round in his S&W 627 cleaned our clocks this past weekend and I thought I might try this cartridge in mine if I don't have to buy new dies.
     
  2. funnelcake

    funnelcake Member

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    Among other slight differences the original bullet was a bit larger in diameter (IIRC, .361) & the LC cases a wee bit shorter; pretty close though. Might depend on your brand of dies. Get a couple pieces of brass & give it a shot.

    Funnel
     
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Special dies will size and seat Long Colts, whether the crimp shoulder will reach is the question.

    By the way, the guy with the LCs was probably using them for a small gain in the unload and reload with shorter cases.
     
  4. spook

    spook Member

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    Thanks for the responses. The .38 Long Colt uses a .357 bullet so my .358's should work ok. One of my church members has a home machine shop and should be able to trim a .38 Special crimp die to the proper length.

    You're right Jim, we were getting beat on the reloads. Every little bit helps.
     
  5. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Yep, probably just have to shorten the seat/crimp die. Like I had to do to load .44Colt with .44Spl/Mag dies.
     
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    That may not be too easy, because most dies are heat treated to be very hard. Be sure to warn your friend about this. It might be better to buy a .38 Long Colt bullet seating and crimp die. Your other .38 Special dies should work.

    Then consider trimming .38 Special cases to .38 Short Colt length, and buy or make reloading dies to match. :evil:
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  7. spook

    spook Member

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    I discovered that Lee has a set of dies for the .38 Long Colt and cases are available. Now I just have to determine if the Dillon .38 Special shell plate will work with the .38 Long Colt. I like the idea of cutting down .38 Special cases. Can anyone tell me if the case wall thickness increases to the extent that bullet seating would be a problem?

    My knowlege always increases when I pose a question on this site, it makes me realize how much I don't know. Thanks for sharing your knowlege with me.
     
  8. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    A guy I shoot matches with cuts .38spl cases to somewhere between short colt and long colt length. Lordy, though, it seemed like a lot of work, so when I wanted an ICORE "gamer" load, I just bought Long Colt brass, and a 9mm taper crimp die. Worked well.
     
  9. spook

    spook Member

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    Sounds good to me. Thanks for the tip.
     
  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The difference in overall case lengths between the .38 Long Colt (1.02") and .38 Special (1.155") is .13" or a hair over 1/8". Trimming that much off of the case won't affect case wall thickness.

    That said, I don't see why you can't go back to .900", which is the case length of Colt's Super .38... :cool: :evil:
     
  11. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    If you have a .38 Special or .357 Magnum "Lee Factory Crimp" die, it should be adjustable to crimp .38 Long Colts. Or you can use a 9mm crimp die and raise it up quite a bit.
     
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    How about .38 S&W at .754" case length? Good enough for the British.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I thought about that, but decided that the longer .900" length might allow a wider choice of powder types and charges. I could be wrong because I understand that some revolver competitors have gone to the .38 Short Colt, which is the shortest over-the-counter length cartridge that will work in a .38 Special chamber.

    The .38 S&W cartridge is an oddball in hand ejector revolvers, but it is far easier to load and eject then the .38 Special.

    There is no practical reason that large capacity cartridges designed to use black powder couldn't be shortened today, and some good reasons that they should be. However I'm not sure there is any meaningful market demand for making the change. Federal found this out with their rimmed 9mm Para.

    Game players on the other hand... :evil:
     
  14. Border Hopper

    Border Hopper Member

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    Without worrying about the "game" aspect of lighter loads, I have been loading the .38 Long Colt with 105 gr Missouri Bullets for my wife's use in my .357 Vaqueros. The other dies were too long to put the crimp on the cannelure, so I "short-stroke" the crimping die for the .38 S & W. Making a dummy cartridge was very helpful in adjusting the die.

    The .380/9mm taper die would be a suitable alternative, but these light bullets have a lovely crimping groove that seems very useful.

    Whenever you fire a shorter cartridge in a longer chamber, watch for fouling that could cause the longer rounds to chamber with some difficulty. That happens, so scrub out the cylinders/chambers regularly if both rounds are being used in the same match.
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The wacky and adventurous staff at Gun World magazine of the 1960s shot something they called the ".357 Short." I don't know the details, not having bought the issue, just saw it mentioned in conjunction with another project.
     
  16. spook

    spook Member

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    "Short Stroking" is a term I'm not familar with in regard to reloading. Could someone explain this?
     
  17. Huckelberry75

    Huckelberry75 Member

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    Short Stroking, is not running the die all the way into the press, so the ram will not contact the bottom of the die.
     
  18. DILLONHELP

    DILLONHELP Member

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    No problem using 38 Long Colt in Dillon 38 Spl shellplates. Additionally, Dillon 38/357 dies will adjust down far enough for 38 Long Colt. This does not apply to 38 Short Colt however.
     
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