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My first reloads- would you shoot these?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by xsquidgator, Apr 20, 2007.

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  1. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    I recently bought a Lee turret kit with some dies, and with a friend's help I just ran off my first dozen .38 special rounds that I reloaded myself. I'm abut 90% sure that they're ok for me to test fire, but my experienced friend (a guy from work who reloads) is gone for another week or so, and I'm not positive if he knows or not.

    Here's why I'm at all uncertain:
    I reloaded once-fired .38 Special Winchester brass of mine with 148 grain "button nose" lubed bullets and a nominal 3 grains of Winchester 231 powder, and Winchester small pistol primers. I charged the first 6 rounds using a powder scoop,and the 2nd six using a Lee auto-powder loader. I'm confident the powder amounts are ok, I used my scale to verify the scooped charge was 3 grains of W231, and I got 2.9 grains +/- 0.1 gr when I used the automatic powder loader. The primers all went in fine. I loaded these with a carbide Lee 4-die set.

    My uncertainty lies in interpreting what kind of bullets I have in there.

    My lee reloading guide (.38 special) says for 148 gr wadcutters (the closest to these 148 gr button nosed bullets) to use 2.9gr of W231 powder, and minimum overall length is 1.180"

    I also have a Lyman reloading guide for .38 special. The closest load I can find in that guide is for 150 gr linotype bullets (bullet #358091, whose picture looks like some kind of almost flat nosed wadcutter), using a starting load of 3.7 grains of W231 and an overall length (OAL, correct?) of 1.317"

    The assembled cartridges I've put together are 1.318" long for the first six, and 1.328" long for the second six. The "button nosed" bullets appear seated properly to me, that is, the case is crimped over the last of the grooves in the bullet. They fit into my revolver's chambers just fine.

    So, based on this info, would this be enough for you to feel ok to shoot these bullets? I was going to begin my reloading with just doing .38 special, and shooting in a .357 magnum revolver just to have a little more margin for error in case I make some kind of mistake. How critical, that is, to what tolerance or precision, is the overall length? I know if the bullet is pushed too far into the cartridge, that an overpressure can occur. Based on these 2 reloading guides I have, I don't think I've done this, but I know enough to know that I don't know for sure.

    What do you experienced reloaders think of this? I'm pretty confident these are ok, I have no reason to think they're not, but they are my first reloads and I want to be safe.
     
  2. benedict1

    benedict1 Member

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    They are not "button-nosed" bullets. The technical name is Round Nose-Flat Point or RN-FP.

    Yes, you should seat lead bullets like this so the rim crimps into the groove, the "cannelure" This will often give a pretty short cartridge.

    Your rounds should not be as short as wad cutters which are typically loaded so only a few thousandths of the bullet extends beyond the rim of the case.

    At 3.0 gr Win 231 these should be pretty soft.

    If you are nervous about this, wait until your pal gets back and set them aside. Then load 12 more to try tomorrow with longer OAL--or crimp, as I said, to the last groove before you get to the nose area of the bullet.
     
  3. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    I'd shoot 'em. Your load is at start level for bevel base WC's and mid level for HBWC's (hollow base) according to Winchesters data, so charge weight isn't an issue. You'll find them to be a nice light load.
     
  4. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

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    +1 to what Steve said. 3.0 gr of 231 is a gentle load in .38 Spl. You'll be surprised how mild it is when fired from a .357 revolver.

    Don't concern yourself at all about overall length with .38 Spl. loads. OAL is not critical with rimmed cartridges fired from revolvers. A bit short is no problem at all. Don't worry about it.

    Reloading-wise, it sounds like you are off to a very good start.
     
  5. CZ57

    CZ57 member

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    And . . . there is most definitely a wadcutter design known as the Button Nose Wadcutter. It is not a RNFP. Take a look at most of the commercial casters websites, you'll find 'em.;)
     
  6. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Based on personal experience, 3.0 grains of W231 or HP38 is a safe mild load with just about any bullet that you can put in a .38 Special.
     
  7. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

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    Safe loads?

    Xsquidgator--Yr description of yr loads and technique sound fine. 3.0 grains of W231 is a light target charge with a 148 grain bullet.

    As has been pointed out, OAL in a rimmed-cartridge revolver is not a big issue, especially as these are more or less flat-nosed bullets, doubly especially as you are going to be firing these .38's in a .357. Only time OAL is a problem is if the nose of the bullet sticks out of the front of the chambers, preventing operation of the cylinder.

    The one thing you have to be VERY careful with is the powder charge. With W231 the amounts used are so small that double- or even triple-charging a case is a very real possibility. You can't be too paranoid about guarding against this. Check EVERY case, after charging and before inserting bullet. A double charge can really ruin your afternoon.

    If you are sure all the 3.0 grain charges are singles, I'd not hesitate to go ahead and shoot the rounds. Sounds like you are off and running in The Magnificent Obsession--Reloading!

    BTW, just as an afterthought, WHAT is a Xsquidgator??? Fascinating web alias!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2007
  8. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Thanks everyone very much for your input, I appreciate it. Until I gain some experience with reloading, I'm trying to avoid any deviation from published data. Now I'm trying to find some components to buy for my setup that I know will be in the reloading guides. I just may go out today and try these 12 rounds out that I made. I am very sure that all are singly charged, I'll use my friend's scale to make sure they're all about the same weight though before I go (my inexpensive lee scale only goes up to 100gr so can't use that :(

    "xsquidgator" is short for ex-USN sailor University of Florida Gator fan- how 'bout them Gators! Not to be confused with other "gator sailors" or "brown water Navy" associated with amphibious warfare- I was a submarine guy.
     
  9. RecoilRob

    RecoilRob Member

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    One other caution not mentioned is the possibility of a 'squib' round. When using very light charges in a relatively large case there is the possibility of the bullet not clearing the barrel should the powder not burn completely or correctly.

    My loading data shows the 3grn load to be below minimum for your chosen bullet OAL. Not by much, but still the rounds are going to be real powder-puff light. Just please make sure they all clear the tube and make holes in the paper when you touch them off.

    Firing a bullet into a barrel with one already stuck in it isn't a great thing to experience. In 38 Special, you aren't likely to witness a big blow-up, but it could buldge the barrel and..at least..is a major pain to get the bullets back out once they stick.

    Just keep an ear out for the sound of each shot and if one sounds weak...STOP!! Check the barrel for obstruction and continue if found to be clear.

    The minimum starting loads are normally fine for most guns, but when the velocities drop below 600fps (which I doubt yours will get to) the chance of an obstruction goes up. Be careful and have fun!
     
  10. BBQJOE

    BBQJOE Member

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    I suggest finding a wooden dowel rod and a small mallet or hammer to keep in your range bag. It's not totally uncommon to make a squib, or miss charging altogether. Especially when starting out or getting too confident.
    The dowel will give you a way to tap a lodged bullet back out at the range, instead of driving all the way home to dislodge a stuck bullet.
     
  11. CZ57

    CZ57 member

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    RecilRob and BBQJoe make very good points here! One thing you might want to consider for future loads is a powder that is formulated to perform well regardless of positioning in the case. TiteGroup and AA#2 are a couple of examples, and having a dowel rod in your range bag is always a good idea.;)
     
  12. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    O-ho! I will keep this in mind! Now that I actually have the press, dies and etc I am preparing to buy bullets, powder and primers.

    Would you recommend Titegroup and AA#2 for .38 special, .357 magnum, and 9mm reloads? These are what I'm planning to start my reloading with, and I have the .38 and 9mm Lee carbide dies.

    For 9mm (Lyman's guide) I see Titegroup listed for some but not all of the loads, none have AA#2. The Lee guide for 9mm lists some loads using Titegroup and some using "Accur#2", which i can't find a description of yet, don't know if that's AA#2 or not. ("Accurate Arms" =? AA? as described in the Lyman Reloading Guide)

    For .38 Special, Lyman's has loads using Titegroup and AA#2, Lee's has Titegroup and Accur#2.


    And then, it appears that Bullseye powder is used in almost everything from .25acp to .45acp?
     
  13. CZ57

    CZ57 member

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  14. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    For what it's worth, all of these first .38 special rounds shot off just fine this afternoon. As predicted by those of you with more experience, these were indeed "light" rounds with noticeably less recoil and bang than factory WWB .38 specials. Now that these first dozen went fine, now on to reload the 700 or so cleaned brass casings I've been saving for the last 10 months! And then I'll do the .357 brass too! And then the 9mm...
     
  15. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    He's hooked...We can pull him in now...:D
     
  16. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

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    My very own very first rounds...

    Xsquidgator--There is Nothing, NOTHING, like the feeling of firing off those first I-made-it-all-by-myself-and-they-all-went-bang reloaded rounds! I envy you the experience! Great going! :)

    And Bushmaster is right--it's addictive! :) :)

    Good on you! :) :) :)
     
  17. Crazy4nitro

    Crazy4nitro Member

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    Now the sickness has begun.....
    Just wait till you work up that "Perfect" load for each gun. (better groups then factory ammo)

    Crazy4nitro
     
  18. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    I'm going through the same thing with .45 acp. There's so much science in it that I feel dumb reading all the posts about new reloaders and ask some really silly questions.

    Seems like it's a lot looser a science than I thought originally. Am I any more likely to blow my hand off with .45 acp in a springfield 1911?

    Sorry to hijack, It's kinda in the same ballpark.
     
  19. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Thanks everyone for all the good thoughts - and yes I do think I'm hooked! It's hard to explain to a non-gun enthusiast (like my wife :( )how cool it is to go all the way from picking up brass off the ground at the range, through the whole reloading process and then shooting them all off again. Very cool.
     
  20. GaryL

    GaryL Member

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    It is both a science, and an art. It could be entirely a science, since everything can be measured and quantified, but that would become a never ending process, so it's been reduced to a 'statistical' science. All that means is that everything has been adjusted (guns, cases, bullets, powder, loads, etc) to have normal distributions with a high degree of reliability and confidence built into the results.

    You will be fine with your Springfield, as long as you are a careful reloader. 45 acp is a little easier to explode since you can put a fair amount of fast powder behind a heavy bullet.

    We've all had dumb questions at one time or another - not asking a dumb question could end up being pretty stupid.
     
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