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setting up for 357 and 38special

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by tt5, Nov 17, 2012.

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  1. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    I bought my 357 Magnum dies circa 1969 (Bucky's in Idaho Falls, ID) and they were listed as for both 357 and 38 Special. It never occurred to me I needed to do anything other than screw the expander stem down a mite farther. That still works to this day.

    And since I don't crimp 38 Specials, the seater die just needed to have its stem screwed down a bit more too.

    The same was the case for my original set of 10mm dies as they were marketed for 40 S&W as well. Now days I notice the die makers sell separate sets for 40 cal and 10mm. Always wondered about that, but I sure am glad I got the multipurpose sets when I did.
     
  2. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Well, Lee will still sell you a .40/10mm set. Or at least they sold me, through a dealer, such a set earlier this year. And a .38/357 set, too.
     
  3. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Here's how I set the crimp on just about every pistol cartridge I load: Put a resized case in the shellholder and run it up all the way. Screw the seating/crimp die down until it is just snug against the mouth of the case, and lock it down. That's it. You can tighten just a little more if you need to, but try this setting first.
     
  4. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    Leave it Lee to be practical. I haven't bought any dies in several years but it's nice know you can still get the "combo" ones. Which is as it should be. I have noticed other makers selling them as separate sets.

    For years the same single stage shell holder and Dillon RL550B shell plate was sold for 45 ACP and 30-06. I wonder if that's still the case.
     
  5. mdi

    mdi Member

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    Well, I've been shooting .38 Specials off and on in my .357 Mag. for over 20 years. To get a carbon/gunk build up in the cylinder you will have to shoot 200-300 dirty rounds (lead bullets, low charges of Unique), in my experience. But, my guns get cleaned every time I shoot them. A lot of answers about shooting/reloading are a bit overstated, which make them sound like the worse case senerio will happen (in this case the "dreaded carbon ring") immediately upon firing. Shoot a box of .38s in your .357 and you may notice some residue in the cylinders, maybe not. Use common sense. I don't know of one .357 Magnum manufacturer that suggests limiting the use of ammo to .357 only. If you want a smaller inventory of components, or worried about dirty cylinders, don't buy Special brass, but don't limit yourself for something that might happen, and rob yourself of a lot of reloading/shooting fun...

    P.S.; ferget the FCD. Adjust your dies properly, no buldges, get a good roll crimp die and seat and crimp in 2 steps.
     
  6. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    There's certainly nothing wrong with seating and crimping in separate steps, but with cast bullets there's no advantage either. I will concede that the bullet is still moving while the case mouth is being crimped, but it makes no difference because the case mouth is not touching the bullet at this point it is over the crimp groove.
     
  7. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

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    i'll throw my two cents in as ive been loading 38/357 for just about a year now, using the same setup you have.

    I personally run a ton of 38 through my 357 and switching back and forth to magnum isn't a big deal at all. I usually back out the expander/powder charging die two full turns, run a case through and slightly adjust until I get minimal flare that will still bring the autodisk all the way forwards to drop the powder. then I take the empty case to the seating die, back the die out two turns , then back in until it firmly touches the case mouth and give it another 1/8 turn after that for a slight crimp. then I back out the seater a good bit as im going to use different bullets. When I go to load the first 357, i will have to do some minor depth adjustments being careful to not fully pull down on the lever to crimp it. once im near my desired oal, ill crimp it, make sure its where i want it and set it aside for a plinking round as i'll usually have to set it in a few more thousandths. seems like a lot, but it takes all of 3 minutes to adjust.

    I load about 800 38's a month and prefer them because A- they're everywhere for grabs at my range, B- they are not nearly as difficult to run through the sizing/decapping die as magnum cases are.

    I usually wait til i have 800 casings tumbled, primed and ready to roll before i do a run on the press. my method on the lee turret is quick enough that i can load the 800 in under two hours at a faily leasurely rate. I fill the hopper with hp-38(or win231) powder with the .32 disk such that it throws a 3.35gr charge. put a case in the shell holder, charge the case as i grab a bullet with my left hand, bring the case all the way down so its seated snugly and place the bullet. with my right hand still on the lever, i rotate the turret with it to the seating die, seat the bullet as i grab a new case. use the empty case to push the loaded one in my hand and place the empty in the shell holder, put the loaded round in a tray as i turn the turret with my right hand and repeat the process. once you get it down, you can load a box in 5 minutes flat. And no, this is not wrecklessly fast, im still watching the powder being dropped, reassuring there arent double charges etc etc.
     
  8. clelaj

    clelaj Member

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    Another thought: Using 38 spl case for light load and 357 for heavy load is an easier way to know what is going in and what to expect when squeezing the trigger.
     
  9. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    You don't label your boxes/bags of ammunition with the load data?

    Not that there's anything (necessarily) wrong with that, especially if you only have one power level in each type of brass you load, but I think most of us write down the load details either on the box or on a slip of paper that goes into the box (or bag) of cartridges.

    No offense meant, I just wanted to suggest the practice to anyone reading the thread.

    Lost Sheep
     
  10. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

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    I use colored garage sale stickers to mark each "lot" of ammo I produce to keep tabs on things. its a bit overwhelming to have thousands of 38's of unquestionable origin. I date the colored stickers and keep a paper in each 50 cal can stating powder charge, primer, whether i sized them or not(have one batch 500 or so unsized running in at .3595-.360" dia :/), the ratio of clip on wheel weights to stick on(pure lead) in the batch of cast boolits etc etc.

    recent batches i simply just date as ive solved some minor leading problems. now I run a tulammo sp primer, 3.3gr HP-38, Quenched lee 158(160 actually)gr TlSWC boolits using 80% clip on ww's, 20% stick on ww. tumble lubed using 1/2 drop diluted alox(70% alox, 30% mineral spirits) per bullet, sized to .358 and then relubed 1/2 drop per bullet. took a while, but now I have the perfect load for my 6" taurus 66- dont hate.
     
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    tt5,
    I hope I can remember all the points I want to hit after reading all the posts. First, I think you are making this harder than it is in your mind. If you can load good 9mm ammo there's no reason you can't load good 38/357 ammo. IMO 38/357 ammo is easier than the 9mm to load.

    Forget about the CCI550 primers, no need to use a magnum primer just because you are using .357 Magnum brass. The use of a magnum primers is determined by the powder you are using, not the name of the cartridge. You only need a magnum primer for hard to ignite ball powders like HS-6, HS-7 and W296/H110. I use W231 and CCI500 primers for most of my .38 Special ammo. Remember, just because you're using a .357 Magnum case doesn't mean you are loading .357 Magnum ammo. A .38 Special load in the magnum case is still a .38 Special load.

    I agree there's no reason to buy a spacer if you are going to load only .357 Magnum cases. Save your money. I load a lot of both .38 Specials and .357 Magnums and I have 2 turrets set up with 2 sets of dies, one turret for each. I bought a set of Lee .357 Magnum only dies for a very good price when they were on closeout. (yes Lee used to also carry dedicated dies for the .357 Magnum instead of listing only the 38/357 combo dies in their catalog)

    As for crimp, like I said above, just because you are loading in a .357 Magnum case doesn't mean it's a magnum. .38 Special load data is a .38 Special so you use the crimp you would use on a .38 Special. When loading a 148gr Wadcutter target round use a very light crimp or no crimp at all. A heavy crimp is only needed with slower burning powders in a "real" .357 Magnum load.

    Just load them up, you will do fine!
     
  12. tt5

    tt5 Member

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    thanks archangelcd,
    I figured I was overthinking the whole thing. So i loaded 100 and spent yesterday afternoon at the range trying them out. They all went bang and made holes in the paper.

    Bullet- 148g DEWC from Coyote Bullet works
    powder- 700x-ranged from 2.5g (38spl starting) to 3.5g (357 max load)
    primer cci500
    OAL 1.36"
    Cases were half PMC used stuff and half new Winchester.

    Group sizes were pretty good for 2.5-2.9g. For 3g and up groups were bigger. Maybe it was me, I shot the heavier loads first. I'll have to run another small batch of the heavier loads to check. For now though it looks like if i target 2.7g i have a little room for noise in the charge weight.

    POI was about 1/2" right of POA and pretty much on vertically.

    Crimp was how the machine was set up (the 0.5 picture from my earlier post). I'll back off on that for the next batch.

    Why 700x? it's one of the 2 powders i have, and looked good for the light, slow loads. And I have to find some use for the bottle.

    Next I'll get a 158g Lead SWC and work out a load. I'll want to push that one a little harder.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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