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  1. #1
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    Reloading .38 Spl.

    I've got a bunch of .38 brass in my cellar.....from a couple of years of shooting factory ammo. I know this has been covered here someplace......BUT, how do I get started loading some basic .38 practice ammo? I'd like it to be clean to shoot, with 158 gr. semi wad cutter type of bullets. I'm not really looking for a do all type of reloading book, I just want to make some cheap all-around ammo, so I can shoot my .38's more. I'm NOT a target shooter, by any stretch of the imagination! I'm getting sick of the high prices!!! Bob
    When you want the BEST! Bob

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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    Someone mentioned about 3.8gr of 231 in one of my threads. I've had some of those loaded for some time and just loaded up some using 4.0gr of 231.

    Truth be told, I've got a number of different powders and am trying to consolidate. I'm loading up 5 rounds each of varying powders and weights to see what I like. Problem is trying to get out and shoot 'em.

    Are you already set up to reload?

  3. #3
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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    That's why I started, welcome to the "club".
    Basic equipment isn't bad - just decide how much you want to pay and who to get it from.

    For myself, I started with Midway USA and bought a simple RCBS single stage press, a Midway portable reloading stand, Lee dies, a Lee scale, Lee plastic measuring cup set, a Midway USA tumbler, walnut media, and their brass polish that you add to the media. The tumbler, ground walnut hulls, and brass polish make my handloads look like new ammo.

    It wasn't very long until I bought a Lee Pro 1000 and it has done fine for me - a progressive press really speeds things up. It comes with basic directions on handloading. A lot of people buy other brands.

    Another alternative is a four station single stage type press, not progressive - this lets you setup all the dies on the press at the same time and still load one thing at a time like the original one station single stage press.

    I bought powder and primers locally for the best price I could find.

    I bought 500 round boxes of hardcast 158 gr LSWC's locally. Back then I bought Western Nevada brand, but my local store has retired & closed, so now I would mail order from Tennessee Valley Bullets.com

    The last gun shows I went to had very good prices on powder, primers, and reloading books.

    The reloading books are great to have, and the powder & some bullet manufacturers have reloading info on their websites too.

    Handloading is simple in a way, but the safety procedures have to be followed or people get hurt. Just like a lot of other things that we already do everyday.

    The books and manufacturers websites have a lot of necessary information.

    If you cast your own bullets, then you can be really cheap, or make special ammo the manufacturers do not make - or that the manufacturers charge a lot of money for.

    There are lots of folks here who know things I don't, and someone should have good info to share soon. Again, welcome to the "club".
    John. Which group of heros, from centuries ago, is associated with this saying: "First into battle and last out"

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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    I used to use a Dillon 550 when I was shooting a lot of IDPA, USPSA and CAS, but haven't touched it in a couple of years. Unless you're going to be doing a lot of shooting, I'd definitely go with a single stage.

    I started out with an RCBS Rockchucker back in 1984 when I was 14 years old. Was taught to reload by the Undersherrif of Ravalli, Co. who was big into IPSC. Between him and another Deputy, I learned a lot at a very young age.

    I still have that Rockchucker on my bench and that is what I use for everything now. I just don't reload the volume of ammo I once did. 50 rounds here and there makes for a nice hour or so of "relax time".

    I really like the Lee stuff. Although I use RCBS dies (have had them for years), I use the Lee factory crimp dies and love 'em. You can't beat Lee for the price and I think they're every bit as good as RCBS.

    I, however, stay away from Lyman dies. They just don't seem as well made as others. I do like some of Lyman's other products (especially their powder measure - I like it much more than the RCBS powder measure), and their case trimmers. They are, however, a good company to deal with if something goes wrong or breaks - at least from my experience.

    Don't kid yourself in thinking that you'll only just reload for one caliber. This reloading thing is real addictive and you'll end up with a mess of stuff.

  5. #5
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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    My standard everyday plinking load is 3.8 grains of Win 231 and a 158 grain SWC. This load is a very accurate and mild load in my M & P.
    "No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must being in blood, whatever may answer afterward."
    Mark Twain

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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    The one great thing about the .38 Special is that there's so many different loads and bullet weights available to load and experiment with. But for just plain old plinking, target work, and economical ammo, the decades old standard load is a 148 grain wadcutter and 2.7 0r 2.8 Bullseye powder. A single pound of Bullseye will load a whole lot of bullets, and I believe Midway is still selling boxes of 2,000 (yes, 2,000) Remington factory lead hollow base 148 grain wadcutter bullets for around $109.00. Hard to beat.

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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    My wife got me a Lee reloader for Christmas. I finally managed to clear the workbench and get it mounted a couple of weeks ago and have sized about 100 rounds. It is a nice, simple machine that takes a little mechanical aptitude to figure out from the instructions.

    I discovered early on that I needed to hold the cartridge as I ran it up or it wouldn't always hit the die right. I then learned a little later that one must be sure to get his thumb out of the way, those presses ..... well ..... press. Hard.

    Still got the blood blister. And another lesson learned!

    I haven't gone any further than this because I bought some Universal (because it said 38 on the label), and got really confused. The web site says about 3 grains, but the label says 5. That seems like an awful lot of powder. The reloading manual that came with the kit doesn't site that powder, so I'm kinda wondering what to do. My thought is to start at the low end, and see how it goes. I'm just a bit nervous about it, I'm a computer geek and things tend to be more specific.
    Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    I don't know what grain bullet you're loading, so it's hard to say.

    Here's Hodgdon's load page for 38 Special............
    http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp

  9. #9
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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnFox
    ...... I bought some Universal (because it said 38 on the label), and got really confused. The web site says about 3 grains, but the label says 5. That seems like an awful lot of powder. The reloading manual that came with the kit doesn't site that powder, so I'm kinda wondering what to do. My thought is to start at the low end, and see how it goes. I'm just a bit nervous about it, I'm a computer geek and things tend to be more specific.
    Hodgdon Universal Clays is an excellent gunpowder choice for .38 Special. It is similar in burn rate and bulk to Alliant Unique that you hear everyone talk about...in fact, Hodgdon marketed the first batches of Universal Clays as "The cleaner-burning alternative to Unique". It will work well with WCs, SWCs, RNs, and TCs from 140gr.-175gr. in weight, and will do fine for your light loads, mid-range loads, and +P loads.

    I have loaded and shot several pounds of Universal Clays in .38 Special and other cartridges - and have generally preferred to use 4.0-4.5gr Universal with a 158-165gr. SWC in my K-frame revolvers. This load range is very close in velocity and pressure to the same charge of Unique. For .38 Special, you can use Unique load data as a general guide for Universal Clays - that has been my experience with loads in my M-15. Always back off the max. charge and work up the load using your own revolver and components.

    Successful and safe handloading requires attention to detail. There are so many variables that can cause different results (too many to list!) - that is the reason for giving a range of powder charges for a given bullet - different results in different firearms....

  10. #10
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    Re: Reloading .38 Spl.

    My apologies for not including the bullet. I bought some 125gr. jacketed hollow points, because that was all that Bass Pro had. I'll order online from now on, thanks to the many links you guys have included in the past.

    Here is part of my confusion. The label says 'Universal Clays Technology'. max load for 38sp, 125 gr bullet is 5.2 gr.

    Their web site says for I should use 3.5 to 3.9 for Clays, and 4.7 to 5.2 for Universal.

    I'm really confused ... is the powder Clays or Universal. It seems to be Universal, at least the max load for the two are the same. But what's the deal with the 'Clays' on the label??

    Please be kind .. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
    Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.


 
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