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Load Question

2083 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  xtimberman
I recieved my equipment and set it up for 38spl. I have two manuals on hand, Modern Reloding 2nd edition and Lyman Reloading Handbook 49th edition. I purchased 158grn swc, Universal powder and remington primers. The Lee Manual list a 158grn lead bullet. The Lyman manual list a 158grn Linotype, I don't know what that means.
The recipe for these two are very different. I tried the Lee recipe as follows, 158gr. swc, 3.7grains of universal, and an oal of 1.475. I loaded two cases and put them in my 586 and stepped out on the patio and fired them, I had taken a couple factory rounds out as well.I couldn't tell any real difference. Does this sound like a decent target load?

Now that I got my feet wet I have more questions than ever, however I did learn that it takes some feel when seating and crimping the bullet. I was soon able to tell when I would over do it and seat it to deep and over crimp. An interesting thing is the over crimped rounds will not fit any S&W revolvers but go right in Charter arms undercover.

Another confusing thing for me is in the Lyman manual, it states, "bullet #358429 closely duplicates the factory 158 grain semi-wadcutter. This is the Elmer Keith design bullet and makes an excellent choice for hunting." When I look that number up it list it as 170 gr. linotype and is very similiar to the recipe I used from the lee manual but I don't understand the contradiction in weight. Thanks for any input. Dave
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Congratulations! You are paying close attention to detail and that is very good! I believe that is the single most important factor to safe and successful reloading!

The extra weight in E.K.'s 170 gr. SWC has more to do with his desire to come up with the best-designed .357" SWC bullet than it does with that extra 12gr. of weight. He wanted his design to have a long forward truncated cone, a wide driving band, a single wide square-bottom grease groove, and a wide base band - and to accomodate all that, his bullet design ended up weighing ~170gr. when cast of #2 alloy. (BTW, Linotype is just another alloy mixture like #2 alloy, wheelweights, 50/50, etc. and has more antimony in it than the others - and bullets cast of linotype end up weighing a little less.)

E.K. designed the perfect SWC bullet for the .38 Sp. and .357 Mag., but the ammo manufacturers all modified his design so it would still weigh 158 gr. - and I haven't any idea just why they were stuck on that 158gr. weight instead of a nice round 160 or 170 gr. :? The original RN bullet for .38 Sp. was 158 gr. because some ballisticians had determined that the optimum bullet length for that bore diameter and rate of twist would weigh exactly 158 gr. After shooting billions of rounds in .38 Special revolvers for 110 years, shooters have figured out that this versatile cartridge is very successful at shooting a wide range of bullet weights from 110gr.-200gr.

In all reality, when you are loading low pressure plinking or target loads, a slight difference in bullet weights won't matter much as the pressure increase of the extra 12 gr. will still be well below the SAAMI maximum pressure ceiling of 17000psi for .38 Special rounds. You would need to be much more concerned with this extra 12 gr. if you were loading a maximum +P load. Nonetheless, you should always gradually work up all your load from a safe starting point as you are doing here. Any major change you make in a component should be a signal to back off and work up again.

Be sure to write down what you have done in your loading manual (Mine are full of my scribblings.), so you don't have to repeat the experiment - and don't forget to label each container of your reloads with exactly what is in there.

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When dealing with moderate target and plinking loads for the .38 Special, I load all bullet designs of the approx. same weight (RN,FN,SWC,TC, etc.) with the same charge of powder - unless a particular bullet seats noticeably deeper in the case and reduces case volume significantly - then I back off the charge and work up again.

That is the case with .38 Sp. and a few other revolver cartridges - but not always the case with some other cartridges. As an example - with the 9mm Luger, I work up a new charge for each different bullet design of the same weight because each design seats in the case to a different depth to accomodate the overall length requirements of the cartridge. Loading for revolvers is much simpler.

txpete just started a thread on Lyman #358429. His weighs 173 gr.! That thread should be very informative to a new .38 Special reloader.

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