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Good basic .38 Special load?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by taylor, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    I've never reloaded anything before. I have a Model 67 S&W with a 4" barrel, When I shot a box of SWC reloads I bought in a gunstore in Stayton I got great accuracy. What is a good plinking-target load to start with?
    Also can anyone recommend a decent press kit? I've been reading about the Lee Classic Turret Press kit for about $180 and it sounds OK. Thanks
     
  2. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    That is one of the presses I use and it is fine for the beginner and will last a long time. I would suggest getting a powder disk measure for pistol rds. I use 158gr fmj with 4.5 gr of Unique powder for plinking rds.
     
  3. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    Don't the heavier bullets kick more? what is a powder disk measure?
     
  4. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    All loads can be lightened up a little.

    this is the powder disk (on left) works automatically with the powder through resizing die (second die you use). It works great and my loads are more accurate than winchester production.
    Lee Precision: Automatic Powder Measures

    I use the perfect powder measure (right side of group) for rifle rounds but verify calibration with a scale before loading first rnd, it works great.
     
  5. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Get a load data book and start out low. Read the instructions VERY carefully. Eyes, hands and fingers are not easily replaced.. skip the basics and you may regret it
     
  6. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    My go-to book for reloading has been the Lyman's. Lots of general info about reloadinga and lots of load info.Be SURE to have at least one load manual,2 is better for double checking a load.Few books will have the exact same data,but will be close enough that you will be able to determine if it's a safe load,or a mis print.
    If the press you get has room for an extra die,it's MUCH easier to adjust seating depth and crimp with 2 different dies.You can use a specail 'crimp die',or just get an extra seating die and remove the seater plug.
    A good 'fast burning' powder like Bullseye will work great in .38 cases,it's been the standard amongst reloaders for years.

    Ask all the questions you need to,we all were newbs once.
     
  7. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    I have an old notebook bound Sierra Bullet reloading manual but I'm not sure about it. I've heard the Lee book is pretty detailed.
    If a book example says to load 158grn jacketed bullet with so much powder can you substitute with a 158grn wadcutter bullet?
    Does it matter what kind of bullet you use as long as the weight stays the same?
    Also what is a good electronic scale to buy? I guess no matter what I have to get one.
     
  8. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Lead and jacketed load data is different, do not assume anything when reloading.. research and ask questions

    Electronic scales are nice to have but I have never used one.. just my mechanical Hornady scale
     
  9. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    The RCBS little Rangemaster 750 scale is what I use to verify my loads it comes with weights to calibrate each time you use it.
     
  10. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    I would suggest getting a few load books as well as using load data sheets that come with some of the dies (all lee dies) and if using for a good plinkin rnd go with the lightest load but add 1/4 gr to it. Having multiple books helps when loading different weights and or types of bullets as not all are listed in one book. Also there are many online load data's available from the manufacturers. I would also recomend getting the Lee load data disk program to save load data on so you can save it to your computer for reference.

    link to disk....http://leeprecision.com/xcart/SHOOTER-PROGRAM-WINDOWS.html

    link to Lee book...Lee Precision: Modern Reloading 2nd Edition
     
  11. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    I've seen caliber specific loading books at the gun show. I have a bag of 158grn SWC I bought there, does anyone know a load for that round?
    I really appreciate this help. I don't know how a person is supposed to get a reloading setup going if he doesn't know anyone who reloads?
    I just remembered theres someone on the forum that gives classes.
     
  12. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    158 gr semi wadcutter (lead) is the 4.3-4.7gr of Unique.

    What powder do you have or plan to use?
     
  13. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    are the bullets you have jacketed,or are they cast lead.? inquiring minds need to know.
    I have learned that starting at the lowest load setting is usually very disappointing,and now start and usually stay at a midrange powder charge.That is why I like the lyman's book,it's not bullet brand specific,but goes by shape and wight. alos it gives a minimum and max. load .
    Do u have a local store that has powder and primers? you will need small pistol primers,not magnum,and some powder,like Bullseye for your .38's.
    it is EASY to double charge pistol rounds,so that step of the process requires EXTRA EXTRA DOUBLE CHECKING of the powder measure settings,and visually inspecting the powder level inside the case.
     
  14. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    The bullets I have are 158grn cast lead SWC. Theres a guy that has a casting business and sells at the gun shows. I'm just getting around to clearing an area in my apartment to set up a reloading area.
    I checked a few reloading books out of the library and am making up a list of what needs to be bought. I'm not convinced a "kit" is the best way to go, I can afford to get quality individual items since they last longer its a good investment.
    I read that 2400, H110, Unique would handle most handgun loads.
    On youtube I saw a review of the Forster Con-ax Press, it looked impressive, the dies seem to snap in and out easily.
     
  15. ron

    ron Vancouver, Washington Silver Supporter Silver Supporter

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    I have reloaded for the 38 special for 32 years. It was the first cartridge I ever reloaded. I have owned many different 357 mags and this is an accurate 38 load in any of them. It is a low power target load.
    The bullet is the standard 158 swc lead. Today's hard cast bullets are much better than anything you could buy back in the day. I like the Lazer Cast but any quality hard cast bullet works well. Keep velocity s
    under 950 and leading will not be a problem. Bevel the case mouth more for lead bullets. 158swc lead and 4.5 grains of Unique- 38 spl brass-standard primers

    2400 and H110 (fast burning powders) are for magnum pistol loads 357 and 44
     
  16. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be alot of positive feedback for Unique so I guess I'll start with that. I also think I'll end up sticking with lead bullets of one kind or another, WC, LRN etc. I have no need for developing any defensive loads. I also like lead because I shoot alot of .36 and .44 cap and ball.
     
  17. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    "There seems to be alot of positive feedback for Unique so I guess I'll start with that."

    Unique is a good powder but it may not meter well in your powder throw, and it is not clean burning with mild 38spl loads. I would use W-231 or HP-38 if I were you.

    I have a some basic reloading rules, I examine my primers to make sure the primer compound is present, and I check every charged case prior to bullet seating for a consistent powder level.

    4.0 gr of W-231 is a good load for a 158gr cast lead SWC.
     
  18. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    how do you check powder level? is it like using a dipstick to check the oil level?
     
  19. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    "how do you check powder level? is it like using a dipstick to check the oil level? "

    No. I eyeball it with a flashlight.
     
  20. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    2400 and H110 are slow burning powders; best for full power 357 loads with mid to heavy bullets. Those caliber specific loadbooks are excellent for starter references. Also the Hodgdon 'Annual" and the Lyman Reloading Handbook 49th Edition has lead bullet loads. Also find or send for the Alliant Factory manual; they used to give them away free but these days they might charge for 'em.Good Luck