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Reloading .38 Special


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#1 The_Vigilante

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 08:17 AM

OK, I did a search and didn't find anything regarding how much crimp to use in a .38 Special. This would be a minor load. Right now I am using the regular Lee crimp die for .357/.38. Is it even necessary to crimp this load or should I be using a taper crimp die? Thanks
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#2 Chris Christian

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 08:27 AM

Taper crimping a .38 Spl will results in a less velocity than a solid roll crimp. The roll crimp provides more bullet pull resistance and provides a better powder burn with all but the very fastest powders (Bullseye, AA2, Clays, etc.). You didn't mention whether you're making a 120 or a 125 PF. With a 125 (+P velocity) a roll crimp is definitely the way to go IMHO. The proper degree of roll crimp is one that doesn't distort the case and create feeding problems.
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#3 TonyT

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:20 PM

You may expereince probles with a roll crimp and plated bullets. The roll crimp cuts through the plating and ruins accuracy. I use a roll crimp for cast lead and jacketed bullets and a tape crimp for plated bullets.

#4 Bubber

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:35 PM

I use the taper crimp on my lead loads. Actually Lead is all I use. The crimp should play little affect on holding the bullet into the cartridge unless you use too much taper crimp and this will cause the lead bullet to become undersized and loose in the case. YMMV Later rd
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#5 inkedshooter

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:11 PM

I load 158rn Bear Creek lead bullets and use a roll crimp. Found it helps with not catching the edge of the case on the cylinder so much during reloads.
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#6 Boats

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 05:27 AM

Crimp to use for .38 Special depends on the bullet. If it has a good crimping grove roll one in. If you need pressure and velocity a strong crimp will help. If plated bullets with no grove roll crimp is going to cause problems. Taper is the better way to go. I load Lead 100% and adjust the crimp to suit the 4 different bullet styles I use. Each one is a little bit different. I use a small magnifier and let the bullet tell me whats best

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Edited by Boats, 27 March 2010 - 05:28 AM.


#7 Cherryriver

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 07:27 AM

The important point to remember is one that folks new to revolvers often don't appreciate: due to the mechanics of the firing revolver, the gun is grabbing your fresh cartridges by the rim and yanking them rearwards, just like your bullet puller mallet does.
Do that four or five times and a bullet that isn't crimped in securely can be pulled forward enough to stop the gun's operation.
Might not be a problem with .38 puffballs in a Model 28 or Python; trouble with full-house loads in a light gun and a higher recoil impulse to help remove your bullets.
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#8 Bob DuBois

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 08:41 AM

Roll crimp a revolver, do not use a taper crimp. Revolver bullets will move forward in the other chambers if they don't have a good roll crimp. Take a pair of calipers to the range next time. Measure the overall length of number six bullet, mark it with a sharpie. Shoot five then measure number six, you'll see how much the bullet moves just from recoil.
Unlike an auto pistol, you can roll crimp on the same station that you seat the bullet, so that makes it a little easier.

#9 michaels

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 11:33 AM

Roll crimp a revolver, do not use a taper crimp. Revolver bullets will move forward in the other chambers if they don't have a good roll crimp. Take a pair of calipers to the range next time. Measure the overall length of number six bullet, mark it with a sharpie. Shoot five then measure number six, you'll see how much the bullet moves just from recoil.
Unlike an auto pistol, you can roll crimp on the same station that you seat the bullet, so that makes it a little easier.



Wouldn't you think that under recoil, the bullet would sneak back into the case instead of going forward?


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#10 Cherryriver

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 11:37 AM

The gun goes backwards towards the shooter in recoil while the bullet tends to stay in place.
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#11 Chris Christian

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:27 PM

Bullets "prairie dogging"... jumping the crimp and moving forward, and outside the forward edge of the cylinder,to tie up the cylinder... isn't a major problem with a normal weight competition revolver and 120-125 PF loads. It is a SIGNIFICANT problem with .357 mag loads (and some +P 38 loads) in extremely lightweight (11-14 ounce) snubbies. Since those aren't used for competition it's probably a non-factor here. With that said, I have found that a taper crimp will reduce velocity over a roll crimp (taper crimp requires more powder & recoil needed to make PF). Plated bullets without a crimp groove do need a taper crimp IMHO, but if your bullet has a crimp groove, a roll crimp is the way to go in a revolver.
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#12 Rather-B-Huntin

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 02:26 PM

Unlike an auto pistol, you can roll crimp on the same station that you seat the bullet, so that makes it a little easier.


Even though I have nearly twenty years of reloading experience, I've never figured out how to do this? Probably because I never really tried that hard. I've know others whom do it, but I haven't learned. I always crimp as a separate step. I'm getting ready to start loading a lot of .38's and this would be handy to know how to do.

So, how do you do it?
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#13 Cherryriver

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 02:35 PM

It depends on the dies themselves. Most manufacturers make the seating die with a roll crimp built in, like Lee. Just turn the die down until it does the crimping.
I still use a separate step on the Dillons because it's easier to keep track of what the heck I'm doing.
Check the die manufacturer's documentation or give them call to see what you've got.
Or, just crank it down on a dummy and see what happens.

Edited by Cherryriver, 29 March 2010 - 02:36 PM.

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#14 Chris Christian

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 02:59 PM

I use RCBS,Hornady (or Lee for .38 Long Colt)crimping/seating dies. You do have a trial & error adjustment period and may trash a few cartridges in the process. Once you get the setting locked, you seat and crimp with one stroke. I use dummy rounds(no primer or powder, just case & bullet) to set the dies. And, I keep the final set dummy round in the die box to quickly reset the die in the future, if I have to make die changes for different bullets that I may load after that one. It's pretty simple if you do it right.
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