Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

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Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 7:01 pm

I am quoting an article by Gil Hebard on page 104 of The Pistol Shooter's Treasury.


"Many reloaders do such a poor job that their bullets are actually lobbed out of the barrel, thus many print broadside-on at 25 or 50 yards!  If your bullets are doing this, you can bet your bottom dollar that your loads won't group better than perhaps 15" at 50 yards, even out of the finest gun.  In just about every instance, this is the fault of the load, not the gun."

I did not do very well at my first target session with the S&W Model 52.  I assumed all of my issues are due to my shooting, not to the gun...  ...BUT...   I am only a novice reloader.  I thought I was doing a good job, following instructions, Magnus ##514 bullets, 148 grain, .357" diameter, over 2.8 grains of Bullseye.  I showed one of my bullets to someone at the range who told me it was fine.   I just took close-up photos.  Is there anything obvious that I'm doing wrong, based on these photos?  The second photo is a comparison over Winchester Factory ammo. Maybe I just don't know enough yet to realize what I might be doing wrong.

Larry Meyer at RCBS made me a seating die to properly seat the rounds.  There is minimal crimp - maybe I need more?  At first, I was "shaving" off lead, but adjusted the dies until that no longer happened.  Based on how little I know about reloading, and how critical it apparently is for the Model 52, maybe my accuracy problem is my own fault.  The first photo is of many rounds...     I can't see anything wrong, but.....




Two of my rounds (left) compared with two Winchester 38 Special 148 grain "Super Match" factory loads:
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by Chris Miceli on 4/4/2018, 7:12 pm

Get some factory ammo and bench test your gun at 25 yards as well reloads. If it’s bigger than 1.5 with all the ammos or most of them. Your gun is this problem
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 7:16 pm

Chris, I plan to bring my (one) box of factory ammo, a box of ammo reloaded by Gene at the club, who reloads for many people there, and a box that I loaded.  I will shoot from a rest first, which is what you are suggesting.  Five rounds from each.  

(It is highly unlikely that my ammo will be as good as the factory ammo, but hopefully it's good enough for me to work with, and learn how to improve on.)
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by LenV on 4/4/2018, 7:19 pm

I am seeing a dark line around your bullet that is not present in the factory ammo. If I had to wager a nickel I don't believe your putting any/enough crimp on the bullet. I use a distinct visible roll crimp on mine. Some use a taper crimp and some use both. I wouldn't use BE without using any crimp.

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 8:01 pm

Len, you are correct.  For the factory rounds, starting just under about 1/32" from the end of the case, the brass tapers inwards.  When I first set things up, I had just the smallest amount of taper.  Using my fingers as a gage, the rough edge at the end almost feels like it tapers out, not in - but nothing I can measure.

Gene's ammo doesn't have any taper, and I can't feel any taper, but looking at the end of the bullet, there is just the tiniest amount of taper - much less than the Remington round.

So, the appropriate thing to do is to re-adjust my seating die, and increase the taper?  Maybe I can use another die to ONLY increase the taper a bit more.....   for these shells, and then to start all over again for the future. 

Thanks!!!   You have good eyes!
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 8:26 pm

One of the good things about being a "pack rat" is I still have a ton of old gear.  I've got my old RCBS Big Max press next to the progressive press.   Going through my dies, I found a Lyman 38/357 taper crimp die.  I put that die in the Big Max, and worked with an empty shell until it started tapering.  

The OD of the shell was 0.373" diameter.
The OD of the end of that shell now, is crimped to 0.368" diameter.

Is that a good taper, or should it be more/less?


The Winchester round is crimped to 0.370" as best I can measure, but at the very end I think it is less.
The Winchester round has an OD of 0.375"
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by Wobbley on 4/4/2018, 8:33 pm

As Len pointed out, you don’t have enough crimp, IMO.  Your load is fine.  So I would take your remaining loads and crimp them as follows:  no more crimp, crimp to 0.005 mouth diameter reduction, 0.010 reduction and 0.015 diameter reduction.  I bet one of the latter 2 will shoot best.   I’ve always used a roll crimp, FWIW.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 9:26 pm

Question - is the following summary valid?

If the cases are not crimped enough, the bullet will leave the shell before the pressure builds up to the correct level, which means the bullet will be traveling slower than intended, which will greatly reduce the accuracy.


In my mind, that's how I visualize what is going on - is this correct?


---------------

Wobbley, I will follow your advice, but I don't want to try too many things at once.  I would like to go to the range tomorrow and see if crimping makes a big difference (I expect it to do so), and then to work on my ability to shoot the gun.   The following trip to the range, I can bring loads to the three different crimps as you describe.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/4/2018, 9:42 pm

One more note to add - I'm only using the Lyman die as a quick test for the crimp.  The dies I am using in my RCBS Pro2000 are the RCBS 3-die carb set #18212 which includes a seater/roll-crimp die. Once I know what to do, I'll change the settings on the seater/crimp die.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by Bullseye_Stan on 4/5/2018, 5:50 am

I started reloading the 38 special 148 gr HBWC for revolvers.  That same reload was used in my M52-2.  Admittedly, I didn't shoot the 52-2 that much and when I did it was indoors - but there was never a hiccup.  My load back then was 2.8 gr Red Dot with the bullet flush with the case and the amount of crimp was just enough to straighten the case.  That's a very nice revolver load - shoots like a .22.

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/5/2018, 8:11 am

Things look so different after a good night's sleep.  That, and re-re-re reading instructions.  

I learned a bit from using the Big Max press last night.  Knowing what I do now, and from the feedback here, my plan is to work on the seater/roll crimp die in the progressive press.  First step, back off the seater, as I already know where it needs to be.  Then just lower the roll crimp die until the crimp is like what you guys are suggesting.  When that's done, all I need to do is lower the seater until it touches the bullet in one of my existing rounds, then lock it in place.

Before I do any more reloading, I'll take 10 or 20 corrected bullets (with a good crimp) to the range.  Hope to try those mid-day today.  If that doesn't work out, Saturday.

Once again, thanks!!!



....oops, BE Mike, your response snuck in before I could post.  The "taper crimp" was just to test things out on my manual press.  The dies I expect to continue using are the ones I posted up above, RCBS #18212, which have a roll crimp.  What might the advantages be from using one compared to the other?


Last edited by mikemyers on 4/5/2018, 8:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by BE Mike on 4/5/2018, 8:13 am

If you are taper crimping (and it looks like you are) measure the crimp on the factory Winchester ammo and try to duplicate that. I'm of the opinion, having shot a few thousand of factory match .38 SPL wadcutters, back in the day, that Federal and Remington started using a roll crimp to aid PPC shooters in loading their revolvers during matches. I don't remember Winchester ever using a roll crimp.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/5/2018, 11:36 am

I went back to the RCBS Pro2000, with the #18212 dies, which includes a roll crimp / seater die.  I adjusted that to match the Winchester as best I can.  The photo below shows how well/poorly I did this.  

Both rounds now "feel" the same.  The diameter at the end of the taper is close enough that I can't measure any difference.  The angle of the crimp seems to be different, but I don't think I can do anything about that.  Hopefully this is adequate....    and if you can't tell which is mine, and which is from Winchester, that's good!

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by kashaV on 4/5/2018, 8:50 pm

Don't underestimate the importance of trimming, chamfering and deburring your cases to within +/- .001". This is especially important when roll crimping. If the cases are not the same length, the amount of crimp will vary, effecting accuracy.

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/5/2018, 9:06 pm

What would one use to accomplish this goal?

This:
https://www.amazon.com/RCBS-Universal-Case-Prep-Center/dp/B00B4S9VA2

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by kashaV on 4/5/2018, 9:14 pm

I use the simple and very accurate Forster trimmer with hand crank.

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/5/2018, 10:27 pm

Much more reasonable on the pocketbook...
https://www.brownells.com/reloading/case-preparation/case-trimming/case-trimmers/original-case-trimmer-sku749006472-36847-69836.aspx?cm_mmc=cse-_-Itwine-_-shopzilla-_-749-006-472&utm_medium=cse&utm_source=connexity&utm_campaign=itwine&utm_content=749-006-472

Or from RCBS:
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1012951880/rcbs-trim-pro-2-manual-case-trimmer-kit


Do most of you guys use tools for this purpose, or just reload your old shells?
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by Wobbley on 4/5/2018, 11:19 pm

Rather than spend all that time trimming, get enough to sort them into +/- .002 increments. 1000 cases should do quite nicely and give you one or two big lots. Remember, the thickness and residual sizing and firing will affect bullet pull too and unless you want to get super super anal about everything, it won’t be worth the bother. Just load’em up and shoot. You need the practice more than better ammo at this point.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by desben on 4/6/2018, 5:15 am

Guys... Don't waste your time with unnecessary case preparation. Trimming may get you that last quarter inch reduction in group size. But don't worry about it until you're shooting one-inch group at 25. You can still shot a perfect 100 at 25 with untrimmed brass that's been reloaded 20 times. Focus on trigger control. Spend your time reloading more and shooting more.
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/6/2018, 8:09 am

Sort of like, "the squeaking wheel needs the grease first..."
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by Garander 62 on 4/6/2018, 6:00 pm

You must roll crimp to feed reliably on the 52 . Seat a hair below
Flush . I like 2.7 of b.e . Don't trust the progressive loader
On such small powder charges
Use only identical brass including cannelure or lack thereof
And you don't need to trim . Avoid slide mounted scopes .
Follow through , follow through , and then follow through Some more .

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 4/6/2018, 7:47 pm

and my wife's 52-1 loves a taper crimp..  go figure
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/6/2018, 7:57 pm

Garander 62 wrote:..........Follow through , follow through , and then follow through Some more .
Curious - unless I've missed something, follow-through is a "yes" or "no" question.  If you take your shot, and then freeze with the trigger finger all the way against the stop, and don't move a muscle, isn't that everything?  Or to simplify the question, if one were to follow through for one second after each shot, a person is already doing all he can.  That may well be something I was not doing correctly last time, and will hopefully be correct tomorrow, but if you take a shot, and don't move a muscle for the following second, I think you've done all you can.

Half a second should be just as good, unless I'm missing something here.

As to the crimp, my RCBS die does the seating and roll crimping in one station.  Based on the past two comments, why should one type of crimp be better than the other?
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 4/6/2018, 8:03 pm

While I'm at it, and to display even more of my ignorance, since the late 1970's, I've owned one of these "rocket-ships" (my term) as shown in the photo below.  I had no idea what it was for, until last night when I watched a video of it in use, cleaning the ID and OD of the end of the case, presumably to remove burrs.  Is this something the rest of you just naturally do anyway, before reloading cases for the M-52?

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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

Post by dronning on 4/6/2018, 8:05 pm

mikemyers wrote:
Garander 62 wrote:..........Follow through , follow through , and then follow through Some more .
Curious - unless I've missed something, follow-through is a "yes" or "no" question.  If you take your shot, and then freeze with the trigger finger all the way against the stop, and don't move a muscle, isn't that everything?  Or to simplify the question, if one were to follow through for one second after each shot, a person is already doing all he can.  That may well be something I was not doing correctly last time, and will hopefully be correct tomorrow, but if you take a shot, and don't move a muscle for the following second, I think you've done all you can.

Half a second should be just as good, unless I'm missing something here.
Apparently you either missed or failed sarcasm 101  lol!
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Re: Attempting to load for the S&W Model 52

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