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Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye?

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gregbenner
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Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Empty Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye?

Post by mikemyers Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:07 pm

Had a discussion with a fellow at the range last week, and figured I'd ask about it here.

When loading ammo for a S&W Model 52, or equivalent, does the type of brass you start out with make.a difference?  
I've been trying to use mostly Winchester brass.
He had several suggestions for me that might be better.
He doesn't reload, and brought me a big box of assorted 38 Special brass.

For Bullseye reloading, are there features to try to get, to create the best rounds?
As a simple test, I weighed some cases, in grains, using my reloading scale set to grains.

  • 69.5 grains - the Winchester cases I've been reloading, with spent primer  ....feel lighter
  • 74.7 grains - the S&B cases my friend gave me, with spent primers ...feel more "substantial".


He feels that S&B ammunition is premium ammo, that costs more, but is worth it.
The cases do "feel" different.  Hard to describe, but more "finished".

He also mentioned that some cases will have a "cannelure" which will be useful for loading for Bullseye.
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Post by cdrt Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:13 pm

You want the cases with the cannelure.  They are designed for loading the 148 wadcutter bullet.  Other cases may be too thick.
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Post by mikemyers Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:21 pm

cdrt wrote:You want the cases with the cannelure.  They are designed for loading the 148 wadcutter bullet.  Other cases may be too thick.
Aha!  I knew I was missing something. 

Those S&B cases did seem noticeably thicker.  Thanks.
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Post by PhotoEscape Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:42 pm

Mike,
There is much more to the reloading of 38 Special WC when it comes to cases.  I'm sure David Wilson can write PHD dissertation on the subject, and I'll be happy to contribute to it.  For that matter we've had a little back and force today on the subject, and I cross reference it to my testing of my latest full length PTU/expanders.  It is worth noting that cases designed for 38 WC have cylindrical part before tapering.  That is the key element, as common wisdom calls for preserving dimensions of bullet as opposed to squeezing it in order to achieve best accuracy.  So here is some factual data.  Remington 148 grain HBWC based Target March was always considered a "Holy Grail" ammo for this caliber.  Turns out that old Remington brass with two cannelures had tapering starting at .680" mark very close to proximity of the bottom cannelure, while latest batch I just bought has it starting at about .480", roughly at the level of the top cannelure.  Raw bullet has almost .680" length.  Needless to say, Remington blows up the entire theory of not disturbing bullet's skirt in its latest ammo.  Same or similar issues arise with loading DEWC projectiles.  So the key element, once again, is matching length of the bullet you planning to use with length of cylindrical portion of the case you intend to use.
AP
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:11 am

PhotoEscape wrote:Mike,
There is much more to the reloading of 38 Special WC when it comes to cases.  I'm sure David Wilson can write PHD dissertation on the subject, and I'll be happy to contribute to it.  For that matter we've had a little back and force today on the subject, and I cross reference it to my testing of my latest full length PTU/expanders.  It is worth noting that cases designed for 38 WC have cylindrical part before tapering.  That is the key element, as common wisdom calls for preserving dimensions of bullet as opposed to squeezing it in order to achieve best accuracy.  So here is some factual data.  Remington 148 grain HBWC based Target March was always considered a "Holy Grail" ammo for this caliber.  Turns out that old Remington brass with two cannelures had tapering starting at .680" mark very close to proximity of the bottom cannelure, while latest batch I just bought has it starting at about .480", roughly at the level of the top cannelure.  Raw bullet has almost .680" length.  Needless to say, Remington blows up the entire theory of not disturbing bullet's skirt in its latest ammo.  Same or similar issues arise with loading DEWC projectiles.  So the key element, once again, is matching length of the bullet you planning to use with length of cylindrical portion of the case you intend to use.
AP
Rather confused by what you wrote, especially what I put in bold font.

What do you mean by "cylindrical part before tapering"?

Are you suggesting the newest Remington brass is not appropriate?

FOR ME:  The specific question I'm thinking of, after reading what you wrote, is which cartridges should I buy, such that after shooting them, the brass will be most appropriate for the Magnus #514 bullet that so many people have recommended, and which I am reloading with?

FOR OTHERS:  Based on the bullets they will be reloading with, how to select an appropriate cartridge?  
.....Assuming the goal is to buy rounds, shoot them once, then re-use the cases in reloads.  
.....Another option would be to buy empty cases of the best design for the bullets they plan to load.....

What is your "PTU/expander" ?  Is it a special die that you are making?

Oh, and can you please explain what you mean by "tapering"?   What is tapered, and why?  I thought the dies make something round - where does a "taper" fit in?


(While searching for more information, I found this:   http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Chapter_11_Wadcutter.htm )
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Post by mustachio Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:04 am

I separate my brass after loading by manufacturer. I find Federal loads best for my 148 gr. HBWC. Winchester comes in a close second. Star brass is very good, as is Remington. Some manufacturers have a tighter bullet fit. I use those rounds more for practice. I load on single stage presses and do one process per press. I handle the brass a lot and it takes more time to load, but I have complete control of the process unlike a progressive press (which I have used in the past). My last stage is a light taper crimp from a Lee Taper Crimp die so they drop freely into my chamber. My 52 loves my 2.5 gr. load with Precision Delta bullets.
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:23 am

'mustachio', that sounds like me, up until for or five years ago, with my RCBS Big Max Press.   I was totally comfortable with it, but for various reasons I bought the RCBS Pro2000 which I'm almost as comfortable with, and then the auto-index kit which let me concentrate more on what I was doing.   

I'm also thinking of 38 Special now, for my Model 52 (but Dave Salyer thinks I shold go back to work and concentrate on my 45 wad guns.


Anyway, I am very confusabobbled by what 'photo escape' meant.  I thought I had a reasonably good feel for what's going on, and with help from so many people here, and Terry from Magnus Bullets, everything is going well (as far as I know).  Now I'm reading about things that I know nothing about, and I'm real interested in what I'm missing.  Once again, I enter what I consider is a simple question, and I find out about so many new things I knew nothing about.

You seem to know things from experience that I'm not yet aware of.  I haven't bought many cartridges for the M52 yet, and the only ones I've ever bought are two boxes that Jon Euelette found for me a lifetime ago, when they seemed to be totally unavailable.  Now there's lots of choices, and I was going to buy something "good", but based on what I just read here, maybe I should be considering which manufacturer makes the best "cases", not cartridges.    The cartridge I will use once.  The case will be reloaded for years.
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Post by mustachio Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:38 am

Photo-escape? What is that? 
I have thousands of empty cases that I have been using for-ready for it? 30 years! I only toss them when they split, otherwise they have been loaded many more times than I can remember. I used to keep track of that, but that has gone by the wayside. I keep load data, but that is all. I am retired, so I don't mind taking the time, as I have a lot of time. My personal bullet choice right now is Precision Delta, 1000 for $87 and includes shipping. I waiver between CCI and Winchester small pistol primers. I prime each case by hand, one at a time-I have lots of time. 

I no longer shoot the 45 ACP and that is why I am concentrating on my 52.  I also shoot the same load out of my S&W 586 (6" barrel) and get great accuracy. If you are improving with the 45, stay with it, but you cannot beat the 52 for accuracy. When you master it, it is very satisfying. Hope this helped. Where in S. FL are you.
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:46 am

Today, I'm in Miami Beach, and in a few days I'll be on the other side of the planet for a while.  "PhotoEscape" is the person who posted right above my post, who I was asking my questions of.

I'm retired.  I shoot because I enjoy it so much.  I go to matches every so often, but "local" matches.  I've got hundreds of cases, not thousands, and they rarely seem to go bad.  People here have been teaching me how to do better at Bullseye, and they suggested I concentrate on 22 for a while, which I've done, but Dave Salyer thinks I'd do better to start using the 45 again.  Of all of them, the Model 52 is my favorite, regardless of where it fits into today's world.  I do keep the log books, etc, and I just ordered 2,000 rounds of both 45 and 38 from Terry at Magnus Bullets.  I think of him more as a friend, than a "supplier".  He's always full of good, helpful advice, and fascinating stories.

Any ammo that doesn't work in my Model 52 will certainly work perfectly in any of my revolvers.

....Oh, and if it wasn't for this forum, and the people I've met here, I'd still be shooting with two hands exclusively.  That has been my "biggest struggle".  What amazes me to no end, is the Model 52 feels just as solid and stable in my hand now, as if it was in my hands.  Plural.  Very surprised at that.
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Post by mustachio Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:04 am

I am in Boca Raton, we should plan a shooting day when you return from the "other side".  I shoot with the Sportsman's Gun Club in WPB and we shoot at Gators range on Okeechobee Blvd every Wednesday at 9 AM. We have 22, centerfire and 45 matches and are going to start 22 rifle matches next season. We are always looking for new members and you seem to be a good fit. The guys are all retired and nice, some may say even crazy, but nice.
On Mondays I shoot at Gun World of S. FL on Powerline Rd in Deerfield. I do my practice there for the matches on Wednesday. I have been shooting competitively (local, NRA sectional matches) since 1982 when I bought my first gun (home protection that grew into what it has now become).
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Post by PhotoEscape Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:09 am

musta-chio?  What is that?
Otherwise, you guys can duke it out locally!
AP
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:14 am

'mustachio', we can chat about that later - hope 'PhotoEscape' can find time to answer my questions up above......
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Post by mustachio Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:22 am

PhotoEscape wrote:musta-chio?  What is that?
Otherwise, you guys can duke it out locally!
AP
being new to this forum, I did not recognize the name Mikemeyers was referring to, "Photo escape".  I was not making a slight or left handed remark, I thought it referred to something about his topic and I was not aware of it.

BTW, Musta-chio refers to my mustache...and I am too old to duke it out with anyone. Haven't heard that expression since I was a kid.
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Post by Wobbley Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:38 am

mikemyers wrote:
PhotoEscape wrote:Mike,
There is much more to the reloading of 38 Special WC when it comes to cases.  I'm sure David Wilson can write PHD dissertation on the subject, and I'll be happy to contribute to it.  For that matter we've had a little back and force today on the subject, and I cross reference it to my testing of my latest full length PTU/expanders.  It is worth noting that cases designed for 38 WC have cylindrical part before tapering.  That is the key element, as common wisdom calls for preserving dimensions of bullet as opposed to squeezing it in order to achieve best accuracy.  So here is some factual data.  Remington 148 grain HBWC based Target March was always considered a "Holy Grail" ammo for this caliber.  Turns out that old Remington brass with two cannelures had tapering starting at .680" mark very close to proximity of the bottom cannelure, while latest batch I just bought has it starting at about .480", roughly at the level of the top cannelure.  Raw bullet has almost .680" length.  Needless to say, Remington blows up the entire theory of not disturbing bullet's skirt in its latest ammo.  Same or similar issues arise with loading DEWC projectiles.  So the key element, once again, is matching length of the bullet you planning to use with length of cylindrical portion of the case you intend to use.
AP
Rather confused by what you wrote, especially what I put in bold font.

What do you mean by "cylindrical part before tapering"?

Are you suggesting the newest Remington brass is not appropriate?

FOR ME:  The specific question I'm thinking of, after reading what you wrote, is which cartridges should I buy, such that after shooting them, the brass will be most appropriate for the Magnus #514 bullet that so many people have recommended, and which I am reloading with?

FOR OTHERS:  Based on the bullets they will be reloading with, how to select an appropriate cartridge?  
.....Assuming the goal is to buy rounds, shoot them once, then re-use the cases in reloads.  
.....Another option would be to buy empty cases of the best design for the bullets they plan to load.....

What is your "PTU/expander" ?  Is it a special die that you are making?

Oh, and can you please explain what you mean by "tapering"?   What is tapered, and why?  I thought the dies make something round - where does a "taper" fit in?


(While searching for more information, I found this:   http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Chapter_11_Wadcutter.htm )
Mike:

The cylindrical part before tapering is the internal shape of the case.  There is an assumption that wadcutter ammunition was loaded in “wadcutter brass” that had no internal taper until very close to the head.  I’m NOT CONVINCED that this assumption is correct.  Manufacturers do make two types of 38 Special cases that might be different internally.  These are “+P” and non +P cases.  If I can find my tooling micrometer, I’ll find out and report back.  There is one other way of segregating and that is by headstamp.  I’ve loaded HBWC in +P cases and they’ve shot fine.  But I also know that PMC and CBC headstamps are stiffer to seat bullets than Federal, Winchester or Remington. So I sort by make.  And whether plated or not.

I’m not sure about Remington’s newest 38 WC loading but it doesn’t appear to be like the old “Targetmaster” loads at all.  Maybe they’ve changed the internals I don’t know.

If I was buying ammo for reloading purposes, I’d buy Federal and Winchester.  Buying brass, add Starline.  I might by Sellier & Bellot ammo and load that but only as a third option.  

In one of my replies to PhotoEscape in another thread I listed the dimensions of WC bullets in my stash.  The lengths varied quite a bit.  

One way of using up a bunch of mixed cases is to use cast DEWC for practice and training.  At 25 yards they shoot just as well as HBWC.
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Post by PhotoEscape Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:02 pm

Complete answer to your questions, Mike, would represent a full chapter in the book.  I suggest finding article by Ed Harris on the subject written many years ago.  I also suggest finding post Wobbley is referring to, so you have visual on bullet dimensions, as it is extremely important, and will alleviate future questions as to why my loads fail to chamber.  The short explanation is that regular 38 Special bullet has .357" OD top, while 38WC starts from .358" and go to about .361".  SAAMI specs for all 38 special variations call for .3809" chamber ID.  Here you can see how wall thickness of the case can affect your loads.  Common wall thickness for WC case is .009" - .01".  Common wall thickness for regular 38 Special is more than that, and even more so for +P.  So you can do you math - 2 x wall + bullet OD.  Next thing to consider is the shape of projectile and how deep in the case it is inserted.  Needless to say, there is a big difference, especially taking to account that we are talking about shooting out of semi-auto versus revolver, between 38 Special and 38 WC.  Here I'm going to add few pictures, so once again you have visual.Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Img_4013
Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Img_4011
Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Img_4012
What you see here is .355" Class Z cylindrical plus and its dimensions, and pictures of this plug being inserted into two properly sized WC specific cases.  You can recognize Remington case by two canelures.  This is once fired case from Remington's latest Target Match ammo.  Second one is from Fiocchi originally loaded with 148gr DEWC.  Once again, you can do math and figure out where internal taper starts.  Then you can correlate that to length of the projectile you plan on using, and figure out how case needs to be expanded in order to insert this projectile.  And as well how to size and crimp resulting assembly, so it fits in the chamber of your pistol.
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:04 pm

'wobble', thanks!   So if I load DEWC (double ended wad cutter), it will be fine at 25 yards, but maybe not as good as HBWC (hollow body wad cutter) at 50?  I never knew that.  Never had or loaded any DEWC yet.

I'll ask Terry at Magnus if he makes the DEWC in addition to the HBWC.  Since I have more than enough of Magnus #514 HBWC to last many years, I don't see much benefit in buying the others.

I like your thought of using up my "mixed cases", but they keep coming back!!!!    :-)

From what you've written, it confirms that there are many types of brass cases, and I will be ahead of the game if I simply continue buying factory cartridges for my gun, and re-using the brass - or just buy from "Starline".  Hmm, what is the "head stamp" when I buy just brass from Starline?  Is this what you would buy, or is there a special version for Bullseye:
https://www.starlinebrass.com/brass-cases/38-Special-Brass/


Just to confirm, when you are referring to "taper", are you meaning the thickness of the brass at the end of the case is thinner than the brass in the rest of the case?    One more thing I never thought about.  Until now.
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Post by mikemyers Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:17 pm

PhotoEscape wrote:.......The short explanation is that regular 38 Special bullet has .357" OD top, while 38WC starts from .358" and go to about .361"........
Before I get too far into this, the biggest thing that doesn't make sense to me right now, is that presumably my sizing dies in my reloading press are setting these dimensions to what the die is supposed to do, not what the cases used to be.

If the brass is thicker or thinner at the top, the OD may also vary after resizing, either at the top inside, top outside, or ???  I need to think this through, but from what I expect, the outside diameter of the case will be brought back to whatever the die was designed to do.

From what you've just said, the inside diameter of the case will vary if the metal thickness varies, but dies such as the Redding die that sizes the inside of the case for the proper diameter and depth will then make this correct.  ......which maybe you're suggesting is why the outside diameter of the case might get too large, causing feeding problems.


I suspect my best option is to buy Remington or Federal brass as suggested by 'wobble', and use that for reloading.
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Post by 243winxb Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:50 am

If case wall thickness is so critical, why not outside (neck)  turn 100 brass and be done?   Link

Brass should last many  firings with target loads.

"38WC starts from .358" and go to about .361".    Two diameters on the same bullet could only be done with swaged bullets?  Leaves out cast bullets.
If base is .361" it would  act as an expander, Leaving the top part of the bullet with less grip on the case? Target loads, not an issue. 

Interesting. Dont have a M52. 

There was a thread on here about loading 38  wc in fired brass. 

A round that doesnt chamber in an auto loader,  may need just a hair more taper crimp.


Last edited by 243winxb on Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by 243winxb Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:11 am

The 9mm  has tapered, cylindrical and stepped case walls.  Sounds like the 38 wc brass has 2 of the problems?
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Post by LenV Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:46 pm

Mike, once again I think were over thinking a subject. The only (quality) cases I won't reload for the 52 are nickel/chrome plated. They are a little too hard and spring back like Lake City brass. The solution to different wall thickness was worked out long ago by the bullet manufacturers. The 148gr HBWC swaged bullet is very soft, very soft. When the bullet leaves the chamber the hollow base expands to completely fill the barrel. The front of the bullet gets compressed by the back of the bullet pushing it forward. What comes out the end is a bullet that completely fits your barrel. Little things like wall thickness and taper near the base are totally not important. Of course I don't have a picture of this taking place and also this is an opinion and you know what they say about opinions. As an exercise, and I know you like reading. Check out anything you can read about minie balls used in the civil war.
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Post by mikemyers Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:42 pm

LenV wrote:Mike, once again I think were over thinking a subject........
I totally agree.  I got wrapped up in what seemed like some interesting information, but I think I'll be ahead of the game if I simply continue shooting brass that came from wad cutter ammo.   You're right, I like to dig into these things, but at the end of the day I'm going to reload next time just like I reloaded last time, which was refined by asking questions here.  The reloads work.  They're plenty good enough for me.  I'll leave it for someone else to figure out what's what, and if I'm in any doubt, I'll probably ask Terry.  He makes things very simple.     .....too much thinking, and not enough shooting.
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Post by gregbenner Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:57 pm

Alex, I have a Clark 38, have never really taken reloading for it seriously, I started 38 reloading for my 686.  Currently I use mixed head stamp nickel coated brass. 2.5 gr bullseye, more recently Sport Pistol. Bullets are the Remington 148 gr Match, but they are not easy to find. After spending the last couple years trying to learn how to load accurate 32 wadcutters, I have some appreciation on how important certain items can be.

So, If I were to buy some new brass and more readily available bullets, what might you suggest?  I.e. which brass and which bullets, and then which of your powder thru dies for my 550?

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Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Empty Re: Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye?

Post by PhotoEscape Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:06 pm

Greg,
Firstly we need to distinguish that there is 38 Special and 38 Special WADCUTTER ammo, and respectively brass for it is different.  Others may have different opinion on the subject, but I strongly advocate to use only brass that is specific to 38 WC or was factory used for loading 38 WC ammo.  I deliberately limited myself to using two brands - Fiocchi and Remington.  The reason behind is that in the past I bought several thousands of Fiocchi and Reminton ammo, and use this brass ever since.  I also know that 38 WC specific Federal and Winchester ammo and cases are good to use as well.  Probably easiest route today would be buying whichever ammo you can find.  Keep in mind that Remington Target Match today is probably top ammunition one can get, and Remington's 148 grain Hollow Base WadCutter bullet is the measuring stick for all manufacturers, despite it is a messy to load.  Unfortunately Remington is no longer producing this bullet as a reloading component.  Alternatively and more practically today DEWC approach is one I suggest, and Penn Bullets Double Ended WadCutter sized to your's gun chamber would be one of the option.  By default Penn sized to .358", and this is what most chambers are sized for.  However on request this company will size to .356" (which what attracted me, as I need smaller OD for Hammerly P240), .357" and .359" Many other manufacturers including Brazos make one or another version of wadcutter projectiles.  SAAMI spec for 38 WC chamber is .3809".  With that said, and without writing a novel, below you find links to items I quoted above.  I'm sure others will chime in with their experiences and suggestions.  One last thing, for any wadcutter projectile with .358" or less OD I suggest using my DEWC version of PTU, for Remington and similar HBWC or DEWC with OD more than .358" I suggest using my HBWC PTU version.  Frank / Bubba Blaster is about to post his review, and I'll be listing then both alone with 32WC you reviewed and shades for Aimpoint on website.
https://www.sgammo.com/product/38-special-ammo/50-round-box-38-special-148-grain-lead-wad-cutter-fiocchi-38la  or
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/136172/fiocchi-shooting-dynamics-ammunition-38-special-148-grain-lead-wadcutter-box-of-50  (please keep in mind this ammo was designed for revolvers!!)

https://www.targetsportsusa.com/remington-target-38-special-ammo-148-grain-target-master-lead-wadcutter-ar38s3-p-1456.aspx 

https://www.pennbullets.com/38/38-caliber.html

AP


Last edited by PhotoEscape on Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:28 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling of course)
PhotoEscape
PhotoEscape

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Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Empty Re: Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye?

Post by gregbenner Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:15 pm

Thanks Alex, really appreciate it. I’ve used Penn bullets before, so will use them and save the Remington’s for a rainy day.  Also, thx for the links for loaded cartridges. It’s not so easy getting loaded ammo shipped to California, and it any case I’d prefer to just purchase brass. 

Doing some preliminary looking, I’m not finding any that is specified as 38 Wadcutter brass?

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Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Empty Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye? Empty Re: Are some brands / types of 38 Special cases better than others for reloading for Bullseye?

Post by oldeyes Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:51 pm

Mike -- This may be of interest to you --

http://www.hensleygibbs.com/edharris/articles/38wadcutterQA.htm

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