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Loading .38 Spl HBWC questions

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Post by hp246 Wed Nov 10, 2021 11:24 pm

I shoot a S & W Model 52.  Always shot factory ammo.  After I retired and started having to buy my own, I tried some Zero Bullet Reman loads.  The gun didn't like them.  I think the problem was that they caught up about 1/4 to 3/8 inch above the rim.  I always figured it had to do with the shell holder not allowing a full length resize.

Fast forward to the Covid era.  I can't find factory .38 Spl. HBWC ammo anymore.  Probably couldn't afford it if it could be found.  I've found some 148 gr. HBWC bullets and figure I'll try reloading my own.  

I've loaded some specialty rounds in C .45 Spl with HBWC style bullets and the experiment wasn't very successful.  What is everyone using for seating and crimping dies?  How do you deal with the slight bulge just above the rim?



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Post by Wobbley Wed Nov 10, 2021 11:38 pm

The bulge is an affect of the case sizing operation.  The typical case sizing die is a bit under size.Some even advocate not sizing unless your pistol requires it.  If the loaded round drops into a “case checker”, I’d just run with it.  

As for loads, 2.6 to 3.0 of powders like Bullseye, WST, Titegroup, Accurate No2, Red Dot or 709X all have worked well, but my 52 prefers WST and Bullseye.  The 52 requires a decent roll crimp like this.Loading .38 Spl HBWC questions 4c2f7510

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Post by BE Mike Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:29 am

I have shot a lot of factory match .38 SPL wadcutters out of a model 52-1 and to a lesser extent, reloads with a 148 gr. swaged HBWC. I never had any functioning problems with either, even though my reloads are a taper crimp without any roll crimp. Some of the older factory match didn't have a roll crimp. I think the roll crimp on factory ammo pretty much came about to accommodate the PPC (revolver) shooters, to aid in charging cylinder holes. Of course, seating the bullet flush or below flush the case mouth is essential. Like Gil Hebard found in his article in "The Pistol Shooter's Treasury" where he extensively tested reloads in a Model 52, I never found the combination that would equal the accuracy of factory match 148 gr. HBWC ammo at 50 yards.
BE Mike
BE Mike

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Post by chiz1180 Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:57 am

I have found a few things that are fairly critical when loading HBWC. Firstly you need to expand sufficiently, such that the bullet can be seated straight. As the swaged HBWC are soft, if you are not careful you seat them every so slightly off axis. The bullet is correctly seated when after seating and before crimp when you look at the top of the round you can see an uniform circle between the bullet and the brass. You do not want any debris (lead shavings, bullet lube, ect.) to be present. Finally you need to crimp to the preference of the gun. 

For what it is worth, I tried the factory Zero ammo in my 38spl 1911 and it wanted more a bit more crimp to function correctly. 

For seating die I have used a hornady die with the the flat seater and more recently a old RCBS WC die that was my grandfathers. 

I have both the Redding Profile crimp and taper crimp dies, but with slight preference/bias to the former.

I have not had an issue with any bulge by the rim of the case.

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Post by bruce martindale Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:18 am

Search this forum, there's tons of info. The bulge is from an unsupported chamber, a M52 feature. Bulging also comes from internal case taper present on a lot of current brass. Bullet base on cast in particular bulges the case.
Good luck

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