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38 Special Loading Questions

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chiz1180
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Post by Kp321 Sat Feb 17, 2024 9:40 pm

I have been reloading for 60+ years but only recently have been chasing the ultimate accuracy with 38 Special. I bought a Smith M-52 and as I improve with it, my ammo needs to improve also. I am using R-P brass and HBWC bullets over 3 gr 231. Using a Dillon 550 by the way. I bought a PhotoEscape expander for HBWC’s so that is what my questions center around. I have it set to expand to the depth of the bullet length but most times, it is very difficult to pull the expander out of the brass. With some brass I fear I am getting close to pulling a rim off. The worst offenders are nickel plated brass and REM-UMC head stamps.  Even after culling this brass, the effort on the handle is what I consider excessive. First question, is this normal?  What can be done to remedy?
Second part. I swapped to a 38 Super sizing die and the problem got much better. Second question, is the PhotoEscape expander needed when using a Super sizing die?

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Post by Dcforman Sat Feb 17, 2024 10:48 pm

Loading 38 wadcutters seems to elicit a lot of opinions and different ways to do things. I think two fairly non-controversial ideas...

1. Expander depth should be set so you can seat the wadcutter 90% of the way with finger pressure. 

2. Polish the expander from PhotoEscape.

Yes, for me, expansion requires more force to pull out than other calibers.

Dave

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Post by chiz1180 Sat Feb 17, 2024 11:14 pm

Dave’s points are solid. Another thing you could do is put about of case lube on the expander. 38wadcutter has lots of different methods that can be used for successful ammo
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Post by Kp321 Sun Feb 18, 2024 8:26 am

I have polished the expander but I might be expanding too deep. I’ll try the finger pressure seating. Still need to know if I need the special expander when using the Super sizing die. I guess I’ll try the finger pressure seating test with it. 
Thanks for your responses, any other suggestions?
I was spoiled to loading match 45’s. Good brass and good bullets make accurate loads period with 45’s.

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Post by Texasref Sun Feb 18, 2024 9:11 am

I'm loading 158grn. SWC so the similarities might not even be there.
I size all my bullets which are coated. I think it helps in loading them to stop from scraping any coating off. Might just be me and my OCD.
The expander die you have is very good (have one for 45) however. I set mine only deep enough to set the bullet straight on the case. You do need to polish it as previously stated.

The 38 Spcl. is a long case. If your not using case lube you should be. Also previously stated.
I may be in the minority but for brass I use new Starline. Like all pistol brass you'll shoot it till it splits so cost will be almost nothing. I picked some range brass up once and that was enough.

Good luck and keep us informed.

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Post by chiz1180 Sun Feb 18, 2024 9:32 am

Kp321 wrote:I was spoiled to loading match 45’s. Good brass and good bullets make accurate loads period with 45’s.
It takes me significantly longer to load 38hbwc that are equal to the performance of my 45 loads, easily 2-3x as much time. It took me a bit of tinkering to be happy with my load process and subsequent results in this cartridge.
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Post by jwax Sun Feb 18, 2024 11:04 am

Hornady One Shot Case Lube.
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Post by Foundryratjim Sun Feb 18, 2024 11:34 am


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Post by bruce martindale Sun Feb 18, 2024 11:50 am

New brass is sticky clean and so is wet tumbled brass. Put them in a box lid and shake it, they'll stand up. A quick shot of spray case lube solves the problem

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https://www.bullseyeforum.net/t20747-feeling-center-a-10-bullsey

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