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Old April 28, 2005, 06:40 PM   #1
danosrs
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Problems with first 38spl loads

I just loaded 12 110 grain 38 special JHP winchesters with 7.6 grains of Blue Dot OAL 1.435 winchester primers hand when I went to the range ( 6in barrel S&W Mod 14-3) I noticed they were a little soft and when removing shells I noticed unburnt powder still in the emptys?? I then went home and loaded some 158 grain LSWC's with 6.1 grains of blue dot OAL 1.425 and back to the range with the same results.

I don't think this is normal and I'm thinking I need a little more crimp or is this a problem with the powder......any ideas??
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Old April 28, 2005, 07:25 PM   #2
steveno
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I believe in a heavy roll crimp on anything that needs to be crimped. it doesn't matter if it is a light 38 spec load , heavy 41 mag load or 45-70 load. first of all it doesn't hurt anything not to put a heavy crimp on the round. unburned powder would be a clue to not enough of a crimp
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Old April 28, 2005, 07:41 PM   #3
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danosrs, Blue Dot is a great powder, but it will work much better in high pressure loads than it will low. I have used it in all the magnums and it's one of my favorites for the .357. If you really want to continue using Blue Dot in .38 S., a CCI-550 magnum primer will help you get a more uniform and complete powder burn. A good roll crimp is advisable for slow powders in +P. Blue Dot is probably better suited to +P type loads if you have data for them, if not hollar back and we'll get you some. Your 110 gr. load appears to be a start charge for a +P load! Your cast bullet load is also a little on the light side. Whose data are you using and do you have a slightly faster powder on hand say like HS-6, WSF, AA#5. VV 3N37 is also avery good choice as are a number of others I'm omitting. Just some examples.

Last edited by Sturm; April 28, 2005 at 10:25 PM.
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Old April 28, 2005, 07:59 PM   #4
danosrs
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Lee manual for the load information? The 110 JHP 7.6 was right in the middle, 7.4 starting and 7.8 Max.

Also the 158 LSWC at 6.1 is at the high side and 5.8 as starting. Only other powder I have is HP-38.

I'm thinking I have the wrong powder for 38 special.
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Old April 28, 2005, 08:12 PM   #5
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I'm not knocking Blue Dot...it's great stuff and is pretty versatile but, over the years, I have found that it's just not a good powder for .38 spl.

I've never had powder left in the cases, but I have seen plenty of unburned powder on the shooting bench (and my hands for that matter).

I finally stopped using it alltogether for target and plinking loads for the 38 for this very reason. However, it does seem to be pretty good for the higher pressure loads.

I have had a lot better results with W231 as my standard powder (38,45, 9x18).
700x seems to work really well too, but it's dirty compared to W231.

I'd suggest a different powder, I think you'll have better results.
My 2 cents.
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Old April 28, 2005, 09:27 PM   #6
caz223
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Agreed, blue dot is one of my favorite powders, it works for 10mm, .357 magnum, 357SIG, .41 magnum, etc anything that is a magnum or high intensity load.
It is NOT good for cowboy loads for .45 colt, regular loads for .38 spl, etc.
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Old April 28, 2005, 10:52 PM   #7
Sturm
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danosrs, the HP-38 will work fine and is based on the same chemistry as W-231 and a lot of folks use 231, I'm just not one of 'em. Some think it's the same powder, but a glance at a burn rate chart will show you the difference. In this application with the choices of Blue Dot and HP-38, I'd load target type loads with the HP-38 and only hotter +P type defense loads with Blue Dot and WSPM or CCI-550 magnum small pistol primers. By all means though use what you have until you're ready to buy something else. You may like what you get with HP-38.
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Old April 30, 2005, 12:01 AM   #8
OfcrBill
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38 SPL Loads

I too had the same problem until I went to this site and researched. The folks here are right, make a heavier crimp. I'm the kind of loader that once I find the "best" powder/bullet combo, I stick with it. I am really pleased with the performance of "Unique" powder for my revolvers (S&W Model 649 2.5" and Beretta Stampede 45 colt 5.5") Supposedly Unique improved their powder to make it cleaner burning. I'm also dabbling in Bullseye and Clays Universal for my semi-auto pistols, pretty good results so far. I hope this helps you. Bill
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Old April 30, 2005, 12:06 AM   #9
OfcrBill
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By the Way...

Additionally, I've got into the habit of rocking my revolvers back, pointing up to about 45 degrees to ensure my powder is back towards the primer. This ensures consistency and less unburnt powder in the barrel. My $0.02, Bill
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Old April 30, 2005, 03:12 AM   #10
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Frigate to carrier, not bad OfcrBill!
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Old May 1, 2005, 12:40 PM   #11
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Win 231

is the "standard" used in my bullseye pistol league for target (therefore light) loads and lead wadcutter bullets, usually abt. 148 grain bullets. The suggested crimp is "just a little more than removing the bell-mouth from the case," i.e. almost no crimp at all.

Using minimal bell-mouthing and minimal crimping helps the cases last close to forever; the more you work the brass, the brittler it gets, faster.

Light loads of 231, low pressure, small flash, zero unburnt powder that I've observed. Xlnt accuracy. What's not to like?
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Old May 1, 2005, 03:13 PM   #12
Sturm
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Smokey Joe, sounds like plenty to like. Good explanation concerning target load construction. My only knock with powders this fast is load density and the affect on powder positioning. 231 and HP-38 are 2 of the most commonly used powders for this type of load. May have even had somethin' to do with Hodgdons choice of name for the powder!

I don't like to buck tradition when I'm on an easy horse, but we now have powders that are not as position sensitive and there are a couple of powders that will give very uniform ballistics with much higher load density, even in lower pressure cartridges. You will have to load higher charges and that will cost you more money. We should all know the dangers of Double-Charging, it is one of the sins that God punishes for on the first offense, like a head-on collision, so I have always made it a point, since my early reloading days, to never use a powder in pistol cases that will allow a Double-Charge, or, even in some cases a Triple-Charge.

We should all carefully check the powder level in the case, but yet we are human and a good number of people use progressive presses. Some of them say that they still observe the powder drop and case level, but if they are getting 500 rounds an hour, I wonder just how many are actually 100%. But Hey, if somethings already workin' great for you....
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Old May 1, 2005, 03:37 PM   #13
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danger w/231

Sturm, you're absoulutely right re. the possibility of double-charging a case w/ 231--it'd be really easy. And yeah, God punishes first offenders for that. Since I'm currently still working with a RCBS Rockchucker, even for my pistol rounds, I can visually check a loading-tray-full, with a strong light, before proceeding to seat bullets.

I was warned loud and clear about this danger when I started reloading for bullseye pistol, and try to maintain my paranoia about it. So far, so good.

I have a line on a progressive press, for which I will install a powder-check station, planning to maintain my paranoia when I'm making rounds far faster.

(You know the saying, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're NOT out to get you.")

The upside of using such tiny amounts of powder, is, of course, that a pound of the stuff lasts forever, almost. 7000 grains/3.4 grains per round = 2058 rounds--not counting the inevitable spillage!

I hear a lot abt. position sensitivity of W231. So far it's not been a problem for yours truly, probably because when shooting bullseye pistol, you try to shoot every single round with exactly the same motions as every single other round, so the powder is always in the same place within my case when I fire.

Like you observed, it's working. I'm not going to try to fix it.
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Old May 1, 2005, 06:25 PM   #14
Sturm
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Makes sense to me with a 148 gr. wadcutters in the .38 Special. Hey, don't feel like your all by your lonesome! I use a REDDING BOSS SS for everything because of the top dead center feature that will hold OAL tolerance to +/- .001" without a micrometer on the seating die! I ain't changin' anytime soon! But absolutely, couldn't have made a better point to those considering progressives. Get the powder check option!
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Old May 3, 2005, 11:38 PM   #15
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All of you guys have posted valuable and accurate info about the suitability of Blue Dot for use in the .38 Spl. Blue Dot was one of the first powders that I bought when I got into reloading for the 9mm and the .357. I quickly found that it worked great in the .357, but filled the 9mm cases to overflowing. I loaded 100 rounds of it in .38 Spl. to shoot out of my .357's, and it was quickly obvious that it wouldn't work so well in that caliber. It's just too slow for the .38 Spl.

After trying several other powders along the way, I've pretty much settled on 231 and Bullseye for the .38. HP-38 should also work well. With the .38's low pressures, it needs a fast powder to reach the pressure peak and ignite all of the powder in the case. As stated, because of the small charges and the .38's case size, great care must be taken to prevent overcharging. I've not experienced any problems directly attirbutable to powder positioning, so I can't comment on that.
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