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Old May 16, 2015, 02:29 PM   #1
Wendyj
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Reloading 380 acp

Is it worth it or just buy factory. Will probably shoot 100 rounds a week. Been loading for rifle so have everything but lee dies and trimmer. Think total from Midway was around 52.00. Have 4 boxes of 50 on brass. I will have to buy bullets primers and powder. May be a lot of trouble on single stage press. Factory is still $30.00 + per box and more for 20 critical defense. Your opinion please. Back that up. Just looked at Natchez. Never heard of them. Beats Midways prices by half.
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Old May 16, 2015, 02:49 PM   #2
Sevens
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Uhh, not even a question, absolutely reload .380.

The brass will certainly be a pain in the butt to find and collect, but that's just about the only part of .380 loading that is much different from other pistol rounds.

I like Berry's plated 100gr slugs here. I bought a large load of the flat base and they have been perfectly fine but I would recommend the plated hollow base bullet as an even better idea.

Have had success with Power Pistol and Bullseye, I have heard others do great things with Unique in .380, but that won't ever be my taste.
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Old May 16, 2015, 06:42 PM   #3
RKG
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.380s are fun to shoot, but only if you shoot the a lot, which means having a lot of ammo.

Which means reloading

.380 is brutally simple to reload. You want carbide dies (so no case lubing) and a tumbler (easy case cleaning). The only real problem is avoiding pinching your fingers when running a bullet up the seater. Brass lasts forever (or at least long enough to get lost in the grass).

I load jacketed slugs (about $0.06 a piece). Primers are $0.02-$0.03 per, and powder (I load 3.something of Unique) almost too small to count. Works out to about $4.50 for 50, which is way less than store bought.
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Old May 16, 2015, 07:40 PM   #4
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Cost analysis vs Benefit analysis

You reload rifle cartridges already. Staight-walled cartridges are simpler. But the do take three or four passes through a single-stage press (depending on what set of dies you use-seat and crimp in one step or separate steps.)

Cost: For you, a set of dies, the bullets, primers, powder and brass. Brass, you already have. Bullets of hard-cast lead can be had cheaply enough. RKG quoted 2-3 cents for primers. Mine cost 3.2 cents each (Alaska). Powder about $30 per pound and for .380 you can expect over 1,000 rounds per pound (depending on the powder you choose). If you put a price on your time, figure one hour per finished box of 50.

here are two sites to do the math for you (absent time value)
http://www.handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp
http://ultimatereloader.com/tools/re...ts-calculator/

I wrote a spreadsheet wherein one can insert the costs you want to include (including time at the press, training time, cost of classes if you took them, cost of equipment and of components) and lets you amortize them. I posted the spreadsheet here

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=663065

It was fun for me and I hope you may enjoy it, too.

(To those who decry counting time's cost for a hobby, I would like to point out that crunching numbers is also one of my hobbies. Don't trash the pleasure I get from my hobbies and I won't take offense.)

My opinion: Definitely do it.

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Last edited by Lost Sheep; May 16, 2015 at 07:54 PM.
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Old May 16, 2015, 07:55 PM   #5
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If you want to bump your production rate up to 150 rounds an hour the Lee Classic Turret press will allow that (the turret auto-advances, which is the essential element to the efficiency). Kempf's gun shop sells a kit that DOES NOT force you to take an extra scale, manual and other stuff you obviously already have. But Kempf's kit does include powder measure, dies, press, priming device and absolutely everything you need to get started on the .380 and nothing (except some plastic ammo boxes) that you don't need. Do get the Pro Auto-Disk upgrade.

If you do add the Lee Turret press, you may decide to get some extra turret disks (they are reasonably inexpensive) for your rifle calibers. The turrets make swapping between chamberings dead simple, and your dies, being permanently installed, are permanently adjusted. (Load 100 rounds of .380, twist the turret out, dump the powder back into the original container and store it. Put away the pistol dies/turrret. Pick up your rifle dies/turret, twist into place, grab your rifle powder, pour into the powder measure mounted on THAT turret. 30 seconds or so. Cycle a few powder charges to check the throw weight and then load 20 or 40 rounds of 30-30. Pull the turret, return powder, stow that turret and pull your 30.06 turret. Put THAT powder in the powder measure (about 30 seconds swap time again). Cycle the powder measure to settle and to check the throw weight and load 20 rounds.

Dead simple.
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Old May 16, 2015, 08:48 PM   #6
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I started loading 380 ACP in 1966 (that was when you could buy powder for $3.50 a can) and I haven't regretted a day of it....and always on a single stage press with carbide sizer.
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Old May 16, 2015, 08:51 PM   #7
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You reloaded .380 Auto with a carbide sizing die in 1966?
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:40 PM   #8
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For the two .380's I have, reloading for them is no different than loading 9MM or 45 ACP, just smaller cases and bullets to handle. Best loads I've made has been using Hornady's 90gr. XTP-HP using AA#2 powder and CCI 500 primers. My loading has shown a need for a fast burning powder and even Unique is almost too slow but suitable. I recommend AA#2 powder if you can find it using Accurate Arms data available on-line. Hornady's 90 XTP's feed great and has been accurate in my .380's.
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:54 PM   #9
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If you post on a couple different forums saying that you want to buy some 380 brass you will end up with more than you need. Ask me how I know. I must have 1500 cases on hand.

I found bullets harder to find than brass but again posted on a couple forums and ended up with a 1000 coated bullets to my front door for $60.00. Also bought some Xtreme bullets and one day some hollow points.

Got some Hornady dies (only ones that Bass Pro had locally) and I had primers and powder on hand. First weekend loaded about 400 rounds. Taking the cost of the dies out, those 400 rounds cost me about $44.

As some one mentioned earlier, be careful of your fingers when seating the bullet. It has a habit of biting.
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Old May 17, 2015, 12:44 AM   #10
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I started loading for 380acp about 6 months ago, if you start I would use a powder that meters well. I found that a 1/10 of a grain can make quite a difference in a small space.
Be safe.
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Old May 17, 2015, 08:41 AM   #11
lee n. field
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Quote:
Reloading 380 acp
Is it worth it or just buy factory.
Depends on you. For me, reloading 9x19 is worth it, so reloading the more expensive .380 would be worth it too. Assuming you shoot much .380.

(note to self, pick up .380 4 die set and rotor, next gun show...)

Quote:
The brass will certainly be a pain in the butt to find and collect,
A PITA to sort out from 9mm, certainly.

Back 15-ish years ago, when I did a lot more .380, the biggest problem was crushing the occasional case in the press, from not being aligned quite right.l

Quote:
Brass lasts forever
My .380 Makarov seems to have a really unercut chamber. I get significant case bulging on .380 run through it. Don't know how long brass would last or how many time's I'd want to push it.
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Last edited by lee n. field; May 17, 2015 at 08:46 AM.
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:41 AM   #12
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When reloading 380 try to avoid powders that do not meter consistently. Because of the smaller amounts of powder used for smaller calibers (3 grains or below) inconsistencies in powder dispensing make a big difference. For example, you can make great bullets using Unique but because it does not dispense very consistently I try to avoid it. Power Pistol, Bullseye, and Titegroup are better choices.
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:48 AM   #13
Don P
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I found great success using 3 grains of Titegroup under a 100 grain plated bullet. Chrono tests showed this load to be VERY close to factory ammo with regards to fps
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Old May 17, 2015, 01:10 PM   #14
Wendyj
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You've convinced me with the cost. I use one vernier scale and 2 digitals to triple check everything on rifle. Going to order dies this week from Natchez. Half the price of Midway. Bullets were cheaper at Midway. Got to go shoot up 4 boxes of factory to get some brass. Thank you all for your responses. Is my vibratory cleaner going to be sufficient? Corn media,
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Old May 17, 2015, 09:43 PM   #15
Wendyj
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Lost sheep, I really like that cost calculater. I'm loading 308 for $16.00 a box and 7 mag for $26.00. Those are boxes of 50. Considering factory good ammo is $44.00 for 308 and $49.50 for 7 mag boxes of 20, reloading is sure allowing me to shoot way more. And I'm only buying in hundreds on primers and bullets and powder by the pound. Still new and trying to get best loads but they are way more consistent and accurate reloading. .782 best on 308 so far and .495 on 7 mag. Factory was giving me 1 inch or better.
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:26 PM   #16
A pause for the COZ
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ummmm yea!!!

3 mags at 25 feet.





Oh and if you really REALLY!!! Want to get the cost down.
Learn how to cast your own.
I can do 308 win for about maybe. $4 for 20
.380 I can do the same for 50.

But I am super cheap. I dig out my shot bullets and remelt them to shoot again. Sort of like a Gobstopper.




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Old May 17, 2015, 10:37 PM   #17
steve4102
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Quote:
so have everything but lee dies and trimmer.
Forget the trimmer.

No need to trim ACP brass.
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Old May 17, 2015, 11:31 PM   #18
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What does ACP headspace off of?

I have been told that 45 ACP is persnickety to load because that round headspaces off the case. I have never loaded for ACP so am ignorant.
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Old May 18, 2015, 12:28 AM   #19
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You don't need to trim acp brass, but I do it makes things easier. I also sort my brass by head stamp again it makes things easier. Each to there own I guess.
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Old May 18, 2015, 07:24 AM   #20
TimSr
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Skip the trimmer. 380 brass is almost as easy to find as 9mm. A few dollars will get you a bucketful at most ranges.

You should be able to load 380 for under $6 a box of 50 if you buy bullets in bulk of 500, and use cast bullets or for a little more, plated.

It's a matter of what your time is worth, and how much you enjoy or despise handloading.
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Old May 18, 2015, 07:53 AM   #21
A pause for the COZ
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I Have found this to be true with .380, 9mm and 45acp.
These are all fussy about over all length. The ones listed in the manuals are just a guide. Every gun is different.

While setting up my loading dies, before I lock them down.
I test the loaded round in the barrel of the gun to insure it will chamber.
Saves Angst latter.



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Old May 18, 2015, 10:50 AM   #22
lee n. field
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Quote:
I have been told that 45 ACP is persnickety to load because that round headspaces off the case. I have never loaded for ACP so am ignorant.
It can be a little particular, but not for that reason. Almost all autopistol rounds headspace off the case mouth. Pay attention to your crimp, and your seating depth.
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Old May 18, 2015, 11:47 AM   #23
Wendyj
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I really appreciate all these replies. So forget the trimmer. Ok. Will vibratory media cleaner be ok or do I need to spring for Sonic. I did use someone's reply on here concerning 308 soaking in dawn dish tether gent, vinegar and salt. Put baking soda in on rinse and dried in baking pan. They didn't shoot any better and the brass was all dingy. Run it back through media and it came out looking good but had to clean all the media out of flash holes. Can I vibratory clean the 380 brass
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Old May 18, 2015, 12:30 PM   #24
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All I use is a vibratory for everything. Including 380.
50% corn cob, 50% lizard litter.

Use whatever you have.
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Old May 18, 2015, 02:25 PM   #25
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Thanks Cowtowner. I have to ask what is Lizard Litter. I know corn cob and walnut but I am a beginner.
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