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Old February 13, 2012, 02:45 PM   #1
TheWanderingRed
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New shooter/reloader 38spc. Lee Classic Loader

I’m new to the shooting sports, and TFL has been kind enough to share its collective knowledge with me on a number of other issues, and I was hoping that I could get some help here as well.

I guess this is a typical n00b question with the added fun of a Lee Classic Loader kit.

I’ve got around 200 spent cases of 38 special lying around, and a Lee Classic Loader, and being too poor to continue to feed my gp100 with new factory ammo I figured I’d reload some via the Lee kit.
I’ve read the For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST Thread several times, but its talking about using fancier stuff than I have, like a press, and as the Lee kit is the only “experience” I’ve had reloading I’m left a little confused.
1.)If I follow the instruction exactly as they are given in the Lee Kit, use the proper bullet weight and type, the small pistol primers, the powder given for said bullet type and weight, and the prescribed dipper what are the chances I’ll blow my hand off when I cycle this stuff through my Gp100?
2.)What tools in addition to the Lee Classic Loader will I absolutely need? Keeping in mind that I’m poor:
Will I need a set of calipers to make 100% sure that they’re in Lees Minimum overall Length? Do I need a good scale to check the weight?
I’m thinking of making the 148 grain wad cutter with the .5 lee dipper using IMR 800x.
4.) My Bing shopping search gave me several different kinds of small pistol primers. Do y’all recommend any particular type or brand?
Again I’ve had a great experience here at TFL and I’m so appreciative of all the help I’ve received. Being that this is such a well educated and well mannered forum if there is anything that I should do better, or am not doing please let me know. Its very important to me that I am a member in good standing, and that my name here is worth something, and not a synonym for silliness or rudeness.
Thanks in advance
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Old February 13, 2012, 03:01 PM   #2
GroovyMike
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If you follow the directions in the Lee kit, you will be safe. You do not need any additional tools if you re-use brass fired from the same firearm that you plan to re-use it in. Use projectiles of the correct diameter for you cartridge and the exact type of powder listed in the reloading guide and you will be just fine.

Believe it or not Youtube is an excellent reference. It gives you a chance to actually watch someone use the same tools.
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Old February 13, 2012, 03:08 PM   #3
Jim243
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Quote:
1.)If I follow the instruction exactly as they are given in the Lee Kit, use the proper bullet weight and type, the small pistol primers, the powder given for said bullet type and weight, and the prescribed dipper what are the chances I’ll blow my hand off when I cycle this stuff through my Gp100?
Not too much of a chance, many have used this setup without a problem. I have always weighed my loads of powder, never used the dippers myself. Do they tell you what powder to use? The dippers dispense base on volume and the volume of powder will vary based on the type of powder. Some are fast powder, some slow and some should not be used for pistols.

I would still be more comfortable if you could weight the amount of powder that comes out of the dipper before using it. A small electronic scale is not that expensive and would be a good addition to your equipement.
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Old February 13, 2012, 03:15 PM   #4
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I used a Lee Loader for years to reload my .303 British. Follow the instructions, use the powders named and be very aware of the warnings and you'll be fine.
And welcome to the reloading addiction.
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Old February 13, 2012, 03:18 PM   #5
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The Lee dippers will get you close and seem to weigh a tad light for what they recommend. Hard to get the exact charge everytime but you will be close. Stay to low to mid range with the dippers till you get them figured out. If your bullet has a crimp groove just use that.

A good balance beam scale would be in order for me, as would the calipers. Good luck and have fun.
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Old February 13, 2012, 04:17 PM   #6
TheWanderingRed
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Thanks and a few more questions!

Thanks so much! I have been a member of many forums in my time on the Net and never have I found one more informative, considerate, or prompt.
Jim243
Quote:
Do they tell you what powder to use?
Yes, it gives you a list of powders for each bullet type and each velocity. I’m going to try their recipe for 148 grain wadcutters. Seems like a quintessential .38 spcl load and they say that the velocity will be low. Around 768 fp/s so maybe less flash and recoil etc? Just good cheap fundamental training rounds. For this round they suggest 4.7 grains of IMR 800X which seems to be one of their go to powders for heavier 38 spcl rounds. This means that one Lee .5 dipper should hold 4.7 grains of this powder, and according to their Dipper capacity chart the .5 dipper does indeed hold that much powder. http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi-data...ct/Dippers.pdf GroovyMike
Quote:
Use projectiles of the correct diameter for you cartridge
other than making sure they’re 38 spcl bullets (.357-.358”) is they’re something I need to check on the diameter?
Bossman
Quote:
If your bullet has a crimp groove just use that.
Use it for what? To determine how far to seat the bullet? Sorry that sounds curt, just can’t think of a reword.
And thanks again all! Now to order my stuff!
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Old February 13, 2012, 04:41 PM   #7
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You will be in good shape using the Lee data sheet.
Double check your dipper number and powder type. Don't know for sure, but I think all powder measures use volume.
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Old February 13, 2012, 05:25 PM   #8
243winxb
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You will need a plastic mallet. After you set off your first primer, buy a hand priming tool. Protect your fingers that are holding the priming rod with tape or glove. Wear safety glasses.
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:20 AM   #9
TheWanderingRed
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Thanks again all. I have one more question before I actually get started. As I meander across the net looking for the 148 grain wad cutters I keep on bumping into hollow based Wad Cutters. Will these be the same, or function the same as the 148 grain Wad Cutters suggested by Lee, or does the hollow base bugger things up?
And I'm definatly thinking of getting a hand primer. That's the thing that worries me the most on the kit.
Thanks again!
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Old February 14, 2012, 04:04 PM   #10
243winxb
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With no expander, the hollow base may get sized more by the brass on loading, then a solid base?? Then again, cast might be better then swaged? Cast being harder alloy? I dont know, having loaded 357 mag & 158gr jacketed with a hammer loader. Always used standard dies to load the 148 wc.
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Old February 14, 2012, 04:20 PM   #11
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I just loaded my first 50 38s. I will tell you that once you get set up and get going everything starts making since. I bought some cheap calipers and a good digital scale before I ever started but I was scared to death that I'd blow up my favorite gun and my favorite hand. You'll probably flinch the first time you pull the trigger but you'll be fine.

Also don't just stick to light 38s, load some rounds to take advantage of that ruger!
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Old February 14, 2012, 05:02 PM   #12
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I would recomend a different powder other than HiSkor800x I have not seen a single load for .38 spcl published with it. That is from the Lee chart with my .38 spcl dies, The Lyman Pistol & Revolver 3rd edition, and from Hodgdon. Besides .5 cc sounds a bit much for a wad cutter. If using a Hollow Base WadCutter you are running a huge risk of blowing the skirt out on it.

Now 700x is listed for loading .38 spcl. Though if it meters like 800x I would not use it without a scale. I would recomend using something like Bull's Eye, or Titegroup. Both meter well, and work very well with loads for .38 spcl.
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Old February 14, 2012, 06:42 PM   #13
TheWanderingRed
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243winxb
Quote:
With no expander, the hollow base may get sized more by the brass on loading, then a solid base??
Huh?
Quote:
cast might be better then swaged? Cast being harder alloy?
Alright, now I know I need to buy the ABC of Reloading. I’ll do that now, and get the supplies to reload next paycheck.
Quote:
Always used standard dies to load the 148 wc.
Don’t want to cast my own bullets. I’d like to buy them, at least initially. I’m really hoping I don’t ride this slippery slope all the way to casting my own bullets. At least not anytime soon.
M&p45acp10+1:
Quote:
I would recomend a different powder other than HiSkor800x I have not seen a single load for .38 spcl published with it. That is from the Lee chart with my .38 spcl dies, The Lyman Pistol & Revolver 3rd edition, and from Hodgdon. Besides .5 cc sounds a bit much for a wad cutter. If using a Hollow Base WadCutter you are running a huge risk of blowing the skirt out on it.

Now 700x is listed for loading .38 spcl. Though if it meters like 800x I would not use it without a scale. I would recomend using something like Bull's Eye, or Titegroup. Both meter well, and work very well with loads for .38 spcl.
There’s no other powder listed for the 148 grain Wad Cutters on the little chart that came with the loader, so it looks like I’ll need to change bullet types and weights so I can utilize the loader kit with out buying more stuff. Humbug. I was hoping to be up and running by Friday so I could load this week and shoot next week.

Thanks all though. I'm going to do this, and though I know it'll be old news to y'all I put a report when I get it all done!
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Old February 14, 2012, 06:58 PM   #14
m&p45acp10+1
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Ok here is a suggestion to help with your situation. I would recomend using a 158 grain Lead Semi WadCutter. It will seat a whole lot easier than the full was cutter. Also it is a very common bullet for .38spcl, and .357 mag.

For powder I would recomend Trail Boss for the cast lead. I will warn against using it for full wadcutters like the 148 grain ones. I tried it. The ones that actualy left the barrell fell feet away. 3 of them stuck in the barrell and were a real chore to get out.

Now take an unprimed case and seat the bullet you will use. Use another bullet, and a permanant marker. Figure how deep the bullet goes in with the one outside of the case, and make a line. then use that line on another case, trim the case down to a small bit below that line. Wrap a paper clip around it to make a dipper. You now have a dipper that will dipense the powder for your loads.

Please note I repeat do not use Trail Boss for full wad cutters. You will end up with squibs. Possibly with one you did not know was stuck in the barrell, and if you fire another behind that it can damage the gun. It is perfecly safe with all other bullet, shapes, and styles in the .38 spcl and is a clean burning low pressure powder.

I use it a lot with 158 grain LSWC, and it gives exelent groups.
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Old February 14, 2012, 11:09 PM   #15
243winxb
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Expander & Choice of Powders.

Expander- Classic does not have one. A standard RCBS die set does. It will bell the mouth & expand the inside of the case to except the bullet. The expander is about .002" smaller than bullet diameter. The reason an expander is needed, most dies size the brass smaller than needed, so dies will work with all thicknesses of brass. The classic loader uses the bullet as an expander. As far as the 800x being use, is because, if more than normal is in the dipper, the amount over will not be enough to cause pressure problems. A much faster burning powder like Bullseye is not as forgiving. When you do not have a scale, 800x is a lot safer if to much is loaded from the dipper. Photo of expander>
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Old February 14, 2012, 11:29 PM   #16
243winxb
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You will need a flaring tool for lead bullets. New classic dont seem to have one??? Or does it?
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Old February 15, 2012, 01:30 AM   #17
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I can run my Lee Classic Loaders with pretty much any old chunk of wood to beat on them with. Rubber mallet is nice tho.

What is nice is to have the Lee Dipper set, so you have a better choice and chart to use with powders. Or a scale. Or why not both. But if you are keeping it basic the entire dipper set and included chart is really nice for $10 or so.
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Old February 15, 2012, 01:36 AM   #18
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I found a lee classic loader for my Savage 10BA .308 a few weeks ago.
I loaded up 25 rounds on monday and they shoot less than 1MOA.
I love this thing.
The rifle shoots 0.5MOA with my best handloads.
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