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Old March 14, 2013, 03:43 PM   #1
cvbinrichmond
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.38 spcl bullets (heads)

I have been using 3-d and Hornady 148 gr. lead double and single ended w.c. that I got probably about 10-15 years ago. I recently went to my local gun shop and got some .38 / .357 bullets by ProofMark and they slid into the barrel of my shell if you tapped them and so the first one I tried when it went up to be crimped slid into the barrel and the crimp applied. I have not gotten calipers to see the diam., but what is the correct diam. for a .38 spcl bullet head? Are they different? I saw some Hornadys for .357 bullets, .357 and for .38s, .358. I guess I will have to either alter my setup for my dies, or check the diam. with calipers and get the same. I thought all would be the same diam.? Would .001 make that much of a difference?
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Old March 14, 2013, 04:00 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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I'm a bit confused by your terminology but lead bullets for 357mag and 38spl should typically be .358"

Jacketed bullets would be .357

You should not be able to seat any/either of them by hand.
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Old March 14, 2013, 04:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
I have been using 3-d and Hornady 148 gr. lead double and single ended w.c. that I got probably about 10-15 years ago. I recently went to my local gun shop and got some .38 / .357 bullets by ProofMark and they slid into the barrel of my shell if you tapped them and so the first one I tried when it went up to be crimped slid into the barrel and the crimp applied. I have not gotten calipers to see the diam., but what is the correct diam. for a .38 spcl bullet head? Are they different? I saw some Hornadys for .357 bullets, .357 and for .38s, .358. I guess I will have to either alter my setup for my dies, or check the diam. with calipers and get the same. I thought all would be the same diam.? Would .001 make that much of a difference?
"...heads...", "... they slid into the barrel of my shell..." A little free advice. If I were you, I would learn the correct terms for the cartridge components to escape criticism by other board members. "Heads" are bullets. "Shells", unless talking about shotgun, are cartridge cases, "barrel" of a case, is the case neck.

If .357 and .358 bullets "slide" into the .38 Special cases, the cases have not been sized to the correct size.

Either .357 or .358 diameter lead wadcutters should work in a .38 Special gun.
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Old March 14, 2013, 05:48 PM   #4
cvbinrichmond
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Sorry for the wrong terminalogy. My point was that the "bullet" in the new batch would slide into the "case" but the case had been sized properly with the old batch of bullets. My question was, is 1 one thousand of an in. enough to cause this. If not, then the two batches of bullets must be of a different diam. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
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Old March 14, 2013, 05:50 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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No trouble, we all start somewhere and even regional common word usage varies, we just have to make sure we know what you mean.

The bullets should not slide into properly sized cases, no way, no how. If the cases were properly sized, the bullets would have to be MUCH too small for that to happen, which means that the most likely culprit, by far, is improperly sized cases.

What brand of sizing die do you use and how is it adjusted?
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Old March 14, 2013, 06:10 PM   #6
cvbinrichmond
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Thanks for the reply Brian. My cases are sized properly. At least it works for me and everything seems ok. I have just enough spacing at the bullet end of the cases to push the bullet in just barly and then the dies seat the bullet perfectly. Also, the bullets are crimped at the ring nearest the outer part. Sorry, don't know the term for the little fellow. I will try to learn it. However, the new bullets are smaller in diam. apparently, as they will slide with just a little tap on the bullet. The old bullets are lead with lube and the newer ones that seem smaller are of a metal alloy...shiney and of a harder metal. I too thought all bullets of the same caliber would be the same size, but ... "taint so".
My dies are RCBS .38 spl. dies, but this should not be part of the equation.
Thanks again. I will just break down and buy a set of calipers and measure it and then when I go to buy the bulk bullets, There should be no question of it fitting. Or, take a couple of cases with me to try out the fit.
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:19 PM   #7
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Frankly it sounds like you have 9mm bullets (.355)
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:25 PM   #8
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Are you running the cases through the sizing/decaping die? .358" is usual for .38 cal. bullets and case ID for sized cases is around .353" - .355".
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:37 PM   #9
valleyforge.1777
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How can you make reloads without owning a set of calipers?

But anyway, it sounds like either the bullets are not wide enough or the cases are being sized too wide. How come you keep insisting that the cases are in fact sized correctly if the bullets slide in with just a bit of a tap? Again, for that to be possible, you have to either have the cases too widely sized or the bullets can't be the correct size.

Lastly, and perhaps of most help to you is that you are not crazy or imagining this. It is probably really happening. Bullets can be mislabeled by the manufacturers. I've seen posts over the years where people report getting incorrectly labeled bullets from well-known manufacturers. It sounds like either your cases are being sized too widely, or, maybe more likely, your bullets are actually 9 mm, incorrectly labeled as 38's.
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:48 PM   #10
ScottRiqui
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As an aside, I don't know how Proofmark bullets are priced up there in Richmond, but here in Norfolk, they're very expensive - nearly double what you'd pay online at someplace like Missouri Bullets.
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Old March 15, 2013, 12:03 PM   #11
mikld
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Calipers aren't necessary for reloading any straight sided handgun ammo. All bullets designed for revolvers should have a crimp groove or cannalure, and bullet seated to the groove/cannalure, regardless of OAL (as long as the round fits the cylinder, not too long). I reloaded for 18 months or so with only a Lee Loader, made a thousand rounds or so, crimped all the bullets in the crimp groove and shot them all without knowing the exact OAL. Continued to reload revolver rounds with my single stage press/standard dies for a few years without measuring OAL; 38/357, .44 Spec./Magnum. And today, 30 or so years later, I still don't know exactly the OAL of any of my revolver ammo.

A micrometer is a must for reloading lead bullets in any gun as calipers aren't accurate enough for bullet OD (not starting a debate on caliper accuracy, I've used them as a machinist/mechanic for nearly 40 years and even down to .0005". But rarely do new reloaders have the "feel" or experience with a caliper to be accurate to .001". my .02...).
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Last edited by mikld; March 16, 2013 at 10:39 AM.
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Old March 15, 2013, 09:58 PM   #12
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I've read this post three times now and I'm still not sure what the OP is doing. Two possibilities come to mind; either he isn't resizing the cases or he's over-crimping. Or maybe it's something completely different. If English is not the OP's first language I apologize in advance.
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Old March 16, 2013, 01:48 AM   #13
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valleyforge.1777
How can you make reloads without owning a set of calipers?
I did for years without calipers, trusting to the manufacturers to sell me stuff of the right size and visually checking for chamber fit, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by valleyforge.1777
It sounds like either your cases are being sized too widely, or, maybe more likely, your bullets are actually 9 mm, incorrectly labeled as 38's.
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Sure sounds like it, but I have never seen 9mm wadcutters (if the new Proofmark bullets that slip too easily into the case mouth/neck are the ones I think they are).

I have been advised (by someone whose opinions I trust) that it should take about 40-50 lbs of force to insert a bullet into a properly sized case.

Note: Even properly sized cases, if the case-mouth flaring/belling is too much, will not have the proper tension on the bullet.

Try this: Size a couple of these cases. (What brand are they, by the way?) Then, take the case-mouth belling die apart and see if you can insert the belling/flaring mandrel into the case mouth by hand. Can you insert a bullet by hand?

Take a sized AND FLARED case and attempt the same two manual insertions described above.

Do the differences tell you anything? Please tell us about it.

You can measure a lot of things, even if you don't have calipers or micrometer. But they are sure helpful.

Good luck. Thanks for asking our advice.

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Old March 16, 2013, 07:19 AM   #14
Misssissippi Dave
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I have a set of RCBS carbide dies for .38 special/.357 mag. I don't use the one to flair/bell the mouth because I do this with the die on my powder measure. Different presses equal different setups. The cases using my dies come out sized small enough there is no way I could push a bullet even .357 jacketed one in by hand even after seating and before adding the crimp. A 9 mm bullet is another story. I could press a .355 bullet into the case by hand. It would take a bit of effort but I can do it. I don't have many lead bullets available to try those. Those shinny bullets you have are probably hard cast.

It really does sound like you may have some bullets that got sized to the wrong diameter. Things like this do happen.

I don't use calipers for .38 special or .357 mag. loading. The bullet tells me where I need to crimp at in most cases. It is quite different when I load 9 mm and .45 apc. I have been loading Speer and Montana Gold bullets lately and have never run into the problem you seem to be having.

You would have to put a flair/bell in the case mouth pretty deep to have a loose bullet in it if the bullet was the correct size. The way the RCBS dies are made it would be difficult to do that and not have problems getting the case to enter the seating die. I doubt too much flair/bell is the problem so we are back to a bullet problem.
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