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Old August 25, 2012, 03:46 PM   #1
MSD Mike
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Wadcutter seating

I know wadcutters are normally seated flush with the case mouth and I have successfully loaded many this way. Has anyone ever tried seating 38 Special tumble lube wadcutters out a bit so they are started in the throat in a .357 revolver? The dummy round I made up fits well and still has plenty of bullet in the case with a light roll crimp in one of the tumble lube grooves. I am interested in trying this to see if it helps accuracy at all to have the bullet started in the throat. I am assuming you would bump the charge a bit.

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Old August 25, 2012, 03:50 PM   #2
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I've never loaded tumble lube bullets in 38s. But I've loaded thousands of grease groove wadcutters exactly as you describe. I started because I forgot to change the depth of the seating stem on my dies when I changed over from 158 SWCs. the wadcutter bullet sticks out of the case a bit. They shoot just fine.
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Old August 25, 2012, 07:07 PM   #3
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I seat the tumble lube bullets just as you describe. No worse or better accuracy in any of my .38 or .357 pistols. No more keyholing than with the bullets seated flush ( out at about 75 yards both keyhole). I do not change my charge.

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Old August 25, 2012, 09:52 PM   #4
MSD Mike
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I had an interesting result with this. After my post earlier today I loaded up 50 rounds like this and went to try it out. I guess a little history lesson is in order. The revolver is a Smith Model 19 that I have always struggled with leading on. The only load that hasn’t leaded in the past is the standard 2.8 grains of BE under a 148 GR HBWC. I could shoot hundreds with no leading. All other lead bullets leaded the bore. I have reamed the throats to .358 and slugged the bore at .357and still had leading problems with all other 38 and 357 lead bullet loads from mild to wild. Always using .358 bullets. Anyway, I recently started casting and have been trying Lee's 148 grain TL WC bullet cast from pure WW ans sized to .358, 3gr Bull’s-Eye seated flush with the case mouth and it is accurate for 20 -30 rounds then the leading sets in. Today I loaded up 50 (same charge) with the bullet seated so it was in the throat when loaded and wala, no more leading. So the question is... Did it not lead because the bullet was better aligned with the throat; the velocity was lower due to the increase space in the case, the bullet wasn’t swaged down in the brass or for some other reason. Anyway, more testing is in order.
For the record, this load will only chamber in a cylinder that has throats that measures .358. I reamed mine to this size.
Anyway, it doesn’t take much to entertain me but I think there is a lesson in here somewhere. I just have to figure out what it is.

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Old August 26, 2012, 04:44 AM   #5
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Many people find that they get best accuracy by seating the wadcutter out to the crimp groove or first lube groove. Also, there have been several reports that best accuracy with cast wadcutters comes with ONLY the lower lube groove filled.
The "problem" with your question is no one can tell you what your gun will prefer.
If you shoot HBWC, be sure to keep velocity under 800fps and seat just below flush and slightly roll crimp the case mouth.
For lead bullets, I have always found that best results are with bullets that are AT LEAST 0.001" over groove diameter and are a tight slip fit in the cylinder's throat.
You may need a larger bullet (and larger throats).
If you know where the leading is, you can diagnose the most probable reason for the problem.
A clue to what is causing the leading is where the leading first begins to appear.
If it appears near the chamber, chances are that bullet diameter or hardness are the cause. A diameter too small or an alloy too hard will allow high pressure gas to leak past the bullet, which erodes the bullet and leaves leading near the chamber.
If the leading first appears on the leading edge of the rifling (if you imagine the bullet being pushed through the barrel, you will note that one edge of the rifling does most of the work of imparting a spin to the bullet. This is the edge you see when you look through the barrel from the breech end), the bullet might be too soft or the velocity too high.
If the leading appears in the second (front) half of the barrel, the bullet is running out of lube.

Last edited by noylj; August 26, 2012 at 04:49 AM.
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Old August 26, 2012, 10:32 AM   #6
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For decades, I have been loading HBWCs with the bullets seated out to get alignment in the throats. I upped my charge weight from the data, based on keeping the same % fill of the powder space under the bullet, and then shot groups to fine-tune the load. The results were slightly better accuracy and what little leading I was getting went away. So, I think the seating-out procedure is an improvement.

The only reason I would seat them flush and use a tiny bit of roll crimp would be if I was going to shoot them in an auto-loader, such as a modified model 911.

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Old August 26, 2012, 08:54 PM   #7
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I've loaded thousands of 38 wadcutter. I have never been able to get the crimp to grip when loading flush. So I load to the first grove. If there is no grove I just crimp into the lead at the same seating depth as the first grove.

favorite load is 2.7 grains of BE 148 grain Hollow base wc.
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Old August 27, 2012, 02:54 PM   #8
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I have taken effort’s to insure correct bullet fit. I have two revolvers i am testing with (Ruger Blackhawk and a Smith Model 19). I have reamed the throats on both revolvers to .358 and the bores on both revolvers are .357. After seating the bullet out further I believe (at least in my guns) that alignment must play an important role in addition to fit. Bullets are home cast out of straight wheel weights. Lee Tumble Lube 148 DEWC mold and Liquid Alox for lube. Loaded over 3.0 of Bulls-Eye (740FPS in my 4’’Smith) and seated flush with the case mouth both revolvers have an annoying amount of lead in 1st half of the barrel after 50 rounds. Seat bullets out further so it aligns in the throat with the same load and there is absolutely no leading after 50 rounds. Now I need to up the charge a bit until I get 740 FPS to eliminate lower velocity due to enlarged case space as a reason for the reduction in leading.

Here is a little history with these guns, remember, they have proper throat (.358) and proper barrel (.357) dimensions. No noticeable restriction in the barrels.

Speer 148 Gr HBWC 3. Grs of BE – Shoot em all day long with no leading. Only commercial bullet I have shot with no leading

All other commercial cast bullets (.358-.359) 148 GR DEWC and 158 GR SWC of varying hardness BH 12 and up lead in these two revolvers and any others I have ever shot them out of. This occurs with .38 brass as well an .357 with loads ranging from pipsqueak to magnum and multiple different powders.

Home cast Lee Tumble Lube DEWC’s flush with the case mouth and they lead the barrel's
Same load seated out to engage the throat and leading disappeared.

So anyway, I am easing into casting and will hopefully get smart enough to solve all my problems
Sorry, I guess I have turned this into a leading thread. I am determined to figure it out so I can be one of those guys that says “ I shoot lead at 1200 FPS all day long and just have to swab it out and put it away” Ha, I still have a ways to go.

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