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Old December 19, 2018, 12:12 AM   #26
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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No doubt B/P can be used in a 357.

Just my suggestion in the long line of free advice.
My preferred set of dies would be those RCBS Cowboy ones {3-dies}if there made for the 357 cartridge?
Best bullet for the purpose would be a raw cast. Measuring slightly larger than bore.

Best way to lube such boolits >pan lube< and cut away excess lube with a Cake Cutter which you can home-make for the purpose.

My preference of cast boolit lube?__ SPG lube.__ A little spendy but indeed the SPG would keep the barrels Black Powders fouling soft.
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Old December 19, 2018, 10:58 AM   #27
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Best way to lube such boolits >pan lube< and cut away excess lube with a Cake Cutter which you can home-make for the purpose.
I have to disagree.

I pan lubed bullets for years. A slow process, requiring the bullets to sit in an oven for about 20 minutes while the lube melted, then they all had to be punched out. Could only do about 50 at a time. Then repeat the process for the next 50.

The Big Lube bullets run through a lube sizer with a BP compatible bullet lube have it all over pan lubing. Best of all is to use a Star Lubesizer. More spendy, but the best lube sizer on the market. Lyman and RCBS lubesizers cannot deliver enough lube to fill up a big lube groove in one shot. Each bullet has to be rotated and then get another shot. The Star can fill a huge lube groove in one shot, then it poops out the sized/lubed bullet ready for the next. When I was still casting my own bullets I could lube/size a few hundred bullets in 1/2 hour while watching TV. It took muck longer with the RCBS lubesizer.

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Old December 19, 2018, 02:38 PM   #28
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I pan lube mine and it is a slow process. I use a cake pan on a hotplate. Melt the lube and then put the bullets in it. Once it cools if you're careful you can get the whole cake out without breaking it. If you do break it the ones at the break wont be lubed. Once the cake is out you can just push them through.
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Old December 19, 2018, 04:55 PM   #29
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I've pan lubed exactly once. Got a Lyman right after. I'll order a bunch of Snakebites and see how I like 'em.

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Old December 20, 2018, 07:44 AM   #30
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Any good set of dies will work.
This ^^^^.
When I loaded for my lever gun, the first load that I tried was a case full of FFg, enough for some compression and a bullet. This load would not group at all, not even at 25 yards.
I took the same load and added a fiber wad between the bulet and powder.....that worked just fine.
ymmv.
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Old December 23, 2018, 09:32 AM   #31
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Ok, quick follow-up question: if the Snakebite bullet makes a .357-length cartridge out of a .38Sp length case, do I need to use the .357 length die set-up or the .38 length set-up? I know I can get one die set that will do both, but I want to be clear about what I need.

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Old December 23, 2018, 03:30 PM   #32
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If you intend to crimp the bullets (not necessary if using full cases of BP in a rifle) you will need the 38SPL dies which have a crimping ring(?) in the seating die. The Snakebite is a long nosed bullet that sticks out of the case. The back half of the bullet is lead & lube.
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Old December 24, 2018, 10:37 PM   #33
Driftwood Johnson
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Ok, quick follow-up question: if the Snakebite bullet makes a .357-length cartridge out of a .38Sp length case, do I need to use the .357 length die set-up or the .38 length set-up? I know I can get one die set that will do both, but I want to be clear about what I need.
I think you need to get a good reloading manual and read it. Not just the section about recipes for various calibers, but the actual process of reloading.

A 357Mag/38 Special die set comes with three dies. The sizing/decap die, the expander or 'belling' die, and the seating/crimp die.

Be sure you buy a die set that has a carbide insert for the sizing/decap die. That way you will not have to use case lube.

You will also need a shell holder that is specific for 357 Mag/38 Sp rims.

You set all the dies by screwing them into your loading press a certain amount. How far you screw them in determines how far the case will run up into the die, which determines what the die will do to the case. Most dies come with a locking ring that can also be screwed up and down on the die. Once you have the die set to the proper depth, screw the locking ring down until it rests against the body of the press. Most locking rings have a set screw so you can lock them to the die at a certain depth. That is so the next time you go to load, the dies will 'remember' their settings and not need to be reset.

Before you start loading and putting powder into your cartridges, set aside a few pieces of brass and a few bullets as your 'try' rounds. You will use them to get your dies set properly. Do not start putting live primers and powder into any cartridges until you have gotten the dies set correctly for your press with the dummy rounds you will make up with these cases and bullets.

Your die set should come with instructions that tell you how to get them adjusted properly for your press.

The first die punches the old primer out and full length resizes the die. Even with brand new brass with no primer in it, you want to run the shell up all the way into the die. Most die sets want you to screw in the sizing decap die until it just touches the top of the shell holder when the ram is raised to the top. That is the correct setting for the first die, do not cam over the ram, just bring the shell holder up all the way and screw the die in until the bottom touches the shell holder. Screw down the locking ring and lock it in place.

Same thing with the 'belling' or expander die. But this time, once the die is locked in position, insert a sized 38 Special case into the shell holder and run it all the way up into the die. There is a plug screwed into the die. This will expand the case mouth a small amount. How much the case mouth is expanded will depend on how far the expander plug is screwed into the die body. The correct amount of 'belling' will flare the case mouth just enough so that when a bullet is seated, it will slide down into the case without scraping off any lead. Generally speaking, the less flare or 'bell' the better. Flaring the case mouth cold works the brass and too much flare can lead to early splitting of the brass at the case mouth. I like to set my expander dies so that I can barely see the flare at the case mouth, but can feel it with my fingers. Since you will be using 38 Special brass with your Snakebite dies, set the die up so it expands a piece of 38 Special brass the correct amount. This means if you want to load 357 Mag ammo on this set of dies, you will have to reset the die for the longer 357 Mag cases.

Hint: Some of us keep two separate sets of dies for similar cases of different lengths. I don't load 357 Mag, so I keep my dies set for 38 Special. But 45 Colt and 45 Schofield can be loaded with the same dies. I keep one set of dies set up for loading 45 Colt and another set setup for loading the shorter 45 Schofield round. I don't load 44 Mag, but I keep one set of dies set for 44 Special and another set setup for the shorter 44 Russian round. That way I don't have to readjust when I load the shorter or longer cartridges.

OK, now we have gotten to setting up the bullet seating/crimp die. Some shooters like to seat their bullets with one die and crimp with a separate crimp die. I like to do both operations at once. There is a constriction machined into the inside of the seating/crimp die. When a case is run up against this constriction, the mouth of the crimp gets rolled over to form a crimp. There is a separate plug screwed into the die that shoves the bullet down into the case. Your Snakebite bullets will have a crimping groove cast into them. This is where you want the crimp to roll into. This time you don't screw the die in until it touches the top of the shell plate. Before screwing the seating/crimp die into the press, back the seating plug out of the die a whole bunch of turns. Place a belled 38 Special case into the shell holder and run the ram all the way up. Slowly screw the die into the press until you feel the case mouth contact the constriction in the die. Lower the case and place a bullet into the case mouth. Remember, no powder yet. Raise the case and bullet into the die. You may have to steady the bullet with your fingers as it enters the die. Depending on how much you backed out the seating plug, it will start to push the bullet into the case. If the case goes up all the way into the die and the plug does not start to seat the bullet, screw the plug in a bit with the case all the way up, until the plug contacts the bullet. Lower the case out of the die and screw the plug in a bit at a time, each time raising the case into the die. Lower the case each time to see how far the plug is shoving the bullet into the case. The correct amount will be when the crimp groove is lined up with the case mouth. Ideally, you probably want the case mouth to be sitting at the center of the crimp groove. Now, you want to set the crimp. Unscrew the seating plug several turns. Lower the ram a bit, then screw the die in about 1/8 of a turn. Run the round with the bullet in it back up into the die. The case mouth should now roll over and crimp into the crimp groove of the die. You can adjust the crimp by adjusting how far the die is screwed into the press. Screw it in a bit more for more crimp, a bit less for less crimp. This is why you set aside a few cases and bullets, for final adjustment to get everything right. Finally, when you are happy with the crimp, screw the seating plug back down so it contacts the bullet in the crimped round. This way, the seating plug will push the bullet to the correct depth, while the crimp is simultaneously being formed. Screw down the locking ring until it contacts the press and lock it in place.

That's it, your dies have now been set up for 38 Special with the Snakebite bullet. If you want to load a different bullet, you will have to reset the seating plug for that specific bullet. Keep the dummies you made up for future reference. I like to keep a few dummies right in the die boxes. That way, if I need to reset for a different bullet or case length, I can use the dummies to get the setting back quickly.

Yes, you absolutely want to crimp your bullets in place. You are not loading for a single shot, you are loading for a repeater, and you don't want bullets jumping forward in unfired rounds from recoil.

My advice on the proper amount of powder for you bullets is enough so that when the bullet is seated, it will compress the powder by about 1/16" - 1/8". For Black Powder only, not for Smokeless.

P.S. A couple of other things. Die sets for rimmed revolver cartridges generally form a roll crimp. That is the way the constriction in the die is shaped. Take a look at some commercial ammo and you will see how the crimp is rounded over into the crimp groove. That by the way is also a good way to decide if you are crimping the correct amount. Compare your crimps to those on commercial ammo. Taper crimps are for generally for semi-auto pistol ammo. This ammo is usually loaded with jacketed bullets without a crimp groove. The shape of the crimp is tapered, rather than rounded. The tapered crimp will grab the jacketed bullet securely, but it will not dig into the case at all. That way, the round can headspace on the mouth of the cartridge, with the mouth of the taper crimp butting up against the square shoulder in the chamber.

Primers: You will want small pistol primers for 38 Special/357 Mag. Any brand of primer will do for Black Powder. Some will tell you that you need magnum primers to ignite Black Powder. That is incorrect. Black Powder ignites more easily than Smokeless, and regular strength primers are fine for Black Powder. I generally use Federal primers because they are the softest and go off the most easily with light hammer springs. But any brand will do.

Drop Tubes: You may find mention of using a drop tube to drop the powder into your cases. A drop tube is a tube about 2 feet long. You pour the powder into the top of the tube, and gravity packs it more densely in the case than normal. This will also result in fitting a few more grains of powder into the case than just dipping it in. This technique is often used by precision long range rifle shooters for absolute accuracy. Completely unnecessary for the CAS rounds you want to make. I have a Lyman Black Powder measure that I use on my Hornady Lock & Load press when I am loading Black Powder.






I buy old Lyman powder measures whenever I find them on sale at white elephant tables at gun shows. The rotors for the standard Lyman powder measures fit into my Black Powder measure. I set the rotors for the standard powder charges I use in the various Black Powder cartridges I load. That way when I change cartridges I can pop out one rotor and pop in the one for the cartridge I am loading and I am all set, without having to recalibrate anything.






For those cartridges I don't have a rotor set up for yet, I dip the powder into the cartridges with a set of Lee dippers. The correct way to use dippers is to scoop powder into the dipper like you scoop ice cream. The powder will be heaped up in the dipper. Then I take a piece of card and scrape off the excess back into the powder in the coffee mug. This way the powder charge will be relatively consistent from charge to charge. Do not shake the dipper to level off the powder. As I said before, the correct amount of Black Powder for any cartridge and bullet combination will be the amount that gets compressed between 1/16" to 1/8" when seating the bullet. With Big Lube bullets you do not need any extra wads or grease cookies. And don't worry about the powder distorting the shape of the base of the bullet when you use it to compress the powder. It will not distort it enough to matter for CAS.






Here is a closeup view of a bunch of 45 Colt rounds being loaded on my Hornady press. The completed round with the bullet seated is about to be kicked out of the press by the kick out wire. Going around clockwise from there is a case that is about to be decapped and sized, then one that is about to be belled, then a belled case ready for powder, then a charged case ready for a bullet. You can see the top of the powder charge in that one.


Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; December 25, 2018 at 11:27 AM.
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Old December 26, 2018, 10:40 AM   #34
horseman308
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Driftwood, thanks so much for the very detailed response. That must have taken quite some time. I'll pull my Lyman 49th this evening. I appreciate you taking the time!

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