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Old September 12, 2004, 12:13 PM   #1
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38 Special Reload Problems

I have reloaded the 125 grain Ranier Lead Free TMC with 4.7 grains of Unique in a .38 Special. I shoot them in my 686 four-inch and six-inch .357 revolvers. I've had from time to time trouble with the bullet getting stuck in the barrel. This load fits with recommended loads by Hornaday and others but I've seen load data from Speer that suggest beginning with 5.7 grains. Any ideas? Thanks
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Old September 12, 2004, 01:39 PM   #2
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Th e books give different loads due to differences in their test guns.If your bullets are getting stuck in the barrel obviously you need more powder. Just increase the charge until you no longer have a problem.Velocities too, may vary with the same load used in different guns.
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Old September 12, 2004, 05:22 PM   #3
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are you saying the bullets are jumping the crimp or actually making it into the barrel and having to drive them out?
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Old September 12, 2004, 08:20 PM   #4
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You should not be getting stuck bullets at that charge weight. Are you crimping them firmly? How old is the powder? Any chance the powder is contaminated, moist maybe? How about the cases, is there a chance they are damp or contaminated with brass cleaner or something?
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Old September 13, 2004, 07:35 AM   #5
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I'd suspect the crimp also. I had a similar experience with my 44 special, but never on the first few rounds.

After firing 3 or 4 rounds, unload the remaining two and see if they've grown a little.
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Old September 16, 2004, 06:02 AM   #6
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What press are you using?

Could be some of the rounds have no powder in them and the primer is just pushing the bullet into the barrel.

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Old September 18, 2004, 10:24 AM   #7
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I had a similar experience with 5.7 grains of Unique and 125 Gr. semi JHP. I got a bullet stuck in the barrel and had to drive it out. It was a six inch vintage M&P. I am pretty sure it was a crimp issue. I rolled the crimp in a little more firmly and have had no more problems. The bullet was leaving before allowing the pressure to build properly in the case. At least that was what I came up with. Crimp a little tighter and try it again. Makes you nervous though for a little while. The thoughts of sending a bullet into one already stuck in the barrel is not pleasant.

Good luck and post a follow up on your findings.

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Old September 18, 2004, 11:41 AM   #8
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Best .38 powders

Unique powder has had the reputation of causing problems in .38's for decades and consider the traditional Bullseye or WW231. I have preferred WW231 since its invention as it meters accurately and I have never had a problem with it in millions of rounds loaded for police departments and police competitors.

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Old September 25, 2004, 08:06 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice. Sound like a crimp issue. I use the Dillon 550 and have loaded thousands of .45 ACP rounds with no problems with the powder drop. The powder I use is brand new, the brass clean and dry. The bullets get stuck in the barrel. I'll crimp a little tighter. And I may switch to 231, which I have used before. Again, thanks for all the help.
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Old October 28, 2004, 07:42 PM   #10
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Had a similiar problem but no stuck bullets in the barrel. I had velocity variations of up to 300 fps. Found the problem to be that my .38/.357 dies did not size the brass down enough, especially thin walled brass. My expander went into the case with ease and actually did no expanding at all. My problem was fixed by using a proper die for the thinner .38 special brass. The carbide combination sizing die works fine for the thicker walled .357 mag brass. Neck tension is just as important as a firm crimp. A firm crimp didn't cure the problem with my .38 brass with inadequate neck tension on the bullet.
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Old November 30, 2004, 02:23 AM   #11
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38 Special Reload Problems

You know I had problems when I loaded Unique for my 38 SPL loads too. I never had the bullet lodged though. I found that once I stopped using cast bullets and used FMJ bullets, not crimping at all, I ran into about 1 in 20 of that fateful "light pop sound" and a face blast of unburned powder (very funny if your not the goober shooting). I learned the hard way (as I seem to always do after all these yrs), the crimp makes a difference. Is there a magic crimp pressure or degree??? I usually just eye-ball a quarter turn tighter on the dye after intial contact. I Thank you for the opportunity to respond. Bill
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Old November 30, 2004, 08:16 AM   #12
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4.7gr. of unique is quite low. Increase it to 5.5 to 5.8 and let us know how that shoots.
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Old December 3, 2004, 01:40 PM   #13
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I have had a similiar problem and have decided that the powder charger is the issue. The relatively small gap created in the barrel of the chargeris, IMO, letting the powder bridge the gap and a full charge isn't dropping. I don't know what then solution is to this if I am correct. I went so far as to make sure that use the little wacker every tiime I drop a charge. I still get about a 10% error rate on the charging. I use a check stick to mack sure of the fill level before I drop the bullet on the case. I don't know what I will do when my new progressive gets here. maybe i'll just stick with .45 only. Its a better cdrtridge anyway.

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Old December 3, 2004, 07:11 PM   #14
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I shoot 158gr LSWCs and FP Raniers with 4.0gr, so your 125 loads are definitely underpowered.
"Every moving thing that liveth, I give unto you as meat" (Gen 9:3)
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Old December 4, 2004, 09:49 AM   #15
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16 powder measures

I use Unique's ballistic cousin Hodgdon Universal Clays; meters great.

And, any time you note a large discrepancy in published data, investigate (much) further before continuing, because of stuff like you found.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old December 4, 2004, 09:07 PM   #16
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Any time I've had a bullet get stuck in the barrel it was caused by my forgetting to charge the case! (i.e. "squib")
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Old December 5, 2004, 06:15 AM   #17
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Amen to that. I like HP38 for some light loads, the twin powder to W231.

As to crimp, assuming that you have the proper case neck tension with the proper expander, condition yourself to use a good roll crimp for your .38 loads. For jacketed bullets, crimp into the cannelure. You should see the case mouth taking a definite rounded radius into the cannelure.

For full wadcutters, I usually seat the bullet to just barely below flush, and roll crimp over the front of the bullet.
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Old December 10, 2004, 05:03 PM   #18
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No way the charge is the problem. I've shot 4.5 grains of unique behind lead bullets by the 1000s and never seen a problem. I think no powder or crimp have to be your problem. If memory serves your load must at least be in the 800 fps area.
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Old December 13, 2004, 01:20 AM   #19
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It isnt the powder charge that is the problem. Possibly the crimp. But, I have the same problem with my Lee dies. I called Lee and some dies for that specific caliber are not adiquate or should I say at the right demintions. I have the exact problem. Enough powder and crimp and still a barell jam. The resizing die is the culprit. Unless Lee is mistaken but I do know that I have the same copycat problem.
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Old January 30, 2005, 07:55 AM   #20
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4.7 Grn Unique Should be plenty

4.7 grn of Unique should be plenty to get a bullet out of the barrel. I don't think you have a crimp problem, but rather a powder and or primer problem. My dad's 454 casull did the same thing and I believe that was bad powder.

I shoot low charges of Unique in my 38/357 all the time without issue.

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Old January 30, 2005, 11:04 AM   #21
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In my experiance, Unique is not a good powder for 38 Special. I have had the same problem, and have known others who have had it as well. I tighter crimp may help to get more complete ignition, but why bother. Switch to W231, 700X, Clays, Bullseye, or AA #2 and you will never have to worry about squib loads again. I have used them all, and never had the problems I had with Unique.
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Old January 31, 2005, 09:49 PM   #22
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I'm with SmokinTom on this one. What are you shooting with that 4.7 grains of Unique under a 125 grain bullet, babies? Heh! This is not a flame, man. Just pullin your chain a little! Go up to 5.8 or 5.9 grains. I crimp the heck out of mine cause I shoot them in a .357 rifle with a tubular magazine. Been using Unique for 20 years [Lee dies too] and never experienced that problem in a revolver or the rifle. Must be the crimp or a missed powder cartridge though, 4.7 grains of Unique would get it out of the barrel but not much further. Heh!
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Old February 1, 2005, 06:18 AM   #23
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What primers are you using? I heard about a guy that was having the same problem till he switched to Federal primers from CCI. The CCIs were the culprit in that case. I use Unique for my CL loads and have had no problems except that it meters poorly some days..........
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Old February 1, 2005, 07:11 PM   #24
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Its the primers

I've had this happen several times in some rifle rounds. The bullet stuck in the barrel and the powder did not ignite. I know that it was not caused by contaminated powder or primers. All were new and I never touched the primers. It was not from the crimp either. Hell, 50 grains of powder in a rifle round is going to send the bullet out of the barrel regardless of the crimp.
It was the CCI primers. I dont know how but they built pressure but did not ignite. I have switched brands to Federal and never had a problem again.
You wont see CCI primers in another reload of mine. They are just plain dangerous.
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Old February 1, 2005, 08:31 PM   #25
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I used CCI also when mine messed up. Maybee that is the problem.
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