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Thread: RevolverRob's Loading Journal (mostly .38 Spl and .45 ACP)

  1. #1
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    RevolverRob's Loading Journal (mostly .38 Spl and .45 ACP)

    Basically a place for me to chronicle my adventures in reloading.

    Equipment:

    Press: Lee APP with automation kit

    Dies: Lee carbide

    Powder Handling: Lyman Brass Measure and Hornady G2 digital scale

    Priming: Lee Ram Prime on press

    ___

    You can review the Lee APP thread - But the basics are I'm using my APP both to process brass and bullets and to load.

    Some of the trickier bits of loading on the App, include priming with the ram prime. I haven't settled on this being my absolutely final way of priming brass, but I actually do not find it particularly onerous to do it this way and the APP's lever design appears to give excellent control on seating primers firmly, but without having to mash the shit out of them.

    The other tricky bit is powder handling, which I'm still not happy with.

    __

    Loading data to follow.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  2. #2
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    • Reloading press used (list modifications if relevant): Lee APP
    • Caliber: .38 Special
    • Bullet (Weight, Coating, Profile, Manufacturer): 158-grain, Swaged Lead, Semi-Wadcutter, Hornady
    • Powder manufacturer, type and charge; volume, type (ball, stick, flake): VV N330; 3.7-3.9 grains; stick
    • Dies used: Lee Carbide
    • Primers used: Winchester
    • Cartridge Overall Length (COAL): 36.5mm
    • Chronograph data (if possible): TBA (VV's reloading tables suggest ~880 fps from a 6.5" barrel, so I'm expecting 825-850 from a 4" GP100)
    • Goals intended with this load: Paper blasting and learning to load, yo!
    • Results - accuracy, smokiness, clean burning, flash, temperature, smell, brass deformation, etc.: TBA
    • Problems encountered and fixes applied: TBA
    • Anything of interest: Not fond of how the Lyman Brass Powder Measure meters N330. The volume is variable, despite measuring each load, because the throws from the measure are varying +/- 0.2 grains from my desired 3.8 grain throw. I'm probably going to switch to a Lee Auto-Disk measure.


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    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  3. #3
    happy sharps enabler Totem Polar's Avatar
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    As a guy who was gifted a press a couple of years ago, and who is sitting on, maybe, 20k of once-fired .38 brass, I shall follow this with interest.

  4. #4
    I think you'll be much happier with a Redding 3 powder measure with a pistol insert than you will be with the Lee measure. Some Lee products are great; in my experience, that does not include their powder measures. I have had both the Lee disc and Lee "perfect" powder measures and neither was consistent and the adjustments lacked precision and tended to wander with use. Perhaps Lee has solved those issues; I had those measures nearly 15-years ago before I bought my Redding measure.

    Also, powder weights can vary with your technique on the powder handle; how long you take to dispense a charge, and how much powder is in the reservoir. I've found it helpful to develop a cadence for throwing charges, and I tend to keep my powder reservoir about 2/3 filled, re-filling after each block of 50 charged cases. That also has the effect of imposing a break in the action and reminding me to shine a flashlight into the filled cases in the loading block to ensure that each case received powder and to check for double charges.

    You might also test to see whether a +/- .2gr variation has any effect on velocity with your loads and, if so, whether that effect is enough to warrant investing equipment and time eliminating the variation.
    Last edited by oregon45; 04-15-2020 at 04:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    • Reloading press used (list modifications if relevant): Lee APP
    • Caliber: .38 Special
    • Bullet (Weight, Coating, Profile, Manufacturer): 148-grain, swaged lead, hollow-base wadcutter, Hornady
    • Powder manufacturer, type and charge; volume, type (ball, stick, flake): VV N330, 3.0-3.2 grains, stick.
    • Dies used: Lee Carbide
    • Primers used: Winchester small
    • Cartridge Overall Length (COAL): 30-30.01mm
    • Chronograph data (if possible): TBA - VV load manual suggests about 700fps from 2" snub.
    • Goals intended with this load: Practice Load for snub.
    • Results - accuracy, smokiness, clean burning, flash, temperature, smell, brass deformation, etc.: TBA
    • Problems encountered and fixes applied: TBA
    • Anything of interest:


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    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  6. #6
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    I started reloading 3-weeks ago on the Lee APP - doing everything in batches. Today I churned out my 300th round. I'm certainly in no hurry when I load, but I'm enjoying it. 50-100 rounds a week is my loading goal. And given my current shooting volume is 0 rounds per week, it's all net positive.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oregon45 View Post
    I think you'll be much happier with a Redding 3 powder measure with a pistol insert than you will be with the Lee measure. Some Lee products are great; in my experience, that does not include their powder measures. I have had both the Lee disc and Lee "perfect" powder measures and neither was consistent and the adjustments lacked precision and tended to wander with use. Perhaps Lee has solved those issues; I had those measures nearly 15-years ago before I bought my Redding measure.

    Also, powder weights can vary with your technique on the powder handle; how long you take to dispense a charge, and how much powder is in the reservoir. I've found it helpful to develop a cadence for throwing charges, and I tend to keep my powder reservoir about 2/3 filled, re-filling after each block of 50 charged cases. That also has the effect of imposing a break in the action and reminding me to shine a flashlight into the filled cases in the loading block to ensure that each case received powder and to check for double charges.

    You might also test to see whether a +/- .2gr variation has any effect on velocity with your loads and, if so, whether that effect is enough to warrant investing equipment and time eliminating the variation.
    Lee measures mentioned have served me extremely well. I use one on my Dillon 550. Some powders meter better than others. Ball powders meter best and stick types the least. The Dot powders as a group are not in the best category even though they are flake powders. Red Dot is terrible. It's cousin Unique is so-so. Redding powder measures are good but one of these costs about what Rob paid for his entire rig. However, they are subject to the same rules as all other measures regarding which powders meter well. But they are top notch.

  8. #8
    Not having used N330 before, from the looks of it, +/-0.2gr might be all you could get out of a 3.7-3.9gr charge. My Auto-Disk without modifications delivers 2.7-2.9gr of Bullseye (which I just call 2.8). Whether your results are acceptable or trash would depend on:

    *how many charges its dropping at the extreme edge (-0.2, +0.2)
    *whether you're weighing each charge--because most people don't and if you're comparing your results to what most people claim their measures do, the fact that you know what yours is doing puts you at a disadvantage
    *consistency in your metering technique
    *scale quality, scale technique, etc

    Although I'm quite pleased with my Lee powder measures, I would not suggest upgrading at the moment, until you have a better idea of what you want. For most handgun shooting, I would gladly take gear that's easy to use and produces reliable ammunition over more precise equipment. The Auto Disk Pro (if you're getting one at all, get the Pro) is like that--I just drop in the right disk, run it till it settles, weigh to verify, and I'm off to the races. The tradeoff is that sometimes I have to drop 4.2gr of a powder, or 4.6, because the 4.4 I want to drop is in between two cavities.

    And of course, the flip side is that it really might be completely irrelevant, depending on what your expectations are. If you don't need tight velocities, or 50-yard accuracy, it's perfectly okay to not invest the money/effort. Your ammunition isn't any "worse" if it does everything you need it to do.
    Last edited by Wise_A; 05-27-2020 at 12:57 AM.

  9. #9
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    So, I have not been weighing each charge. But I've been weighing my charged cases in lots of five (place the five empty cases on the scale, zero it, throw the charge, re-weigh them). With my expected charge weights, I'm giving myself a +/- .5 of a grain range. And I place each charged case on the scale individually (so if the numbers suddenly jump over where I am expecting with one case vs. another I can stop and inspect that charge weight). So far, I'm seeing generally a +/- range of .2 of a grain across five cases. So, I think I'm okay here in terms of what I am throwing.

    That said, being an obsessive precision oriented guy, I'll probably buy a Harrell's Precision Schuetzen Measure - Which will definitely cost more than the rest of my setup...But since powder volume and bullet seating depth are the factors that affect the dangerous part of loading ammunition, they are the things I'll need the most control on. That said, I think the Lyman Brass measure I have now is throwing fairly consistently within .2 grains and therefore it is working out fine. There is no "need" to upgrade in this regard.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  10. #10
    No--you'd really need to try hard to blow up .38 Spl, especially with a modern firearm. There's absolutely nothing wrong with pride of ownership, either. Sometimes, just using nice stuff is what's fun.

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