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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I loaded 158gr XTP bullets in front of hp-38, .38 special +p for my Taurus M66 .357 today. It was an educational experience. I noticed the Min load was 4.5gr and the max load was 4.6.

I was wondering if anyone was aware of any mistakes in the load data because the Lee Modern Reloading 2nd Ed. shows a higher velocity at the Min Load than the Max Load. I don't know enough to say whether this is normal or not, so I crossed it with Handloads.com and it gave the same data.

The next thing I noticed was that the Min OAL was 1.455; I was unable to get a solid crimp (using the Lee Loader) at the minimum oal, I had to seat the bullet deeper than the MIN OAL in order to crimp the bullet. I started to get discouraged because I recently purchased 1000 of these XTP bullets and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to load them until I was able to purchase a more sophisticated reloading set.

I read the data a little closer and noticed the min oal was only applicable to max load--4.6gr. So my simple logic says "go no higher than 4.5gr".

This is how I proceeded:

5 rounds @ 4.0-4.1
5 rounds @ 4.2-4.3
5 rounds @ 4.4-4.5

I stayed away from the max because I wasn't able the achieve the proper min oal of 1.455

All the rounds performed well, but once again it seemed like the hp-38 gave it's best performance at the higher end. No unburned powder and tighter grouping.

questions/concerns:

1. Is something wrong with the load data for showing higher fps at the min load and lower fps at the max load?
2. Why wasn't I able to get a good crimp at or beyond the min oal?
-I measured my shells with a digital mic
-The bullets were labeled and packaged for .38/.357
3. Does my loading method that I've shown above appear to be a good way to determine best performance?

Thanks guys. I'll try loading 50 more of these XTP at 4.5gr unless anyone has seen something I need to correct or change.
 

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First, the XTP's have a crimp ring on the projectile....
seat it to crimp in that ring.
Cross reference 'your' data with Winchester W231 powder....
it is the exact same powder, BUT there is a difference in
powder charges between the two, and both [data] are safe.
Check it, and you will see what I mean.
I load 4.7gr W231 in my .38special all day long...with 125gr and
148gr and 158gr projectiles. They all shoot well, so I don't
change up to any 'special recipe' between the three.
 

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In my Hornady manual ( 7th edition) minimum 38 Special load for Win 231 - same powder as HP 38 - is 3.7 grains with a 158 gr. XTP. COL is 1.450" and velocity is 600FPS. Max load is a +P load; 4.9 grains with a velocity of 800 FPS.
In the Hodgdon annual reloading manual, starting load listed for both HP 38 and Win 231 with a 158 gr. XTP is 3.8 grains - velocity 661FPS; max load is listed at 4.3 grains, COL of 1.455 and produces 779 FPS. They also list a +P load at 4.6 grains of HP 38.
If you load to book COL, your crimp should be in the crimp groove as elPescador recommends. Book velocities will vary depending on the test barrels used to develop the data.
The loads you used look to be within acceptable ranges according to all my sources.
Why were you unable to get a good crimp at the book COL?
 

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I start my response with my usual disclaimer. The disclaimer is that I have only been reloading for about 6 months.

When I read your post you refer to OAL as being a minimum figure. You are saying that you build your cartridges to a length longer than that number? I may be wrong but I'm fairly certain OAL is actually the maximum length to build the cartridge too. I'll use this excerpt from Lymans 49th Edition:
Step Twelve, Bullet seating and crimping. "The maximum overall length for a loaded round is clearly listed in the data for each cartridge."

Another example would be to measure a factory round. The Lyman book lists the OAL for a 230 grain FMJ round nose .45 ACP to be 1.275". If I measure a American Eagle 230 grain FMJ round nose .45ACP it measures out to 1.265", ten thousandths shorter.

I have never read the Lee manual so maybe they do things differently. If so disregard my post!
 

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If you understand the reason for OAL in a given projectile and the data
that goes with it, then you have read the beginning of [any] reloading manual.
Any given cartridge, with any given charge, can change pressure by simply
seating the projectile further into the brass, or seating out further.
Seating will either gain space inside the brass, or lessen it, therefore
changing the pressure when the powder ignites.....and directly related to
the amount of crimp you have...or don't have.
When loading for revolvers, I have no worry the round will 'function', as
opposed to loading for a semi-auto. That being said, OAL is still a concern if I
get my powder charge up near or beyond the 'max' charge.
I have specific guns that I load well beyond the max loads in the manuals,
but only from years of testing am I safe with doing so.
You are wisely being safe. I see that clearly.
The loads you have made are well within the safety zone....play with them
and you will get an accuracy round to your liking.
OAL is important.......but don't let 'EXACT' get in your way......
Make sense?
 

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"I was wondering if anyone was aware of any mistakes in the load data because the Lee Modern Reloading 2nd Ed. shows a higher velocity at the Min Load than the Max Load. I don't know enough to say whether this is normal or not, so I crossed it with Handloads.com and it gave the same data."

You will find this type of data that makes no sense throughout the reload data world.
Some comes from the specific test barrels used, and don't forget the different
temperatures during testing.
This is why you always cross reference 3-4-5 or more data banks when you begin
on a new reloading venture. Read all, and come to some middle ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In my Hornady manual ( 7th edition) minimum 38 Special load for Win 231 - same powder as HP 38 - is 3.7 grains with a 158 gr. XTP. COL is 1.450" and velocity is 600FPS. Max load is a +P load; 4.9 grains with a velocity of 800 FPS.
In the Hodgdon annual reloading manual, starting load listed for both HP 38 and Win 231 with a 158 gr. XTP is 3.8 grains - velocity 661FPS; max load is listed at 4.3 grains, COL of 1.455 and produces 779 FPS. They also list a +P load at 4.6 grains of HP 38.
If you load to book COL, your crimp should be in the crimp groove as elPescador recommends. Book velocities will vary depending on the test barrels used to develop the data.
The loads you used look to be within acceptable ranges according to all my sources.
Why were you unable to get a good crimp at the book COL?
Volfan, when I set the bullet in the case at the min oal, the crimp groove around the bullet was too far from the case opening to make the crimp. I should have measured the distance between the shell opening and the crimp groove but I didn't think about that at the time. It seemed like my OAL was about 1.446 with the bullet crimped to the shell at the crimp ring.

They seemed to shoot well. I just loaded 50 more of those rounds for a rainy day.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you understand the reason for OAL in a given projectile and the data
that goes with it, then you have read the beginning of [any] reloading manual.
Any given cartridge, with any given charge, can change pressure by simply
seating the projectile further into the brass, or seating out further.
Seating will either gain space inside the brass, or lessen it, therefore
changing the pressure when the powder ignites.....and directly related to
the amount of crimp you have...or don't have.
When loading for revolvers, I have no worry the round will 'function', as
opposed to loading for a semi-auto. That being said, OAL is still a concern if I
get my powder charge up near or beyond the 'max' charge.
I have specific guns that I load well beyond the max loads in the manuals,
but only from years of testing am I safe with doing so.
You are wisely being safe. I see that clearly.
The loads you have made are well within the safety zone....play with them
and you will get an accuracy round to your liking.
OAL is important.......but don't let 'EXACT' get in your way......
Make sense?
Thank you! Sometimes it's just nice to hear someone confirm that I'm barking up the RIGHT tree.
 

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Some years ago, most manufacturers of bullets and powder stopped recommending the use of 158gr jacketed bullets in loads on the lighter side for the .38 spl. Many of us have fired Lord knows how many thousands of those loads without incident, but there were several cases of the heavy jacketed bullets getting stuck in barrels with light to mid-range .38 loads.

There was often some contributing factor, such as an excessive gap or eroded throat that resulted in enough of a gas leak to really slow the velocity down even with a mid-range load. I think this is one reason you see such a narrow range in the min-max loads, they are keeping you at the higher end of the velocity range. I have fired many, many, rounds loaded below the range now listed and never had a problem.

It makes sense. These bullets are really intended for the .357 magnum and many have heavy jackets in order to stay together at the higher Magnum velocities. Barrel resistance is high with the heavy jacket and the longer bearing surface.

A slower powder is probably a better choice. The problem with the fast powders in this application is you get lower velocities at the maximum load.
 

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Volfan, when I set the bullet in the case at the min oal, the crimp groove around the bullet was too far from the case opening to make the crimp. I should have measured the distance between the shell opening and the crimp groove but I didn't think about that at the time. It seemed like my OAL was about 1.446 with the bullet crimped to the shell at the crimp ring.

They seemed to shoot well. I just loaded 50 more of those rounds for a rainy day.;)
OK - sounds like when you seat the bullet to book length, the cannelure ( what you have been calling the crimp ring) is still a bit - maybe 4 thousandths - out of the brass.
I have never had that happen. It sounds like your brass could be a little short ( did you trim it? Does it measure within your manuals parameters? It should be no shorter than the "trim to" length). Another possibility might be bullet variation. I have found that XTPs can vary by + or - several thousandths because of tip variation. Did you measure several bullets during seating to be sure you are seating to an average and not one particularly short tipped bullet? A final possibility is your measuring technique or your calipers. Are they calibrated properly, & are your measurements consistent?
They obviously shoot OK crimped below the cannelure, so it is probably no big deal. I load many of my rifle rounds longer than book with the brass below the cannelure in order to get the bullet closer to the lands, but I don't crimp them. .38 special with this load will not recoil much, & should not require a heavy crimp to avoid changing the length of the unfired rounds, but with a heavier load where you would want a strong crimp, you could deform the bullet by roll crimping outside the cannelure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK - sounds like when you seat the bullet to book length, the cannelure ( what you have been calling the crimp ring) is still a bit - maybe 4 thousandths - out of the brass.
I have never had that happen. It sounds like your brass could be a little short ( did you trim it? Does it measure within your manuals parameters? It should be no shorter than the "trim to" length). Another possibility might be bullet variation. I have found that XTPs can vary by + or - several thousandths because of tip variation. Did you measure several bullets during seating to be sure you are seating to an average and not one particularly short tipped bullet? A final possibility is your measuring technique or your calipers. Are they calibrated properly, & are your measurements consistent?
They obviously shoot OK crimped below the cannelure, so it is probably no big deal. I load many of my rifle rounds longer than book with the brass below the cannelure in order to get the bullet closer to the lands, but I don't crimp them. .38 special with this load will not recoil much, & should not require a heavy crimp to avoid changing the length of the unfired rounds, but with a heavier load where you would want a strong crimp, you could deform the bullet by roll crimping outside the cannelure.
I checked a couple of the brass cases and compared it to the manual. Everything seemed to be within specification. I continued on not giving it to much thought because the brass I was loading had only been fired once. My digital caliper is brand new and seems to do a good job of zeroing out once the caliper is closed. I suppose that will speak well of its consistency, but I may need to check it against a few other things.
 

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Beats me. I currently load 140 gr. XTP for my .38 special, & use the 158 grain XTPs for .357 mag. & they both crimp into the cannelure when seated to book length. Seems like I did some 158 gr. .38 s a while back, without that problem, but I'm not sure.
It sounds like your calipers are OK.
 

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That is the reason to have multiple sources, my LEE manual lists the same starting and max load for 230gr lead bullets with unique. By referencing other sources I can see that the starting load is correct, but the max is lower than the max listed in my other books.
 

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Just a few things I noticed that you may want to think about:

1. Never use only one source for load data. Just about every manufacturer has up to date load data online. I keep a spreadsheet with load data on all my favorite powders in calibers that I reload. I make sure to note the source in every case. If you have several sources on a load and one sticks out higher, or lower, than the others, it may be wrong. Pay particular attention to all the parameters such as case, primer, OAL/COAL, taper crimp or roll crimp, pressure, etc. Pay attention to the pressures of max loads. I have found some manufacturers will max out their load data well below SAMMI max due to the number of legacy pistols still on the market. .380 Auto is one such and I had to dig around to find the proper SAMMI max loads for my 738.

2. Document everything, including test data on your reloads. Several years later when you are trying to repeat that load, it will come in handy as inadvertently you will ask yourself, "Why did I do that?", or "What was I thinking?" It is good to have the notes on hand to explain yourself.

3. There are 2 types of crimping: Taper and Roll. Unless I'm mistaken, Lee's Factory Crimp is simply a taper crimp die. In a revolver, I would only use a taper crimp if the jacketed bullet has no crimp groove, or that crimp groove does not fall between min and max OAL. With any crimp make sure you are not deforming the bullet. A roll crimp should be enough that it is down in the groove, but not cutting into the bullet. Taper crimps are trickier and it is best if you can go by what the factory rounds are using for a taper crimp. You will find very, very few revolver rounds using a taper crimp, and I would only go to a taper crimp on a .38 or .357 mag if the bullet has no crimp groove, even then you will have a hard time finding good data on the measurement to set your taper crimp.

4. There is a minimum and a maximum OAL (Over All Length), aka COAL (Combined Over All Length). For a revolver using a roll crimp ideally you should be able to find the crimping groove and keep the OAL within those limits. There are a few bullets that are exceptions to the min or max OAL. The manufacturer is where you should find those exceptions. I routinely measure the OAL of factory loads when I get something I haven't had before and keep the measurements in my spreadsheet for reference for when I am reloading that bullet. For auto cartridges, I record the taper crimp too.

5. If you don't see load data for your bullet, feel free to call, or email, the manufacturer and ask them for data and any other aspects of reloading that bullet that they can pass on to you. This is especially the case for new bullets on the market, and also for bullets that are less common, such as General Bullets COP lines. Many bullet manufacturers will list new bullet data on their website, even if they don't list other load data (usually because they publish and sell a manual).

6. Do not mix the data between bullet types, most especially with pure copper bullets. Use lead bullet data for lead bullets, jacketed bullet data for jacketed bullets, etc. Unless the manufacturer tells you different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
maybe someone can make sense of this

1. Pic of shell case before sizing 1.142
2. After sizing and flaring the neck 1.144
3. XTP bullet length .668
4. Completed round 1.442 (min oal 1.455)

If you zoom in on the 4th pic you will see the cannelure (thanks the vocab help Volfan :)) is right at the tapered crimp.
 

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