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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys!

I'm starting on .38 Special after having loaded 9 mm for a while on my Lee Pro 1000. Any tips?

2 quick questions:
Am I correct that I shouldn't worry too much about OAL, that I should crimp to the cannelure if I have one?
Any hints on how to do a powder check on the press?

Thanks!
 

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As long as it fits in the chamber, allowing the cylinder to close and not cause it to bind your length is good. There is some conjecture that longer cartridges enhance accuracy by shortening the length of the jump from case mouth to forcing cone. The crimp groove on bullets made for 38 Special will serve you well as a length establishing standard.
Good shooting!!!!
38's are easier to make good than 9MM.

Powder check? depends what press you are using. Most often the standard issue Mark I, Mod. 0, eye ball will suffice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your thoughts, and your comments!

I've fiddled around with my dies on the turret and I think they're adequate now, with an OAL of 1.440" when at the middle of the cannelure. I'll adjust the crimp tightness later if required.

I'm still worrying about how to do a satisfactory powder check. I've had advise that shaking the cartridge is adequate for checking if there's powder. It seems to work on factory ammo, but I'm not sure if I trust it. I put 0.5 cc of HP-38 powder in a case and when slotted in the shell plate, I can't see *anything* at all from that angle, despite the use of an added light. Should I get a loading block and perform the bullet seating/crimping as a batch?
 

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I use the 50 round MTM load blocks, had them for almost 30 years, kind of expensive now but they work. I use a single stage press and several different kinds of powder measures and even the Lee dippers for some. Using a load block, you can powder 50 and then "eyeball" all of them and that will tell you, especially if you use a small light and look in each and every one, won't take 30 seconds to verify 50.
 

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I know what you mean about seeing the powder; my first revolver cartridge was the .32 long and with the light sprinkle of Bullseye I decided I needed a bulkier powder. I switched to Unique for the .32 longs and was happy I could see the powder.

I wanted to keep it simple with one powder choice, and quickly decided I need a bulkier powder for the revolver cartridges so now I am using two powders, one for semi auto’s and one for revolvers.
 

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On progressives seeing small charges of fast powders in .38/.357 cases is difficult, if not impossible. That said, I've loaded thousands without a problem I can blame on myself. I did have a malfunctioning auto-disk powder measure that caused me a batch that was about 10% squibs. I carry a hammer and a rod. The options are: switch to a bulkier powder, slow yourself way down by removing the case to inspect or performing separate operations, or pay very, very, close attention to what your powder measure is doing (which also slows you down). The bulkier powder is the best option. Due to my squib experience that's probably what I'm going to do.

I can honestly say I've never measured the OAL on these revolver rounds. I crimp where the bullet is meant to.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
In my press, I think no smokeless powder other than Trail Boss is going to give me enough case fill for me to eyeball it.

I'm a little paranoid about eyeballing each case because I don't trust my powder measure (Lee Autodisk). It will be humming along flawlessly, then give me a case with no charge out of the blue.

I think I'll run the cases through stations 1 & 2 (through charging), then set them aside for inspection. Once inspected, I'll cap it with a bullet and seat and crimp on station 3.
 

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In my press, I think no smokeless powder other than Trail Boss is going to give me enough case fill for me to eyeball it.

I'm a little paranoid about eyeballing each case because I don't trust my powder measure (Lee Autodisk). It will be humming along flawlessly, then give me a case with no charge out of the blue.

I think I'll run the cases through stations 1 & 2 (through charging), then set them aside for inspection. Once inspected, I'll cap it with a bullet and seat and crimp on station 3.
Same thing mine does. I've caught it malfunctioning, the disk "sticks" in the forward position, or I should say it doesn't fully retract to pick up a new charge. I've changed my technique to verify the disk has retracted. It helps if you stick a piece of highly visible tape, or a fluorescent sticker, on the side of the disk to help you visually keep an eye on it. The black disk on the black base of the Pro Auto-Disk makes it difficult to see. I've tried to determine the cause of this. I've made it better, but last batch I loaded I still caught it once. The Auto-disk extender seems to aggravate it.

If anybody else made a powder-through-expander-die measure that used fixed disks I'd buy it.
 

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well can't help with checking powder on a progressive, thats why i don't do progressives.
but on powder and it depends on what grain projectile that you are using but several are bulkier than Win 231/HP-38.
Accurate #5, Unique, HS6, H4227.
I only use Hp-38 on 380 due to the small amounts in other cases, even in the 380 it does give something to look at in that lil case.
the only thing that case length will effect (within reason) is the crimp amount that is put on the round, different lengths will result in different crimps.
 

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Have gotten into habbit of checking every cartrige with a hex head wrench. By inserting in the case can make sure each has powder and its about same
 

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Same thing mine does. I've caught it malfunctioning, the disk "sticks" in the forward position, or I should say it doesn't fully retract to pick up a new charge. I've changed my technique to verify the disk has retracted. It helps if you stick a piece of highly visible tape, or a fluorescent sticker, on the side of the disk to help you visually keep an eye on it. The black disk on the black base of the Pro Auto-Disk makes it difficult to see. I've tried to determine the cause of this. I've made it better, but last batch I loaded I still caught it once. The Auto-disk extender seems to aggravate it.

If anybody else made a powder-through-expander-die measure that used fixed disks I'd buy it.
That's EXACTLY the malfunction I get. It gets hung-up, then resets with a slam from the strong spring. I think that the rubber washer swells a little over time, and that it's the one responsible for the sticking. I modified my process to have my left hand on the top of the powder measure to make sure it goes down, and you get in the habit quickly.

Olfarhors, I'll try looking around at different powders. For now, I'm going to give this load a go: 125 gr. plated flat nose crimped at the cannelure, over 4.3 gr. HP-38. That's the same charge of HP-38 as I'm using for 9 mm, and it's convenient that I don't have to adjust my powder measure.
 

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Have gotten into habbit of checking every cartrige with a hex head wrench. By inserting in the case can make sure each has powder and its about same
What do you mean by that? You stick the wrench into the case and see how far it goes?
 

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Olfarhors, I'll try looking around at different powders. For now, I'm going to give this load a go: 125 gr. plated flat nose crimped at the cannelure, over 4.3 gr. HP-38. That's the same charge of HP-38 as I'm using for 9 mm, and it's convenient that I don't have to adjust my powder measure.
I used a very similiar load when working up a light range load for the wife in her snubby 38 spl.
it was berrys 125 gr, FP, with HP-38 at 4.0 grs and a oal of 1.445
it was nice little load but ended up going with a unique load in the end.
231/hp-38 is a very universal powder for a lot of weights and calibers for sure.
 

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Same thing mine does. I've caught it malfunctioning, the disk "sticks" in the forward position, or I should say it doesn't fully retract to pick up a new charge. I've changed my technique to verify the disk has retracted. It helps if you stick a piece of highly visible tape, or a fluorescent sticker, on the side of the disk to help you visually keep an eye on it. The black disk on the black base of the Pro Auto-Disk makes it difficult to see. I've tried to determine the cause of this. I've made it better, but last batch I loaded I still caught it once. The Auto-disk extender seems to aggravate it.

If anybody else made a powder-through-expander-die measure that used fixed disks I'd buy it.
Glenwolde: I was trying out the fixed disks yesterday (I have a charge bar too), when I found that I could not get a consistent charge at all. With the the hopper off, the lever was not traveling the full distance to drop all the powder into the tube.

The actuator (where the lever fits) is made of aluminum, and a groove gets worn into it by the steel lever. Once it gets worn, the angle and length of travel changes, explaining my problem. After changing out the actuator and lever (lucky me, I ordered one of each by mistake), I don't seem to have any problems having the autodisk reset properly, probably because of the same reason. Maybe you could try that?

This is Lee's note on that: Auto Disk Powder Measure Short Travel of Disk - Support Center
 
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