38 Special, 9mm, 357 Magnum

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by PapaGeno21, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    Hey guys, Im new to pistols. I was handed down a mint (100 shots or less) Stainless Steel S&W Model 639 9MM pistol. I really like this firearm, and always wanting a revolver, so I picked up a Ruger GP100 6" Stainless Steel 357. I have about 150 shots through the 639 and 100 through the GP100. I am interested in reloading for both of these, and have been saving my brass.

    I currently own a Lee Turret press, and all the goodies that goes along with it as I load for my 30-06 and 22-250. I used to load .223 but I sold my AR so no need for that anymore.

    Anyways, down the the questions. I have noticed the 38 Special and 357Mag have the Cannelure in the bullet, but the 9MM does not. These are Winchester store bought rounds. Does it matter if I was to purchase the bullets for the 38 Special without the cannelure? Im assuming the die just puts a slight taper press on the bullet to hold it in place right?

    Also im looking for reccomendations for powder. Looking through my Lee Book, I see that "Unique" is listed for all 3 of these and takes a smaller charge to accuire the same FPS as other powders. Is this a good powder to go with if a store nearby carries it? Which other ones would you reccommend?

    Also, how long does the brass for the pistols last? Will I have to trim the cases at all, or just keep cleaning and loading them? Will they need lube on the Lee Carbide dies?

    I apologize for all the questions all at once, I just figured I would type it all out and see what I get for responces!

    Thanks a ton!
    - Geno
  2. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    The Unique is an excellent,diverse and popular powder if you find data for all three I would recommend it.

    Brass life for pistols can be a very long period and be fired many times over provided you do your part and not shoot max loads. You won't find yourself trimming pistol brass very often at all. Carbide dies eliminate the need to use lubricant on pistol cases.
  3. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    That is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks a lot man!

    Any idea with the cannelure? Do I need those, or is that more of a personal preference?
  4. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

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    On the cannelure (crimp groove)...
    For .38Spcl weight loads, you can probably get by without crimping the bullets.
    For .357 loads (anything heavy), you can get bullet creep if you don't crimp the bullets.

    Your 38/357 dies will do a roll-crimp instead of the taper-crimp that your 9mm dies too. BUT...if you do a light crimp you can just taper the case mouth back up against the bullet.
    Don't do a heavy roll-crimp without a cannelure though. It can deform the bullet (usually not a big deal) but it can make for inconsistent bullet tension which can play around with pressure...which can get dangerous with heavy loads.

    Like 312 said, you won't need to trim your pistol brass very often, but consistent case length is critical to a consistent crimp.

    I usually wind up trimming my revolver brass only once over it's lifetime...right away when it's new or once-fired. If it ever does get over spec for length I'll trim them again, but this happens very seldom. (Ya still need to check it though!)
    Autoloader brass: I've only had to trim brass for one pistol over the years, and that was because it had a real loose chamber and these were stout loads used for plate shooting. Brass from that pistol usually started to split before it got too long though...


    Unique works great in .38Spcl and 9mm loads, as does W231/HP38.
    I use slower powder in full-house .357Mag loads. AA#9 and W296 were a couple that I had good luck with. BlueDot too...BUT read the warning in the sticky thread in here about using BlueDot in .357. I don't know of the formula changed or if they just are getting more cautious these days but BlueDot is no longer recommended for .357mag.
  5. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Some of this you may already know.

    Most revolver cartridges use a roll-crimp. The mouth of the case is actually bent over and into a groove in the bullet. In jacketed bullets, this is the cannelure. In lead bullets it is the crimping groove. They can do this because it does not matter what the mouth of the case looks like. Revolvers headspace on the rim.

    Auto cartridges, on the other hand, use a taper crimp. The case is shoved into a slightly tapering die, which squeezes the entire front of the case down smaller, but leaves the mouth square, so that the round can headspace on the mouth.

    Unique is a fine powder, that can be used in most pistol rounds, many shotgun and several rifle (which is why it’s UNIQUE – it’s good for everything). I use it for both 38 and 9mm. It is dirtier than some powders (although they supposedly changed the formula a couple of years ago to make it less dirty – I haven’t bought any new since then so don’t know how that worked). For HOT 357s, I use 296, but for ammo in the 1000 to 1100 fps range, I still use Unique in the 357s. Just depends on how fast I want it to go.

    I don’t think anyone makes a jacketed 38 revolver bullet without a cannelure. There are some swaged lead bullets (Hornady springs to mind) without a crimping groove, but the lead is soft enough that the crimp rolls right in wherever you want it, with no problems. You can use 9mm bullets in your 38s. They have no cannelure, normally. They are, however, 355 instead of 357, and might shoot inaccurately. I’ve used 9mm lead bullets in 38s, but won’t do jacketed. You might can use 38 bullets in your 9mm. They are oversize for the barrel, though, and will increase pressures. The resulting loaded round, because of being oversize, might not fit the chamber, which is why I said you might could use them.

    I have never, ever, trimmed any of my straight-wall pistol cases.

    Brass life is dependent, to a certain extent, on how hot you load. I’ve got 38s I’ve been loading for over ten years. They are still doing fine, but I’ve also got mass quantities of brass, so they don’t get loaded over and over.

    Nickel-plated brass will split long before plain brass will. The nickel is harder, and work-hardens faster. Brass cases generally have small mouth splits when they start to wear out. Nickel cases usually have long body splits. I recommend staying away from nickel, however, with 357 that will be difficult. Most 357 brass is nickeled. Not all of it, but most of it.

    The carbide dies will not need lube.
  6. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productnumber=462364

    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productnumber=592349

    Those are the bullets I was thinking of getting. They dont have the cannelure.. So it doesent matter if they are with the cannelure or not?

    Also, here is a very important one. Normally with my rifle, I have the 3 die sets. One decaps, neck sizes and primes, then I charge it with powder, then I seat the bullet, then I roll/taper crimp it with the FCD.



    Now with pistol, it seems things are done differently. Do I want the 3 die set or the 4 die set from lee?

    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=309802

    To me it seems like the 4 die set is the way to go? Plus I have the turret press so I have the 4 slots available..
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Okay, Ranier bullets are not jacketed. They are electroplated lead. They need to be loaded with lead-bullet loads, not jacketed data. These will be lighter and slower than jacket loads.

    Yep, their lack of a cannelure is no problem, since the plating is so thin. The roll-crimp will turn into and through the plating, just like it will with a plain lead bullet.

    I use the Lee Factory Crimp Die with every caliber I have, that they make one for. I heartily recommend it to everybody. It is not needed, as I loaded for years before they invented it. But it is just so damn nice to have. :D
  8. Waldog

    Waldog Member

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    You will NEVER utilize a cannelure on any straight SEMI-AUTO pistol case. You never crimp the case in the cannelure with straight semi-auto cartridges. Straight semi-auto cases require a "Taper Crimp". However, some people use their standard roll crimp die to just take the case mouth bell out of their case as they seat the bullet. It can be done. But, can also lead to cartridge feeding problems in the barrel chamber.

    It will make you life easier if you just buy a taper crimp die and use it per instructions.
  9. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    Ok will then im going to go with jacketed bullets. Thanks!

    Also, on the 3 die set this is in the notes.. Adjustable crimp from slight taper to full roll.

    So do I want the 3 or 4 die set? Im just confused if I need the standalone crimper die, or the combo one which seems to be in the 3 die set.

    Thanks for all the help guys!
  10. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    The combo one is in both sets. The only difference between the 3-die set and the 4-die set is they include the Factory Crimp Die in the 4-die set.
  11. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    For a higher quality cartrige and easier time seating I would suggest buying a set with the seperate crimping die ( 4 die set ) also take a look at these bullets they are very nice jacketed bullets and shipping is included in the price I haven't found a better deal on 9mm bullets yet....... https://secure3.mooseweb.com/montanagoldbullet.com/pricelist.tpl
  12. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    Ok thanks guys! Gonna order the 4 die sets, and thanks a TON for that link to the bullets! Great stuff there!
  13. vulcrider

    vulcrider Member

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    If you have the option, go with the 4-die set. The "taper crimp" die for auto rounds or the "roll crimp" for revolver takes the guess work out of the crimp (which can be done on the seating die). I have found that if I just seat my bullets with the seating die and do not crimp with it, the "factory crimp" die does the crimping easier (only one adjustment to worry about) and no problems with the round fitting the chamber (auto or revolver). Works for me, but it isn't the only way.
    Just my $.02
  14. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    Yup, thats what im going to do!

    I have used Winchester and CCI without issues, was wondering about Remington and Federal?
  15. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    :confused: Primers? Brass? Federal don't sell bullets, to my certain knowledge, so you can't be asking about bullets.:confused:
  16. bntyhntr6975

    bntyhntr6975 Member

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    I prefer to use Power Pistol powder whenever possible. It is very clean. Its the only powder I use in 9mm. For .38spl and .357, you don't want to use it for the heavier loads though. Unique seems to be ok, but even the new stuff is kinda dirty. I like 2400 for the big loads, but not all the powder burns unless you use the mag primers. For the purpose of keeping inventory down, Unique will fill the requirements well enough. I prefer CCI primers over the others, but the Federals are my 2nd choice. There really doesn't seem to be much difference between brands of the cases, but the nickel won't last quite as long in most cases. (It does look nicer though.) I shoot mostly lead anymore in the pistols, and normally full power loads. Without loading my own (and buying in bulk most of the time) I would not be able to shoot near as much. Check your work, then check it again. And always pay attn, even when you're shooting your loads. We all have and will make mistakes. FYI: A .45 ACP, powered by only a primer, will not exit the barrel. (At least not in my case, lol.) So, relax, pay attn, and have fun.
  17. dbsmith

    dbsmith New Member

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    This is dbsmith, an Okie in se OK. Have reloaded since 1969.....I use Bullseye in 38 lead target loads, also in 45 acp target loads. Unique is my preferred choice for power loads in 45acp, less that +p. I am using Blue dot in my 357 mag loads, 158 gr Horn xtp bullets only. All do well, just keep them in their designed performance range. Unique is still dirty, I agree.
  18. Telcotech

    Telcotech Member

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    I agree w/ dbsmith.......hard to beat Bullseye for target loads in .38 Spl., .45 ACP, and .357. also have used it in 9mm, its cheap , and you use less grains per load, but I prefer Unique or HP38 for 9mm.
    Also agree w/ Alpo on the use of Unigue for the 'dusted down' .357 mag. loads and also have had good results w/ W296 for the hot loads, also have had success w/ H110 and 2400. Alot of muzzle flash with the last 3 powders though.
    Just my .02 !!

    TT
  19. PapaGeno21

    PapaGeno21 New Member

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    Sorry, I was talking about primers. I picked up 1lb of Unique today, and also a box of 1000 CCI primers.

    Gotta order the dies and the bullets sometime this weekend or next week.
  20. madmantrapper

    madmantrapper New Member

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    Did you buy 500 or 550 primers? I always use 550 for the .357.
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