Min. OAL on Cases

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by starman, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. starman

    starman New Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Okay, first I'm new to reloading so I want to follow all data manuals to the "T" I have a question concerning Min OAL on 38 specials. I just loaded 22 rounds of the following, All w/ 3.1grains (30cc) of HD38 powder and
    158g CLSW. These bullet noses are tappered conical with flattened nose. I sitted and crimp each case mouth exactly at the cannelure (groove)
    The manuals says Min. OAL should be 1.475
    with a case only length of 1.155
    Okay all my empty cases are 1.155 so thats good.
    Now here's a sampling of my loads compared to store bought Reloads.

    Federal Brass: OAL runs, 1.441 to 1.454
    Federal Nickel: OAL runs, 1.442 to 1.446
    Winchester Brass OAL runs, 1.441 to 1.446

    A mix of Federal & Winchester Brass & Nickel
    OAL: 1.466 to 1.488

    Winchester Brass, OAL 1.451 to 1.548

    The bullet nose on the purchased ammo was a tad longer than mine so that makes some of the difference length. However none of the above were the published Min. OAL 1.475

    So what gives and should I be concerned with firing my reloads in my S&W model 686 revolver?

  2. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Min OAL of 1.475"? You mean max C.O.L. don't you?

    Federal Brass: OAL runs, 1.441 to 1.454
    Federal Nickel: OAL runs, 1.442 to 1.446
    Winchester Brass OAL runs, 1.441 to 1.446

    Your's look to be OK as they are close to but under the MAX C.O.L. of 1.475"

  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    38 Special max OAL is 1.55. I think you are seeing the length they seated the bullets to to get that particular pressure and speed (seating it deeper or shallower will change both). Looking at my Speer #12, with a 158 lead bullet in 38 special, they have a lead SWC loaded to 1.44, a lead SWC HP loaded to 1.455, and a lead RN loaded to 1.510.

    Me - I seat the bullets to the crimping groove, and if the cartridge OAL is not past maximum, I crimp the sucker in place. That's been working for me for 33 years. If there is a crimping groove, I seat it to the groove and crimp it. If there is a cannelure, I seat it to the cannelure and crimp it. If there is no groove, then I get out the calipers and worry about OAL.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2009
  4. Haligan

    Haligan Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    FEMA Region II
    If the revolver is chambered for 357 or 38 you shouldn't have a problem.
    I think you mean HP38 right.
    I don't want to seam like nit picking but, we don't want any confusion.
    My Lyman book has a listing for HP38 powder but not HD38.
    Anyway you're always gonna get small variations with mixed brass. If we are talking about the same powder you should be well within the safe.
  5. Lotsdragon

    Lotsdragon New Member

    Apr 5, 2009
    Potosi, Mo
    I use the same formula with my 38 and your oal is fine, but I did raise the hp 38 to 3.6gr as it gives a better "snap" to the feel of my new vaquero, welcome to the wonderful world of reloading, keep an eye on your wallet though it is addictive as all get out, read all you can and be safe!
  6. starman

    starman New Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    BobMcG, I guess I was confused I'm looking at the Modern Reloading 2nd edition by Richard Lee. Lead cast bullet w/ HP38 powder min. 3.1g and max. 3.7g and the last colum on this table say's
    Min. OAL 1.475. I would tend to agree with you this probably means Min OAL for the Max Load , not the standard or lower load. Like you said shorter means higher presure so I bet this is why they're listing the Min OAL at 1.475. This dimension changes with powder brand and loads
    At the beginning of the table for 38spl it shows the case only length at 1.155 and the OAL of 1.550.

    Alpo your dims of 1.550 corisponds to the graphic shown on the first page at the
    beginning of 38 spl. load tables so I agree.

    Haligan, your correct I made a typo its. HP38

    Lotsdragon, Since its my first loads I thougt best to start at the low end. I'll find out tomorrow at the range. After testing the load I may bump it up a little and see what happens.

    Thanks for all the comments and advise everyone, I thought I would be alright but needed some supporting opions. I figure its better ask before I really screw up.

    As for powder, pickens has been slim here but I did find the HP38, and today I found some Unique. So what powder would you guys suggest for both 38spl & 357mag w/
    158g bullets. I heard Universal is good but no one has it in stock here.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2009
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I've been using Unique for just about everything, since I started loading. I have absolutely no experience with HP38. But, looking at the loading tables, you can get almost the same velocity with less of the HP38, so that would make your ammo cheaper to load. Ball powder meters better through a powder measure. Unique meters good, but occasionally I will get a flake hung. Never had a measure hang up with ball.

    Universal is Hodgdon trying to clone Unique. Unique was named that because there was nothing else like it. It could be used for loading shotgun, and for large bore rifle loads (with cast bullets). You can load any pistol round, from 25 ACP to 44 magnum.

    I don't know what you are trying to do with your 357 loads. If using lead 158s, about the best you could hope for with Unique or HP38 is 1000 fps. If you go to jacketed, you can still use the Unique, and push them to around 1300. I can't find loads for HP38 with for the heavy jacketed bullets.

    Most powders are designed for a specific application. Accurate #2, or Bullseye, are great in small cases (32 ACP, 380) or light target loads (38 wadcutters). H110, WW296 (those are the same powders, by the way. made at the same powder mill, using the same formula, and put in two different containers) or Alliant 2400 are great for heavy 357 or 44 magnum loads. But you can't load a 32 with 296. You can't load a heavy 357 with Bullseye. You can, however, do both with Unique. It's not the perfect powder for anything, as far as I can tell. But it's a damn good powder for everything.
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