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.38 special crimping.

3194 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Charlie Petty
I need some information on bullet seating and crimping.
Here's the situation.
I am currently making two different cartridges in .38 special for Cowboy Action Shooting. One has a 96 grain bullet that has no grooves in it.
The other has a 125 grain bullet with two grooves. In the 125 gr, starting from the front, the second groove is much deeper that the first.
I load these bullets to the same depth and my die automatically crimps the bullets. In the 125 gr, the crimp is in the first groove. Since there is no groove in the 96 gr, it just folds in.
Both cartridges fire well. I use the 96 gr in my revolvers, but I sometimes have trouble chambering the 125 gr in my rifle. I am told that if I use .357 in the rifle, I will not have troubles.
I would rather set up my press and just keep everything the same, just trading bullets. My powder charge and everything else is exactly the same for both cartridges.
Can I make the rifle bullets longer by not seating them so deeply? If so, does this create a problem with crimping the rifle bullet where there is no crimp groove or can I use the second, deeper groove? I think if I use the second groove, it will be so far up that the 96 gr bullet will not be in deep enough to crimp. My concern in the rifle is, by not crimpiing at a groove, when I load 10 rounds, will this push the bullet back in the cartridge, creating high pressure?
I know the BEST way to load is to buy another complete tool head set up and use one for .38 and the other for .357, but this is a bit expensive. I am looking for the second best way.
I have another option in going to a 158 gr bullet which should be longer, but then I think I would have the same problem with the 96 gr bullet. I would rather not do that because I found such a good deal on the 125 gr that I bought 8,000 of them and I have to use those up before I change out.
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The first thing I think of is to use the same bullets for both. After all, when you're into pussycat .38 Special loads there isn't going to be much difference in recoil.

If the 125 has conventional lubricants the drawback to crimping in the bottom groove is that you will have lube exposed to pick up crud. You might also need to adjust the load up a bit if velocity matters.

I'm assuming that you have a lever action .357 and it won't feed .38 Special length ammo. Overall length is always an issue with lever actions and it might be easier in the long run just to use .357 brass for it.
I don't think there is much concern over pushing the bullets back. If they don't do it when crimped in the top groove they aren't likely to do t in the bottom one. Just make sure you've got a nice roll crimp. Since the lube is a coating that shouldn't be an issue.

I doubt that you will need to increase the powder charge since velocity isn't a concern. My suggestion is to load 50 rounds and see what happens.

But you need to be sure that it isn't your fault either. It is easy to try to go too fast so first shoot with a slow deliberate stroke to see how they feed and then go faster.
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