38 SP Sizing Issue

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sjs

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Dec 22, 2016
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171
I have a large amount of 38 SP brass that I had sized earlier last year without reloading them. There was other brass I did reload. This week I went to the range and found the batch of ammo I brought would not chamber in my S&W snub nose 38. When I got home I found that the same rounds chambered fine in two other revolvers, and was a bit tight in one of my LCR's.

I then looked at samples from the other 38 loads I had made up and some did not chamber in the snub nose and some did. Again, the ones that did not fit in that 38 did fit in my other revolvers. Based on the samples it looks like all the unloaded but sized brass does fit in the chamber just fine.

I surmise that the chambers on this particular snub nose are a bit tighter than normal, but I am not sure how I ended up with such a disparity between different cases I sized. There are the differences arising from different manufacturers but there is more to it than that because I have some that fits and some that doesn't from the same maker. Is this the result of setting up the sizing die incorrectly? Would you guess that I didn't have the die adjusted down far enough for one of the batches?
 

Dan in MI

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I’d guess it’s the seating/crimping operation.

You have some brass slightly longer than the rest so it is crimping before it is fully seated. This causes the seating operation to also sort of smash the whole case as it completes the seating operation causing the case to bulge a little.
 

RSIno1

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Sep 17, 2013
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I had that problem and ran the loaded ones back through the sizing die (about 1/2") to fix it. Afterwards I checked the fired brass and found it varied up to .020 of an inch which would make the long ones bulge a little when crimped.
 

Mobuck

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Dec 25, 2007
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"I had that problem and ran the loaded ones back through the sizing die (about 1/2") to fix it. Afterwards I checked the fired brass and found it varied up to .020 of an inch which would make the long ones bulge a little when crimped."

That would be my first guess, also.
 

Johnnu2

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Jun 26, 2003
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If you have a taper crimp die, you might want to try that on those cases....

J.
 

nvbirdman

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Jun 14, 2002
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There is something called springback. When you run a case into the sizing die, it gets squeezed down and then expands again just a little bit. This expansion is called springback. How old are these cases and have they been reloaded before? They may have lost some of their elasticity.
 

sjs

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Dec 22, 2016
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They had only been fired a few times and with mild reloads. Also, I use the Lee factory crimp die and crimp as a separate operation. I did something wrong but I will never know for sure exactly what it was.

I have 200 of them loaded that will not fit and I don't relish the idea of pulling that many bullets. I may forget about using them in the snub nose and just take my trusty GP100 to the range since they fit in its chambers just fine.
 

Rick Courtright

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Mar 10, 2002
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Hi,

One way or another, you've got some measuring to do to find where the problem gets started. Wilson makes a metric boatload of gages to measure various aspects of the cartridge, such as overall length, head spacing, and one I think you'd like, which measures everything. In particular, it's somewhat of a go-no gage that measures the important diameters.

I think you probably want their PMG-38S which looks to be a "do-all" design, but I imagine the folks at Wilson would love to take a phone call just to be sure. It's about $30 from the factory: https://lewilson.com/pistol-max-gage

Once you've run all your loaded rounds thru the Wilson gage, you should have a pile of "good" and "bad" ones. In other words, they either pass the Wilson test or don't. The ones that don't pass are those where operator error steps in so you can critique and adjust your whole loading process. Now you can take your "good" ones and use the guns' cylinders as secondary gages. You could have some tolerance stacking going on with one or more of them. SAAMI has drawings available which you can let you see all the critical dimensions and tolerances. Don't forget to check your bullets, too, especially if they're cast. Lee and others offer sizing dies for cast bullets. Lee claims you can shoot bullets cast in their molds without resizing, but I've found it best to call that advertising hype and resize mine. I'll also put my earplugs in to ignore the "poo poo" crowd as I tell you I trim handgun brass just like rifle brass.

BTW, you don't want to be in a hurry right now--like so much American manufacturing, Wilson's had things slowed by COVID-19.

Good luck!

Rick C
 

AJGUNNER

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Jan 15, 2007
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I was the recipient of 3 boxes of 357 from an older gent that could no longer handle the hand pounding of shooting his own "hot" loads. Normally I would not touch someone else's hand loads but knowing who did them and the data was clearly marked, I figured my 7.5" Redhawk could handle them with no issues. I pulled a few to check weigh them and found them spot on and actually low end book loads. A few would not chamber so I had a closer look. They had not been crimped or did not have enough crimp to fully close the flared mouth. I quick run through the crimp die and I had 150 rounds of free JHP 357 ammo to burn up.
 

TX Nimrod

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Jul 11, 2008
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As others have stated, the problem is most likely case buckling due to excessive crimp. It is not “case springback” nor does the OP need a set of expensive case gauges. The easiest solution may be to simply run the loaded cases into the FL sizing die a bit to iron out the case buckling enough for them to chamber. In future he should trim all his cases to the same length so his crimps are uniform.





.
 

sjs

Single-Sixer
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Dec 22, 2016
Messages
171
The easiest solution may be to simply run the loaded cases into the FL sizing die a bit to iron out the case buckling enough for them to chamber.





.[/quote]
I was thinking of trying that but was not sure it was safe.
 
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There have been reports of discovering that if this is done the bullet may then be a little loose in the case because when being run thru the resizing die the entire load is compressed and when removed from the die the brass case will "spring back" a small amount but he lead bullet won't. Try a few and check for this effect.
 

mikld

Blackhawk
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Apr 22, 2009
Messages
947
No offense to the OP, but from what I'm reading its operator error. I started reloading in '69, 38 Special and I have never had any chambering problems in my 3, 38 Specials or my one 357 Mag., and never even considered a Lee FCD, running ammo back through a sizing die, or a case gauge.

Whenever a fit problem arises, measure. Measure the handload diameter in a few places along the body. When you find out where the case is too big, you can determine when the bulge happens. Measure the diameter after each step, starting with a fresh case. When you determine during which step the case is bulged, you can adjust your dies and correct the problem (Most revolver rounds that are too big somewhere are from crimping, misadjusted seating/crimping die too much or not cleaning up flare)..
 

Jimbo357mag

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Feb 22, 2007
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If you don't trim the cases to length you could have problems with flaring, seating and crimping.
 

Rick Courtright

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Mar 10, 2002
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Hi,

Once upon a time, a friend was having similar problem with 9mm. After a little head scratching, we determined his flare wasn't enough to allow the bullet to "self center" as it was being seated. In other words, if the bullet got started crooked, it stayed that way and there were bulges. Resetting the flare cured the problem.

Now, 9mm and .38 Spl aren't exactly "apples to apples" with some of the little things we do differently between one and the other, but it's something to stick in the back of your head that may lead to an "Ah, ha!" moment some day.

Rick C
 

Ron IL

Bearcat
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Dec 29, 2016
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84
After resizing the brass check to see if it fits good in the cylinder. If so, then you are probably over crimping. I was over crimping some of mine but it didn't bother chambering the round. I had to knock some bullets out for some reason and found it took about 10 good whacks with the tool to knock it out. Usually about 3 good whacks and it comes out. I backed off the crimp until it seemed normal. The tighter crimp produced more pressure and speed and possibly less accurate. I noticed when I checked with the chrono I lost some speed. Also crimping too much will probably wear out the brass quicker exercising the crimp end more. I have never trimmed or even checked a case length on a pistol case, just rifle cases when I used to do them.
 
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