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starting to reload .380, need some advice

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by G36_Me, Apr 5, 2011.

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  1. G36_Me

    G36_Me

    1,187
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    Aug 4, 2009
    I'm going to start loading .380. I need some opinions:
    1) which dies? Lee or Redding? or in between
    2) which bullets? FMJ or lead
    3) weight of bullet?
    4) profile of bullet?

    I'm just looking for reliable old round to shoot at the range.

    Any other help/advice?

    Note: I do all my reloading on a single stage press.

    Got a P238 (The Gambler) and shot it for the first time tonight. Wow, lights out and fun.

    I assume I'll use my Lee hand primer to prime.

    I've loaded tons of .38, .357, 9mm and 45; .380 is new to me.

    Thanks
     
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Loading .380 is no hill for a climber, it's pretty straight forward. I shoot only lead but jacketed would work fine.

    Weight between 90 and 105 grains work well, I cast a 95 grain RN. No feeding problems in a Walther PP or a LCP.

    There are several powders that work well but lately I've been using HP-38 (Win 231). 2.8 to around 3 grains is a load that your wouldn't minds shooting a couple hundred times a day with the 95 grain lead.

    Jack
     


  3. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    CO
    I thought the .380 was going to be a PITA. It's not. I use the same powders I do in 9mm. I have used a Lee and RCBS seating die. They both work fine. So I wouldn't worry about it to much.
     
  4. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

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    Mar 6, 2003
    Lynnwood, WA
    No sweat with .380, loaded plenty with my SDB. Just got my new Horandy dies for my XL650 for the next batch. I did have some issues with mixing in some Wolf SPP's in the last run (too hard for my P3AT, though I gave my buddy 100 to fire in his Sig P238 and he had no issues) going to use Federals next time.

    100g Berrys RNHB backed with 3.3 grains HP-38 at .980 OAL (The "Freakshow" Load)
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011
  5. ChrisJn

    ChrisJn "Old Bill"

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    Dec 30, 2008
    Baldwin Co, Alabama
    I load .380 using LCT with Lee dies including FCD.
    100gr Berrys RNHB, 3.3grains Accurate #2
     
  6. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    2,950
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    Aug 4, 2008
    FL
    For my P238, I use the recipe Jack provided to me a year ago which he stated above: 2.9gr W231 under a Missouri Bullet Secret Agent 95gr LRN at 0.98 COL. You can shoot them all day long, and I have only one problem with them in the P238.

    I darn near break my neck trying to find where those little gold nuggets land after each one is ejected. Its not as bad lately, but during the components shortage and the .380 ammo blackout, the neck churning was awful! :cool:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  7. I found .380 not much different from 9mm, reloading wise. I'm using Lee dies, Unique powder and Berry's plated bullets. I wish Precision Delta made .380 bullets...
     
  8. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    8,779
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    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    380 should be banned. Outlawed I tel ya. The only thing worst is the guys that cut 9mm down for their marcovs.
     
  9. ColoCG

    ColoCG

    936
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    Mar 18, 2011
    Colorado
    As has already been said, .380 is a lot like loading 9mm only smaller. I have used RCBS and Lee dies, both work fine.

    I load 100gr. lead and Berrys RNHB bullets for plinking, also have used 90gr. Hornady XTP and 102gr. Remington GS with good results.

    Powders that I have used and perform well are 231, WST, Unique, and Red Dot for the cast bullets. I prefer 231 and WST.

    Good Luck.
     
  10. G36_Me

    G36_Me

    1,187
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    Aug 4, 2009
    thanks for the advice,
    I ordered Lee Dies and a LFCD,
    I've got the powder, primers and have been collecting brass over the winter. (last year I gave away my .380 brass all the time that I recovered scrounging for 9mm and 45)

    Should be here in a few days. Paying $31.75/100 for a box of WWB almost killed me.
     
  11. OzzyOsbourne

    OzzyOsbourne

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    Feb 19, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Is it hard to handle the small brass? By the time I've loaded just a couple thousand 9mm, I'm ready to swear off the caliber. I can't imagine trying to handle an even smaller case.

    Loading a .45acp ... does any caliber get any easier? :supergrin:
     
  12. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    2,950
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    Aug 4, 2008
    FL
    In my case :)supergrin:), I have to slow down a bit to load the .380 on the 550b. I'll agree that the smaller the case, the more cumbersome the task but only due to the smaller bullet. Every other task is pretty much equal.
     
  13. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

    6,173
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    Mar 6, 2003
    Lynnwood, WA
    I never had any problems loading .380 or any other caliber handling both brass and bullets with my SDB's.

    I never handle the brass anymore other than sorting thanks to my 650 case feeder :supergrin:
     
  14. G36_Me

    G36_Me

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    Aug 4, 2009
    order from Midway arrived today...

    got my Lee Carbide dies today
    loaded up my Rainier(sp?) 100 gr
    used my hand primer
    thru some TiteGroup (since that was in the tube)
    loaded some (10) light and some (10) a bit heavier

    all in all, just like loading baby 45s.

    I dropped checked them in the barrel, no problems. I'll report back on how they shoot later.

    The Lee dies were a new experience (only had the LFCD before for my 9mm and 45s)

    Die 1, sizing was very very easy. I barrel checked a few after sizing. No issues.

    Die 2, expander, interesting the way it works with the floating expander. I barely flared the mouth at all. The flare piece inside the die seems to 'hold' the brass and at the end of the stroke you can feel/hear the brass coming out (like a bottle and cork action). My RCBS stem for expanding is solid, so never felt this action before. I was a bit worried I wasn't flaring enough, but it worked just fine in the later stages.

    Priming was EASY in the 10 pieces of Blazer and 10 pieces of Winchester (both picked up from the indoor range.)

    The TiteGroup metered well, never have used that little powder before.

    Die 3, interesting....
    To set up the die, I used the old tried and true method of running the seater plug all the way down and FIRST seated, then I backed the seater plug out IN ANTICIPATION of SECOND adjusting the die depth to remove the "bell/flare" from the case.

    Before adjusting the die depth, the bullets looked great. Didn't even seem to have a flare. I dropped checked them on the barrel. PERFECT clunk, just like the factory stuff I was using as comparison. Odd... I know I didn't flare much, but the Rainier didn't scrap any plating during seating (I was worried about that from other experience.)

    I know I didn't have the die deep enough to be crimping, hummmmmm.
    Also the bullets were tight!! Put them in a magazine and chambered several. PERFECT.

    So... I just tightened the ring on the seater die and left it alone.

    I've got 10+10 bullets to shoot and see how they work. Later.
     
  15. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    2,950
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    Aug 4, 2008
    FL
    Bench test the rounds to be sure you have adequate case purchase on the bullets.
     
  16. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

    14,949
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    Nov 2, 2006
    CO
    The lee die takes most the flare out just running it into the die. It's a little weird. I use a RCBS to seat and it's not like that. It's not a problem, just a little odd.
     
  17. G36_Me

    G36_Me

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    Aug 4, 2009
    C4W, agree.

    PCJim, what do you mean "bench test"? By case purchase, you mean 'does the brass grab the bullet' so that it doesn't experience setback, correct? If so, yes, those little suckers are stuck hard and fast and not moving.
     
  18. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    2,950
    1
    Aug 4, 2008
    FL
    I also use Lee dies for the 380. I flare the case a bit as I use a 95gr LRN for range fun and do not want any lead shavings when seating the bullet. I had not noticed the Lee die doing anything special as far as removing the flare, if not properly adjusted to do so.

    And, yes, that's what I'm referring to: Pushing the loaded round hard against a solid surface (bench top) with your thumb and measuring before/after for setback.

    The term, purchase, is probably a bit old for use in today's world. I suppose this relatively old dog could try to learn a new trick (word).
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  19. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
    1
    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    G36:

    Perhaps you mentioned it and I missed it but I was wondering what diameter bullet you're loading.

    Although I size to .355 for .380 I know lots of people who use .356. The larger diameter will obviously give you a higher degree of purchase, :supergrin:, neck tension.

    Are you loading jacketed or lead? (I imagine you already mentioned it... I'm an idiot.


    Jack
     
  20. G36_Me

    G36_Me

    1,187
    21
    Aug 4, 2009
    Jack,
    They are the .380 Rainier from Midway (.355).

    Range report from last night. (tried to post it, but GlockTalk was a bit wonky last night, so had to go to bed without my "fix". Wife was not happy. (She asks about Jack every day and mentions my other "imaginary friends".)

    OK, maybe I'm not that sensitive of a guy, but...
    1st 10 rounds had 2.6 gr Titegroup
    2nd 10 rounds had 3.1 gr Titegroup and...

    I really couldn't tell the difference. Both shot crazy accurate. Both very manageable.

    Now to the problem...
    the P238 experienced one hammer fall with "no" primer strike and one hammer fall with a micro light primer strike.

    I only shot 26 rounds through a clean gun. 6 factory, 20 reloads. Came home last night and searched P238 light primer strikes and opened up Pandora's box of bad news. It was like reading about bad G36s (which I never have experienced). Lots of bad news with the sprinkle of P238 lovers saying what I always say, "Hey, sucks to be you, my gun works fine."

    Anyway, loaded up another 25 last night at 3.0 TiteGroup and will see what happens today.

    Be well all, Jack, and my imaginary friends.