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What expander for .38 HBWCs?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by GlennP, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. GlennP


    Apr 13, 2010
    Kinda related to my other thread but here it goes:
    Im trying to cut out a step of my reloading process so that it all "fits" in my new 4 hole turret press. .38 special.

    What I used to do:
    Decap/size/prime in one step, then I use a .358 RCBS cowboy expander for .38S&W (heard its best for HBWCs in .38spl because it allows more room and the softbullet wont swage down). Then, I seat with a lee seater/crimp (crimp not used), then roll crimp with another die.

    The problem is that im "automating" the powder and I need the lee powder through expander die to charge (set up to not expand, just charge) in addition to everything I listed above. This puts me at 5 dies...
    I've decided that seating/crimping in the same step is detrimental to my loads so I must explore another path. Only thing I can do now is to get rid of my cowboy expander plug and use the lee.

    So, in short, my question is:
    Was it a waste of effort all this time using the RCBS cowboy expander plug? Should I just use the lee? Any experience?
  2. GOA Guy

    GOA Guy

    Feb 22, 2010
    I would load some ammo both ways to see if there may be an accuracy advantage one way or another. The larger expander doesn't sound like a bad idea, with fast powders and soft loads heavy bullet pull shouldn't be a concern. I have loaded thousands of HBWCs on a progressive and haven't noticed the standard powder through expander to be detrimental to accuracy. Having said that I don't belong to the 2650 club so I may be missing something. HTH

  3. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Just use the Lee expander. Don't make it more complicated than it is. Three dies, 2.7 Bullseye and be done with it.
  4. srd


    Apr 4, 2009
    I have used the Lee expander for a lot of years with no problems. Once i found the load it likes , it shoots better than i can hold.
  5. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I lkoad on a 4 stn 550B; size, powder thru/bell, seat & crimp. The only reason to need a 5th stn is if you want a COP die, which really isn't req'd if you just pay attention to the powder drop & not just pull the handle.
  6. hoffy


    Jun 12, 2007
    Although I too like to seat/crimp in 2 operations, I often do it in one, especially for revolver rounds. I wound bench test rounds made both ways and see. I have an old Star Universal Progressive that seats and crimps(and drops the loaded rounds away!) and my 8 3/8" model 14 Smith would punch ragged one hole groups off a bench at 25 yards, using both the store bought HBWC and my cast solid base, more accurate than I was. I regret to this day selling that gun.