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Old 06-01-2011, 08:46 AM
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Smile .38 S&W Reloading Dies

Thanks to two forum members I have .38 S&W Brass.

Next question: any way I can use dies for .38spl or do I have to locate dies for .38 S&W?

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Old 06-01-2011, 08:54 AM
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.38 S&W is larger diameter than the .38spl. You are going to need a dedicated die and bullets larger than .358 for good accuracy. IMHO.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:01 AM
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Lee makes a set of 38 S&W dies. I use them and they work well with a .360" diameter lead bullet.
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:15 PM
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Until I broke down and bought a set of 38 S&W dies I used 38 Super, 9x19 and 9x18 dies to reload 38 S&W. Obviously you don't adjust them the same as for the ctgs they were designed for.
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:59 PM
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I used a set a LEE 38S&W dies to load that caliber when I had a couple of Victory revolvers & a Baby Russian in it.

I did exchange the 38S&W expander for a 38Special expander from another die set.
That allowed for the brass to be sized, but then not expanded.
The brass mouth was still 'belled' by the process though to ease the seating of the lead bullets.

They accepted common 38special bullets of which I had plenty of and they shot fine.

The resized 38S&W brass holds the slightly smaller dia 38Spec bullets snuggly if not expanded.

If you try to use them after expanding with the included 38S&W diameter plug,,they'll drop right into the cases. You'll need .360dia bullets sold for the caliber then.
I didn't want to go to the added throuble/expense when I had boxes and cans full of plain old 38spec bullets around.
Not like I was invited to Camp Perry with the things. Just for fun shootin'.

Before I exchanged the expander plugs,,I used to just resize and then set all the cases on the anvil surface of the bench vise.
Then with a lathe center, quickly tapped each one lightly to bell the mouth. Takes about a minute and a half to bounce through 50 cases like that.

Accuracy at what I considered ranges that the Victory revolvers were intended for (up to 25yrds) was more than acceptable with the 38spec. dia bullets.
The B/Russian was tough just to see that sliver of a front sight!

IIRC I used RedDot powder for the loads. The bullets were 158 gr LSWC (plain base).
Seems as though I loaded some DEWC (not loaded flush w/the case mouth) and they worked out fine too.

You can do the same of course with standard 38Spec dies,,but the brass is really over worked. First being sized way down and then expanded out again when it's fired.
Brass life is very short that way and 38S&W brass wasn't that easy to get.

I forget if the 2 calibers use the same shell-holder,,but the LEE dies include one in the set anyway.

I think the LEE stock# of the 38S&W Sizer Die is the same as their Sizer in 38Super caliber. I had heard 38Super dies could be used to load the caliber but never did that.

I did load 9mm Browning Long on 38S&W dies and fire factory 9mmB/L in 38S&W cal Enfield revolvers,,,but now I'm really getting off the subject...
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:31 PM
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My Lyman .38 Super die box is labeled for both calibers, .38 Super and .38 S&W. You might get more use out of the .38 Super function in the long run so it's worth considering if you buy a new die set.

I have not used my fairly new Lyman .38 Super dies for .38 S&W but I reloaded a limited amount of .38 S&W using a .38 spl. carbide sizer, a .38 spl. shell holder, a 9mm expander to bell case mouths and if I recall correctly the lower portion of a non-carbide 9mm sizer for a slight taper crimp. There's so little recoil you don't need to crimp any more than turning the flare back in. I did not loose any brass from resizing them a few thousanths more than necessay. For bullets I just used .38/.357 molds that were dropping bullets on the large side.

Incidently, except for selecting larger diameter bullets the same tools reloaded .38 Short Colt. For that case I could only seat bullets in a short ways or they'd bulge because it's designed for outside lubricated bullets with a heel like .22LR bullets.

Last edited by k22fan; 06-01-2011 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:11 PM
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I bought a new set of Lee 38 S&W dies and the sizing die measures the same inside as 38 Special die. I use a 38 super die for sizing. David
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:32 AM
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I inherited a set of Dillon 38 Super dies, but I do not reload for this caliber.

I do reload for 38 S&W, so I called Midway to ask why out of all the die sets available, only the Lyman set said 38 S&W/38 Super and could I use the Dillon ones I have to reload 38 S&W. After being put on hold for awhile by the rep. at Midway, he came back and said that they were interchangeable. He thought the only reason other companies don't list the two together like Lyman's is so they can make more money.

I have been using these 38 Super dies to reload my 38 S&W rounds with no problems for almost two years.
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:31 AM
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BTW, Midway has bullets for the 38 S & W available. I just ordered some. 146 gr cast.

Also, I've had "ok" accuracy with the 38 spl bullets in both my Victory and my lemonsqueezer. But then, neither is exactly a match pistol!
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:22 PM
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And if you get REAL desperate for brass you can buy some once fired 38 Super and cut it down. The rim will be slightly undersized but if you look at the exterior case diameters you see there is only 0.002 difference. Not enough to worry about IMHO.
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22lr, 38spl, browning, colt, crimp, russian, s&w, victory

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