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Old 06-13-2018, 04:10 PM
haroldpo6 haroldpo6 is offline
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Please bear with me because I have never reloaded ANY ammo before. I got a Lee Anniversary Kit for real cheap, like new. I want to reload 38 special to shoot in my SW 686 3" barrel at the range.
What power do I need, bullets, brass, 3 or 4 die sets and the best place(cheap) to get all this. My 9mm ammo is cheap enough with out reloading right now.
Thanks Harold
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:21 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is online now
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Buy at least one (two or three are better) current loading manual and read it until you understand everything. Not an instant process but the best and safest way to learn.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:32 PM
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Hodgdon powder has virtually all of their loading info on their web site. I expect most others do too now, though having a couple of hard copy manuals in hand is very nice. I have bought powder from Powder Valley, though the hazmat charge can be rough if you only buy one or two pounds. Fortunately there is a decent retailer near me that has VERY GOOD prices on powder, roughly $25 a pound in the store. Their prices on bullets and primers, however, are high. I get primers at local gun shows from one particular seller, I get Winchester for $125 per 5k. I buy most of my bullets from on-line sellers, often from RMR or Missouri Bullets but there are plenty of good ones out there. I buy much of my brass from Diamond K. Good price and outstanding customer service. I often buy dies from Midway. You can often buy range brass from local ranges at a good price. nice thing about rolling your own, you get exactly what you want. Pay attention, be careful, have fun.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:57 PM
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You should get a reloading manual and study it. There is always a great deal of info besides just reloading recipes and you'll learn a lot about the craft. That said, Hodgdon does have all their info online and they make great powders.

Bullets: Summers Enterprises has great prices.

Shells: I like Reloading Valley, who pull apart amo and sell the components for pretty cheap. That said, Starline brass is the industry standard and by all accounts makes top quality brass.

Powder: I highly recommend you use a bulky powder when you start, because the most dangerous mistake a new reloader can make is double charging a bullet. If you use bulky powder, a double charge is difficult r even impossible depending on the powder. Trail Boss is perfect for new reloaders, because you basically fill the cartridge up with powder and that's your recipe (sorta - Hodgdon has recommended charges, but they basically fill the cartridge with powder).

Primers: I use what ever I can get locally, which is CCI. They have worked fine for me.

Key is to pay close attention to what you are doing and don't cut corners. Reloading is pretty fun but can be very dangerous if you aren't careful.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:09 PM
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Get some bullseye and unique (I'm old fashioned) Some 158 gr lswc and some 148 gr wc and a brick of small pistol primers and some brass
Read up before you load
Lymans manual is a good one

Last edited by arjay; 06-13-2018 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:55 PM
WR Moore WR Moore is offline
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I'd also suggest Unique powder. Not being as fast as some others (in burn rate/pressure development) you have somewhat more room for error. HOWEVER YOU CAN STILL DOUBLE CHARGE A CASE! Which is true for most pistol powders.

Except for certain special cases, I've come to prefer the plated bullets over the plain lead bullet. You don't show a location, I'd assume there are probably some local shops for powder & primers to avoid hazmat shipping surcharges.

There are a slew of internet providers of bullets & brass. Midway, Berry Bullets, Grafs, Natchez Shooters Supply and the list goes on.
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Old 06-13-2018, 06:24 PM
reddog81 reddog81 is offline
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Have you reloaded before? Have you read a loading manual? It's really easy to screw up even if you know what you're doing.

There are probably 40+ powders that will work in .38 Special depending on what kind of load you are making. There are dozens of different types of bullets. Brass is usually from factory rounds you've shot but it's also possible to buy new or used brass. The primer is the most straight forward choice (I'm not sure if you left that out intentionally or if it wasn't even considered), but any of the half dozen different brands of small pistol primers will work. Typically revolver brass uses a 3 die set but some people prefer to seat and crimp in separate steps.

Reloading .38 Special is a relatively straightforward process but it's also possible to blow up your gun if done wrong.

Powdervalley is where I usually buy powder and primers online but it only makes sense if you spending at least a couple hundred bucks due to hazmat fees. Missouri Bullet Co is where I have purchased the most bullets from but that's assuming you want lead.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:11 PM
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Hornady , Speer, Lyman and Western Powders are all good manuals to have. Lyman Prints two, one deals only with cast bullets .
There are several powders that can be used in the 38 Special.
The classic target and plinking load is a cast or swaged 148 grain wadcutter and 2.7 grains of Bullseye . Actually 2.7 grains of Bullseye under any cast bullet from 105 grains to 160 grains, wadcutter, semi-wadcutter or roundnose , makes for a nice pleasant shooting accurate load in the 38 special.
I usually buy my powder and primer supplies locally to avoid hazmat fees. If I mail order supplies I like to buy from Midway USA because of their return policy. If anything damaged Midway replaces it and pays the shipping.
I cast my own bullets so I have no references for them. Midway does sell bullets .

Here's a tip, if you buy Brand X dies then use Brand X shell holder.
Manufacturers set the tolerances on dies based on their shell holder , it is possible to cause problems by using another brand.
It doesn't happen often but when it does it's tough to figure out what's going on ....I learned this the hard way !
Gary

Last edited by gwpercle; 06-13-2018 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:15 PM
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My recommendations.
If you post your location maybe you can find someone close by that can show you hands on.

For pistol bullets I like plated, brands such as Berry's and Extreme, even though they are a little more than coated bullets.

For powder I like Hodgdon HP-38, Titegroup, and CFE Pistol

For dies I like the Lee 4 die sets with Factory Crimp Die

For places to buy there's Midway USA, Brownells, Midsouth Shooters, Graf and Sons, Wideners, Natchez Shooters, Titan Reloading and many more.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:19 PM
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First off, as others have said, get and read at least one - preferably more - reloading manuals with tutorials. As a new reloader my first was the Lee Modern Reloading manual, and FWIW, I recommend it. Very thorough and straightforward explanation of the process. I also recommend the Load Guides as a source for good, reliable, tested, SAFE, recipes. They publish them for just about every caliber.

Once you have done the up front reading and have a good grasp of the fundamentals, THEN proceed to actually loading ammo. Unique is an extremely versatile old standby powder that can be used to reload just about any handgun cartridge, and does well in 38 special - but then so do many other powders.

Summers Enterprises has about the best prices on both cast lead and coated lead bullets - and between the two types you shouldn't need anything else unless or until you want to make high powered magnum loads for hunting or you want hollow points to load your own self defense ammo. 148gr Wad-Cutters or 158gr Semi-Wad-Cutters are good bullet weights and styles to start with. I love them both for economical target loads.

I feel that loading 38 specials for use in your 686 is a very wise choice for a new reloader. You would have to really mess up BADLY to hurt an L-Frame 357 revolver with 38 special ammo. The low-pressure cartridge in a gun designed for much higher-pressure magnum loads gives you an extra margin of safety.

I also like using a 4-die set, and Lee sells them that way - including the Factory Crimping Die (FCD). Seating and crimping in separate steps dramatically reduces the difficulties with trying to get one die perfectly adjusted to both seat the bullet and apply the crimp in one step with the same die.

Good luck, and be careful. Get a good base of knowledge under your belt before you actually start, be very careful and avoid short cuts or distractions when you're loading ammo and you'll do just fine.

Last edited by BC38; 06-13-2018 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:51 PM
haroldpo6 haroldpo6 is offline
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Thanks everyone for helping, several reloading books came with the kit along with 1000 cci 500 caps. The Lee loading manual, and some older books. I'm not in a hurry and plan on taking my time. Your advice gives me some places to start Looking. This small town don't have much of anything, so I'll have to order most.
Thanks again. Harold
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:52 PM
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Lots of good advice. I'll repeat get a good manual. Lyman prints a very good one that is NOT specific to a particular powder company or bullet company. I like it better than the Lee manual which is also good. If you love a particular brand of bullet buy that bullet company's manual 2nd. That applies more to rifles than pistols.

Start w midrange loads. Don't push the throttle.

Don't reload when you're tired or distracted. Reloading is not a group sport either so make sure you can focus.

Good lighting is a big plus.

Lee makes good inexpensive gear. 30 plus years of reloading and a pile of gear plus a good budget and I still buy a lot of Lee products. I really like their pistol dies. Buy carbide dies so you don't have to lube straight wall pistol cases.

For punching paper and plinking lead bullets are more economical. For 38s I'd start w a 158 grain lead semiwadcutter. There are a lot of good powders. I like Unique even though there are powders that are easier to run through a powder measure. Unique can go from target loads to full power. Bullseye is also good. Winchester 231 measures well and is a good powder.

Don't force stuff. If it feels like you are having to force something make sure you are doing it right.

A used desk can make an inexpensive 1st loading bench. You'll want a good bench later but a cheap desk w a plywood reinforced top is a good starter and cheap.

GO SLOW! PAY ATTENTION! HAVE FUN! You won't save money but you'll shoot more for the same money plus reloading can be as fun as shooting ok almost as fun.
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jwk View Post
Lots of good advice. I'll repeat get a good manual. Lyman prints a very good one that is NOT specific to a particular powder company or bullet company. I like it better than the Lee manual which is also good. If you love a particular brand of bullet buy that bullet company's manual 2nd. That applies more to rifles than pistols.

Start w midrange loads. Don't push the throttle.

Don't reload when you're tired or distracted. Reloading is not a group sport either so make sure you can focus.

Good lighting is a big plus.

Lee makes good inexpensive gear. 30 plus years of reloading and a pile of gear plus a good budget and I still buy a lot of Lee products. I really like their pistol dies. Buy carbide dies so you don't have to lube straight wall pistol cases.

For punching paper and plinking lead bullets are more economical. For 38s I'd start w a 158 grain lead semiwadcutter. There are a lot of good powders. I like Unique even though there are powders that are easier to run through a powder measure. Unique can go from target loads to full power. Bullseye is also good. Winchester 231 measures well and is a good powder.

Don't force stuff. If it feels like you are having to force something make sure you are doing it right.

A used desk can make an inexpensive 1st loading bench. You'll want a good bench later but a cheap desk w a plywood reinforced top is a good starter and cheap.

GO SLOW! PAY ATTENTION! HAVE FUN! You won't save money but you'll shoot more for the same money plus reloading can be as fun as shooting ok almost as fun.
There can be no better advice offered.
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:56 AM
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I mostly use 231 and Unique powder with a 158 LSWC.
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:06 AM
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I mostly use 231 and Unique powder with a 158 LSWC.
Can't argue with that either. As I've always understood it W231/HP38 (same powder under different brands/labels) was specifically designed for 38 special (hence the "38" in HP38).
It also meters better than Unique. Not quite as versatile as Unique though.
AA#2 is another one that I like for 38 special - and 9mm, and 357 magnum, and 44 special, and 45acp...
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:36 PM
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I'd suggest starting with a copy of The ABCs of reloading. This is a text that explains the reloading process along with components (brass, bullets, powder and primer). The text also shows/explains the equipment used.

I too recommend two or more reloading manuals with good "how to" sections (Lyman as a manual for both jacketed and lead bullets, the 50th Edition, and a manual by the manufacturer of whichever bullet you are going to shoot; Hornady bullets, use a Hornady manual, etc.. I don't recommend the Lee manuals, they are an OK read, but lacking in data).

I usually tell a brand new reloader to start with jacketed bullets as they are prolly the easiest to start with and to find a load (bullet, powder, primer) in their reloading manual before any components are purchased.

A "classic" 38 Special powder is Bullseye and others around that burn speed, but again, get your info from your reloading manual.

I also tell new reloaders to pay very little attention to any forum expert, range rat, pet loads website, gun counter clerk or gun shop guru when it comes to load data (powder charges), and to get their info/data from published reloading manuals. I have been reloading for well over 30 years and 98% of my load data comes from my printed manuals (I have 8 or 10, I can't remember off hand) and a bit from powder manufacturer's web sites. I had a squib in 1970 and no Kabooms in any of the 11 cartridges I reload for...

Go slow. Double check everything. Most important, have fun...
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:56 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is online now
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Reloading manuals are published by corporations that want to keep selling reloading components to their customers.They would not last long if guys all over the place would srart complaining that they blew up parts of their anatomy+guns all over the place following their recommedations.
So,like so many others before me recommended you,buy 2,3 or more reloading manuals from renowned reloading components publishers and from there on,don't look back.
And please keep playing it safe!
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Old 06-16-2018, 01:28 AM
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Good advice on the manuals. They are not just for recipes.
I load a lot of 38 SPL. I shoot at an indoor range that requires plated or jacketed bullets, for lead safety. I use 125 gr Xtreme plated flat point. Cheaper than 158 gr, and shoot closer to point of aim in my 442. I carry commercial 130 gr. ammo.
I use HP-38 and CCI 500 primers. Mixed brass.
I use RCBS dies, and a Lee Factory Crimp die. They are supposed to be less sensitive to exact case length. I use a light crimp with the plated bullets, just enough to make sure the ammo will drop into the chambers.
Besides using a bright light to check the powder level, I use a length of doweling with a mark as a "dip stick", to check each case for powder level. The cases are in 50 round loading blocks.
I only have my "active" powder on the bench, no others. I keep a log of my loading, and copy the powder used off the bottle, before I put it away. I also copy the scale setting into the log. And, finally, the bullet weight off the box. There is only one bullet box on the bench while loading.
OCD? For sure!

Best,
Rick
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Old 06-16-2018, 07:49 AM
haroldpo6 haroldpo6 is offline
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Thanks, the guy I got the reloading kit from called and said he found some more supplies I might want. I got a dual drum tumbler, looks like new, 5 lb stainless steel media, about 50- 38 special brass, 1 lb CFE pistol power, etc all for $50. He also gave me some Lemi-shine and jug of car wash. Still haven't decided on type of bullet for range yet.. Is once fired brass ok to start with?
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Old 06-16-2018, 08:05 AM
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I'm not sure which press setup the kit you have is but if it can do any progressive reloading, avoid doing that until you totally understand the process for each step.

The odd little things that WILL go wrong during progressive reloading will be easier to detect and recover from if you start by doing each reloading step individually several times first.

Crawl before walk, walk before run and sometimes running is not needed at all.

TG
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Old 06-16-2018, 08:48 AM
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You picked an excellent cartridge to learn how to reload with!!!

I'm sure this sight could easily walk you thru the die setup process/bullet seating process/crimping process.

I've shot countless 1000's of 38spls as has a bunch of members here have also. If it were me I'd get:
federal small pistol primers
148gr button nosed wc's
158gr swc's
bullseye powder

Do the classic 2.7gr of bullseye/148gr wc bullseye load and the 3.3gr to 3.5gr of bullseye/158gr swc load. Load up a couple hundred of each and enjoy.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:35 AM
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For lead bullets Summers Enterprises are priced right, they also have coated. W231/HP38 is fairly forgiving but don't overload. 38spec's are a really good place to start and a 686 can handle hot loads if you go that way. Start low on powder charges according to manufacture's charts, make a few and test them then make a few more a little hotter till you find your guns sweet spot. Good luck and have fun, be safe above all.
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Old 06-16-2018, 12:44 PM
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Get a reloading block . They are cheap , less than $10 and made of plastic . Put the cases in there after adding the powder charge . Then use a flashlight to verify each case has powder and no double charges . Then seat and crimp the bullet .
Reloading is fun and you just need to take your time and use good common sense . NO beer drinking while reloading and no distractions -- it's just that simple . I have reloading many thousands 38spl using the kit that you have . Have fun , Regards, Paul
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Old 06-18-2018, 12:37 PM
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I'm going to start with some 158swc's and use the Hodgdon CFE power i already have. Thanks all.
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertrwalsh View Post
Hodgdon powder has virtually all of their loading info on their web site. I expect most others do too now, though having a couple of hard copy manuals in hand is very nice. I have bought powder from Powder Valley, though the hazmat charge can be rough if you only buy one or two pounds. Fortunately there is a decent retailer near me that has VERY GOOD prices on powder, roughly $25 a pound in the store. Their prices on bullets and primers, however, are high. I get primers at local gun shows from one particular seller, I get Winchester for $125 per 5k. I buy most of my bullets from on-line sellers, often from RMR or Missouri Bullets but there are plenty of good ones out there. I buy much of my brass from Diamond K. Good price and outstanding customer service. I often buy dies from Midway. You can often buy range brass from local ranges at a good price. nice thing about rolling your own, you get exactly what you want. Pay attention, be careful, have fun.
Not to hijack the thread, but seeing these prices makes me cringe. I used to load 25K rounds a year of 12ga for trap. I used to buy 200 pounds of greendot, 100K winchester 209 primers, 100K AA wads, and 3 tons of shot at a time. I know the shot( hard shot) was $ 8.00/bag. Wonder what that would cost now?
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