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Old 07-08-2018, 05:30 PM
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Default Some advice, please

Hi folks. I have had a RCBS rock chucker press set for a bit now.
Have not taken time to set it up. Thought I like BP rifles, why not try handloading. Yes i have 2-3 manuels, but I would like to start simple? Maybe 38 special, or 357, thought that may be better than jumping to bottle neck rifle loads. Long winded, I would like to know which powder to start with? Im trying for something not too fussy, a bit forgiving, and clean. Seems like a lot of opinion on what is NOT for beginner, Unique, Bullseye, Titegroup, and the different colors, blue, red, green, and some have dots? I have read their descrptions, but thats them advertising. I have once shot brass, I police my own. I have the dies set. Just want to start slow, and safely, to get the hang of it. Thanks

Last edited by Don845; 07-08-2018 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:58 PM
Regaj Regaj is offline
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Bottleneck rifle cartridges... you have to lube them before resizing. It's quite simple.

Straight-wall revolver cartridges like the .38/.357... if you have carbide dies you don't need to lube them. But that convenience is probably outweighed by the fact that you're loading more of them.

Call it a wash.

The caliber you start with doesn't matter nearly as much as knowing what you're doing. Going slowly. And paying attention to every step.

The basic process of handloading is very simple and straightforward. But it's easy for the guy working on autopilot, or the non-detail-oriented reloader, to go astray. Done well, handloading is remarkably satisfying. But it doesn't suffer fools.

Which is to say... the powder doesn't matter. There aren't "easy" powders and "hard" powders. What you'll find is that each powder has a sweet spot, a place where it works best.

Start with the bullet, and a velocity range you think you want to reach. Your manuals will then lead to several suitable powders. Just choose one.

One observation: handloading rewards careful attention to detail. A smaller number of rounds - a la a bottleneck rifle cartridge - sometimes serves to focus a new handloader's efforts.

Welcome to one of the best parts of shooting...
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:08 PM
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Hi Don,

Welcome to reloading. An easy cartridge to learn reloading with is the 38 Special. A nice practice load is the 148gr hollow base wadcutter over either 2.8gr of Bullseye or 3.1gr of WW231. I use this load religiously in my K38 target revolvers. If you have carbide dies, you are good to go. If you have the old steel dies, you will need to lube your cases.

Good luck!
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:10 PM
Mark in GA Mark in GA is online now
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What bottleneck rifle rounds do you use? Having an idea on that would allow us to give you some more targeted advice.

Mark in GA
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:41 PM
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I personally started with straight wall pistol cases. Other than cleaning old brass there is not any prep work. Get a few hundred rounds under your belt, then step up to rifle cases if you want. The first time you go through and prep a couple hundred pieces of .223 will seem like it takes forever. Lubing, sizing, trimming, chamfering etc.. I now keep a few hundred prepped and ready to load whenever I feel the need.
Be ready though ,it’s an addictive hobby.
David
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:01 PM
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The .38Spl is probably one of the easiest caliber to start with.A 148gr wc(wadcutter)or 158 swc(semi-wadcutter)on top of any powder that will give you between 750 and 800 fps will be easy on you and 99% of the time very accurate.
Have fun but play it safe;we don't need to be masters in rocket science to reload.Just use common sense and be careful to details.
But like the warning said,don't come back and blame us if you get deeply involved and spend a good chunk of your paycheck at it.Don't ask me (or my wife) how I know.
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:04 PM
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Thank you all, I was really looking for powder advice, I am familar with the Hodgdon name, use it in my BP rifles, pyrodex, triple 7. I decided to try 38’s first. Maybe some 38+ in 357 cartridges. Figure on shooting them in my 686. What I have as info is 38 is a good way to get your feet wet. Rifle loads are down the road. After 38/357 I might do some 44. But what I am concerned about, I only want to buy 1Lb can to start, just cant decide which one, so many brands, then each brand has several chioces. Some of what I have got is dont try to start with, above named powders, not kind to beginners, then two or three brands have “color” names, ie. Blue dot, or green, red label etc.. just trying to gleen some wisdom from experienced folks I can trust, unlike some blogs, vlogs, you tube, magazines, etc. Thanks again, folks
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:42 PM
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Don,

The dog powders (blue, red, and green) are shotgun powders that can be used for handgun cartridges. Bullseye is a fine flame powder that gives fantastic results, but can easily be double charged. Winchester W231 burns close to Bullseye but is a ball powder. If you have an insufficient crimp,both Bullseye and WW231 will leave a black film residue. I have used WW296 in 357 with success.

I can't really speak to any other pistol powders, since I haven't used them. For rifle loads, I have used: Varget, IMR 4895, IMR 4064, IMR 7828, and IMR4198.

If you don't pay attention while throwing charges with Bullseye or WW231, and if you throw double or triple charges, you can risk injury by blowing up a handgun. This emphasizes that you can't be distracted while reloading.
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:48 PM
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OK, I have loaded .38s with HP38, Win231(same powder in different package) for many decades and many thousands of rounds. Buy one pound.
Data are here online: Hodgdon Reloading | Home
Follow the directions exactly and don't "experiment".
And while you're on the Hodgdon site, PLEASE read all of the "boring" general instructions and technical part of the manual.


Knowledge and care make reloading a safe sport.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:18 PM
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The "Standard" bullet for the 38 special is the 148 and 158 gr lead bullet.
They come in many shapes and forms but all generally do well
for general shooting in revolvers.

A good bulky powder that fills the case is Red Dot and Trail Boss
for light target loads for a person starting out with the 38 special or 357.
Ball powders take up less case space and care must be used to
make sure just a single amount of powder is in the case, however
w231 is one of the top selling powders for lead target loads in the 38 special.

As for your rifle loads that you might get into later....
in small cases from 22/250 up to 6mm a good powder for beginers
is H414, that will fill the case and have lower pressures than
the faster powders.
In the 270 to 30 cal. loadings you can't go wrong with any 4831 type powder
that will fill the case and have low pressures for a starting loader
in the rifle department.

You don't have to use these powders, they are just what have
worked for me, in my loading, over the years. Just way too many
powders to list that are beginner friendly,

Stay safe.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:55 PM
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It probably doesnt get any easier than unique & 158gr lswc for 38sp. Load it above midrange, clean as anything else.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:38 PM
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The one item I don't see here is what the OP is using to dispense powder. Adjustable measure, measure with fixed bushings/inserts/widget to dispense ~x grains of whatever or a teaspoon.

That's going to have some influence on powder selection. The fixed charge measures (using dipping spoons/bushings/inserts) won't deliver exactly what their chart says on any particular powder. However, if there's a load in that chart that's about in the middle of the load data from your books for a particular powder/bullet combination, that's probably a decent choice.

If you've got an adjustable measure, you have a wider choice of powders. Bullseye, Unique and WW231 are all decent choices for middle of the road .38 loads. If you're going +P, forget Bullseye, and 231 as they may well limit out on pressure before you really get the velocities. Unique is getting close, about 5.0 gr of Unique (check your data charts) and a 158 gr bullet works well. Power Pistol and other powders of similar burning rate come into play at that point.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:49 PM
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I started with Bullseye/148 grain wadcutter. Doesn't get much easier than that!
Ed
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Old 07-13-2018, 01:27 PM
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in .38 spl. it is very hard to go wrong with Unique, Bullseye, Winchester 231/HP38.....use a 158 swc and follow the manuals and have a blast.

Many shooters like a plinking load of 4 gr. of Unique and a 158 anything. Some will step that up to 5 grains for a replication on the FBI load. Either are very accurate in any .38 spl. I have fired them in.

Don't know why other shooters would tell you that those powders are not for beginners......I would venture to say almost all of us either started or still use them because they work so very well!!

Randy

Last edited by growr; 07-13-2018 at 01:29 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:38 PM
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I think Unique is the ideal starter powder. It's very bulky which helps in the spacious 38/357 cases and never disappoints in the accuracy department.

I load everything in 357 brass from light loads to near full power. I've found that starting 357 loads generally shoot very well and make excellent practice loads. A 125 JHP/TMJ over 7 grains of Unique in 357 brass is a mighty fine practice load.

I shoot mostly jacketed bullets these days because I generally shoot less than 50 rounds per range session. JHP's and my favorite Speer 125 TMJ can be a good value when on sale and make for a clean gun.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:04 PM
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The only "clean" powder is the one you don't use.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:20 PM
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The use of fast low density pistol powders is almost universal in its application. It is really hard to get away from it.

As seen from the above comments Unique, Bullseye and W231 are some of the most common powders used in .38 special loads.

But there are some fast rifle powders designed for use in small calibre rounds like the various .22’s and 6mm’s that make fantastic slow pistol powders. My old favourite was Hodgson’s H4227. 10 - 11 gns in a .38 case under a 148 - 158 gn lead bullet made a great +P load. It is impossible to double charge these powders without overfilling the case.

I have no experience with IMR 4227 but did load with the Hodgson replacement which here is sold as ADI/Mulwex AR2208, H4227 with a special coating for the Australian military .223/5.56 round to reduce burning temperature (ADI made both AR2208 and H4227 for Hodgdon for many years until corporate budgets saw the Hodgdon powder cease production).

Trail Boss seems to be the bulky “go,to” powder these days for many pistol calibers but I have no experience of it. And while others don’t seem to like it too much I have had outstanding success with Tightgroup in so many calibers from 9mm up to .45 ACP. Yes it is far from clean burning but I recently had some accuracy issues with a 9mm with some particular ammunition requirements and in the end a maximum published load with TG proved to find the “majic spot”.

Just be careful. I recently had the first really bad experiemce with handloading in over 25 years. It was very unpleasant and I was lucky

One last thing, why the +P reuirment? Mid - top range velocity standard pressure rounds are more accurate.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:55 PM
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Lots of different powders on the market, but but very few that equal either Unique or 231 in versatility for handgun loads. No matter the bullet type/weight, you can make useful (but not necessarily optimum) loads with either of them in calibers from .32 ACP to .45 Colt. There are better powders for the Magnum calibers, but Unique and 231 can be used for lighter .357 and .44 Magnum loads. If there were no powders other than Bullseye and Unique available, I wouldn't consider it a major problem.

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Old 07-15-2018, 12:32 AM
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Don845, get a reloading manual. Any of the manuals published by the equipment or bullet makers. A lot of people like Lee's Modern Reloading. I prefer any recent edition of the Hornady Handbook, but it really doesn't make a big difference.

Once you have the manual, study (not read) the section at the front on "How to Reload" as if there will be a test. There will be. It comes when you start to use the little pipe bombs that we otherwise call cartridges in your guns.

Once you have studied the section on "How to Reload", sit down and based on what you gleaned from the text, write out a set of reloading procedures that you will follow each time you reload.

Once you are comfortable with your equipment and your process, then look to the back part of your manual for recommendations on powder and bullet.

Remember, you're not looking for the highest velocity or the heaviest bullet, you are looking for reliable function in your gun and best accuracy. Begin at the "Starting Load" (there is a reason it is called that) and then work up to higher loads incrementally until you find something that functions your gun reliably and delivers good accuracy.

Good luck.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:02 AM
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W231/HP-38 is a very good powder for loading the .38 Special. It's been one of my go-to powders for a very long time.
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Old 07-15-2018, 03:53 AM
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Default Start with the straight wall....

...the .38 cartridge is very forgiving. Fast powders like Bullseye, Titegroup can be tricky because the amount is so tiny that it's very easy to double charge which will blow up your gun. They are good powders but you have to be triple careful. I'd start with something like Unique that works for about anything and is somewhat more bulky.

There differences between straight wall and bottleneck as to how they are to fit in the chamber and where they 'headspace'. Rimmed cartridges are easy because they headspace on the rim. Anyway, though the basic steps are the same, there are some differences that you have to know about. Start with the simple .38, then when you get that down, add doing bottlenecks.

Semi auto ammo is a little different still. Another you need to study up on before tackling.

I'd highly recommend reading a good 'how to' section in on of your manuals. That way you get all of the info you need. If you have questions, or want to see something done, watch a couple of youtube videos on each.

Reloading isn't hard but you gotta be careful.

I started reloading 40 years ago with a can of Bullseye and a Lee Hand Loader for .38 Special. That was all I had and all I needed except for a mallet. Now I do about any kind of cartridge. So start with a niche and be careful in a few years you'll be giving beginners advice.

PS: Always check filled case level with a flashlight as a final check to see if all the levels look right.

Having a Rockchucker is a good way to start out.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:40 AM
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One comment on bulky powders - they also have a downside. They usually consist of large flakes, which don't meter well. From throw to throw the tend to have much more variation, which adds difficulties when trying to get a load dialed in. My first powder was Green Dot, which is a fairly large flake, inconsistent metering caused me lots of problems.

I've use mostly Bullseye, but think W231 might be a better choice for someone just starting. It meters very consistently and fills the case slightly more. You still must pay attention, a .38 case will hold at least a triple charge.

I don't think someone starting out should be learning on max loads. Start out making target loads, it gives more room for error.
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