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Thread: 380 Brass too large?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master DonMountain's Avatar
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    380 Brass too large?

    I have started loading for an old 380 pistol I have had for years, and I am having trouble fitting ammo into the barrel. Using purchased range brass, cleaned and inspected of various makes. Remington 1-1/2 pistol primers. 2.5 grains of W-231 powder, and 115 grain purchased lead projectiles from the ACME company, coated with some sort of red stuff, the RN-NLG type. I miked some of them and they come up at 0.356". When I load them with Hornady dies, most of the cases measure 0.372" to 0.374" and seem to fit in the barrel and shoot just fine. But some of them measure up to 0.380 at the mouth and jam in the gun before they seat far enough in the barrel to chamber properly and lock up to fire. Those that measure this large have a noticeable swelling of the case as far down as the bullet is seated. Three or four of them were of one make, headstamped G.F.L and 380 AUTO. Is there a solution to this problem or what should I do?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I don’t load 380, but I have a bucket of range brass some of which shows the same bulge near the base. I assume it’s a Glock thing. I have a CasePro, but it hasn’t been worth the $180 to buy the 380 dies for it since I don’t load it yet. Sorry that I can’t be of more help.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    If you're seeing 0.380" at the case mouth then you have one of two things going on. Either you have an oversized bullet or thicker than nominal brass. I suspect you have oversized bullets. Some of your "red stuff" might be thicker on some bullets than others. Maybe they weren't sized from ACME.

    Can you pull the ones that don't fit and take some measurements from the bullets?

    redhawk

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Is it possible that you are not getting the cases full length resized? After you have full length sized all the brass cases, use the chamber of the barrel as a gauge to see if the cases will chamber before you proceed with the rest of the reloading process. Range brass fired in an unknown chamber might be a bit oversized and may take care to reduce it adequately to fit in your Firearm. It might also be that the coating on the bullet is building up the diameter too much and they just need to be sized down to work.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    The cases are tapered on the inside thicker to the head. Also brass can vary in thickness brand to brand and even lot to lot. You 115 grn bullet may be getting down into the cases inside taper enough to expand it up to big. If your expanding the full depth of the bullet that may be it also. If this is the case then the fix is to ream the cases out deeper. A lot of work for range brass or brass as available and at the price point of 380 acp brass.

    Another issue might be to heavy a crimp swelling the case just below the crimp. But if the tight spot is at the base of the bullet this isn't likely.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    If 380 is like 9 and some other cartridges, the European headstamps have thick brass. You noted that GFL was one of the culprits.

    I assume that the basics have been addressed: e.g. your sizing die will enable re-sized brass to kerplunk into the chamber.

    I bet that country gent is right on the money. The heavy-for-caliber bullet is reaching deep into cases where the brass is thick and punching it out. Lately I have realized the importance of sorting brass so that cast bullets get loaded into thin-walled cases. Much greater likelihood of kerplunking properly.

    I bet if you spend a little time sorting thick/thin walled brass, you will have better results.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    About a year ago I got a Ruger LCP, my first and only 380. I bought 2,500 mixed range brass. Bought a 6 cavity lee TL356-95-Rf cast a bunch of boolits, powder coated them and sized to .357. Started loading on my classic cast turret with the Lee factory crimp die in the last station. Some of the brass would come out of the FCD without being resized by the carbide ring and some would not.
    I separated all the brass by headstamps and loaded the ones that would not be resized with my .357 boolits. I bought some .355 plated boolits and loaded them into the other cases. They were not resized by the FCD being .002 smaller.
    I will use the plated bullets where I have a large chance of loosing the brass.
    The ones that were resized by the FCD would not chamber if crimped in a non FCD die.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    One thing reloading for the 380 has taught me is this. Belling the case can play a major factor. Resizing the cases would go fine, but when I would bell the case mouths it seemed I was always getting a bulge in the case just about where the boolit base would be. I tried several different brands of dies to no avail. Then, I tried belling them with my Dillon 9mm dies and it was much better. Finally, I broke down and purchased a LEE Universal Case Expanding Die. It may, or may not work for you in this case but it sure solved my problem with bulged cases.

    Good luck,

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    .380 is way too large for the mouth. The finished rounds should be around .373. Your seating did or crimp die should be removing the belling. It's possible you short stroked the press and the rounds in question didn't get that step.

    115 grain bullets are large for .380. When using bullets 15% to 20% larger than the case was designed for its inevitable you will run into some problems. It's possible to work out the problems but you have to pay attention to each step and be able to trouble shoot the process.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I load a 105 grn cp bullet to duplicate the rem 102 grn load I carry in my sig and walther ppks. I have ran into some brass with thick enough wall taper to give some tight rounds but they will chamber. since this is practice ammo for me its not as big an issue. It occurred on very few rounds, maybe 1 out of every 150. Tese small cases and heavy for caliber bullets can get interesting due to inside taper and now the stepped brass. I used an expander that opens not just the case mouth but the length of the bullets seating depth or close to it. This allows better control over bullets tension and if the cases are thick shows the bulge at this stage rather than when a bullet it seated.
    My 105 grn load has fed functioned and shot vey accurately in 7 different 380 pistols. It shoots to same point of impact as the rem 102 grn defense load at 25 yds. There is a 8"X11"X4" deep box of this load with the rounds stacked in it in the closet, not sure how many rounds that's is

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    The easy fix is not to use G. F. L. headstamped brass. That 115 grain bullet is heavy for that caliber too. A lighter bullet may not require seating as deeply which may help too.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    FYI, I had to order the lee undersize die for 380. I switched from cast rounds to hornady xtp and had constant neck tension issues with the standard die.
    My feedback page if you feel inclined to add:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-Shooter

    Thanks Yall!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Is the measurment of .380" behind the case mouth or right on the mouth? If right on the mouth crank down yhe taper crimp die some more and crimp heavier.
    If it measures big behind the case mouth the cases are thick.
    Simple solution, use the cases that work. That is what a simpleton like me would do.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The problem described is caused by excess seating depth which results in the base of the bullet causing a bulge where it intersects the internal taper of the case wall.

    This is caused by using a bullet of improper profile so that when deep seated the base intrudes farther into the case than the base of a factory bullet designed for the .380 ACP.

    This is most common when people attempt to load bullets designed for the 9mm Parabellum in .380 brass.

    There ARE heavier bullets having a shorter bearing length and correct profile to fit correctly in the .380 case.

    I use the Accurate 35-120H in my Ruger, Beretta and SIG .380 pistols with Fiocchi brass and have no issues.


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    Boolit Master DonMountain's Avatar
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    After reading all of these recommendations, and checking all this information out with what I have loaded and the purchased commercial lead projectiles, and trying loads with Hornady 115 grain jacketed hollow point bullets I had in stock, I have come to a possible conclusion based on all of your good ideas. My ACME brand coated bullets are too big in diameter for this gun. Some of them that were giving me trouble were up to 0.357" in diameter. The Hornady 115 grain jacketed bullets measured 0.354" in diameter and when loaded in any of the brass they dropped all the way into the barrel and shot real nicely. I have purchased a Lee 102 grain mold designed for the 380, and just picked up a sizing die at 0.355" for my RCBS LAM-II with hopes it will allow all of the brass that I have to work through the pistol. So, maybe I will go out to the shop and fire up the lead pot and see what I can do with this mold and the other Lee 120 grain 9mm mold I also purchased for my other 9mm Luger pistols that I have been working on loads lately. I am going to try using my 0.356" sizing die for the larger 9mm Luger molds that the purchased lead projectiles seem to work ok in. Thanks everybody for your suggestions so far as I am still working on a solution for this. The pistol is rather something unique too. I bought it a long time ago and never shot it until recently. Its a Hungarian Model 1937 pistol and it has a spotless apparently stainless steel barrel made before the war. I have never seen a pistol so easy to take the barrel out of.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    "Three or four of them were of one make, headstamped G.F.L and 380 AUTO. Is there a solution to this problem or what should I do?"

    Is the problem that the bullets are too large or the G.F.L. cases too thick?
    Or are the other cases too thin so they work?
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master DonMountain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44MAG#1 View Post
    "Three or four of them were of one make, headstamped G.F.L and 380 AUTO. Is there a solution to this problem or what should I do?"

    Is the problem that the bullets are too large or the G.F.L. cases too thick?
    Or are the other cases too thin so they work?
    I am still working on the problem as I was out in the shop casting up some Lee 102 grain proper 380 projectiles before I came in. It looks like it is a combination of errors. When the seated bullet stretches the case out to about 0.380" they don't fit in the chamber. At 0.379" they almost fit. At 0.378" they are tight, but the gun doesn't seat them all the way sometimes. At 0.377" I can push them all the way down, but they are still tight. At 0.376" they drop right in. And anything less then that they drop right in. So, its only a matter of a few thousandths of an inch that makes the gun jam or not. If I select a bullet that is 0.356" or 0.357", and a case with a little bit of a thick wall, they don't fit in the chamber. If I select a thin walled case and a 0.356" bullet it will fit. If I select a jacketed Hornady bullet that measures 0.354" no matter what case I use it will drop right in. So, I plan to size these Lee 102 grain lead bullets to 0.355" and see what happens.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Lee Factory Crimp Die can profile your loaded rounds to remove the bulge and then the bullet will be sized inside the case.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master DonMountain's Avatar
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    I cast up a bunch of the Lee 356-102-1R bullets to load in the 380 I am having trouble with, and I brought one in and measured it at 0.357" in diameter. I bought a 0.355" sizing die for my RCBS LAM-II, but now realize that I don't have a nose punch that is even close to the profile of this mold. Is there a place on this site that has a cross-reference for LEE molds and RCBS/LYMAN lube/sizer nose punches? Or does anybody use one they could suggest to me that fits this mold?

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonMountain View Post
    I cast up a bunch of the Lee 356-102-1R bullets to load in the 380 I am having trouble with, and I brought one in and measured it at 0.357" in diameter. I bought a 0.355" sizing die for my RCBS LAM-II, but now realize that I don't have a nose punch that is even close to the profile of this mold. Is there a place on this site that has a cross-reference for LEE molds and RCBS/LYMAN lube/sizer nose punches? Or does anybody use one they could suggest to me that fits this mold?
    You could always make up a bit of pan lube to do some of them to test while ya wait for an answer or a new nose punch if ya need to buy one. That is what I would likely do anyway.


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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check