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Thread: 38 Brass trim length

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    38 Brass trim length

    Was looking for a dedicated area to post... If there is an area only for "brass" please correct me. Anyway trim to length for 38 is 1.149" and max 1.155". I have a lot of brass between 1.142" and 1.147". I vaguely remember reading "somewhere" on here that if I kept it consistent and didn't create any compressed loads, I should be okay in a revolver?
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  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    That .005 should not be a problem for a 38 special. The cartridge pressure is too low for that amount to cause a dangerous pressure spike. Particularly with standard loads.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    As Taz stated, that slight change in length should bear no discernible difference in pressure on 38.
    Momentarily you should see an avalanche of post capitulating about how there is no reason to trim straight wall pistol cartridges. I say trim em to get them all one consistent length, this will make for good consistent crimps which can in fact change pressures slightly (holds bullet in case a hair longer to allow more complete combustion, some say). Definitely trim if you are running mixed head stamps.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I trim all my .38 spl to 1.145 with mixed head stamps. Once the brass is trimmed I reload it several times before I consider trimming again.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy Snow ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ioon44 View Post
    I trim all my .38 spl to 1.145 with mixed head stamps. Once the brass is trimmed I reload it several times before I consider trimming again.
    Same, I usually run real light plinking loads so I may get 10 reloads before I look at trimming. About the time I notice my crimps being a little inconsistent, I'll trim again.
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  6. #6
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
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    I see this all the time a lot of new brass is below the trim length it will not matter at all. Any hornady leverevloution is a good bit shorter enough that you must readjust your dies but i still load it the same.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master
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    OK, I'll start the avalanche of comments about trimming handgun brass

    I have trimmed 38 Special brass but I can't remember when. Trimming 38 Special casings to a common length will result in a more uniform roll crimp but honestly the differences appear to be minor.

    Rimmed straight wall revolver cartridges such as the 38 Special may occasionally need to be trimmed once to make them uniform but they really don't change much after that. I reload 38 Special casings until they split and I get a lot of cycles out of that brass before it must be discarded.

    Unless I'm really trying to squeeze that last little bit of potential accuracy out of a batch of cartridges, I don't bother trimming 38 Special brass.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Guesser's Avatar
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    I bought a Lee case gauge and shell holder for 38 Special in 1978. I have never used it. I have never found a 38 Special case that couldn't be used because of length, period!! Same with 45 ACP and 44 Special, 32 S&W Long. And the list goes on, been loading since 1956 for more than 140 cartridges. I trim bottle neck rifle cartridges when needed, done here!!

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you maintain the same loaded overall length then short brass really isn't an issue except for crimp if you apply one. Maintaining the same overall length on the loaded rounds puts the bullets base in the same place in the case whether brass is to long just right or a little to short. But shortening the overall length to the to short brass does intrude on capacity lowering it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I've taken to trimming all my 38 brass to 1.120". After checking a lot of my fired brass I found it necessary to go that short to get everything uniform. IMO, the effort involved is justified because every case flares, and crimps, the same.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I started reloading 38 Specials in 1969. I have 4 revolvers that shoot the 38 and I have developed some loads more accurate than I can hold, and I cannot remember ever measuring a case...

    Case trimming may be necessary for an S&W Mod 52, but I don't own one...
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  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by ioon44 View Post
    I trim all my .38 spl to 1.145 with mixed head stamps. Once the brass is trimmed I reload it several times before I consider trimming again.
    I trim all of mine to the shortest length of the batch to be trimmed. As long as the OAL doesn't get crazy short I don't think there is a problem with that little a difference under min.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Well a big thanks to all of you! I know this question was asked many times before and appreciate the answers. Now lets get a little more scientific about it. Since all space is the same between powder and bullet base due to a consistent COAL, but cases average length range from .001-.005", is it unethical to ask if anyone has attained a "feel" for a consistent flare/crimp without bottoming out the ram all the time? I know with flaring it may be practical but crimping may throw some people off especially if bullet has a crimp groove. If no groove then I guess it's more practical. BUT at the end of the day, as per loading 50 at a time, I sort to find consistency in length! Again many thanks!
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  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    My touch is not good enough to get a "feel" for a consistent crimp. I nearly always use boolits with a crimp groove. I set things up so I can bottom out the press and with the longest case, it will crimp to the top of the groove. That way with the shorter cases it still gets a good crimp in the groove.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by tazman View Post
    My touch is not good enough to get a "feel" for a consistent crimp. I nearly always use boolits with a crimp groove. I set things up so I can bottom out the press and with the longest case, it will crimp to the top of the groove. That way with the shorter cases it still gets a good crimp in the groove.
    Not a bad approach.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I crimp in a separate step. When seating the boolit, I check the depth so it comes out where I want it in the groove, then crimp with the next step.
    Many of the boolits I use have generous crimp grooves. It makes this part easier.
    I could use a taper crimp and avoid the whole issue, but prefer the roll crimp for 38 special/357 mag. I get more consistent results this way.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by tazman View Post
    I crimp in a separate step. When seating the boolit, I check the depth so it comes out where I want it in the groove, then crimp with the next step.
    Many of the boolits I use have generous crimp grooves. It makes this part easier.
    I could use a taper crimp and avoid the whole issue, but prefer the roll crimp for 38 special/357 mag. I get more consistent results this way.
    Yea that wasn’t a logical approach i mentioned about having a “feel”. I guess running heavy equipment for a few years taught me that “feel”. Taz I also crimp in a separate step as a matter of preference, so now I know I don’t have to throw away the short ones!


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    The unexamined life is not worth living----Socrates
    Pain, is just weakness leaving the body...
    It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for who you are not (ask DJT).

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    I have never trimmed a .38 case....that is for sure.

    I may have measured a few....but not sure.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master

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    There was a set up to use a torque wrench on place of the press handle to crimp to a set ft lbs or inch lbs instead of the cam over or stop.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    There was a set up to use a torque wrench on place of the press handle to crimp to a set ft lbs or inch lbs instead of the cam over or stop.
    I think it was 44man who posted about that and some pictures. I don't believe he is on this site any more.

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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"
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