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Thread: Dilemma caused by being cheap.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


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    Dilemma caused by being cheap.

    Let me add that in addition to being cheap, I am lazy, and that adds to my dilemma.

    I have about 5000 .38 cases. maybe 1000 or less are nickel. I have 300 new .357 Mag cases.

    My rifles and pistols are chambered for .357 expect a Marlin 1894 Cowboy in .38 but it will take .357 pressure. My goal is to have one load that will work for plinking, paper punching and critters up to coyotes. 99% being plinking and punching paper. I am too lazy to sort .38 and .357 cases, or to keep them separate when picking up up brass. I load on a 1050 and prefer having one set up. My fiancÚ cannot handle a steady diet of .357 loads but is fine with 9mm recoil. So something a bit more than .38+P looks like a good place to be. The cheap option is to load the .38's to 9mm pressure and sell the.357 cases.

    The other option is to sell the .38 cases, sell/trade the Marlin or have the chamber lengthened, and buy .357 cases. Cost for this...value of .38 cases $200, ream chamber $100?, 2000 new .357 cases $300...so about $200.

    My preference is to "do it right" and convert to .357 brass. The Marlin is a beautiful gun and worth more than I paid for it to a CAS shooter. I can buy a new 1894C or Henry for about $750 to replace it and be about even. How difficult would it be to ream out the Marlin .38 chamber to .357? Can I do it myself or does the barrel need to be removed?

    If I use .38 cases, I have 12k+ Magma 130 RNFP commercial hard cast bullet I need to use up. The load for these would be about 5.6 gr of Universal. Once those are used up, I would convert to a softer 158 RNFP loaded over 5.0 gr of Universal. Any thoughts/opinions of those loads in .38 cases fired in .357 guns?

    Thanks,
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Put the 357 mag cases on the shelf. Load the 38 special cases as you wish. Leave the rifle alone and enjoy the fun. You will not need to keep the cases segregated, you will not need to reset the crimp die on the reloading press, you can work with just one powder and bullet combination. And you probably will save money to spend on other "stuff". That is about as frugal and laid back as any option.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    rancher1913's Avatar
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    I just stand all the cases together and pick out the one size or the other. sounds like your creating a problem by avoiding one but thats just my 2 cents worth
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    An all purpose 38/357 load is an exercise in futility. Many have tried and failed (including myself). The beauty of the cartridge is its versatility. I wouldn't mess with the rifle. Just load the 38 brass and label accordingly. If you can handle two different loads, use the nickled brass for the one used least often. Easy to identify and easy to sort.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    With your needs in mind I would proceed as Mr. Bannister suggested. I think you could cover all your needs with just the 38 Special brass. Just clean your guns to make sure thee is no dreaded carbon ring in the chambers.

    Or, since you only have one gun chambered in the Special, and if you "needed" a lever gun , get one chambered for 357 Magnum you can just any load in Magnum brass from mild to wild, depending on use (many times I have loaded 357 Magnum brass with 38 Special data).
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I'd sort & load the .357s first. Then reset for .38s.

    That will get the .357s more or less done.
    Then you can load .38s that ya shoot the most,
    and come back to them over & over without changing powder or die adjustments very often.

    As far as a 'one size fits all' load for both-- it ain't gonna happen.
    It's like a 'street & trail' motorcycle. It won't do very well with either application.
    Everyone can learn from their mistakes.
    However; it's less painful, and cheaper to learn from the mistakes of others.

    Old age and treachery will always overcome youth, and skill.

    OK folks. Enough of this idle chit chat. This ain't no retirement home.
    EVERYONE!!
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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I seem to remember that you are retired? Just take the time to sort the cases and make up the loads that you need. Use the headstamp or caliber to separate the loads. Adjusting the crimping die is not a lot of trouble. You may even be able to use that washer/spacer thingy that RCBS includes in some of their dies.

    Several years ago I found a bunch of loading trays at a gun show for $1 each and bought all of them. These were RCBS, not really my favorite tray, but normal price was about 8 to10 dollars. These make sorting brass by caliber and headstamp much easier. I also use them for counting brass when I store it away or list it for sale. Its easy to see a 380 case standing up in a tray of 9mm's or even a 9X18 case in a tray of 9X19's.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I do not like shooting a lot of .38 cases in .357 chambers. Just a personal preference.

    I would sell the carbine and get one in .357. Sell off the .38spl cases.

    Load up the .357 cases. Down load some for those who want lighter loads. I used to have a bunch of nickel plated brass cases. Those I reserved for full bore loads. Most of my .357 shooting is with reduced loads (~starting loads in manuals).

  9. #9
    Boolit Master



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    It’s a shame to modify a nice gun. Either keep it and find a solution, or sell it to buy what will best suit your needs.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    If you know what you are doing you could ream your Marlin to 357 mag without removing the barrel. You would need to pull the breech bolt and need an extension on the reamer. I would check and make sure the carrier will cycle the longer 357 cartridge before rechambering.

    I personally don't like shooting 38s in my 357 revolver because it gunks up the cylinder and makes it hard to load 357s.

    BB

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger Ed. View Post
    I'd sort & load the .357s first. Then reset for .38s.
    This... It’s not hard to sort and change the dies as needed. It probably took longer to write the OP than it takes to adjust the dies.

    You’d have to sort out the brass in order to sell.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Yes lightman, I am retired. Not fond of reloading but love to shoot so it is a means to an end...getting cheaper ammunition. I load on a 1050 for a reason....get it over as quickly as possible while making quality ammunition.

    Gentlemen, do not suggest sorting cases. That will not happen. There is no case inspection needed on pistol brass. From tumbler to case feeder. Split cases are found when boxing or loading. I load them until they split.

    I only need one load. 99% plinking and target with the occasional varmint that needs addressing. One of the lever actions will rest by the door for that purpose...I live in the boonies. Currently use a .22 for that, but want more power, and it is nice to have something bigger in case a two legged critter needs addressing. I do not want to adjust sights between loads. Four pistols and three rifle to deal with. KISS.

    So far, it looks like "overloading" .38 cases (.38+P+) is a viable and effective solution. At least for the short term.

    Thanks for the input.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I am a HUGE advocate of simple logistics and the first thing that jumps out at me is the OP wants only ONE set-up for his 1050. I am totally on board with that course of action. That means he needs to select which path to go down; 38 Special or 357 magnum.

    The fact that most of his guns are chambered for 357 mag doesn't mean he MUST go down the 357 magnum path. I shoot far, far, more 38 Special cartridges than 357 mag cartridges, even in guns chambered for 357 magnums. The 38 Special is just a more all-around useful cartridge. The magnum has its place but just because a gun is chambered in 357 mag does mean you must shoot a full blown, rock the house magnum every time you pull the trigger.
    I clean my guns after I shoot them and I've never had a problem with the "crud ring" that people love to write about.

    So, even though it is not a magnum, the 38 Special is the lowest common denominator of the OP's weapons AND will better suit his fiancÚ AND will better suit his plinking duties AND he already has thousands of 38 Special casings AND he will ultimately burn less powder by using those shorter casings.

    So I would recommend taking those 300 magnum casings, loading them up as full power magnum rounds and setting them aside for feature use if needed. THEN, pick a good 38 Special loading that satisfies his needs. He wrote, ".....My goal is to have one load that will work for plinking, paper punching and critters up to coyotes. 99% being plinking and punching paper. ....". So, his needs are already well defined.

    Since all of his guns are capable of handling 357 mag pressures, it shouldn't be difficult to find a load that is both safe and enjoyable to shoot.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerbeans View Post
    If you know what you are doing you could ream your Marlin to 357 mag without removing the barrel. You would need to pull the breech bolt and need an extension on the reamer. I would check and make sure the carrier will cycle the longer 357 cartridge before rechambering.

    I personally don't like shooting 38s in my 357 revolver because it gunks up the cylinder and makes it hard to load 357s.

    BB
    I agree with you about shooting .38's in .357 chambers. I would convert to .357 brass if it wasn't for that .38 Marlin. Not sure if I would bugger up the reaming job. The reamer is $85. Living were I do, I doubt I can find a gunsmith that has the reamer to do it for me. I am going to make some inquires. Not too worried about the carrier as making it feed longer cartridges should be doable and the worst case is a new one for $70.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Hodgdon book max for 38+P with Universal is 5.4 and gives about 1000 cup below a different powder on their list.

    Based on quickload, going up 0.2 gr to your proposed 5.6 gr puts you right at the SAAMI limit for +P.

    I would load the 38 cases with the 5.6 gr charge without worry given your use.

    I would set the 357 cases to the side for now. If you ever do want a little more, you could get a different bullet (the 158 sounds good) and load the 357 brass as a mild to mid 357 (but more than 38 +P) batch to use only on special occasions. There would be no routine sorting or press setup changes with this approach.

    Having 130 gr 38 +P for normal use and rarely used 158 gr mild to mid magnums sounds pretty good and can be done without a lot of effort. Just holding onto your 357 brass gives you this option just in case something changes in the future.

    And for what it is worth I would probably keep your 38 +P ammo down in the 120 gr - 130 gr range. This bullet weight does what it needs to and going to a heavy does not add enough for the extra cost. The lighter bullet is also a better choice at the +P power level if there is a possibility of a recoil sensitive shooter in combination with a not so big handgun.

    The above lines up with my own pattern. I use boolits from a Lee 120 TC 6 cavity mold for my high volume 38 and 357 loads. These are BLL tumble lube for 38 power level and ASBB HF red coated for mid power magnum loads (just under book max with Promo or Tightgroup).

    EDIT: It has occurred to me that you may want to consider a special load even while staying with 38 brass. For a "lever gun by the door" use, a Lee 200 or something similar loaded to just subsonic in your rifle would increase your effective range and power and at the same time reduce sound (just in case). Lee 200s or something similar are pretty easy to acquire, possibly even in trade for some 357 brass.
    Last edited by P Flados; 01-11-2020 at 03:07 PM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrol & Powder View Post
    I am a HUGE advocate of simple logistics and the first thing that jumps out at me is the OP wants only ONE set-up for his 1050. I am totally on board with that course of action. That means he needs to select which path to go down; 38 Special or 357 magnum.

    The fact that most of his guns are chambered for 357 mag doesn't mean he MUST go down the 357 magnum path. I shoot far, far, more 38 Special cartridges than 357 mag cartridges, even in guns chambered for 357 magnums. The 38 Special is just a more all-around useful cartridge. The magnum has its place but just because a gun is chambered in 357 mag does mean you must shoot a full blown, rock the house magnum every time you pull the trigger.
    I clean my guns after I shoot them and I've never had a problem with the "crud ring" that people love to write about.

    So, even though it is not a magnum, the 38 Special is the lowest common denominator of the OP's weapons AND will better suit his fiancÚ AND will better suit his plinking duties AND he already has thousands of 38 Special casings AND he will ultimately burn less powder by using those shorter casings.

    So I would recommend taking those 300 magnum casings, loading them up as full power magnum rounds and setting them aside for feature use if needed. THEN, pick a good 38 Special loading that satisfies his needs. He wrote, ".....My goal is to have one load that will work for plinking, paper punching and critters up to coyotes. 99% being plinking and punching paper. ....". So, his needs are already well defined.

    Since all of his guns are capable of handling 357 mag pressures, it shouldn't be difficult to find a load that is both safe and enjoyable to shoot.
    A man who understands!!!!

    Thank you sir. I thought maybe I had not been clear enough in my first post.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master
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    As for re-chambering that Marlin, I think that barrel would have to be separated from the receiver to properly cut that chamber longer.

    Before I started cutting chambers longer, I think I would look for another solution.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Not gonna suggest sorting the cases, even though you can do it by eye or even feel after the first 500 or so, wont need to look at head stamp.

    Instead, just load them up, keep the machine set for 38 special and crush all your 357 brass during the crimp station.
    Or have it set for 357 and have no crimp on your 38s.

    Or sell it all as a lot and buy new brass with whatever you get.

    You dont have many options if you arent willing to sort.
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The so-called "crud ring" produced by firing .38 Specials in .357 chambers is easily overcome by using a soft bullet which is well lubricated, loaded with a fast-burning powder to standard pressure and velocity. The great majority of my .38 Special loads are with 160-grain ogival flatnosed Cowboy bullets cast of wheelweights or backstop scrap, about 11 BHN lubricated with Lee Liquid Alox or LSStuff 45-45-10 and loaded with either 3.5 grains of Bullseye or 3.7 grains of 452AA.

    I use a .40 cal. bore brush with Kroil to clean the chambers of my revolvers after firing and for the cowboy rifles I wet patch with Kroil and leave wet for storage, then wet patch again and dry bore and chambers before shooting. My guns don't have the "crud ring."

    I have several hundred .357 cases assembled with full-charge loads for hunting purposes, but all of my .38 brass gets either the cowboy bullet or a Saeco #348 double-end wadcutter with the charges noted above. I have a couple 5-gallon bucklets full of DEWC and cowboy loads stashed and simply accumulate empty brass until I fill a bucket. Then the Star machine gets changed over from .45 ACP to .38 Special and there is about 100 pounds of lubed bullets stored in ammo cans in the shop.

    Just the thing to amuse yourself on a rainy day.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thinking about this more. A way to sort the brass without any sorting on your part.

    Im not familiar with the 1050, but on the lee pro 1000, you set your case feeder to the height of one cartridge, any extra clearance and you get a double feed jam, too little clearance and you have a knocked over case jam or something.
    Dunno if its similar on the dillon. Maybe you can run a piece of tape or string after the feeder but before the shell plate so that 38s go under, but 357 get knocked over and fall off the press.
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

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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