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Thread: mild round ball loads for 32 & 38 S&W... anyone play ???

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    mild round ball loads for 32 & 38 S&W... anyone play ???

    new guy here, not new to guns though...

    my father in law was a caster, handloader, shooter & collector, & my wife & I inherited his stuff many many years ago, after he "groomed" me to take over his collection... I've been hand loading for 10-15 years now, I currently load for between 45 & 50 different cartridges... but, I have yet to take the plunge into casting my own yet, though I retain all the equipment & about 1500 lbs of reclaimed lead ingots I helped him cast before he died ( I mostly got stuck carrying them around ) ...

    ... this last year I became enamored with the old top break revolvers, & have added 10-12 of them from the various manufacturers of the day, & in several different barrel lengths, to my collection... these are pretty evenly devided between 32 S&W & 38 S&W... because not all are in pristine condition, both mechanically or cosmetically in discussing with my local builder & mentor we thought the round ball loads could be used with better accuracy results out of a less than perfect condition barrel, & the lighter weight round balls have less resistance in the barrels, & thus reduce chamber pressures for these old top breaks... I started out with new Winchester 32 S&W cases, light loads of Trailboss, & Hornady .315" balls for a gun function test load to test each 32 gun for function... I was suprised at the accuracy, though my velocities were quite low, I've been encouraged to raise the charges, as I was getting sooting the length of case in all the guns chambered, so my pressures were low enough that the cases were not expanding to the chamber, & so, I continue on with the 32 S&W...

    as for the 38 S&W, I'm still looking for a source of .360 balls or molds... I see Lee still lists them, although Midways said they have discontinued that mold ??? ( I'd rather just buy balls right now, but would like to add molds to my mold library for future use )

    I'm hoping to get both cartridges to shoot well, & find a gun or two in each cartridge that is a strong enough shooter to shoot regularly with my pop gun loads, as they are a real "hoot" to shoot ( Iver Johnson owl head grip pun )... even Mrs. Magnum likes shooting them... & any time I can get her out on the shooting range is good...

    anyone loading these cartridges... comments or suggestions welcome...

    this is one of my "prettier" 32's... ( original nickel & engraved Hopkins & Allen Safety Police with original walnut grips... most were black plastic )



    one of my "prettier" 38's... ( original nickel 4th model S&W old MOP grips )



    this i what my 32 round ball loads look like... ( re-nickeled Hopkins & Allen double action exposed hammer )

    Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; 01-19-2010 at 01:03 PM.

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    Bret4207's Avatar
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    Some of those little suckers can be surprising in the grouping area. At any rate, it's nice to put an old gun back into use.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master GrizzLeeBear's Avatar
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    Theres an outfit that sells 20 cavity buckshot molds on ebay, just search for "buckshot mold". They make them in various sizes. 000 (.360) as cast or 0000 (.380) sized down might work nicely in those. I've been thinking of getting a couple to try out some roundball loads in a few different calibers.

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    they are really fun to shoot... my starting loads for the 32 offer up almost no recoil & a noise level about the same as an "old time" kids cap gun, & my 1st real group was about 6-7" at 10 paces with the 3.5" barreled re-nickeled H&A gun in the 3rd pic with the ammo... one thing to consider when shooting these, is alot of them had mild steel internals with no hardening, so they must stay more well lubed internally ( IMO ) than a newer gun with hardened internals needs... I've tried to collect a 2" barrel, mid length 3.5" or 4", & a target model with 6" barrel, so I can chrony my loads this spring out of each "type" of gun...

    I've found the old S&W's & the Hopkin & Allen Safety Police models to be ones better suited for most shooting... I'm hoping all will be shootable, but a couple will be up to the task of semi regular range work... the 5-6 Safety Police models I have all have coil springs inside, rather than flat springs, which is a good sign for repeated shooting

    MASSCASTER here offers up .360 balls for sale, & I'm working with him to get me some to get me going on the 38 S&W... which should be easier to reload from a powder measure point of view... with the 32 S&W, I started with 0.5 grains of Trailboss, & have worked up to 0.7, & 0.9, looking for just enough pressure to seal the brass against the chamber walls...

    barrel lengths range from 2" snubbies... ( nickel H&A Safety Police factory 2" in 32 S&W )



    to target models with 6" barrels... ( blued H&A Safety Police factory target grips & 6" barrel in 38 S&W )

    Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; 01-19-2010 at 01:00 PM.

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    Bret4207's Avatar
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    Not sure if you mean MASScaster or MADcaster but MADcaster just died the other day.

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    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    I meant MASSCASTER... but I'm sorry to hear about MADCASTER, I didn't know him, but hope he didn't suffer, & his family is at peace...

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    Someone, Maybe Mike V., maybe Dean G., wrote about round ball loads and found seating the ball into the case so that the ball was about flush with the case mouth, worked best. And it would seem to me that a cake decorator loaded with somewhat thinned 50/50 could be used to squirt some lube into the case after the ball was seated. I remember reading about a BP shooter using Crisco like this for his C&B revolvers, so should work for your application.

    And sweet looking guns!
    Echo
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    One of the most endearing sights in the world is the vision of a naked good-looking woman leaving the bedroom to make breakfast. Bolivar Shagnasty (I believe that Lazarus Long also said it, but I can't find any record of it.)

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    Thanks for this thread, I have a .360 RB mould that was thinking of selling due to not having a use for it. I hadn't thought of using them in my 38 Spec. Should make great plinkers with less lead consumption. BTW, I got my Lee mould off Ebay several years ago when you could get a bargain. I bought four RB moulds in a lot for cheap and shipping for all in a priority box was cheap.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have found that triple round ball loads in my 32 mag are quite accurate.They do a smack down on small game.
    wheeze

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    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    thanks for the comments guys... if the snow holds off this weekend ( the wife is quilting... so I'm a quilting widower this weekend ) I planned on running a few more rounds of 32 S&W through the guns, trying the 0.7 & 0.9 grain Trailboss loads... I have gotten together the necessities to chrony & put up targets in the snow bank in the driveway, since I'd about need a snowmobile to get to my rifle / pistol range right now...

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    Agree on the post about non-hardened internals and lube. IJ (Iver Johnson), H+R and H+A made guns of this type along with some lesser knowns like Merridian and of course Colt and Smith. My experience runs towards the IJ's. They were quality guns for the price, but as noted the internals, the whole gun in fact, lacked extensive heat treating. A good cleaning, some quality lube and a bit of common sense will give them a good long life. No reason they can't be expected to shoot many thousands of rounds with complete satisfaction.

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    BTW... WHEEZ... I also load for 32 H&R Mag that I use some 100 grain wadcutter bullets, & I seat them flush with the case mouth for pop gun loads... now that I have the 32 S&W's... maybe I'll have to go back & re-magnumize that 32 H&R mag... I shoot that out of an old Ruger single six stainless...

    ... I've been using Lee Alox bullet lube on the 100 grain wad cutters... been thinking about using a small paint brush & "sealing" the ball to the case with Alox ( like I'd use nail polish to seal a bullet on my hunting loads )

    ... I haven't messed with the Alox that much... any suggestions for what to use to thin it down a little ??? I don't know / haven't tested it or looked to see if it's water soluable, or if I'd need a solvent

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    Boolit Master GrizzLeeBear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnum Wheel Man View Post
    ... I haven't messed with the Alox that much... any suggestions for what to use to thin it down a little ??? I don't know / haven't tested it or looked to see if it's water soluable, or if I'd need a solvent
    Mineral Spirits

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    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    thanks...

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    Here is a little information...

    ...I copied a while back.

    It's mainly focused on "standard loads" for the .32 long but also has an excerpt from the writings of George Nonte in which he talks about loading round balls in the .32 long. May be of some interest.



    .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long... by Scott aka GunFan

    The little .32 S&W (Short) has some interesting ballistics from a 3 1/2" barrel. 88-grain Remington-Peters factory fodder runs about 657 fps. 85-grain Winchester-Western runs about 679 from the same tube. Energies produced are about 84-1/3 fpe and 60-2/3 fpe respectively. Place this energy on a .311"-.314" diameter bullet, and - Plunk! These should stop either an enraged field mouse or put "the hurts" on most garden pests without threatening to put a hole in the neighbor's house! Moles, ground hogs and other aberrant vermin, beware! No matter what anyone says, these little loads beat the daylights out of the .22 handgun when it comes to close-range pest eradication!

    When it comes to the .32 S&W Long, modern propellants make this cartridge deliver quite a "nasty-gram" at close range! If the pests, are between 25 and 50 pounds, the .32 S&W Long should get the job done. Factory loads hve a bit more "oomph." From a 2" barrel a hefty 98-grain Remington RNL runs 632 fps and provides 87 fpe and the 98-grain RNL provides 626 fps and about 85 fpe. You must bear in mind that these loads were designed with the weaker, break-top revolvers in mind.

    I frequently see 98-grain RNL ahead of 3.5 grains of Unique, delivering 979 fps and about 99 1/2 fpe from a 6" barrel. While not earth shaking, it can put down many a good-sized varmint quite easily.

    I want to take the opportunity today to address those that handload for the .32 S&W Long. This is where the cartridge has an opportunity to "step from the shadows" and make a statement.

    Those of us that are over 50 years of age, or have made an in-depth study of handloading, are quick to realize that the .32 S&W Long, while an extremely accurate cartridge, can be loaded to some pretty respectable power levels. Now this shouldn't be seen as a license to "firewall" the cartridge, ignoring the requisite prudence and reason regarding safety. On the contrary, the very careful approach of increasing charge levels, while keeping a sharp eye for excessive pressures. (e.g. flattened primers, excessive leading, stressed cases, etc.) A 1968 copy of Handloader magazine offered the following handloads for the .32 S&W Long.

    WARNING! These loads are only suitable for use in modern, solid-framed revolvers in good condition! the following loads may, or may not, be safe in your particular revolver! Use caution when approaching maximum loads!

    Note: All of the bullets used were of the Round Nosed Lead variety.

    Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Velocity

    Lead 89 Bullseye 1.5 695
    Lead 89 Bullseye 2.0 745
    Lead 89 Bullseye 2.5 880
    Lead 89 Bullseye 3.0 1,010
    Lead 98 Bullseye 2.0 770
    Lead 98 Bullseye 2.7 910
    Lead 98 Unique 3.0 735
    Lead 98 Unique 4.0 940
    Lead 98 Unique 4.3 1,010

    Both loads yielding the 1010 fps with both propellants are maximum loads. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the 89-grain maximum load yields 201.6 fpe. That, sisters and brothers, isn't the earmark of a "flyweight" cartridge, suitable only for dispatching rats! This particular load can serious medicine for a vast number of household/garden/barnyard purposes. This particular load would be an excellent choice for the elimination of skunks, nutria, large (harbor) rats, opossum and the like.

    The 98-grain, 1010 fps load yields a healthy 220 fpe! Is it any wonder how so many feral dogs, foxes, bobcats, and other larger vermin can be dealt a quick death blow with this potent load. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if such a load could be effectively employed for personal defense. If the bullet were molded as a truncated cone, hollow point, a 98-grain lead bullet, loaded in the .32 Long could easily reach into .380/.38 S&W Special territory! Some of these loads should shoot well in revolvers chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum.

    Once upon a time, in 1974, a gunwrter by the name of Gorge Nonte was writing for HANDLOADER magazine. It was in the January/February edition of that year, when he published an article called, "Those unloved .32's."

    After discussing several of the .32 Long revolvers being manufactured in the day, he began discussing useful loads for the cartridge. On page 36, he writes,

    "... If you have one of the stronger guns, and want to make your own jacketed expanding bullets, velocities as high as 1,300 to 1,600 fps are possible in 6-inch barrels. Obtaining them requires a slightly undersized, thin-jacketed bullet of 60 to 70 grains weight, driven by a hefty charge of Bullseye or Olin 230 powder. In my own 6" K-32, a 63-grain thin-jacketed soft-point bullet made up by C-H dies produces 1,380 fps when driven by 3.5 grains of Unique. These loads show no evidence of excessive pressures in the K-32 or in either a S&W Hand Ejector or a Colt Cobra. At this time, no valid pressure tests have been conducted for the above loads, and this does not constitute a recommendation for their use. We do know of a .32 S&W Long pressure barrel under construction and when it is ready - and lab time is available - we fully intend to determine the pressures of those loads.

    For general shooting, which includes small game, plinking, and occasional paper-target use to 50 yards, I have yet to find a load better than Lyman bullet No. 313445, weighing approximately 95 grains and of semi-wadcutter form. It is long enough and heavy enough to retain velocity well, it cuts clean, sharp holes in paper or other targets, and kills small game nicely without excessive meat destruction. I prefer to drive it at around 1,100 fps (6-inch barrel) with either 4.5 grains of Hercules (now Alliant) Unique or 3.5 grains of Bullseye. While Unique is really my favorite powder, I often assemble this load with Bullseye because it is a bit more efficient in the two-inch barrel length - and a little 2-inch S&W Hand Ejector gun in this caliber is one of my favorites for carrying afield because of its slight weight and bulk. That little gun may look innocuous, but with the Bullseye load it will puncture beer cans out to 50 yards with a high degree of regularity if I do my part. That can't really be considered poor accuracy from a two-inch tube."

    This speaks remarkably well for the humble .32 S&W Long! While so many have relegated this little revolver to the status of a "relic" it appears that it can perform many chores that may consider a labored task for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, and a bit excessive for the .38 S&W Special. It serves a valid purpose, and still carves out it's niche in the "overly full" revolver-handgun segment. Later in the same article, Nonte provides this .32 S&W Long load data:
    Bbl length.
    Bullet Powder Charge 2" 4" 6"

    63 gr JSP Unique 5.0 gr. 990 1,310 1,400
    63 gr JSP Unique 5.2 gr. 1,030 1,330 1,420
    63 gr JSP 230 3.5 gr. 995 1,290 1,380
    90 gr Cast Bullseye 3.1 gr. 850 1,010 1,100
    90 gr Cast Unique 4.7 gr. 875 1,065 --
    98 gr Cast Bullseye 2.7 gr. 830 910 --
    98 gr Cast Bullseye 1.5 gr. -- 635 --
    98 gr Cast Bullseye 2.0 gr. -- 770 --
    98 gr Cast Unique 4.5 gr. -- 1,040 --

    There's even more that this great cartridge can do! George continues to discuss this in consummate detail in this article. His propensity for good, old-fashioned ingenuity is reflected in his "kitchen table" assembly of target loads for the .32 Long. This can be readily seen when he writes,

    "But the load that is really cheap fun is the old round-ball load i used in that H&R Bobby in the woods of Southern Illinois in the middle 1940's. It can be assembled without dies, without moulds, without any handloading tools or whatever. at the time, I acquired the H&R, I was temporarily without any loading gear and mighty short of funds. With the gun I got one box of mid-range wadcutters which I promptly shot up and proceeded to look for a way to reprime the cases. The traditional filed-down nail served to punch out the old primers, and tapping the decapped cases down over fresh primers laid face up on a hard, smooth counter top handled the repriming problem nicely until I could acquire a Lyman tong tool. Primers were laid face up on the counter top, and a close-fitting aluminum rod was slipped into the mouth of each case in turn and a mallet applied gently to its upper end to seat the primers. A charge cup made from a fired .22 LR case filed down to hold 1.0 grains of Bullseye was fitted with a wire handle and charges were dipped from a coffee cup half filled with Bullseye. Bullets were "O" buckshot thumbed onto the chamfered casemouth and seated flush by tapping them in their full depth with a small plastic mallet. Following that, a finger-dab of waterpump grease was smeared over the ball, partially filling the gap between the case mouth and the leaden sphere.

    With this load, cases hardly ever need resizing, and loading is so simple it stinks. Cases last virtually forever if you don't get clumsy and step on them, and even at today's prices, (read: 1974) cost per shot is less than one cent if you're buying your primers reasonably right. I use this particular load regularly in the two-inch Hand Ejector, shooting in my office at a range of about 20 -25 feet. A stack of old magazines is adequate as a backstop for the slow-moving round balls. I don't know how fast the ball travels, but it really doesn't matter -- it does it's job.

    All the same, this load must not be considered a harmless toy. Over the years it has killed scored of small game, and will punch easily through one-inch pine boards. It is definitely a lethal combination, and must be considered as such. In this impromptu in-office shooting, it can be relied on to produce neat quarter-sized clusters from the little two-inch gun if I am paying proper attention to the game at hand. About the only disadvantage it possesses for such close range shooting is that occasionally it sprays particles of grease downrange. The old waterpump grease I used a quarter century ago should be replaced under those circumstances by a dab of Lyman lubricant."

    It should be readily apparent that the .32 S&W Long has all the versatility of the .38 S&W Special, but on a smaller scale. Upon careful consideration, that can be used to your advantage on many an occasion. Consider these facts. The .32's legendary "gilt-edged" accuracy, lack of over penetration issues, definitive "stopping power" for small game and pests, aside from the fact that a 25 pound bag of size "O" buckshot, 3000 primers, and a pound of Bullseye can provide you with months of cheap target practice is something that shouldn't be dismissed. Pest control? That's a given. A training round? It doesn't get much better than this. Fun? This round had more giggles in it than a tubful of popcorn at the movies. Its the easiest-shooting, handful of centerfire fun this side of the .22 Long Rifle. What's not to like? Rediscover the little centerfire .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long. As the old 1960's Alka-Seltzer commercial's line said, "Try it, you'll like it!"

    "O" size Buckshot is .32 caliber. Each pellet weighs 49 grains. There are 9 pellets per ounce, 144 pellets per pound and 720 pellets in 5 pounds. There are 3500 pellets in 25 pounds. There are 7000 "Gallery" loads in one pound of Bullseye gunpowder. Your biggest expense will, indeed, be the lead shot and primers. Lyman bullet lube shouldn't be too costly. Cases will last for over 25 loadings. Their cost is relatively low.

    Aren't "Gallery" loads for the .32 S&W Long inexpensive, easy to assemble and fun?

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    Thanks for the interesting read...

    I went out this last weekend ( to the drive way, not the shooting range ) parked my PU truck dropped the tailgate, lined up a big snowbank, with the width of the tailgate... positioned my chrony on one side, lined up on the snowbank, & stuck a small piece of plywood into the snow bank in the properly lined up position... Guns fired were a Hopkins & Allen Safety Police 2" barrel 32 S&W, & one of my NAA mini 22 lr pocket guns... I was curious about energy levels & how they compared, resting the mouse gun on the tailgate opposite the chrony...

    things looked like this...

    the 32's...

    32 S&W .315" 47.5 gr round ball 0.5 gr Trailboss CCI 500 primer
    average velocity 255 fps
    E= 6.9 ftlbs out of 2" barrel
    TKO= 0.545 out of 2" barrel
    3.4" 5 shot group 2" high at 30ft out of 2" barrel

    32 S&W .315" 47.5 gr round ball 0.7 gr Trailboss CCI 500 primer
    average velocity 317 fps
    E= 10.6 ftlbs out of 2" barrel
    TKO= 0.678 out of 2" barrel
    1.5" 5 shot group 1.5" high at 30ft out of 2" barrel

    32 S&W .315" 47.5 gr round ball 0.9 gr Trailboss CCI 500 primer
    average velocity 436 fps
    E= 20.0 ftlbs out of 2" barrel
    TKO= 0.932 out of 2" barrel
    3.5" 5 shot group 3" high at 30ft out of 2" barrel

    32 S&W .315" 47.5 gr round ball 1.1 gr Trailboss CCI 500 primer
    average velocity 570 fps
    E= 32.3 ftlbs out of 2" barrel
    TKO= 1.218 out of 2" barrel
    4.5" 5 shot group 2.5" high at 30ft out of 2" barrel

    the 22...

    22lr .223" 39.5 gr Velocitor factory load
    average velocity 739 fps
    E= 47.9 ftlbs out of 1.5" barre
    TKO= 0.930 out of 1.5" barrel
    7.75" 5 shot group 6" low at 30ft out of 1.5" barrel

    the hardware...



    Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; 01-26-2010 at 05:41 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    BTW... at about 0.9 grains the cases began to seal against the chambers... they were sooty to the rim for the 0.5 & 0.7 grain charges, & in some guns the 0.9 were sooty, & in some clean... so these chamber pressures are very low...

    also I think about the maximum Trailboss I can get in a case without compressing ( which is a NO-NO with Trailboss ) is going to be between 1.2 & 1.3 grains... ( this is with new Winchester cases )

    I was going to do just one load, but the accuracy with the ball at 0.7 grains ( at least in the 2 guns I've fired at targets ) leads me to want to do 2 loads one for targets with the round balls, & one for shooting other things, maybe with a light cast bullet...

    I think I I'm also going to have to try some other powders with the cast bullet, as the trail boss is so bulky, I don't think I'll be able to get to even moderate velocities because of case capacity...

    any suggestions in the bullet dept. ???

  18. #18
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    MWM- Lee does make a 90 gr SWC that's worth a look and there are soem FN designs floating aorund for sale, even a few wadcutters. I'm incredibly fortunate in that my K32 loves the Lee GB Soup Can, sized in a .311 die. That FN works good.


    BTW- I miss George Nonte. That guy had a thing for odd little guns and cartridges.

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    thanks for the suggestions...

    I'm really enjoying these old pocket top breaks myself... but I'm starting to learn alot... some I've bought looked really nice, & don't function very well... while others might look a bit on the abused side, in pictures & still shoot great... buying on line by pictures only is a **** shoot... so I've been trying to get them at reasonable prices only, just in case they don't function well... & even then, I'm kinda stuck if they don't work well... as my local builder doesn't like to work on "mousey little double actions"

    I'm working with the guy from Tomestone Grips for some custom grips for the guns I'll be shooting the most... both to dress up plainer guns, & to protect some of my original grips, & old "real" MOP grips...

    ... I still haven't found a holster maker that has replyed to me about a holster or two for the tiny 32 S&W framed guns... the last top break picture I posted is my Safety Police snubbie & a J Frame paddle holster, which "works"... but the little gun really swims around in a J Frame holster... I'd like to get a bit fancier one for my 3.5" barrel engraved 32 for dressier BBQ type uses & plainer more utilitarian one for that 32 snubbie, if anyone knows someone who can make holsters for the small frame guns reasonably ???
    Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; 01-27-2010 at 08:56 AM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold Magnum Wheel Man's Avatar
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    Whoo Hoo.. I got my balls...

    got my .360 round balls from MASSCASTER yesterday for loading in the 38 S&W... with any luck, I'll get some gun function test loads loaded this week, & can go through my 38 S&W guns to find a couple that look to be good shooters... then plan on developing loads for them like what I have been doing with the 32's...

    I also found a neat old holster that fits my small frame 32 snubbies like it was made for them...






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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