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Thread: New mold for my .380 LCP

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Centaur 1's Avatar
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    New mold for my .380 LCP

    I just bought a Lee 38 cal 105 grain swc mold for making reloads for my LCP. I knew that the .358 diameter bullets would squeeze through the barrel just fine as long as the rounds chambered, which they do. I loaded them with 3 grains of Unique and seated them at the crimp groove. This round is a full grain under max, and they functioned great through my gun. Now I can shoot Elsie more often, I can now load 1,000 rounds for less money than 100 rounds of factory loads, YAY!!!!!!! Thanks for all the help.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    My favorite boolit, that Lee 105 SWC. It's incredibly versatile.

    For your .380, another good boolit is the Lee 102 RN. I've got one .380 in particular that loves that boolit. I also made some mouse loads in 9mm for my daughter that work extremely well in the Taurus and Browning Hi-Power guns. The only recoil is from the action of the slide.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] Above Reproach A deadly series of mass-shootings coordinated by anti-American officials inside the U.S. government threatens not only the Second Amendment, but the entire Bill of Rights until one armed citizen finds himself with his back against the wall and fights back.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Centaur 1's Avatar
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    I was looking at that mold also when I got mine. I've heard that not all .380's like the swc, but everyone said that the little LCP just eats them up, and mine did. I now have a boolit that I can use in my .38's as well as the .380 and 9mm. And it looks cooler than a round nose.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I have heard and read a lot about that mold for use in 380's but so far I have resisted buying one, guess that resistance is breaking down cause I believe I will be ordering one soon. Thanks for that report Centaur.
    Paul G.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I've had quite a bit of fun working with the 380 Auto this year. I've been working on two bullets; a "light" bullet for the sub compacts and a "heavy" bullet for the full frame autos. What I've end up with is a 100-grain and a 125-grain bullet, the weight difference dictated by the shorter OAL for the magazine requirements of the subcompacts.

    My "test mules" where the Jimenez Arms JA-380 and JA-LC380. Cheap pistols but the important thing for my work is that the chambers are cut exactly to SAAMI specs and their barrels are ballard cut, not polygonal. Once my inital testing was completed, I was able to locate representatives of most frames in circulation and like I said, I've become a believer in this cartridge.

    With the TLC358-125-RF and loaded to a NMP of 17.1K PSI, I've been able to exceed the Hatcher Index of 9mm Luger 115-grain FMJ factory ammo.

    It's too bad that bullets for this cartridge have been ignored by mold makers but a lot of pistols have been pulled from night stand drawers in light of the OHB inspired "handgun pride". Owners wanted ammo and with the seasonal runs of 380 Auto they found out they couldn't get it. I ran a group buy for my TLC358-100-RF but should have my inventory of this mold available soon. My TLC358-125-RF will come in a little later in the year but Bull Shop is casting this larger bullet.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Try your LEE 105swc with 2.4gr BulsEye or RedDot. I get better groups with that than factory match ammo.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranch Dog View Post
    I've had quite a bit of fun working with the 380 Auto this year. I've been working on two bullets; a "light" bullet for the sub compacts and a "heavy" bullet for the full frame autos. What I've end up with is a 100-grain and a 125-grain bullet, the weight difference dictated by the shorter OAL for the magazine requirements of the subcompacts.

    My "test mules" where the Jimenez Arms JA-380 and JA-LC380. Cheap pistols but the important thing for my work is that the chambers are cut exactly to SAAMI specs and their barrels are ballard cut, not polygonal. Once my inital testing was completed, I was able to locate representatives of most frames in circulation and like I said, I've become a believer in this cartridge.

    With the TLC358-125-RF and loaded to a NMP of 17.1K PSI, I've been able to exceed the Hatcher Index of 9mm Luger 115-grain FMJ factory ammo.

    It's too bad that bullets for this cartridge have been ignored by mold makers but a lot of pistols have been pulled from night stand drawers in light of the OHB inspired "handgun pride". Owners wanted ammo and with the seasonal runs of 380 Auto they found out they couldn't get it. I ran a group buy for my TLC358-100-RF but should have my inventory of this mold available soon. My TLC358-125-RF will come in a little later in the year but Bull Shop is casting this larger bullet.
    Yeah I don't shoot my .380 Mustang too much, but I couldn't resist picking up that mold, as I own 3 of your other designs and they all make exceptional boolits.

    I'm curious if you've done any expansion testing. What kind of alloy would you recommend if someone was carrying a pocket 380 with that bullet?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Centaur 1's Avatar
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    I mentioned what I'm doing over on the Elsiepea forum and there was concern about shooting .358 diameter boolits in a .380. I don't know if they're all similar, but the barrel on my LCP slugs at .3573. I assume that Ruger does this in order to keep the pressures down in such a small gun. I don't think that I'd shoot a lead .355 diameter boolit in this gun, it would probably lead like crazy.

    I just started casting a little over 4 months ago and I've already gone through 1,000 primers. I bought the Lee 20 pound bottom pour pot and four Lee molds. I have a 9mm 125RN, a TL358-158swc, a .309-150FN (I removed the GC step with a .3115 reamer), and this last one the 38-105gr swc. Maybe I just don't know any better but they all work for me, with the last one giving me good boolits on the third pour.

    I've been pan lubing with paraffin/vaseline/stp lube on my 9mm and 30-30 boolits. For tumble lubing I mixed up the alox/jpw/ms lube and I like it better than straight alox, it's dry instead of sticky. The tumble method works great on the 38's and 9mm's, but I had leading problems in my 30-30. Because of that I pan lube the 9mm's also, because I use them in an AR with a 16" barrel. I tried tumble lubing some my latest 105gr swc because I hoped that they would work, but I pan lubed most of them just so I wouldn't have to disassemble them if they left lead in my barrel. So far I haven't had any leading so I'll be tumble lubing from now on.

    Ranch Dog, I can see from your designs that I need to start saving money so that I can get in on future mold buys. It looks like you design your molds for tumble lubing and I like that. That 100 grain FN looks great, ever since I got my LCP I've been thinking about adding a flat plug to the front of the 125 gr 9mm mold so that it shortens the boolit and does almost exactly what you've already done. I'm going to put a label on my change jar that says "mold fund" and keep an eye on your website in case you ever make another run of this mold.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master XWrench3's Avatar
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    i use that mold for 3 guns. the wifes 38 special, a ruger lcp, and a kel-tec p3at. no problem with it in any of them. in fact, the kids (boy age 9, and girl age 6) LOVE to shoot mom's snub nose 38! both 380;s are a bit much for them. to light of a gun, combined with to much recoil. eventually, they will grow into them. i must admit to liking mom's gun as well. my 2 - 380"s have injested over 2k each of these little lead pills. the only failures i have had is if i do not get the seating depth correct.
    Silver and Gold are for rich men. Lead and Brass is MY silver and gold! And when push comes to shove, one of my silver and gold pieces will be more valuable than a big pile of actual silver and gold.

  10. #10
    I'm A Honcho!



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    Quote Originally Posted by Centaur 1 View Post
    I mentioned what I'm doing over on the Elsiepea forum and there was concern about shooting .358 diameter boolits in a .380. I don't know if they're all similar, but the barrel on my LCP slugs at .3573. I assume that Ruger does this in order to keep the pressures down in such a small gun. I don't think that I'd shoot a lead .355 diameter boolit in this gun, it would probably lead like crazy.

    I just started casting a little over 4 months ago and I've already gone through 1,000 primers. I bought the Lee 20 pound bottom pour pot and four Lee molds. I have a 9mm 125RN, a TL358-158swc, a .309-150FN (I removed the GC step with a .3115 reamer), and this last one the 38-105gr swc. Maybe I just don't know any better but they all work for me, with the last one giving me good boolits on the third pour.
    Like many things, the answers are hidden in your question/statement.

    You have slugged your barrel and you are sizing your bullets just over (a half-thousandths in your case) bore diameter. THAT'S PERFECT!! You're intuition/belief (coming from smart and close study of the making and using of cast boolits, obviously) is also RIGHT ON!

    You are doing just fine, and I especially like that last statement of yours I bolded. Sometimes the "experts" get so caught up in little details that they miss the big picture. You're doing G-R-E-A-T! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise...

    BTW, for my LCP, I bought the Lee 102gr RN mould. Feeds just fine, and gives me that cheap, available-anytime-as-long-as-I-have-primers feeling! Awesome reason to be a handloader.


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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Ranch Dog's designs are very well thought out. I like 'em a lot. Note that he's opening up for business and will have an inventory of stock on hand which will mean we don't have to wait to get one of his molds. I have the light .380 mold on order, and also use a .323 and a nice 265 gr. for my .444. From what I've seen so far Lee has their best man on it, the quality is very good. It's sure nice to have so many choices of good mold makers. I dearly love my NOE and LBT molds, can't wait to try a Mihec too.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole View Post
    I'm curious if you've done any expansion testing. What kind of alloy would you recommend if someone was carrying a pocket 380 with that bullet?
    I spent a bit of time this summer comparing lead bullets in the 32 ACP against various styles of jacketed bullets but have yet to do the work with the 380 bullets. What I saw in that testing is that air-cooled wheel weights (13 BHN) win, they out penetrate even jacketed round nose bullets. My testing was against "stacks" of water filled milk jugs so I was able to examine the damage made as the bullet passed through the plastic of each jug. FMJ and HP just cut holes. The Gold Dot bullets where very destructive on entry but but came to an abrupt halt. The lead RF cut huge holes through each jug.

    I did beat the little JA-380 up with the heavier, 125-grain bullet at max loads. The recoil spring is calibrated for 90-95 grain ammo and I didn't bother finding a heavier spring. JA replaced the pistol under warranty. The linage of that pistol is the Bryco 38 which has a shock plug and spring that reacts against the recoil spring making it a subcompact that is ideally suited for the heavy bullet. Shooting the 125-grain bullet in the little pistol is not pleasant. You know you are delivering a blow! While walking a deer census line I had a big boar hog "jump" me. I drew and shot him twice in the chest at about 7-yards. He just came to a stop and walked off. The buzzards where picking at him the next day.

    I will dig up my penetration testing on the 32 ACP, I think it relevant to the 380 Auto and the choices available for it.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakeMineA10mm View Post
    BTW, for my LCP, I bought the Lee 102gr RN mould. Feeds just fine, and gives me that cheap, available-anytime-as-long-as-I-have-primers feeling! Awesome reason to be a handloader.
    .
    Works good for me as well.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    As an additional note forfellow 380 Auto shooters... we all know that commonents for this cartridge are based on seasonal runs. MidwayUSA has brass, both Remington and Starline, back in stock.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Here is the 32 ACP, Jacketed vs. Lead, test report that I mentioned in an earlier post. My plans are to do the same for the 380 Auto as soon as my fall farming activities are complete. It should give you an idea how bullet construction stacks up.



    With enough milk jugs finally collected, everything for the testing was carted up to the range behind my house to finish up some needed work with my JA-32 and Bryco M38 (32 ACP). I've been wanting to test the cast bullet I designed against several other factory ammo offerings



    The factory ammo consisted of Winchester 71-grain FMJ, Mag Tech 71-grain RN, and Speer 60-grain Gold Dots. All three of these choices where shot through my Bryco M38 as I want to shoot only my cast bullet through my JA-32.



    My TL314-70-RF is a 70-grain Round Flat bullet that is cast from 95% plumbers lead and 5% tin and air cooled. It is tumble lubed with Lee's Liquid Alox and sized to .314".



    The leading jug was set exactly 7-yards from the muzzle, here is what the results looked like.


    Note: Chart updated to include the cost of one round of ammunition at current prices. The Ranch Dog round includes the cost of the reloading setup amortized over 100K rounds, the casting setup amortized over 50K bullets, and purchasing lead and tin from Rotometals.

    All the bullets held up well. I dropped the FMJ bullet after weighing it and haven't found it but here is what the other three look like. The Mag Tech LRN, the Ranch Dog, and the Speer Gold Dot.



    The Winchester FMJ bullet penetrated 5 jugs and stuck in the 6th jug. It did not penetrate the plastic of the 6th jug, just stretched it out. I pulled the bullet out and no water leaked from the jug, so it went back to test row. All the FMJ holes were caliber and none of the jugs were disturbed in there lineup.
    .


    The Speer Gold Dot exploded the side of the first jug and tore into three. Both the first and second jugs were knocked off the table. The split in the first jug is in the side. The entry and exit of jugs one and two are 1 1/2" slits.



    Both lead bullets, the Mag Tech LRN and the Ranch Dog RF, performed the same on entry and exit. The entry hole was caliber but the jug had a spot blown outward. Both jugs one and two departed the table at impact.



    The exit hole was huge and wrapped to the sides of the first jug. All the remaining jugs were split just like the Gold Dot.



    I had hoped to run a complete chronograph work up on the Mag Tech 71-grain LRN and the Winchester 71 FMJ but after shooting the Speer Gold Dot I thought I ought to move on the the jugs as some very nasty thunderstorms were approaching. It was a good move as it has poured for the last three hours. I will get back to these bullets and ammo as I need to finish this work up and I very interested in the Mag Tech ammo as both a plinker and self defense round for the 32 ACP. Others might think so also as I can find plenty of the Gold Dots online, in-stock, but none of the Mag Tech LFN.

    I will also follow this up with gelatin testing this winter. It won't work now as it would melt off the table!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Ranch Dog, you do good work and take great pictures!
    But I still don't know how you handle those little things, I would have to look to see if one of those little cases was still in my hand!

  17. #17
    Boolit Master GabbyM's Avatar
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    My opinion on a 380 is they don't have enough energy to use a hollow point. Just not enough penetration. Several manufactures have sold HP ammo that did not actual open up at 380 acp velocity They worked well. Like the WW Silver-tip HP. 90 grain Hornady HP. They just acted like flat points.

    I have an old Lyman 100gr TCFP that I like. Which is similar to RD's design above. Our member MikeinCo did some testing on the 380 acp TCFP and found they out penetrated a RN and created a larger cavity while doing so. What's not to like. The profile of the Lyman bullet is quite similar to the Sierra 90 gr HP that I used to shoot out of 9x19 at over 1400 fps. No HP in the Lyman adds ten grains. So I use the Sierra 380acp C.O.L. of .930 and the Lyman functions fine in my daughters Kel Tec 380. I used light loads of WW231 and the little pistol is still uncomfortable to shoot. They are so light you can't even feel them in your pocket but when it comes time to shoot it you pay. But that's OK.

    I don't even load hollow point ammo for self defense in 9 x 19 as I don't want to give up penetration. If that tells you how far away any consideration of a HP in a 380 is for me. A flat nose bullet going 1200 fps in a 9mm blows big holes. Since the 380 is much slower and it takes 940 fps to develop a cavitation wound channel. I'm not to sure you'd get the big holes at all from a 380 flat nose. Penetration is increased , as far as we can figure, from the shock wave at least extending out past the bullet diameter enough to reduce drag on the bullet through soft media. With a 90 grain bullet you can hit 1,000 fps with a 380 but that velocity would bleed off below 940 fps very fast after impact. I like the 100 grain weight over the 90's mostly for the better bearing surface afforded. In my experience with my old AMT Backup. 380's will shoot about anything lead. Even used some soft swagged 90 gr rn bullets over 3.0 gains of Bullseye with no leading buildup. Just a gray wash. At the 900 to 940 fps that load was probably making I'm sure a pure lead slug would flatten out on impact. Hitting a dirt berm mangled them good. Also FYI a 380 soft lead 90 grain bullet almost exactly duplicates a black powder 36 caliber cap and ball revolver. Which shoots a .375" round ball at 1005 fps over 25 grains of BP. Was good enough ballistics for Wild Bill Hickok. But Jesse James carried a 36 ball in his chest from the civil War until he was shot with a 44.

    Lyman 356-100-TCFP. #356632 Out of production.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master



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    I'm going to start loading for the 380 auto as soon as I get the dies.

    And since I'm shooting the LCP, if I can ever get the money, the 100 gr Ranch dog boolit is on my list.

    Right now I have a Lee 102? 105? gr RN mold for it, and have a few cast and ready.
    "I have enough ammo and guns to shoot my way into Nevada." - California resident.

  19. #19
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    Gabby (and other interested readers/participants):
    I quit carrying 380s when I got into LE. I decided then that if I needed a pistol for SD or defense of another, it needed to be in a more decisive caliber. I never carried anything weaker than a 9mm/38spl. (and a whole lot of the time it was a compact 45). Trouble was, there began to be times when I didn't want, or couldn't practically, carry (like at the beach, swimming pool, gym, or just in the midst of a sultry summer). That bugged me. (I'm of a mind that we should never exchange comfort or convenience for security, especially after 9/11.). So, I began wishing for and studying the possibilities of a "carry anytime/anywhere" pistol. There simply were none small enough in my minimum caliber choices.

    I pushed hard at Glock for them to come out with a single-stack, slim-frame, slim-slide version of their model 26, which was my primary off-duty carry, but was too thick to carry in a front pocket. They didn't listen, but Walther did, and they came out with the PPS. (I had the pleasure of dragging the GlockUS VP over to the Walther booth and saying "I told you so" at the NRA convention in Nashville...) But I waited to see what else might develop (maybe Glock would come to their senses?)

    Well, what developed was a two-fold combination that made me look once again (hard...) at the 380.

    Gabby, all the conclusions and points you've made are 100% right-on correct with all the ammo choices that were on the market until a couple years ago. The round that changed things for me is the Hornady Critical Defense. That little bugger expands (even at low 380 velocities), penetrates very well, and can't get the HP cavity clogged because of the flex-tip. I'm not impressed much by gadgets or boutique bullets, unless they actually serve a useful purpose. Well, after seeing the FBI test protocol on these, I was sold. If shooting a 380 with any other bullet type, your conclusions (which mirror my take on prior-generation bullets for this caliber) are still right on, but that new Hornady bullet changed my take on the ability of the 380 to be a decisive gunfight caliber.

    The other development was the Ruger LCP. As I normally do with a gun of new/unproven design, I bought one and shot a couple hundred rounds through it to check its reliability and accuracy. The LCP impressed me, even though I was skeptical about such a little pocket pistol with micro sights. I now carry one constantly, loaded with Hornady's CD ammo, and shoot it approximately monthly with my Lee bullet handloads.

    It's not 100% ideal, but it' a step above "acceptable," too. I still carry a bigger pistol in the winter, spring and fall, and keep a bigger "go-to" gun in the truck or my gear bag, but for a "have on my person 100% of the time" pistol, this LCP w/ Hornadys is great. You should test some (when you can find them).
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  20. #20
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    Forgot to mention - Ranch Dog, if you just make a copy of the out-of-production Lyman 356632 that Gabby shows a photo of above, you'll save yourself a lot of testing and development. It works fantastic.
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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