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Posted: 6/2/2008 4:28:16 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/2/2008 7:32:20 AM EST by NateTheShake]
So I bought a box of the West Coast Bullets 38spl 148gr. Copper Wadcutters and was having some issues loading this weekend.

My setup is as follows:

RCBS Rock Chucker
RCBS Carbide .38/.357 Dies
RCBS shell holder

My issue was almost every other round would buldge the middle of the case, right at the bottom of the bullet, when seating.

I have loaded a few hundred .38's with 125gr JSP's with absolutely no issues, but these bullets were just not working out...

I tried multiple different ways of loading the bullets, all with the same results:

-Light bell on case
- Moderate bell on case
- Heavy bell on case (could feel the seating die slightly contact the case mouth... didn't like that)
- Hand seating all bullets to ensure concentricity
- SLOWLY seating each bullet

Every one of those would still result in bullets that were out of spec.

The thing is I tried seating almost to the bottom (like 1.300 OAL) and would get absolutely no buldge. It wasn't until I hit bottom (1.200 OAL) that every other round would buldge the case resulting in an out of spec round.

I loaded a total of 200 rounds and got 120 that were in spec with 80 that were buldged.

Any clues as to what I am doing wrong???

I'm looking at a box of about 300 remaining bullets that I don't feel confident in loading... which to me is unacceptable.

Keep in mind I'm relatively new to reloading. I've only been doing it about six months now and only have around 4k total under my belt (9mm, 45 ACP, 357 Mag, 38 Spl).

Edit: had the COL confused. Correct COL was 1.200 not 1.120
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 5:25:17 AM EST
Not familiar with West Coast Bullets but I'll take a shot anyway. According to their web site they are plated and should be .357 diameter.

I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

Check the diameter of the bullets (not the loaded cartridges) if they are measuring much more than .357-.358 you got a bad lot of bullets and West Coast should replace them for you.

A slight bulge in the case at the base of the bullet is not unusual, nor should it be a problem unless the rounds won't chamber. When you resized the case you made it undersized so that it would grip the bullet tightly. When you seated the bullet you stretched the case back out revealing the profile of the bullet. The bulge is probably also there when you reloaded the jacketed bullets, just not as noticeable since lead or plated bullets tend to run a little larger.

If the rounds won't chamber the bullets are probably out of spec. You can try a Lee Factory Crimp die to post size the completed rounds as an extra step to ensure the rounds will chamber.

Good luck, and have fun!
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 5:35:41 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 5:43:36 AM EST

Originally Posted By Marlin357:
Not familiar with West Coast Bullets but I'll take a shot anyway. According to their web site they are plated and should be .357 diameter.

I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

Check the diameter of the bullets (not the loaded cartridges) if they are measuring much more than .357-.358 you got a bad lot of bullets and West Coast should replace them for you.

A slight bulge in the case at the base of the bullet is not unusual, nor should it be a problem unless the rounds won't chamber. When you resized the case you made it undersized so that it would grip the bullet tightly. When you seated the bullet you stretched the case back out revealing the profile of the bullet. The bulge is probably also there when you reloaded the jacketed bullets, just not as noticeable since lead or plated bullets tend to run a little larger.

If the rounds won't chamber the bullets are probably out of spec. You can try a Lee Factory Crimp die to post size the completed rounds as an extra step to ensure the rounds will chamber.

Good luck, and have fun!


Well that's the problem right there.

The ones with a buldge won't chamber. I am using an LE Wilson Max Cartridge Gage and they only go in about half way and stick on the buldge. For shoots and giggles I tried loading one into the cylinder of my gun, same results (please keep in mind this was a go/no-go test. No chance I'd fire anything that didn't fit perfectly in the gage).

The bullets are all perfectly sized, I checked every one with a caliper before loading.

They just might be a bad lot. I have loaded lead wadcutters before with no problems. These just seem to be DOA for whatever reason. I mean they were $30 for 500 so it's not like I'm out a lot of coin. Just always disheartening to waste components.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 5:47:49 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 6:08:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
Are you using a roll crimp?


Yes.

I tried seating the bullets without any crimp (just to see if they buldged) and they also had the same issue.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 6:15:10 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 6:35:51 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/2/2008 7:32:56 AM EST by NateTheShake]

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
I'd be willing to bet you can fix this by backing off your seating die and screwing the seating stem in a bit to compensate. It sounds as though you have the die in too far and it is contacting the longer cases.


That's how I tried to do it when I was not crimping them. I back the die basically as far back as I could while still being able to seat the bullets. They still buldged. Again, they'd go down all the way to a 1.300 COL and everything was fine, but anything past and they'd buldge right at the bottom.

Edit: correction for COL
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 6:51:05 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 6:58:30 AM EST

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
I can't imagine a compressed load in a pistol caliber, but how much powder is in the case relative to the bottom of the bullet?


Almost nothing. I was using 3.3gr of Unique and it wasn't close to the half way mark on the case (where the buldges were occuring).
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:05:23 AM EST
Lookit,

A metallic cartrige case is a cylinder with thin walls near the case mouth and thick walls near the case head. Each cartrige is designed with a certain bullet and OAL in mind. If you try to seat an abnormally heavy bullet at the same oal, the base of that bullet will enter the thick area of the case. If that bullet is hard, it will not compress, and the case will have to yield. The result is a bulge in the midsection.

Wadcutters are like very heavy bullets, in that they have to be seated deep. Most wadcutters are swaged from pure lead which is soft. Hollow base wadcutters have a skirt that yields to the case when seated deep. Your copper-plated bullets are harder and are forcing the case to yield.

I would seat them to a longer OAL and taper crimp.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:22:38 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/2/2008 7:33:38 AM EST by NateTheShake]

Originally Posted By 918v:
Lookit,

A metallic cartrige case is a cylinder with thin walls near the case mouth and thick walls near the case head. Each cartrige is designed with a certain bullet and OAL in mind. If you try to seat an abnormally heavy bullet at the same oal, the base of that bullet will enter the thick area of the case. If that bullet is hard, it will not compress, and the case will have to yield. The result is a bulge in the midsection.

Wadcutters are like very heavy bullets, in that they have to be seated deep. Most wadcutters are swaged from pure lead which is soft. Hollow base wadcutters have a skirt that yields to the case when seated deep. Your copper-plated bullets are harder and are forcing the case to yield.

I would seat them to a longer OAL and taper crimp.


Now that is something I was wondering about.

Since the bullets were all in spec and everything was fine down to 1.300 COL can I just size them down to that instead?

I thought the concept of wadcutters was to be seated almost all the way into the case. I could definitely seat them to 1.300, but I wasn't sure about that. I was going strictly with the size given in the load data. I mean at 1.300 the bullet would only be sticking out of the case 0.015
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:29:35 AM EST
Sounds to me like the bottom of the wad cutter style bullet is being seated below the point where the resize punch expanded the case after sizing. Theoretically, if you sized the cases straight and seated the bullet straight, the bulge should be equal all around the base of the bullet and should not affect chambering or gauging. Although, the case wall is tapered and does get thicker the closer you get to the head. Rather than fight the problem, I would juat seat them to 1.130" and shoot em. If you can't roll crimp at the seating depth, I wouldn't worry. If the bullet is making a bulge, the case is tight enough to hold the bullet. Just straighten out the case bell.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:46:27 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/2/2008 7:49:37 AM EST by NateTheShake]

Originally Posted By vernm2:
Sounds to me like the bottom of the wad cutter style bullet is being seated below the point where the resize punch expanded the case after sizing. Theoretically, if you sized the cases straight and seated the bullet straight, the bulge should be equal all around the base of the bullet and should not affect chambering or gauging. Although, the case wall is tapered and does get thicker the closer you get to the head. Rather than fight the problem, I would juat seat them to 1.130" and shoot em. If you can't roll crimp at the seating depth, I wouldn't worry. If the bullet is making a bulge, the case is tight enough to hold the bullet. Just straighten out the case bell.


Yeah, when I measured the ones that were buldged they were perfect all around except right at the buldge where they went from a .379 (perfect) to .382

The sizing die did size the brass to .379 all the way down so that was good. I think it's the case wall dimensions that affected the seating as was mentioned above. At a seating depth of 1.200 the bullets were going past the point where the case wall is thicker. I'm just going to work with 1.300

(I made a mistake remembering the COL, they were 1.200 and 1.300 not 1.120 and 1.130... the OAL of a .38 Spl case is 1.155 so that makes a little more sense)
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:48:50 AM EST

Originally Posted By NateTheShake:

Originally Posted By 918v:
Lookit,

A metallic cartrige case is a cylinder with thin walls near the case mouth and thick walls near the case head. Each cartrige is designed with a certain bullet and OAL in mind. If you try to seat an abnormally heavy bullet at the same oal, the base of that bullet will enter the thick area of the case. If that bullet is hard, it will not compress, and the case will have to yield. The result is a bulge in the midsection.

Wadcutters are like very heavy bullets, in that they have to be seated deep. Most wadcutters are swaged from pure lead which is soft. Hollow base wadcutters have a skirt that yields to the case when seated deep. Your copper-plated bullets are harder and are forcing the case to yield.

I would seat them to a longer OAL and taper crimp.


Now that is something I was wondering about.

Since the bullets were all in spec and everything was fine down to 1.300 COL can I just size them down to that instead?

I thought the concept of wadcutters was to be seated almost all the way into the case. I could definitely seat them to 1.300, but I wasn't sure about that. I was going strictly with the size given in the load data. I mean at 1.300 the bullet would only be sticking out of the case 0.015


Wadcutters can be seated flush with the case mouth, or with a bit of the bullet sticking out. When you are loading for a 38 Special Wadcutter semi-auto pistol, they have to be seated flush, but for revolver either way is fine. The latter method may prove more accurate as the bullet does not have to jump into the throat- better bore alignment.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 7:51:20 AM EST

Originally Posted By 918v:

Originally Posted By NateTheShake:

Originally Posted By 918v:
Lookit,

A metallic cartrige case is a cylinder with thin walls near the case mouth and thick walls near the case head. Each cartrige is designed with a certain bullet and OAL in mind. If you try to seat an abnormally heavy bullet at the same oal, the base of that bullet will enter the thick area of the case. If that bullet is hard, it will not compress, and the case will have to yield. The result is a bulge in the midsection.

Wadcutters are like very heavy bullets, in that they have to be seated deep. Most wadcutters are swaged from pure lead which is soft. Hollow base wadcutters have a skirt that yields to the case when seated deep. Your copper-plated bullets are harder and are forcing the case to yield.

I would seat them to a longer OAL and taper crimp.


Now that is something I was wondering about.

Since the bullets were all in spec and everything was fine down to 1.300 COL can I just size them down to that instead?

I thought the concept of wadcutters was to be seated almost all the way into the case. I could definitely seat them to 1.300, but I wasn't sure about that. I was going strictly with the size given in the load data. I mean at 1.300 the bullet would only be sticking out of the case 0.015


Wadcutters can be seated flush with the case mouth, or with a bit of the bullet sticking out. When you are loading for a 38 Special Wadcutter semi-auto pistol, they have to be seated flush, but for revolver either way is fine. The latter method may prove more accurate as the bullet does not have to jump into the throat- better bore alignment.


They are being loaded for a revolver.

Back to the drawing board for these rounds!

To be on the safe side I'm going to detroy all of the rounds I loaded. Even if they are in spec I don't like the idea that the bullet might have compromised the case wall.

I'm going to load up all new loads with a 1.300 COL.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 8:00:13 AM EST
A bulge is not a compromise at all. Brass is very elastic. While they may cause a chambering problem, they are not unsafe. You can stick them in a kinnetic bullet puller and give them a tap or two, then reseat to 1.3"
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 8:04:18 AM EST

Originally Posted By 918v:
A bulge is not a compromise at all. Brass is very elastic. While they may cause a chambering problem, they are not unsafe. You can stick them in a kinnetic bullet puller and give them a tap or two, then reseat to 1.3"


Fair enough, I just prefer to err on the side of caution. My gun and my safety is not worth risking for a few dollars worth of components.

But I get what you're saying, I will pull them down and reseat.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 1:02:01 PM EST
pics would be great, when your problem is solved it could help others by seeing the exact problem you're having
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 1:30:32 PM EST

Originally Posted By -edgecrusher-:
pics would be great, when your problem is solved it could help others by seeing the exact problem you're having


Hrm, I already destroyed the bad cases. Rather than pulling each one I just crushed them slightly with a wire cutter so they could not be mistaken for usable rounds.

I can always do it again though, not like it was that difficult. I will give it a shot and see what I can do next time I'm at the bench.
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 4:44:56 AM EST
Just another thought, bad brass? Maybe your bulged bras is my crumpled brass? A picture would have helped.

Unless I missed it, you didn't tell us what brass you were using. Several years ago I got a hold of a bad lot of PMC .38 brass. Brass thickness varied quite a bit around the circumference of the case, got quite a few crumpled cases out of that lot before I trashed 'em all.

A lot of folks have had trouble with AMERC brass.
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 10:22:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Marlin357:
Just another thought, bad brass? Maybe your bulged bras is my crumpled brass? A picture would have helped.

Unless I missed it, you didn't tell us what brass you were using. Several years ago I got a hold of a bad lot of PMC .38 brass. Brass thickness varied quite a bit around the circumference of the case, got quite a few crumpled cases out of that lot before I trashed 'em all.

A lot of folks have had trouble with AMERC brass.


Most of it was Winchester, but it was a mixed lot to be honest. The problem was persistant with all manufacturers. They were all once fired brass I got off the EE. Only loading for plinking so I just inspected each case before loading and did a mixed lot.
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 11:13:10 AM EST
I was wondering what type of bullet seating plug you have in your dies? Is it one designed for full wadcutters? If not, could the plug itself be what's hitting the case mouth on your longer cases (I didn't see that they had all been trimmed to the same length)?

rob
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 8:21:22 PM EST
Seater Plug Type has nothing to do with case bulge. The cases are bulging because the base of the bullet is hitting the thick part of the case wall and forcing it outward. The bullets are being seated too deep. The only remedy is to seat them to a longer OAL.
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 3:35:58 PM EST
Not to hijack, but a buddy gave me a box (500) of 3-D 100grain copper washed WC .38 cal bullets. What is the recommended COAL for these? I am going to use W231 and 110 grain jacketed powder date, 'cause no one (Dillion, Sierria, Lee, Winchester) has
load data. Also, what would the crimp be (heavy or light).

thanks,
skink
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 4:17:48 PM EST
I have always got slightly better accuracy with no crimp using 148gr lead wadcutters with 3,1gr W231.
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