Author Topic: Reloading: Bullet weight question  (Read 9280 times)

Offline Nate

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 727
  • Karma: 27
  • Rookie Registered Nurse
Reloading: Bullet weight question
« on: April 28, 2015, 05:09:34 AM »
I am getting into reloading.  I bought some 38 special (.357 diameter) lead hard cast semi wadcutter bullets at 158grains.  I have loaded and fired about 20 rounds with these bullets and was pleased with the results.  I decided to weigh the bullets on my scale.  They are coming out between 161 and 162 grains.  I randomly picked bullets out of the box.

Should I be concerned since I am loading for 158 grains?  Is it normal for the weight of a lead bullet to be a few grains high or low of the advertised weight?

FWIW, I the bullets are made by Indiana Bullet company. Thanks!

Offline kckndrgn

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 615
  • Karma: 23
    • Ryans Turnings
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 05:15:42 AM »
I don't think it matters, unless you are loading for competition. 

Might also want to verify your scale is calibrated correctly.  It could be off giving you some false readings.

Offline Nate

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 727
  • Karma: 27
  • Rookie Registered Nurse
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 05:40:03 AM »
Thanks!  I am just loading for plinking. 

I am also looking at reloading for a 32.20 revolver once I get proficient with 38 special.  I found a good price for .313 lead bullets  but they weigh 120 grains.  All of my load data (lee second edition) is for 115 grain 32.20.  So, I am wondering if a few grains heavier for a given load matter much in reloading.

http://www.mastercast.net/ftp.mastercast.net/Hard_Cast_Bullets.html

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 06:10:37 AM »
A few grains of bullet weight has little effect unless loading maximum power loads (well beyond most manuals and published loads.A few grains of powder however makes a good cartridge into a BAD DAY. Don't stray beyond the published loads with your powder charge...though primer (standard /magnum or even pistol/rifle are not so critical) ENJOY the hobby.

Offline Smurf Hunter

  • Survival Veteran
  • ********
  • Posts: 7172
  • Karma: 334
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 09:40:15 AM »
I agree with the other comments and will add that I'm surprised the bullets vary by that much.

One of my favorite powders for low velocity cast lead is IMR TrailBoss.   It's nearly impossible to overcharge, since it's a low density (some say fluffy) powder.  A few grains will fill up most of a .38spl case, so you couldn't get a magnum charge is you wanted to.

Several months back I was given a pair of very old Iver Johnson top break revolvers in .32s&w and .32s&w long.
Load data was very difficult to find, but I started with a 1.5 grains of TrailBoss and no squibs. 

Likewise with very old milsurp rifles I have heard of folks doing similar. 

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2015, 10:50:24 AM »
Cast bullets will vary depending on the blend of alloy and even the speed and force of the lead entering the mold.  If one is using a gravity feed pot the bullets from a full pot will weigh more then the bullets from a near empty pot.

Bullets poured from a dipper will be lighter than bullets cast from a gravity feed pot.

It will not be much, but it will be measurable.

I just checked my Lyman manual and find the powder weights for both 158 and 162 grain bullets identical to within 1/10 grain at the max level for either weight in 38spl.  As long as you stay a little below max you will be fine.   If you find it necessary to load to max just reduce the charge by 2/10 of a grain.  None of the differences were more than that.

The only 32-20 data I can find out of all of my books is limited to 100 gn bullets.  If you have some Trail Boss (a very scarce commodity in this day and age) fill the case and weigh the contents, deduct 10% and use that as your charge weight.

if you are shooting 32-20 from a Ruger Blackhawk it will stand about anything you can load in the case, if you are shooting an old S&W or Colt stay on the low side.  If you are shooting an old Colt SAA in 32-20 have your head examined!  The SAA in 32-20 is one of the most scarce of the type and sought by collectors with big rolls of money.

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 11:02:45 AM »

Offline TiredOldGrunt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 298
  • Karma: 15
  • Tabbed: "Regular Guy"
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 04:45:26 PM »
Sounds like you got a good batch of bullets with fairly tight numbers, even if you were using them in a match, 2gns +/- variation is acceptable for any handgun bullet.  Hell, I get 3gn +/- powder throws and I still run matches just fine.

Perfect numbers for for the OCD.   


You doing fine!

TOG

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 10:52:54 PM »
Sounds like you got a good batch of bullets with fairly tight numbers, even if you were using them in a match, 2gns +/- variation is acceptable for any handgun bullet.  Hell, I get 3gn +/- powder throws and I still run matches just fine.

Perfect numbers for for the OCD.   


You doing fine!

TOG

+-3 grains of powder can be a double charge with some loads. 

Bullseye in 38 spl and a 162 grain bullet is only 4.2 grains max charge in the Lyman book.  You can not afford to +- 3 grains with that.

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 820
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2015, 03:41:09 PM »
  The bullets might be 158 grains. Now add the lube. Yes you still want to be careful at max loads, but I don't think you have much to worry about.

Offline Steve Cover

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 414
  • Karma: 60
  • Mr. C ..... Das Ugly Mutt
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2015, 08:00:14 PM »
Lots of good responses so far.

The 38 special is one of my favorite plinking guns. 
I started reloading the 38 Special in 1968... (Started reloading shotguns in 1962, I now reload 32 different cartridges including several wildcats)
Best accuracy is usually within +/- about 2% of a 80% of the max listed load.
You don't need to load anywhere near maximum loads for plinking, so go for the best accuracy.
It doesn't take long to figure out what you gun likes. 
There are several threads on load development on the net.
If you can't find one to your liking, PM me and I'll walk you through how I develop a load.
Best accuracy at moderate velocities is the way to go.

My favorite 38 Spl. plinker is a 148 gr. home case full wad cutter over 2.5 gr Bullseye.
Nice and light and accurate in my guns.
Also, because it is so accurate, it makes a good close range small game load.
The wad cutter is as large as a fully mushroomed 22 WMR and slow enough not to badly bruise the meat.

I believe I spotted a typo error in some of the other posts.
+/- 3 grains, I believe should +/- .3 grains.  (If your powder measure can't dispense a much smaller variation than 0.2 gr., junk it and get a good one.)

One last thought.

If your gun doesn't give you the power you want, don't blow it up with super heavy loads.... Just buy a bigger gun.

[/URL]

Eagle Strip BLM camp September 1984

Steve
NRA Certified Reloading Instructor

Offline TiredOldGrunt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 298
  • Karma: 15
  • Tabbed: "Regular Guy"
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2015, 09:45:10 PM »
Whops, looked my my post again, the DOT didnt take...
+/= .3 (point 3) grains of charge, is what was SUPPOSED to have been typed!!

TOG

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2015, 04:48:57 AM »
Whops, looked my my post again, the DOT didnt take...
+/= .3 (point 3) grains of charge, is what was SUPPOSED to have been typed!!

TOG

Yep and my SPEL CHEKKER maks me luk stoopid at timz tu.   ::)

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2015, 07:51:30 AM »
While I have never been a proponent of pistol caliber carbines replacing full charge rifle calibers in ones inventory I must admit that I strongly endorse them as replacements for the .22lr in these times of .22 scarcity.

My Handirifle in 38/357 has taken up a lot of the use I once attempted to make a .22 fulfill, and using the exact same load as was stated above, except for the use of a 150 grain SWC rather than the full WC.

It kills small game and varmints dead much quicker than the .22, gives equal accuracy and with my cast bullets, now shoots cheaper by several cents per shot.

Offline Smurf Hunter

  • Survival Veteran
  • ********
  • Posts: 7172
  • Karma: 334
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2015, 10:20:06 AM »
While I have never been a proponent of pistol caliber carbines replacing full charge rifle calibers in ones inventory I must admit that I strongly endorse them as replacements for the .22lr in these times of .22 scarcity.

My Handirifle in 38/357 has taken up a lot of the use I once attempted to make a .22 fulfill, and using the exact same load as was stated above, except for the use of a 150 grain SWC rather than the full WC.

It kills small game and varmints dead much quicker than the .22, gives equal accuracy and with my cast bullets, now shoots cheaper by several cents per shot.

Yup even at $1.5/lbs for lead ingots shipped, per 158gr and all the components a light .38spl is cheaper per round than retail .22lr.

For those wanting the math 1 lbs. = 7000 grains.  So you can divide out your cast lead and powder charge costs.

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2015, 11:33:35 AM »
And some of us still have access to cheap scrap lead @ 25 cents per pound.

Makes it even cheaper.

46 bullets for $0.25

$0.03 per primer

1500-2000 shots per pound of powder

That is less than $0.04 cents per shot in a time when .22lr is going for $0.10 per shot.

and WAAAAAY more smack than a .22! 

« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 11:39:02 AM by Mortblanc »

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2015, 11:39:57 AM »
I leave a 5 gallon bucket at the tire shop 1/2 mile from me and they GIVE wheel weights to me
rather than pay the hazmat disposal fee and wheel weights are good for mid range loads as
they are ...add 2 % tin and they will not lead at even high pistol velocities with proper LUBE,
the lubricant is key to leading in pistols. I use an outdoor burner and can turn out a couple hundred
pounds of cupcake tin muffins of casting lead a month...I even have a guy who will do all of the
labor for halfsies on the lead. My finished cost for 38/357 is 6 CENTS to 7 CENTS for magnum.

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 820
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2015, 06:02:34 PM »
O.T.   The 38 spl. is a great cartage for that type of shooting. If you don't have a rifle for one don't despair. Cast bullets with reduced loads work in many guns. My 30/06 with a 115 gr. bullet and 4.5 grains of red dot works too. Or try just for fun a 22 pellet with nylon skirts and 3 grs of red dot in a .223 case .

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2015, 06:07:06 PM »
O.T.   The 38 spl. is a great cartage for that type of shooting. If you don't have a rifle for one don't despair. Cast bullets with reduced loads work in many guns. My 30/06 with a 115 gr. bullet and 4.5 grains of red dot works too. Or try just for fun a 22 pellet with nylon skirts and 3 grs of red dot in a .223 case .

#1 Buck shot fits 30 caliber rifle and #000 Buck for 38/357 indoor loads and small game

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 820
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2015, 01:45:15 PM »
  Carl that's not a bad idea. You can get a mold from Lee for buckshot. I would try some commercial buckshot or round ball first before buying a mold just to see how they work. In my gun the 115 gr bullet made for the M1 Carbine works OK. I have not tried anything shorter in it. I like casting 38 Spc bullets. My favorite is the Lee 150 gr Keith type bullet. Lately I've been using Lee Liquid Alox bullet lube so I don't have to size them. The Blue Press on page 43 has some SNS coated bullets for $44/500 (.38 RNFP )(30 M1 115 gr) or 8.8 cents each if you need higher velocities. Less then 1500 FPS.  But lets face it, nothing is cheaper then casting your own.

Offline Smurf Hunter

  • Survival Veteran
  • ********
  • Posts: 7172
  • Karma: 334
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2015, 01:49:52 PM »
Regarding Lee molds:

Recently I came into possession of some .32s&w revolvers and ammo was considerably difficult to find.
I was able to order a bullet mold from Amazon shipped for half the cost of a box of ammo shipped.

I realize there are likely better quality molds, but for just over $20, it's a great low risk way to experiment with different bullet styles.

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 820
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading: Bullet weight question
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2015, 05:38:11 PM »
OT    When using Lee 6 cavity molds I like to switch back and forth between two molds so they don't over heat. When I cast in the winter I use a hot plate to warm them up before casting out in my garage.