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Reloading the 38 Short Colt


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I came across a bag of Starline #3900 at a garage sale.
200 count for $5.

So far, it appears only Lee offers dies for this cartridge.
Load-wise, it appears the 9mm Luger is a good starting point.

Q: anybody reloading for this cartridge, and do you have any words of wisdom?

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Hodgden reloading manual.

38 short colt

93g bullet lrn 1.7g Trail boss 575fps  2.0g Trail boss 674 fps

135g bullet lfp 1.5g Trail boss 490 fps  1.7g Trail boss 526fps

You can find similar cases with with the same capacity as the short colt and bullet weight with different powders and start on the low end of the scale to get more diverse loads. That is if you are shooting a gun that is in good condition.

 If you are looking for BP loads use real BP and go from there.

kR

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Posted (edited)

I load these for an 8 shot revolver (627) ... To use in moon-clips etc ...

... BUT ... for what I use them for I need a higher power factor than we usually use for cowboy (also use pointed bullets etc ... ).

... HOWEVER ...

I have a friend that wanted to use them for "over the top loading" on his '73 and I made some up with regular 105gr cowboy bullets for that purpose.

 

For that load I used a (regular cowboy) coated 105gr LFN w/ 3.5 gr of Unique at 1.08 OAL and got 790fps (83pf) out of my 627 (5 inch barrel).

If I start shooting steel challenge again this might be the ticket (reload speed not an issue in SC).

 

The short colt case "IS" the same volume as a 9mm so you want to watch out if you use a fast powder (like you might for a regular 38 special) ..  

cdclips.jpg.c49e42a6b3f56995d1862bd627337902.jpg

Edited by Patagonia Pete
edit: FWIW .. I had to go look at my toolhead to see what I did w/ the dies. They are regular lee 38sp/357 dies but I used a spacer in the FCD to get the crimp in range.
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OK .. I don't want to keep editing the previous post .. soooo .. I'll just say ...

If you buy the 38 short/long 3 die kit or use 38/357 no biggie ... but "then" buy a 38/357 FCD.

The 38/357 won't screw down far enough ... soooooooo ... screw off the top and drop in a spacer on top of the crimp sleeve that is already in there .. then you are GTG.

For a spacer I used a 9mm crimp sleeve from lee precision .. (IIRC they sent it to me for free) ...

https://leeprecision.com/crimp-sleeve-9mm.html

You can stick anything in there that is approx the same size .. but a regular crimp sleeve only costs $3 ... 

... AND ..

You have to either "very highly polish" the Dillon thing or get a better powder funnel (I actually ripped a few short colt cases apart ... but they do OK after you shoot them once).

Anyhow ... I sometimes use a bullet feeder for 38s and have changed over to a special "stepped" power funnel ... it eliminates new brass from "growing" to your powder funnel and hanging everything up.  

These two are pretty much the same thing (it is the step that does what we want) ... 

https://benstoegerproshop.com/daa-mr-bulletfeeder-powder-funnel-for-pistol-by-double-alpha-academy/

or 

https://www.uniquetek.com/product/T1736

or 

Use lots and lots of lube ... s10.gif.46279678f11f6475fbc12b0140b440c7.gif

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Posted (edited)

Like Pete I use to shoot the Short Colt in USPSA revolver matches.  I bought a pair of Ruger Montados and the ejector was to short to eject the .38 Special.  So I tried some .38 Long Colt.  Still a little to long.  Then I remembered the Short Colts.  Work fine and I have mine loaded well above the 60 PF minimum.  As noted sort of like a 9mm load with a rim.  (Anyone remember the 9mm Federal?)  Here is my .38 Short Colt set-up.  The sizing die is a Dillon .38/.357 carbide die.  The expander under the powder measure is the 9mm funnel that comes with the bullet feeder.  I have an RCBS powder die to prevent any powder problems.  Next the bullet feeder, then the Lee seater crimper die which is for the .38 Auto/Super.  The Lee dies are simply an assembly of dies they have put together.  They are not actually made for the Short Colt.  The sizer is a standard .38/.357.  The expander is a .38 S&W, the seater/crimper is the .38 Auto and is the only die I used from the set.  In all honesty unless you plan on buying more brass and shooting it regularly it is problably not worth the cost to load $5.00 worth of brass.

 

 

DSC_0005.jpeg

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DSC_0006.jpeg

DSC_0001.jpeg

Edited by Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933
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I use a Redding single stage press with their carbide 38/357 die sets.

Lee is the only vendor I have found, so far, that makes a die set for 38 Short Colt.
I've seen chatter about potentially using 9mm Luger dies.

Has anybody attempted to shoot these in an 1894?
Just curious how much trouble they ran into with the short OAL.

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1 hour ago, bgavin said:

Has anybody attempted to shoot these in an 1894?

 

I tried to load one in the magazine and found it nearly impossible.  

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The new issue of Handloader has an article on the Colt cartridges.

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Don't get too stressed out on these things ... they really are just "short" 38 specials .. they aren't 38 S&W or 9mm or such ... 

I know people who crimp w/ 9mm but that is a .355 bullet ... we will still be shooting .358s ... (357 plated etc) ... but ... it works for a lot of people so whatever. 

Larry Drake did an article on loading these things in the August 2014 issue of the Blue Press ..

https://dilloncdn.com/bluepress/August_2014_Issue.pdf

 

I checked my dies again carefully .. and ...

The sizer is standard 38/357 Lee

The seater is actually 38 S&W Lee (guess I must have bought the set/kit after all)

My factory crimp die (Lee) is also standard 38/357 (that I dropped a spacer into)

 

SCtoolhead.thumb.jpg.8400a5539726510cb4e52e9c63623315.jpg SCsizing.thumb.jpg.77f794468ab9a6f77d156c7a5302655e.jpg

SCseater.thumb.jpg.c0a1d4a1ae1901c3418e03412b0afea6.jpg SCcrimper.thumb.jpg.9c152132cd503ab84d734d225c36403e.jpg

 

 

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